Reader Pegasus asks some potentially revelatory questions
Julie Bishop out-leftys Bill Shorten on income inequality and wealth redistribution

Best Bill editorial since "Shorten's knowledge of money comes from marrying it"

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Not only does The Australian almost outshine the Daily Telegraph's legendary "Bill Shorten's knowledge of money comes from marrying it" - it mops up with Turnbull and his TJDS (Turnbull Judgement Deficiency Syndrome).

Four years in office won’t make Shorten a reformer

  • The Australian

We did a double-take on Sunday when Bill Shorten was quoted as an advocate of daring, long-term policymaking in government. Was this the same Opposition Leader who had mastered the art of class envy politics, pushed the limits of spin, and frustrated attempts to spare the next generation a crippling burden of debt? Apparently so. On the ABC Insiders show Mr Shorten endorsed fixed four-year terms of office as necessary for better government. “The federal political system seems out of whack in that everything is so short-term,” he said.

There is no evidence that a shift to four-year terms would revive policymaking in the public interest. Consider the woeful energy policies of state governments with four-year terms. Under the supposed handicap of the existing federal system, the Hawke-Keating and Howard-Costello administrations carried through landmark economic reforms. And if Mr Shorten were elected with a fixed four-year term he still would need political courage to govern for the nation, not just for trade union clients, and to confront the culture of entitlement underwritten by foreign debt. In Sunday’s interview there was no sign of that resolve, only his overblown rhetoric about inequality and swipes at “rich parents” and “millionaires”.

Mr Shorten urged the Coalition to co-operate with Labor on his reform of electoral terms. Where is his willingness to work with the government to boost competitiveness, productivity, growth, jobs and living standards? As for the Turnbull administration, would it really become more bold in economic reform simply because it was granted a slightly more remote date of reckoning with the electorate? Pressed on the imperative of fiscal repair, the best the government can say is that it has not allowed spending to grow as rapidly as it did under previous administrations. In his defence, Mr Turnbull will point to the obstacle of an irresponsible Senate.

If anything, that problem could be magnified by four-year terms. Now elected for six years, senators would stay on for eight. Crossbench senators already have an idea of their own importance at odds with their often minuscule levels of voter support. Rather than encourage such delusion, the task for mainstream politicians is to make the case for necessary economic reform with skill and candour, enlist wide public support and persuade, even shame, crossbench senators into giving their assent.

This is what should be preoccupying Malcolm Turnbull; parliament resumes in two weeks. His willingness to chase Mr Shorten’s diversion on Sunday showed a lack of judgment on several levels. Why should the Prime Minister appear to take seriously Mr Shorten’s pretence of electoral statesmanship?

More fundamentally, it makes no sense for Mr Turnbull to associate himself with a proposition unlikely to go anywhere. People are disenchanted with the major parties because they have not delivered sound government at a time of economic challenges. In the present climate, voters are hardly going to support a measure that looks like making politicians less accountable to the verdict of the electorate.

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