Playing the desperate China card

Peter Gleeson’s (Sunday Mail, 19 Dec) assertion that the Chinese Communist Party wants Anthony Albanese in power must rank as one of the most puerile articles that I have ever read.

It was not Labor that leased out Darwin to the Chinese for 99 years in 2015. It wasn’t Labor that was quite happy to sign an extradition treaty with China so that Chinese Australians could be taken back to Beijing to face trial for expressing dissent. That was the Coalition’s smart idea until Labor blocked it in the senate.

It was Labor under the Gillard government that barred Huawei from tendering for work on the NBN after advice from security and intelligence in 2011. It was the Coalition’s former foreign minister Alexander Downer who was on the board of Huawei Australia that described her decision as “completely absurd”.

When Sam Dastyari was suspected of having inappropriate links with a Chinese billionaire, he was tossed out of the senate immediately by Bill Shorten. When Gladys Liu, a huge fundraiser for the Victorian Liberal Party, was reportedly affiliated with a rally defending China’s actions in the South China Sea, she was virulently defended by Scott Morrison.

This a silly attempt by Gleeson to divide Australians on foreign affairs when history shows that both major parties have been bipartisan in their in-principle support.

Coalition’s expensive budget ride

The federal government insists in embarking on a ‘spendathon’ even though our national debt is heading to $1.2 trillion by 2024-5 and our accumulated deficit is forecast to reach $340 billion. $16 billion remains hidden from us with no likelihood of how it will be spent.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has also tipped $175 million into its “discretionary grants program” which Scott Morrison nonchalantly calls “just the election process”. There is no budget repair in sight and Australia is asked to just go for the ride and pick up the pieces afterwards.

The persistent myth

More analysis comes to light showing that of 19,000 grants administered by the federal Coalition government, Liberal held electorates received more than three times the amount received by those of Labor. Of course, Scott Morrison’s response is one of dismissive contempt. When it’s revealed that the seat of Dickson received more than 40 times that received by Lilley, he comments that “Dickson must have a very good local member.”

While Morrison is able to resist a transparent Independent Commission Against Corruption, offering instead one that top constitutional lawyer Anne Twomey has described as ‘deliberately written to spare politicians’, this kind of unprecedented pork barrelling will go on.

But as he sees his popularity plunging in the polls he still believes he still has one card left to play, namely, the economy.

But the irony is palpable in that the budget papers show that the two highest-taxing governments in Australia’s history are the Howard and Morrison Coalition governments. And even before the pandemic, as a percentage of GDP, the present government had outspent the Gillard-Rudd governments.

Unfortunately, however, the myth of the Coalition’s economic superiority is allowed to persist.

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