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Turnbull is destroying egalitarianism

By Peter Henning - posted Monday, 29 January 2018

Turnbull doesn’t tweet.  He builds fences between himself and the policies of inequity, inequality and undermining of democratic rights which he endorses and delegates to his senior colleagues, especially Dutton, Morrison, Cormann and Bishop.  He attempts to create a political persona of liberalism, of egalitarianism, of progressive and innovative policy direction, while supervising and overseeing the exact opposite in every area of domestic, industrial, trade and foreign policy.

Perhaps the most outstanding example of Turnbull’s hypocrisy is his support for the Adani coal project in Queensland, a project rejected by all Australian banks and by prospective international joint-venture partners as a sad attempt to reboot the past, to ignore the realities of climate change and of rapidly increasing changes in the wider world to clean energy options.

In fact, Turnbull has backed the past or the status quo without exception, while trying to camouflage it.  The publicly funded ‘emissions reduction fund’, run out of the PM’s office, has gifted millions of dollars to a whole host of applicants, without any sense of cohesive or consistent policy direction, while the government has been promoting continuation of coal-fired electricity at home and abroad, and demonising alternative clean energy developments.  


Turnbull’s dead hand on Australia’s future, by entrenching inequality in all areas of federal socio-economic policy within the nation, and encouraging a status quo inertia in research, investment and development, is exactly the opposite to the rhetoric he used to replace Abbott.

It invites pure cynicism to witness the disparity between Turnbull’s rhetoric and practice when he speaks earnestly of ‘Australian values’, ‘a fair go’, the ‘success of multiculturalism’ and ‘democracy’ at the heart of Australian society.

The most brazen representation of this lie is Turnbull’s imitation of Trump’s ‘homeland security’ infrastructure, creating a hugely expensive and unnecessary paramilitary bureaucracy integrating secret ‘sovereign borders’ maritime military operations with ramped-up internal surveillance of Australian citizens.

This is not about the old ‘reds under the beds’ myth, or chasing down 20 year-old opponents of conscription, and not even about stifling discussion of views which don’t align with those of senator Joe McCarthy in the US 70 years ago, but of Turnbull pretending to support egalitarianism – including taking credit for the same sex marriage vote while sitting on the fence during the whole issue – while clamping down hard on people like Gillian Triggs who expose the Turnbull government’s fear and loathing of human rights, and therefore of fundamental democratic principles.

It defies belief that the media has not called out Turnbull for his endorsement of policies encouraging inequality, division and conflict within Australian society, support for Trump in whatever he does, the erosion of democratic rights at home and overseas, and his abject failure to address national issues of the highest importance – water, food, climate, energy, education, health, industry, you name it. 

Moreover, how is it that when Turnbull’s choice for boss of his Orwellian watchtower, Peter Dutton, chillingly labels people as ‘Armani refugees’ – a clear dog whistle to opponents of multiculturalism everywhere – Turnbull’s silence rings loud and clear? Turnbull’s silence is more than collusion, it is affirmation that Dutton speaks for the prime minister.


There is no congruence between what Turnbull says and what he does.  Has there ever been?  When he was minister of the environment in Howard’s government he told Peter Cundall he regarded the location of Gunns pulp mill in the Tamar Valley as abhorrent, but then ensured that federal conditions for its approval were the most lenient applicable under federal law. 

In February Turnbull will be in the US, talking with Trump, the man who has just described himself as ‘stable’ and a ‘genius’.   Will they share notes at Mar-a-Lago about hubristic pragmatism?

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About the Author

Peter Henning is a former teacher and historian. He is a former Tasmanian olive grower, living in Melbourne.

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