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Turnbull and problems with friends

By Syd Hickman - posted Thursday, 17 September 2015

Malcolm Turnbull can probably handle the ALP, The Nationals and his enemies within the Liberal Party quite easily. He may be able to convince the Australian people to be environmentally sustainable and financially responsible. But his friends could provide some real problems – in particular the US, the churches and big business.

He rightly wants us to be independent of the British crown, but a more independent relationship with the US is much more important. Abbott accepted what appeared to be instructions from our great and powerful friend to buy submarines from the Japanese. [Why else would this novel idea have suddenly leapt into his head.]

The Japanese actually don't have a modern submarine ready to build. They are about to start designing one, so we would be subsidising Japanese industry development if we go along with this plan.


The Germans have offered a submarine that is more ready for build within acceptable cost and timeframes. They claim they could build it in Australia at no extra cost. A normal tender process would bring out the truth as all commitments would result in signed contracts.

Interestingly, among her many roles, Lucy Turnbull is Chair of the German-Australia Chamber of Industry and Commence. She is believed to be well briefed on the submarine project.

If Malcolm is in the mood to redefine the relationship with the US he could consider establishing an Australian drone industry, with products designed for our very unique needs, particularly involving very long range. He could even see if its possible to get out of the ridiculously expensive jet fighter program, which is just a sop for the Airforce and a big handout to American industry. Having pilots in these types of aircraft is so last century.

Then there is the endless succession of interventions in wars to assist the US. Getting rid of Saddam may have seemed like a good idea but it has resulted in the utter chaos we face today in the middle-east. Now it is western fighters who must kill the religious extremists that used to be killed more effectively by their national dictators. Most of the Arab world is collapsing into chaos with no plan even being discussed, except sending troops to kill bad guys.

The less-than-subtle US strategies for encircling China should also be resisted.

But all such progress to real independence would be resisted with great pressure. His party has made total subservience to the US a core value. This task would be much harder than just dumping the royals.


On social issues there is much more at stake than just gay marriage. The social sector is now huge and growing. There are thousands of charities raising and spending money, with tax exemptions, and under very little scrutiny. There are tax exemptions for donations by very rich people to various causes, with little understanding of the real benefits to taxpayers from these expenditures.

Many social sector organisations get government funds to do good. They also compete, tax-exempt, in business markets with companies trying to make a profit. Again, how much good is achieved is rarely measured.

The war against drugs has obviously been lost and a new approach will necessarily involve many social sector organisations. Others are vital to dealing with domestic violence, gambling addiction and various other problems. This continued growth in the size and importance of the sector requires regulation, research, training of staff and assessment. The great management guru, Peter Drucker, spent the last years of his life working on the management practices of the not-for-profit sector. It is one area our universities should expand.

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About the Author

Syd Hickman has worked as a school teacher, soldier, Commonwealth and State public servant, on the staff of a Premier, as chief of Staff to a Federal Minister and leader of the Opposition, and has survived for more than a decade in the small business world.

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