Make the most of your troubles, Tony

In The Australian today:
“Defeat can be turned into opportunity if it is properly managed. With budget measure after budget measure risking rejection in the Senate, the government should use the threat it faces to improve the measures, strengthen public understanding of why they are needed and lay surer foundations for continuing reform.”

About Henry Ergas

Henry Ergas AO is a columnist for The Australian. From 2009 to 2015 he was Senior Economic Adviser to Deloitte Australia and from 2009 to 2017 was Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility. He joined SMART and Deloitte after working as a consultant economist at NECG, CRA International and Concept Economics. Prior to that, he was an economist at the OECD in Paris from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. At the OECD, he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment (1984-1987), which concentrated on improving the efficiency of government policies in a wide range of areas, and was subsequently Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department. He has taught at a range of universities, undertaken a number of government inquiries and served as a Lay Member of the New Zealand High Court. In 2016, he was made an Officer in the Order of Australia.
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29 Responses to Make the most of your troubles, Tony

  1. Alfonso

    Tone is a CAGWarming believer and abater.
    That’s all I need to know.
    More importantly…….

  2. .Dr.Sir Fred Lenin

    Change leaders get rid of Abbott Hockey,Turnbull and Hunt for a start,Morrison for PM ,Corman for Treasurer, a Real Conservative fior Communication and Bullshit Environment, Then lay ALL blame for the state of the country where it Really belongs,with the alp/green/Puppies. Use a Totally Reformed abc to do it then chat to Gina ,persuade her to Dump all fauxfacs sharesat once. And drive the share price thru the floor,we might get a bit of Truth then.

  3. Dr Faustus

    Absolutly agree. The Coalition has done a remarkably hopeless job explaining the setting and necessity of the budget measures.

    Relying on the findings and recommendations of a ‘commission of audit’ may have seemed like a smart way of diverting the political pain, but it is a low grade, ineffective strategy and a truly terrible way of communicating fundamental issues to the punters. Effectively saying “We need to do all these things because the COMMISSION OF AUDIT says so“, is a pitiful, lazy excuse for explaining the structural issues and what they mean for Australia’s future.

    Team Abbott needs to get busy putting the wood on the political opportunism of the deadshits playing power politics with the economic future of my country. Or, fuck off via a DD election that will end up demonstrating that Australia too can have a Spanish economy…

  4. outsider

    Even if the govt was a consummate communicator, with 95% of the electronic media shaping their profile with no apparent resistance, the poll results are no surprise. Modern politics is a blood sport, a combative public spectacle…something Howard understood implicitly. If you refuse to engage on the key points, even wooden oppositionists with no future but a higher profile can gain the ascendancy.

    They squandered that 53/47 election time goodwill with the poor post-election period, feeble public presence and presentation of ministers, mixed message budget, and general treading on eggshells behaviour wrt the ABCC, 18C etc. – all of which might have been designed by the array of non-govt parties scrabbling for prominence. The latest cave-in to PUP only accentuates the perceived weakness – if they themselves are tentative how can they expect anyone to support them? The clamorous intent of the left media is clear: the government has no right to exist, or to pass legislation.

    The really sinister legacy of all this stumble-bum nonsense is that it legitimates the ALP/Greens period in office, and far from a reformist party they come across like heartless wreckers of snow white reforms like Gonski, National Curriculum and Disability. They have not even won the day on AGW. Andrew Bolt and Michael Smith are doing better PR for the non-left than all of them combined. Campbell Newman has realised the importance of communication but we don’t see it at the federal level.

  5. struth

    Abbott is scared of the left and the media.
    He is now just the little boy at the counter of a corner store.
    But he’ll never be able to reach the high notes to enable him to sing …..”what about me”

    I always take into account the absolute bastardry of our left wing media as I realise how biased they are. I know they would close down anything the libs said they didn’t want to get out.
    He had a chance to put a rocket up the arse of the media, and especially at least get the ABC to pull their heads in , after the spy scandal with Indonesia caused by the filthy pack of taxpayer funded commos, and numerous other times. In the end he doesn’t even need a reason.
    Now they are putting more than just rockets up his.

    Abbott has shown his colours, and unfortunately for Australia, one of them seems to be yellow.
    A Thatcher he ain’t.
    We need a Thatcher more than ever.
    I still say, although pummelled by many on this blog, Julie Bishop would have made a better leader.
    I hadn’t seen how good Morrison is.
    Either would be my pick,………

    but Joe, well Joe, just give up, you are only up to maybe minister of sport and recreation, and should be allowed nowhere near the treasury.
    Malcom is a traitor to his party and an ambitious twat, too removed now from the real world to get the real picture. He has the disease many celebrities have and would be more at home with Cate Blanchete on a glow ball warming propaganda add.
    Privileged and dumb.

    I think the time has come to call it for what it is ………..rooted.
    Stand up now Abbott. Take control of the situation or for the good of the Australian people ….. or… off.

  6. Viva

    Even if the govt was a consummate communicator, with 95% of the electronic media shaping their profile with no apparent resistance, the poll results are no surprise.

    Absolutely – and not only for the reasons you state. Cuts – even the smell of cuts – to welfare was always going to spark this result. Remember the mobs marching through the bankrupt streets of Paris protesting against much feebler attempts to tighten the public purse. Even when it was pouring with rain the punters weren’t interested in fixing the roof. So now, with the sun still shining, are Australians going to respond more rationally? They are keener to fix the climate than the budget.

  7. stackja

    The problem is the ALP/MSM and a gullible public. Dreaming about some magic solution is not helping.

  8. Eyrie

    OK, so there was a budget emergency. Why didn’t they bring forward the budget to the beginning of February? They had 4 and a half months and waited another 4. Kind of like having the fire brigade turn up the day after your house caught fire.
    Hockey is hopeless. You too can tell him that via his website. To think that he thinks of himself as a leadership contender is farcical. Dunning -Kruger in action.

  9. egg_

    The Coalition has done a remarkably hopeless job explaining the setting and necessity of the budget measures.

    The Credlin ‘small target’ in Govt ridiculous strategy?
    Held hostage by the defacto Opposition, the MSM.

  10. struth

    Hard to explain a budget that contradicts itself.

  11. Dr Faustus

    Hard to explain a budget that contradicts itself.

    And that, too…

  12. Perfidious Albino

    If the proposed PPL scheme is canned (and under the circumstances it probably should be significantly wound back or deferred entirely), I for one would like to see the PS union be put in the position of having to come out and argue a justification for why their members PPL entitlements should be higher than Josephine publics…

  13. PeterM

    To coin a line from Sesame St – Today’s lesson is brought to you by the letter ‘C’.

    Communication – The communication strategy, thus far, has been rightly condemned as inadequate and off-target. Complaining about the bias of certain news outlets won’t achieve anything, accept it for what it is and make a plan. If this is not done, then the message will be totally lost and unrecoverable.

    Consistency – Having a consistent thread running through the budget is a sure fire way to help people understand what you stand for. It makes it simpler to negotiate and people have the chance to identify with something that is not seen as inherently schizophrenic.

    Conviction – Politicians with conviction are interesting and compelling (another ‘c’ word). There appears to be little conviction coming from the government at present. Own your policies and make the rest of the population want to take ownership of them as well.

    Compromise – Being a man of principle is easy if you never have to compromise. The construct of the senate means that compromise on some things will be essential. Pick the battles and compromise on the peripheral items that will not see the government as spineless but reasonable.

    C*nt – As I had a couple of corporals once say to me back in my Army days, “We like you Sir, you’ve got a bit of c*nt about you.” Sometimes you need to be one to get everyone working how they should and in the right direction for the greater good.

  14. struth

    And PeterM nails it.
    However it one of those is missing you can forget about the others.
    The budget is not consistent because the Libs have no conviction so you cannot communicate or compromise and end up being called a cnut

  15. H B Bear

    Credlin – still keeping everyone on the short leash. Husband-wife teams are always a problem.

    Cabinet – too much Howard-era dead wood. The last Howard term was worse than useless and has simply continued. Time to kick up – Cormann, Kelly and the new guns.

  16. Old School Conservative

    Stand up now Abbott. Take control of the situation or for the good of the Australian people ….. or… off.
    Tony seemed to have a long term strategy of “build momentum slowly”. It hasn’t worked. It’s time to make and sell the hard decisions. The benefits of slashing budget deficits with unpopular measures will be obvious to everybody whose taxes fall and cost of living improves.
    An agressive pro-LNP marketing campaign is necessary, in order to drown out the ABC/MSM hysteria.
    There are many LNP members who can achieve these outcomes; they just need to be promoted and given air time.

  17. Biota

    Discussion around poor communication being the reason for bad LNP polling reminds me that the ALP/Greens were always saying the same thing- we are doing great things but just can’t get the message across. The old saying that what you do rings so loudly in my ears that I can’t hear what you say is true for both governments. LNP are mucking things up by doing the wrong stuff, not because of poor publicity; border protection excepted.

  18. George Brandis thanks for NOTHING

    Henry, you’re assuming that they have the nous to know what to do, and the courage to do it.

    They have neither.

    Sloppy Joe Hockey stuffed his budget strategy, plain and simple. Four years to prepare for what blind Freddie could see would be a Swan-crafted clusterfrack, and he did buggerall but produce great ‘ideas’ like the medical fund no one wants or needs.

    Anyone seen Hockey these last couple of months? Is he out there doing the job he should be doing? Are you kidding?

    Abbott had the opportunity of a lifetime, and he has blown it. The only ‘LNP’ thing he has done is stop the boats. Everything else is simply a continuation of the policies of the deracinated, Australia-hating leftists. And they’ve given the Trades Union party an easy ride back into government.

    Liberal party = completely fracking useless.

  19. Eyrie said –
    #1380438, posted on July 14, 2014 at 1:08 pm
    OK, so there was a budget emergency. Why didn’t they bring forward the budget to the beginning of February?

    Better still should have had a mini-budget late last year.

  20. goatjam

    I cannot tell you how disappointed I am in this craven government.

  21. AH

    TA may just turn around and start kicking ass now that the situation becomes more clear. He’s a tough minded guy. He also doesn’t seem to act unless he sees it is necessary.

  22. Peter h

    We will see, but I get the feeling their is method in the madness

  23. Craig

    The strategy is right for the country but the tactics to bring about the strategies are bloody terrible at the moment. Personally, I like Wyatt Roy, impressionable young man with a massive future in front of him, please, just someone please, give this guy a real gig instead of being a damn Dorothy Dixer.

  24. Squirrel

    “…..the government should use the threat it faces to improve the measures, strengthen public understanding of why they are needed and lay surer foundations for continuing reform.” – they should certainly try that, which means that the 2015 Budget will have to be extremely well handled.

    Along the way, some sober reflection on the quality of the advice which fed into this year’s Budget process, and the wisdom of the decisions arising from that advice, would be very much in order.

  25. Robert O

    It really comes down to very poor leadership by the PM. The voters wanted to see change not pandering to a totally biased press, but only Morrison has been prepared to tell them where to get off. Show some leadership, the sheep will follow, and get some of the wasted talent off the back bench. e.g. Dr Benson for Environment & Science and Michalea for something useful.

  26. 1234

    Yes Henry, it could do all those things except this is the B team from the fag end of the Howard years – poor administrators and even pooer poliicy advocates

  27. StraightShooter

    Hockey’s argument about welfare being a massive drain on the economy, even though true, was destroyed by his other actions.

    Overgenerous PPL scheme (a new group of welfare recipients), a $20 billion fund for research (neither expected nor requested but welfare for the wealthy none the less), $500 million for already profitable businesses available in dollops of $20k $50k or up to $250k so they can hire management consultants or researchers for a few months.

    If Hockey had never brought in these new and unnecessary welfare payments then you might have a point. But by including them he has negated the urgency to reduce welfare. Bleating about having to make drastic cuts in traditional welfare but then spending more than double the cuts on new welfare is rank hypocrisy.

    Given the millions of voters affected by these cuts, this was a bad political move and no amount of spin is going to convince them that greedy scientists, high earning women, and profitable businesses need money taken from them more than they do.

  28. Jeremy

    The Liberals and Nationals can only propose and argue for sensible changes to the Law. The elected Government, which includes the independents and the Labor and Green parties, then decide whether or not those changes will pass. The voters of Australia will decide who was right at the next election. If a double dissolution election is called, it is important to have as many important changes as possible refused by the senate to be voted on at a joint sitting where they are more likely to pass. Now is the time to put everything to the senate. The more it fails to pass sensible law changes which have been explained to the voters, the more the cynicism and silliness Of Labor, Greens and Independents will be apparent to the voters. They must get rid of their own silliness first.

  29. wreckage

    The small business funds were a cut of 50%, the PPL is a reshuffling of corporations taxes, and yeah, the medical slush fund was bullshit, but we here are not the average punter, they might have liked it. Might still like it. I dunno.

    But there was rhetoric of crisis and cuts etc, and they should have followed through with clear and focused action on that. Anything that couldn’t be cut should have been called for the stupid ALP contract that it is and repaid out of a levy, the levy being laid on AFTER tax cuts across the board, much like the PPL / corporate tax switch.

    The PPL could be brilliant, properly implemented, taking a lot of pressure off businesses that disproportionately hire women.

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