Is anyone really surprised at the outcome of the Trump-Turnbull call? It might have been better handled with a quick email by the sounds of things, assuming of course you believe WaPo’s synopsis. Of course the President was going to take umbrage at the deal to take in refugees from Australia made with Obama. One would have thought two former ‘captains of industry’ might be able to grasp the ‘art of the deal’ but who can blame Trump for having none of it given his clear intention to put “America First!”. However I must protest at the President calling it the worst call. For him maybe but for Australians who have had to deal with 16 months of total inaction with Turnbull at the helm the LNP has indeed made a far worse one by hanging up prematurely on Abbott. Perhaps Tony Abbott was not everyone’s cup of tea but he was no slouch in getting things done, even unpopular decisions. Sure he made some mistakes but he was always well intentioned. Isn’t that a welcome change to most politicians today (Turnbull included) whose main objective in life is to remain in power and will compromise anything to retain it. Why would a voting public wish to trade a doer for an appeaser? The LNP is still in denial. So weakened are they that the response to Abbott’s speech to young Liberals was next to non-existent.Yet instead of waking up and restoring the one person who could reunite the party they mull the idea of maybe Julie Bishop filling the void, a person a large proportion of LNP voters would regard as the total antithesis of what they want their party to represent.
Let us be honest. Australia has been America’s ally for a long time, especially bonded in blood during WW2. Since then Australia has the enviable record of being the first country to answer America’s call to arms since. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan etc. Australia has the same pastry as America although our filling maybe meat vs America’s apple. Is Australia’s stance with America irreparably damaged? Not in any sense. Although perhaps the leader of the free world sees exactly through what the polls are telling Turnbull here. While I hesitate to call One Nation’s Pauline Hanson a Trump, she is the closest we have and the polls reflect that given they are now 10% of the preference. If LNP Senator Cory Bernardi secedes with the Australian Conservatives, Turnbull would have no choice but to resign given the fact he failed to reunite a party he divided but promised he could mend.
Of course Trump’s style of politics is unconventional to say the least. However his popularity is far higher than the mainstream media makes out. In a sense he is just the CEO of 330mn employees who are actually his shareholders. In 4 years they can sack him if they so choose. However like I wrote earlier about small business confidence, the likelihood of massive cuts to regulation has been a call to arms for the little corner shop to see the future, something that had been lacking for almost two decades. Don’t dismiss hard numbers. The polls can be skewed anyway you like but self-regulating small businesses live and die by confidence. That has now been restored. I’ve banged on excessively about how ‘confidence’ has been the one lacking ingredient in global markets that central banks and inept governments have had no solutions. People and businesses invest because they see a cycle, not because interest rates are low.
Full credit to Theresa May. The Brexit vote is yet another signal of ‘confidence’ or lack of same in the EU. Of course the soft option was to remain in the EU. That is the problem with the world today. So many are too fixated on being comfortable. Does leaving the EU pose risks? Yes, but equally more opportunity. They’ll have their own laws and currency and not have to be dictated to by a supranational state. The EU is fighting so many fires, especially this year and the U.K. is not the only state looking to exit – Greece, Italy, The Netherlands and while not likely soon, Germany. It works fine in theory but mixing vastly differently cultures, languages and lifestyles was always going to be an insurmountable hurdle. Now the economy is in the dumps we see the EU for what it is – desperate.
Which brings us back to the question of worst call. Turnbull has dithered for 16 months while Australia’s economic position weakens. Make no mistake, Australia’s economy is heading for the rocks. With 2 of the top 6 most expensive global housing markets with price/income ratios way above anything elsewhere, Turnbull throws out the one liners but agility is something we aren’t. While Turnbull may possess a softspot for Obama, sadly he is no longer President. He needs to deal with the future with a negotiator who has little time for platitudes. Turnbull needs to resign. Sadly his Prime Ministership was all about ego and nothing about wanting to make Australia great again. How embarrassing to be yet again the laughing stock of the free world. Make no mistake, no fewer than 5 of my American friends in Tokyo have alerted me to “who is this Turnbull?”. I get the invisibility thing but at the same time I take that as they have exactly the same wish to make our bonds tight as ever as we actually share far more in common than what the media with its regular rants completely overlook.
So perhaps President Trump, may I say for Australia it might have been the best call. The wake up call to get on board and start doing things that aren’t popular but ultimately for the greater good. Good bye Mr Turnbull….”hello, hello…is there anyone there?”