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  • Writer's picturePete Jonson

Sunday Sanity Break, 19 February 2017 - call a Summit, Malcolm

'Treasury must call a summit and lay bare the scale of fiscal repair needed.' Absolutely, Paul Kelly. As you said in the Weekend Oz, there is a hopeless standoff between a government in the Lower House and a large group of small party folk in the Senate. Unlike the Hawke government's national economic summit there is no clear narrative. This is the key missing ingredient in the debate - as Henry has been saying ever since the Abbott government was elected.

The contrast with the US Presidential campaign could not be greater. As well as 'Draining the Swamp' in Washington, Candidate Trump laid out his radical agenda for all to see. Create jobs for the rustbelt; build a wall to keep out illegal immigrants from Mexico, and deport those already in the USA without appropriate documentation; impose tariffs on China and other similar nations; etc, etc. The shock is that President Trump is actually trying to do these things.

With a 'chaotic' White house, how much success President Trump will have is very uncertain. He faces his own difficulties in the Senate, in his case despite the Republican majority. Trump is no conservative, as Republicans generally are. Just as Turnbull is from the decidedly 'liberal' wing of the Liberal Party, and the conservative wing are providing faint support. Like Trump and the Republicans in the US Senate.

This was the week when Prime minister Turnbull finally went after comrade Shorten. Nice stuff, Malcolm, but this is no substitute for a coherent narrative. 'We do not wish to raise taxes' says the Treasurer, but then the Senate majority does not wish to cut spending. A Hawke-style Summit is the only way to sort out a solution. In Hawke's Summit, the primary issue was to persuade the unions to cop wage restraint. The Turnbull summit should demand a fix to the budget, and at this time there is no viable alternative except some mix of spending restraint and tax increases.

The benefit of a Summit is that the 'Sherpas' (technical assistants) will provide the trade-offs and those hoping just to be blockers will be shown up for their bastardry.


David Hare’s play The Judas Kiss is a compelling insight into the life of Oscar Wilde round the period of his famous 19th Century trial. Fiona Prior visits Red Line Productions’ The Judas Kiss. More here.

The Sporting Life.

Today's 'Offsiders' focussed on women's sport, which has arrived with a bang with the great success of AFLW. Henry was ready to embrace this innovation, having in his past life coached a women's footy team to an unexpected victory. But to see the skills level rise from week one to week two, and rise further in week three, was a great thing to see.

Sadly, Caaaarlton!'s gals went to Adelaide only to be narrowly beaten in a tight struggle. Good sign for the finals, however, as they kept trying throughout.

Sri Lanka narrowly defeated Australia's second team in their first match while the firsts were away practicing for their attack on cricket's Mount Everest, India at home. Next Thursday will see Henry working in front of the TV hoping the our boys can at least create a contest. Some wise former Indian player has said if Australia plays at its best level India may only win 3 out of 4 tests, with one drawn. He probably knows more about fixing the pitches than Henry does, but we hope his prediction is too pessimistic.

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