My holiday reading included a very readable book called Born to Rule, an unauthorised biography of Malcolm Turnbull by veteran journalist Paddy Manning. I enjoyed it immensely.
Paddy makes it clear he is not a Turnbull fan, but he treats the Prime Minister in as unbiased a manner as is possible in politics and journalism. However, it is interesting that, in the end, he acknowledges that Turnbull has what it takes to be a great leader of the nation if he conquers a few idiosyncrasies.
The issue is whether he can successfully assemble together his vast experience of life in law, money, journalism, politics and civic affairs to get the results of which he is clearly capable. A major hurdle is that he does not suffer fools gladly.
2016 will determine his fate.
Initially, he faces the formidable challenge of controlling the quite irresponsible right wing elements of both the Liberals and the Nationals who are opposed to all progressive change and look backwards with huge nostalgia at their vision of a glorious capitalist past that they are hopelessly determined to revive.
My expectation is that he will ignore them totally and steadily remove them from his ministry.
There is no way that the right can stage a counter coup before the 2016 Election and restore Abbott or one of his mates. The Coalition would become the laughing stock of the nation and they know it.
Turnbull can confidently go ahead and do what his experience tells him must be done to get Australia out of the hole we are in, economically and socially, and advance us to the very top echelon of the G20 where we should be.
Once he wins the election, and it is highly likely that he will, he will be on safe ground in carrying out a wide range of reforms. If he lives up to the potential that Paddy Manning’s book says he has, he could pass both Hawke and Howard in the PM Longevity Stakes and cause the ALP to rid itself of trade union dominance as it strives to regain power.
So, what do a majority of Australians want Turnbull to do. Let me list just a few in no particular order of priority.
*Create jobs in every area of the economy so that those who want to work can do so. There is huge scope to improve productivity and reduce welfare by especially creating jobs for Senior Australians who want to remain in the workforce or return to it and Young Aussies who want the start in life to which they are entitled.
*Get the Budget heading towards an early surplus and start reducing the national debt. Raising taxes will be a good start.
*Solve the housing crisis. The wrong houses are being built in the wrong places at too high a price by negative gearers who plunder the tax system for no good purpose. Social housing is a disgrace.
*Reduce homelessness and the poverty that causes it.
*Get constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians, approve same sex marriage and get voter approval to create a Republic and design a new Flag.
*Calculate the Age Pension correctly for the first time in history. It is grossly inadequate as the result of a century of political compromises.
*Stop Superannuation being used as a tax haven.
*Create tough legislation for Domestic Violence, Elder Abuse and Coward Punching.
*Bring in similar legislation to control the promotion of alcohol as currently exists for tobacco.
*Get an Emissions Trading Scheme underway as a matter of urgency.
*Take long overdue steps towards drought proofing Australia and increasing rural productivity.
*Commence a massive investment in freight and passenger railways in preference to roads.
*Create a sustainable mining industry and encourage investment in clean coal technology.
*Accept more refugees and close the disgraceful hell holes at Nauru and Manus.
*Advance the practice of philanthropy and volunteering.
*Promote religious tolerance, understanding and goodwill.
Clearly, this is an impossible immediate list. If he makes a purposeful and constructive start towards eventually achieving them, he will be Prime Minister of Australia for a long time. If he achieves the lot, he will be the greatest ever.
That should not surprise too many of us because he firmly believes it is his destiny and we can assume that he will make a 100% effort to achieve it .
Can he do it?
Read Paddy Manning’s book and make up your own mind.
I reckon it’s worth an astute punt.
Yours at Large
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