March 7, 2013

Tony Abbott

Mining The Dead Heart

By Rhys Muldoon

What will this election be fought on? One common answer, naturally, is: "the economy, stupid". With a slight reshuffle of that answer comes the question: "is the economy stupid"? No. It's smart, ruthless and pumping. Have we missed all that it had to offer? Undoubtedly. We, as a nation, have just missed one of the greatest mining booms in history.

And what do we have to show for it? Not much.

We have two parties that have walked into an itinerant, fly in-fly out miner's travelling brothel and been dudded by a pimp with a nasty stare and a big hand. If our current leaders could have given more in the way of favours to the "Big 3" miners it wouldn't be called a brothel. It'd be called a "dungeon".

What we have just had before us, in short, is one of the most expensive (to the taxpayer) coups in world history. The difference between the RSPT and the MRRT is in the tens of billions over the coming decade. To understand this election, it's important to understand that discrepancy in tax revenue.

There is a truism in federal politics that "the Australian public tend to get it right", as far as choosing governments. This election throws all of that up into the air. It is, indeed, in the words of Julia Gillard, "a new paradigm". Both parties have profound flaws. Both parties, at the moment, deserve serious punishment by the electorate. We have a Labor government that has sold out, through both factional greed for power and an incredible naiveté in its trust of the (international) mining sector. It threw out a popularly elected leader in his first term in a profound snub to the electorate. The electorate has never forgotten, and it is hard to imagine forgiveness coming. Whatever your or my thoughts on Kevin Rudd, it is our right, as voters, to throw someone out, or to keep them. Yes, the ALP is a party, and yes, ultimately it has the RIGHT to decide its leaders, but beware an angry electorate. This electorate is so angry, it is, almost, prepared to choose nihilism (Yes, The Coalition).

A deal was done between the AWU, the big three (international) mining companies, Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Xtrata, Julia Gillard, Wayne Swan and servants thereof (NSW Right, Victorian Right, The "Shoppies" etc) to dump Rudd and hand the keys of the kingdom to our rightful lords and masters, Big Mining. To think it was a last minute decision is naive. This was simple, savage business, and we are all the poorer for it.

I am pro-mining. I believe we have every right to use our natural resources for the benefit of the nation. I am not even that resentful towards the mining sector for its tactical success.  (The $20million spent on their ad campaign saved them many billions - quite the investment.)

But I am appalled at the hunger for power and lack of moral fortitude, by both major parties, that allowed so much tax revenue to slip through our collective fingers.

This election, and the current ongoing leadership rumblings (which by the way, are NOT an invention of the "mainstream media") should be seen through the prism of the monumental failure of the MRRT. We've already seen the Greens distance themselves, which some say is meaningless as they'll still vote with the government in the senate, but for mine there is much more to it than that. The timing for one.

The Gillard ship is a sinking ship. We'll still hear some orchestra playing on the upper deck, supporting with a grim, stoic loyalty, but ultimately her leadership is doomed. For mine, one of the great tragedies is that she took power too early. She may have been one of our greats, but she chose a time that broke the natural rhythm of the parliamentary cycle. There's a price for that:

Tony Abbott.

Rhys Muldoon
Rhys Muldoon is a contributor to The Drum, as well as an actor, director and radio presenter. In 2010 he co-authored a children’s book, Jasper & Abby, with Kevin Rudd. @rhysam

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