One Nation thrives where Labor fails
IN THE past week I have seen at close quarters how government can get it very right and very wrong.
In the first case, the public health system swung in rapidly to help a young man who had recently developed psychosis.
The theory is that early intervention, with medication, counselling, ongoing case management and help to find a job, will allow a person suffering mental illness to recover as much as possible, have a happier life as a productive member of society.
It's early days, but for a family in crisis, NSW's early intervention service has been a godsend.
It must cost taxpayers a fortune, but it is money well spent, and ultimately will prove less expensive in both human and financial terms.
Then there is the NBN, which was hooked up to my home five weeks ago. The installation was a dream, with the help of a clever geek friend, and for the first four weeks everything worked fine.
I was all set to write a column praising the much-maligned service.
And then there was an outage that lasted six days and counting.
This week, NBN Co announced that due to increasing problems with service dropouts, it will immediately suspend its rollout over pay TV cables.
Which is yet another reason why the government should just cut its losses and dump the whole sorry mess.
It was a Kevin Rudd thought bubble which has blown out into a $50billion disaster, delivering slow, expensive, unreliable internet, and which is being overtaken by technology anyway.
If Prime Minister "Mogadon Mal" Turnbull would just rediscover his inner mongrel, instead of trying to be a statesman, he would admit the NBN is a dog and ditch it. He should just admit the fact that, like everything else Rudd touched, the NBN is a pile of steaming dung and there's no point throwing good money after bad.
Otherwise it will be yet another albatross around his neck come election time.
It's what Turnbull thinks anyway. It's what he said back when Labor was spruiking it.
But this is the problem with modern politics.
Political leaders don't say what they think, unless they're Pauline Hanson.
For all the dysfunction in her party, the One Nation leader, with her barmaid-with-a-heart-of -gold persona and nasal Queensland twang, has benefited from the authenticity deficit in politics.
One Nation voters know that Hanson is not the answer to their woes, but they vote for her, as a Trumpian middle finger to establishment parties - both right and left.
"They think she's a numpty but she is a numpty who will burn the village down," is how one pollster who has spent hours listening to focus groups explain why they vote One Nation puts it.
And in the Queensland election, the village they burned down was any chance of the LNP winning back office from a lacklustre Labor government.
Disaffected conservatives who voted for One Nation on Saturday now see how their votes have delivered power to Labor. Nationals Senator Matt Canavan says about a quarter of Labor seats will be won by One Nation preferences.
And all for nothing, with One Nation lucky to win one seat at last count, compared to the 10 or 11 seats Hanson was predicting.
The rule of thumb is that 20-50 percent of votes are lost in preference flows to the Coalition when voters turn to third parties like Hanson's. Add in the spiteful One Nation decision to direct preferences away from sitting members and the LNP's refusal to play nice, and it was a perfect storm for the right side of politics.
But the answer is not to spit in the face of voters, as Turnbull and Attorney General George Brandis did this week by demonising One Nation.
One Nation is a symptom rather than the cause of Coalition anguish. Railing against voters on the one hand, or childish calls to change the leader, on the other, just makes Canberra look even more obsessed with itself.
If it weren't One Nation peeling off conservative voters it would be someone else.
In Bennelong, it's the Australian Conservatives, whose leader Cory Bernardi quit the Liberals because he was ostracised for his straight talk on moral issues. A party that doesn't have room for Bernardi is not a broad church.
The irony is that the Turnbull government is actually not doing a bad job.
It's been messy, but they are systematically clearing the barnacles they inherited, from Gonski to energy to same-sex marriage.
They are presiding over a growing economy, with almost 500,000 jobs created in the past year. They've cut taxes for small business, raised the tax threshold for middle income earners, and axed the deficit levy, with personal income tax cuts promised.
They're getting on top of welfare rorts and are reducing spending as a percentage of GDP. The sharemarket is booming and we retain our Triple A credit rating.
They are not a perfect government, by any means, and have been beset by own goals and bad luck.
But they look positively genius if you remember Rudd-Gillard-Rudd, the squandered $45billion surplus, the dismantling of Howard's Pacific Solution, the 50,000 illegal boat arrivals, the tax hikes, pink batts, school halls, live cattle ban, union thuggery, Gonski, NBN, you name it.
The big lie of Labor and the Greens is that they are champions of the needy and underprivileged, when their policies led to misery, unemployment, and deaths at sea.
Destroying the productive economy, increasing debt and taxes, and growing the size of government does not help the needy, but destroys the wealth and initiative that pays for decent health care, education, infrastructure, and the welfare safety net a compassionate country provides.
Labor hasn't learned any lessons and has only travelled further down the path of identity politics.
So what the Queensland election predicts is that a vote for Pauline Hanson is a vote for Bill Shorten. Disaffected conservatives threaten to cut off the nation's nose to spite its face in the next federal election if this keeps up, and we will be saddled with the most left wing government Australia has ever seen.