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Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Empty vessels

Listening to Bowen's interview on ABC AM radio program this morning was painful. He is nothing if not fluent, spewing words at breathtaking speed. Arguments dart this way and that as if a random argument generator has been programmed to change arguments every 30 seconds,
Who cares if he contradicts himself  every now and then, after all even an expert interviewer has trouble following him and even if he does stands little chance of probing some of his answers. I wont even mention the listener, we have no chance. So once he has started we switch off.  Perhaps that is his purpose. If he keeps talking the interviewer has no chance of asking secondary probing questions. Also if you keep talking, the time allotted for the interview will have been used to push your scripted attacks on the government.

The questions were well framed, concise and and targeted.

The answers however simply rapid, verbose, mechanical and scripted.

Consider just this small exchange at the start of the interview;

"MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Now the Government accuses you of having a $66 billion black hole. Now let's put aside the feverish rhetoric for the moment, but you are spending more than the Government in this campaign so far. Is that a responsible approach.

CHRIS BOWEN: No, and the fantasy that the Government has... where 'no' is the answer to the premise of your question. 

The fantasy that the Government is putting about today just underlines the fact they have no policy vision of their own. 

The Government ministers - the Treasurer, the Finance Minister - are spending a whole lot more time talking about Labor policy than their own.

Now the biggest hit to the budget, the biggest single hit to the budget, during this election period has been this Government's reluctantly costed and completely unfunded $50 billion corporate tax cut. 

Now we will not take any pious lectures from a Government which has at the centrepiece of its budget a tax cut which they wouldn't tell the Australian people how much it would cost - so much for transparency - and is completely and totally unfunded and a piece of fiscal recklessness.
Good straight forward question. But the answer? After all the words what did he say ? I am not sure, but all I can see is that he seemed to agree that Labour's approach was not responsible. I am sure that was not his intention.

The rest seems to be mechanical, scripted attacks on the government, not addressing the question.

Ok maybe that was just an exception, what about the next question.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: But you've banked that tax cut as a credit, haven't you? $50 billion credit that you're busily going around spending.

CHRIS BOWEN: No, it's a measure we won't proceed with, obviously. And when our fiscal bottom lines get compared during the election campaign, they will have that black hole and we will have our spending and saving commitments. 

Now we've taken a responsible approach. Now, in that same week in which Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull announced their $50 billion corporate tax cut, Bill Shorten replied on behalf of the Opposition. 

Remember Scott Morrison saying that morning, "When Bill Shorten speaks tonight, every time he moves his lips he'll be spending"? Not one single spending commitment in the budget reply. In fact, a further $70 billion worth of savings. 

So we've taken a responsible approach. We've dealt with issues which have been in the 'too-hard' basket for 30 years, like negative gearing. 

The Government's not had the courage to do that. We're showing that we are a viable alternative government by setting the policy agenda, by having a very responsible approach, and when the two sides' fiscal bottom lines are compared during this election campaign, I think you'll see that Labor has taken a particularly responsible approach. 

We don't see a return to budget balance and a proper investment in our schools, for example, as being a choice. 

We see them as both being complementary and essential for a modern economy, where a proper plan for budget repair which is far, but an investment in the social capital of our nation.

Now, this election is about choices. Yes, we're investing in schools, absolutely. 

We don't hide from that, we're very proud of it. The Government, their big commitment is a corporate tax cut, which is completely unfunded. Now they say they can't afford $37 billion for schools. They say that's completely reckless. They say it can't be afforded. But they magically can afford a $50 billion tax cut for big business, and we are more than happy to have that debate.
Another concise question gets the Bowen word machine going. Most of the response is simply wasting time with Bowen's typical mechanical mindless drivel.

Yes it sometimes returns to the topic, yes there are some relevant points, but in order to maintain the break-neck delivery, thinking, any thinking before talking, is left by the wayside. The result is a barely intelligible flow of rhetoric. And he does it all the time. I am surprised no one has tapped him on the shoulder to change his style.

Empty vessels do make the most noise!



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