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What will the Turnbull-Morrison government be remembered for?

In the first of a new series examining the Coalition government’s record on key policy issues, Rob Manwaring writes in The Conversation (8.4.19) that, in terms of major policy achievements, the Turnbull-Morrison government has little to show for its time in office.

‘When the “mighty Roman” Gough Whitlam died, Indigenous leader Noel Pearson delivered a memorable eulogy. Channelling Monty Python, Pearson asked what had Whitlam ever done for Australia? Pearson then reeled off a long list of achievements, including Medibank, no-fault divorce, needs-based schools funding, the Racial Discrimination Act and many more. This was a blistering set of reforms by a truly radical and activist government.

‘After close to four years of the Turnbull and Morrison Coalition government, we might well ask: “What has the Coalition done for us?”

‘It is hard to think of a single notable achievement for which the government will be credited or remembered. If we take another government as ideologically driven as Whitlam’s – albeit from a different vantage point – in this case John Howard’s, we can still recall a significant range of policies and changes. Chief among these was gun control.

‘In contrast, we are hardly likely to remember the Turnbull-Morrison governments.’

As election 2019 kicks off, the only certainty is a cranky and mistrustful electorate

Frank Bongiorno writes in The Conversation (11.4.19) that there are generally two kinds of federal election: one when the government is returned; the other when it is defeated. History tells us the former is far more common, though perhaps now less predictable when voter sentiment is so volatile and distrustful of government.

‘The choice for voters at the 2019 federal election, called by Scott Morrison for 18 May, will in an important respect be exactly the same as every other election held since 1910. Voters get to choose which of two sides next gets to run the country.

‘Beyond that basic similarity, Australian federal elections fall into two types: those in which the government is returned, and those in which the government is defeated.

‘The former is much more common. Governments have been returned at general elections 31 times since federation, compared with just a dozen changes of government (I’ve included the peculiar case of the dismissal in 1975 as a change of government, although it technically was not). When an opposition challenges a government at the polls, it’s battling the weight of history.

‘Those elections that see a change in government are often thought of as the most significant. Paul Keating has been credited with saying that if you change the government, you change the country. But it’s also true that you can change the country by returning a government.’

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