Oh Malcolm

Net Satisfaction Ratings
Net Satisfaction Ratings

Courtesy of Possum Comitatus we can see quite clearly how people have reacted to Malcolm Turnbull’s involvement in the OzCar affair.

Brendan Nelson must be feeling pretty bloody smug right about now.

The economy hates the Liberal Party

Why is it that every time the Labor Party gets elected into government, people lose their jobs, we end up with deficit and debt?
Joe Hockey, Liberal Party Treasury Spokesman, May 6, 2009.

Australian retail sales rose 2.2 per cent to $19.3 billion in March, defying market expectations of a 0.5 per cent rise.
The Australian, May 6, 2009.

The jobless rate has unexpectedly dropped to 5.4 per cent in April from 5.7 per cent in March, official data shows.
The Australian, May 7, 2009

I look forward to hearing the loyal opposition celebrating this good economic news. Isn’t it great that people are continuing to find work in such a difficult economy?

Malcolm can’t take a trick

Poor, poor Malcy. When he was booked in to appear on Insiders this morning the polls in Queensland were confidently pointing to his cousin Anna Bligh and the ALP copping a hiding on Saturday. I have no doubt that Malcolm would have been salivating at the thought of being able to declare that the Queensland election was a rejection of Kevin Rudd and the entire ALP platform.

Instead, the LNP couldn’t get any traction in South East Queensland and the ALP were comfortably returned. Turnbull really didn’t look like a happy camper this morning, he recited his standard lines, “jobs, jobs, jobs”, and my current favourite “We made a bad law less bad so that it will destroy fewer jobs”, but he didn’t even seem to be convincing himself.

On the bright side for Malcolm, the next state elections aren’t due until early 2010 and he won’t be depending on Lawrence Springborg to carry the flame for Australia’s conservatives next time around.

What choice does he have?

Yesterday, in response to this post about Malcolm Turnbull, and my bitching about his substance free politicing, Lee asked in the comments, “What choice does he have?”. So here are a couple of policies that Malcolm and the Libs can have for free, courtesy of Dave from Albury.

  1. Oppose the National Net Nanny proposed by Stephen Conroy.
  2. This should be an easy one for the Liberal Party to sell. National scale internet filtering will increase costs and reduce performance of every internet connection in Australia, that’s bad for the Libs business constituency.

    Mandatory filtering is a free speech issue, does anyone want the Federal Government deciding what we can and cannot see? This will play well with the large pool of Coalition voters who are still convinced that the ALP are secretly planning to institute communist rule, despite failing to do so during the Whitlam, Hawke or Keating governments.

  3. Shareholder Reform. Make it easier for shareholder resolutions to be included at companies AGMs
  4. Today, one hundred signatures of current shareholders are required for the lodgement of a shareholder resolution to a companies AGM. Bearing in mind how difficult companies often make it to get access to their share register, it is incredibly difficult for anyone who is not already part of a large organised group to put a resolution to their fellow shareholders. Changing this to something like the US model, where all that is required is a $2000 holding, would encourage shareholders to have a greater say in how companies are run. This goes further than Turnbull’s limp wristed remuneration idea as it would allow shareholders to make their feelings known on a range of business practices, eg environmental or ethics policies. Surely this would be a boon to the ‘shareholder class’ that we ‘aspirational’ Australians are all supposed to be joining?

That’s just two policies, both of which fit in with the Liberal Party’s commitments to individual responsibility and a strong free market. They each require careful explanation, which is why I suspect there is no chance that they will be presented to the public any time soon.

Malcolm Turnbull, Disingenuous Prat

Malcolm Turnbull has a unique take on populism, he eschews talk of petrol prices and the cost of groceries and instead turns his attention to the cash management trusts and meddling with shareholders’ rights. His latest gambit is nothing more than smoke and mirrors, repackaging stuff that already exists, and ignoring the reason that it’ll never work.

Malcolm’s latest idea to ingratiate himself with ‘Mum and Dad investors’ (what a condescending stupid term that is) is a proposal that shareholders be allowed to determine executive pay as a way to curb excessive salary packages. On the surface this seems like a good plan, and you’d ask why no-one’s thought of it before, but the reality is this is nothing more than spin.

Firstly, most companies already require shareholders to approve executive and board payments. These are generally determined by a remuneration committee which is charged with ensuring the conditions are appropriate, based on the company’s size, performance and what the conditions are like at their competitors. So the reality is that for the most part, Turnbull’s plan wouldn’t actually give shareholders any more rights than they have now. The only place that this would make a difference is in smaller listed companies, where outrageous compensation for execs is less of a problem anyway.

Secondly, by framing his plan the way he has Malcolm Turnbull is hoping to play off the ignorance of the average shareholder about where they fit in the shareholder registry. Small shareholders make up a tiny part of a large companies share registry, the bulk of the shares in Australia are held by financial institutions like super funds or investment houses. Traditionally, institutional investors always vote with the board. When the motions regarding executive pay come up at corporate AGMs there is usually a flurry of activity on the floor as people rush to decry the latest increase in the CEO’s pay, but when the vote comes the measure is passed with over 90% of the votes in favour. This wouldn’t change one bit under the Turnbull plan.

This latest plan is nothing more than grandstanding, Turnbull knows it, he just hopes that you and I won’t.