Sometimes you get the feeling you're the odd one out.
It's no secret that I'll vote Liberal at the next election. But my reasons don't line up with what appears to be a common motivation among a growing number of people.
I like Albanese, but I'm not voting Labor. I'll vote Liberal and it will have nothing to do with ScoMo. I don't care if they're nice guys or otherwise.
Seeing the kind of people in Parliament who either want to be or actually become party leaders has confirmed for me that they are not like the rest of us. There's a switch or lens in their brains that we don't have. It's usually not pretty.
For some it's bigger than others, but they've all got it.
They have to be endlessly ambitious, bursting with (over-) confidence and prepared to make brutally hard decisions, both personal and political.
The last world leader that positively captured the imagination of young and old around the world was John Kennedy. Many of his speeches are as true and inspiring today as when they were first delivered. If he were with us today, his private life might have totally discredited him as a leader.
All was not cosy in Camelot. Whether he chased women or they threw themselves at him is irrelevant. Standards have changed, but that isn't the point. He was a great leader.
Hence I'm somewhat taken aback by Albanese's comment about ScoMo being all "smirk and mirrors". It plays the man, not the ball.
Now why would Albanese want to do that? The answer is simple ... because it taps into a view that ScoMo's natural smile is actually a condescending smirk.
This feeds into the notion that our right to vote should mean nothing more to us than a "Who do we like?" contest. How pathetically sad is that?
That's where many Australians now sit politically, in the land of "Like them, like them not".
There are much bigger issues at stake. We've come through COVID remarkably well. We've spent a lot of money protecting each other as best we can. It's not government money, it's ours. The government decides where to spend it on our behalf. You might disagree at the edges, but overall we have done well.
Nonetheless, the economy still needs careful attention. There's a reason the Liberals are the more trusted economic managers. It's because the record shows that to be the case. That's the experience voters have had, or have picked up by osmosis from their parents.
If the economy isn't in good shape people can't get jobs and can't pay their mortgage. When the Howard government came to office the unemployment rate was just under 9 per cent. Under Labor, it had gone as high as 11 per cent. It's now 4 per cent. People need jobs. We just can't go back to Labor's hopeless economic management.
Now interest rates, despite a recent increase, are way below what they were under Keating when housing loan rates went over 20 per cent. Normal families just can't take that hit. Small businesses have to cut staff, and often close. Being bad economic managers hits poorer people first and hardest. Being able to get a job and housing is vital to the least wealthy.
After that comes national security.
Our region is now of intense interest internationally. The Indo-Pacific is vitally important to world trade, and its current instability is alarming. In that climate, national security should be at the front of our thoughts.
The trouble for Labor is they consistently cut defence spending. Defence Minister Peter Dutton told the Press Club recently that in 2013, when the Coalition came to office, defence spending had been reduced to 1.56 per cent of GDP. That's the lowest level since 1938. In the last budget of the defeated Labor government, they had cut defence spending by more than 10 per cent in real terms.
The current government has dramatically increased defence spending. Defence is not just about ships and subs. Yes, there's the sort of equipment we expect in defence. Missiles for our F/A-18s and F-35s to reach 900 kilometres, and Tomahawk missiles on our Hobart-class destroyers. The more interesting spending - we're talking billions to the Australian Signals Directorate - will be, as Dutton describes it, "turbocharging our ability to strike back against cyber conflict". The world of war is changing, and we need to keep pace.
We're living in unstable times. Labor's record of cutting defence spending should set alarm bells off in anyone's mind. A look back at Kennedy's inaugural speech reminds us that we spend on armaments not to go to war, but to do whatever we can to put off our enemies. That is, we do it to keep the peace.
There's a much-repeated phrase in the speech reminding Americans to ask not what their country could do for them, but rather to ask what they could do for their country. What followed has not been given the same prominence, but is as important:
"My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Labor seems to think that others should bear the defence burden for the free world. Under Labor we weren't doing our share. Kennedy was right. We, the free world, are in this together. Rather than slack off on defence, we must be prepared to shoulder that burden as well.
So I declare myself out of touch. We face uncertain economic times and national security threats. I couldn't care less who is the leader - I'm voting for the team that were good economic managers and who wouldn't cut defence spending. Just a no-brainer. Yet clearly some people think what's more important is whether they like your face ... hence Albo's insult of "smirk and mirrors". Ridiculous.
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