September 17, 2013
So we have the return of stable, prudent government without surprises. Well, not quite ---there is the gender undercurrent of liberal feminism.
Business and consumer confidence has risen but there is a net loss of jobs, a higher jobless rate, the Australia dollar is staying high, manufacturing is in the doldrums and future growth is at risk as the mining investment boom goes into free fall in the next two years. It's capitalism's boom bust scenario. This will create uncertainty and harm the economy when Australia is now "open for business" and its time for the world to invest in Australia.
The Abbott Liberal Government is not going to let the market do its thing. It is planning to intervene into the market to to inject new stimulus into the economy through accelerated infrastructure investment, and to do so through increasing government debt. Well, its not really a surprise. The beat-up about budget emergencies and government debt was just that: a beatup. Surprise, surprise.
These are difficult economic circumstances. As Jeff Sparrow observes in The Guardian:
Abbott could weld together the disparate tendencies of the contemporary right into a formidable campaign – a visceral hatred for the ALP could unite social conservatives with Hayekian free marketeers. But in the lodge, matters become far more complicated, not least because on the stump he explicitly and repeatedly promised not to embark on the austerity and union-busting on which his backers now want him to get cracking.
He adds that during the Howard years, the conservatives perfected a strategy for precisely such circumstances:
you pick a battle that’s relatively trivial in itself (and thus doesn’t commit you to anything as dangerous as, say, taking on the building unions) but that has broader thematic resonance. You stage your provocation on a theme in which there’s at least the potential of public support (nationalism, racism, family values for example) and you use that support to draw progressive pundits and activists into a debate about symbolism that seems to put them at odds with the bulk of the population, along the familiar lines of "arrogant cultural elites" versus "ordinary honest battlers".
The conservatives have been very successful with their culture wars strategy. Abbott’s image as the embodiment of gender conservatism works for him only so long as he can present anti-sexism as the preoccupation of a tiny elect, irrelevant to the problems of the many.r
Abbot appearing in the papers as the champion of traditional gender roles-the men are back in charge---is a part of the culture wars.