BOB Hawke has launched a blistering attack on Malcolm Turnbull’s $122 million gay marriage postal survey calling it the “worst economic decision made by any Australian Prime Minister”.
And to add insult to injury, the former prime minister got Mr Turnbull’s name wrong — confusing him with the 22nd Prime Minister of Australia — when he made the remarks at the National Press Club in Canberra today.
“I genuinely believe that the decision by Malcolm Fraser to have this postal vote is the worst economic decision made by any Prime Minister since Federation,” Mr Hawke said.
He slammed the choice to hold a voluntary postal vote that would have no guaranteed outcome given it still required a vote in Parliament.
“It costs $122 million bloody dollars,” Mr Hawke said.
“Can you imagine that a Prime Minister would make a decision in these stringent times, spending $122 million on a process that can’t produce the result, when you could do so much to reduce the gaps Aboriginal people (face in) education and so on.
“Without any question, the worst economic decision made by any Australian Prime Minister.”
Mr Turnbull announced the postal survey as an alternative to the Coalition’s election promise to hold a plebiscite on gay marriage after that policy was voted down twice in the Senate.
Australians will have until November 7 to vote in the voluntary survey.
If a majority vote Yes, the government will then allow a bill on legalising gay marriage to be put before Parliament.
Mr Hawke also gave a worrying assessment of the current shaky geopolitical climate, which has been dominated by a standoff between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and a string of terror attacks in Europe in recent months.
He said he couldn’t be optimistic about the state of the world today which was “much less” stable than it was during the Cold War.
Addressing the National Press Club to launch the memoirs of former foreign minister Gareth Evans, Mr Hawke said the world had reached a tipping point.
And it was more unstable than the high-stakes standoff between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War, which included the Cuban missile crisis.
“For the first time in human history, we can either on the one hand increase and improve the standard and quality of life of all mankind, or B, vastly destroy life on this planet as we know it, either by global warming or by the use of nuclear weapons,” Mr Hawke said.
He went on to say: “I believe the stability in the world today is now much less than it was during the Cold War.”
The two major differences were that during the Cold War neither side wanted to hasten their own destruction and terror groups were unlikely to get their hands on nuclear weapons.
“Today, the terrorists positively welcome their own death,” Mr Hawke said.
“That’s a massive difference.
“Secondly, in that period, your enemy was identifiable within a defined and unchanged territory. “As great as the damage is that ISIS, IS, and its cohorts can do with conventional weapons, it is nothing compared with what they would do if they were to get possession of nuclear devices. “There can be little doubt that that is a possibility.”
Mr Hawke said he could not share his former foreign minister’s “incorrigible optimism” about the future of the world.
“It is taking too much, I think, against the rather worrying evidence,” he said.
On the threat of global warming, he said “things are getting worse” and President Trump’s stance
would only exacerbate matters.
He quoted Mr Evans’ description of the President as “narcissistic, ethically challenged, ignorant and vulgar” and highlighted that the world’s average temperature was now between 0.6 and 0.7 degrees higher than it was in 1979.