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Herman Toh – Could The Donald Happen Here? l Week 3@The CIS

Herman Toh

6 February 2017

For me, this week started on Australia Day. I took some time to reflect and think how fortunate I was to be in Sydney, able to celebrate with all Australians and to call Australia home. I had a quiet day  and so I started on the book, Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nicholas Taleb. Especially in light of recent events.

I then headed out in the evening for a stroll around the Sydney Harbour area and watched the fireworks.

Fireworks overhead at the Opera House

I wanted to explore more of New South Wales and so headed on to the Bundeena village and the adjacent Royal National Park. I took a train to Cronulla and then the ferry over to Bundeena. I then used the Jibbon Head trail where I reached Port Hacking Point.

I viewed the aboriginal engravings there with signs that explained the story behind them. I then hiked through what felt like a film set for the Lord of the Rings movie scene to the Balconies but was unable to spot any whales. Perhaps they were holding their breath and not surfacing.

Whale watching out of season

Hobbit Trail

I had an exciting start on the Monday when I went back to the office. Simon Cowell, the Research Manager and the Director of Target30, was beginning a campaign to reduce government expenditure had an interview with the ABC. The ABC wanted to interview him on proposals to introduce Universal Basic Income (UBI) to Australia.

We had to leave our mobile phones at our desks as only the ABC could record the interview. Simon was able to outline why having the UBI in Australia will be such a bad idea. He stated that it would place an exceedingly large burden on all tax payers and making any person on welfare worse off, a sentiment that I agreed with wholeheartedly.

Simon Cowell and Karla Pincott, the Communications Director, later debriefed myself and Lili Havers, another CIS intern. I learnt that it is good to be mindful on how we present ourselves during an interview and to be careful of verbal tics that we might have.

I carried on researching housing affordability and using excel to consolidate data from several decades to see the trends in luxury spending by consumers. I was also able to write an response in IDEAS@TheCentre with regard to a solution to housing affordability.

Most of the office was geared up to prepare for the event Trump in Oz? The main speakers were Ross Cameron, the former member for Paramatta, Louise Clegg, Barrister and opinion writer and Tom Switzer, Senior Fellow at University of Sydney’s United States Study Centre. The  event was sold out days before the event started.

Behind the Scenes at Trump in Oz

Q and A after the panel presentation

The panel presentation by the three speakers was thought-provoking to say the least. Louise was sure that the Donald could not happen in Australia due to the differences in culture and mindsets. Tom Switzer mentioned our professional political system and having vested interests in parliament was enough.

Ross Cameron raised an point that our PM should have, at the very least read Donald Trump’s book Trump: The Art of the Deal. This may have prevented the embarrassing call from Trump that has been currently trending in the news media. He also indicated that the first thing Malcolm Turnbull should have done was to call Trump up before he took power and made a trade deal instead.

Tom Switzer mentioned trade and how Trump would hurt the US economy by raising tariffs against China. His view was that the old jobs that went to China would themselves be going to other countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam. I think he has a point in that technology has and will make a lot of current jobs obsolete worldwide. We need to prepare ourselves for that eventuality.

It was also instructive to see how everyone was so clued into using technology to spread the CIS’s message of free markets. Greg Lindsay AO, the Executive Director and Founder of the CIS, was showing me how the CIS was live streaming the event from his media devices. Sky News was also here recording the event and adding to the media presence.

This week has been an extremely busy week and I am looking forward to flying back to Perth for the weekend to attend a friend’s wedding. Until next week!

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