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Byron Shire
April 23, 2021

Thus Spake Mungo: Liar liar, political pants engulfed by inferno

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A short week of campaigning and an even shorter one to come – which is perhaps why the temperature has ramped up to almost febrile levels.

There was a heap of colour and movement, lots of smoke and mirrors. But whether it actually achieved anything substantial is at best dubious.

There were the usual distractions – dual citizenships, damaging Tweets from the past, gaffes and miss-steps, a dilemma over the kids stuck in Syria, craziness from the frotting wanker Advance Australia’s Captain GetUp, more embarrassment from George Christensen and the usual unhelpful intervention from Tony Abbott.

And bigger than all of them the disaster of Notre Dame, already the subject of demented conspiracy theories involving Islamic Jihadists. There were even a few hasty extra promises aimed at a public well and truly promised out – and there are four weeks to go. But mainly there was noise – if anyone could be bothered to listen.

The loudest, most belligerent, the most repetitive and of course the shoutiest was Scott Morrison, screaming liar about the policies of Bill Shorten – or rather his interpretation of them, which was not the same thing. Somewhat reluctantly Shorten responded, calling ScoMo a liar in return.

The figures of the cost of the various agendas have now escalated from the hundreds of missions to hundreds of billions

Either or both may be at least partly right, but the problem is that that the argument, to flatter the brawl, is going way over the heads of the hardworking taxpayers at whom it was aimed. The figures of the cost of the various agendas have now escalated from the hundreds of missions to hundreds of billions – fantasy numbers incomprehensible to normal workers.

And as a result, they have turned off; most don’t believe them, especially when they have been projected beyond two or more elections, but in any case they have been dismissed as simply noise – increasingly extravagant claims and counterclaims,  assertions and contradictions, a blur of incomprehensible statistics,  page after page of tables  about who wins and who loses in one, five or ten years time, endless pots of gold at end of ephemeral  rainbows.

This is not just ordinary noise – it is more properly white noise, a background buzz whose only purpose may be to induce sleep. And it is unlikely to let up, which in the end will not be good news for ScoMo’s marketing strategy.

However, he has no real choice – the economy is his only hope, the coalition’s chosen battleground, and if he cannot defeat Shorten in that field, he effectively has nothing left.

He has tried to broaden the attack, bellowing that everything depends a strong economy – it is only through his diligence that Australia can provide schools, hospitals, roads, the environment – the whole shebang.

And in one sense that is true, but in the other – the perception that the economy is not being used to benefit the broad commonwealth, but is being  subverted to give concessions, lurks, perks and rorts to favour the fat cats who fund Liberal Party coffers – is utterly counterproductive, and Shorten appears to be getting some traction for this heresy.

Big issues discerned by a war-weary electorate – climate change, obviously, but also health, education and welfare he is celebrating – are all largely under Labor’s control

And Morrison can only try and shout him down, because the other big issues discerned by a war-weary electorate – climate change, obviously, but also health, education and welfare he is celebrating – are all largely under Labor’s control.

Normally the confusion and apathy would help Labor – as the front runner, Shorten can afford to allow ScoMo to rant away, to market his unheard nostrums into oblivion.

But as mentioned, the economy is not only the coalition’s chosen turf – apart from the almost obsolete obsession with border security, it is the only area where the polls give them a clear advantage.

Voters appear to have stuck with the belief that the conservatives make superior money  managers – not particularly good ones, but better than the Labor alternative. The coalition, trumpets Morrison, will always deliver  lower taxes – except that it doesn’t.

The coalition will look after families – except that it has given us three years of wage stagnation and no clear idea of what to do about it

The tax take in the last five years has been substantially higher than that of the Rudd-Gillard years. The coalition will reduce debt and deficit – except that national debt has doubled on the times of Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison. The coalition will look after families – except that it has given us three years of wage stagnation and no clear idea of what to do about it.

The money manager argument does not bear serious scrutiny, and ScoMo can only be grateful that the punters are too exhausted to scrutinise it.

So while Shorten will get away with fudging costs over his climate policies and closing the tax loopholes, Morrison will be able to dodge questions over spending cuts to pay for long term tax cuts and back loading to delay infrastructure.

Swings and roundabouts, the former being what Morrison needs and the latter what Shorten favoured at Luna Park on Saturday. But the difference is that while Shorten will still have other things to talk about. Morrison will not – it has to be the economy or nothing. Stay on the message, even if the punters have heard it, rejected it, and just wish it would go away.

The consensus – the irrefutable conviction, if you believe the Murdoch press – is that the week belonged to Morrison, if only be default: Shorten’s misunderstanding of a question about superannuation was seen as a serious blunder.

But in spite of Morrison’s efforts to memorialise it, it unlikely to last past the long weekend, and nor will Morrison’s transitory win

There are still questions about dodgy transactions over water to be pursued

And nothing else has really changed in a substance: there are still questions about dodgy transactions over water to be pursued and the odd intervention from Malcolm Turnbull, but no gotcha moments, no game changers.

This week we are told that Shorten will pursue the case for restoring penalty rates and Morrison will, as always, say no, it would wreck Australia’s strong but amazingly fragile economy. And he will keep saying it, shouting it, screaming it – the essence of marketing in constant repetition.

The only refuge will be to lock yourself in a soundproof, darkened room for a month, if you don’t want to end up in a padded cell.

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  1. There is nothing like a holiday week to run down the shortened campaign week into a few days last week and a few days this week. How weak is that when we now have to quickly march in April on our way to a May election.

  2. …..or vote as soon as the pre-poll opens so you can ignore all the bull. That is my intention anyway.

    I did the ABC survey, & worked out where my vote will go. Both major parties are not doing enough for climate change as far as I am concerned. I might be an oldie, but I can see the difference from when I was a child: you cannot even trust drinking from creeks now! Are our endangered species not worth saving?
    I feel there is a need to replace vehicles with Electric vehicles (or other technologies) to reduce pollution as well as reducing our import of fossil-based fuels. If the economy is as dodgy as it seems, it seems a no-brainer that we should reduce imports. Neither major party has a real policy to assist with this change. (if this had happened last century when cars replaced horses, we would now be awash in Horse excrement!) I am also an Anti-Adani voter.

    Wake up Australia! Vote for your children/Grand-children & future generations.

  3. I agree Doug, & it’s not just because I’m an old voter. They’re both
    twits. It’s not play-dough they are playing with either. Both need IQ
    testing plus lie-detecting. Ex-greens leader Bob Brown has called
    them out – & how! Yes – I’m an anti-Adani voter too & Mungo’s
    spot-on with his ‘white noise’ theory.

    I second ‘wake up Australia’. The student strikers deserve a vote
    of confidence NOT conning politicians. I’m voting pre-poll to save
    my sanity.

  4. Of course the Liberals are the best money managers.
    Cut taxes to the already wealthy.
    Cut taxes to corporations and allow them to import 1.2 million slave labour workers who have no rights.
    This puts millions into their election campaigns as well as lining themselves up for lucrative jobs when they leave politics.
    This is paid for by cutting spending on health, education, infrastructure etc and freezing wages.

  5. Well, the debate continues to titillate the Nation but a quick look at the money says that the Coalition has “run it’s course” this time around anyway.

    Sportsbet who are as good as any of the others puts Labor on $1.22 and the Coalition as firm outsiders on $4.25…..The figures are firm enough not to discuss the matter further.

    Of course they’ll be back but I’m hoping I will be “pushing up daisies” by then.


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