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Thus Spake Mungo: Preference deals within a moral vacuum

As the quintessential warrior Winston Churchill once put it, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it may be the end of the beginning. Or, in more contemporary terms, this is where the story really starts.

The first two weeks have seen plenty of punching and counterpunching, feints, retreats, and manoeuvrings. And of course, they have faced more than the usual slew of distractions.

But essentially they have been preliminary skirmishes, testing their various grounds, attempting to determine what is working and what is being ignored.

However, now the battlelines have been set: the electoral rolls have closed, nominations are in, the how-to-vote cards have been finalised, postal voting is under way, Newspoll has tightened, the pre-vote polling has opened and the first  debates are sorted.

Game on.

Both before and after Anzac Day, the leaders jetted around the country, promising much but essentially failing to engage, either with each other or, more importantly, the voters. And as a result, a frustrated media had to fill the gap somehow. So enter The Australian’s Simon Benson, taking a well-earned respite from the arduous task of transcribing his ‘exclusives’ at the dictation of the Liberal Party.

Benson needs to take a cold shower and go back to the principal job of being a stenographer

Benson noticed a Newspoll that found that the dreaded Clive Palmer, far from being hammered into the ground like a tent peg as The Australian had been demanding for most of the decade, was in fact, gaining some traction in some marginal electorates. Benson was aghast at the news.

It defied reason, he gasped; he was a man who has been politically discredited, publicly lampooned, and legally challenged on more than one occasion. But now he is poised to become a kingmaker.

Well, not actually – Benson needs to take a cold shower and go back to the principal job of being a stenographer.

For starters, single-electorate polls are notoriously unreliable: the national polls give Palmer’s UAP less than two per cent, as opposed to the 13 per cent that Newspoll  recorded in Herbert – in Townsville, the very city where Palmer dudded thousands of workers.

And in the unlikely event it was accurate: even Benson admitted that the UAP was not within a bull’s roar of winning the seat, let alone any others. Palmer may squeak into a senate spot, or conceivably (just) two, but it is a long way from certain – or at least it was until it was revealed that the coalition was planning to swap preferences with the man who once called Scott Morrison Heinrich Himmler.

Some Libs, and even some Nats, will find it hard to stomach the idea that their party is prepared to get into bed with Palmer

The swap is presumably designed to prop up LNP candidates in the Queensland bush, where several are in deep trouble. The problem, as with all kowtowing to the extremists, is that it could potentially lose more votes than it can gain. Some Libs, and even some Nats, will find it hard to stomach the idea that their party is prepared to get into bed with Palmer.

And in any case, could he deliver? Whatever his how-to-vote cards may say, the kind of fringe dwellers who will give the UAP their first preferences can hardly be relied on to follow the script, particularly if they are smart enough to know that if they give their second preferences to the LNP, they are effectively voting for the LNP anyway, which obviously they did not intend to do.

And wherever the real support for the UAP may lie, it is a safe bet that it is bleeding more votes from the coalition than from Labor, so legitimising it with a deal is almost certainly counterproductive. But what the hell, ScoMo is desperate enough for anything.

ScoMo is desperate enough for anything. He keeps telling us that it is not his decision, it is a matter for the party. Bullshit

He keeps telling us that it is not his decision, it is a matter for the party. Bullshit – he could at least restrain the Libs if he wanted to, as he did with One Nation after the Al Jazeera exposé.

And then he insists that any deal has nothing to do with policy, declaring himself a moral vacuum. No principle, or consistency, or any idea of what is to happen beyond May 18. But once you plunge into that chum bucket, it can be bloody hard to get out of it. At the very least it has an ugly look, and one that is not the image of pious pentacostalism Morrison is trying to cultivate.

And within his media backers, it will be even more difficult to justify.

The Murdoch press has run its holy war against Palmer relentlessly and unceasingly – hectares of newsprint have been deployed to tell the nation that the mogul should be excoriated by all decent citizens. Now it faces the reality that not only has its campaign failed dismally, but its chosen redeemer – the immaculate Morrison – is in league with its own antichrist. It will be fascinating to watch the moral absolutists square that circle.

They will find a formula, of course – they always do. But the obvious one is simply the power of money, the millions Palmer has already spent to buy influence and the more millions planned. This, at least, is something the employees of Rupert Murdoch can relate to.

But in the end Palmer is, as Morrison once called him, a sideshow; the real acrobats are the ones in the big top

But in the end Palmer is, as Morrison once called him, a sideshow; the real acrobats are the ones in the big top. And given the lack of any death-defying stunts, but a few pratfalls instead, the one-on-one debates will assume more importance than usual. Thus Shorten, as the front runner, wants, by and large, to stick to policy. But ScoMo, more personally popular (or at least less unpopular), is keen to display himself, the perpetual PR man, his fixed grin determinedly authentic.

So to celebrate Easter, Morrison dragged the media into his church so they could photograph him with his hands in the air and his eyes closed, a spectacle that stimulated The Australian’s full-time evangelist Greg Sheridan to the brink of theological orgasm.

Yet the enduring image of the week was that of our prime minister bouncing a soccer ball on his head.

Or possibly vice versa.


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23 responses to “Thus Spake Mungo: Preference deals within a moral vacuum”

  1. Len Heggarty says:

    Yes, Mungo, we have seen some paunches in fat cats pushing out prominently and them pontificating and there has been some pinching and punching in the back alley in the pugilistic art of prolonged posturing but in this political punch-up we have not seen any public policy being presented or being punctuated with any presidios punctuality. What we have seen are two political punks projecting plenty of politics in promoting promises for prestige with the public in their provinces.

  2. Chris Hungerland says:

    Why do “the candidates – any candidates – bother? Surely it must have come to them that nobody who’s made it past third grade BELIEVES ANYTHING THEY HAVE TO SAY?!? They’re ALWAYS campaigning. Period. And they’re ALWAYS distorting facts to suit their own purposes. WE ALL KNOW THIS. And THEY know this.

    • Keith Martin says:

      That is why a protest vote is essential. With preference voting, you vote 1 for your protest following with whoever you want as prime minister.

  3. Keith Martin says:

    We need a BIG protest vote. In this electorate it is Clive. Second preference who you normally vote for that way you get TWO votes and tell the Canberra remote controllers you are NOT happy.

  4. Flounder says:

    Hey Len, does your oxford dictionary start and stop with the letter P.

  5. Tweed says:

    Pre poll is now open for the next 3 weeks.
    When you go down to vote at pre poll or on election day, take a good hard look at the election flyers each candidate has for you to see their party’s most important policies, before you make that important decision.
    Labor the Greens and others have their policies on the back of their flyers.
    The Nationals have none, not one single policy do they have on their flyers.
    Just LABOR LABOR LABOR LABOR, contrived, meaningless, nonsense they have just made up and had babbled out on the back of the flyers, because some spin doctor told them thats your only real hope without any real policies.
    Negative desperate campaigning?
    How can any serious political party go to an election with no policies, treating voters like this. it’s insulting?
    It’s very easy to see why the Nationals only receive 4% of the vote “Nationally” with their vote falling every election, with clowns running the show like that.
    Why won’t the Nationals mention any policies, are their policies really that bad, or is it that all their hidden Ministers are far to scandal ridden to come out of hiding while the election is on?
    Or is it they just don’t have any policies they want to talk about and give their whole phoney charade away?

  6. Tim Shanasy says:

    “…to the brink of theological orgasm”.

    This sounds like an historical human force whence politics came.

    Oh, the yearning for a science based civilisation without the ultimate notions of non-existent gods to solve our problems and inadequacies.

    Thanks Mr MacCallum..

  7. Kathy says:

    Hey Keith, I had the recent experience of watching votes being counted after the polls closed. Your plan has votes in the pile called expired votes. Protest votes caused brexitt The consequences of Palmer coming in as king maker are not so absurd – do you really want this big spending trump politics on your conscience?

  8. Roma Newton says:

    Makes ya so proud, don’ it ? If ya go for SLo Mo and his ingratiating perpetual smug smile, ya get “MEE and the Gummit I lead”..

    Now, I ask ya, Mungo – makes ya so proud to be “Stray-yun”, now don’ it ??? Another 3 years ? I can’t stomach another 3 minutes.

  9. Mark R Ryan says:

    Dear Mungo.
    Bravo!!!
    I was travelling from Bathurst to Orange this afternoon, and noticed a very big, very wide, and very expensive (from the perspective of a Queensland Nickel worker, if not its owner) billboard, with a picture of Jabba the Gut, and the words ‘Make Australia Great’. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I hadn’t a bottle of ipecac with me.
    Thank you so much for an article that names the beast.
    Mark R

  10. Keith Martin says:

    Votes are only expired after used or a candidate is elected.
    Trump unemployment rate is half Australias with growth above 3%
    Sadly no Aussie party comes close.

  11. Yes Tweed. They know what we know & have been known for it
    always mostly since the GFC. The soccer ball’s vice versa-ing &
    getting a mite giddy too if it helps. Sigh… can’t we find enough
    no-nuthin’-candidates runnin’ as in-dee-pen-dints to kick the two
    coincidental front-runners out of the ballpark owned by Palmer
    & the red extension mark in this neck-less leg of the woods?
    See – the pref-vote system can’t really help now & I don’t trust
    the big 2 & – for the life of me – I can’t grow extra Greens
    who at least listen & have decent well thought out policies.
    We need a change. And, yes Roma. I can’t stomach another 3
    years of what we’ve got now. No way. No how.

  12. Mark R Ryan says:

    Dear Mungo, all.
    Keith, do you think that the comparative minimum wage might have something to do with it? Trump presides over a minimum wage of $7.25hr US. The $A is at 70c. The minimum wage in Australia, converted to $US is $13.25/hr.
    If you are going to give Forrest Trump and his posse of pachyderms credit for 3%, perhaps it would be best to give them responsibility for the exploitative wages, surely?

    Eureka!!! I’ve finally worked out what the ‘again’ at the end of MAGA implies. The first time America was Made Great was in the slavery era too.
    Cheers
    MarkR

  13. robot says:

    All a lot of feelings. Of course politicians lose track of their original intentions when they joined in, it’s a hurly burly world. But commentators make their own insinuations, often on behalf of minor parties and independants. They’re no different in the long run and in the short run they make administration difficult, if not impossible. Which all just gives them more credence, ironically, nothing continues to happen. As much as Dickson’s behaviour is inexplicable, this is still Al Jazeera’s take, a foreign influence on our electoral system and clearly so.

  14. robot says:

    We would feel the same way if it was the CIA, a player in our game, and you would remember Mangostein it was, tho never proven. Yes the p’s Len, preponderant, posturing, prolific. Maybe we should have a p party, to put the past to pasture and proffer appeasement for the puritans. Practically of course, with port and aperitifs.

  15. robot says:

    To get back to facts, Elliot in Richmond has been campaigning for six years, full page ads that long in the local papers, and basically derisive of her major contenders, nothing informational. This is plain Bolshevik philosophy, control the means of information. Now our children are being dragged into the fight for the purse. One hundred percent renewable? It’s a con. There’s no such thing as perpetual motion.

  16. robot says:

    Every environmentalist when you ask them and they tell you the truth will tell you it’s not about how much energy we can produce but how much we use. And all the past environmentalism has been about regulation, our systems are full of it. So even a good proportion of renewable energy will eventually mean what we’re allowed. And someone deciding that on our behalf. Paris has car control. The control will continue as our population diminishes and finally what’s left of us are under a weather dome, in order protect the world outside. And our only job left will be to control the air in the dome, sat there at the terminals, with everything else provided by robots.

  17. JEEEsssss, Robot. Perpetual motion if you please.
    Some see it all the time – depends on how much &
    what one drinks.

  18. Cpruul says:

    What a absolute embarrassment the two major parties are …!!! And no more so than Bill Shorten…this politician makes Michael Daley look like a seasoned professional….what a joke ..cant explain his own policies… oh he did attempt to compare 10 McDonald’s burgers with Global warming…has only had six years practice, to be accross any of labors policies.. …i guess if he needs reminding…he could ask ..Getup , which shorten started …or the unions… or the Greens who seem to have a lot to say !! Just ask Julia Gillard…!! And what of the Greens …..the Greens have changed for the worse…the Greens leader is a absolute basket case… …Bob Brown was a leader…at the very least he was a humble leader … when i used to vote for the Greens ..!!!,.and also the Coalition who sold of our assets… port of Darwin … poles and wires ..in NSW …so iam left with little Choice …such is the Mess this country is faced with ATM ..

  19. Doug says:

    Cpruul,
    the Short Bill did extremely well on Q&A last night. (Well worth a look…)

    I would also advise people to think very carefully about Clivus Palmer. Apparently there was an article in the Fairfax media about him owning or controlling a large tract of land next door to the Adani Galilee Basin land. Clive seems only to care about Clive, so I feel we should be extremely careful where our primary & preferences go. This could be the deciding election for the Australian environment.D

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