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Thus Spake Mungo: The prick tease is over

The final jobs for the boys and girls have been squared away, the pointless tit-for-tat over taxpayer advertising and who is closer to the Chinese have been shelved, and Melissa Price has obediently signed off on Adani, as ordered by the Queensland Nats.

Even the hysterical nonsense attacking electric cars has abated in the face of facts even Josh Frydenberg was forced to acknowledge. ScoMo has finally stopped playing funny buggers and called the election.

Or, if you want to be cynical about it, he has kicked off five weeks of playing funny buggers, slogans, scares, and improbable promises in the hope of hanging on to power. And as he tells it, it is all about me and all about him – a brutal personal contest between Scott Morrison, the reliable deliverer of a stronger economy, and Bill Shorten, the untrustworthy wrecker of a weaker one.

But of course it isn’t as simple as that; as more than 50 Newspolls attest, there will be a lot of marketing to do before our beleaguered leader can even catch sight of the finishing line. When the last Newspoll provided a boost, optimistic Liberals said that the summit could now be glimpsed, that they were near enough if good enough, that they were back in the race. But the poll still left the coalition a bad loser and other polling suggests that it is even worse than that.

And while the polls may be variable and volatile, there is one set of figures that has not changed and will not until May 18

And while the polls may be variable and volatile, there is one set of figures that has not changed and will not until May 18: the current state of the parties. So bear with me while we crunch a few numbers.

In the just prorogued 150 seat House of Representatives the coalition held 74 seats to Labor’s 69, with the remaining seven crossbenchers. But in the election to come there has been a redistribution: two coalition seats – Dunkley and Corangamite, both in Victoria – have become notionally Labor and the new seat of Bean in the ACT is also expected to go Labor’s way. So in the new 151-seat house the starting point is coalition 72, Labor 72.

The Libs hope to pick up two of the independents, the retiring Cathy McGowan in Indi and Kerryn Phelps in Wentworth, which would bring them back to 74. And they hope to win seats from Labor in New South Wales in particular, and possibly in Queensland. Realistically, they might hope for two, which would push them over the line for majority government. But let’s be generous and throw in another three wildcards: coalition 79, Labor 67, crossbench five.

On that basis Labor needs nine seats for victory, and on current indications should get there comfortably. But it will not be what Morrison might call a canter; while Shorten is clearly the favourite, he cannot make too many mistakes in the actual campaign – the awful example of Michael Daley in New South Wales will be constantly in his mind.

And Morrison has at least two things going for him. The most obvious is the Murdoch media, which have given up any pretence of being news organisations and will be devoted fulltime to pushing out anti-Labor propaganda. And the second in the punters’ longstanding lack of enthusiasm for Shorten, which is why Morrison is going to make his key message a negative one about the opposition leader.

The right-wing media can’t wait, predicting a brutal and divisive personal campaign

The right-wing media can’t wait, predicting a brutal and divisive personal campaign – just what it had urged for months. Morrison immediately released Treasury modelling on Labor’s proposals to claim that Labor’s ‘tax hike’ would be $387 billion, which Josh Frydenberg claimed would be a decrease in income of $5,400 a year for every Australian.

Actually very few Australians will lose anything like that, and most won’t lose at all – Labor’s closing of the rorts and loopholes is targeted almost exclusively at the rich, who (a) can afford it and (b) vote Liberal. And in any case, what was Treasury doing costing Labor’s policies in the first place?

The Treasury boss, Phil Gaetjens, responded indignantly that Treasury had not costed Labor’s proposals and never would, which made it sound as if he was calling his prime minister a liar. But not really; Morrison had not asked for Labor’s proposals, but for purely hypothetical proposals that just happened to coincide with his version of what Shorten had been saying, and of course Gaetjens obediently complied. This is known as the doctrine of plausible deniability.

That’s $387 billion over ten years, admittedly, but it still sounded a lot. The problem was that most of it – $230 billion – was for Morrison’s own pie-in-the-sky tax cuts a couple of elections away. The rest, $157 billion, was largely about eliminating the concessions awarded to the rich in the Howard-Costello years. And it was noteworthy that even then it was considerably less than the hype about Labor’s $200 billion in new taxes – apparently $43 billion had mysteriously disappeared. No matter; the battle had been joined, the onslaught had begun.

Morrison’s attack was simple to the point almost of inanity: it’s the economy, me strong, him weak, me good, him unspeakable

Morrison’s attack was simple to the point almost of inanity: it’s the economy, me strong, him weak, me good, him unspeakable. Shorten’s reply was somewhat more complicated, mainly because he had a lot more to say. His agenda is comprehensive – perhaps a little too comprehensive for the heat of a campaign, which will be dominated by sloganeering.

And he is defiantly trying to keep to the high ground, determinedly positive and sticking to policy rather than personal insult. Somewhat more prime ministerial than Morrison, certainly, but a difficult stance to maintain for a full five weeks – inevitably he will have to reply to what he insists are Morrison’s lies as the brawling heats up.

And given the coalition’s desperation, it undoubtedly will. Peter Dutton showed what was to come by putting the boot into Ali France, his disabled Labor opponent, claiming she was trying to capitalise on her amputee status. Presumably she cut her leg off just to win a couple of votes.

Initially Morrison said Dutton was taken out of context, which is pollie-speak for admitting it was clear, explicit and appalling, but he didn’t want to talk about it; however, after public outrage, he wrung a grudging apology out of the unrepentant Dutton.

But ScoMo is happy to keep the campaign as mean and ugly as possible. Let’s face it, it’s a bit late to change now.


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14 responses to “Thus Spake Mungo: The prick tease is over”

  1. Mungo – you said it, I read it. Time for
    2 paracetamol & a long lie-down.

  2. Emily Stewart says:

    What a high price we pay when Environment minister Melissa Price obediently signed off on Adani, as ordered by the Queensland Nats. It was coal comfort and a black day.

  3. Tim Shanasy says:

    Any LNP voter of past, that is blindly going to vote for them again, is clearly blind to the consequences of further climate change acceleration that would blast their kids’ futures with runaway temperature rise and associated weather extremes of heat, drought, storms, floods and snow blizzards (northern hemisphere).
    Three scientists in 1912, published their findings that

    Carbon Dioxide

    Methane (86 times worse for global warming than carbon dioxide)

    Nitrous Oxide (300 times worse than carbon dioxide)

    if added to existing levels in the Earth’s atmosphere, will produce a chemical hot-house effect, by reflecting what normally escapes out into space, back down into the atmosphere below.
    It turns up the energy that drives everything in the weather system.

    It’s like putting ether in your car’s petrol tank.

    Climate change has been predicted scientifically for well over a hundred years.
    Now, we are just starting to feel it, but the statistics increasingly show we are in for a hell of a lot worse than we previously thought.

    ScoMo has no idea at all, and proudly and jokingly brandished a lump of coal in parliament !!! LNP’s girly-man Cormann, thinks “Coal is good” !!! OMG

    If you have been an LNP voter in the past, PLEASE think of what your kids and their kids are going to have to try to survive through, if our government doesn’t act immediately to help the world reduce these emissions.

    My grandkid is only 9 and I’m very very worried..

    If the tipping point is breached, then NOTHING we do, will make any difference. It’ll be like your oven turned up high, with no thermostat.

    What sane voter would vote for THAT ??

  4. Yes Emily, I’ve lost a good deal of sleep wondering why
    it is now so easy to deliberately lie to the public & yet get
    away with it [Glad NSW Premier] then Environment
    Minister [Melissa] on behalf of the Queensland Nationals.
    I guess we expect better judgement from women. Anyway,
    I won’t ever foster that mistaken belief again. They’re – both
    women – too pitiful for words. As it’s said ‘we are judged by
    the company we keep.’

  5. Stephen Bond says:

    I am seeking some advice here please: if a young member of the family picks up this edition of The Echo, reads Mungo’s headline, and asks what a ‘prick tease’ is, how might I best explain it? Should I demonstrate my e-rude-ition?

  6. Martin sullivan says:

    Last night’s Q&A my first experience of James Mc Grath. Question: is he better or worse than Teena Mc Queen? where do they get them from?
    Thank you Mungo for making an old man laugh

  7. Mulch says:

    It’s going to be just like the NSW election. A Communist revolution just doesn’t appear attractive at the moment …

  8. robot says:

    My sandwich is made in a factory, as is political comment. So who do we vote for, the saviours of everything pure I guess, the puritans, as they roll out their taxes on our sins and the sins of our past.

  9. robot says:

    There’s no need for a revolution, Mulch, we have Socialism.

  10. robot says:

    After all, what is the country looking at, a return to native aboriginal arrangements, basically, a decided allotment of land with no real ownership, totem, governing according to legend, the piecemeal of food according to effort entailed, and the pick of the new crop going to the masters, or elders, if you prefer, if they live that long, and belief based on words passed down in ritual, enforced in ritual. Regeneration based on stealing neighbouring women. In toto, socialism. Which is what we are looking at. Did I mention the pointed bone?

  11. robot says:

    Les Murray told me to add is to make a fool of yourself. I don’t care. Myself I depend on socialism, I’m on a robot allowance. But total socialism would see me prithee to the privy. Sure we consider others, think globally. We also have to act for ourselves, that goes beyond acting locally , which is a mime, it means from the heart. My robot heart tells me the contract is in danger. Capitalism for all its worst allows for more than the other, which only amounts to have a nice day.

  12. Craig P says:

    Yes Stephen Bond …agree…any language is acceptable it would seem … !!! Getting onto the election campaign….will not vote for the coalition…egos.. or the greens ..the new leader is Dangerous…and bill shortens campaign is a absolute disaster!! This party has had 6 years to get accross its policies , and you would assume the climate change hysteria ..energy policies would be front and centre apparently not …once again shorten and his finance minister have had ample time to put together some costings on what its going to cost the taxpayer’s ?? Even a estimation no way it seems …Uh Uh Uh on energy costs ……….could not understand the Question asked regarding taxes on superannuation…he did but refused to answer …and than the savings for cancer patients out of pocket…Bill most of it is free anyway .. this is Michael Daley all over again ..except whats at stake ..having this bloke run our country!!! God help us…where is Bob Hawke when you need him ….the only fiscal achievement that labor could put their name to ,in the past 30 years would be getting the country through the GFC ..thanks to once again a surplus left to them from the previous Government the coalition…if its your time BILL …you have talked the talk …lets see if you can walk the walk …may all the Gods of the world be with us …

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