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April 21, 2021

Thus Spake Mungo: The result

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History, declared Henry Ford, is bunk. And last Saturday, the Australian electorate agreed.

Rather than punishing the coalition for nearly six years of civil war, policy inertia, dysfunction and backstabbing, the voters rewarded them.

Scott Morrison, the opportunist who manoeuvred around the chaos until the chance came for the personal advantage he had always coveted, was rechristened as the great healer – the new Messiah. And his gospel became not hope and optimism, but fear and timidity.

Billy McMahon’s reply to Gough Whitlam’s  ‘It’s Time’ was ‘Not Yet’. In 1972 it was comprehensively ridiculed. In 2019, it has become a triumphant mantra. Indeed, the times have changed.

The obvious winners are Morrison himself, who, like the man from Snowy River, alone and unassisted brought them back, and the hyperpartisans of the Murdoch media, who were shameless and relentless in their pursuit of Bill Shorten.

The obvious losers are Shorten, Labor and the opinion pollsters, who, if they have any decency, would retire to their libraries with loaded revolvers and prepare for a dignified end

And the obvious losers are Shorten, Labor and the opinion pollsters, who, if they have any decency, would retire to their libraries with loaded revolvers and prepare for a dignified end.

But perhaps the biggest loser is serious political debate. It is now clear that positive policies, developed and argued over many months – in some cases years – are simply not acceptable: too complex, too risky. The road to success is  negativity, personal abuse and scare, whether or not it has any resemblance to truth.

If you like, you can blame Paul Keating as the great exemplar; he was the man who won the 1993 unloseable election by destroying John Hewson’s Fightback package. From there John Howard gave us children overboard, Tony Abbott the carbon tax and the invasion of the people smugglers, and Bill Shorten brought us up to date with Mediscare.

But this year ScoMo raised the stakes and lowered the level: his anti-campaign was not just about the terrible perils of Shorten’s policies, but overwhelmingly about the man himself – it was personal. And it worked: the lingering doubts about Shorten, the fear even among Labor supporters that he was carrying too much baggage and was too unpopular to be electable, came to fruition.

After three years in which the polls told us that a Labor victory was inevitable, the one that mattered went sour

After three years in which the polls told us that a Labor victory was inevitable, the one that mattered went sour. Labor needed a mere net four seats to gain government; in the end they may have managed just one, while the coalition may win eight.

Labor did not win a single state and was wiped out in Queensland – it was almost a relief that the party already had so few seats to lose in the sunshine state and only dropped two. Two more in Tasmania ensured Morrison’s election, almost certainly in majority government.

It was, the ostentatious Pentacostal PM averred, a miracle, and his zealous co-religionists who had already hailed his leadership as an act of divine will, will no doubt agree that the Almighty has now intervened to officially anoint their chosen one.

Morrison still has to deal with Barnaby Joyce, but the Beetrooter’s plans for insurrection will have to be shelved – his boring leader, Michael McCormack, has held all the Nationals seats and increased their vote

Although He has also cast out the Mad Monk – Tony Abbott has finally left the parliament, if not the building. This is of course a bonus for Morrison – the perennial trouble maker, the great wrecker, is out, along with Malcolm Turnbull. Morrison still has to deal with Barnaby Joyce, but the Beetrooter’s plans for insurrection will have to be shelved – his boring leader, Michael McCormack, has held all the Nationals seats and increased their vote.

Morrison has plenty of clear air to revel in his unlikely supremacy. The question, of course, is what will he do with it? His policy agenda has been kept deliberately threadbare, in order not to distract from the central message – kill Bill, it’s him or me.

In winning he will be unassailable, but still vacuous: apart from the big tax reforms, most of which are still effectively on the never never, he won’t have a lot to talk about. This will not prevent him from making a lot of noise – nothing could do that. But it will mean that when he does get around to trying a modicum of legislation, he will have to move cautiously.

He can hardly claim a mandate for things he has not foreshadowed and although the new senate will be a bit easier to manage than the old one, it will be no pushover. But the biggest problem could well be the one Tony Abbott ran into in the  2014 budget – big unscripted commitments, broken  promises.

If Morrison foreshadowed any agenda at all, it was one of steady as she goes – not a time for change, no surprises, no risks. But even inside the ScoMo bubble, politics does not work like that. There are already challenges that have to be faced – despite all the sloganeering the economy is not strong and may not even deliver the much vaunted surplus Morrison has already celebrated as done and dusted.

Action on climate change can be delayed indefinitely – that, after all, has been coalition policy for yonks; why break the habit of a lifetime? But wage stagnation is an urgent problem – if Morrison has any ideas apart from the long discredited trickle down theory, it will have to be addressed, and that will be contentious.

The honeymoon will be an extended one, because the opposition will be shell-shocked for many weeks. First it will have to find a new leader, which will probably trigger a brawl in itself

But the honeymoon will be an extended one, because the opposition will be shell-shocked for many weeks. First it will have to find a new leader, which will probably trigger a brawl in itself. The two most obvious contenders, Anthony Albanese and Tanya Plibersek, are both from the left and will be factional rivals, and even if they can reach an accommodation the dominant right factions may jack up.

Their leading man would have been Chris Bowen, but as the architect of Labor’s failed reform plan, he is badly tarnished. Both Richard Marles and Jim Chalmers have been favourably mentioned in dispatches, but are virtually unknown to the general public – selling either would be a big ask.

And then there will be big policy issues to resolve – climate change may still be a plus for progressives, but it is clear Adani is poison: it was obviously a key to the Queensland debacle, infecting not only the seats in the north and west, but leeching into the outer suburbs of Brisbane Labor had hoped to win.

The paradigm has flipped: the last few years saw the constant brawling between the conservatives and moderates within the Liberal Party, now Labor is facing its own showdown between the progressives and the traditionalists. It will not be easy to resolve.

The world has not ended, and is not about to: life and politics will go on and in spite of ScoMo there will be changes. But for the moment, the slate has been wiped: history is bunk. 

So on to the future.

And as Henry Ford also said, you can have any colour you want – as long as it is black.

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  1. Morrison is definitely NOT the Messiah – much more like a very naughty boy.

    Please Mr Morrison, when you are ready to break your first promise, let it be the one about not increasing NEWSTART. So many people are living in terrible hardship on this appallingly low payment.

    • I agree with this, newstart should at least be equivalent to other benefits for 6 or 7 weeks, with options for more. It’s not always a worker’s fault he loses a job, the business can go belly up. And new work can take time. If there is a family involved, or a mortgage, extra complications.

  2. It’s not that India doesn’t have plentiful reserves of coal. It does, and it is the world’s second-largest producer and importer, following China…Australians are selling their souls once again.You worried about what was above the land sold to the Chinese,but did not give fig what you sold underneath.Worst of all, no one considered the future of children. While you were worried about your franking credits, you forgot that Scotty boy will privatise your health care, and you will either have to pay your healthcare yourself, or have nothing.

    So while the miracle worker, not JC is crowing away.The backyard boys will be in full flight to get rid of him.
    Thanks Mungo ,the smurfs came from under ground and ate the clever country.

  3. Australia is on the brink of substantial social and economic reform that will culminate in a Treaty to include First Nations then a Republic. The 2019 election has identified economic concerns as the stumbling block. So, what is it about the economy that’s holding things up?

    The future will be governed with the equitable inclusion of women. Critical mass for inclusion is a third in representation. Last year the Financial Review indicated that: “As of July 2018, women accounted for 28.2 per cent of ASX 200 company board seats”, and that: “Women today own almost 40 per cent of Australia’s small businesses”. In the same month the SMH confirmed that: “There are just 14 female chief executives running the top 200 listed companies and only 24 female chief financial officers”, and that “there are still 23 companies in the ASX200 with no women in their executive leadership team”. While women have a voice in small business, they’ve yet to attain critical mass at the big end of town. It’s no coincidence that big business aligns with conservative politics. When it comes to being Treaty and Republic ready, women’s business and men’s business friendly, small business fits the criteria. Big business has some way to go.

    Post-election, Australia’s economic agenda will be dominated by Adani, as Mungo suggests occurred to an extent during the election. The battle lines are drawn. The Adani Australia board of directors is comprised of five men and no women. The board of directors of its parent company in India, the Adani Group, is comprised of 22 men and two women. This brazenly sexist approach to economic management is completely out of touch with the modern world and precisely the reason Australia is gridlocked with uncertainty. A prohibition on sexism in corporate governance would be a giant step forward for the economy and the nation. The massive problem Australia has with big business blocking reform in its alliance with conservatives won’t go away until sexism is resolved. It’s a problem that could hardly be more well-defined.

  4. What sets us HUMANS apart from BACTERIA, is that bacteria, when put in a test tube of agar, will eat it and multiply at an exponential rate, until it suddenly runs out of food, then the whole colony dies.

    Humans know this, but currently act in exactly the same way as bacteria, which has no intellect to work out what’s happening.

    Bacteria has an excuse.

    We DON’T..

    So why did we vote for extinction of life on Earth?
    Shucks,, I dunno..!

  5. If you are a coal worker the least you will earn
    per year [without bonus] is $124,000. If you
    are on a basic wage [least level] it’s $36,822.
    Right on, Marlene. We are not the clever or
    lucky country. Workwise, it’s an Election win
    for all miner & coal seam gas workers who
    put their ‘calling’ above the loss of others ie.,
    those on a basic wage – plus local fracking,
    land, farmers, water, environment & reef
    destruction. Doesn’t sound like much. After
    all, it’s all about the money. So easy to
    believe there’s no such thing as Climate
    Change – that’s imagined by those in big
    cities. Yes, it’s a win for ScoMo & ‘the few’
    who will benefit by serving the dollar &
    creating the new disfigurement of Australia.
    NAH! The young won’t forgive or forget…

  6. Rennie!! to the put things into perspective , we are in a very fortunate position to have welfare in this Country….and yes the payments for welfare are just liveable… however the welfare bill in Australia in the last 10 years has doubled…Governments dont have any money , the only money they have is what we give them …now welfare makes up 70 PERCENT of all individuals that pay tax …by far our most costly expense from the current running budget of 550 Billion . Example ..now have worked in the Resource industry Liquefied Gas ..not coal seam ..inwhich iam totally opposed to …and work 14 hours a day including travel ..28 days on 7 days of ..just to get ahead in life to support my wife and family..now my welfare bill last year was 70.000 as was the past 6 years …now iam not happy about that … but thats what you have to pay when taxed at the marginal rate of 46% ..and what was my position in the industry to earn so much money?? cleaning toilets..yes that was cleaning TOILETS …also some driving duties…working in 50 degrees in summer heat …not to proud to do anything to earn some money ..mention this type of work to most people and they turn the nose up ….not doing that…!! One of the best social system’s in the world we have in Australia…we should be all ever so grateful for this..so Rennie we all have choices sit on welfare? Or make the effort to do anything and that includes ANYTHING even MOVE to gain employment..and yes those positions are available to earn big money cleaning toilets…some training..some tickets..are needed …in the Resource industry…

  7. Nostrovia Comrade Mungo…The unlosable election was lost by a lazy,smug man who had no idea after 6 years of watching, learning and holding up bills in Govt. and Bowen had less . Ahhh the silent, non verbal/non hate majority were in this case 70% of the Australian population. I have always said The Libs best asset was Bill in charge of Labor. You are right Mungo . Now they need to sack these inept thinkers and get a good team together that will win in 6 years … no chance before that unfortunately Plibbers and Albo are more left than anyone and Bill will look moderate compared to them.
    The Get up people seem to have spent all their money on getting Tone out but methinks it was a blunder as as it was the happiest and easiest way for Libs to get rid of him too, and certainly were glad not to have to do it themselves.
    Likewise the other blunder was Bobs convoy to Qld as that lost many thousands of votes for Labor/Greens and certainly generated more carbon than it saved.
    Now I await the sore loser mentality aLa Rudd..from the opposites here and on the ABC 🙂 …..
    .Hopefully this also will shut up Turnbull and the idiot son both with huge vested interests in renewables and China, they would have made a squillion if Labor/Greens got in (as in his OZemail windfall)… In my humble opinion…… and without prejudice lol Please… no hate 🙂 …I keep my friends close and your enemies closer .. so rather than never reading Murdochs “rags and Sky”.. Do you think it maybe smart to actually listen to both sides and form a real unbiased opinion?. Or do they make you angry? lol Счастли́во !

  8. You have got egg all over your face, you and all the other “political insiders”. You have been spruiking in this paper for god knows how long that the LNP Government we’re finished come the election. You and the majority of people that read this paper do not have any idea how the majority of Australians think or feel – too wrapped up in your little Byron bubble lifestyle, start digging – Adani
    Oh, and a big shout out to Bob Brown and he rest of the inner-city fools that followed him through Central Queensland, lecturing country people of how they should be living their lives – thanks for delivering massive swings to the National Party in those electorates. Thus, helping to ensure Australia continues to have sensible, responsible government.

    • Correct on every line Mark. There’s Victoria and then there’s Byron Two bubbles that sadly may start to get angrier as the realisation that they were wrong on EVERY level sinks in. Hope they dont weaponise the kids again.

  9. An interesting discussion so far. You know. I’ve not
    spruiked about the LNP being finished, instead I’ve
    made the point that Labor would not commit a ‘no’
    to Adani which meant [to me] it supported Adani
    & the ‘likes of it’. I know the far North, the ‘big city’
    & here – no bias. I support Bob because Climate
    Change is real & will be everyone’s problem far
    sooner than later & if we genuinely care for this
    country we’d have to be absolute rat-bags with
    bats in our antlers is we didn’t have the decency
    & common sense to defend its environment – full
    stop! So, I’m not big on the Nats or Libs & my gut
    feeling is that Labor – just like its 2 opposites – has
    lost the plot too. It’s Australia I’m talking about. Old,
    young, in between & all colours. We need to stop
    the in-fighting – Sydney or The Bush – & bloody well
    grow up!!! Too many Chiefs & know-it-alls will break
    the back of The Great Southern Land & ‘that’ I will
    never forgive any of you for. PS work-wise… I’ve
    cleaned toilets at Townsville Airport, managed a
    caravan park, owned an Italian restaurant & been
    a publisher & book editor. Work’s work. It’s when
    the ‘work form’ controls the country [Murdoch’s]
    we need to ask ourselves what we are selling our
    souls for at the price of others.

  10. Reading the comments here from those barracking for greed and mass extinction as they strut like peecocks and hail this COALition win is sickening. Fools and idiots abound, obviously.
    Poor fella our planet.

  11. Nearly a century ago in 1921 Henry Ford said “History is Bunk”and last Saturday night the pundits said that the ALP was history. In 1921 Henry said his story but I doubt that the ALP is history this year for it has more of its story to tell.

  12. Mystifying that a state that supposedly voted for jobs was prepared to sacrifice 70,000 jobs in tourism and the great barrier Reef for a paltry 1500 in the Adani coal mine. I do feel sorry for those miners expecting a job in one of Clive Palmers new mines in the Galilee Basin too, that Morrison will no doubt approve in return for Clive spending $80m attacking Bill Shorten and destroying Labors election campaign that had at least some big ideas to contest, with repeated lies. Mining will be automated and Palmer doesn’t want unions protecting workers wages conditions or entitlements. He wants cheap labour and tax payer handouts; and the LNP has no plan for supporting workers when the inevitable transition comes. Because come it will. Banks, business, insurance companies and global financial institutions are all saying it loud and clear. The market WILL decide on climate action. Only now workers will be left to fend for themselves. Why they put their trust in a party that delivered work choices and robo debt (and deaths) is a mystery. Tim is right. Bacterial infection

  13. One factor that seems to have been overlooked was the effectiveness of ‘the power of one’. He was in effect another small independent party leader. A just like his exemplars Hanson, Palmer and Steggle he was charismatic, with a crisp simple message which resonated with his target constituency. And like Bryce, prone to exaggeration and blurring the lines between truth and fiction. The Liberal launch exemplified this perfectly. Instead of a ‘just another bloody politician’ from within the ‘political bubble*’ here was a guy unburdened by the institutional weight of legacy. Instead of the great tradition of Menzies and Howard, here was a knock about bloke, a bit of a dag, who you probably could put up with when you watch your kid’s footy match or having to do a team building exercise at work. He talked straight, had helped keep Australia’s borders safe and didnt need an entourage of women (probably being politically correct) around others around him. Hes a light nationalist, a traditional values guy.

    Besides, chaos and disunity was not unique to the Liberals, candidates and parties had been in chaos for a decade; so whats the difference. Like Hilary, institutional support and an electoral coronation were to be abhorred not celebrated. There was no belief in the big end of town, or a groundswell for the change of party like there was under Abbott, Rudd, Howard or Hawke. All four of these were in themselves caricatures while Bill was exceptionally unexceptional. At best. The fact everyone was predicting it to be patchy should have been a clear sign that there wasn’t the demand for change IMHO. But to think that Murdoch pollsters along with Liberal and Labour machines etc were all part of a deep state conspiracy to con the country into is ludicrous.

    I weep for many of his policies. And more again for the lack of them. He walks in with coal and walks out on gay marriage. As Abbott inferred, morality is no substitute for spinning an economic story. A great opportunity for reform was lost, no doubt. From afar (I live in Hong Kong) it proves that for a ll the bellicose rhetoric, voters dint really want change. For all the complaining about cost of living and fairness, they wanted to keep on keeping on, and be led by a bloke who knew the right way to eat a sausage.

  14. I love Bob and his work to save our stunning natural areas… but did he (and others) think this convoy idea through?
    It seems, unfortunately, that the hornets nest was disturbed and now we are all feeling the sting!

    This election will go down as the greatest con job in Australian history.
    Coal mining interests have funded a deceptive advertising campaign with Palmer UAP as a front man.
    They have managed to fool just enough gullible “swing” voters to vote Palmer UAP and then second preference LNP giving the LNP a win, without any national swing to the LNP at all?
    There have been demands to see just where the funds that ran the UAP advertising actually came from.
    But don’t hold your breath, thats the last thing this con man Morrison wants made public.
    Electricity prices were increased 8% in NSW yesterday and bank shares have sky rocketed. There will not be any recommendations of the banking RC.
    The next stage of penalty rates cuts on 1st July!
    Public health, education, public service, ABC are all in for massive cuts.
    Don’t say you were not warned.
    Shorten made the fundamental mistake of stating far too much policy prior to an election and could never win an election with the almost 10 years of Murdoch and MSM “Kill Bill” 24/7 propaganda, no Labor leader will.
    The LNP/MSM just pinned targets on Labor and took pot shots based on a litany of contrived lies and outright deceit.
    There was no Morrison miracle, it was the dirtiest and most deceptive election con job in Australian history, Richmond and Warringah didn’t fall for it, but just about every marginal seat did.
    The great coal mining champion and climate change denier Abbott, lost his seat in the great coal miners election con job win, the irony?
    There is a massive LNP recession caused by “Trickle down economic rhetoric” about to drown Australia, the LNP Govt debt, in just 6 wasted years, is now more than double that of every Govt combined since federation, good luck, you’re going to need it?

  16. Yes – & thanks Tweed, Rhoda & Bruce. Now, maybe
    a short premonition …

    BAGGAGE [Circa May 18th 2019]

    I would like to remind
    The dissenters

    That often
    The wrong key

    In a worn lock
    Will bring

    The house

  17. Hi again, Tweed. Just a tiny bit to consider after
    reading who Bill Shorten is promoting for ALP
    leadership that I cannot agree with. Albanese
    is the only one to take on Morrison – FULL STOP.
    Albo has seen & done it all & knows how to deal
    with ‘the rat’ & there’s no one else in the party
    hopeful with the capability to call the shots.
    Without Albo we’re sunk – fulltime.

  18. I remember an actor finding the wrong key
    had to dissemble

    the director called an extra take
    find the right key he called

    it happened again, just open the door
    the director called, forget the key

    but the door has to be locked,
    called the writer, the secret inside

    that’s the difference between
    actors, directors and writers …


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