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Thus Spake Mungo: bubbles

And so ScoMo’s annus miraculous staggers to an end, with the promise that the next one will be the year of delivery, the one that produces the outcomes which will make all the dithering, procrastination and avoidance of issues all worthwhile.

2019 may not have been a series of unalloyed triumphs, but hey, think of it not as the start of a third term of a jaded and worn out government of muppets, but a fresh first term with Scott Morrison phoenixed from his previous leaders to offer – well, what?

Clearly not a lot in the way of policy, which Morrison apparently regards as some kind of socialist distraction from the real business of government, which is, it now seems, reinforcing and bulletproofing his personal bubble, which The Australian has now christened his network of influence.

The last time this phrase was used was when the Melbourne Age accused the Labor attorney-general turned high court judge Lionel Murphy of dubious and perhaps even corrupt misbehaviour to look after some of his shonky mates and maybe The Australian is, for once, on to something.

Because it is now clear that our Prime Minister is determined to enshrine croneyism as the centrepiece of his administration. Dissenters, whether institutions or individuals, are to be frozen out, while supporters and sycophants are to be embraced and feted. If you have a go, you get a go.

All governments, all prime ministers, have their own republican guard of trusted advisers, but few rely on them exclusively

Of course all governments, all prime ministers, have their own republican guard of trusted advisers, but few rely on them exclusively – they are supposed to be the defensive rearguard, not the front line. And it helps if they are competent. Morrison mates, by and large, do not have a good track record.

Interring them in the bubble may be a source of comfort, but is unlikely to produce useful results – or, in the end, even the political outcomes Morrison is presumably hoping for, simply because his coterie of yes men, women and androids are just not on the same page as most of the voters.

The key principles, to give them a status they hardly deserve, which govern the ethos of the ScoMo bubble are largely negatives: avoid any serious action about climate change (indeed, do not even talk about it, it is never the right time); lock in the obsession with a budget surplus in spite of all the evidence and advice that what is needed is stimulus, not some ideology of fiscal consolidation; resist any suggestion of bipartisanship from the Labor Party, apparently simply because the National Rifle Association’s handbook insists on kneejerk attack at all costs – never apologise, never explain;  and crucially invoke the magic formula of national security to prevent the public’s right to know what is going on.

This is the essence of the bubble: it is based purely about us versus them – them being all but ScoMo’s privileged elite

This is the essence of the bubble: it is based purely about us versus them – them being all but ScoMo’s privileged elite. So although Morrison thinks he is cementing his own authority, it hardly extends beyond the fragile film he has constructed around his vulnerable ego. If you are going to surround yourself with those content to grovel, you are unlikely to convince the masses that you have their (our) interests as a priority.

Britain’s Iron Lady, Margaret Thatcher, saw the importance of implementing her own network of influence, but it extended a long way past her personal bubble. At one stage she told her followers that the whole point of government was to secure the active collaboration of what she called the 60 people around the country who really ran the place, who would keep her legacy alive, preserving the culture of Thatcherism long after she had left active politics.

They may not have always been her disciples, but they could be persuaded, with carrots, sticks and if necessary mass hypnosis, to sign into her agenda – or at least not to oppose it. But the point was that these 60 were the ones who mattered.

The line up provided breathlessly by The Australian over the last couple of weeks includes a raft of nonentities who have little to do with real influence, and everything to do with acquiescence

The line up provided breathlessly by The Australian over the last couple of weeks includes a raft of nonentities who have little to do with real influence, and everything to do with acquiescence. And more importantly, many of those who actually make the decisions in Australia publicly eschew the bubble, some actively criticising it and even working against it.

And of course others will join them, simply because they will be miffed at not being invited into ScoMo’s mad hatter’s tea party. Morrison obviously thinks this is not a problem, but all this shows is that his tin ear remains very tinny indeed.

The great public service purge of last week is a prime example. It was not the biggest shake-up of the bureaucracy since the Hawke years; John Howard’s night of the long knives, in which he sacked a full third of the permanent heads in 1996 remains the dismal benchmark,

But it was almost certainly the most ill-considered. The idea that you merge departments but leave their ministers intact is surely delusional. In the past there have been super departments – defence was a good example. Originally it comprised a senior overarching department and its minister, with junior ministers overseeing portfolios of army, navy and air. But when these were consolidated, the junior ministers moved on or out as was required of them.

Morrison says that his super departments will retain all their old ministers, and on an equal footing – with the certainty of bickering, unease and general divisiveness. Trying to amalgamate agriculture and environment, for instance, was always going to be a hard ask, but with two seriously ambitious ministers who are not even in the same party vying for supremacy trouble is all but certain.

Back in the bubble, Morrison rules – so by definition, if (when) something goes wrong, it cannot be his fault

However, back in the bubble, Morrison rules – so by definition, if (when) something goes wrong, it cannot be his fault, and there will certainly be no one game to tell him if it is – until the bubble bursts, its network of effluence spilling all over the place as the electorate decides that staying quiet is not quite the answer they were looking for.

And perhaps ScoMo , as he is finally forced into the open air, bereft of his protective membrane, is not either.


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24 responses to “Thus Spake Mungo: bubbles”

  1. Len Heggarty says:

    And so … as the year of so much, slowly ends crumpled and crippled in the promise of so lttle, our government and our PM so brittle, breaks for a breather to recoup and recharge for the charge into the new year, that this coming first year of a new decade will bring forth the outcomes and success that was promised for this one.

  2. David says:

    Seeing this splendid column reappear is worth even the wince of the first comment always being Heggarty’s gibberish. Welcome back, Mungo!

  3. Doug says:

    Welcome back Mungo! & A Merry Whatever for you!

    Morrison, I feel needs to read his Bible. I seem to remember there are stories of Humility, & Compassion: something this so-called Government seems to lack.
    We have heard NOTHING about supporting the Firies, or the poor people devastated by these fires. (& Someone I spoke to from Wytaliba not only lost much of the outbuildings around their house, to add insult to injury they had 60mm of rain after the fire, causing a flood! Which washed dirty silt around their house).

    We could really do with a Leader at the moment: The economy is just hobbling along, there are catastrophies happening all around Australia with the nprecedented fires (Of course not that Climate Change had anything to do with it!), then we have this mob of drongos attend the latest Climate Summit & show themselves as the worst Country in the world for Climate action.

    Please, When will we have a Revolution? Or if that is not possible, perhaps Scomo could stand aside so a real leader could LEAD us in to the 21st Century, instead of a revision to the 19th Century!

  4. Valerie Hardy says:

    Welcome back Mungo.
    Happy Christmas!

  5. JA Twaddell says:

    Bravo Mungo! I do like your reinterpretation of “the bubble”. I look forward to the bubble bursting or floating away into the ether. Happy New Year!

  6. Bubbles harbour trouble… but ScoMo wouldn’t
    know what the word toil means. Can’t we have
    an ET dive-bomb the bugger’s bubble-headed
    club-house & cart them all off to some other
    nether world without an audience to lacerate?
    Good to hear & see you’ve returned, Mungo.

  7. john harrison says:

    Deftly dissected, think scalpel and wobbling jelly.

  8. tuatha says:

    So good to see that you are back – best wishes for a happy & healthy New Year.
    The astonishing thing about Mr Shouty is that someone so featherweight can survive the knife wielding, back stabbing, whatever-it-takes types jostling behind him.
    Anyone making book on his surviving 2020?

  9. Vince Kean says:

    Welcome back Mungo and a merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. Having an injection of your good sense and intelligent commentary is a wonderful Christmas present. merry Christmas to all Echo readers.

  10. John H says:

    Welcome back Mungo you were sorely missed. Perhaps being inside the Bubble makes it hard to heard even the quiet Australians, whoever they might be. SoMo certainly doesn’t hear the rest of us. With any luck the hot air they produce inside the Bubble might result in them simply afloat away without leaving a trace.

  11. Charles Boyle says:

    Mungo, you have been sorely missed!

  12. robot says:

    The Greens have a bubble every time they get another council, or advance in the creches. So that would be the opposition, which Labor cannot extract themselves from and which a growing number of voters see as madness, a secondary aspect of influence after the first, who isn’t? My gears are contrived I admit by engineers. Is the world of politics any different, I ask, from all of the influences? We choose the less demented, dithering and decidedly dangerous.
    Even the great victory of environmentalism, recycling, is looking like all their other policies now, a well calculated mess. Of course in 12 years when the world ends it will be another 12 years. The real ditherer was Shorten who couldn’t decide for or against Adani, and paid the price.
    How many ends of the nighing world will we need to see the fault in the reasoning before the West is destroyed to satisfy the Socialists? As the bugbears encircle.
    But glad for an end to your convalescence, Mangosteen, the world needs its nonsense.

  13. robot says:

    How many plastic flower pots can the market consume? And the rubber and plastic road base is yet untested, we’ll know in a few years. My guess is it will fail, simply for the fact environmentalist science is based more on hope than fact. And 12 years a well devised number for the end of the world. In that time robots my vintage will be defunct. And the new set will be ripe for a future influence. You have to hand that to the new socialism, a real good sense of dynamics based on trend and future postulation. The old communist party members and their followers haven’t been knitting shawls; they’re in the cafes talking shop. Some of them from the old Uni of Sydney, like Greer and James, finally escaped the doctrination. And are blamed for it. The usual party faithful divisions.

  14. Mark says:

    Good to have you back Mungo
    I live near the Gospers Mountain fire, down south of you in the Hawkesbury region. For a month now we have had the photos etc in the car unable to do anything but prepare, wait for the fire, hope and listen to the ABC for emergency warnings. My family left for three weeks but I have stayed to defend and at times the anxiety has been such that I . . well it has been tough. Being afraid to sleep at night and unable to breathe outside in the smoke. Once, I reluctantly had to leave, reluctant because I just don’t think I could handle loosing everything now. Our home was here when I got back, thanks to the firies and good luck. This whole community has prayed for some leadership from Ohno but of course there has been nothing other than a photo op at fire control last week, oh yeah, and his ‘thoughts and prayers’ of course. The contempt for the man grows hearabouts, particularly amongst those who voted him in. I personally have never felt otherwise about him. And now our nation stands alone at the climate conference, still in denial. I love my country and nothing can change that, nothing, but I am ashamed of it right now. Climate change denial, inhumane treatment of the worlds most needy, it goes on and on. Not just federally but this state with the fascist cops mistreating our kids etc etc etc etc. sorry to be so negative it’s just that I am feeling ground down? column with its mixture of tragic truth and humour is a little ray of sunshine I have searched for daily, welcome back

  15. Doug says:

    Here I was thinking Robotised responses are banned!

    Here we are, Leaderless (in fact completely for the next few weeks with a Nat PM) with the Government completely ignoring the current emergencies.
    How different is NZś Leader! There we have a fantastic lady who really cares for her country. This has been shown by the Mosque massacre response, & the unfortunate recent Volcanic action. (My thoughts go to all who suffered in those events, as well as the locals affected by fires.)

  16. Sigh… robotism aint banned. A couple of cheer-ups
    though… CHD has dropped Adani. After ‘art funding
    cut’ the answer is… Withholding all Art & Music from
    display in Parliament house. And – Morrison, bubble
    ‘n all, is said to be tanning his brain in Hawaii so let
    us [most of us loud uss -es] help shape-shift our
    man elsewhere into the stratosphere of the quiet
    achievers. Doug, it’s a shame we can’t convince
    NZ’s PM to take over ‘Oz, the land that Was’ for at
    least the coming decade.

    • Barrow says:

      Yes it seems as though the NZ , PM
      Has been through some horrible natural disasters
      And seems as though she is a nice person .
      However! Elections next year and from what iam hearing from my NZ friends here and over the ditch
      That she is not as popular and people think she is.
      Obviously the New Zealand people will vote
      According to who is best for the country ..
      As Australians did recently..

  17. Tweed says:

    On the anniversary of the Harold Holt drowning, we learn that Scomo “MIA” and Morals none has done the Harold Holt and done the bolt. “Never to return either we all hope”?
    Just as even more catastrophic conditions move in across the continent with devastating climate change record temperatures.
    For weeks now the ex-fire chiefs demanded a summit with Moralsnone and Moralsnone only response? He decided to avoid reality and took another holiday in Hawaii, he deemed far more important?
    The religious zealot Moralsnone will always retreat, when facts and reality become to overwhelming for their contrived misleading rhetoric!
    Have a thought about what a Shorten PM, of the Beaconsfield mine disaster, whom refused to leave until the miners were rescued, would have been marshalling into action for the people affected by this national catastrophe, while this manipulative conniving and scheming LNP coalition of insult Moralsnone holidays in Hawaii?

  18. I’ve seen the flowers on the balding head of our
    Moral-ess manager & he looks as if he’s having
    a fun-time elsewhere because his nose ‘knows’
    there are still stilted persons in Oz Land who
    will follow a forked tongue. Hitler once won a
    popularity contest as we all know. Anything’s
    likely to be hatching these days too. I’ve got
    rellies over the ditch & hear the blame game’s
    everywhere.

  19. Barrow says:

    Would like to take this opportunity to wish
    The Echo and its hard working staff
    A” Merry Christmas and a healthy happy New Year”
    And do appreciate the consideration given
    To my comments and views , although they may Be
    Different to the majority ..do not mean any ill
    Will to anyone ..may God Bless all the homeless
    On our streets this Christmas and hope that
    Australia can reach out and support
    And make a little sacrifice and help the
    Volunteers brighten up someone’s
    Christmas..

  20. Jack says:

    Surely the prayers and thoughts of our “leader” will reach us via the news from Hawaii and be of significant consolation to those who have lost lives… and so much else…. in the bushfires.

  21. No: our insufferable leader’s prayers have not
    reached us – why would they. Let us all do our
    best to support our trustworthy fire fighters &
    hope for a calmer xmas & try to help save our
    real saviours.

  22. Des says:

    Can we all stop using the marketing term “Scomo”? He cynically devised it to make himself seem folksy and a good bloke, and he is neither, especially the latter. He is a vicious narcissist who is pleased to keep people in concentration camps to bolster his conservative image and give huge tax cuts to his mates while those who need government support can starve. If we must shorten (sorry) his name, let us use #Scummo.

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