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Byron Shire
October 17, 2021

Thus Spake Mungo: onwards to 2020

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‘Politics is inherently an antagonistic process – if you like, a war without blood. There are times when it can be, and should be, bipartisan but such truces are rare; if bipartisanship was the norm, there would be no need for parliamentary democracy in the first place. Politics is not about avoiding conflict, but managing it: resolving disputes without killing people. But it does not mean the disputes disappear, or that the protagonists should be silenced’ Mungo MacCallum (2019).

Our Pentecostalist Prime Minister may have been a little disappointed by Christmas.

No wise men showed up bearing gifts – ScoMo probably didn’t need a lot of frankincense and myrrh, but a bit more unearned gold would always be handy, although declaring it as a foreign donation might be a bit awkward.

And hordes of caring worshipful shepherds did not flock to his side – he had to make do with his usual army of mediocre minders and slippery spin doctors.

The ever-reliable choir of angels from the Murdoch press sang his praises though, as they always do, but even they could not muster much enthusiasm for tidings of great joy, and hallelujahs and hosannas were a bit sparse over the festive season…

They will not desert him, of course – he is their man, at least until a more effective candidate comes along, preferably one even further off on the lunar right. But after a year of gaffes and dithering, even they are being forced to acknowledge that Scott Morrison is not the messiah.

And on the other side of the ideological divide, it has become clear that he is not just a very naughty boy – he has now been revealed as a dangerous incompetent, a populist combining policy vacuity with a reckless opportunism and a political tin ear.

He has already done real damage to the body politic in sins of both commission and omission, and there is plenty more to come, because Morrison is utterly unrepentant – he thinks he can talk his way out of anything, so there is no reason to believe that he has any interest in becoming a serious prime minister.

And on the other side of the ideological divide, it has become clear that he is not just a very naughty boy

No leader with an ounce of caution or integrity would have surreptitiously left the country in a time of national crisis. And then to express regret, not for his uncaring arrogance, but because he knew Australians were anxious that he should return, was so vain and delusional as to defy reality.

Australians were and are not anxious, pining for his presence; they were and are angry about his uncaring negligence. And the excuse that he could not hold a hose did not help. Many have had to learn the hard way, and heck, how hard is it? Even Tony Abbott can do it. Perhaps it is time to check whether Morrison can tie his own shoelaces without help.

Nothing has really changed since one of Morrison’s first captain’s calls; his counter-productive demand to move the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem

The lack of empathy is compounded by the silliness – and nothing has really changed since one of Morrison’s first captain’s calls; his counter-productive demand to move the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He was talked out of that one, and presumably was similarly persuaded to limit the fall out from his latest gaffe by returning to Australia… as soon as he could find a suitable flight – it was not clear whether he was waiting for an upgrade to first class for himself and his family.

And his return, rather than being celebrated near and far, as he apparently expected, was greeted with resentful indifference, a mood which is starting to settle in over an electorate which was hoping for rather more than the inertia which has gripped the government since the last election.

It has now become obvious that Scott Morrison is simply not up to the job – that the miracle has failed. This is not really surprising; he wasn’t up to his last job either, having being fired as head of Tourism Australia.

There was hope, although not an expectation, that new leadership might cut through the malaise that bedevilled five years of the dysfunctional coalition. Instead, Morrison has only coasted on the result of his unforeseen and unlikely victory. He had not prepared an agenda for it, and it has shown – indeed, it now seems that he is not really interested in agenda, even if he is capable of devising one.

He has been labelled a transactional prime minister, as opposed to a conviction prime minister, but even that is selling him too high

He has been labelled a transactional prime minister, as opposed to a conviction prime minister, but even that is selling him too high; Scott Morrison is the archetypal reactive prime minister, bereft of vision, immersed in adhockery and negativity.

Even in the bushfire crisis it showed; for days, even weeks, Morrison insisted that everything that needed to be done was being done, both the professionals and the volunteers were getting all the help that they required. But in the wake of his abridged vacation, he belatedly responded to Anthony Albanese’s plea to at least offer more paid leave for his commonwealth public servants out in the field. Which, of course, left the problem of the weary volunteers who work in the state and private sectors; Morrison urged employers to do the same for them, but it might have been smarter to have set up a deal in advance. However that would have taken planning, putting forward a sensible and considered program, something of which is ScoMo is manifestly incapable.   

Like Tony Abbott, he has no real concept of public administration – he is only confident when he is attacking his opponents. And so far it has more or less worked. He has spent the best (or worst) part of a year living on the kudos of his election win, and his quiet Australians remain quiescent, either content with his schedule of masterful inaction, or resigned to the fact that this is just the way it is, there is nothing they can do about it and it’s not worth trying to change it.

He is still obviously acceptable to the electorate, but there are signs that the early gloss is wearing thin

He is still obviously acceptable to the electorate, but there are signs that the early gloss is wearing thin, and that Albanese, though a long way from being embraced, is showing the beginnings of being seen as a viable alternative…

Christmas provided a little welcome rain for some – probably Morrison, Barnaby Joyce and their fellow evangelists even believe that their thoughts and prayers were effective, although there is still a long way to go. The current fire season will come to an end, and at least some of the angst will have abated, but there are two more fire seasons to be negotiated before the next election.

And by then, pleading to the heavens, and slagging off at Greta Thunberg are unlikely to be enough.

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  1. Mungo correction if needed
    Are you not a political journalist?
    Political analyst?
    Seriously do we have a opposition in this country?
    Oh yes we do the Albo this labor leader seems like a good bloke really , however his vision and labor policies
    Moving forward into 2020 are no different to
    Shortens , except Albo is doubling down on
    His Global Warming hysteria thats just one of the
    Dumb policies that labor thought would clearly
    Get them over the line , how wrong they were
    And the useless polls ! Albos” brother in Arms ”
    The hard left Corbyn anti – Semitic as they come
    Endured the largest defeat for labor by the
    Conservatives since 1932 .. all due to his stupid
    Policies , not to much different to our own labor
    Parties really and what was the outcome
    Very similar to the Brits.. !!
    SMH . Albos wish list for his socialist party moving
    Into 2020 Quote ..important for our pollies
    If we want to be taken seriously, we should not treat Australians like Mugs by misleadingly them .
    Sure did a good job of that at the last election
    With Bill Shorten at the helm .
    Bill avoid any hard Questions Shorten
    Should resign from the labor party !
    Should Albo follow down this parth that he is currently on , Labor Will be in opposition
    For the next decade at a minimum!
    One word of advice labor
    “Come back to the workers ” that you were once a
    Party for ” avoid the Greens ! Hold to account the major polluters of the world. Not just the 1% ers
    Then i may vote for labor again as i did for over a decade…

    • If you raved on like this down at my local they would throw you out under RSA laws – even if you were sober – anyone carrying on with such convoluted rubbish definitely shouldn’t be drinking!

    • Barrow old son, still shooting down Billy Shorten is yesterday’s news. Fair call about not voting Labor, Labor is just a Liberal-lite Party these days and voting Liberal / Coalition does not even bear thinking about. You say don’t vote Greens but The Greens are the only true progressive political party that we have. Labor loves copying some of The Greens policies and then calling them Labor Policy. On social justice, climate, energy, The Greens are the only choice.

  2. Happy New Year, Mungo.

    Scomo missed a really good positive electoral responser when he should have offered our wonderful firefighters some form of recompense in time for Christmas. I feel sure that if Labor had been in power, the packager for Firefighters would have been more generous, & not tied to over riders. There also would not have been the current ruckus between the Feds & the States.
    My feeling is the Firies should be paid if they work more than 2 days in a month. A reasonable recompense would be to pay them the Average wage (for the time worked). This should be even for the few firies on Newstart. Also by paying them, they would be have the full coverage of WHS laws: Protection, equipment & Workers compensation.
    Australia relies far too much on Volunteer firefighters. We need the volunteers (because we could not afford to pay them full time), but with the risks & their availability, they should be paid. Aloso our armed forces should be trained as firefighters. They would be a wonderful emergency resource, but apparently are not taught Fire fighting skills yet. The Feds could also have more Fire fighter support funded: We need far more air tankers, etc. Relying on the states is not really an option now.

    As far as Scomo goes, I hope he does! (GO). Now is the time for a leader, not a failed Add man. Mind you, I would like to see another female leading the Labor party. Penny Wong might not be acceptable to the electorate, but she would be a good leader, but Tanya would do well too.

    May there be some positive changes in 2020.

  3. Your assessment & analysis of Morrison’s tenue is absolutely “spot on”! He is the most “do nothing” (except for himself) Prime Minister that we have ever had. He should be thinking how he could improve things for Australians (not the wealthy) eg bring back Buy to Rent housing commission houses for people on low incomes, take steps to tackle climate change, more money for health services & education, tax big companies, tax the so-called religions, allow free speech & non policing of peaceful demonstrations. Also when political parties lie about what they promise to do when they are in government “sack them!” There are numerous other things Government can & should do to improve the lives of ordinary citizens, not their wealthy mates!

  4. Although I, like many, am still deeply depressed since the Australian May election climate disaster, Mr MacCallum’s truth telling, seems to lessen the depth, however bad the reality is.
    May his spirits remain, to soothe, well into and beyond the desperately needed turning points of reality in the Quiet Australian voters that got it so awfully wrong in May.

  5. Dear Mungo
    thanks for your great articles during 2019. I hope my web attachment will help you to better understand our Great Leader.
    Happy New Year

  6. Thanks Mungo. Another brief but erudite and insightful dismantling of the Morrison myth – a myth, I might add, that none is as bedazzled by as Morrison the Messiah himself. I can’t speak for Australia, but Morrison’s “leadership” is so incompetent and so entirely devoid of substance beyond that manufactured in the recesses of his deluded mind that I am left to wonder how many of our fellow Australians are yet to fully process the enormity of his uninspirational performance. There are those who have reached “rage”, but I suspect we doubted Morrison’s credentials from the beginning (as would anyone who knows of his sordid, corrupt and incompetent past). At the other end of the scale, I guess those that voted for”him”, have regaled themselves with claims that “Shorten would have been worse”. In between, I expect there must be varying degrees of exasperation, but anyone who can’t see the “real Morrison” in his recent behaviours probably never will. The absolute worst of his traits have shone like a beacon – his tendency to respond with aggression when he is challenged (his “daggers” glares at Albanese in the closing days of the parliament spoke volumes); his refusal to listen to what he is told (but then to later respond after he is able to construct a story around him (he is now claiming to be the Messiah offering trinkets to volunteer firefighters and proclaiming it to be his idea, when he has ignored requests on this matter for weeks) and last (but only for the purposes of this comment), and as you note, his absurd notion, all manufactured in his twisted and deluded psyche, that the furore over his holiday was that “his people missed him and needed him in their dark hour” (which stems from his view that “his people love him” and he is something like the Queen in terms of his status and role), when the real issue was that he had revealed himself to be an utter charlatan, but even worse, as needy as it is possible to be. This is why everything has to be twisted to be about him and he is incapable of looking beyond his neurotic neediness. I have seen his ilk in business many times. A devious incompetent promoted way beyond their ability because of their capacity to delude, but all the while constantly reconstructing their self-delusion to accommodate that their rise is because of their genius, not their ability to deceive, white-ant and backstab. The kind of person that needs constant affirmation and veneration.

  7. Happy NY to you, Mungo.

    One thing. Would you stop referring to Our Fearless Leader as ScoMo. Henceforth, please refer to him as Slomo

  8. Maybe this cruel and unusual punishment is needed for the likes of barrow, who continues to see reds under the bed and denies the evidence of human accelerated climate change, who voted for this mob.

    • Of course human consumption and population
      Is a contributing factor to the overuse of plastic
      Bags .. big problem for our oceans and landfills
      I guess the expert in this field would be Sweden
      And the highly educated Greta Thunberg
      You would assume would be a ambassador
      For her country of birth Sweden and the world
      Regarding the use of plastic Bags.. lets face it they
      Invented the plastic bag!! But maybe this would be to cruel and unusual form of punishment for Sweden .to hold Sweden to account .!! i mean not a hypocritical nation are they ?
      But those bush fires are direct cause of climate change right ? All we have to do is ask the chosen one Greta her knowledge is endless in this area .has there ever been a fire in the bush in Sweden?
      More knowledgeable than our first people’s
      Who incidentally are the eco warriors
      Ultimate environmentalist who have successfully
      Managed our lands with back burns for 60.000
      Years . White man are clueless regarding
      Land management.. but dont lose faith Greta
      Sure knows best “, time magazine person of the
      Year .. ” dont forget Rod he voted with the noisy
      Ones ..!!

      • I thought the basic rules for a posting to these pages are that they be in English so we can all understand whatever point it is you’re trying to make, and be related to the story. Zero out of two. Is anyone moderating this stuff or happy to receive any comment?

        • “Oxford scholar Matthew” “all hail king “Matthew ”
          Such a smart fellow are we not ? One would only feel privileged to be in your presence at the local .
          So knowable on the subject of Global Warming
          Would anyone dare question your expertise ?
          Probably not otherwise they would be shutdown
          Rather quickly! So hear it is Matthew and i do
          Express with all due respect. You are in the
          Minority when it comes to Global Warming
          Beliefs , this is a fact mate , no argument .
          The science is not settled, however it is for the
          Noisy minorities, thats fine not everyone believes in the same religion’s ? ..now if i could see for my own eyes , regarding Global Warming and the
          Predictions past and present and the apparent
          Emergency phase the world is in .. then Matthew
          Iam all in .. on board 100% but you must understand that the world is sceptical! And for good reason . Was recently in the Maldives
          And from what was discussed on the Q&A programme a few weeks back that the pacific
          Island’s are in trouble , and the host tony jones
          Just took the panels word gor it ! No questions asked
          No scrutiny at all .. how impartial!! Now i asked
          My locals in the Maldives why would companies
          Spend millions on new resorts and Airports
          Considering the climate change sea level rises
          Also how did they get local Government approvals?
          Most of the locals merely laughed its all
          Propaganda one said ..nothing to do with climate change he said .. i mean our own shire Council
          Declared a climate emergency . What is happening
          In our shire to declare such a emergency?
          Science form the IPCC was the Answer from
          The council .. please !!

          • Well I guess all the locals you reference must have studied the same subjects at the same university as you.
            And got the same grades.
            It’s not about “belief” – that’s something you need when there’s no proof. Like some omnipotent creator.
            It would be brave of you to argue against every recognised international and national institute of science in the world based solely on an opinion, particularly if you used a real name to do it.

      • Expect the noisy ones to get a lot noisier, especially as their ranks fill with the quiet ones who are awaken from their long cognitive sleep.

      • Barrow old son, why you disrespecting young Great Thunberg. Her message is simply for the world to heed what the Science / Scientists have been saying for decades now. You can play your silly ‘shoot the messenger’ games but the issue still remains, The Climate Emergency demands an emergency response. Your beloved PM, Scotty from Marketing, is doing a magnificent job of leading from the rear again and again. He should have done us all a whilst in Hawaii, resigned as PM and just stayed there where he can do the least amount of harm, on a holiday sipping cocktails and working on his smirk.

  9. Best wishes, Mungo, for the year of hindsight – when some polticians might wake up be honest and say “we shoulda done something ages ago”

    Thanks for all the great articles you have given us

  10. One old saying, “you get what you pay for”, doesn’t seem to be working in this instance, Australians are paying in spades for a recycled Coalition Govt. that’s delivering absolutely nothing but bu77$4!t. Another old saying “the voters always get it right”, again in this instance, is quite misleading, after the deceitful election campaign the Coalition ran, aided financially by Clive Palmer who will now be seeking reimbursement plus interest.

  11. Thank you so much Mungo. A wonderful well written piece. Now we need to put aside narrow party politics and everyone mobilise for climate action. The Coalition, Labor, the Greens, and the Independents need to work together. Our country and our planet demands it.

  12. Well said Mungo, Happy New Year to you and yours.
    I’m waiting for Morrison to announce Prince Andrew’s knighthood in the New Years honours list !!!

  13. If Climate Change was decided, and it’s not. For every four variables the modellers in their equations have included I can name another four they haven’t. And an equation with more than seven or eight variables is pretty well incalculable unless you are Bobby Fischer. And a hundred scientists is not a consensus. And a consensus is not a certainty. And if it was, there’s no consensus on the alternative. Will someone put a number on the number of renewable facilities we will need? At one to 28 square kms each? Will they be in the desert, or occupying arable land? No, you throw enough mud some will stick. I agree with Shorten and Albanese. The issue is climate change. And how much truth is involved.

    • How can you write “If Climate Change was decided, and it’s not”?? OMG!
      That bizarre sentence alone demonstrates both your current level of understanding and current acceptance of the science. It is an absurdly stubborn denial of reality!
      As for “how much truth is involved”?- your answer depends largely upon whether you accept the real experts presenting proveable facts, or prefer the opinions of self-appointed experts, sceptics and conspiracists who merely commentate and deride them.

        • Good grief, does everyone spoonfeed everything for you? There are too many to list here so google something not published by an avowed climate-denier like Rupert. I do not feel inclined to attempt to educate you in this space, given your repeatedly expressed attitudes to this issue & mocking of people despairing our collective inaction. My new years resolution is one comment per idiotic post. Bye

          • I thought you had a sense humour, Matthew, wrong again. I should have asked: name a fact that is not subject to Chaos Theory, we’re talking about the weather for heaven’s sake, the Climate Changers could do me a favour and point me in the direction of a good stockmarket investment while they’re at it, another systen of chaos … and I don’t think I have that understanding from the Murdoch Media, entirely, I read broadly. But yeah; farewell.

  14. What, Albanese as a “viable alternative”? So you reckon as an alternative to hollow man Scumo we should elect hollow man Albot and replace a fake from the ruthless far right with a fake from the pretend-nicer far right. Pull the other one!
    Mungo, try advocating a vote for The Greens as the only way to rid our governments of the far right LibLabNat party altogether. And have a happy New Year.

  15. As a robot I use about 5kWh daily on average, across 5 million such co-robots, our domestic use with the maths shows an equivalence between solar and coal firing, the creation cost (comparison and with necessary back-up with battery systems and taking into account mining costs, plant cost, wages etc) and fact a solar system cld produce up to 16 kWh on a good day. But but that is domestic usage before we take into account places like the Gold Coast with high rise. And that’s before business, industry, towns, cities, freight, ships, planes, cars (ina country the size of Australia, not France or Sweden). So I give a tentative tip to domestic solar here, though my accounting has given probably some prejudice towards it and is very general. In homes I have known with solar the fraction benefit is small to undetectable sometimes, hot water for a minute. Fortunately, as a robot I avoid water.

  16. OMG Jill I LOVE your comment re a Knighthood from SLOMO for Prince Andrew….don’t laugh yet nothing would surprise me from this luddite. Have to say though (even though I haven’t voted Labor for yrs) that they are right re the public backlash , so you can’t blame them re hiding in the trenches, no matter how frustrated we all are. Labor has to respond to the public mindset (OMG no matter how bogan) IF they want to get back into Govt. We should cut Qld free and send then sailing out into the pacific & then direct our anger at the politically ignorant and uninvolved who DO NOT embrace our eroding democracy. THEY ARE THE FOOLS WHO VOTED FOR THIS LOT & MOST OF THEM WERE LOWER INCOME VOTERS ,GODDESS HELP US. Then while we are all raging with more than a modicum of PTSD blame Clive Palmer for buying up all the Murdoch advertising in Qld months prior to the election, the odds were stacked against Labor as they have been since white settlement. The slowing economy /low wage growth/escalating cost of living etc would never be tolerated by the public or the press if Labor was in Govt , YET they are all silent when this lot stuff up on a daily basis. I know why, but obviously most Australians are incapable of in-depth political analysis & sadly they don’t care to change and get involved let alone get active.So in my increasing despair I tell myself to keep battling on as I want to live long enough to see Adam Goodes as PM…….is that biologically possible??

  17. Barrow will always see ‘reds under the bed’
    especially if they’re ‘greens’. 15 years to
    voting age. Women. Pet rabbits & would be

  18. Hey robot, amongst all your incoherent ramblings you cast doubt on climate scientists and their findings. Are you really trying to argue that so many thousands of scientists over the past four decades – in so many related fields – have all simultaneously fudged their data to reach the same conclusions? Hmmm.
    Then I ask you what could possibly be their motivations?
    And where has there been ANY research that invalidates or even disproves them? And I don’t just mean Murdoch media commentators and Mineral Council talking points. Recent research has shown denial of climate science is correlated to age, sex, education and political persuasion. No surprise when you look at it as Australia has long been dominated by stupid conservative old men.
    So Mungo is right again! As usual !!

    • No need to debate about the Scientists, just go and ask Exxon’s the big oiler. Exxon’s own scientists knew about burning FF and climate change in the early 1970’s. CASE CLOSED!

  19. IPCC findings are based one hundred scientists and their data. The IPCC science is modelling, or statistics in other words, and their climate projections at the time of Gore were 100 years in the future. Now the story changes every few weeks, the latest based on a possible melting of a Greenland ice shelf and one in Antarctica.
    The reason we don’t find alternative scientific points of view is down to Google; the new machinery of Green enterprise is swallowing up the argument with all the key words.
    Still, recognising I do not understand even one of possibly 12 sciences involved in climate science, I do not proffer an opinion on that science. I can however comment on the politics. I believe I have that right, as yet.

  20. Murdoch has a lot to answer for having
    organized the lies, the hatred & the
    stupidity of both media & Australian
    politics. Control freaks are on the rise.

  21. Just opened an email from the Chaser Weakly and saw that they had run into Robot: ‘Local man pretty sure he knows more about climate than NASA, David Attenborough, the UN, CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, the IPCC, and 97 per cent of people who study this for a living’.

  22. Interesting to think about your above quote about Politics being an inherently antagonistic process – a war without blood…
    What would happen if we stopped having this war and started working towards co-operation and pulling together. It seems a shame to waste so much effort in the fight.


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