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Thus Spake Mungo: Two cheers for ScoMo

Two hearty cheers for ScoMo and his $130 billion JobKeeper package.

If it had been a couple of weeks earlier it would have been three, but let’s be grateful for what we have got.

Not long ago Scott Morrison was deriding the idea of wage subsidies – they needed a whole new system to run, they would take too long, they were never delivered either well nor fast. His overriding mantra was caution, constantly mumbling weasel words like ‘targeted, modest, proportionate, scaleable’.

Now, with the éclat of a performing seal, he has thrown the biggest backflip in living memory– and good on him – he has finally got serious about the coronavirus pandemic and what it means to Australia.

The sheer size of the package is eye-glazing – the kind of subsidy that Labor, for all it’s redistributive ambition, could only dream about.  It is more than twice Kevin Rudd’s GFC rescue operation, the one that has been denigrated ever since by the coalition as economy-wrecking recklessness.

Many economists believe JobKeepers will have to be topped up if the crisis continues

And it is not over yet – there will almost certainly be more to come. Indeed, within 24 hours more largesse was being wheeled out to the private hospital system and the export market. Then came free child care, and there will be plenty still in the pipeline. Many economists believe JobKeepers will have to be topped up if the crisis continues.

And already we have the Reserve Bank’s own stimulus measures, not to mention the various state government handouts. Add to that the huge hit on revenue from the economic slowdown, and we are looking at consolidated national debt of well over a trillion dollars, and budget deficits as far the eye can see and beyond. Hardly the stable and steady economy we were promised a few months ago.

It is not just Keynesian – the free enterprise wonks are branding it as socialism, the end of the capitalist world as we know it. They are wrong, of course – the aim is not to destroy capitalism but to preserve it, to allow it to rise from the ashes when the current emergency is finished,

It will take a lot longer than the six months Morrison was so blithely predicting just a few short days ago

And it may work, but it will take a lot longer than the six months Morrison was so blithely predicting just a few short days ago. And there will be problems, just as he foresaw. The implementation of the deal, like the quantum it envisages, is unprecedented, and given the Australian genius for turning a good idea into a rort, not all the money will be well, or even honestly, spent.

The glitches that occurred during Kevin Rudd’s pink batts and school halls schemes, that were part of the stimulus that saved Australia from recession during the GFC, will be revisited in spades – although we are unlikely to hear the kind of pile-on we have suffered for years from the conservatives this time around. And although the rhetoric is a touch overblown – the claim that all the six million jobs that will be eligible for relief will all be saved is, unfortunately, improbable – there is still a lot to like about the rushed design.

In normal circumstances flat rates are regressive – the across-the-board 10 per cent GST demonstrably hurts the poor more than the rich

In particular the fact that the subsidy will be at a flat rate, rather than indexed to income levels, is very welcome. In normal circumstances flat rates are regressive – the across-the-board 10 per cent GST demonstrably hurts the poor more than the rich. But in this case, the reverse applies, which is why the privileged among the cossetted neoliberals are whingeing.

Well, tough; as the multi-billionaire investor Warren Buffet has pointed out, in the long running class wars, it was his class that was winning. It is time, more than time, they took a minor hit. JobKeepers will do a little to level the playing field. And more importantly, it will shield a great many workers – and some who have already lost work – from poverty or worse.

But perhaps its crucial aspect is the psychological. Morrison’s government have now spectacularly rejected the denial, procrastination and dithering over COVID-19 which has been their defining characteristic. Now it is to be all guns blazing, whatever it takes. This will alleviate much of the mistrust that has generated the woeful hoarding, deceit and misbehaviour of citizens who have decided that if their government is not really serious, there is no need for them to be either. It will give meaning to all the sloganeering about ‘Team Australia’, sticking together, seeing it through.

The immediate response was that the price of shares leapt like a spring lamb bitten in the bum by a swarm of hornets

The immediate response was that the price of shares leapt like a spring lamb bitten in the bum by a swarm of hornets. We know the ASX is not the real economy, but it can be an indicator, and although it has since jumped around like St Vitus on the hot plate, the mood is positive – if fear has not yet been vanquished, greed is certainly recovering. So elephant stamps for the job market; the situation is dire, but there are whiffs of confidence from both business and consumers.

And incredibly, serendipitously, there were also rays of sunlight peeping through the pain and gloom that has caused all the angst. Confounding even the most optimistic predictions, the rate of growth of infections of COVID-19 shows tentative signs of slowing. Weeks earlier than we had dared to hope, the curve may be flattening…

The figures are jumpy, and cannot be considered entirely reliable. There will certainly be setbacks, unforeseen clusters – like the one that has emerged in the Adelaide airport. It is far too soon to rejoice yet, nor to relax the necessary restrictions that have been imposed, annoying as they may be for some people who still, apparently, refuse to acknowledge that this is not just mindless authoritarianism -– it is, quite literally, a matter of life and death for many of our fellow citizens.

This is the time to consolidate and double down, pedal to the metal, nail the bastard down

This is the time to consolidate and double down, pedal to the metal, nail the bastard down. As another war leader put it, this is not the end – it is not even the beginning of the end. But it just may be the end of the beginning.

And if this proves to be the case, if Australia can once again defy the world, and deliver salvation when the prospects looked close to hopeless, Morrison may well deserve his ironic title of the Messiah from the Shire – a saviour who can indeed conjure up miracles. An unlikely saviour, certainly, but in these unprecedented times, nothing is impossible.


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18 responses to “Thus Spake Mungo: Two cheers for ScoMo”

  1. Barrow says:

    The usual pile on for” Morrison” and the
    Conservatives ! With just the a hint of appreciation
    For what the present Government is doing in these
    Times ! But what will follow will be the weekly
    Double down of dislike for Scott Morrison!
    Expect anything different ! NO
    Great job Mr Morrison the Nation will stand as one
    And pull through this together!!

  2. Greg Buckman says:

    The JobKeeper Payment has some hidden detail that makes it not as attractive as it sounds. Employers still have to pay all the associated payroll costs (employee leave entitlements, superannuation, payroll tax, workers compensation etc.) which is ok if you they are still trading in some way but very onerous if they have been forced to shut and cannot trade. Additionally, the payment to the employee is taxed ($1,500 gross becomes $1,308 nett) so it’s not much more than the Jobseeker Payment and likely less once the additional one-off stimulus payments are added in. It’ll be interesting to see what the take-up is like and/or how long employers can keep it up if this crisis drags on.

  3. John May says:

    …if only he had acted earlier

  4. Len Heggarty says:

    Mungo,
    There goes the surplus, another promise gone off walking down the road just like so many cans kicked down the road down onto the promised land.
    Without a surplus it will be so much harder to come back as there is no surplus money. There is no magic pudding. Once the money is taken out of the bowl someone has to put money back in. Who will that be?
    On Wednesday the parliament will look at the situation, look at themselves, look back at the situation and look at the bare table before them. $5 in each for a cup of coffee. Not like 2019 at all.
    The first to speak will lose. Some galah will put his hand up and yell “Look at Great Britain.”
    Of course they won’t be looking at the United States.

  5. Ill fares the land says:

    I agree with your sentiments, but the depth of my antipathy towards out illustrious, Churchillian-PM (just ask Morrison to assess himself) is comparable to his devotion to his bizarre Pentecostal faith. Up to the COVID-19 crisis, Scotty from Marketing has shown little in the way of discernible talent and definitely nothing that could be interpreted as nascent greatness. As a PM, he has been consistently appalling and depth of his inadequacy for his role was truly exposed during the bushfire crisis – he really did an extraordinary job of revealing the most outstanding of his foibles, flaws and outright failings. During COVID-19 he has done what needed to be done – eventually and often after much prevarication about whether something is “Australian” or “un-Australian”. However, that doesn’t make him great – it just makes him kind of OK. We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that in between his manufactured and stage-managed facade to try and convince voters (remember, this is his god-given opportunity to rebuild his brand and he is not one to waste a valuable crisis) is his descent into further autocracy – the suspension of the Parliament and the removal of the one mechanism that can keep he and his incompetent and corrupt government a distance apart from regular scrutiny. And finally, his trademark smirk, that seems to always appear when he thinks he has said something clever or with impact. This will get him re-elected and tell me how badly Australia and Australians need that outcome.

  6. Kim Imber says:

    Always excellent writing by Mungo. Perhaps though before too many hip, hip, hoorays are lauded onto our fearsome leader it may be best to keep in mind how the conservatives are renown for their guileful, deceit and cunning. “Onward conservative neoliberals, marching off to war” I hear them sing in the boys room. What mostly invisible changes might they introduce whilst much of the media and populace have more pressing issues of concern. As always, caveat emptor!

  7. ScoMo had no choice other than to go down
    with the biblical ship. I’m looking out for the
    dove but still my eye’s on the eagle. And
    yes, Mungo… we need to double down.

  8. Janis Banks says:

    Yep ScoMo & team have done & are still
    doing a Great job – keep it up boys.

  9. Ken says:

    “the denial, procrastination and dithering over COVID-19 ” since December, has dictated the “pedal to the metal” stance Morrison has had to take, in order not to be seen as completely ineffectual, and with the fog of time it may be forgotten, that any action taken was at least a month too late and a textbook study of how to bolt and lock ,then weld that stable door shut after the horse ( virus ) was in full flight.
    I wonder how many will remember the fifty odd thousand Chinese students that were allowed into the country……. after China had imposed it’s lock-down and well after anyone with half a brain knew that pandering to university proffit/loss forecasts was suicidal, as fourteen day quarantine was meaningless with this virus, that could take a month to manifest or show no symptoms at all. Now the ‘chief medical officer ‘and his ilk, are perplexed as to where the community aquired cases are coming from !!!!!
    Keep your head down, and your distance , and GOD protect us from our Government.
    Cheers, G”)

  10. John Bailey says:

    Good heavens.Two claps for Scomo and the libs from Mungo.Wonders never cease!!

  11. Well…….. a leopard never changes its spots so we will
    wait & see where the PM & his gang leads the OZ
    public. Recall the Old Testament claimed the lands
    as evil? Anyway, Noah packed ‘lots’ of each animals
    & took to sea for 40 days & nights & eventually the
    ‘dove’ appeared & all was right with the world again.
    Simple as an ice-cream Sunday. Still, I’m wondering
    what would be happening if Labor was in place & the
    LNP set in opposition. There’d be calls of panic &
    mismanagement over ‘the care package’ & the need
    to abolish it. Equality doesn’t count in times like
    these.

  12. Blue says:

    I’m no fan of Scotty and his government, but you can’t blame them for the stupidity and selfishness of the hoarders. The hoarders hoard because they are, well, stupid and selfish.

  13. Tweed says:

    Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but all I see is lots of Morrisons scamvangelical LNPee Kool-Aid trickling down and it’s going over most of the “Quiet” Australians heads?
    Morrisons far more concerned about controlling the narrative than actually doing anything.
    They couldn’t even stop the Ruby Princess the only boat they have ever really needed to stop.
    Seems Morrison and his Hillsong cult have infected the entire continent with clusters?
    You all better take a look at the USA, “THE EVANGELICALS ARE SPREADING THE VIRUS LIKE WILDFIRE THERE ALSO”. It’s Easter this weekend, expect a massive spike in infections from their cult gatherings?

  14. I agree Tweed…. ScoMo’s suspended parliament
    is a tactic that allows him to be seen as Lord Of
    The Manor. Tell that to all those totally confused
    60 Child Care centres who can’t operate. Or the
    areas the homeless [ never looked into by the
    government or opposition] that need to be found
    & organised pronto… maybe showgrounds with
    portable loos, tents as shelters, army beds &
    food delivered daily? Perhaps this could track
    well after the ‘Cruiser’ deaths & illness stuff ups.
    Easter prayers can’t fix what is even if the Quiet
    Aussies & their bellowing ‘leader’ believes that
    the man in the heavens will toss a miracle to
    humankind & all will be well.

  15. BornxRaised says:

    Now his approval rating is through the roof.

    The voting public has the attention span of a small child. If they’re concentrating on something show them a lollipop and the problem is solved.

  16. Hitler got applauded too. Our jelly-fish half thinking
    public will buy anything the salesman seems to be
    giving away freely. Not so. The cut is deep & the
    20 year-olds & less will pay triple plus what the
    coal lobby advisors will pocket in the near future.
    ScoMo’s ice-block sell in hell is no joke.

  17. Joachim says:

    Barrow old son, the pile on for the ScoNO is well deserved. His first reaction is always, nah, not doing that. Then the SlowMO finally decides to don his cape to play the better late then never ‘Captain Catchup’ as he leads his captain’s pick members of Team Australia – the Team that excludes those 1 million casual workers with less than 12 months continuous service with one employer – discrimination is alive and well, those 1 million migrant visa workers – go back to where you came from is ScoNO’s advice, those how many U-16 workers – youth once again gets a kicking from ScoNO and those how many local council workers around the country. All the aforementioned are excluded from the Jobkeeper. It always the same with The Liberals, it’s in their DNA, how to divide Australia and leave behind as many as they can of the less fortunate that need assistance.

  18. Barrow says:

    “Religious diversity” is the fact that there are significant differences in religious belief and practice ” one religion is as good as any other ?
    They co- exist in society? Then why is our
    Prime Minister’s religious beliefs frowned upon
    On this forum? If the Prime Minister was a Muslim
    Would that be issue ? A Buddhist ?
    Some examples this week .
    Tweed .. ” Cult Gatherings ”
    III fares ..” bizarre pentecoastal faith”
    Stefanie..”Hitler got applauded to”
    Really people ? Fair play to keep the politicians
    Honest no matter what party !
    But to Rubbish one’s religious beliefs .
    That’s not fair play !!

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