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Byron Shire
July 20, 2024

Thus Spake Mungo: an even break for Sukkar

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The conniptions and shenanigans are many and complex, but as usual they boil down to an unseemly bloodbath about who is running the rattletrap conveyance which is – or at least was – supposed to deliver them back to government.

The Lady Macbeth figure in the darkened room at the centre is one of the party’s state vice-presidents, Karina Okotel, who has not yet managed to rinse the stains of her unsuccessful campaign against same-sex marriage from her incarnadined hands.

And the knife she supplied was, largely, wielded by Marcus Bastiaan; who was forced to resign from the party after revelations that he was already a seasoned branch stacker, to recruit the religious with a promise of more to come. He boasted that once he had achieved his goal to slip himself into the state upper house, he could use the time and money to continue his machinations full time. He was clearly ready to burst into a chorus of ‘The working class can kiss my arse, I’ve got a bludger’s job at last.’

However, Bastiaan’s real crime was not his cynical misuse of parliament and taxpayers’ money, but the fact that he inveigled his troops to infiltrate the lairs of two fellow fundamentalist parliamentary warlords; Kevin Andrews and Michael Sukkar, using their entitlements to indulge in what were obviously party political games.

These days Andrews hardly matters; he has been playing to the religious right – or people of faith, as the God-botherers prefer to describe themselves – for many years

These days Andrews hardly matters; he has been playing to the religious right – or people of faith, as the God-botherers prefer to describe themselves – for many years, and now he is so far past his use-by date that his career can only be recorded in hieroglyphics.

But Sukkar, a hugely ambitious junior minister, is a serious reactionary who sees his destiny as part of the back-to-the-future leadership when his time comes.

So one might have thought that he was an obvious target for Labor, and particularly for Anthony Albanese, whose own leadership is seen by many as a bit timorous when it comes to the rough and tumble of parliament.

But when the depleted parliament came back last week, Albanese was content to pass the clobbering to one of his own ambitious front benchers, Stephen Jones, who was only too keen to follow the great showman P T Barnum, who devised (almost) the slogan: ‘Never give a Sukkar an even break.’

And clearly his leader’s silence was deliberate, because, let’s face it, neither side of politics can claim the high ground, or indeed any firm ground at all, when it comes to the ethics of tactics devised by the organisational wings.

The Victorian party is still recovering from its own embarrassment over the branch stacking implosion run by Adem Somyurek, also no longer on the roll

Sukkar shrugged off the attack, and his colleagues were keen to return to Labor’s far from spotless reputation. The Victorian party is still recovering from its own embarrassment over the branch stacking implosion run by Adem Somyurek, also no longer on the roll. And both parties know that there is plenty more to be uncovered by a diligent media campaign, and would prefer that it wasn’t. MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction – is a strategy best confined to the cold war.

However there is a key difference; Sukkar is not just another apparatchik, he is Morrison’s own hand-picked assistant treasurer, seen as a coming man. He intends to be around for a long time, as he shimmies up the greasy totem pole, and his parliamentary leader cannot pretend that it is purely a matter for the backroom boys. Sukkar’s is a scalp worth taking, and he will wear a target on his back from now on.

But there is another reason Albanese wants to leave Sukkar to simmer in his own soup for the moment; he is certain that he has Scott Morrison in deep trouble over aged care, and wants no distraction as he prods, pokes and teases out the issue, while the Prime Minister exhausts his marketeering expertise in a futile attempt to defend the indefensible – to deny reality.

ScoMo will not resile from his policy of never giving a nanometer to the opposition – any opposition

Continuing to maintain that he has the confidence of his minister Richard Colbeck, after stripping him of the only part of his responsibility that actually matters, is surely absurd. But ScoMo will not resile from his policy of never giving a nanometer to the opposition – any opposition.

So day after day we’ve had implausible denial. Funds to aged care were not cut. There was a plan – an ongoing plan – everything is under control. Adequate supplies of protective equipment are getting to the homes for both residents and carers. And in any case, 97 per cent of homes are okay. We are doing better than almost anyone else in the world. Aged care is in the very best of hands – Colbeck’s. Or if that doesn’t quite wash, then his own. After all, he was the one who set up the current royal commission. So, nothing to see here – move on.

Some of this is patently false, although some may be construed, by charitable commentators, as at least partly true. But this is not the point; it is simply irrelevant, because the daily evidence is that the system has clearly failed.

This is a breakdown from top to bottom, and the root cause is under-funding and short staffing, which cannot, despite Morrison’s determined blame shifting, be shoved aside

And we are not talking about individual disasters, spectacular and appalling as many of them are. We are talking about thousands of infections, hundreds of deaths, despite numerous warnings. This is a breakdown from top to bottom, and the root cause is under-funding and short staffing, which cannot, despite Morrison’s determined blame shifting, be shoved aside. It is an undeniable federal responsibility, and he has to wear it.

And the more he ducks and weaves, obfuscates and blusters, the more threadbare his defences are revealed to be. Albanese may not yet be on a winner, but Morrison’s embarrassment is far more satisfying than sniping at Michael Sukkar, however tempting that worthy aim must appear. Sukkar can keep, as long as Morrison suffers.

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  1. Yike! Mungo. Well said. ‘Get it while you can’ J.J.
    Branch stacking – & ‘the beat goes on’, Sher. Ah;
    the branch whacking ‘I’ll build a stairway to
    paradise & a new one every day.’ [And bugger
    the copyright].

  2. When have we had a PM who only speaks in half-truths and outright lies?
    Scomo tells lies as as easily as reciting the Gospel.

  3. Mungo close to his best. Well done Mungo. Morrison’s refusal to accept responsibility for anything that goes wrong is becoming legendary. While the ubiquitous Murdoch empire continues to protect and proselytise for him he will continue his deceptive ways.
    Sukhar is the epitome of the smarmy smugness of the born to rule cabal. The opportunity to bring Australia into progressive and empathetic governance was missed at the last election.

  4. The mental comings and goings of government are meant to be simple but they are complex. We scratch the head a bit. Will the egg in eccentricity be unscrambled and be put on the face of just who is at the helm of the ship as the ballast is heavy going down to the Plimsoll border line, so will we make it through to Christmas?

  5. G’day Mungo,

    I have been reading and enjoying your articles since the days of the Sunday Review, which morphed into the Nation Review if memory serves me.
    Is their any way to access some of those articles, particularly in relation to Gough?
    Keep the good work up.

  6. Is there a sadder sight than a leader who pretends to be a leader like our ProMO ScoNO ScoNO, who is always in full flight away from any sort of accountability, culpability and responsibility. No matter what the issue whether it the Bushfires Holocaust, SportsRorts, RoboRobberyDebt, Aged Care, Covid in general, it always the same with ProMO ScoNO, none of it involves him. And when he does say sorry, sort of, it is “The System” wot dunnit. How Good is ScottyfromMarketing! How Good is Newspolll!

    • Giving ProMO ScoNO a run for his money in the deflection and diversion game is Treasurer Joshua putting on quite the show in his hysterical attack on Premier Dan. Joshies ‘Back in Black and Back on Track’ Budget Surplus has been blown to crap house ahead of the October Federal Budget. Someone else has to take the blame, yes…enter Premier Dan as the Liberals resurrect that old chestnut of…”It’s All Labor’s Fault”. I loved Joshies line of attack on Premier Dan with the current stage 4 lockerdown with this gem of a line …” too much confusion, too much cruelty, not enough compassion”….spot on Joshie, that’s exactly what we all been copping these last 7 years of Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison administration!!!!!!!

      • Well well !! Joachim get used to the Coalition
        Because the alternative will be in opposition
        For the rest of the term and next … obviously its so unbearable living in the best country in the world
        For you !!! Just relocate its easy .. just a short
        Flight over the ditch and you will be purring
        With your Progressive Ms Ardern.. iam sure
        You will be welcomed with open arms .
        “Au Revoir “

  7. Please tell Steve Wood that I have a substantial , yet incomplete set of Nation Reviews, which after years of trying to provide a good home for them, are slowly being used as paint absorbers. He is welcome to them. My E-mail is supplied.

  8. Ah, Barrow. Beh, vai ai diavolo. I suggest you head off
    to Italy’s boot. Sicilian women are far more intolerant
    than Joachim. You wouldn’t last 2 minutes with your
    cock-eyed dribble. Go & get lost yourself instead of
    sounding like a stuck record. This country needs
    common sense, not backside kissers in these very
    trying times.

    • There you go Stefanie thats the passion !!
      So Joachim can lead with the usual
      Pile on towards the present Government
      All good and well to dish it out Stefanie ?
      So its intolerable to have my views and opinions?
      So i will double down.. if anyone so uncomfortable
      As Joachim is with this Current government
      And the past seven years will turn into the next
      Seven Stefanie because the Alternative is
      Albo – Brandt coalition.. move to the best country in the world… where is that ?? Here of course ..

  9. Barrow old son, you just not getting are you. You seem to take great delight in mocking PM Jacinda with your taunts for me to move across the Tasman. Are you not paying attention old son, Borders are shut, your ScoNO has us locked in! There no flying out of Australia and also there no flying into NZ. Perhaps you can whisper into your ProMO ScoNO’s ear to change the Aussie Lock in and get that Oz-NZ travel bubble working for me. Australia, “best country in the world”, that’s a big call. Best compared to who else? Maybe Australia is the best country in the world but with your ScoNO delivering gems such as SportsRorts, RoboRobberyDebt, Aged Care workplace manslaughter etc…’Aussie Best’ is nothing to celebrate, my man.

  10. I’ll accept anyone’s right to an opinion regardless of
    what I think: has it merit or not – that’s democracy.
    Words used as ‘drip torture’ makes a fool out of
    language & said listener if it’s constantly repeated
    enough. You can huff & puff as much as you like,
    that’s up to you. Realize also that you are not
    furthering the cause of your idol ScoMo. In fact
    you are probably doing Labor a favor. I am not
    about to jump back into the Labor clan – the Qld.
    premier’s done that in. I’ll settle on the Greens
    for now. As you can see I am not easily im
    -pressed by the big 2.


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