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Thus Spake Mungo: pre-budget

For Australia’s hardline, copper-bottomed, hide-bound conservatives, federation was always a mistake.

Fighting the good fight against the centralists of Canberra is not just a political imperative – it is a holy crusade, less a case of state rights than state rites.

So, they should be rejoicing when the premiers, emboldened by their inclusion in the so-called national cabinet, have taken the logical next step: state riots. They now give only token acknowledgment to the consensus wistfully expected by Scott Morrison in his attempts to secure a united front in the battle against this novel coronavirus and, more importantly it seems, they have removed the restrictive measures that give the battle a chance of success.

There is a vague, indeed meaningless, commitment to the idea that it would be nice if they were out by Christmas, the pious hope of the British when they entered the Great War of 1914, as many have cynically mentioned. But in practice it is every state – and territory – for itself. The commonwealth has unraveled, federation has unfederated. So why aren’t the Tories cheering?

Well, partly because even they know that there are some things which really should be the purview of the national government. The concept of provincial armies, while no doubt appealing to the feudalists, is hardly suited to modern times. So even most of the reactionaries accept the reality of 1901 and all that.

There is the odd (seriously odd) denialist; Joh Bjelke-Petersen once declared: ‘There is no such thing as Australia. I am the premier of the sovereign state of Queensland, and I know whereof I speak.’ This was particularly demented given that he had himself chosen Australian nationality having been born in New Zealand.

But most conservatives are content to rail against what they see as the increasing encroachment of the feds. Which is why it is curious that they have been very quiet in their applause for the premiers (admittedly most of them Labor) when they have taken their own stand for autonomy and independence.

Annastacia Palaszczuk has received a good kicking for not allowing a bereaved woman to attend a funeral, he even rang the Queensland premier to demand what he called compassion

Morrison, of course, has been more than somewhat selective when choosing his targets. Annastacia Palaszczuk has received a good kicking for not allowing a bereaved woman to attend a funeral, he even rang the Queensland premier to demand what he called compassion.

Coming from Morrison, this is risible chutzpah; unfortunate, obviously, but one of countless tragedies, and in any case a decision of the chief medical officer, not the purview of any politician, however senior. And there is a state election looming. Whatever it takes.

But the big shellacking is, as always, for Daniel Andrews, to be blamed for everything, now and forever. And it will go on remorselessly for weeks to come, because Morrison must unveil a budget in three weeks., and the prospect is not good.

Unless there is some leak-proof bonanza we do not expect, there will be little to rejoice about as we move into the holiday season

Unless there is some leak-proof bonanza we do not expect, there will be little to rejoice about as we move into the holiday season. Tax cuts, but mainly for those who do not really need them, and will not use them for the common good. A raft of big-ticket infrastructure, which will not click in for many months, and which may crowd out projects that are already under way.

And that, apart from the usual waffle about cutting red, green or any other coloured tape, and tweaking industrial relations laws, will be about it. Disappointment and disillusionment will be inevitable, so ramp up the blame game.

And even without the confected pile on from the Murdoch media, as the details are belatedly teased out it is clear that Andrews deserves a share – but only a share of shellack, and probably less than is due to Morrison and his feds. But then, so does Gladys Berejiklian, Morrison’s gold standard home state premier.

New South Wales has been reasonably competent, but also lucky. In general, the premier’s procedures for tackling COVID-19 have been adequate and have worked pretty well, although it is a long way from over. But like everyone else, including Morrison, she has been constantly inconsistent and confusing about what is on and off and why and where and when.

And again like Morrison, she has not been helped by some of the drongos surrounding her.  Step forward, John Barilaro, whose bluff, bluster and bullshit threatened to derail a government because he wanted to bulldoze his way through the remaining habitat of endangered cuddly marsupials.

Barilaro backed down, declaring victory – the premier will bring the issue to cabinet when she is good and ready, just as she always intended. Whether this will satisfy his gullible followers, let alone his Liberal coalitionists, is to be seen, but it has to be highly improbable. At least the koalas got a reprieve.

Like most Nationals politicians, Barilaro is the flimsiest of paper tigers

Like most Nationals politicians, Barilaro is the flimsiest of paper tigers. His only weapon is to withdraw from the coalition, and any rational person – and even his own party colleagues – know that is not really an option.

The only time it works is if the ultimatum is serious, and the last man to make it stick was Black Jack McEwen, the leader who vetoed Billy McMahon as prime minister (but later relented), and even cowed Robert Menzies after a couple of memorable showdowns. Malcolm Turnbull surrendered to Barnaby Joyce over same sex marriage and climate change, but Malcolm Turnbull was never one for a fight anyway.

There was a time when at least some Nats were serious about taking an independent stance; in Victoria, they even went into coalition with Labor for a brief period. But those days are long gone. Now they accept their subordinate role and just hoover up the perks of office. Just as Barilaro hoped to do last week.

This fiasco is, presumably, what the conservatives want when they talk about the splendours of devolving power, giving the states free rein to do their own things in the name of restraining the national administration from becoming too arrogant and unaccountable. Well, it seemed a good idea at the time.

But if you think the feds are often a bit second rate, have a look at this mob. The case for removing the middle layer of government, going directly from the commonwealth to an enhanced system of local government, has seldom been stronger. And isn’t less government what the conservatives really want?


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21 responses to “Thus Spake Mungo: pre-budget”

  1. Alice Johnson says:

    Think back to when there were hardly any cars on the road and Australia’s population was only a tick under 3.8 million. Are you there? Well the year was 1901, the year of federation and as you strode into the supermarket to buy a can of soup we in 1901, invented politicians who kicked off the nation by kicking the can down the road. They have been kicking that can down the road for 119 years and we are still in the soup. Can they do better down in that big house in the city of Can-berra? Down there they fight the good fight and at the moment the Government have the Opposition on the ropes pounding away while the economy if flat on its back on the canvas. But don’t you worry about that as everything will come out in the wash in the October Budget. The Referee has come in and he is counting. One plus one is two, and two plus two is four and four and four is, we will learn what jobkeeper is for from treasury.? Uh oh ….someone has thrown in a can.

  2. Ken says:

    Well summed up Mungo,
    I do think you let Gladys of the hook though; we’ve been damned lucky, even after the Ruby Princess debacle and the nursing home incompetence. Sure,the state government is deplorable, but how could anybody consider giving more power to the notoriously corrupt local government ? I realise how pathetic the record of federal government is , and God knows the states are primarily used for facilitating shonky foreign ‘investment’, even so, wouldn’t abolishing local government make more sense ?

  3. Federation is un-federated & like naughty children we just sit
    here & cop the lot. “There’s no such thing as Australia” said
    Joh Joh. Well … try & tell First Nation People that. Do we
    really have a Morrison ‘compassion’? No way! But he’s
    trying to work on it with the help of Murdoch Media & a gold
    finger pointing to the heavens. Then again, the Qld Premier
    is teaching ScoNo the art of control. Stamp. Scream. Brawl
    & play footy to extend ‘the coffers’.

  4. robot says:

    How would the States dissolve given the Federation our Commonwealth is a federation of States? I think the constitution would be a problem with that one. Not so the councils not mentioned really. Where I live we went without a council for a number of years, had an administrator, no real trouble with sewerage, water, rubbish, it was all tickety boo.
    The evil Murdoch press always worth a mention. Sure they usually get what they want. But when it comes to influence, compare them with every University press in the country, the SMH the Age the Guardian the Conversation the greater part of social media all Left leaning, then the schools and even kindergartens. Oh I forget to mention Aunty. All wanting soya beans, sail ships, orange juice, pedal power, inclusive pronouns and magic mushroom pills, also convertible gender, free speech for sharks, taxes on taxes, boxes of gift-wrapped taxes, freedom of disinformation and environmental glue. And junkie spaces, places for dogs, places to keep the riffery rapping and drugs galore. And prime time journalistic 3rd encounters. And counters of all that in beans and marbles sequestered to all the divisions and tables, graphs, android maps and fenestrated balconies overseeing the holy sea of everything imaginable made concrete numbers numberless and thumbless hitchhiker guides penetrating the semantics et cetera

  5. Ray Armstrong says:

    Gladys:-The crisis did not start in Victoria. That is a lie. It started in Liberal NSW and with the Ruby Princess. Dutton and his Border Farce militia let 2,500 people leave this ship with many of them carrying the disease and consequently infecting others. The Commission has found 1000 infections and 30 deaths have been traced to the virus escaping the ship. It was Morrison who announced four days before the ship arrived that “All ship arrivals would be under the direct command of Border Farce”. That is Dutt’s call!
    The very first Aged Care problems occurred at Sydney’s Dorothy Henderson Lodge. Not in Victoria! 6 died at Dorothy Henderson Lodge before Victoria had ANY deaths. Then 17 more died at Newmarch House Penrith (also in Sydney) before even one death in Victoria had occurred. Whose responsibility is Aged Care? Scumo’s. In February he stated “the Australian government will be responsible for all residential aged-care facilities”. So this is not all Victoria’s fault and playing the blame game will come back to bite Morrison. The latest Newspoll has him down a stack of points for the first time in 6 months. He is secretive, sneaky, deflects questions and runs a government that keeps the public in the dark.

    • Joachim says:

      But Ray, the disaster, failings and on going problems on ProMO ScoNO’s watch are all just ‘Canberra bubbler moments’, none of it has anything to do with the ScoNO. So many clusterf***s, they all the fault of everyone else like that fella Dan down in Victoria and the fault of that cold hearted Ice Queen Annastacia up in Queensland. As for ScoNO and his Border Farce failure with Ruby Princess, you must have forgotten ScoNO’s famous words, “that’s not their job”. The bloke who has that trophy on his desk with he inscription ” I Stopped These” failed when it came to the one boat that HAD to be stopped.

    • Barrow says:

      “Take a walk on the wild side ray ” you are a delusional first class conspiracy theorist …
      Get your blinker of mate .. there is currently a inquiry regarding the incompetent Andrews Governments Handling of the Pandemic in Victoria.
      Just a few facts Ray !
      ” Andrews lied on numerous occasions ”
      “The federal governments ADF offered support “?
      “It’s the medical experts advice i took before”
      “The lockdown ”
      “Ray the inquiry infact came to the conclusion that 99% of Covid 19 cases were as a result of the
      Hotel quarantine debacle”
      His handling of this Pandemic has made world news not for the right reasons .. who gave
      Law enforcement such heavy handed powers ?
      Now let’s be quite clear if this Pandemic was as a result of the “Gladys” conservative government
      Well my god ! You lot on this Forum would go into Meltdown!! The pile on would be relentless .
      Gladys is doing a great job Ray, NSW regularly has 20 or more cases at anyone time life as normal.
      As it should be !!! How ironic the ABC wil not tolerate any criticism of Andrews! nor the Guardian
      All hard left organizations.. where are the human
      Rights commission ? Feminists ? The Greens
      Civil libertarians ? Regarding whats happening in
      Victoria? Well silent of course ..why ? Labor – Greens run state .. Hypocrites all of you !!
      Double standards and how!!

  6. robot says:

    And it seems to me the Whitlam government was centralist par example, not worth mentioning perhaps.

  7. Joachim says:

    Compared to what was before he arrived to bring Australia into the 20th Century, The Great Man was indeed a centralist par excellence. To the ‘relief’ of Aussies, it was Gough who finally brought the ‘flushing shitter’ to the outer suburbs of the capital cities. If the States had their way, the night soil man would still be running the streets.

  8. Jon agar says:

    The third tier of govt, local, is technically illegal as the constitution forbids more than two tiers and All the legally binding referendums were voted down by the public.
    At least 6 referendums on local govt, all worded cunningly and the federal govt still defies the results and foists outright criminal governance and extra taxation.
    I believe in local govt in principle, but if politicians can breach numerous laws and the public trust, then they are no better than a mafia.

  9. Wow. let’s kick Gough – my my! Let’s blame the dead, hey robot? Now
    our ill-liberated go-slow – don’t move fib-inventor [Show No sense of
    mercy] leader of the ‘packed’ pack has all the unethical lying stuff to
    get the country to ‘let’s stick together-ness’. Toffee is only for ‘toffs’.
    True – the rest of us are ants workin’ for the man hopin’ things get
    better when they can’t. The great Chief of the back-wash is [as
    pre-planned] vowing to lower Gas prices when we’ve already said
    we “Don’t Want Fracking”. It’s dangerous having practically wrecked
    the rest of the world. Time to call in Wonder Woman. That’s how
    stupid the stupidity goes. A koala could do a better job of running
    the country.

  10. Ray Armstrong says:

    So, gas is back on the agenda as an energy source and Scumo and his climate deniers, true to form, wheel out the hoary old ‘when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow’ nursery rhyme to sidestep accepted science endorsed renewable energy projects. On average, our country receives over 240 sunlit days a year and we are one of the windiest countries on earth. Enough said! I have lost count of the number of energy policies this mob of charlatans have rolled out.

    • Joachim says:

      Ray, did you see poor old AnGAS in a presser with ScoNO where he couldn’t get his chestnut lines right as he regurgitated..”when the wind don’t shine”…oh wait, try that again AnGAS, ..”when the wind don’t blow….”.But of course we all know that the wind DOES blow and the sun DOES shine everyday. AnGAS needs to try harder, perhaps revisit Clover Moore / City of Sydney website and download ( ha, ha, ha!) information about renewable energy and STORAGE.

  11. Morrison’s pants on fire… bull-dusting against the dead? Abusing
    the living? How low can one go? Even my computer’s lost the
    plot… the email reads…… “MORRISON GOING TO SLEEP.”
    Not even Google’s interested. Very bad timing ScoMo.

  12. Barrow says:

    So all you Renewable believers, could only imagine
    You all have invested in these profitable projects ?
    If these so called future energy sources are going to power
    The world with such success, the shareholders
    Would be most satisfied with the annual
    Dividends? Incidentally Ray ,Stefanie, Joachim
    How do i invest ? Blue chip i should imagine..
    However the cost of building just one
    Wind turbine is substantial not to mention how much power is used !! Surely coal is not used to
    Manufacture renewables?

    • Joachim says:

      Barrow, what’s this breakthrough technology that you speak of? ScottyfromMarketing’s ‘little black wonder rock’ manufacturing renewables? Scotty should immediately head back into Parliament, again fondling his pet rock, to to declare, “This is coal. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be scared. It won’t hurt you. It’s coal”…and it manufactures renewables! As your friendly gasman AnGAS might love to rejig his famous self congrats …Fantastic. Great move, Well done Scotty.

  13. I doubt that any -let alone many- of those I know give a rat’s rear
    about profiting & dividends since that’s the very thought & ‘let’s
    get away with yellow bubbles’ for blue-chipping the masses to
    near death that this government’s used over years of use & abuse.
    Do what you choose to do, Barrow. Want to be a shareholder? It’s
    your call. Get going. I’m just someone who doesn’t run with the
    pack. Kids – students – the aged & ailing are my interest. Life does
    not have a price until it’s bullied by some easy street coot sales
    -man & his preexisting followers.

    • Joachim says:

      Stefanie, as long as likes of $5billions plus per year ( and rising ) Frankenstein Credits or the $20billions plus per year Negative Gears keep rolling out, the young, the old, the infirm, they should just all just disappear. Oh wait, that’s what happening already in Aged Care under ScoNO”s caring watch!

  14. Now, in regard to the ‘virus’ [1]- Qld accuses ScoMo of rejecting health
    advice supporting the 28 days trigger point for reopening its border. [2]
    Vic continues the same 28 days while Mr Miles accuses ScoMo & LNP
    of unwillingness to listen to the ‘experts’. Time to send in John Wayne…

  15. Barrow, coal is not used to manufacture renewables. Plants
    are too slow to fire up; besides – it’s an expense that’s not
    needed.

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