Scott Morrison is rattled.
With only days to go to the election, the polls say that the Australian people are preparing to hose this pestilence out of office.
By any rational, humane measure, Morrison has debauched the nation too viciously and too visibly to survive another judgment from the voters.
Only billionaires and bigots will benefit from a Coalition victory, but the billionaires own most of the newspapers and all of the television, the public channels have been cowed into subservience lest they lose more of their funding, and the loudest voices on social media are the craziest.
Morrison could still get his miracle. He has convinced enough people in the past that he is not a lying grifter, despite the pork barrelling rorts, blind trusts, dodgy grants, malicious leaks, blatant misogyny, and the transfers of millions to mates and greedy corporations.
Grifters come in all shapes and sizes, from all kinds of background.
This one is used to skipping just a step ahead of impending disaster and exposure. Many times in marketing and politics, which he sees as identical pursuits, his nimble lies have saved his career.
When all else fails, he wraps his personal inadequacy in wife Jenny, or the smoke and mirrors of religion.
Losing government and leadership of the Liberal Party now looms large in his path, and his only platform has been going the full Trump with lies and alternative facts.
His plan to swamp the Coalition with Pentecostal Christians has not turned out well either, as that brand of gormless God-bothering has proved as prone to financial and sexual scandals as the major faith groupings.
Indeed, Richmond voters should feel insulted to be offered such a shallow candidate by the National Party.
The PM’s inspiration comes from former Hillsong pastor Brian Houston, a man who the ABC reported as having resigned in March after an internal investigation found he behaved inappropriately towards two women.
It followed Mr Houston stepping down in January as the director of all Hillsong boards, to defend a criminal charge that he concealed his father’s child sexual abuse.
Nevertheless, Morrison persists in bullying transgender children and pretending transgender women are lining up to interfere with women’s sport. It may be an electoral dog whistle intended for the ears of right-wing bigots, but the kind of man who puts troubled kids in harm’s way for his personal advantage is precisely who Scott Morrison is.
This man, whose humanity is so withered that he cannot feel the evil of rape without his wife’s guidance, had a moment in the campaign that emphasised his pathological lack of compassion when he was asked about the minimum wage.
For ten years, we have had the Coalition suppressing wages and overseeing a mammoth transfer of wealth from workers to employers.
Pay rises were always on the horizon, but they never arrived, and the finances of poorer people stagnated and went backwards. One reason to deny income increases was the fear of inflation, but inflation has happened anyway, without wage rises.
Inflation hurts everyone, but the wealthier you are the more you lose. If you have a billion dollars and the inflation rate is five per cent, you effectively lose $50 million.
If Morrison prevails, Australia’s influential super-rich assholes will demand the traditional ‘austerity’ remedy for reducing inflation, which requires the poor to endure cuts to social services and wages, while the rich continue to amass more money than they can ever spend.
If there is change of govenrment on Saturday, the turning point may have been Morrison’s instinctive rejection of a tiny rise in the basic wage, based on a bullshit inflation argument.
It’s okay to lose billions reneging on a submarine deal, fine to pour unaudited millions into the pockets of the likes of Gerry Harvey, good policy to spend taxpayers’ money on buying votes for the Coalition, but a dollar an hour rise for our poorest citizens would bring the economy crashing down.
Morrison’s reaction showed how clearly this government has been taken over by interests far removed from the welfare of ordinary Australians.
The mining, gaming, corporate media and financial industries currently support the Coalition in order to control its direction, and they have been spectacularly successful in this project of capturing the Australian state.
The main benefit to these corporations has been to keep their taxes low, to shield them from regulation, to derail attempts at lowering carbon emissions, and to keep gaslighting the public about climate change measures, while the world continues to burn.
Political standards have sunk to new lows.
What is finally so unforgivable about Morrison’s term as Prime Minister is how he has reshaped political standards in Canberra. The trend has been there for decades, but this hopefully outgoing-government has set a new benchmark in destructive selfishness.
The angle has been: if there’s no specific law preventing us from embezzling taxpayer funds, appointing party hacks to public posts, conspiring with media, to deceive the voters, awarding unadvertised contracts, torturing the unemployed, leaking confidential information, etc, etc – then we can do it, without shame.
In the past, the reason these things were not done was the shared concern – by all parties – to preserve parliamentary integrity, together with the knowledge that not every situation can be covered by law, and that sometimes political institutions need a tradition of honourable behaviour in order to survive.
Morrison and his thugs have trashed all that over nine long years. We will soon see whether in trying to destroy democratic norms they have also seriously damaged the Liberal Party.
David Lovejoy is the co-founder of The Echo and a regular columnist