PM Scott Morrison’s government has just been rated by voters polled in Newspoll at 45-55 TPP against Labor, which would translate to a 20-seat loss if an election were held today.
You can’t beat Labor on policy, that’s the lesson Michael Kroger took from Victoria, so ScoMo has decided to make it personal, telling Bill Shorten the election is ‘between you and me’:
Simon Benson writing in the Oz, commenting on Newspoll, said the Morrison’s big task was to spread his popularity to the rest of the party. You see, apart from a landslide losing position, ScoMo returned a positive personal rating. A total of 43 per cent of voters think he’s doing a good job, against 42 per cent who think he’s not. Shorten’s figures are 37-50, but still, Morrison does not have much popularity to spread.
Psephologists like Kevin Bonham say that there is no established connection between personal ratings and election outcomes, but apart from Turnbull’s mantra of ‘jobs and growth’ then ‘kill Bill’ is about all ScoMo has got.
That’s while his party seems to be falling apart.
First cabinet minister Kelly O’Dwyer told colleagues during a crisis meeting of federal Victorian MPs the Liberals are widely regarded as “homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers”.
She got that a bit wrong, she should have deleted the phrase “widely regarded as”, but it was a moment of plain-speaking honesty.
Later she sparked guffaws when she claimed the Liberal government was the “natural government for Australian women”. Now a union commissioned ReachTel poll finds that voters in her seat of Higgins favoured Labor 53-47. True, names weren’t mentioned, so her personal magnetism might win out.
Then ScoMo’s announcement that the budget would be brought forward to April 2 budget, suggesting that the election will be May 11 or 18 was upstaged by Liberal MP Julia Banks quitting to sit on the crossbench:
- Ms Banks excoriated the “reactionary right wing” within the Coalition for its role in toppling Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister, and praised the “sensible centrist Liberal values” of colleagues like Julie Bishop.
Ms Banks announced her decision in the House of Reps chamber on Tuesday, just as prime minister Scott Morrison was on live television on the other side of Parliament House, announcing the date of the 2019 Budget.
The resignation follows a string of Liberal women criticising the party for a culture that permitted bullying and stand-over tactics, particularly during the recent leadership spill.
If the Liberal Party is to regenerate, some truth-telling from sensible liberals will be a necessary condition.
By the way, I don’t normally read Andrew Bolt , but he reckons Banks is faking it, that she has no actual details of the alleged “bullying and intimidation”. Bolt reckons the Liberals have two women problems. The first is a lack of women, then:
- But here’s where we get to the Liberals’ second “women problem” — the double standards that lets Banks and other malcontents use gender wars as an excuse for bad behaviour.
Banks is now hailed in the media as an example of the Liberals mistreating their women, when she’s actually an appalling example of their woman mistreating the Liberals.
That’s one way of blaming the victim.
Michelle Grattan points out that Banks did not inform Morrison of her intention, which Grattan puts down to his authority deficit at home and abroad.
She points out that Morrison has no scheduled meeting with Donald Trump at the forthcoming G20 meeting. She thinks they won’t waste their time, and will wait to see who is in the chair next May.
I divert to mention the business of red shoes, which Ambigulous commented on the other day.
It seems that back in September, when Julie Bishop resigned as foreign minister, red shoes sparked a sea of red worn by Liberal women in parliament because Julie Bishop had made them into an iconic emoji, meaning, don’t mess with Julie, but also a statement of women’s empowerment. Seems it was all started by this photo by Alex Ellinghausen, who has a talent for picking up the unusual:
Here’s Julie on Twitter:
Now she is donating them to Museum of Australian Democracy:
I suspect Ms Bishop is letting her colleagues know she’s around, should they need a different leader.
Back to ScoMo and more particularly, what the man is made of. Eddy Jokovich has taken a look in The unknown Scott Morrison.
Jokovich did some scouting about and says this of his time at Tourism Australia:
Insiders who worked in the marketing department at the time have mentioned to me that Morrison’s performance was poor, he spent most of his time on Liberal Party business matters, was rarely seen in the office and seemed to do very little work – and then, all of a sudden, he was gone, his office cleaned out, never to be seen at Tourism Australia again.
Worse was to come when Morrison ran for preselection and lost 82-8 to Michael Towke, on paper a far more credentialed candidate.
- …Morrison swung into action.
He called on his connections within the hard right faction of the Liberal Party, and disseminated smears about Towke to News Limited – claiming Towke was serial liar, he was facing jail, and involved in branch stacking. The Daily Telegraph duly published the material, seriously damaging Towke’s character.
The result in the preselection contest? The vote was annulled, a second ballot was ordered by the state executive of the Liberal Party, subsequently won by Morrison. And what of the allegations made against Towke? Many years later, all of the published allegations were found to be untrue in court, and defamation was settled with a payment by News Limited to Towke. But this was far too late, Morrison had already been elected to parliament.
Based on his performance as prime minister over the past three months, and his history in the public arena, Morrison is the consummate anti-intellectual and is guided solely by personal pursuit and power.
This is Jokovich’s summary of ScoMo’s economic record:
Annual growth is now ranked 25th of the 35 OECD countries – currently at 1.75 per cent; national government debt has risen from $257 billion in 2013 to a current estimate of $598 billion; annual wage growth of 1.92 per cent is the lowest on record; average household disposable income has decreased in the five years before July 2018 from $31,650 to $28,950; national productivity levels are lower than they were in 2014; national building and construction approvals are down to the levels the existed during the global financial crisis.
responding to Pamela Anderson’s call for the prime minister to lend support for the return of Julian Assange to Australia, Morrison joked: “I’ve had plenty of mates who have asked me if they can be my special envoy to sort the issue out with Pamela Anderson”. And ever so close to White Ribbon Day, a global movement to end violence against women and girls.
That’s the type of prime minister we currently have: an older version of Forrest Gump in a kindergarten, with a juvenile smutty mind to go with it – a odd spectacle largely supported by the media and journalists who have lost the plot and decided it’s better to think of their monthly pay cheque, rather than seriously question the ignoramus currently occupying The Lodge.
Morrison is an accidental prime minister, and came through as the compromise candidate between Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton. Smutty and juvenile, a simpleton who believes the best solution to all political problems is a marketing trick, or seducing segments of the electorate with terror games and law and order fear campaigns. And just like most compromises, we’ve been given the worst of all worlds and ended up with someone who shouldn’t really be there.
I’ve tended to think of Morrison as a bear with very little brain, and a mouth that flaps almost at random. Whatever you think of Jokovich’s account, the preselection event is a matter of public record, and should disqualify Morrison from sitting in parliament in a just world.
On Thursday the front page headline in the AFR was
Along the way we find that only 75% of Australians know who Morrison is, as against 70% for Peter Dutton and 82% for Julie Bishop.
Much of the article is devoted to Julie Bishop’s aspirations to the Liberal leadership. She has given comfort to Julia Banks and others, stated that Peter Dutton really does have to clarify his eligibility, and, in what would be seen as an act of betrayal by some, has suggested that the Government should sit down with Labor and work out a bipartisan approach to the National Energy Guarantee.
There is chatter about the Bishop option around the traps, with some enthusiasm and some saying another leadership change would be “beyond ridiculous”.
On the NEG, states are pushing for the full reinstatement of the NEG and a new paper by Green Energy Markets estimates that if construction of wind and solar farms and installations of roof top solar continues at present rates, the nation will get about 78 per cent of its power from renewable energy by 2030:
The point here is that far from Labor’s target of 50% renewables by 2030 being beyond limits and “economy-wrecking” as asserted by ScoMo and Angus Taylor, you would have to wreck the renewables industry to avoid 50% and more.
So politics in the next six months is bound to be interesting. We have in place an accidental PM who, it seems, is willing to do about anything it takes to prevent Labor from winning office, because his brand of politics regards Labor as illegitimate in our political system.
Bishop at least presents as a leader who recognises Labor’s legitimacy, and is probably the best chance to restore some decency to the whole political process. That is, if there are enough sensible people left in the Liberal Party to give her a go. There may be other options, but she’s about more than red shoes and is worth watching every move she makes.
Update: The bottom line for me was that at first I thought ScoMo was an amiable enough fellow, somewhat empty headed but essentially harmless. Now it seems he can be genuinely nasty and dangerous.
Update 2: Andrew Welder’s Enough, enough enough presents a portrait of Morrison perhaps even darker than the one presented by Jokovich. Of interest he notes that pentacostalist churches in the US strongly support Trump’s relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem.
All Morrison has to do to make that agreement happen is to junk a symbolic commitment to moving the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He can’t though, because the Liberal right need a win. The Liberal right were denied Dutton as leader, and are facing a rollback of their beloved mandatory detention position. They failed utterly, and publicly, on marriage equality. The Liberal right hobbled Turnbull on climate change; Morrison is so happy to nobble himself on this policy that the right can’t assert their influence by making him adopt a position with which he doesn’t disagree.
Moving the embassy to Jerusalem is the ankle bracelet that the Liberal right have clapped on Morrison. They expect him to scupper a deal over fifty years in the making to deliver a victory that the Liberal right can claim as their own. Pentacostal churches hold the Liberal Party together in WA and in parts of Queensland. In Victoria, Marcus Bastiaan mobilised fundamentalist Christian sects into joining the Liberal Party there, and even without him the party there is reaping the rewards for appealing to a base that is already within the party membership but scarcely evident beyond it.
Welder says Morrison lacks the wit and the clout to simply draw a line under this issue.
- Both the power dynamics within the Liberal Party (the right must be seen to have a win over the new Prime Minister) and Morrison’s own professed faith … explain why this seemingly unimportant issue cannot simply be shut down by the Prime Minister.
Update 3: Another amazing photo taken by Alex Ellinghausen for Fairfax: