That is the opinion of Peter Lewis, who conducts the Essential report poll. Two nights before the massacre of 50 worshippers in a Christchurch mosque, Lewis was with a focus group of swinging voters in suburban Brisbane, asking people to identify which politicians were responsible for a series of incendiary public comments around recently passed medical evacuation (medevac) laws:
- The propositions included the following: that the people “coming in” are paedophiles, they will clog up our hospital queues, they will end up in cultural bubbles, that western values are sacrosanct.
People thought it must be One Nation, for sure, but it wasn’t:
- there was genuine shock and some dismay when it was discovered the statements came not from the radical fringe, but from the mouths of the prime minister and his senior government ministers.
It is clear that some LNP politicians in Regional Queensland, sitting in Canberra as Nationals, will exchange preferences with One Nation. It is also clear that this risks LNP support in Brisbane, where the LNP have some seats on reasonably thin margins.
Karen Middleton in The Saturday Paper cites Rebecca Huntley and qualitative pollster Tony Mitchelmore of research company Visibility in suggesting that authenticity is required to win the election. Michael Daley’s problem was that he didn’t have an identity, then suddenly became identified as racist and lazy.
Scott Morrison is either a decent, Christian bloke, or a shallow salesman selling a product. He has more to worry about than the Lenore Taylor story about suggesting in shadow cabinet using anti-Muslim feeling as an election strategy to worry.
(Strange that no-one else at the meeting can remember anything or wants to talk about what happened, except Greg Hunt, who wasn’t there. Too bad if Malcolm Turnbull remembers and decides to tell in the last week of the campaign. Julie Bishop and Philip Ruddock opposed Morrison at that meeting, according to the SMH story.)
- There is no doubt, as I have previously written in The Saturday Paper, that a number of Liberal MPs and ministers – not only those in the Turnbull camp – believe Morrison was no innocent bystander in the coup. Rather, as Hartcher wrote this week, they believe Morrison was a “schemer … in it right up to his neck”.
Furthermore, Hartcher has been told by “multiple former and current ministers and officials” that in 2014 Morrison wanted close to $10 billion for a mass detention plan to take out of the community 30,000 asylum seekers who were on bridging visas. Joe Hockey, treasurer at the time, “hit the roof”; his objection was not on budgetary grounds but on humane ones. Hockey said the government was not about to start rounding people up off the streets and putting them in detention centres.
Still, Peter Lewis is right, Islamophobia will not be an election strategy available Morrison, so the budget is the main thing. Expect massive tax cuts, and promises to build roads, bridges and rail all over the country.
2. The strange story of two One Nation clowns and the NRA
After the ABC ran the Al Jazeera program How to Sell a Massacre, the two clowns involved, party operatives James Ashby and Steve Dickson, said they were on the sauce, and basically lay low for a while. However, the footage clearly showed them touting for donations from the NRA and the Koch Brothers, like $10 million or so, in return for which they were (a) going to change the voting system in unspecified ways, and (b) roll back Australian gun laws to bring them more in line with those of the USA.
Pauline Hanson was said to be indisposed with a tick bite on her face, but when she recovered she came out with all guns blazing, as it were, accusing the ABC of showing a film that showed Australian democracy being interfered with by a foreign power. Here they are:
Granted, you can see the tick bite on her face.
Damien Murphy in The Saturday Paper thinks One Nation may have shot itself in the foot politically, and made itself unacceptable to all except the most devoted followers. He thinks that Mark Latham may have struggled, had the film been broadcast before the NSW election.
I doubt that. I believe he had votes to spare, and was probably elected because he was Mark Latham, a celebrity.
On the way Bill Shorten attacked the ACTU for maintaining its position of preferring One Nation over the Coalition.
Laura Tingle says it all comes down to the balance of power in the Senate. She points out that in the Longman by-election One Nation votes rose from 9.42 per cent of the primary vote at the 2016 general election to 15.91 per cent in the by-election.
And at the by-election, 67.74 per cent of One Nation’s preferences went to the Coalition, whereas in the 2016 general election only 43.51 per cent of preferences went to the LNP.
This does raise the question as to whether Hanson’s core support is as much from Labor voters as from the LNP.
Steve Dickson is ON party leader for Queensland, whose voters should know that he served as Minister for National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing in the Campbell Newman government from 2012 to 2015. However, he fell out with the LNP in opposition over medical cannabis. People should judge him from the latest revelations and the completely atrocious and disgusting things he said about the Safe Schools program.
3. Trump was not exonerated
Below I quote three extracts from the four-page letter from William Barr, Attorney General of the USA, summarising the finding of the 300-plus page report delivered by the Robert Mueller Special Counsel investigation.
The first relates to the matter of collusion with the Russians, although it is important to note that the terms used are conspired and coordinated:
- “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Mueller is not talking in black and white everyday language, rather in legal terms as to whether what happened is legally actionable. Robert Litt at Lawfare explains the complexities in What Does the Barr Letter Actually Say About Collusion? In simple terms, Mueller appears to provide the evidence and leave possible legal action up to the powers that be. Since they were appointed by Trump, or can be sacked by him, it is important that Congress gets to see the full report.
There was a second element of the interference issue, and this is what was found:
- The second element involved the Russian government’s efforts to conduct computer hacking operations designed to gather and disseminate information to influence the election. The Special Counsel found that Russian government actors successfully hacked into computers and obtained emails from persons affiliated with the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party organizations, and publicly disseminated those materials through various intermediaries, including WikiLeaks.
How anyone can now say that there is no evidence of Russian influence on the election, beats me.
Third, there was the question as to whether Trump obstructed justice. Barr says:
- The report’s second part addresses a number of actions by the President most of which have been the subject of public reporting that the Special Counsel investigated as potentially raising obstruction-of?justice concerns. After making a “thorough factual investigation” into these matters, the Special Counsel considered whether to evaluate the conduct under Department standards governing prosecution and declination decisions but ultimately determined not to make a traditional prosecutorial judgment. The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion one way or the other as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as “difficult issues” of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”
The Special Counsel’s decision to describe the facts of his obstruction investigation without reaching any legal conclusions leaves it to the Attorney General to determine whether the conduct described in the report constitutes a crime.(Emphasis added)
This is explained further in Paul Rosenzweig’s article Unpacking the Obstruction of Justice Mystery in the Barr Letter.
In spite of the truth being visible in plain sight there has been a lot of wrong-headed commentary about Trump’s exoneration and how wrong the media were, for example, Chris Hedges in Mueller Report Ends a Shameful Period for the Press and Tom Switzer and company in Holding the Trump doubters to account.
4. Taylor Harris’s iconic photo goes viral around the globe
If you haven’t seen it, here it is:
Channel 7 made galahs of themselves by taking the photo down when attacked by trolls, but sanity was then restored.
Chances are that you have not seen this one:
I picked it up on Facebook. All I know is that it dates from 1921, and was put up by a site called Chicks Talking Footy – JOY 94.9.