We are in the home strait now. Which will prevail?
I’ve taken it back to months before the 2019 election, which was on 18 May 2019, to show that the situation now is not like the situation then. With six days to go, incumbent PM Scott Morrison is looking for a miracle. Simon Benson, Political Editor for the Oz, wrote after the penultimate poll:
- According to the latest Newspoll, Labor would not only win government but it would win with a comfortable majority.
Any notion of a hung parliament is extinguished on these numbers, irrespective of whether any Climate 200 independents get elected or not.
Morrison needed the the contest to tighten with only two weeks to run. Newspoll has shown the opposite.
The first arrow indicates when the 2019 election was held. The second shows when the Brittany Higgins incident became public.
The AFR Ipsos poll of May 4-7 is calculated differently but shows Labor with a TPP lead of 52 per cent to 40 per cent for the Coalition, with 8 per cent undecided. They also do a gender divide, which shows women have given up on Morrison:
- Mr Morrison’s approval rating, which was at 44 per cent among women at this same time of the 2019 election campaign, now averages just 29 per cent over the past three polls.
The penultimate Newspoll also asked “Which government would be better at managing the cost of living?” Overall it was 44/41 to Labor, with 15% undecided. Within that males scored the parties evenly, but women favoured Labor 45/38 with 17% undecided.
That undecided component is Morrison’s big hope. Simon Benson after the last poll said that everything now hinges on the campaign launch in Brisbane on Sunday, where everything hinges on a last ditch effort.
As I type, we’ve just had it.
Just to divert for a moment, Barrie Cassidy queried why a party would leave their launch so late.
There are two answers, apparently. First, up until the official launch ministers, shadow ministers and their staff have their travel expenses paid by the taxpayer.
Second, the Coalition tries to avoid scrutiny of its costings.
The penalty is that many have already voted. Antony Green tweets that postal vote applications have passed 2.5 million or 14.6% of enrolment, with returns now past 1 million or 5.8%, while pre-polls have passed 1.6 million or 9.5% of enrolment.
There was plenty new expenditure announced by Morrison, but you would need to go through it with a fine tooth comb. For example, $9 billion over 10 years sounds great, except that less than a billion a year is almost small change, and the amounts over the next three years may be vanishingly small.
The signature policy was about first home-buyers being allowed to access their super.
First home buyers would still need to save a 5% deposit, then could access up to $50,000 from their super provided the sum is less than 40% of their super balance (for $50K that would be $125K).
This costs the government nothing, so why not?
When the idea was floated back in 2017, not all Coalition members were in favour. Ann Ruston said “We need to be careful that you don’t pour a bucket of kerosene on a fire.”
Then PM Malcolm Turnbull had earlier said it was a “thoroughly bad” idea, so it did not go anywhere.
Back then Chris Bowen said the main beneficiary would be vendors, as new home buyers with a bundle of super in their pockets tried to outbid each other.
Stephen Jones, Labor’s shadow on super, has tweeted:
- Scott Morrison has just trashed any vestiges of economic credibility.
Costello, Hockey, Turnbull …. all said super for housing was a dumb idea that would blow up the housing market.
But Scott doesn’t give a dam. It’s all about the politics for this bloke.
Other than that his message seems to be a combination of “you’ve never had it so good as it is now”, plus the new me, the new government, and the new Australia are going to move up a gear, and be nothing like the past. He is re-imagining the past, essentially saying it was as challenging as WWII, where:
- “I had one focus as your prime minister – save the country,” he told Liberal true believers.
“And we did.”
Note that the “I” becomes “we” but he takes all the credit. In fact the states saved Australia in spite of his negligence and interference. Fundamentally, he failed to recognise his true role in the federation. His normal form was to take credit for what went right and blame someone else for anything that went wrong.
Now he has disowned himself by saying ‘I can be a bit of a bulldozer’ and ‘I have to change’ my leadership style. Katharine Murphy finds in Even Scott Morrison is trying to distance himself from Scott Morrison now:
- The prime minister is largely a positive for the Coalition in the regions and outer suburbs, but in the Liberal party’s disillusioned progressive heartland, Morrison is seen as irredeemably toxic.
It’s a clarion distress call, she says, by a man whose ruthlessness knows no bounds and who is a narrowcaster par excellence.
Laura Tingle records just how ruthless he is in Scott Morrison has made a gruesome election bet, and it’s moderate Liberals like his deputy Josh Frydenberg who stand to lose. She’s talking about his support for Katherine Deves after the Liberal candidate for Warringah says she still believes trans youth are ‘mutilated’.
Niki Savva in Morrison’s strategy a political masterstroke or moral failure says the strategy has been deliberate, staged, and may be a political masterstroke, but:
- Most troubling is the morality of it. It is cruel and reprehensible that such a sensitive matter, with the potential to cause grievous harm to vulnerable people, has been planted in the middle of an election campaign by a flailing, floundering prime minister.
Michael Pascoe in Why the death of the Liberals’ liberals is bad news for Australia points out that in 2019 eight relatively progressive Liberal ministers or assistant ministers were leaving – Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop, Christopher Pyne, Kelly O’Dwyer, Steve Ciobo, Michael Keenan, Craig Laundy, and Jane Prentice.
Now, he says further moderates in John Alexander, Scott Ryan and Tony Smith are leaving. We are then left with three moderate “quieter’ ministers in Simon Birmingham, Marise Payne and Paul Fletcher, so we have:
- the Finance Minister who believes rorting is fine if it pays off at the ballot box, the Foreign Affairs Minister while defence and the security industry took over foreign policy, and the Minister for Foxtel who let his arts portfolio be left behind the door when COVID largesse was being given out.
- What changes if Messrs Sharma, Wilson, Zimmerman, Falinski, Fletcher and Frydenberg (not that the Treasurer is in the moderate faction) were all to be replaced by female candidates serious about climate, integrity and gender equality?
He says that the odds of real action on all three counts would soar, but surely not with the residual rabble that would be left in the Liberal/National coalition. Fundamentally most of the Climate 200 are conservative, so would incline to the capitalist class on matters related to industrial relations and taxation.
Real change can only come through a Labor government.
One of the images which should disturb the brain cells of all politicians is this queue outside the OzHarvest Waterloo market in Sydney:
Food insecurity is increasing. People are working multiple jobs, but still can’t consistently put sufficient food on the table. Even those with full-time jobs can be affected.
Last Month Roy Morgan published a piece that found unemployment and underemployment was far higher than the ABS figures showed, affecting 16.2% of the workforce. Their most recent Financial Wellness Survey found small improvements to December 2021, but 14.3% of Australians were struggling, while the 19.8% who were getting by also felt their situation “bad”.
Morrison has made it crystal clear that those struggling with pay that has not kept face with inflation for a decade should nevertheless bear the cost of rectifying the current surge in inflation by falling even further behind. His focus is on governing for the 43.1% doing OK and the 22.8% no worries groups.
What Labor can do for those in need remains a concern, because, as Laura Tingle finds, for both parties’ deficits extend years into the future. The country is not facing square-on how government services are to be paid for. The Coalition has drawn an arbitrary line at raising no more revenue than 23.9% of GDP, which is where the Howard government landed. Labor rejects the line, but sees no need to go beyond it, relying instead on focussing government expenditure on improving productivity.
Labor’s dilemma is that if they promise to raise taxes or rescind the already legislated tax cuts, the scare campaign will keep them out of power.
Alan Kohler, looking at a world happiness survey, finds that The secret to happiness is more taxation. Countries where governments spend about 40% of GDP on services (about 40% more than our measly 27% or so, with state taxes thrown in) are happier.
This is a conversation we need to have, but won’t until civility and rationality can be restored to public policy discourse. This will not happen unless the current ruthless power mongers are removed.