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Five shades of faded blue

By Ad astra

How well the ancient Biblical words apply to the Coalition: ”How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle…thou wast slain in thine high places, and the weapons of war perished!”

The true-blue Liberal flag, once graced with rich shades of competence, efficiency, endeavour, diligence and success, now flies tattered, limp and washed out. The Liberal flag is now discoloured with five shades of faded blue: denial, arrogance, anger, confusion and ineptitude.

After its humiliating loss at the Wentworth by-election, and the obvious reason for it – the undignified removal of its well-liked member Malcolm Turnbull, a modicum of insight might have been expected as the extent of the Coalition bloodbath at the recent State Election in Victoria was being exposed on ABC TV. But no, Deputy Liberal Leader Josh Frydenberg was soon on the airwaves trying to convince us that the disaster unfolding before his very eyes had nothing to do with the disrespectful extrusion of Malcolm Turnbull and his replacement with a novice. ”It was a state election run on state issues” he insisted. Of course state issues were prominent, but only blind and deaf Freddie would not acknowledge the influence of events in Canberra. Coalition supporters handing out how-to-vote cards reported how often voters curtly informed them that they were not going to vote Liberal because of what the party had done to Malcolm Turnbull. Josh was in denial, deaf to what he was hearing, blind to what he was seeing. He even accused Bill Shorten of arrogantly believing he could ‘measure the curtains in The Lodge’. He looked foolish. As Crikey’s Charlie Lewis put it: ”It was the rhetorical equivalent of jamming his fingers in his ears and making ‘la la la’ noises. Right on cue his fellow-denialist Eric Abetz, always ready to argue the inarguable, followed him. Peta Credlin soon joined the chorus of denial in The Australian, arguing that the Bourke Street terrorist attack made the Coalition’s campaign on ‘law and order’ tricky because public sensibilities prevented them ‘going in hard’!

This chorus of denial has since been drowned out by a plethora of commentary that has pinpointed the ‘toxic Canberra culture’ as a potent reason for the Coalition’s decline. Defeated Coalition Leader Matthew Guy and John Pesutto, member for Hawthorn, who saw his re-election cast into doubt as he commented on the ABC’s election panel, had the good grace to concede that the Canberra shemozzle was a telling reason for the Coalition’s defeat. Even the State president of the Liberal Party, Michael Kroger got the message and resigned. Now, Coalition members in NSW, petrified about the ‘toxic’ behaviour of their Canberra counterparts, are running a mile to distance themselves for fear of contamination during the upcoming NSW State election.

Next, along came arrogance to further stain the Liberal flag. PM Morrison, who ought to have been a little contrite, came out arms flailing, insisting that notwithstanding recent electoral debacles, the Coalition would triumph at the next federal election. Voters would reward the Coalition for its outstanding economic success and reject Labor’s high-taxing policies, he insisted. And he reinforced his words by angrily shouting them whenever he could – at doorstops, in press interviews, in Question Time, in parliamentary debate. He turned up the volume as he fumed.

But for arrogance writ large, there could scarcely be a more brazen display of it than dark-suited Coalition members walking out of the chamber as Julia Banks announced a few days later that she was withdrawing from the Coalition to sit on the crossbenches. You can hear her speech in the Featured Video. Of course their leader has form in walking out when females are speaking in the House!

Anger soon stained the Coalition’s flag. Shocked at its electoral reversals, and extrapolating these to the May federal election at which many Coalition members could see their seats evaporating, the prospect of losing a comfortable income evoked much anger and distress.

Although a cluster of Liberals joined their leader to unveil their anger, none could match him; his shouting became more and more raucous. And when schoolchildren organized a rally in school hours to protest against the government’s lack of action on climate change, Morrison exploded. In typical ‘strict father’ mode, so well described by George Lakoff, he condemned the rally with: “Each day I send my kids to school and I know other members’ kids should also go to school but we do not support our schools being turned into parliaments.”

Following his leader, Resources Minister Matt Canavan added that he wanted children in school learning about how to build mines, do geology and how to drill for oil and gas, “which is one of the most remarkable science exploits in the world”. He warned the students that their protest was ”the road to the dole queue”. Clearly, he not only lacks insight into the motivation of the protesting students; he remains intractably wedded to the outmoded technologies that scientists assure us will bring about global devastation and render the planet uninhabitable. He was angry and confused, along with many of his parliamentary colleagues.

In response to the PM’s reprimand, one student said: Mr Morrison’s comments were ‘ridiculous’. It is as if he expects us to be completely apathetic towards the world and its issues until we reach the age of 18, when we are suddenly supposed to become well-informed voters with our own developed opinions…Mr Morrison says that he does not support our schools being turned into parliaments. Well, maybe if the people in our Parliament listened to the science and took action like those of us in school, we wouldn’t have to resort to strike action like this.” A campaign organiser said that Mr Morrison’s comments had actually boosted the protest’s profile and spurred more people into action. Another example of Morrison’s ineptitude and lack of insight!

Greens leader, Adam Bandt who had met with some of the students involved and backed their actions, said: “The PM is unbelievably out of touch with young people, not only in Australia but around the world…these students want a leader to protect their future, but they get a hectoring, ungenerous and condescending rebuke from someone even worse than Tony Abbott.”

So it came to pass that on the last day in November eight thousand students from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Perth, Coffs Harbour, Bendigo and twenty regional areas did head to the nearest Parliament House or the offices of members of parliament to take part in the strike, quite undeterred by the angry rebukes from their parliamentarians. More protests are to follow. The repercussions will long reverberate.

The next shade of blue to tarnish the now-very-dull Liberal flag was confusion. Clearly the Coalition, the PM and his ministers are rattled, beset as they are with electoral defeat after electoral defeat, abysmal opinion polls that never improve, a confident Labor Opposition, and a cluster of policies that even their own supporters won’t accept, the most recent being its energy policy. And all they do in response is to shout more and more angrily.

Denial, arrogance, anger and confusion bring in their wake ineptitude, the fifth shade of faded blue to tarnish the Coalition flag.

Virtually everything Morrison and his ministers now say and do reeks of ineptitude.

The Coalition is lost. The path ahead is beset with intractable difficulties, insurmountable problems, and an impoverished mindset incapable of addressing them. Ideological shackles restrict their thinking; outmoded beliefs curb their judgment; antediluvian attitudes constrain their reasoning.

Foolishly, they have corrupted their flag. And in the process they have besmirched our National flag too.

The once proud true-blue Liberal flag hangs tattered and limp. Only five shades of faded blue remain.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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  1. MöbiusEcko

    And it came to pass that the Coalition went even lower in their trashing of democracy and morality. They wasted an entire day today to avoid a defeat that last occurred in 1929. It was in Morrison’s power to extend the session he wasted the day on and could have debated two bills, but not for Morrison and his tawdry Coalition. They would rather dilly at attempting to wedge Labor and attack Shorten at the expense of the Australian people and any skerrick of principle they might have left.

    Shorten was forced to pass the cryptography bill unamended or face a hammering all through the Xmas break as being weak on terrorism and being blamed for every crime the government could pin on him.

    There have been so many derogatory words and emotions stated and written about this government and their leaders I can’t add any new ones. But my, they are by far the worst bunch of politicians we’ve ever had set foot in our parliament.

  2. Nw England Cocky

    No doubt about it ….. It’s time.

  3. David Fizpatrick

    As the Buddhists say « in non-duality the bhikku traverses the void ». …this applies in spades to the vacuous policies of the « opposition «

  4. Matters Not


    Josh Frydenberg … trying to convince us … had nothing to do … ”It was a state election run on state issues” he insisted.

    Not surprised in the least. A key task for any politician is to paint a picture; write a story; manufacture a rationale; or as a sociologist might say construct a reality that large numbers will ‘buy’ and, (most importantly), be prepared to preach to others. It doesn’t have to be true. It doesn’t have to be objectively verifiable (an impossible task). No – what is essential is that it is believable and then believed.

    While Josh had the assistance of Abetz and Credlin (both lacking credibility these days – except with those who are ideological blinded), he faced an impossible task. All ideological positions must contain an element of truth – something to fall back on when the going gets tough. Unfortunately for Josh there was nothing sustainable at the core of his efforts.

    Sometimes, politicians have bad mornings. Just ask Kelly O’Dwyer about the banking Royal Commission. Sometimes politicians have bad nights. Just ask Josh about the night of the Victorian State election. (No wonder they don’t like the ABC.) And sometimes politicians cut their losses and apologise. Kelly did. Josh ha …

  5. Frank Smith

    By shutting down Parliament early today the Coalition demonstrated in a most spectacular way they are incapable of governing. The only solution is for Scummo to call an election immediately, get out of the way and stop trashing our democracy. What a disgrace this final day of Parliament was. I see better far better behavior in pre-schools.

  6. Peter F

    “Shorten was forced to pass the cryptography bill unamended or face a hammering all through the Xmas”. This is exactly what has brought us to this sorry state. The RWNJs have made it impossible for ANY government in the past decade to enact good legislation on a number of fronts because they and the MSM have controlled the discussion in the general electorate.

  7. ChristopherJ

    When is a government, Labor or Liberal, going to take on the media and break it up? The ownership of our media is concentrated to the detriment of all Australians. We’ve known it for years, we complain about it, but we do nothing and we demand nothing.

    At least the kids know how to organise a protest. Us? Nah, we not like the French…

  8. helvityni

    “Only five shades of faded blue remain.” Beautifully said, almost poetic…

    I watched the Drum last night, and met Sharma, a true-blue Scomo’s boy, smiling, almost laughing when stating that there are enough doctors on Manus to help the suicidal refugee children…

    Some have been there for five long years…makes one think they are punished, because they did NOT drown…

  9. blair

    “scientists assure us will bring about global devastation and render the planet inhabitable”
    as the case may be
    sorry to be picky

    Thanks, blair. Now fixed. 👍

  10. Ad Astra

    I thank you all for your helpful comments.

    In the last 24 hours, Morrison has demonstrated how very nasty he is. Morriscum seems a suitable tag.
    Nothing will change until he and his government are replaced. Let’s hope circumstance dictates that this is early in 2109.

  11. Graeme T

    Ad Astra, hopefully not another 90 years time (I think you meant 2019 and not 2109). However, it might seem that long.

  12. Simon Bowers

    Excellent piece or writing. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


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