Ok, I’d like to start with a little fiction:
It’s noticed that a number of young people are getting into trouble after consuming alcohol. The city council announces that there’s no real problem; there’s always been underage drinkers and we can leave it to the police to deal with. However, after a lot of public outcry they appoint a special investigator. He questions a large number of people and discovers a racket where – not only are fake IDs rampart – but many of the hotels and clubs are helping kids to manufacture them. The police turn a blind eye to this because they have to drink at the hotels after work. Besides, some of them are hoping to get work as security in the hotels when they quit the force. Naturally, there’s a lot of public anger when this report is released and some are calling for the hotel owners to be prosecuted for breaking the law.The investigator hands his report to the city council with recommendations to ensure that this sort of behaviour is stopped.
I think you know where I’m going with this…
How does the council respond? Mayor Scott says that while there have been a lot of illegal practices and we need to do something about this, we also need to be careful. After all, hotels and clubs employ a lot of people and we certainly don’t won’t to do anything that might cause some of them to lay people off or shut down. We need to proceed carefully and…
Yes, Scott Morrison’s initial response to the banking Royal Commission didn’t exactly fill me with confidence. While I have heard the phrase, “you don’t need a sledgehammer to crack a nut”, I suspect that we may need more than a nutcracker to change the culture of the financial institutions. We certainly need a government who sees it as a problem and not one which seems to have the attitude that, well, they were only trying to make money and surely that’s what everyone should be doing. I mean, they were having a go and doesn’t that mean that they should get a go? Surely white collar crime comes with a “Get out of jail free” card?
If you replace the crimes of financial institutions with importing heroin, prostitution or people smuggling, you’ll, of course, get a completely different reaction from the Liberals in terms of the desirability of having a go. “Having a go” is only a good thing when it’s a Liberal backer who’s doing it.
Indeed, Julia Banks decision to have a go at Greg Hunt’s seat wasn’t greeted with any rhetoric about what a great thing this was. In fact, some even suggested that Turnbull was backing her with his own money. Outrageous!! We only like it when Turnbull money is donated to us. (Interestingly, I decided to look up Sportsbet odds to see if she was being given any chance. While neither is always right, betting odds are more reliable than opinion polls because bookies don’t like giving away money. Current betting was Labor $1.85, Coalition $2.20, Julia Banks $4.75)
Perhaps my suggestion that Liberals are putting all their money on Labor and running dead isn’t completely silly. After all, if you think about the assertions that we’ll be headed for a recession if Labor are elected is a pretty effective potential “I told you so”, in the event of a Labor victory. Generally, our recessions have been caused by overseas conditions, so if China and the USA’s trade war reduces demand world-wide, we could have trouble in Australia. Labor will have trouble explaining that it’s really nothing to do with them, after all the Liberal warnings.
On the other hand, if by some miracle the Liberals were returned, how would they explain that the recession was – in fact – still Labor’s fault. Ok, they’d certainly try to argue that… Let’s remember that Labor were to blame for the oil shocks of the seventies, world-wide inflation in the eighties and the GFC. No, didn’t say “responsible for”, I said “to blame for”. Just as the current dip in house prices is all the result of a policy that hasn’t even been implemented yet.
Whatever, it seems that good guys and bad guys make up a large part of the Liberal narrative. It’s not just that we have a difference of opinion or a different world view. People who don’t have a go are bad, people who break the law are bad (but only if they’re part of something like an “African gang”; organised crime figures can run fund-raisers without there being a problem) and, of course, Labor and Greens are bad. Bankers, on the other hand, are “having a go” and if that encourages them to occasionally overstep the mark, well, that’s why we have bodies to tell them that they should stop and will tell them again if the first time wasn’t enough. Of course, if they still don’t stop, the regulatory bodies have, on a number of occasions, asked the banks what sort of fine do they think it would be fair for them to pay, so we don’t have to go through all the rigmarole of going to court.
Yep, it’s not just a difference in whether you’re a lawbreaker or not that makes you a bad guy in Coalition eyes. And it’s not just a difference in what sort of crime it is; stealing a loaf of bread is evil, but stealing water is understandable. It’s who you are that counts most and, if you wear a suit, why, you must be having a go and we need to be very, very careful about criticising you, because I may have been photographed shaking your hand too many times and trying to tell the public that I’ve washed my hands since, just won’t cut it!
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