It’s really unfortunate that Covid-19 has hit during a Coalition government. I mean, normally economic shocks occur when Labor is in power. The oil crisis of the 1970s, the world-wide recession of the eighties and the GFC were all used to beat Labor over the head. It’s almost like the Liberals were able to say, “Here take the wheel!” just before an upcoming storm, then take control of the ship when the waters were smooth. This time, however, Labor dodged the bullet and lost an election they were widely expected to win.
Now I’m not suggesting that Scott Morrison winning was a good thing. I’m just approaching this with all the objectivity of Dyson Heydon when he decided that he didn’t have to disqualify himself as Head of the Royal Commission into Union Corruption, because he wasn’t biased… And who would be in a better position to judge than the judge judging himself. No, I’m simply looking at this with complete objectivity…
Although reading Alexander Downer’s tweet this morning, I’m shocked to find that I’m a political opponent. According to the big Downer:
“I’m going to advise the government not to participate in #QandA. One minister and all the rest are political opponents…”
Isn’t it cute how Alex thinks anyone would take his advice? As for the composition of the QandA panel, there was performing arts representative, a youth advocate, as well as Sue Morphett whose profile showed her socialist credentials: “Sue currently holds non-executive directorships with Arnott’s Biscuits Limited, Asaleo Care Limited, and Mosaic Brands Limited, she is a member of the Corporate Council for the European Australian Business Council (EABC).”
Mm, while Bill Shorten could reasonably be described as a political opponent, the fact that Alex thinks these people are opponents says heaps about the Liberals us and them view of the world. Whether you support Labor, The Greens, Clive Palmer, Pauline Hanson or the local cricket club who wants to know why they missed on funding, you’re a political opponent. Or perhaps the best way to define it: Unless you’re a donor then you’re some sort of leftie…
Anyway, we have the rather unusual spectacle of the Coalition having to deal with difficult economic times. Unlike Labor, who seem to be responsible for everything that happens while they’re in power, the current government constantly suggests that everything was hunky-dory and this Covid-19 is a setback that wasn’t anything to do with them, so let’s all ignore all economic indicators and just give them a big pat on the back for the fact that they actually understood that keeping unemployment benefits at starvation levels would have led to the sort of collapse that made the Great Depression resemble a Gatsby party. Couple that with their realisation that they needed something like JobKeeper so that we wouldn’t actually notice that the true employment numbers actually make the GFC look like boom times.
Yes, the government has been generous. Announcing billions in funding for this and that, in the hope that the new announcement will make the public less concerned with the fact that the previous announcements haven’t been fully delivered. Or, in some cases, haven’t even been partially delivered…
Of course, this generosity can’t last. We can’t have people not wanting to work. In fact, anecdotally, somebody said that they’d be a fool to work for less money than they’re getting for staying at home, so logically we need to cut payments to everyone because we don’t want to have a situation where some people are happy not to work and only those who actually need or want a job are the ones working.
Yes, it may seem strange to some of you that we’d be concerned about the people who don’t want to work when there are more willing workers than jobs. This would be like a concert promoter being concerned because there were only a thousand people unable to get into the venue instead of the ten thousand who caused the crush which killed a few dozen people the week before. The idea that some people might be content to stay at home during this pandemic and not want to go out… I mean, the message may have been stay at home but we didn’t want you to like the idea!
We can’t afford to keep paying people for doing nothing and I’m not just talking about most of the Coalition front bench here. Ok, we don’t have jobs for everyone but the least that those who miss out could do is feel depressed and miserable about it. At least that way, the numbers of unemployed may go down because they give up looking for a job and don’t get counted any more.
And yes, some of you are going to ask if anecdotal evidence is any way to inform government policy? Well, there’s a simple answer to that which is: “I reject the premise of your question…” With any luck the person asking it won’t follow up by asking which premise, the idea that only anecdotal evidence is being used or the idea that the government has policies and isn’t just lurching from announcement to announcement in the hope that we’ve all forgotten about the notional bushfire fund?
If that doesn’t work, the response should be: “I find that a pretty offensive question…” So far no journalist has thought to respond with, “That’s a pretty offensive answer,” so it’s pretty much a great way from distracting from the central idea.
And if all else fails, use the ABC cuts tactic and deny reality completely. “Just say that there are no cuts and people on unemployment benefits are given more than enough to live on.” This is actually true. The forty dollars a day would enable someone to live in luxury if they were only able to time travel back to the 1930s or move to a country where most people are subsisting on less than two dollars a day.
So don’t worry about anything. The future is bright now. We’re getting ships and long-range missiles. That should solve all our problems. But don’t ask where the money’s coming from. That’s only a question for when we need to tackle climate change.
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