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Scott Morrison And Finding The Right Level Of Panic

“I was lucky enough to get 812 rolls of toilet paper before the panic-buyers grabbed it!”

If Scott Morrison were accused of rearranging the deck chairs on The Titanic I’m sure he’d tell us that he wasn’t going to be rushed into anything and that he and his first mate Just Joshing are currently working on a plan and pretty soon they’ll respond in a calm, measured way and be able to tell us exactly where those deck chairs should go.

It’s part of his schtick: To sell himself as someone who won’t be rushed into anything, as the calm, thoughtful person who considers things and then announces the solution which, almost without exception is to chuck $2 billion at the problem. Drought, “Here’s two billion!” Bushfires: “We’ve established a two billion dollar Bushfire Relief Fund”! Coronavirus: “We’re working with the states and there’s a two billion dollar fund for extra resources to deal with the problem.”

Now you may have heard that some of the people affected by the issue at hand are having trouble accessing the money, Well, it is taxpayers’ money and we need to be very careful to ensure it’s spent wisely so there’ll be none of this elimination of red tape that the government loves to spruik whenever big business is involved. Environmental impacts? Red tape! Safety audits? Red tape! Effects on local community? Red tape!

Of course, it could also be because – until recently – our prudent economic managers were trying their level best to ensure that the coming budget was in surplus. In order to help with this, as much of the spending as possible had to be put off until future budgets in the hope that circumstances had improved. That’s probably why Andrew Colvin suggested at Senate Estimates that the money in the Bushfire Recovery Fund wasn’t in the Budget Papers because it was “notional”.

Ok, just about every economist who doesn’t worship on the altar of Milton Friedman thinks that a surplus when the economy is more anaemic than a haemophiliac at a Vampires’ Ball would be the wrong thing, but Scott Morrison announced that we had a surplus and when you announce something has happened before it actually has, and argue with people who say that it hasn’t happened yet, you look mighty silly when it turns out that they were right.

Calling yourself a good economic manager is fine when times are good or average, but when the iceberg hits, nobody really thanks the captain when he announces how much was saved by not equipping the ship with lifeboats. The quiet Australians may have been able to forgive moving money from the NDIS to prop up the budget, but now that this coronavirus thing has hit, it’s time to panic because it might affect anyone. No, it’s not just Tiny Tim missing out because Bob Cratchet works for Scrooge, it’s anyone and everyone.

Quick everyone, stock up. We could all be isolated at any moment. And there’s no toilet paper left in the supermarkets!! Shit… No, don’t!!

While the GST on toilet paper may be exceeding expectations, the government has decided that they need to announce a stimulus package. Let’s be quite clear here. It’s only these unexpected things like Coronavirus, Drought, Bushfires, etc. It certainly wasn’t the falling revenues, rising unemployment and any of the things that government had control over. Anyone suggesting that the budget was never going to be in surplus was just wrong because we’d already announced that it was in surplus and once we’ve announced something then it’s true and any suggestion that it’s just notional, is quite unpatriotic!

Yes, we can forget the surplus. It was never that important. No, today we’ll have announcements about a big stimulus package, but not like Labor’s because that was a waste of money. They spent money to avoid a recession, but they didn’t need to because we didn’t have one anyway. The Liberals are going to spend money and we’ll still have a recession, so they’ll be able to say that the circumstances they had to deal with were harder. Today we’ll hear that people on welfare are eligible for a bonus payment. Eligible? Does that mean they have to apply and the Sports Minister will decide who gets it? Or is it eligible like volunteer firefighters were eligible for a payment providing they could prove that they were financially impacted by not being at their normal place of work?

Of course, the main focus seems to be on the economic impact of the pandemic. To a certain extent that’s understandable. At this precise moment, the way the world economies are reacting is more likely to affect people than the actual pandemic: Supply shortages, stock markets crashing, people lose wages because their employer shuts down are all having a direct effect on billions of people, while the virus itself has only touched a relative few. However, that could quickly change.

And that’s where it’s so hard to find the correct level of panic. When you hear about the empty supermarket shelves, it’s easy to wonder if one should have watched more of those shows about zombies for educational reasons about preparing oneself by stockpiling and boarding up the house. But on the other hand, when someone says that it’s nothing to worry about because it’s probably going to kill less people than your average flu, there’s a certain soothing reassurance about that and I’d like to believe them.

And I would. It’s only the fact that Andrew Bolt is one of the people saying it that makes me think I should start shopping and watch an episode of “The Walking Dead”.

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  1. Josephus

    A bidet, newspaper, flannels or rags, even broad leafed plants; instead of thinking constructively pinbrained hysteria and frenzied violence show we are just not able to overcome greed or to adapt to the changing, heating world. We will drown in our superfluity of goods and of our numbers. Good night.

  2. Ken

    I’ve searched and cannot find COVID-19 gives you diarrhea so why the panic on toilet paper is beyond me !

  3. Ill fares the land

    If Scotty from Marketing was rearranging the deck chairs, he would be loudly proclaiming that he saw it coming months, if not years earlier. His utterly supercilious posturing about how much foresight he has is actually beyond nauseating. His “prediction” that COVID-19 should be treated as a pandemic was noting more than a stunt to create a crisis for him, and him alone to solve. Unhappily, many Australians have now totally forgotten how much we saw of the real Scotty from Marketing during the bushfires – the petulance, the personal neediness, the conviction that he is revered in much the same way as Kim Jong-Un, his puerile reactions to having his phony and marketing-driven overtures rejected. That’s before you get to his constant lying, blustering and general incompetence. Today I despair for Australia that the person in charge of the most corrupt and incompetent government since Federation is “preferred PM”. You have got to be kidding me. His moronic and self-serving claims about how his package is better and how the economy was strong under “his government” are simply laughable – or would be if this were not a genuine crossroads for Australia. The gift of COVID-19 was simply heaven-sent for our disgrace for a PM – he could, as you have opined, inflate what is a serious matter into a total crisis, because that gave him the perfect opportunity to read from his script (written by the CMO). The real Morrison was on display during the bushfires. This is the facade Morrison. It would be churlish to not acknowledge that he is, for a change, doing stuff that he should have been doing long ago, but I believe I have a genuine sense of who and what Morrison is and what we saw during the bushfires and interviews where he pompously brushes of questions he doesn’t want to or can’t answer or when he stupidly took his Hawaii trip and the PMO (on his instructions no doubt), lied about it are images that are far closer to the real Scotty from Marketing. Perhaps we should applaud someone who is so doggedly determined to promote his personal brand, but in this case, his “brand” is manufactured – whatever he does, he is a phony.

  4. paul walter

    Wot Ill fares says.

    He was inflating rapidly at his presser, this is when he is at his aggravating worst.

    Laura Tingle observed that the package was meant to work through business and still the government refuses to acknowledge wider underlying issues as to unemployment, while Andrew Probyn suggested that the governments problem was to be doing fiscal stimulus without admitting Rudd was right to do it a decade ago… typical parsimonious mentality.

  5. OldWomBat

    I might just consider getting a subscription for the herald-sun newspaper – take me back to my youth when squares of newspaper worked ok as dunny paper, if a tad rough around the edges. Also would be about the only good use (and eco-friendly to boot) of the herald-sun.

  6. David

    So handouts for small business! What a hero our Scomo is!

    Except it is just another very thinly disguised round of Welfare for the Big End of Town.

    It is very obvious that the Small Business money will go straight to the large commercial property owners as rental payments from struggling businesses! Heaven forfend that the super rich should have to suffer in the country wide downturn as business fail to fulfill their lease payment obligations.

    Just another “Socialise the Losses, Pocket the Profits” exercise!

    Mad as hell so went on the road for a month!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Lovely here in Bremer Bay WA.)

  7. New England Cocky

    Oh dear, more Socialism for the Undeserving Rich and Corporates!

    The Rudd-Henry solution was a much more practical solution that the News Ltd MSM decried by reporting incorrectly because it was successful. Money put into the bottom of the economy, like Newstart and Pensioners, will flow up the economic tree as usual because those persons have little/no financial resources to keep themselves fed.

    All the fuss about the pandemic is excellent news fodder to distract Australian voters from the underlying fact that the Smirkie & Co COALition misgovernment have no policies to promote the best interests of ALL Australian voters.

    OK, people with established medical conditions are dying after contracting COVID-19, but was COVID-19 the actual cause of death, or the established co-morbid conditions? That may be difficult to establish accurately.

  8. Kerri

    Will we start the recession with the toilet paper recession as no-one needs to buy any for the next 5 months.?

  9. Zathras

    When Rudd handed out cash during the GFC the Libs and their supporters were certain that those undeserving poor would buy “flat-screen TVs made in China or blow it on tattoos or prostitutes” – an indication of how they saw many voters. They insisted it was little more than a “cash-splash” and a waste of taxpayer funds. Likewise the schools building programme seemed to keep the construction industry and its suppliers afloat and avoid mass unemployment and a loss of consumer confidence.

    Fast forward a few terms and here we are again but where are all those old arguments now?

    If it fails, any panic will likely be about the lack of effective leadership or ability rather than virus fears.

    Also, I don’t recommend using Murdoch newspapers as toilet paper. The Telegraph will leave more behind than it takes off and The Australian is soft only on right-wing a***eholes.

    A plumber I know is looking forward to the inevitable call-out business he’ll be getting to unblock sewer pipes when people start flushing the wrong things.

  10. John Lord

    This futile argument about whose package is or was the largest. Rudd’s or Morrison’s.

  11. Rossleigh

    The strange thing about the Coalition is their capacity to change their view depending on who’s doing what. For example, Labor « giving » people money will lead to them wasting it but they want to give tax breaks because people are best placed to make their own decisions.

  12. ajogrady

    7 million people die annually from air pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels. The new strain virus is more deadly to the elderly who have been exposed to air pollution for a far longer period then children who are virtually unaffected. Fossil fuels are the problem and the virus is just compounding the problem.

  13. Fergy Nell

    If you want to stimulate the economy you give money to the sector of society that would be able to revive the economy if only it had the money to spend. You don’t stimulate spending by reducing the taxes on the sectors of the economy that provide what the under-privileged are not buying simply because they don’t have any money to spend.
    Any stimulus package that gives money to non-spenders is not a stimulus package at all: its another way of giving back door payments to their mates.

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