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No, They Won’t Learn

By Ad Astra

I was motivated to write my last piece: Will they ever learn? after viewing the first Question Time of the recent sitting of the House of Representatives. Some our most senior politicians, immediately after showing that they were capable of courtesy and decent discourse, went on to display offensively aggressive behaviour towards each other, all in the full glare of the cameras, knowing that the world would see them as they were. What was shoddier was that they seemed not to care about how dreadful they looked.

Only the naive would have expected the ensuing election campaign to be more edifying. It hasn’t been. Indeed it has deteriorated steadily into a nasty, vindictive, undignified slanging match.

No, they will not, indeed they cannot learn.

In a comment made about ’Will they ever learn?’ the writer asserted that politicians’ behaviour ‘was all about greed – pure unadulterated, narcissistic greed’. The message was that all they wanted was to win, to take the prize and the power that goes with it, and that they care not how they achieve this. As political cynics say: ‘Do whatever it takes’.

The election campaign has been an unedifying example of this saying: an appalling exhibition of scarcely concealed anger, lies, misrepresentations, exaggerations, rudeness, sneering, and nastiness.

How many times have you heard our PM call Bill Shorten a liar? How many times have you heard him say that Shorten lies all the time; that we cannot believe anything he says, that we can never trust him? How many times have you heard Josh Frydenberg obediently echo Morrison’s words?

How many times have you heard them insinuate that Shorten doesn’t know what he’s talking about, that he doesn’t know his own policies, that he gets his facts and figures wrong, again and again? Have you noticed the thick layers of sarcasm in which they wrap their condemnation? Their object is not just to destroy Labor policies, but to destroy Shorten himself.

We saw Morrison in full flight again in the first Leaders’ Debate, on Channel Seven: smirking, self-assured, condemnatory, sneering, yet according to the audience, the loser.

Morrison capped his condemnation when he told us recently that Shorten was ‘dishonest, sneaky and clueless’, in other words, an incompetent liar, that is not just incompetent, but incompetent even at lying!

What sort of language is that to describe a fellow professional? Yes, they are supposed to be professionals!

Coalition minders have scripted a high-taxing mantra about Shorten and Labor. At every opportunity Coalition members recite a catechism of new taxes they insist Labor will inflict on all of us, $387 billion in all, taxes on everything and everybody! No one shall escape.

These taxes will target everyone, from the loftiest businessmen, who will have to pay $25 billion purchasing carbon credits (or is it $35 billion that Morrison now insists?), to the poorest pensioners, whom Shorten will short-change: ‘He’s coming after your money’; he’ll have his hands in your pocket; ‘Bill Shorten will send you the bill’. On and on it goes, until voters feel like throwing up.

Is anyone listening? I suppose the minders believe this nauseating repetition will yield dividends. Time will tell. Will it change anyone’s vote, or will it simply reinforce the entrenched beliefs of those already determined to vote for the Coalition?

Of course, Coalition propaganda dares not to venture onto territory it finds alien. How often have you heard mention of its climate or environmental policies, or its energy policy, or its plan to lift wages and address punitive penalty rates, or its answer to social inequality, or how it expects those on Newstart to survive. Morrison repeats endlessly that he wants ‘a fair go for those that have a go’, but never tells us what a fair go is. Those on Newstart are having a go to get a job, but what sort of ‘fair go’ does Morrison have in mind for them?

In a flagrant case of the pot calling the kettle black, Morrison puts out his own brand of lies. Of course, they are better quality lies – everything the Coalition does is superior.

Morrison would have us all believe that all workers earning less than $130,000 will receive a lump sum payment in their bank accounts from July 1. But as this requires the passage of legislation that has not even been presented to parliament, and as Treasury says that it has insufficient time to put systems in place to achieve this, can this really happen? What will Morrison and Frydenberg say if workers find the money doesn’t magically appear in their bank accounts on time? No doubt they’ll blame Labor! Only Labor breaks promises.

In his budget speech, Frydenberg announced with an arrogant flourish: ‘We’re back in the black’ – present tense. He went on: ‘The government is extremely proud to be delivering the first budget surplus in a decade’.

No, we’re not in the black, and won’t be until 2019/20, when a $7.1 billion surplus is predicted. Nothing certain there!

Top earners were excited by Frydenberg’s promise of substantial tax cuts for them until it dawned on them that their bonanza will occur only if the Coalition is elected in May, and again three years later!

Were these assertions just misleading? Or merely political poetic license? Or were they simply old-fashioned barefaced lies?

Opinion polls that ask which party is best at managing the economy repeatedly put the Coalition above Labor. I wonder why. Could it be that Coalition members endlessly repeat: ‘Labor doesn’t know how to manage money’? It’s a sickening slur we hear every day. Forget how Labor steered Australia through the Global Financial Crisis better than any other nation. Truth and facts such as these are irrelevant to Morrison and his sidekicks.

How many times have you heard that the Coalition is paying off Labor’s debt, yet again? Just like Howard and Costello did. You won’t hear them concede that since the Coalition last took office, national debt has soared, and continues upwards. The debt they claim to be paying off is as much their own as what they inherited.

Speaking on an episode of Q&A, Shadow minister for Finance, Jim Chalmers, asserted that net debt had doubled since the Coalition took office. This was subject to a Fact Check by Mark Crosby, professor of economics at Monash University, that was published in The Conversation. It concluded: “As at July 1 2018, the budget estimate of net debt in Australia was about A$341 billion. That’s roughly a 95% rise since the Coalition took office in 2013, making Chalmers’ statement about net debt having doubled under the current government broadly correct.”

Arguments about national debt are complicated. To understand these complexities, read the Conversation article, which offers a lucid analysis.

PM Morrison persistently tells us that a strong economy is the basis of everything else – that it supports all the services and infrastructure the nation needs. He then goes on to insist that he is running a strong economy. But is he?

Consumption growth is down, business confidence is shaky, wages growth has been stagnant for years, unemployment and underemployment are up despite all the jobs Morrison says he’s created, and inflation is at zero, a telling sign that something has gone horribly wrong with the economy, and out in voter land people are struggling to pay their rent, or service their mortgage if they’ve been fortunate enough to buy a house, as well as paying their power bills and having enough left over for daily necessities. If that’s a strong economy, how come so many people are hurting, hurting badly? Even Morrison concedes that is so!

There is an explanation! Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank, Guy Debelle, gives it: “The main explanation as to why consumption growth has slowed is the low growth in household income, and an increasing expectation that it is likely to remain low”. ‘Likely to remain low’ are the worrying words. The RBA’s forecast for wages growth is 2.5% by June next year and 2.6% by June 2021 – that is, wages growth will scarcely move. Yet Frydenberg and Morrison tell us that wages are lifting. Another lie. They are not. All this talk of wages lifting is based on a pathetic adherence to the long-debunked ‘trickle down’ theory: give the bosses tax breaks and benefits and this largesse will eventually find its way down to the workers. That’s bunkum, and they know it.

The government predicted in its recent budget that wages growth would accelerate to over 3% in 2020-21 and then to 3.5% after that! That’s nonsense. Just a few days ago, Finance Minister Cormann told us, perhaps inadvertently, that the Coalition had deliberately pursued a stagnant wages policy to assist the economy.

According to Crikey’s Bernard Keane, tax cuts, especially ones that deliver most of the benefit for people on middle incomes, like the ones the government unveiled in its budget, will do little to address sluggish household incomes. Bill Shorten claimed some weeks ago that the election would be a referendum on wages. Keane agrees: ‘As far as the health of the economy goes, if you’re not talking about wages and lifting growth, you’re missing the point.’ He sums up the situation well in his and Glenn Dyer’s article in Crikey: The dominant story of the election is weak household income.

I trust I’ve given you enough facts and figures to convince you that this election campaign is riddled through and through with misrepresentations, deception, mendaciousness, barefaced lies, lies piled upon more lies. The players lie flagrantly, brazenly, unashamedly, and sometimes insolently. Don’t they care what damage they’re doing to their reputation? Their only mission seems to be to convince enough voters to give them the prize they crave. To do so, anything goes, no matter how atrocious. Yet these are our representatives, the ones to whom we entrust the health and security of our nation!

How sad is it that they are prepared to sink to such a degraded state, prepared to wear the tag of ‘liar’, prepared to be publically humiliated and deprecated, all in pursuit of power, money and self-interest. How desperately sad it is when they need to send out that genius at retail politics, Barnaby Joyce, to defend the government’s shonky $80 million water buy-back, now suitably tagged as our very own ‘Watergate’.

No, they won’t learn, they cannot. Oh dear!

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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21 comments

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  1. David Bruce

    If we decide to send them a collective message, how many of us would need to put LNP last on the ballot paper for the lower house? Would we need to put Labour second last to make it stick?

  2. Phil

    Is this satire? The Tories are the enemy and should be treated as such. The only courtesy I would pay them is, I would put a bag over their head just before I pulled the lever sending them into eternity.

  3. Keith

    Professionals have Codes of Ethics, politicians don’t. A Code of Ethics would do away with one strand of politicians calling politicians of the opposite political philosophy liars. It is a breach of Ethics when no evidence is provided. People are very sick of the negativity I believe. The title “Honourable” is an oxymoron.
    We need a very strong ICAC .

    Generally on Q&A when politicians are included in the panel, the Labor and Green politicians are able to provide well thought out answers. The LNP panelists blame Labor whenever they get the opportunity and do not quite meet the mark. That was true again last night. Sheridan from the Australian did an O’Keefe imitation last night. Sheridan is clearly science illiterate; conflating the Green political party with science. Fifield tried to convince us that the NBN has been a success, the LNP have provided a skeleton of what Labor had planned.

    We are in a climate emergency situation.

  4. Spindoctor

    Lying Nasty Party deals with ON and Palmer show that anything goes to keep power in lock step with Murdoch’s propaganda arm going to new heights of hypocrisy, lies and bias to try to keep the wool over voters eyes so the business as usual mob continue to rob the nation, reverse wage growth, hit the jobless, destroy the environment
    for miners etc. A voter landslide will send the Duttons, Scomos, Abbotts and rest of the carpetbaggers to the jobless queue, but they have had years to feather their own nests, give taxpayer handouts (banks, watergate, GBR, Manus,) to their mates who will help with corporate roles for their loyalty to the big end of town. They won’t suffer .. We are at this stage only because Ruperts rags have aided and supported racists, power hungry and alt right lovers to attack Labor as the shock jocks, Fifield & IPA cronies gut the ABC and mute its voice. The LNP can’t return to the centre unless and until there’s a massive voter backlash, a party revolution and member purge dumps the extremists. Our media won’t change until Labor and an RC gelds, holds accountable and dismantles Ruperts machine.

  5. Alcibiades

    Spindoctor,
    Indeed!

  6. Henry Rodrigues

    Indeed the coalition is there mainly because, and courtesy of, the corrupting of public opinion by Murdoch and his minions, the commercial TV channels 7 and 9, Peter Costello’s malign influence at the once free SMH and AGE, and of course the right wing ratbags on radio and Sky news. The other so-called journos are there just for dressing, too bloody scared to contradict the blackguards mentioned before. Special opprobrium for the ABC and SBS who have sold us all out for a few pieces of silver. Yes Ita Buttered on both sides, we’re looking at you. Along with toothy Trioli, and half price Sales and frumpy Fran Kelly, its always been an uneven discourse.

  7. Klaus Petrat

    Labor first, green second…..LNP 3rd last, One Nation 2nd last, Anning last

  8. Wayne Turner

    Henry is spot on.

    ALL of the MSM are just the promotional wing of the Liberal party,including their ABC. ABC 702 radio in Sydney was appalling this morning egs: A Z-Grade so called body language expert was on and said Morrison won the debate last night because of his confidence,no mention of substance or who was voted the winner.This went unchallenged by the two dope hosts – Robbie Buck & Wendy Harmer. Add to this a news update,mentioned Shorten was declared the winner,but then ONLY played a Lib pollie claiming this NOT to be true.

    ABC = Also Biased Crap.

    We are a mediaocracy 🙁

    “If Labor wins this election,it will be in spite of the MSM.If the Coalition win,it will because of the MSM”.

  9. Paul Davis

    I am really disappointed that although we have a governments agency the AEC responsible for managing and conducting elections, the agency has no power to for example vet and refuse fraudulent nominations by candidates.

    On Monday a spokesman for the AEC said it had no “power to reject a fully completed candidate nomination for the Senate or the House of Representatives, regardless of whether any answer to a question of the qualification checklist is incorrect, false or inadequate”.

    It has been suggested that a significant number of Palmer’s UAP nominations don’t meet S44 requirements but have to be accepted. Given that, particularly here in the knuckledragger state, significant numbers of brain damaged zoids will vote for these unworthies and their preferences may elect an LNP/IPA clone or three. This is criminal. But of course the rulers make the rules. No redress. Hard cheese. Thems the breaks.

    Similarly with the vile windbag himself, facing charges for alleged corrupt and criminal behaviour, Palmer may get a senate seat. If convicted in the fullnes of time, then he will lose that senate seat…. but under the current electoral protocols he will be replaced by the #2 UAP candidate …. his erstwhile “partner in crime” his previously untraceable nephew. Yep, it is laughingly called the “Commonwealth” of Australia..

  10. whatever

    Radio National had a story today about Liberal Party radio ads from the late 1940’s.
    They were all about stopping communism, and bringing an end to wartime rationing.
    If you think of it, the Liberal Party never proposes an agenda. They just continue to shriek about stopping things.
    BTW, can we invite United Nations election observers to monitor this Third World sham of a “coalition”?

  11. Ill fares the land

    Perversely, from my observations, those who are inclined to the conservative side seem not to hear the insults that spew forth out of Mr Shouty McPottymouth, but as soon as a Labor politician starts calling out the LNP, they shriek about how Labor can only hurl insults at the other side!

    Perversely, the facts don’t support the claims that the LNP are better managers. For what GDP measures are worth, most recent Labor governments have by-and-large performed well and better than the Coalition in the rate of GDP increase – of LNP governments, only Howard’s figures are better and he had a mining boom that delivered untold revenues into his coffers (whihc he blew on vote-buying and middle-class entilements in the form of and overly generous CGT discount and substantial tax cuts, most of which went to the top end of the income distribution). I see the weasel Birmingham has taken to stating that the LNP will pay off “Labor’s debt”. Apparently Labor’s debt is evil and has to be repaid, but the debt arising under the LNP Is “good debt”, so we can live with that for a bit longer! Was Birmingham challenged on that blatant absurdity? Of course not.

    Perversely, Mr Shouty McPottymouth seems to be allowed to cavort around Australia spouting weasel words and accusations that can’t be supported when having regard to the facts and the MSM pays no mind, but Shorten makes a gaffe and the press goes berserk – for days!

    Perversely, McPottymouth is allowed to claim that Labor’s policies are unaffordable but is not asked to demonstrate how the LNP proposes to fund the longer-term tax cuts it so “cleverly” built into the forward estimates, for predominantly males earning incomes above $180,000 per year from 2024-2025..

    Perversely, I believe that the LNP Budget is designed around the expectation that Labor will form government – following which it will transpire that a budget surplus is still a ways off, at which point the LNP will shriek that it was right that Labor can’t manage the economy, although .

    PS – to David Bruce – good point – I have the “How to Vote” card from the local LNP member (a Morrison supporter and a believer that company tax cuts lead to extraordinary rises in economic activity – in contravention of all of the prevailing evidence over a long period from several countries – noting the recent US experience post the company tax cuts courtresy of Trump). I will be doing the opposite of what her card indicates, except perhaps for switching the order for the LNP and the bumptious and odious Palmer. It will take time to do the Senate card, but it will be worth it. I live in a safe LNP seat, so my vote possibly won’t make any difference, but I will at least know that the LNP, UAP and PHON will be put last on my voting slip.

  12. Roland Flickett

    I’d posit that Sheridan was imposed upon the ABC by instructions from Murdoch. His malign intentions (Murdoch’s) are best exemplified by Sheridan, who is the heir apparent for the increasingly irrational and marginalised Uriah Heep, aka Gerard Henderson.
    Sheridan pushes the Abbottista line of ultra right-wing Jesuit Catholicism, the kind of Catholicism that smuggled the likes of Mengele and Eichmann into South America. On Q&A he ranted about immense increases Chinese armaments, omitting to note that China is surrounded by US bases in Indonesia, Pakistan, Australia, South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, etc.
    China has not, to my knowledge, laid waste to any other countries recently.
    Every current affairs programme on the ABC has a Murdoch plant on it, and he even infiltrated the board with the likes of Albrechtson and now Buttrose.
    Any debate with a Murdoch serf on it is not s debate. It’s like a show trial.

  13. NEW ENGLAND COCKY

    Thee is a lot of moaning and gnashing of teeth in these responses ….. but what is each of us personally doing to ensure that the Lazy Nasty People are removed from the treasury beaches of Parliament?

    Have you volunteers for at least one shift on a pre-poll booth, or to man the phones to talk to voters, or offered to put up signage, or volunteered for scrutineering the ballot count on election night?

    Without these actions Australia could be stuck with the disaster of another three years of Morriscum & Co dragging Australia into the worst third world economy in the OECD.

  14. Jexpat

    Henry and Wayne: both spot on.

    If Australia had anything remotely resembling a 4th Estate -as opposed to what in reality amounts to a serially dishonest, propaganda arm of the far right, we’d likely not be having this conversation.

  15. whatever

    The ‘Pro-Adani’ lumpenproletariat rally in Clermont, QLD was a disgusting spectacle, ending up with some drunken yahoo on a horse terrorising the Anti-Adani rally.
    Big Coal was obviously shouting-the-bar to get them hillbillies angried-up.

  16. ChristopherJ

    I was asked at the pub had I seen the Leader’s debate. I said only bits.

    Before I could elaborate with my mate, and from sideways, came a remark from one of the women we drink with. ‘I like Scott Morrison.

    Joanne votes and her opinion is entirely formed from radio and tv, and not having any intelligent people in her life.

    Before she could expand on this remark. I simply told her that he is a kant and that everyone but her knew it. She went back to her beer.

    I cannot remember a more important election in my life. A Labor government is going to be touch and go and we’ll be out of here if the former

  17. Barry Thompson.

    It is a pity that this article will not be released throughout mainstream media.
    Local and international economists and finance experts have agreed that Labor Governments have been the better
    managers of our economy, not just during the financial crisis, but overall.
    Statistics going back to Fraser’s tenure also show that to be the case.
    Despite this, Labor does not adequately refer to its record when out on the hustings. Why the hell not?

  18. Jack Cade

    John Lord exoresses faith in the Australian electorate.
    Clive Palmer gets 14% polling in a seat where he ripped people off and owes millions in wages.
    As an aside – I read somewhere that a QLD grazier got stung 3 times by Nigerians offering to deposit. $20m in his account but needed a deposit. Three times. That’s FNQ for you.
    I don’t share John’s faith in the electorate. The Republicans have an unshakable base of 37%; the LNP has an unshakable base of 37%.
    The USA and Australian politics are currently headed by the proverbial used car salesmen; the sole difference being that one has a dead cat on his head and the other wishes he had.

  19. ChristopherJ

    Nice, Jack. Best comb over I’ve ever seen.

    My ‘Joanne’ story is FNQ, but it’s also a story about the Australian media and how Australians form the views that they do. Joanne’s interests are not and never have been served by the LNP. The fact that she doesn’t know this is astonishing to me and shows just how effective has been the msm message

  20. Ad Astra

    Folks

    I thank you all for your contribution to this piece. Your comments make great reading.

    Ill fares the land, supercilious Simon Birmingham makes a fool of himself whenever he opens his mouth. As he’s ‘bottom of the barrel’ material, is he really the best the LNP could find to be its spokesman? Perhaps he is!

    He’d be a suitable subject for another piece!

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