Nothing to show: A year in power … Nothing to show. Two years as PM in August … Nothing to show. Three terms in office … Nothing to show.
Monday, May 18 marked the anniversary of the Morrison government’s election win, and Scott Morrison is fast approaching two years as serving as Prime Minister. In addition, the LNP will be on their way to concluding three terms of governance.
So how has this period advanced Australia as a nation? Well, the simple answer is it hasn’t. Are we likely to see from Morrison any bold ideas that will inspire us to be better than we are? Conversely, what did Abbott and Turnbull achieve? Turnbull claims marriage equality but I put that down to social protests.
What has Morrison done in his two years at the helm that would get you excited? It is fair to say that at present he is confronted with a pandemic and is being applauded for his efforts. Rightly so, but all he has done is to follow the advice of science and the experts. Not hard.
When Labor was confronted with a similar economic problem (the GFC) to what the coronavirus is doing, Morrison as much as denied the GFC’s existence.
Turnbull, in his book, describes Morrison as a pragmatic professional politician with a plan for winning but not for governing.
1 You have to wonder if he is a man for the times. One not of necessity a brilliant intellectual, but a man who could see what lay ahead for the next 5, 10 or 20 years and could drag from those around him the ideas and willpower to get us there. A man like Anthony Albanese has those qualities.
But instead we have a government that doesn’t want parliament to sit because it is paranoid that someone from the opposition might throw a curved ball at them. Nobody knows.
Not even our most senior public servant knows. Paul Gaetjens had to take some fairly basic questions on notice at Senate hearings on COVID-19 last week. Take these for example:
“Do the decisions of the national cabinet have to be ratified by the full cabinet? Do they bind the states and territories? How, exactly, is it different to the Council of Australian Governments? Are all of its workings covered by cabinet confidentiality?”
Just as suss is this mysterious committee known as the NCCC or National COVID-19 Coordination Commission to be headed by the Prime Minister’s mate’ Nev Power, who was a former head of Fortescue and is to be paid the princely sum of $267,345 for doing 6 months work which is yet to be defined.
However his chief executive, Peter Harris AO (a former chairman of the Productivity Commission), padded up at the Senate and admitted that the NCCC’s processes were somewhat “opaque.”
Opacity is a word that best describes the government’s attitude toward accountability. Hardly transparent at all.
2 The Trade Minister’s counterpart in China won’t return his calls because we are saying silly undiplomatic things about them. We have been playing “deputy sheriff” for the US for so long other nations resent it.
China has now slapped an 80% tariff on our barley to remind us that diplomacy is – sometimes best done in-house rather than shouting in the streets.
3 The Prime Minister’s self serving indignation over the Sports Rorts Affair and Angus Taylor’s self-indulgent incriminations are making the government look pathetic in terms of parliamentary obligations and standards.
The inquiry into the rorts prior to the election tells us that the prime minister’s office asked Bridget McKenzie to seek Scott Morrison’s “authority” for intended recipients of $100m of sports grants and coordinate the announcement with Coalition campaign headquarters.
The Australian National Audit Office to the Senate inquiry gives evidence that contradicts Morrison’s claims that McKenzie, the former sports minister, was the ultimate decision-maker.
It also confirms that changes for the grant program were not made after parliament was dissolved.
On 27 February, Morrison told the House of Representatives that “there was no authorisation provided by me as prime minister on the projects”.
This article by Paul Karp in The Guardian gives a thorough account of the sequence of events and it would be difficult not to conclude that the Prime Minister has certainly mislead the Parliament and should resign.
He won’t of course because integrity has gone out of fashion.
There still remains of course the question as to the grants constitutional validity.
But then it would seem that no one resigns for misleading parliament anymore. It’s just another example of the declining standards of political integrity in this country.
4 Is our government treating students who would make an enormous contribution to our Universities and our economy fairly? Why are they standing in food lines?
5 What is the real figure of our unemployed and underemployed?
Employment, underemployment and unemployment will be a problem for years to come and trying to spin the figures as they have been doing for some time will only make matters worse. The million the government says they have created only ever kept up with immigration and didn’t create any “new” jobs.
There will be no snapback as Morrison predicts. One reason being that it is not known how many jobs will be lost from companies that just go broke for any number of reasons.
Paddy Manning writes in The Monthly 15 May says:
“The official employment figures show that a staggering 2.7 million people (one in five working Australians) either left employment between March and April or had their hours reduced. The participation rate – people working or looking for work – fell back to the level it was at before the China boom took off in 2004, with half a million people giving up job seeking altogether.”
Brendan O’Connor, Labor’s shadow Employment Minister responded to the ABS figures, saying they were a picture of the economy a month ago, and would get worse.
Labor called on the government to expand the JobKeeper programme to include others (such as casuals) but the suggestion seems to have fallen on deaf ears of conservative ideology.
We can expect the job figures to become increasingly worse in the months to come.
The Prime Minister says he wants a business-led recovery but a recovery by any means might be a better idea.
6 Some businesses wont even comeback let alone snapback. The Prime Minister has yet to lay before the Australian people a plan to take us forward, to take the opportunity of creating new economics that
7 I have no doubt that the government will use COVID-19 as an excuse for doing nothing on climate change. “It will have to wait,” will be the spin.
Monday night’s ABC Four Corners revealed in chronological order the blameworthiness of our politicians on this most serious of matters.
Take these quotes for example from The Guardian’s report on the program:
“Ken Henry, the Treasury secretary between 2001 and 2011, said the question the government should be asking itself on climate was how to put a cap, or limit, on national emissions at least cost to the country.
“The answer to that question – and everybody will tell this – is an emissions trading scheme,” he said.
Martin Parkinson, a former secretary of Treasury and the now defunct climate change department, said it was incorrect to categorise carbon pricing as being “about taxing people”.
“The carbon price is actually about creating the right sort of incentives to develop the technology and then use it,” he said.
On national climate policy, Parkinson said: “What climate policy? I mean it’s basically … it’s a mess. It’s incoherent and has been for a decade.”
Peter Shergold, the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in the final years of the Howard government, was asked what he would say to the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, if he held that position now.
He said he would tell him: “My sense, prime minister, is that there is a mood to follow such leadership if it exists. Tell it honestly, and tell it truthfully, and don’t try and pretend there are not going to be costs imposed on industry and costs imposed on individuals, but it is worth that for the sake of your children and your grandchildren.”
Now you would think that these fellows would know a bit about the problems of climate change and how to address it, but our friend Angus and the Prime Minister seem to know more.
Confronted with the fact that no one wants to invest in coal, what do you do? One is you set up an inquiry, stack it with lovers of the clean black stuff, and call it the ”King review.”
The idea is to grab some cash from the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, as well as Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).
In their findings you have the inquiry recommend that the funds be opened up to provide funding to heavy emitters and fossil fuel projects.
Not a bad plan. After all, it wasn’t the intention to use the funds in this way.
They are not just environmental vandals but straight out corrupt politicians. Angus Taylor makes a good crook, it would seem.
You should read this. It is absolutely scandalous.
To answer the implied meaning of my headline I simply say that this Prime Minister and his Ministers are so ineffectual that they are incapable of fixing anything, let alone guide us into the future.
We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet.
My thought for the day
At the last G7 conference the Prime Minister described himself as a “conservationist.” In Australia we know that all the evidence suggests he is an environmental vandal.
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