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Popular Scott Morrison: Polls, Pokers And Pupils…

Opinion polls are NOT popularity contests!

Put simply. Imagine the following scenario: At your medical appointment you heard the surgeon berating his receptionist, telling her that she’s more useless than a Labor politician. You found him a thoroughly objectionable human being, but he’s the only person qualified to perform the operation that you desperately need. When I offer to perform the operation myself, you decline, simply because you figure that an objectionable surgeon is better than someone who finds it difficult to apply a band-aid if there’s too much blood, so would it be correct to say that Surgeon Sam is more popular than Rossleigh?

Ok, I’m sure that there are people who would like Surgeon Sam a lot more than me, but just you think that he’s a safer choice, it doesn’t mean that you want to invite him over for dinner. Approval of someone’s performance does not make them “popular”!

Similarly, when it’s a choice of two, it doesn’t mean that one actually likes either alternative. If I conduct a poll where I ask whether people would rather spend an evening listening to John Howard reminiscing about what a great PM he was, or have a red hot poker placed in their rectum, the fact that John Howard wins by a slight margin, does not mean that people actually want to hear him, any more than it means that the ones who chose the poker option are actually looking forward to the experience. Although to be fair, there may be some masochists in both categories…

Anyway, I’ve had a week of frustration when trying to get some people to engage in some healthy distrust of politicians when it comes to all things Covid-19 related. Now, I know that I’m perhaps more cynical than I should be when it comes to politicians. Something about the fact that they regularly lie to us and almost any politician who’s retired will readily admit that they had to say things that they didn’t believe, in order to toe the party line, makes me think that the question should always be: “Are you saying this because you believe it or because you feel it necessary to have solidarity with the idiots in your party who got to decide the policy?”

All right, they probably wouldn’t answer that honestly either, but at least if they did, they have a way out where they could claim that they weren’t aware that it was a secret that their party was run by idiots.

When nearly all media start the same thing, I find it strange. I don’t mean that they’re writing about the same thing, but when all their opinion pieces have a similar feel, I can’t help but wonder whether it’s some sort of instruction from the IPA, or whether it’s the groupthink of the Canberra bubble that our “popular” PM likes to reject while giving a press conference to the people in it. Lately, I’ve noticed that the narrative seems to be that Morrison made some mistakes over the bushfires and forced handshakes and announcing that he was going to the football and… well, I’ll probably miss something no matter how long I make the list, but lately he’s managed to bring the country together and his handling of the Coronavirus crisis has allowed him to reset his trajectory and just look at how well he’s doing now.

Without wishing to sow seeds of discontent in these troubled times, I can’t help but ask since when has not stuffing up been seen as leadership worth praising. It’d be like praising Barnaby for choosing a male as his press secretary so that he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. Let me compare this to the baggage Labor leaders are still carrying for the Pink Batts deaths even though they weren’t directly responsible.

And I can’t help but notice that nobody in the media has called out Morrison for the divisive way that he made the call for schools to be reopened. To explain what I mean, you may need to put your views on the subject to one side, because the rights and wrongs of the argument aren’t at issue, I’m talking solely about the approach here.

Schools were a state matter and different states had made different decisions. In Victoria, for example, Dan Andrews announced very early on that schools would be closed at some point in the future. Given every nearly other country affected had done this, it’s hardly controversial. The various states have various differences in policy but, in every state, arrangements are made for some students to attend school.

Then, while NSW is still on school holidays, the PM implores teachers to allow schools to be open for a variety of reasons.

Take a step to one side and ask yourself what’s going on here. We have a National Cabinet of state leaders meeting. They’re the ones making the decisions. Why ask teachers directly? It’s not as if the shutdown was directed by teachers or even teacher unions. This is like asking nurses to do more Covid-19 testing; it’s not their decision. Why ask teachers directly and not work it out with the National Cabinet?

Suddenly, the media are crying for schools to be open. Some kids need to go to school. What about health workers’ children? What about vulnerable students? Schools should be open for these children at least…

Nobody in the media seems to want to report that schools are supposed to be open for anyone in those categories. Nobody in the media is doing a follow-up and asking where it happened, when it’s suggested that children are being turned away.

No, the media are all suggesting that schools are “safe” because there was only a couple of transmissions when NSW Health did a study of fifteen schools which showed they were safe. Nobody in the media asks is this the same NSW Health that the federal government says were responsible for allowing the Ruby Princess passengers to disembark?

Like I said, my concern here is not whether or not schools should reopen. My concern is that there is an almost universal chorus in the media that they’re safe even though virtually every other country has shut them down. Singapore was cited as the exception and it was doing really well. Singapore is being used as example since their spike in the number of cases.

So while Dan Tehan is asking teacher unions to consider all the poor kids who desperately need school, nobody in the media is actually challenging the idea that it’s teacher unions who are making these decisions. While the unions have made various comments about trying to ensure teacher safety, I can’t find a single comment from any of the union websites or media releases suggesting that teachers should refuse to attend school if they reopen, unless the individual teacher is a health risk themselves. But by framing it as though it’s those bloody unions again, we overlook the simple fact that it’s not their decision, nor is anyone going to seek their permission for school to resume as normal.

Similarly, we have the Prime Minister calling for aged care providers to allow their residents to see their relatives. Yes, it’s hard to argue that they should be locked away and prevented from contact but if you were running one, you’d find it hard to justify that you took the risk and allowed visitors when the virus wipes out a number of your clients.

Which brings us to the app. We all need to download it to help end the lockdown sooner because it’s going to make us safer. Again I’m not going to discuss the pros and cons of downloading an app that seems to me the equivalent of showing one where to look for the horses that bolted before the stable door was shut. My concern is the way some people are simply saying that it’s the right thing to do, it’s the patriotic thing to do and anyone who questions it should take a good hard look at themselves because to ask questions is going to slow the return to normal.

When nobody is questioning anything, nobody asks the right questions.

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  1. Harry Lime

    Media Herd Mentality.With a few honorable exceptions.Could be something as mundane as Morrison being denied his supreme leader status in his his own warped mind.The only thing we can be sure of,is the shit has barely begun to hit the fan.

  2. wam

    Your choice is blindingly obvious on your facts but rossleigh, you and I know you are every bit as good a surgeon as surgeon sam but you don’t have a shingle a secretary nor a publicist.and you do have a screaming caravan of loonies marching up and down your road intimidating customers.
    At your interviews you are asked when did you stop:
    beating your wife
    borrowing money

    There are 2 million of us believing the government blurb and downloading an app, costing millions, that will record the phones of people near you every 15 minutes and send it to an overseas American giant company burdened with a tax of perhaps as high as 2%.

  3. kerri

    As my husband, who daily walks our dogs to a park 5 kilometres away chatting and seeing fellow dog walkers gardeners and new friends pointed out, he never takes his phone! For his entire journey where he meets and chats to many people he is completely out of phone contact! Track that?

    And let’s not forget, Scottyfrommarketing’s decisions are being swayed by the national council?

  4. Michael Taylor

    Rather than an app, I’d feel a lot safer if we just continued with the lockdown for as long as it takes.

  5. Olivia Manor

    All I hear from Morriscum is how kids are safe to be around ( but no in nursing homes) and to go back to schools to give a break to those poor parents stuck at home with them. Not a word about actual learning, actual concern for the teachers who seem to have become nothing more than babysitters, as usual. What all those lazy teachers have to do is wash their hands ( if they can get hold of soaps or sanitisers, always in shortage in public schools) and hey presto, problem solved. They can go home safe in the knowledge that the 150 kids they interacted daily with, don’t have the virus because they are young. Too bad if they carried it from travelling to school or touching an infected surface. What if there is a spike in the number of teachers infected with COVID19? They are only babysitters, so no harm done. And what about the latest news from the UK where they have noticed a mutation in the virus, which is attacking kids? Who will bear the blame if anything goes wrong?

  6. Max Gross

    Last year’s election result proved conclusively that opinion polls are meaningless

  7. Andrew Smith

    Australia has not had a media for some years but a medium. This is evidenced not just by the uniformity of issues or ‘news’ presented in the ‘media cycle’ due to all producers and editors reading the same papers and wires in the early a.m., but one also recognises supposedly organic ‘themes’ that emerge, but are (often old and used) knock offs from offshore….

    Like Chomsky’s ‘Manufacturing Consent’ or Adam Curtis’s ‘Engineering Consent’, the latter inspired by Freud’s nephew and guru of modern PR Edward Bernays, Jane Mayer of ‘Dark Money’ fame explained how Kochs in the ‘media assembly line’ informed by think tanks, academia and politicians (directly lobbied by think tanks); not simply directing us what to think but ‘how’ we think (aka Marshal McLuhan’s adage ‘the medium is the message’).

    Like the IPA is in Koch’s Atlas Network (CIS etc. too) is fascinating to observe how the same tactics, strategy and types of campaign emerge, supported by the same ideologues, PR outfits/sock puppets and astro turfing. This has been evidenced by the encouragement of ‘armchair punditry’ via Facebook, media, now (modest) protests, word of mouth etc. to introduce the economy vs. health binary, demanding the former takes precedence; same as used by tobacco, anti vaxxers and especially ‘big oil’ on all their interests, especially environment.

    Would be more credibility if they actually offered details of a resourcd plan for an exit e.g. Czech Republic goes into some detail of weekly steps to open its economy, schools, outdoor cafes, bars etc. while monitoring health, and option to take a step back.

  8. Michael Taylor

    Day 30 of lockdown: Carol gave me a haircut.

    It was the first haircut she’d ever given and I think she may have missed her calling, because …

    … I look rather spiffy.

  9. Kaye Lee

    My husband cut my hair too. He just grabbed a handful and cut across the bottom. I don’t think he”ll be rushed with customers.

  10. Matters Not

    Speculation that Trump will declare war before the election and in a sense he already has.

    The National Republican Senatorial Committee has sent campaigns a detailed, 57-page memo authored by a top Republican strategist advising GOP candidates to address the coronavirus crisis by aggressively attacking China.

    The memo includes advice on everything from how to tie Democratic candidates to the Chinese government to how to deal with accusations of racism. It stresses three main lines of assault: That China caused the virus “by covering it up,” that Democrats are “soft on China,” and that Republicans will “push for sanctions on China for its role in spreading this pandemic.”

    Seems like Marise Payne is on the mailing list and has picked up the baton.

  11. Phil

    It’s not that long ago the Brits were sitting around in the Raffles Hotel in Singapore drinking Gin Slings and moaning about the cost of Coolie Labour. The Chinese have long memories, they remember too well being murdered hooked on Opium and subjugated by the British and Japanese Empires.

    The days of making any demands on the Chinese are over as is sending gun boats up or down the Yangtze River to put down the ‘ Chinks ‘

    They now have the whip hand and they know it. If China stops buying our goods, we can turn the lights off in Australia.

    This is all theater to placate the Red Necks that support our racist shower of shit houses, masquerading as a government.

    There are votes in Red Neckery.

    Yes the Chinese will cooperate with any investigation into Covid- 19 and pigs will fly. Sending the price of bacon up.

    Anyone thinking we can start our own manufacturing back up short of twenty to fifty years is nuts.

  12. Aortic

    Agree Phil, having enjoyed a gin sling at Raffles, and it was bloody good, I have been musing lately on the cultural, medical, common weal, political, industrial and agricultural knowledge tha ancient Chinese were privy too when the rest of the so called civilised world was existing in an age of darkness, As the West so called ” liberated them to ” to enjoy” all our wonderful benefits mainly obtained through subjugation and rape of resources we had opened a Pandoras Box, and although we may decry them for their perceived attempts to dominate, the so called western civilisation has only itself to blame for its ” we are white therefore better than you” atttitude. One can only hope that it will not lead to armed conflict, but with Trump in the White House, and his poll numbers diminishing who can tell. Google Carl Sagan ” Pale Blue Dot.”

  13. Phil

    ‘ Agree Phil, having enjoyed a gin sling at Raffles, and it was bloody good,’

    Me too a long time ago.I agree with your comments. A friend of mine who was in the ‘ Malaysian Campaign ‘ was waxing lyrically about the ‘ Rickshaw Races ‘ I didn’t think that demeaning of the locals was as funny as he did but, there you are. I went off him over the years. I had to laugh at the recent riots in Hong Kong like this wasn’t organised by rich Chinese capitalists who were hoping the ‘ Union Jack ‘ would fly over Hong Kong or, Honkers as it was affectionately known by the English that lived there like, forever. . As for the future, my monies on a conflict with Iran unless the US is prepared to Dr Stranglove China, it’s a war they can’t win.But something will go down, I will bet my kids lives on it. Trump is desperate and dangerous. To tell you I wasn’t afraid and wanted to leave this world safe in my bed, I would be lying to you. We are headed for a shit storm and that is set in stone.

  14. Michael Taylor

    Next time, Kaye, I’ll send you to Carol. 😀

  15. Roland Flickett

    I will not download the app. Whenever I see the app discussed I see, immediately, the hooded eyes and shining head (proving you CAN polish one) of the malign Peter Dutton. No thank you- I have no doubt there is a hidden agenda here.

  16. Sammy

    As somebody who has been self isolating since early March due to complicated health issues I think the app is a good idea. It may even save some lives. As somebody who works in IT I know that the government and the US government have most of your data already anyway.

    Furthermore, the longer this goes on the less people will comply, well at least until everyone around them starts getting sick anyway. So if there are ways we can use tech to ease restrictions in the interim then let’s just do it.

    As somebody who has no trust in our leaders and opted out of the my health system I still think we should use the app Temporarily until this is over

  17. Jack Cade

    I used to cut my own hair, and did so for years. Men know that the difference between a good haircut and a shocker is about a week…

  18. whatever

    Trump may not start an actual war, but he will continue to make occasional outbursts about “Iranian gunships” or “NorthKorean missiles” in order to help boost the price of oil.

  19. Roland Flickett

    The USA will not start a war with any country that can make a good fist of fighting back. All they can do is impose sanctions on whoever they like; and all their sanctions do is cause their ‘ enemies du jour’ (because they fabricate a new one whenever the pentagon wants to develop more weapons, or the Koch brothers want to steal someone else’s resources) to stiffen their resolve. Which is why the US hasn’t invaded Venezuela yet, just sent some of its warships to put on a show.
    I’d like to see an enormous Chinese fleet – I understand they have one – ‘exercising’ in the Caribbean, a perfect response to the Americans patrolling the South China Sea. What a Guy Fawkes night that would prompt!
    And I wonder if Australia would send it’s boat?

  20. Peter F

    Sammy, I have the same concerns as you, but have also come to the same decision.

    If there is a ‘second wave’, tracking will be important, but it could then be too late.

  21. Ill fares the land

    Thank God someone else has noticed the devious machinations Scotty from Marketing is up to. A leopard never…. well you know the rest, albeit equating the portly and slow-footed Morrison with a leopard is a gross injustice to one of nature’s finest.

    It seemed to me that with the teachers and schools, he was firstly trying to dominate the narrative and then, when no-one took any notice, he started with the devious stuff – trying to force the issue by getting the private schools to re-open. Luckily, the private schools seem to have also told him to get stuffed. So, he had to create a new distraction – hello to let’s try to be the great world leader calling out China. It’s not like China doesn’t need to be called out, but Morrison is playing to his supporter base – he knows there is disquiet over China and he is trying to exploit it to enhance his personal brand.

    More recently, the aged-care debacle is yet another example of him trying to dominate the narrative and getting Team Australia to do his bidding. When people clearly won’t just do what he tells them to do, the petulant autocrat then goes on the rampage to find ways to force the aged-care sector to do what he wants them to do. Problem is that they are thinking about the people in their care, whereas Scotty from Marketing is thinking about his personal brand. He perhaps is not as bad as Trump, but many of his behaviours are absolutely comparable. This is all about Morrison duping the compliant media (sadly, including the ABC) and hence many Team Australia “dead from the neck up” dimwits who think this, rather than his monumentally incompetent, petulant and bombastic performance during the bushfire crisis is the “real” Morrison. Our capacity to delude ourselves is unbounded.

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