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Rehashing the past – badly

By 2353NM

Feeling some pain from the self-imposed ‘wedges’ of the religious ‘freedom’ legislation in the middle of February, Prime Minister Scott Morrison changed tack. According to Morrison, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese’s ALP MPs were closet communist China sympathisers.

Morrison isn’t the first to try a retro themed advertising campaign. The continual remakes of advertising containing the ‘Aeroplane Jelly’ or “Louie the Fly’ jingles prove that. Transportation companies also have used the retro theme to celebrate their history. Qantas has it’s ‘retro roos’, a number of railways in North America have applied older liveries to current locomotives, including Canadian Pacific and even Brisbane Transport has some ‘retro buses’ promoting ‘over 90 years of moving Brisbane’.

Morrison’s ‘reds under the bed’ claim is ridiculous, just as it was when used by many conservatives including former Liberal Prime Minister Robert Menzies in the 1950s and 60s. There is no evidence that would suggest Albanese would ‘sell out’ Australia to any of the few ‘communist’ countries left in the world. Retro advertising or retro liveries are different – the company concerned has been providing the service or goods for an extended period of time, it is proud of its legacy and is highlighting its history of service to its customers.

The ‘retro livery’ is also only a façade. If you do get one of Qantas’ ‘retro roos’ on your flight, you won’t be flying on a restored 707, you’ll be sitting on a recent generation 737. Brisbane Transport’s ‘retro buses’ are just vinyl graphics glued to the exterior of a handful of the hundreds of almost identical buses transporting people around Brisbane. The point is that while companies promote their heritage, they aren’t living it as they replicate the appearance of the past on their current equipment. Morrison’s Government is not only using slogans from the 60s, we have evidence to suggest they can’t understand, let alone manage current issues.

On 17 February, Origin Energy, announced the Eraring Power Station would close seven years ahead of schedule in 2025 due to

the rapidly changing conditions in the national electricity market, which are increasingly not well suited to traditional baseload power stations

Other operators, such as AGL and Energy Australia are making similar announcements. In fact all of Australia’s coal fired power stations will be decommissioned by 2050. We’ve all known this for a while. So what is the current Coalition Government’s process to transition the 400 people that work at Eraring (and hundreds of other people as further power stations are decommissioned) into other work? Well – there isn’t one. Perhaps tellingly, the Federal Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, claimed he wasn’t told of Eraring’s closure until the previous night while NSW’s Energy Minister was told months ago. Perhaps Origin learnt from what AGL went through when it announced the closure of the Liddell Power Station (also in the same region) last year.

The problem isn’t solely how the power workers survive with a lack of government support to transition them into alternate work, the local communities are supported by the power workers as well. Each of the 400 workers at the plant is a person – not a number. They have families, commitments, spend money at the shops, the pub, send their kids to school and occasionally purchase new homes, cars and appliances, No wonder the local Mayor and shopkeepers are concerned.

Georgina Woods, usually known for her work with Lock the Gate, represents the Nature Conservation Council on the jobs alliance.

Woods, who lives in Newcastle, said the Origin announcement was “a travesty” that could have been avoided were it not for Australia’s toxic climate politics.

Instead, there was no architecture in place to support workers.

“We can’t afford to let long term structural and environmental issues of this kind be held to ransom by the political process and elections,” she said.

She pointed to the closure of BHP’s steelworks in Newcastle in the 90s, which took years of planning and attention to pathways for workers.

“There was money from the federal government, there was investment in building stuff in Newcastle to provide new opportunities. It was a massive undertaking,” she said.

On 19 February, NSW’s Coalition Government Energy Minister, Matt Keen, announced a package that would create 3,700 roles in clean industries. All we heard from Morrison’s Coalition Government was a continuation of the ‘reds under the bed’ retro theme, designed apparently to win votes at the next election. The strategy does carry a risk. As discussed in The Guardian on 19 February, the last Prime Minister to suggest that his opponent was a communist China supporter was Billy McMahon in the early 70s, and that backfired spectacularly.

Rehashing past glories is all well and good if you have a broadly positive story to tell. Boeing 707s and 1960s commuter buses have been retired for a reason, they don’t meet current expectations and requirements. While those that operated 707s and 60s commuter buses have a right to reflect on the past, their current equipment complies with current safety standards and expectations despite the deliberately applied outside appearance.

A government reliving past scare campaigns (they would say glories) without having a regard for current expectations is deluding itself as well as those that vote for it. Where is the transition package for those workers who will be affected as coal burning power stations are decommissioned? Where is the package to ensure that all Australians have the ability to live above the poverty line with dignity and respect? Where is the funding to ensure that this country has a reputable, independent media such as ABC and SBS? Where is the path for refugees to settle in Australia, or help for all those living with a disability? We haven’t even heard rhetoric on most of these issues from Morrison’s Coalition Government.

It seems that instead of addressing current issues that affect people and communities, countless hours have been spent trying to funnel funding to favoured political mates, wedge the Opposition and re-hashing scare campaigns from 60 years ago to try and keep the keys to Kirribilli House. And that isn’t acceptable now – in fact, it never has been.

What do you think


This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. Josephus

    Appeals to oldies perhaps but they won’t live to suffer the consequences

  2. Pete Petrass

    And let us not forget a few years ago when this government threw the entire local motor industry under the bus. Around 350,000 people lost their jobs then and this government did not give a single f$%k about any of them. Yet look at how they carry on like stuck pigs about a few hundred jobs lost from coal fired power stations, or the 250,000 or so in the mining industry???
    Perhaps when they stand up and start whining about lost jobs someone in the press could remind them of how they treated motor industry workers.

  3. Terence Mills

    Just watch the Budget, folks.

    The Treasurer has already come out and said that the low and middle income tax offset is due to come to an end and was never intended to be a “permanent feature of the tax system” .

    This tax offset, which gives low and middle income earners a tax break of between $255 and $1,080, was first announced as a temporary measure in 2018, and after being extended was scheduled to end in June this year. But with more than 10 million workers facing an effective tax increase if it does go there are those who are suggesting that the Treasurer will not axe the tax offset but will announce it as a tax cut to low and middle income workers.

    It’s a bit of reverse psychology in saying in February that the tax offset is due to come to an end in June but then in March to tell us that the offset will be part of the Budge and will mean that you keep more money in your pocket thanks to the government.

    It’s a sort of Pea & Thimble trick where you end up with a benefit that you already had because it wasn’t taken away.

    Confusing isn’t it ? But that’s the way these guys think !

    They have also been leaking to Newscorp that there will likely be a halving of the beer excise – not the petrol excise – but only the draught beer excise which the hotels lobby want to get you and me back in the pubs and clubs. This could mean that you would save 30 cents on the cost of a schooner of beer – but not on take away beer, only draught – It’s designed to get the blokes in the public bar onside and allow Barnaby to go around the country shouting rounds for all and sundry before the election.

    I suppose the theory is that if we are all pissed, we are more likely to vote these clowns back in !

  4. New England Cocky

    @Petrass: I think it is time for ALL Liarbal Nazional$ politicians to lose their present jobs.

    Sad about the automotive assembly industry being pushed under a bus for a mere ideological brain fart ….. the cost of unemployment benefits for those former workers and the loss of a skills base has been considerably more than the BOUT $600 million SOUGHT AS A CROSS- SUBSIDY from Ford (?)

  5. Harry Lime

    As he stumps around the country, Morrison’s ludicrous comments and desperate gobshite is painting himself into a corner as he attempts to project all his own character failings onto Albanese,shades of the man baby Trump.Transparent, appalling bullshit by a pathological liar about to hit the wall of his own deceit.His own ‘party’ might yet be obliged to administer the coup de grace.The Liar exemplifies delusion in overdrive.

  6. Stephengb

    Current events are mirroring the events that preceded the 2019 federal election, when Labor lost the unloseable election.

    Is this what is happening again, I see no evidence to suggest that masses of people have changed their minds about the LNP, only the evidence in the “polls” conducted by the same commercial media that published those oh so similar “polls” of 2019.

    Perhaps I am cynical.

  7. Andrew J. Smith

    It’s not just locally, parts of US media are dog whistling Xi-China e.g. formally linking to Putin, Ukraine, claiming concrete knowledge of ‘invasion’ (unclear vs. claims Xi was lied to), abstaining on UN vote (not unusual), no sanctions (not true e.g. AIIB), ‘partnership’ into the future with Putin’s Russia (technically impossible e.g. Russia’s dire demographics), claims of PRC supplying Putin with weapons and a Eurasian ‘arc of autocracy’ (according to Morrison boosted days ago in the NYT!?); too strategic.

    Outcome is electoral agitprop i.e. Biden-Dems ‘weak’ with midterms coming (though Trump, GOP and Fox look more challenged as time goes on…) and locally PM and/or media accusing Labor of ‘Manchurian candidates’ and appeasers of China; me thinks this is agitprop aimed at the oldies in the precious above media age vote in both US and Oz?

  8. GL

    Scare campaigns, announcables (brain farts) and very thinly veiled personal attacks is all they have.

  9. Liam

    The low and middle income tax offset was to hide the fact they raised taxes on low and middle income earners when the lowest marginal tax rate was increased. It was always a future tax raise dusguised as a present day tax cut. Ten years of coalition have raised taxes on the poor, cut taxes for the rich, seen rampant asset inflation, while core inflation outpaces wages. Meanwhile, corporate profits, executive bonuses and the budget deficit have balooned.

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