Election diary No. 20: Saturday, 19, March 2022.
1 It was an intelligent move by Albanese to attach a legend to himself. Unknown to most Australians, he is of a dour disposition, ordinary in looks, and carries no political baggage.
After all, he doesn’t have much in the personality stakes that he can unpack for himself. To say as he did at the Australian Financial Review Business Summit 2022 last week that he would govern as Hawke may turn out to be a stroke of genius if he can maintain it, even build on it.
Hawke had a charisma that touched the rich, famous, and oppressed alike. He saw what changes were necessary and made them happen. Albo, at this time in our history, should promote himself as the “he gets things done” man, one who sees the need for change and makes it happen.
Further, Albanese needs to address voter hesitancy. He has now drawn even with Morrison on who would make the best Prime Minister stakes. However, if the Opposition Leader can successfully manage the transformation into a devotee of Hawke during the campaign itself, the way is clear to overtake Morrison. He now sits even with the Prime Minister in popularity, and Labor is well ahead in all the polls.
Remember when Kevin Rudd came on the scene? He was relatively unknown except for a niche television slot on Channel 7. He managed himself as a clone of John Howard but the light version to escape any comparison of being as scary. It worked for him.
Anthony Albanese, in his speech, invoked a Labor icon to soothe any fears of change that would disrupt or antagonise. His mantra would be bringing people together, seeking consensus, and working with business.
Of course, as leader of the unions forging a public persona together with what seems to be an uncanny ability to resolve disputes when many seemed beyond it.
If Albanese did win, he would take far less political capital than Hawke, although he undoubtedly would have a more unifying style than Scott Morrison.
History records that the Hawke/Keating partnership transformed the Australian economy, bringing about a more equitable economic distribution where everyone benefitted.
Hawke led a reform government that changed Australia. In partnership with Paul Keating, they engineered an economic transformation.
In his speech to the Financial Review Business Summit, Albanese laid out his economic goals: lifting productivity, re-igniting economic and jobs growth, remaking the economy using renewable energy, while stressing that he’s not He added: “I’m not proposing revolution.”
Michelle Grattan, writing for The Canberra Times, noted that:
“When he was elected, Hawke wasn’t proposing a revolution either. His theme for the 1983 election was reconciliation, recovery and reconstruction, but the detail of his platform was very different from the significant things his government actually did over the following years.”
When in Opposition, leaders seek to define themselves on the road to an election. Their values, how they fit into party ideology, how they would treat the electorate. All of which is difficult for the voter because there is no way of knowing how a leader will handle power when they obtain it.
Who could have known how bad the last three would be? Well, except writers at The AIMN.
As much as our politicians must keep their promises, it is also essential that they let go of promises that prove to be unsuitable.
Hawke was willing to do this when circumstances demanded – those with long memories will remember that Gough Whitlam was not.
In their character assassination of Albanese, they proclaim that he would be the most left-wing prime minister since Whitlam. Yet they seek to paint him in swarthy, indistinct images and risky because he has no economic experience. Their problem is, of course, that they don’t have much to work with, Albo appears to be devoid of scandals or much else to attack.
Michelle Grattan points out that:
“Albanese had major responsibilities (infrastructure, transport) and served in cabinet during all of the 2007-13 government, including briefly as deputy PM. And as Labor likes to point out, although he’d held senior portfolios, Tony Abbott hadn’t held a central economic or a national security ministry when he became PM. Prime ministerial aspirants can prepare themselves on these issues and competent leaders will learn on the job.”
Morrison Freydenberg and Dutton, in their haste, to fill the canvas with dark exaggerated images of national security. And rejecting Albanese’s declarations of bipartisanship are but making fools of themselves.
Most of what they say wouldn’t pass a pub test, so irrational is their lying. Obviously, an essential part of good leadership is coping with the unexpected.
Albanese referenced this in his speech the following week to the Lowy Institute, saying that Labor’s wartime PM John Curtin had that ability. Kevin Rudd had reacted well to the Global Financial Crisis.
In total fairness, he cited the Coalition government, which signed a free trade agreement with China, only to be subjected to trade retribution by that country years later?
Despite Labor’s lift in the polls, Albanese’s challenge remains to convert those voters in marginal seats who stay uncertain. Yes, there are still hurdles to jump over.
The Coalition continued its attacks on Albanese on defence and security issues, accusing the Opposition Leader of appeasing China. So strident was its criticism that two former senior intelligence chiefs warned ministers against politicising national security.
So concerned is the Prime Minister that he seems to be simultaneously upset that Albanese has lost weight and, according to the PM, is pretending to be anyone else.
“I’m not pretending to be anyone else,” the PM said, to loud shouts from a 60 Minutes audience that included a man in a Trump shirt. “I’m still wearing the same glasses; sadly, the same suits. I weigh about the same, and I don’t mind a bit of Italian cake either.”
Appears on a paid TV service owned by his mate Rupert, with a curated audience, a sycophantic host, and with that cover, feels safe to criticise Albo because he lost a few kgs.
There is going to be a shit-tonne of this banal bullshit between now and May 21. He has nothing else. pic.twitter.com/2lOcqIZdBT
— Aaron Smith (@Aaronsmith333) March 14, 2022
Morrison's desperation is getting pathetic.
"(renewables) don't work when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing"
Only a clown says the quiet part out loud.
— Squizz (@SquizzSTK) March 14, 2022
The PM with gritted teeth was ready to attack Albanese’s makeover and weight loss. “When you’re prime minister, you can’t pretend to be anyone else,” Morrison added. Now, if my memory serves me correctly Scott has been a hairdresser, navel captain, basketball floor conditioner, exercise instructor, welder, wool classer, race driver and professional model with his own personal photographer.
This from the fakest Prime Minister the country has ever had!
A politician who gave HIMSELF a nickname.
A politician who is a walking rebranding exercise desperate to stay one new slogan away from his past failures catching up with him. pic.twitter.com/cE4mCNJS64
— Tim Watts MP (@TimWattsMP) March 14, 2022
I had to remind myself when writing of all the times the PM has quite literally pretended to be someone else.
"I'm not pretending to be anyone else." pic.twitter.com/UZYks05fHc
— Coalition Tea Lady (@ItsBouquet) March 15, 2022
The media, in general, have called the Prime Minister’s mockery of Albanese’s post-car-crash health kick has been widely condemned as “schoolyard stuff”.
Scott Morrison having a crack at Anthony Albanese's appearance is a low go. 👇 https://t.co/TyoTKLQuNW
— Chris O'Keefe (@cokeefe9) March 14, 2022
“… painstakingly constructed an entire personality around the daggy, blokey “ScoMo”, a Sharkies-loving, curry-cooking suburban dad…
‘I think the PM is threatened by Albo,’ observed former Labor leader Bill Shorten on the Today programme.”
The PM’s propensity for lying remarked writer Tim Dunlop makes it rather hard to see him as the trustworthy option.
Says the man who built an entire fake persona around the image of 'Scomo' and whose most distinctive feature as PM has been to become known as perhaps the biggest liar to have ever held the job.
What's more fake than pretending you didn't say what everyone heard you say? pic.twitter.com/AwFbyrWjMY
— timdunlop (@timdunlop) March 14, 2022
The Monday Newspoll backed up his opinion, which showed he is now the least trustworthy PM in 14 years, with only two in five voters trusting him.
I had better move on, or my diary will forever remain on the same day.
This may be the last chance Australian voters have to recover Australian democracy for our grandkids.
2 Tuesday, March 15. The ABC’s Lisa Millar interviewed Finance Minister Simon Birmingham. Here is a transcript. It’s well worth a read. Later in the day, Patricia Karvelas interviewed him on her program.
Labor promised a $750 million “spending blitz” on sporting clubs, pools and roads in marginal seats claiming some of this is to make up for the fact these communities have repeatedly missed out under the Coalition. However, that doesn’t entirely pass the pub test regarding marginals. Here is another worthwhile read on this subject by Rachael withers of The Monthly, which is critical of Labor. You be the judge.
I had better end there before I become too lengthy.
My previous diary entry: If Anthony Albanese hasn’t made a case for change, Scott Morrison certainly has.
My thought for the day
When drafting a budget for the common good, what should your priorities be?
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