Confirmation bias is a truly wonderful thing. Ok, there are times when it may sound ridiculous. I’d mention Donald Trump and the stolen election here but while some of you would be laughing that anyone could believe the guy after all the lies he’s told, others will be saying, “Yeah, of course, it’s a conspiracy and deep state are working with Biden and by the way did you check out Pete Evans latest recipe – it’s delicious…”
So I can’t help but think that the past couple of weeks will have been great for those who’ve used the hashtag, “I Stand With Dan”, his detractors will still be suggesting that it’s only his Belt and Road agreement that brought COVID-19 to Australia. Yes, Andrews made mistakes but he stood up and owned them and brought the state down from hundreds of cases to zero. Hang on, say some, he’s responsible for all the deaths because he refused to use the army or the police. The fact that it’s recently emerged that the army won’t do certain security tasks and the fact that it was a police officer in NSW who waved through the Germans won’t alter their view that somehow the virus wouldn’t have escaped hotel quarantine if we hadn’t had private security
Just for the sake of those who aren’t aware of the facts, what happened with the German tourists/Australian citizens goes something like this: They arrived on a plane from overseas and because they spoke no English they were waved on by a NSW police officer who decided that because there were two of them they were a pair which he mistook for another “au pair” situation which would have had them waved through once someone had phoned Peter Dutton so he saved time by not bothering the minister. Of course, some of you are wondering why it would be presumed only those with a grasp of the language need to quarantine but clearly that’s not the case at all. It’s been established that they were not, in fact, tourists but Australian citizens which tends to suggest that Gladys is employing police who have a limited grasp of English and no understanding that “quarantine” does not mean let them jump on a plane with loads of other people and quarantine once they’re back home in Melbourne which currently doesn’t have anyone quarantining. At the point they arrived in Melbourne they looked confused and a security guard established that they were looking for someone to explain what they were meant to do. But none of this is anyone’s fault and certainly not the NSW premier’s because she’s just tired and only human.
No, while Gladys is lauded as the gold standard by the part-time PM, Scott “the handyman” Morrison, we have constant calls for Andrews to resign. Gladys, it seems, was just unlucky in love and who hasn’t spent taxpayers’ money to visit their dodgy boyfriend and as for that Ruby Princess – it was the fault of someone else because why should a premier be responsible for the incompetence of someone else… unless they’re a Labor one, like Dan Andrews.
Obviously, in writing this I’m well aware that I’m only putting facts out there and facts are highly unlikely to change anyone’s mind. However…
The great myth about the Liberals being more competent economic managers is rarely ever challenged even though facts don’t back it up. I could go back through our history and point out that Fraser came to power because both inflation and unemployment were too high. Not only that but the Whitlam government was spending too much and we needed to get the deficit under control. In his seven years, inflation was still high, unemployment was higher and the deficit never went anywhere near a surplus.
In his early days as Treasurer when Paul Keating was preparing the budget, the various Liberal politicians were suggesting that he needed to get the deficit down much lower and that if they were in charge then they’d have a much smaller one. To everyone’s surprise, Keating announced a surplus which left the same Coalition politicians telling us that if they were in charge they’d have had a larger one.
After years of that economic oxymoron, negative growth, the early nineties saw Labor deliver the sort of growth that the Liberals assured us was impossible. They achieved this by adopting a Keynesian style stimulus package which enabled Howard and Costello to inherit an economy which was growing so well – thanks also to a resources boom – that not even they could stuff it up completely.
Rudd was elected and shortly after the world was hit by the GFC which, like the oil shocks of the seventies, was not the fault of the Australian government. When Labor went hard on the stimulus packages and spending, the Liberals argued that they’d spent too much too quickly and they’re be nothing left for when the recession hit. The Liberals had to change their line of attack once there was no recession in Australia. No, it wasn’t the economic management of the government; they’d wasted money by giving it back to us and by building things and we didn’t need to do that because Australia didn’t have a recession. Yes, when the Liberals return money to taxpayers that’s good because they’ll know how spend it better than the government, but the Rudd stimulus was only going to be wasted on gambling, drinking and silly purchases.
Now we have the absurdity of people arguing that the Morrison government is managing the economy really well and I’m not about to argue that everything they’ve done is wrong. But if we apply their own standards, imagine if a Labor government did this:
- Promise that we were “back in black” pre-election, only to fail to deliver a budget at the specified time because it’s all too uncertain.
- Have unemployment jump
- Preside over the first Australian recession this century
- Deliver the biggest deficit in our history
- Borrow more than all the previous Australian governments combined
- Have no plan to pay it back until some unspecified date when unemployment is less than 6%
- Destroy our trade with our biggest trading partner by calling for an investigation into Covid-19 which pointed the finger at China
I’m not saying that all these things are entirely the government’s fault. I’m merely suggesting that if these are the signs of good economic managers, what do bad ones look like?
Or to put it another way, when Robert Doyle challenged Dennis Nap-time for the role of Victorian Opposition leader, he argued that they’d be facing devastation at the next election if there wasn’t a change of leader. Doyle went on to record the biggest loss by a Victorian Liberal leader in the state’s history. On election night, I turned to my wife and said, “Gee, I wonder if Doyle’s supporters are saying how lucky they were that they changed leaders course it would have been even worse under Napthine.”
Yeah, confirmation bias is a tricky thing.
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