It’s easy to get carried away with the present moment. We all know this, yet we often forget it because the present moment seems so compelling and urgent.
You’ve probably seen one of those memes showing the likelihood of being killed in a shark attack is much lower than the chances of you dying by slipping in the shower. Of course, nobody ever stops to consider things like: most people have a shower every day but only go to the beach a few times in summer. Whatever, it seems safer to avoid any activities involving water…
And while statistics can be twisted to demonstrate support for a politician’s cause, I usually try to ask myself a simple question: What’s more likely?
So when politicians propose solutions to problems which – so far – have never touched me personally, it’s always worth wondering if they’re selling you insurance against sharks or unicorns. In other words, is it something that’s a slight chance of happening or is it something that has no chance of happening. And then, of course, the follow-up question is: Is it worth the cost?
To illustrate my point: After the attacks on the World Trade Centre, governments introduced a raft of changes to make it “easier to catch terrorists”, arguing that some erosion of our rights and freedoms was necessary to protect us from the terrorists. Of course, if you look at history, you’ll notice that more people have been killed or tortured by governments with too much power than by random acts of political violence by terrorists. But hey, this time it’s different because we’re a nice government taking away your rights and we’ll only ever use these against terrorists… Or maybe child pornographers… Or enemies of the state… And that may include people who release information that embarrasses us… Oh and let’s not forget people illegally downloading movies.
Ok, that last one hasn’t happened… Or at least I don’t think it’s happened. Under Australian legislation, if you’re questioned by certain people on certain matters, it’s illegal to tell anyone.
Which brings me to Peter Dutton.
Present moment: Dutton is presented as a Minister who has run his portfolio so well that he’s considered leadership material. His portfolio has grown from one where he didn’t comment about on-water matters to one where it’s now his job to not comment on a whole variety of things. Of course, he does comment on Melbourne people not going out because they’re fearful of “African” gangs. I don’t know whether I should infer from this that we’d all be ok being robbed by “Australian” gangs or whether he singled out a group of identifiable immigrant background because it fits into his portfolio.
Past: Peter Dutton was once Shadow Health Minister. He distinguished himself by not asking any questions on Health Policy during Question Time, so it’s clear that a portfolio where he says nothing suits him. Once he became actual Health Minister, he started saying things. While Greg Hunt won an award as “Best Minister in The World”, there was no actual award for the worst. If there was, Dutton would have won convincingly. as he was considered the Worst Health Minister ever, by the medical profession, the media, his own party and just about everybody except for the Peter Dutton fan club, which at the time, had a membership of one.
So, are the Liberals really silly enough to get swept up in the present moment and forget what a fool Dutton makes of himself if he has to say other than his two stand-by lines: “We don’t comment on this sort of thing” or “Let’s all get angry at unions/Bill Shorten/African gangs/tribunals/the courts/foreigners/unicorns!”. As PM, he’d occasionally have to say something nice and smile. No, it’s not true that he can’t smile. We all remember his grin when making that joke about rising waters and climate change. Ok, it was unfortunate that he did in front of a microphone because he hadn’t worked out that those things actually picked up sound.
Surely the Liberals couldn’t be silly enough to think that Dutton would be capable of being anything more than a head kicker? Surely, they’d remember how Abbott was such a great Opposition Leader that he continued being Opposition Leader even after he made it to the Lodge.
Oh wait, it was being renovated and he had to stay with a group of men in some police thing. Anyway, that may explain Abbot’s concern about not reducing emissions.
So, I leave you with the question. What’s more likely? Will the Liberals stick with Malcolm Turnbull because to change leaders again makes them look inept? Or will they all get behind someone with a terrible track record and ensure a wipeout at the next election simply because the NEG doesn’t have a section specifically demanding that we all install a coal-fired power station in our living room?
Mm, might be time to buy that unicorn insurance…