Mark McGowan
WA Premier Mark McGowan (Image: AAP/Richard Wainwright)

He just McGowan and Gowan Who would be a state premier right now? Well, Western Australia’s Mark McGowan would. While his counterparts in New South Wales and Victoria face billowing scandals (a slow motion wreck in Victoria, a sudden blast in NSW) the WA premier continues to live his best life.

Yesterday he addressed the Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum as keynote speaker. As chronicled by Kalgoorlie Miner deputy editor Tom Zaunmayr, he cracked some jokes — “All I had to do was lock everyone out to get an invite to this event” — and got a laugh with a John Howard impersonation (although we think Zaunmayr’s description as “on point” is a little generous).

Then — and this is surely the most reliable sign you’ve won the hearts of your constituents on some fundamental level, locking in the beer-based vote which he’s already mined, joining the kebab enthusiast demographic — he was presented with a four-pack of Hard Border Hefe, brewed at a local brewery, his face beaming on the label.

The wheel will turn, obviously, but for now McGowan’s comically good year continues.

ACTing up As the the ACT election hurtles towards its — seemingly fairly orderly and polite — conclusion, we’re getting a taste of the flyers:

Labor’s “learner permit” flyer attacks the Liberals as inexperienced and “ultra-conservative” (extra marks for the almost invisible party authorisation but markdown for spelling licence incorrectly).

Meanwhile the Liberals favour an approach (and colour scheme) that may raise the eyebrows of anyone familiar with the lacuna where a federal Liberal party climate change policy ought to be:

Ad hominem What is with the ABC’s “It Must Be Love” ad? If you haven’t seen it, it catalogues various citizens thanking Aunty for all its work over drone footage of beautiful, disparate Australian landscapes, scored by a particularly saccharine version of the Madness song It Must Be Love.

Most egregiously, it spends quite some time focusing on the bushfires that ravaged Australia at the turn of the year.

You can sort of understand the approach. Facing the Morrison government’s cutbacks, Aunty wants to demonstrate that “real” Australians all across this great land love and rely on the ABC. Which is true. The ABC is trusted more than any other media, and was found to have literally saved lives. Because its job is to be the emergency broadcaster. There are no alternatives.

Presumably those same people quoted in the ABC ad would be as enamoured of Neil Mitchell and Ray Hadley if they were the people telling them when to leave their homes in the face of approaching fire.

There’s real danger the ABC’s “soft power” fightback will backfire in two distinct ways (other than making us want to throw up). First, it becomes a parody of itself revealing that, yes, the ABC really thinks we’re kind of dumb. Second, and more importantly, we can only imagine how someone who had lost a loved one or their home in those fires might feel, watching the worst moments of their life replayed for the purposes of a brief orgy of media self-congratulation.

Backfires Along similiar lines, let’s check in with the Victorian Liberals. Remember them? They’re the opposition party failing to make any impact whatsoever in a state that’s been under lockdown for most of the year because catastrophic administrative failures.

They pulled a stunt press conference yesterday surrounded by 791 small plastic Australian flags, the numbers spelt out behind them in a wire sculpture symbolising the deaths in Victoria since the second wave started.

Apart from the fury presumably felt by grieving relatives at their avoidable tragedy being co-opted for a (literally and figuratively) cheap stunt, the messaging is incoherent. The party that has complained about lockdown now finds it convenient to call attention to the deadly nature of COVID-19. Plus, consumed by other events, it barely got a second of coverage. A real shit hat-trick, fellas.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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