Well, at least we know who’s to blame for this whole stinking sorry mess of an excuse for a federal government.
Thank you, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham, for stating it so succinctly on the ABC Insiders program yesterday when asked about the government’s $660 million car park kleptocracy.
“The Australian people had their chance and voted the government back in,” he said. Out loud. (Or to paraphrase: “It’s democracy stupid.”)
You could almost admire his honesty — except applying the word “honesty” to the most dishonest government in living memory would be ludicrous.
But he does have a point. It was the same sorry lot — this clown car of a cabinet with Meathead Morrison at the helm — that won the 2019 election against all odds.
And why was that? Why did the Australian voters miss their chance to turf it when they had the chance? Maybe it was because they concluded there was no alternative. Maybe it was because Labor persisted with a leader who, while on paper looked much more competent, just wasn’t seen as prime ministerial material by the majority of the people who get to choose.
It’s about having a viable alternative — and the really really sad part is that not only have the voters apparently not learnt their lesson, nor has the ALP.
Anthony Albanese and the rest of the Labor Party, who seem to have already accepted another electoral loss, will have to wear the blame for any defeat this time for persisting with a leader who is just not resonating.
It’s not like the opposition leader doesn’t have enough material from which to work — from the Porter/Tudge scandals to outright misogyny claims, from sports rorts to car park corruption and all manner of other ministerial misbehaviour and general malfeasance. And then there’s the ongoing implosion of the government’s Coalition partner.
And yet the PM’s personal polling has held up despite it all.
The political pundits claim it is all about the pandemic and the Morrison government is still unbeatable thanks to its remarkable response last year in keeping Australians safe.
But then came 2021 and the government’s disastrous handling of the vaccine rollout, a debacle which by rights should wipe out any lingering goodwill from the voters.
But you only need look at last Friday’s news cycle to see the extent of the crisis for the opposition. At the end of one of the most disastrous and damaging weeks for the hapless PM, Albo was fortuitously addressing the National Press Club. Unfortunately, he stuck to his worthy topic of a planned jobs summit should he win power.
Talk about off message. Channelling Bob Hawke is all very well but it’s not the 1980s and right now the issue isn’t jobs but finding enough workers.
If he had an ounce of “Albo from marketing” he would have changed the “positive” speech to a stirring attack, ripping apart the government on that week’s scandals alone: car park rorts; the disgraceful cabinet reshuffle forced on it by an out-of-control deputy PM; and the escalating vaccine crisis.
Sure, he touched on those during questions, but the main members of the press gallery were otherwise engaged because Scotty from marketing was holding his post-national-cabinet press conference at the same time.
And given the Yes Minister-worthy “New Deal” four-point plan Morrison was announcing, never has the nation so needed an alternative leader to stop this rot.
My Crikey colleague Bernard Keane got so desperate on Friday he decided the only answer for this sinking government is to replace Morrison with Peter Dutton.
Yet that would still leave the rest of them in charge, which means the only real alternative should be a change of government. But Albanese obviously lacks the cut-through that Keane decided Dutton could provide at this time of crisis.
So, without voters seeing a viable alternative, we are all doomed to see the same mistake repeated.
God help us all.