scott morrison josh frydenberg
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Election watch It’s never too early for early election rumours: one circulating in Canberra is that the prime minister has told ministers to finalise cabinet submissions posthaste, with the idea of getting ready for an election in October (this being the most corrupt government in federal history, we expect this means the Excel spreadsheets of marginal electorates are being worked overtime in ministerial offices).

But doesn’t the current disaster of the Berejiklian-Morrison outbreak rule out an early election? Well that’s one line of thinking. Another is that at least in the next couple of months Morrison can go to the polls on the promise of a reopening plan. If he waits until next year, the potentially grim reality of reopening and “living with COVID” — thousands of deaths, hospitals not coping (which can be blamed on the states anyway), young and vaccinated people dying in the name of letting Qantas fly, another recession — will become all too apparent.

And here’s something else to throw into the mix: the man most likely to replace Morrison if his position becomes untenable is Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, and on current polling in Victoria — where, according to Roy Morgan, Labor leads 60-40 — Frydenberg is toast. Imagine Morrison scraping back for another term, but without his main leadership threat in Parliament.

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Of course, you might think Morrison would be focused on saving lives and supporting the economy, not his own political fortunes. Or maybe there’s no one left who seriously thinks that.

From the Department of Egregious Hypocrisy You can set your watch by it. The New York Post, having pumped out anti-mask sentiment and criticism of public health officials for months, has imposed a mask mandate on its staff.

Over the course of July the Post called New York’s approach “madness”, “nonsense — and pernicious, too“, “pointless and performative“. According to its front page on July 30, it was “Insanity!”

Now, according to an August 12 memo to staff from Sean Giancola, publisher and chief executive: “Masks are required while walking the floor/not at your desk.” This follows a similar about-face at Fox on vaccines.

Western methods It was a predictable bit of political judo from Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan after having amassed a level of support and votes that would make Saddam Hussein envious by portraying himself as the bulwark holding back tides of plague-ravaged eastern-staters. So he was hardly going to miss the opportunity to take a bizarre but innocuous reference to the animated family comedy The Croods — itself a nice addition to the pile of “Oh, this is how we make the news in other countries?” stories about Australia — out of context.

This morning the prime minister made a comment implying Western Australians were like cave people from a recent kids’ movie. It was an odd thing to say. I think everyone would rather just see the Commonwealth look beyond New South Wales and actually appreciate what life is like here in WA.

He said this on Facebook, in response to a thing that didn’t happen. WA’s only daily paper called the whole business a “shit show about nothing” and photoshopping various leaders on to the cast of Seinfeld; McGowan as Jerry, naturally, with Morrison’s features a disturbingly snug fit on the head of George Constanza.

Good thing nothing else is happening For the second day running, The Australian has found major space to attack a single program aired by the ABC on Monday night (yesterday — and remember the other things the national broadsheet might concern itself with in August 2021 — it was the above-the-fold front-page story).

We can only imagine the equivalent — say, The Wall Street Journal deflecting resources away from covering soaring COVID numbers and the disastrous retreat from Afghanistan to write several stories and opinion pieces because someone was mean to Sky News Australia.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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