The best analysis and discussion about Australian politics. Presented by Eddy Jokovich and David Lewis, we go to all the places the mainstream media doesn't want to go.
Vested Interests in NSW and Leaders Who Want To Be Loved
There are too many vested interests in Sydney and it makes it difficult for the NSW Government to act in the public interest and, because of this, the city is now in a nine-week lockdown, with no end in sight.
Gladys Berejiklian says “but there is no guidebook for a pandemic”. Actually, there is, and we provide a five-point plan, which would be obvious to anyone looking at what’s been happening all around the world, including Australia. But, evidently, it’s not obvious to the NSW Government, or to the Prime Minister.
Western Sydney has been sacrificed and next on the block are Year 12 students, who are returning to schools in two weeks’ time: this is a precarious situation, but the private school lobby has decided expensive tuition must be delivered, and the high HSC results they’re expecting from exams much be fulfilled. And Berejiklian has agreed, because that’s how power in NSW works.
The political theorist, Niccolò Machiavelli asked the question: “is it better for a leader to be loved or loathed”, before deciding leaders seeking the love and attention of the electorate are destined for failure. Scott Morrison is seeking tonsorial splendour and is far more focused on his appearances – and trying to make himself loved by the populace – rather than the needs of the electorate but he really needs to decide if he wants to be Prime Minister of Australia, or the next contestant on The Bachelor: he can’t be both.
Prime ministers do need to worry about how they appear in public, but spending time during a pandemic to keep up their appearances? Morrison is fixated on the winning the next election and he’s going about it the wrong way about it. And qualitative research agrees.
McKinsey & Company is a consulting firm with close ties to the Liberal Party and it has received a $2 million contract for [redacted] – no one knows what it is for and the government is not releasing any information about it. So we can only assume that it’s public money used for the benefit of Liberal Party. $108 million has been paid to McKinsey since 2018 – $36 million per year – and that’s a great business model, for McKinsey. But not for the public.
And the Labor leader Anthony Albanese is offering support for the Stage 3 round of tax cuts, to be introduced in 2024. It mainly favours higher-income earners, costs the budget $18 billion each year, widens inequity within the community, is lousy policy, doesn’t even need Labor support to be implemented but yet… the Labor Party is supporting it anyway.
Why? Because politicians should never stand between a bucket of money and the electorate, irrespective of how much it costs, or how inequitable the policy is. And Labor wants to win the next federal election, and one cannot be shot if they don’t have a target on their back. A win for politics, but a disaster for low-income earners, supposedly the supporter base of the Labor Party.
The Sydney COVID Disaster And Olympic Dramas
Political games are never far away when it comes to COVID-19 management in Australia and, of course, it’s across the political divide: the Liberal Party of NSW and the federal government on one side, and Labor Premiers on the other. If only the NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian had shown some sympathy to Victoria when they went through their lockdowns, perhaps that could have been repaid and requests to access more Pfizer vaccines would have been more receptive. Far from being a victim of success, the NSW Premier has been a victim of her own hubris.
As for the Prime Minister, the mismanagement of the vaccination rollout is quickly becoming a political headache: corruption and mismanagement in other programs – sportsrorts or unwanted carparks in marginal seats, for example – don’t affect everyone, and governments can easily gloss over these problems. But COVID-19 affects every single person in Australia. Which means that it affects every person who votes at election time, and it’s not looking for Scott Morrison, or for the Liberal Party.
Should Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk have made the trip to Tokyo to receive the news of Brisbane becoming an Olympic city in 2032? Perhaps she should have stayed home, but if the media is going to attack her, where were the voices when Scott Morrison went overseas? Or Mathias Cormann? Or Adrian Shrinner? Or Sussan Ley? Never mind, they’re from the Liberal Party, so that’s all alright.
Eddie Obeid, Moses Obeid and Ian McDonald have been found guilty of corruption and they are likely to end up in jail. And that’s good riddance to bad rubbish but 13 years after the corruption was committed in 2008? That’s too long for the wheels of justice to turn, but better late than never.
And there are calls for the JobKeeper program to be reinstated but it needs to be reformed. $7 million went to the Perth private school, Hale School – after they made an $8 million surplus, and while universities across Australia received $0 – and $17 billion was paid to businesses that didn’t need JobKeeper support and didn’t qualify, including $21 million to Harvey Norman. But, all is well: the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg says – nudge nudge, wink wink – no need to pay it back. That energy will be spent chasing up overpayments to Centrelink recipients, where the real rorting is happening. Apparently.
Ignoring COVID Lessons From The Past And Who Is The Real Prime Minister?
Australia has become lockdown central, with its two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, going into two different types of lockdowns – Sydney has a modified version where shops are still open and people seem to be able to freely move about (except for those migrant-working-class-Labor-voting-sub-classes in Fairfield), and Melbourne – a city which takes this process far more seriously – instigating a short sharp five-day lockdown. Professional. Not that it's a competition, but we suggest Melbourne will be the winner in this COVID battle because the NSW Government seems to be on the verge of a ‘live-with-the-virus’ anti-lockdown strategy. At least Sydney will be receiving the $500 million-per-week federal government support that was denied to Melbourne.
And could the real Prime Minister please stand up? Business leaders, frustrated with the slow progress on the supply of vaccines, asked Kevin Rudd – out of office for eight years – to lobby Pfizer to fast-track the delivery of one million vaccines. Whether or not Rudd was responsible for this delivery is immaterial: the fact business leaders saw Rudd as someone who could get this done, rather than Scott Morrison, speaks volumes. But it does beg the question: aside from blaming everyone for his mistakes and faults, what exactly does Morrison do with this time?
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tony Smith, is retiring from politics. What does this mean? After 20 years in Parliament, he’s had enough? Does he believe he won't be able to retain his seat of Casey? Or that he believes the Liberal Party won't win the next federal election? Perhaps he reprimanded Morrison too many times during Parliament Question Time. And that might have been his biggest mistake.
Spinning In The Face Of A Crisis And The Modern Liberal Party
The Sydney lockdown continues into its third week and the Gladys Berejiklian show moves into the full public relations mode and spin cycle to get itself out of political trouble. It’s almost as though if the NSW Government put as much effort into managing the effects of COVID-19 as they put into media manipulation, there would be no lockdown to speak of. But where is the challenge in doing the right thing in the first place?
The facade of “The Woman Who Saved Australia” so prominently promoted in the media just a few weeks ago has receded into the distance, and slowly being replaced with an understanding that Berejiklian is now the woman who let her ideology stand in the way of the public interest.
And she was all on her own, as the Prime Minister for Sydney – who is also in the position of Prime Minister of Australia but that seems to be a lesser role – disappeared for five days. Strangely for a Prime Minister who loves to make announcements, there was no announcement of his whereabouts, but he did return with what appeared to be a new tonsure and extra hair implants.
And what of the Liberal Party? Scott Morrison seems to be the end point of a lineage that commenced in the early 1990s, when the Liberal Party purged all of its moderates and turned itself into a fully-fledged conservative party, based on all the worst attributes of the US Republicans and the British Conservatives. And it's not a very good look, as can be attested by the former Liberal Party member for Chisholm, Julia Banks, who provides an excellent description of Scott Morrison: a menacing and controlling wallpaper.
The Liberal Party needs to be reformed from the rank conservative party it has become, into a political party Menzies and Fraser could be proud of, but that may have to wait until it finds itself in opposition again. And after the mismanagement of vaccination, quarantine and now the Sydney lockdown that didn’t need to happen, that stint in opposition might not be too far away.
The Lockdown Schadenfreude in NSW And A Two Jobs Failure: Vaccination and Quarantine
The NSW Government’s ‘gold standard’ in COVID management has soured into a more tarnished puce colour, with Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s reluctance to shut down Sydney a week earlier, resulting in a more protracted lockdown than would otherwise have been required.
Aside from the extra billions of dollars it will cost the NSW economy, it took a full 24 hours before Berejiklian could even mention the word that shall not be mentioned: LOCKDOWN – a dastardly word that fellow Liberals were ridiculing just the day before the lockdown was announced, and suggesting it was something only those lunatic states run by the Labor Party would think about doing.
But we are all lockdowners now. And it’s a reflection of the national ‘debts and deficits’ argument: Liberal Party lockdowns, good; Labor Party lockdowns, bad. It’s beyond belief that conservative politics in Australia can be so infantile.
We can debate the merits of lockdowns, but the recent spate in Sydney, Perth and Brisbane could have been avoided with a more competent federal government in office. The federal government just had two jobs for 2021: rollout the vaccination program across Australia effectively, and repair the hotel quarantine system. And a failure of leadership by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has assured that both of these critical issues have been poorly managed or non-existent.
The disasters of the vaccination rollout and quarantine management cannot be underestimated: this was meant to be Australia’s pathway out of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as providing a pathway towards a victory for the Liberal Party at the next federal election. But it’s all gone to seed.
Morrison has released a four-phase ‘plan’, but it seems like it's just another set of announcements: there are no targets, there are no definitions, there’s no guide for Australia to move through these four phases. But one aspect is becoming clear: Morrison might not be the Prime Minister to lead Australia through these stages. He’s had a go to have a go; and now, it might be time for him to go as well. It’s really had become that bad.
Pfizer Phuck-Up, Failure Of The G7 Meeting, Locking Up Journalists
Australia could have been close to reaching herd immunity but a poor Australian government decision to turn its back on an excellent Pfizer deal means the national level of vaccination is at 3%, one of the lowest rates in the world. The anger in the medical community is palpable, but will the electorate blame the government for this error? And, for a government that was so keen to open up the economy as soon as possible, this foolishness is difficult to understand.
The mainstream media wanted to position Scott Morrison as a key member of the G7 meeting, but he was anything but: Australia is not a member of the G7, it only had observer status at this meeting and it seems the US President, Joe Biden, was keen to let Morrison know about this. It was a ‘much ado about nothing’ kind of meeting for Morrison, he signed a few long-term agreements which are not worth the pen and paper they were created with, and a free trade agreement with the UK – which will negotiated over the next 15 years. And a sideshow to explore his personal ancestry, a visit to a church, and drinks all round for his personal staff at a few drinking holes in Cornwall. Something had to be retrieved from the G7 meeting and this provided for excellent photo opportunities.
The legal dispute between NSW National Leader, John Barilaro, and Jordan Shanks-Markovina (aka Friendly Jordies) has been ramped up and Barilaro has used anti-terrorism legislation to arrest the Friendly Jordies producer, Kristo Langker, all because he made a little bit of fun about him and exposed him for corruption. It’s so ‘New South Wales’ for a politician to want to lock up a journalist who gets in the way – but this is not just a battle between a politician and a journalist, it's a battle between legacy media and new media.
Australia has a new Deputy Prime Minister, same as the old one: come on down, Barnaby Joyce, alleged sexual harasser of women, philanderer, drunk, morally bankrupt and possibly corrupt. Only in Australia (and Britain, US, Brazil, Hungary, Belarus) would the public accept this kind of politician as a leader. A retail politician who tells the electorate what they want to hear, not what needs to be done – the worst and most dangerous kind of politician.
And it’s also so ‘New South Wales’ for the corruption of a Premier to be overlooked with soft media pampering and delicately placed stories about her new love life – who just happens to be the lawyer who represented her at the ICAC. COVID-19 cases are rising in Sydney and the NSW Government, far from the ‘gold standard’ we keep hearing about, has allowed complacency to set it and has mismanaged key aspects of this pandemic. Will it be as bad as the Ruby Princess disaster in 2020? But let’s not worry about that, all should be fine, because ‘Gladys is in love’.
Love this, but can you please learn how to pronounce Tanya Plibersek’s name!
Thanks for the levelheaded, fair and explorative discussion. I truly look forward to them!!
Hate this kind of obvious bias
First time listen and last. Any pundit who says “I don’t know but maybe this happened” when analysising a politician they clearly don’t like is not worth any time. Get some objectivity guys.