Butchering a classic pop song from a 1970s Australian band and playing a ukulele might not seem like the best way to prepare for a critical election year, but that’s exactly what Scott Morrison did. It seemed bizarre but there is a method to this madness: it keeps all the bad news away from the headlines and keeps the enemies of the Liberal Party occupied with the unimportant and minute details. It’s the hallmark of a populist politician: distract with stunts and gimmicks, keep your opponents in the electorate occupied with irrelevant material, and hope that everyone else forgets about all of your errors.
And, of course, part of the sing-song needs to include your wife and two daughters at Kirribilli House, because nothing overcomes a Liberal Party “problem with women” better than wheeling out Jen And The Girls©™ as a political “secret weapon”. Should family members be used politically to help a prime minister win an election? It would be better to stay in the background but if a spouse is going to become a part of the political process, they need to expect the scrutiny coming their way.
A desperate government will always resort to desperate measures and a government influenced by libertarian thinking and free-market and religio-fascist Christian values will always seek the maximum advantage in the most destructive way possible. If there is a vote to be gained, nothing is too low for the Liberal Party and for Morrison to reach.
And following on from the debacle of the Religious Discrimination Bill, Morrison and Peter Dutton – aided and abetted by a posse of Liberal Party MPs – decided to create all sorts of problems with China (as if they haven’t done enough damage already) by dropping bipartisanship on foreign relations and accusing Labor deputy leader Richard Marles of being the “Manchurian Candidate” – and their friends at News Corporation managed to find a video of Anthony Albanese speaking three sentences of Mandarin to a China–Australia forum in 2018.
Welcome to modern Australia, as interpreted by conservatives: education and being able to speak a foreign language is rubbished, and national security and relationships with the biggest trading partner is damaged, for the sake of an unlikely and undeserved election victory. It’s another good reason why the Liberal Party needs to be turfed out at the next election.
The weekend byelections in NSW suggest the main problems for the Morrison government will be the independents – the seat of Willoughby was almost lost to the independent candidate, Larissa Penn through a swing of 19%, and this spells trouble in the seats of North Sydney, Bennelong, Kooyong, Flinders and Goldstein.
And how difficult will it be for the Labor Party to win the 2022 federal election? Although they are 10 percentage points ahead of the Liberal–National Coalition in the current polls – 55% to 45% – it will still be a difficult election, for mathematical reasons: they only need a net gain of seven seats, but where the votes fall will be critical to whether there are also enough seats that will change hands.
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