We’ve never seen a government in so much trouble entering an election campaign and it’s just a question of whether Scott Morrison has the political skills to turn matters around.
But before everyone starts drawing a line through the Liberal–National Coalition and ending nine years of brutally poor government and incompetence, it has to be remembered that we’ve seen this story before – 2016 and 2019 – when a divided Coalition was expected to at least lose one of those elections – 2019 – before being return by a wafer-thin majority on both occasions.
But as bad as a government has been for most of its existence, it only has to be on its best behaviour for five weeks – the length of the election campaign – of a 156-week parliamentary term, and all sins can be forgotten by the electorate. That is what Scott Morrison is hoping for. The big problem this time around is Morrison is not an unknown figure: the electorate suspects that he’s working for someone else, and not for the Australian electorate. They suspect he lies for most of the time, even when he doesn’t need to; they suspect that he’s incompetent, and they suspect that he might even be corrupt.
He’s also looking for the same tactics and election tricks that worked so well for him during the 2019 election – the photo opportunities, the grand misrepresentation of Labor policies, and Bill Shorten the bogeyman, also known as the “Bill Australia can’t afford”. Again, it’s 2022, and it’s all so different. The electorate is tiring of the endless photo opportunities; they’ve worked Morrison out. Bill Shorten is no longer the leader of the Labor Party, replaced by the innocuous and inoffensive Anthony Albanese – but after years of division promoted by Morrison at every opportunity, being innocuous and inoffensive might be just what the election is looking for as they enter the third year of this COVID pandemic.
The free character assessments offered by Liberal Party MP – and the long-departed Michael Towke, who reappeared like Banquo’s ghost after 15 years in exile, reminding the world what the media would hope would be forgotten – the brutal attack on him by Scott Morrison in the 2007 Liberal Party preselection battle in Cook. The media will do whatever they can to justify and promote the return of the Morrison government, even though it’s patently clear – especially over the past three years – that this is not a government worth saving. It might fall on deaf ears anyway: based on what all the polls are saying, it might not matter anymore, and the Liberal Party is heading for a period in exile, so it can lick its wounds, and return as a much better political party.
Jane Caro is a social commentator, writer, academic and public education advocate. And she’s running as a Senate candidate for the Reason Party – David Lewis caught up with her to talk about public education, aged care and the upcoming election campaign. If Labor manages to win the next election – and Caro also manages to enter the Senate – we could be in for some interesting times as far as reform of the education and age care sectors are concerned. But, first things first: there’s an election campaign to be held and the election in May.
It’s going to be a wild ride.
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