Honestly! We’re more than halfway through the election campaign and some politicians aren’t taking it seriously enough! That’s the view of Katherine Murphy of The Guardian Australia, who’s been live blogging all the ins-and-outs of the past 29 days. After obsessing over all the campaign minutiae Ms Murphy has looked at our leaders and decided that they’re just not doing it properly.
The Treasurer was the specific subject of her ire — the Treasurer and his warnings of $100 billion of Labor taxes. “People like Scott Morrison are just not taking politics seriously,” Murphy complained. “There is a big and important debate in this campaign about two models of growth, one that stimulates business and lets the benefits trickle down, and another that prioritises social capital and infrastructure. It’s an important conversation the country should have.”
Having warmed up, she continues: “Another perfectly legitimate line of attack about Labor in this contest involves fiscal management – is Labor sufficiently serious about budgetary management? Is it getting the balance right between investing and saving? It’s hard to get a fix on that before the opposition releases both its four-year costings and ten-year costings, because policy commitments are fragments of a whole – but it’s a legitimate question to ask.
“Honestly, is it that bloody hard to get serious?”
Joh Bjelke-Petersen used to describe briefing the media as “feeding the chooks”. But there’s a breed of journalist that inhabits the Canberra Gallery and was raised fair more selectively. These initiates were hand-reared on the choicest morsels Paul Keating distributed to those he deemed most likely to be reduced to a near-spiritual state of awe by his technocratic talk. They, in turn, now have their own votaries who refuse to believe policy can be any good unless it comes in multiple volumes and is accompanied by a Budget-style lock-up (and, ideally, a PowerPoint presentation from the minister or, at the very least, a first assistant secretary). They scorn talk directed at ordinary folk, relish their role as the interpreters of sacred texts and resent any attempt to bypass their wisdom with stump speeches or talkback radio.
And they relish the Age of the Web, where they can be more niche than ever. Hence Ms Murphy’s scolding fury.
Fortunately, given that polling day remains close to four weeks away, we get no such Violet-Elizabeth Bott theatrics from The Age. It remains the journal of record David Syme always intended. Today’s wrap-round front page? “Secrets of reality dating shows exposed”.