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June 27th 2016 print

Christian Kerr

The Morro Meter Runs Off The Scale

The latest polling has re-assured the Coalition, but how much faith can be placed in surveys that have been all over the map? Not much if one goes by our motor-mouth Treasurer, whose garrulous gobbledygook contrasts markedly with the strong and silent confidence of the man who stopped the boats

morroFive more sleeps to polling day. How might we determine who will emerge the final victor? Newspoll finally shows the government pulling ahead of Labor for the first time in the campaign, but only with the narrowest of leads: 51% to 49%. It is margin-of-error territory in a campaign characterised not only by junk polling, but all too often by worse reporting.

There has been a proliferation of cheap robo-polls or SMS efforts this election. Their samples have been suspect. Other aspects of the methodology may have been unsound too. Many of the polls have been commissioned by the GetUps of the world, various unions and other special interest groups. We have not seen the questions, but some anecdotal evidence suggests these may not merely have been loosely worded but loosely worded to such an extent as to give the respondent a gentle steer towards a preferred response, if not actually constitute formal “push polling”.

The fundamental details — questions asked, numbers polled, who they are and former loyalties — that allow observers to weigh the significance of too many of these poll have either gone unreported or simply not been provided to journalists. A metric other than polling is needed in this final week.

Bill Shorten’s general demeanour might do. The more confident he feels, the more he appears to behave like a normal person, not some political automaton attempting to blend in with genuine humanity. This too, however, has its draw backs. The recent spate of early morning runs for the cameras, no doubt intended to demonstrate a youthful vigour (please feel free to pronounce that last word with a John F Kennedy-style Boston Brahmin accent; vig-ah), have looked a little phoney.

No, the best metric of how the government is performing may be the number of words Scott Morrison says per minute. As Immigration Minister he was the strong, silent type. The details of Operation Sovereign Borders were “on-water matters”. He’d say his lines and that was that. As Treasurer, he has had some explaining to do – not least to angry conservatives who accuse him of ratting on Tony Abbott in order to better position himself for a tilt of his own at the top job.

At the start of the political year he was given to long a leash when talking tax and, in doing so, raised expectations of economic reform that, politically, could not be realised. Yet paradoxically during the campaign Morrison has felt the more he says the better. Not only the more he says, but the more emphatically he says it, without pausing for a break – let alone any interruption. How he does it while still drawing breath would puzzle even the most skilled singing teacher. It’s also remarkable at times that he hasn’t ended up sounding like one of those Goon Show characters who began at 33 rpm, hit 45 and ended up squeakily spinning at 78. Perhaps he’s realised that sounding like Pinky and Perky or one of the eponymous Chipmunks would lack gravitas.

But as recently as the this morning he has continued to erect massive verbal walls to rival those of Thrace – the words rattling out at an extraordinary pace – in response to virtually any question. Morrison’s ambitions could not recover from defeat. Only if the walls come down will we be able to safely say the Coalition is feeling anything less than embattled.

Comments [13]

  1. en passant says:

    By his one act of betrayal ScoMo gave the measure of his character and indicated why he should never be PM – ever.
    I suppose his action is like your wife admitting she slept with someone else, but did not really enjoy it.
    So, that’s OK then is it, or has a line been crossed that cannot be ‘uncrossed’?

    • Jody says:

      Abbott was ready to throw Hockey under a bus and offered the gig to ScoMo – who didn’t take it. Which part of that truth escapes you.

      And I want him to keep his job; he’s my son’s immediate boss!

      • Lawrie Ayres says:

        Vested interest then???????

      • Doubting Thomas says:

        Prime Ministers are entitled to throw whomever they like under a bus. Not so wannabe Prime Ministers who owe their loyalty to their leader and, through that leader, to their electorate. I’ll be happy for Morrison to keep his job as Treasurer if they win the election, but I’ll be happier still if the Libs lose or at the very most preside over a hung Parliament that forces Lord Muck to grovel to survive. That I could even think such a thing after 55 years as a Liberal voter, let alone write it, is a measure of my frustration, rage and contempt for Turnbull and his jelly-backed and traitorous supporters. Your son should seek new employment lest he catches something nasty.

        • Jody says:

          Oh, thanks so much. In your previous job in the diplomatic service you would have come across this sort of thing often. Bad news; his girlfriend is on the same team, different minister. Beats sitting in an office, or sorting organic material in a petri dish or standing in a classroom trying to control brats. You get to travel all over the country, overseas and meet interesting, important people.

          • Doubting Thomas says:

            There was a sufficiency, perhaps even an excess, of straight-talking where I laboured for my daily bread, but fortunately I was widely removed from the political end. One lesson I learnt thoroughly during my time was that, with rare exceptions, ministers in an ALP government were on average no better or worse than their Coalition counterparts, with the great majority being on the wrong side of mediocre, more interested in their own political careers than in the Ministerial job at hand. And then there was Stephen Smith who was sui generis.

      • Karin says:

        According to whom? ScoMo only! Which part of that truth escapes you?

  2. Jody says:

    There have been some very fine politicians on both sides of the parliament over the years – even clever too. I think of somebody like Jim Killen, who was a tremendous human being, as well as his old sparring partner Fred Daley. Fred Chaney was another and many I cannot now remember. But today’s bunch has some good people too. I’ve met ScoMo and found him warm, engaging and friendly. And he’s very well liked in the Cronulla region generally. And he was one of the very few Abbott/Turnbull ministers who was able to stitch up a deal with a fractious Senate to get legislation passed when he was Minister for Social Services. You shouldn’t believe everything you hear about politicians from the press gallery.

    • Warty says:

      Hmm! I preferred it when you were being facetious, Jody.

      • Warty says:

        I can’t help thinking of smiling assassins when you speak of Scott Morrison as being ‘warm, engaging and friendly’.

        • Jody says:

          Why do you expect political leaders who have to make very tough decisions to be benign like your next door neighbours? Abbott certainly wasn’t benign; he was a campus bully very early in his political career. And he made the most appalling and inappropriate comments to Nicola Roxon, barely sotto voce, once at the National Press Club.

          • Karin says:

            ..” he was a campus bully very early in his political career…” According to whom? This claim was dispelled many times by several witnesses Dear. Get your facts strait please.

            …” he made the most appalling and inappropriate comments to Nicola Roxon, barely sotto voce, once at the National Press Club…”
            According to whom? Nicola Roxon? Should we continue to crap on about her here? I don’t think so. Anything of substance
            to say about the great article ? Didn’t think so either. Nothing in the hat but Abbott – bashing.