Having been shown to be wrong on the public reaction to the election of Tony Abbott as leader and opposition to the ETS, the commentariat has decided that Barnaby Joyce as finance shadow is a barnacle on the Coalition.
This ignores the underlying fact that rank and file Australians like men who are not fakes, those whose every word is filtered through their spin doctors. They much prefer Tony Abbott and they like Barnaby Joyce. They are normal men who do things Australians do, and not for photo opportunities.
And your average Australian does not behave like the commentariat. They’re not going to pour over everything Barnaby says to try to find something they can deem a gaffe.
In fact they probably don’t know and couldn’t care less what the commentariat says. And while we once could be assured that the bon mots of the commentariat would be filtered through to the evening TV news, we cannot be sure of even that any more.
A recent letter from a mother to one of the papers said that when she reminded her children of the excessive number of serious motor accidents involving young drivers, they did not know this. “They don’t read newspapers and they don’t watch the news,” she said. If you ask young people, they say they read newspapers on the internet. They mean they read one or two reports.
All that amuses me. In 1999, the mainstream media said the constitutional monarchy would go with my generation. It looks as if they may go first.
Read or unread, the commentariat say Tony Abbott must take Finance from Barnaby Joyce for at least three reasons.
First, he said “millions” instead of “billions”. Well, when Kevin Rudd appeared in the ABC’s Q& A with young Australians, his message was replete with untruths, claiming for example John Howard had ripped one billion from public hospitals. Howard had significantly increased the budget. Why is no one calling for him to stand down? Is there one standard for Barnaby, and one for the PM? Surely not.
Then Barnaby said the funding of the Opposition’s emissions policy could come from, say, reducing foreign aid. Clearly the suggestion aid might be reduced strikes at a core value of the elites. There is of course a good argument to rein in foreign aid on the ground that it may create greater damage than no aid. But what is forgotten is there is a strong view in the rank and file that aid is far too generous, especially in relation to those seen as queue jumpers. This view may or may not be prejudiced, the fact is, it’s there.
Finally Barnaby said that Australia may not be able to repay the debt incurred by the Rudd government.
This did not of course cause a crisis of confidence in international financial circles, as the government suggested. But it did remind the public of the extraordinary way the Rudd governments so quickly turned Australia’s financial position from surplus to a very large debt.
And this came not from a sensible reaction to a possible recession. It came from what is becoming the standard government reaction to any problem – exaggeration and panic. Unlike Peter Costello the Rudd government did not see the financial crisis coming, and when it came they exaggerated it and panicked.
In particular there was no need for a bank guarantee; financial regulation under Howard had given us one of the world’s the most secure banking systems. But to keep up with the EU, and to announce something big on the Sunday evening news, we had to have one. The result was there was a run on the sound but now unguaranteed mortgage funds sector.
Probably 150,000 Australians, many of them retirees, still cannot withdraw their capital. The media almost totally ignore their plight. How different it was over such vital matters as “children overboard.” And contrast that with those who have died as a result of the people smugglers reviving their trade as a direct result of Kevin Rudd’s foolish relaxation of Howard’s border control policies.
As Andrew Bolt observed on The Insiders, there is a double standard in all of these things. We saw it most recently in relation to the ABC designated “extremist” Lord Monckton where The Age emphasised his eyes which are the result of illness, whilst carte blanche is given at the ABC and elsewhere to say, to the demonstrably often wrong views of Al Gore and Tim Flannery.
One thing which stands out in Lord Monckton’s highly successful tour was his visit to Newcastle. “Here and elsewhere,” he notes in his diary in Spetator Australia,” the majority of the audience were working class.”
I came to the conclusion in the referendum that the most sensible electorates were made up of country people or rank and file workers. It’s true also of global warming.
The first people to realize something was not right both with the Turnbull–Keating republic and the Rudd–Turnbull ETS were farmers and ordinary people. And there is the same message to Labor which they conveyed over border control – wake up.
As Alan Jones has pointed out, the avalanche of emails against the ETS when Turnbull led the liberals was not limited to Liberal MPs.
Labor had better watch out. The ETS is as distasteful to workers as it is to farmers. And Barnaby is the hero there.