QED

My Growing Sense of Disappointment

If you were to ask the preponderance of regular Liberal Party voters what they thought of the job Scott Morrison was doing as Prime Minister my sense is that most of them would say, ‘He’s doing pretty well’.  Certainly that’s what the Newspoll results indicate.  But what if you then asked those same people why they thought that?  I’ve tried it a few times here in Brisbane with some pretty well-informed political junkies.  The answers always seem to boil down to either (a) well, he’s better than Albo or (b) he’s done a really good job with COVID-19.  Okay, you’ll get an occasional person point out that he’s done a good job standing up to China and maybe to Facebook (the latter being hard to know right now as the details of the deal are not yet wholly clear).

But that’s it.  Nothing else.  Does any person anywhere think Scott Morrison is a fighter for freedom and the core values of Western Civilisation? No.  This is a man who has stated openly and with some pride that free speech never created a job.  That’s his take on freedom and it’s laughable; and not just for the leader of a supposedly liberal political party.  Morrison’s wrong in thinking freedom and prosperity are zero-sum either/ors.  He’s wrong in his implicit supposition that only economic issues matter, or ought to matter, to voters and citizens.  And he’s subtly wrong in betraying the cowardice at the heart of Team Morrison, what it will and won’t make political priorities.  It is precisely this vacuum in terms of freedom-related beliefs and values that explains such things as Australia being one of only two democracies in the world that, North Korea-style, won’t let its own citizens leave the country during this pandemic, not without first begging some bureaucrat for permission, and that didn’t fight the court case about closing state borders (and no, it’s not certain the High Court would have sided with the states if the Commonwealth had been a party to the case).

Then there’s the big spending nature of this government.  And big spending it is.  Our federal debt has basically doubled in a year.  Josh and ScoMo have outspent even Canada’s hard-lefty Justin Trudeau in per capita terms in propping up the economy that their own heavy-handed policies helped crush.  This will all have to be paid back by the young and those yet to be born.  Well, it will unless you buy into the Alice-in-Wonderland Modern Monetary Theory where no government ever seems to have to pay back anything it borrows and spends – a theory that leaves unanswered why all countries shouldn’t just quintuple their debt with borrowing on steroids to let the good times roll, or why Greece and Portugal and Italy are doing so badly, with such invisible growth rates, given all their governments’ racked-up debt these past twenty years.  Australia had horrible productivity growth before this pandemic.  Spending like a drunken sailor will only make that worse. 

Or put it this way: on the economy and on freedom-related issues this Coalition government has spent this pandemic mimicking a soft socialist one.  Who voted for that?

Meantime on defence it won’t ditch the stupidest and most expensive submarine purchase in our, or probably any country’s, history.  We’re buying modern French nuclear subs and then paying a fortune to retrofit them – in South Australia, that’s key – with near on hundred-year-old diesel technology.  We could have off-the-shelf US subs at a fraction of the cost that would be ready now, and would be far better.  You’d think this would be a no-brainer, as would telling the social engineers to stop treating our defence forces as woke training grounds.

On renewables the partyroom is full of those espousing the rent-seekers’ line.  When I got here in 2005 Australia had the democratic world’s cheapest electricity.  Now it’s pretty much the world’s most expensive.  The majority of that interval was under the Coalition.  And it’s all been driven by virtue-signalling moralisers who know Australia could return to the Stone Age tomorrow – no emissions at all – and it wouldn’t make an iota of difference to the future global temperatures in a world in which China keeps building coal-fired plants weekly.

All the while I keep wondering about our kids.  Take the world’s dearest energy and add what is near-on the world’s highest minimum wage.  Stir those together with insipid productivity growth and one of the planet’s most rigid, least flexible, labour relations regimes.  And then blend all that with school results that put Australia behind Kazakhstan, and falling fast.  (And yes, I see these students come through my law school, the most elite in Queensland, and though they’re very smart kids most know no grammar; many have poor writing skills; all but a few have absorbed little of Shakespeare and almost nothing of the other standard greats of Western Civilisation; and a good few of them have been primed to wallow in grievance politics.)  Oh, let’s not forget to top off this toxic brew with a splash of massive over-reacting to COVID in a way that leaves the bills (economic and related to life opportunities) to be paid not by us oldies but by these same kids.  What’s going to happen when the mining sector is killed off?  Seriously?

Which takes us back to Mr. Morrison.  Personally, I think he’s now entering the diabolical realm of almost looking worse than Turnbull.  I mean that. Sure, he’s better than Albo.  Yep, he does get a good grade on China.  But his handling of the virus, in my view, has been anything but good.  It’s amounted to inflicting horrible damage on the small business sector and the worst inroads on our civil liberties in two centuries (something the bill of rights-loving lefties have been remarkably mute about) with no easy road map out, even with vaccines.  For what? The data from Sweden, which didn’t lockdown, is now in and excess deaths there for 2020, allowing for population growth and an aging population, is barely above what it was in 2015.  Florida (which largely shunned lockdowns) has half the deaths per million of lockdown-crazed New York, the state our ‘fear porn’ media put on a pedestal.  So no, Morrison hasn’t done a good job on corona, save for closing the border to China relatively early on.  Australia hass just been in the right hemisphere.

Here’s the thing though.  Our preferential voting system makes it near on impossible to ‘throw the bums out’.  It has the effect of making you choose between the two main parties, sooner or later.  So stay an inch better than Albo and you can forsake fighting the culture wars, cave in to the renewables rentseekers (many in your partyroom), bow down to an ABC that hates you, spend like it won’t be you having to pay it back, undertake zero major reforms in IR or the university sector or anything else and still you’ll get a tick from the vast preponderance of Liberal Party faithful.  They’ll tell themselves ScoMo is pretty good.  But they’ll be trying to believe what they know ain’t so.

27 comments
  • Charles

    Unfortunately, I have to agree that everything you have said here about ScoMo is 100% correct.

    Although you could have added that he is completely unable to make a decision on his own and there is not a political argument or challenge that he is not prepared to run away from, or at the very least remove himself from at a very smart trot.

  • brennan1950

    As was once remarked by a Pom resident in the UK and familiar with the Australian economy, “Anybody can stuff up the UK but it will take a real expert to stuff up Australia.”

    Pathetic. Abbott’s cabinet allegedly would not support abolishing 18C and would not support an enquiry in the temperature “smoothing” by the Bureau of Meteorology.

  • DougD

    “What’s going to happen when the mining sector is killed off?” The Environment Department will recommend removal of the miner’s pick and shovel from the Queensland Coat of Arms. I can’t think of anything else.

    On Morrison, he may not have come to the job with the high public expectations of competence his predecessors each had at the start, but he’s quickly conformed to the dismal standard of every prime minister since Howard. [Even Abbott wouldn’t fight hard to repeal the pernicious sec 18C of the RDA].

  • Harry Lee

    Leaders and Constituents are two sides of the same coin.
    Australia will not produce Proper Leaders until more Australians invest in making themselves Proper Citizens.

  • lbloveday

    Mr Allan continues his obsession with Kazakhstan, but has not, in my readings of his works, explained why he places so much significance on “school results that put Australia behind Kazakhstan” rather than say Ireland, nor whose rankings he bases that assertion on – eg worldpopulationreview.com has Australia at 1556 and Kazakhstan at 1195 (cf China 1731 and USA 1489), but ranks Kazakhstan 4 for completion of high school, behind Finland, Japan and Russia. Other ranking organisations rankings vary markedly.
    .
    Kazakhstan is an advanced country, bordering China and Russia, and around 20% of the population is Russian. They have mandatory education, universities and academies, and pretty well 100% literacy. Why Mr Allan regularly mocks their education levels escapes me; maybe he thinks Borat was a documentary. .

  • gareththomassport

    I assume the range of political views is essentially a bell curve (with a large proportion of the centre not remotely caring about politics).
    I also assume the bell curve has steadily moved to the left over time.
    I would finally assume that the ever growing mass of advisers advise our political leads to aim for the centre of the curve.
    This is not leadership but leadership as per Reagan, Thatcher or Menzies does seem to be a rarity these days.

  • Harry Lee

    Note:
    The Australian Constitution does not provide for the protection of Australia from anti-Westernist forces.
    Obvious.

  • Stephen Due

    I agree with the basic tenor of this article. In my view Morrison is obsessed with ensuring his own political safety. He’s not providing the nation with a sense of purpose. His government is directionless. He carefully avoided taking a stand against the Premiers on the extreme physical interventions and the unwarranted emergency powers they implemented. Matters which ought to be of grave concern to a Liberal PM, such as the brutal communist-inspired police state imposed on Victorians, brought forth no memorable response from him. He has acquiesced with hardly a murmur in allowing unelected health officers to determine the nation’s response to the pandemic, without regard to the economic, health, and social costs, and without regard to the rights of citizens. It is depressing in the extreme to contemplate the abysmal lack of principled and effective leadership in Australia today. Surely we can do better.

  • Greg Williams

    Quite a few years ago, early this century, a State School teacher and I (a private school teacher) set up a protest group (PLATOWA) opposing the introduction of a particularly rancid version of outcomes based education (OBE) here in WA. The OBE was first introduced to primary schools, under the auspices of a LNP government, but then Labor won the election, and continued the process into secondary schools. It was then that PLATOWA was born, as both the State School teacher and I were (and still are) secondary school teachers. During the time our group was in operation ( over a 4 year period) we inevitably ended up spending quite a bit of time with education ministers and shadow ministers. What astounded us, initially, was the lack of expertise the ministers had in their portfolio. It wasn’t the particular minister who was driving the agenda, but rather the bureaucracy behind them. The further we went with the protest, the more we realised that the politicians had very. little in the way of leadership skills wrt their portfolio and just parroted what their head bureaucrats told them to say.

  • Harry Lee

    Morrison & Co are following the voters.
    So did Howard & Co.
    Over the decades, an increasing proportion of voters want what the ALP and the Greens are offering.
    The leftist-greenist ideology channeled in the education systems, and by the ABC, SBS and 90% of the commercial media, the nature of the immigrant/refugee inflow, and the dominant forces in the law industry, all fuel the Leftward lunge.
    And it is clear that the Leftist forces which dominate the public services -at Fed, State, Territory and Council levels- are helping the ALP and Greens -far, far more than they help the Libs and Nats.
    So that’s that.

  • Peter OBrien

    James, you are spot on in almost all of your observations and your conclusion is correct. All Morrison cares about is political survival and if he had even the faintest scintilla of genuine conservative leanings, what happened to President Trump would have quickly caused him to consign them to the deepest recesses of his consciousness. He is just Albo delayed by a few years..

  • Guido Negraszus

    I agree 100%. I watched two interviews with John Howard this week. Incredible. His mind is still ultra-sharp. Even now, aged 81, he would still make a better PM than anything we have seen since he lost the 2007 election. Morrison is a total disappointment.

  • Doubting Thomas

    Of course Morrison cares about political survival. To do otherwise might look attractive to political purists disappointed that issues that are important to them are being ignored, but if Morrison and the Coalition were to even try to do anything radical, eg sell the ABC, repeal s18C, yada yada, they’d lose the next election in a landslide. As the events of the last couple of weeks have proved beyond any possible doubt, the leftists in the ALP, Greens, the Unions and the mainstream media will coalesce to destroy him and his government.
    There has only been one decent ALP government since World War II, and the current crop of ALP politicians do not show any signs of emulating the Hawke-Keating duumvirate. Like Biden and his rabble, their first moves in government would be to undo any positive reforms that Morrison and the Coalition might have made during their suicidal last term.
    There are many disappointments in the Morrison government, but none are so bad as to wish him to commit political suicide. Politics is the art of the possible, and in Australia’s political climate sensible government has rarely been possible for an party. And John Howard, elder statesman as he has become, behaved very little differently to Morrison during his tenure. His radical policy adventures were mostly shot down in flames. Port Arthur gave him the chance to pander to the media and the lumpen left, and the result was stupid over-reaction that achieved nothing commensurate with the supposed problems.

  • Harry Lee

    Hawke-Keating destroyed the universities.
    And China now controls more Australian activity, all up, than Britain did after 1901.
    Keating and Hawke oblivious to that, or perhaps not?
    Then there’s the anti-Westernist, parasitic immigration/refugee inflow that Keating encouraged and endorsed to fuel the ALP vote.
    Realism was flushed down the drain, starting in earnest during Whitlam fiasco. Then Hawke-Keating pushed it to the max.
    Kindest thing to say about Hawke is that he perhaps did not realise it was happening, busy as he was being a rock-star, and BS-ing about consensus.
    Yes, what Howard did re guns was a terrible, very terrible thing -esp as he left untouched the issue of what to do with violent criminals -who are still released from custody asap to destroy more lives.
    And while Howard stopped the boats, he flung open the airport doors even wider, bringing in masses of nett-consuming anti-Westernists.

  • STJOHNOFGRAFTON

    There’s a lot of disappointment in our leaders. It’s been growing rapidly as a result of handling the the Corona virus debacle via group-think techniques. Take ‘lockdowns’. Firstly lockdown is a despicable term which is appropriately used for mass insurrection like prison riots. Using the same term for peaceful citizens is the language of totalitarian control. Secondly, according to the UN, in contrast to early border controls, lockdowns have had no significant effect on the pandemic and may put the livelihood of 1.6 billion people at accute risk and may push an additional 150 million children into poverty.(Swiss Policy Research).
    Given the UN’s advice on lockdowns, the important question to ask is why did our leaders use such a destructive control measure like it was the gold standard of epidemic control, when in fact it has proved to be the fool’s gold standard of driving the economy off the cliff and ruining the livliehood of uncountable Australians. Morrison’s platitude “we’re all in this together” sounded trite at the time of utterance but it makes labelling him a hypocrite easier now, especially for those who’ve lost jobs and retirement income.

  • Avalon

    As a long-term member of the Liberal Party I now wonder why. What is the point of being in a party that will agree absolutely with the left – just 10 years after the left reach that view? We know what the Liberal’s policy will be in about 10 years – whatever the lunatic greens are saying today. Which major changes, made by Labor, has a Liberal government reversed?

  • ChrisPer

    Yes, Morrison has no obvious agenda in the values of conservatism or anti-leftism.
    Yes, he seems to only care about staying in office; and do a passable job of it so far.
    He has a huge advantage to us though: he isn’t Michael Trunbull, the weasel who made himself comfortable in the baby’s crib.

  • sabena

    James,
    I think it is obvious your disappointment is widely shared.An article online in Quadrant usually attracts 2 or 3 comments-your has attracted 17(including this comment).
    The situation will get worse before it gets better.Even the UAP at its nadir was better than the Liberal Party in this form.

  • ChrisPer

    Howard took his cricket bat and smashed a million innocent Australians in the face with it. I still pay every day in wasted time and unnecessary costs and restrictions on my actions from it – and I am not a criminal.

  • ChrisPer

    So let’s celebrate our PM: for the sake of gaining office, he pretends that all the biggest lies of the left are true.

  • Harry Lee

    Actually, governing has become too hard.
    One reason is:
    The Australian Constitution does not provide for the protection of Australia from internal neo-marxists and their client parasites, all in their many varieties.
    Really, entertainment is the Big Thing now.
    Minor as Australia is on the world stage, I reckon the best show going is Meghan Markle’s campaign to be the most well-known celebrity on Earth.

  • Peter Marriott

    Good piece and I agree with it. P.M. Morrison comes over as a very average survivor alright, and of course I agree that 18C should be removed and many other things, including the fallacious theory of dangerous anthropogenic global warming should be quietly dropped, along with the wasteful and backward policies of replacing our hundreds of years, and counting, of known supplies of good coal fired mains power stations. It’s easy to see P.M. Morrison as very average and a wait and see fence sitter, however I also think changing what has become a stifling system of voting could well change his method of operating, but also he has to have a proper alternative to socialist Labor and this means different aims and philosophy, and he’s not showing enough difference I think. But I definitely think a first post the post electoral system, or at least optional preferential voting could free things up a bit and get a lot of our polies down off the fence, particularly on the conservative side, and also possibly non-compulsory voting. The galling part about it all at present seems to me to be that on the conservative side everyone has to be a bit of a fence sitter to survive, whereas on the socialist Marxist side they seem to be able to do and say whatever they want to….and still survive ?

  • Terry E Young

    The Prime Minister said that the Defense Minister was in the wrong to call Higgins a lying cow.Higgins was drunk to the point of unconsciousness so has no idea what happened to her. The Defense Minister’s comment was literally correct and was the only sensible thing said last week.

  • Harry Lee

    We are on a Death March into the post-modernist, neo-marxist Abyss.
    Have been for decades.
    Many people know this, comment on it, and complain about it.
    But there is no sign of push-back -nothing serious, nothing substantive, nothing efficacious.
    Thinking caps on:
    How to set up a self-organising, self-resourcing force to establish a New Proper Australia?

  • Farnswort

    James Allan, you are correct. Morrison has done nothing to defend freedom of speech. He has done nothing to push back against the identity politics and woke rot spreading through our institutions and society. He has done nothing to clean up the Australian national curriculum and remove left-wing indoctrination and distortions from our classrooms. Despite representing the Division of Cook, he did almost nothing to defend Captain James Cook and modern Australia’s foundational heritage from the Left’s attacks during the 250th anniversary last year.

    Morrison says that he isn’t interested in matters of culture and values, only the economy. Yet, up until the COVID-19 pandemic, Morrison’s entire economy strategy relied on swelling the size of the economy via massive, nation-altering immigration. No policies to address Australia’s flagging productivity or make our economy more competitive internationally. No policies to expand our export base. No policies to improve household prosperity or arrest the decline in living standards. Morrison is visionless.

  • Harry Lee

    “Vision” has no purchase in a land inhabited mostly by leisure-mongers and parasites.

  • DG

    I agree with StJohnofGrafton. “Lockdown’ is a dispicable concept to apply to free citizens. One of my kid’s schools practiced ‘lockdown’ where the kids had to stay in classroom, pretending a lone gunner from the USA had just landed in their playground. A better term needs to be thought of, because a ‘lockdown’ as SJoG says, it is a (rightly) harsh and repressive measure applied to prison riots. Its for containing criminals in their cells to prevent further criminality. For the popular media, it’s a great attention grabbing drama phrase, something the media love, irrespective of its truth, or its denigration of those often the subject of strategic isolation or protective exclusion. But once a phrase has a life, we seem to want to grab it and impoverish the transmittal of information. Thus, everything is ‘rolled out’, or ‘in place’ these days. We never really get to know what is meant by these catchwords in the various settings in which they are used.
    I guess the fewer words a person knows, the easier it is to fool them or control them.

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