MUNGO MACCALLUM. Sick of Morrison’s shilly-shallying

A somewhat exasperated Bill Shorten accuses Scott Morrison of playing games over the election date – and so he is.

But why not? He has very little else to play games about. The decision for an election is one of the very few things the Prime Minister can control – it is the one issue on which his authority is unquestioned. So when you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Of course this can be seen as mean, tricky, cynical, opportunist – but that is part of the ScoMo brand. It’s a bit too late to complain about it now.

And talking of things that have missed the boat – the ones so many of his former colleagues are jumping off —  the last chance budget can hardly be call visionary and inspiration, a rousing call to arms to a desperate party.

Instead we got another promise of a surplus next year, much in the manner of the regular pronouncements of Wayne Swan, the usual beefing up of tax cuts for potential swinging voters with heaps more to come for the party’s real constituents, immense quantities of pork barrelled out to vulnerable coalition seats and a paean of wistful nostalgia for the great Liberal days the past, the ones before the current government arrived.

Very littler sizzle and almost no new sausage, essentially an exercise in self congratulation and spin. The regular repetition of the mantra “with no new taxes” was particularly touching, with the follow up that the coaliton’s taxes will always be lower than Labor’s. In fact ScoMo’s take is considerably higher than Labor’s ever was, but that’s the budget for you – and that’s our marketeer, embarking on the campaign of his life, the one he was born for.

Bill Shorten’s reply did not set the place ablaze either, but at least he had something to say about the future, and a big announcement on cancer. The government’s response was that it already had the situation under control, but as a sufferer of the disease for more than five years  and counting, I can assure them that there is plenty of room for improvement. Almost all my treatment was in public hospitals, and bloody good they are, but there are still plenty of extra expenses, Shorten’s proposal will be warmly applauded, and already has been.

But of course the nay-sayers of News Limited will have none of that reckless, economy wrecking spending and Morrison should stop pussy footing around and just get kicking and gouging. One of the most rabid, Chris Kenny, says that Morrison’s failure to double down on his right wing base has meant that the coalition’s vote has been eroded by extreme right splinter groups like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, Clyde Palmer’s Australia Party and Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives – he could have added the clique of commentators in the Murdoch media.

To respond to the threat, Kenny  demands more negativity, more aggro, more Peter Dutton from Morrison, who, he laments, has simply followed the namby-pamby script devised by the hated Malcolm Turnbull in the 2016 campaign. Kenny has apparently not been listening for the last couple of weeks, when Morrison has done little else than scream brutal personal abuse about Bill Shorten’s lies and taxes. And if Kenny hasn’t been listening, you can bet not many other people have either.

But ScoMo’s slogan is based on a lie of its own – or at least a severe bending of the truth. The constant repetition of  “Labor’s  $200 billion worth of new taxes” starts with the use of pretty rubbery figures – even the Liberals own website, hardly the most objective source, struggles to ramp up the total, adding in the purely mythical assumption that Labor’s climate change policy would require unspecified billions in new tax.

But the three word slogan masks the fact that most of them are not new taxes at all. The vast majority – the abolition of  negative gearing for new investment properties,  the reduction of exemptions for capital gains tax, the ending of tax refunds for those who did not pay the tax in the first place – are in fact restoring old taxes which had been distorted by concessions used overwhelmingly by the rich as a method of tax avoidance.

Then there is the rejection of the coalition’s plans to reduce some of the pie-in-the-sky tax cuts for the higher income brackets. And most absurdly the continuation – not the initiation – of the coalition’s own deficit levy for top earners. The tweaking of superannuation can be stretched as a new tax, but the only measure that really stands up to ScoMo’s fantasy horror story is a new tax on some family trusts.

And in any case it needs to be emphasised that whatever the status of the $200 billion, it is not proposed for next year, but cumulative over the next decade – meaning that much of it may or not happen, just like Morrison’s second and third tier tax cuts, the ones that even the sainted Peter Costello regards as too far into the never never to be credible.

But most importantly, when Morrison rails about Shorten raiding the pockets of hard-working Australians, it is simply not true – few if any of Shorten’s prescriptions will affect the vast bulk of the population because they are targeted at well off punters looking for tax advantages and believing they are entitled to them – the ones Joe Hockey used to call leaners, not lifters.

The PM’s office and their Murdoch minions have diligently unearthed a few disgruntled nurses, school teachers and firefighters as well as a crop of long-term Liberal apparatchiks to bolster the case that Shorten is attacking the battlers, but the only battle most of them are worried about is their battle to maintain their lutrks and perks. Class warfare, splutters The Australian – well perhaps, but the billionaire American investor Warren Buffet summed it up best when he said that, yes, there is a class war and his class is winning. Most of what Shorten  is doing is simply trying to redress the balance.

So there will have to be yet another last chance – indeed, the  conservative fantasists will no doubt go in insisting that there is still a last chance until about 5.55pm on election day. But even they are sick of ScoMo’s shilly-shallying. They just want to get it over with. And don’t we all.


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5 Responses to MUNGO MACCALLUM. Sick of Morrison’s shilly-shallying

  1. Hal Duell says:

    I remember when John Hewson kept on and on at Paul Keating about when he would call their election, and Paul’s priceless response – “Because I want to do you slowly.”
    Be careful what you wish for Bill. We all know it’s coming, and we all know ScoMo is on a hiding to nothing. But then so was Paul.

  2. Bill Shorten’s bellyaching about the election announcement was one of the mistakes he has been making recently. Another was the electric cars. This is happening and does not need political intervention. Labor needs to attend to constructive policy. The first priority should be to double the number of front-line staff at Centrelink. I think Morrison is doing very well in the circumstances. People are cheesed off generally with politicians and there is no enthusiasm for Labor. It is not over yet by any means.

  3. Ken Dyer says:

    I am so sick of Scomo and his strident conga line of muppets, I have plugged up my right ear.

  4. Malcolm Crout says:

    Does anyone read the Murdoch tripe or listen to Sky these days?

    Today the LNP approved the Adani Mine so they can now leave office hoping that their future employment is now sown up with the mining giants and their parasitic organisations. I doubt the Murdoch rags will have much to say about it from a climate perspective, but no doubt will shriek when the Queensland Government knocks it back, supported by a new ALP federal Government.

    Morrison will go down as the worst PM in modern political history bar none. I don’t know how you maintain a sense of humor about these treasonous actions. Let’s not even mention Christmas Island!

  5. James LEWIS says:

    Although Palmer’s wife may be a Bonnie lass, has he really changed his name to Clyde?

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