Do you become as infuriated as I do at the sheer insolence of PM Morrison and his spokespersons when they feed us arrant nonsense about their policies, when they serve us up implausible readings of political events and the economy, when they treat us like mugs who will swallow anything they feed us?
Take the recent analysis of our shrinking economy. Economists put it this way: ”Australia's economy slowed from 4% annualised growth at the start of 2018, to around 1% in the second half, and Australia's economic output shrank 0.2% per person in the fourth quarter, after a 0.1% decline in the third.”
In other words, we’re going backwards. It was only our population growth that saved us from being in a formal recession
, defined as: ’Two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country's gross domestic product (GDP)’
Australian Bureau of Statistics chief economist Bruce Hockman added
: "Growth in the economy was subdued, reflecting soft household spending and a decline in dwelling investment…approvals for dwelling construction indicate that the decline in dwelling investment will continue."
Writing in ABC News
business reporter Stephen Letts says this
: “The domestic sector continues to struggle, with consumption up a weak 0.4 per cent over the quarter, while private sector investment and demand effectively contributed nothing to GDP growth, compared with the 0.4 percentage points they added over the previous four quarters.”
ANZ's Felicity Emmett
said ”…the figures were disappointing, particularly the ongoing weakness in the household sector, where vehicle sales, household goods and utilities spending were the main drags.”
Whichever way commentators chose to spin it, it was a poor result, one that ought to have had the Morrison government, and especially its Treasurer, apprehensive, even apologetic. Being unfamiliar with the term ‘per capita recession’, voters needed our Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, to explain it. So what did he do? He assured us that despite the rather frightening term ‘recession’, everything was fine: ”The fundamentals of the economy remain strong despite the impact of falling consumption spending
[code for people have closed their purses] and the drought.”
We’re not mugs Josh. Please don’t dish up that claptrap. We can see that the economy is sluggish and faltering despite all your and Morrison’s insistence that you are the
experts at running our economy.
While we’re on the economy Scomo, for years you’ve been telling us that the benefits of tax breaks for business will trickle down to the workers as better wages – just be patient. We always thought that was nonsense. You
know it hasn’t happened – wages have been stagnant for years. Now your Finance Minister, the voluble Mathias Cormann, has spilled the beans by telling us that keeping wages down is ‘a deliberate feature of the government’s economic architecture’; in other words a premeditated plan for wage restraint. To make this revelation even more wacky, within hours your Minister for Defence Industry, Linda Reynolds, under intense questioning by David Spears on Sky News
, flatly rejected Cormann’s proposition, then asserted that he was ‘absolutely right’, all in the one breath – quite a feat! Even your senior ministers can’t get their lines right. We’re not mugs Scomo. They are.
It is not the purpose of this piece to argue the pros and cons of the state of our economy. Rather it is to highlight the contemptuous way this government has reported on a poor result, on the arrogant way it insisted: ‘Nothing to see here. Everything’s fine. We’ve got the economy under control’. Just leave it to us’
, when Blind Freddie can see that this is baloney. You hope the tax cuts you’re tossing out as bait will hook the voters. They won’t Scomo. They’re not mugs. They’re smarter than fish.
Let’s take another example. Recall our PM's response to the mass exodus of ministers from his ranks. He insisted that this was quite normal, simply the natural process of attrition; certainly not an indication of rats deserting a sinking ship fearful of an electoral loss and a long time in opposition! He smirked as he told us how he takes all this in his stride. We’re not mugs Scomo – we know that such an exodus would be a concern to any leader, even one as poor as you. So don’t try to convince us otherwise. Might it have been better for you to admit that the retirement of many ministers was worrisome, but that you had others ready for advancement that could fill the bill? No, that would be a sign of weakness, a chink in your 'superman' armour.
Let’s jump to Christmas Island, re-opened at an estimated cost of $1.4 billion, to accommodate those on Manus Island and Nauru who require medical assessment as judged through the Medivac arrangements. So far none have come. The Christmas Island Detention Centre is not equipped to handle surgical cases, nor can it cope with complex medical problems. These will have to be transported to the mainland.
Morrison visited the Island with a press gallery entourage at a calculated cost $2,000 per minute
. He spoke for less than 30 minutes, but time enough for him to re-assert that Shorten’s changes to the Medivac legislation had exposed our nation to invasion by dastardly criminals, and that he was standing firmly to avoid this: “People smugglers see me as a brick wall; they see Shorten as an open door.”
He expects us to swallow that.
We’re not mugs Scomo. We all know what this Christmas Island saga is all about: a clumsy pre-election attempt to convince the electorate that we are in imminent danger from people smugglers, asylum seekers and an assortment of criminals arriving from Manus and Nauru, all because of Shorten and Labor. What’s more he tells us, he
is there to protect us. You know that’s blatant spin Scomo. So do we.
Then there’s climate change. We know what you’re up to Scomo. You have claimed Australia will meet its targets ‘in a canter’, but multiple quarterly emissions reports have shown the country’s greenhouse gas emissions are tracking upwards, not downwards
Do you really believe your own rhetoric? We don’t. We know it’s simply hot air. You hope the voters are gullible enough to swallow this – hook, line and sinker. But you may be stunned to realize that voters are not mugs Scomo. They know what you’re up to. Even you should have woken up to the anger that is smouldering in the electorate over your government’s pitiful response to global warming. Yet you seem to think that a few platitudinous words will quieten their fury. No Scomo, they’re not mugs.
If that’s not enough to convince everyone that our PM thinks he can open his mouth, say whatever he likes and the voters will excuse his words, no matter how careless, take his recent comments to the Chamber of Minerals and Energy International Women’s Day Breakfast in Perth: ”We want to see women rise. But we don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse”.
This was widely interpreted as: ‘We want to see women rise but not if it leaves men worse off’. This enraged news outlets and social media worldwide, which interpreted him as saying that men should not have to make way for women's empowerment. Caught out with his careless words, he was forced into an embarrassing retreat. If you’ve got the stomach, you can read about it here
. Need I go on?
Our PM is an embarrassment to us all. He opens his mouth before engaging his brain, scatters inanities all around him, and then fancifully believes that his oratory, his grandiloquent gestures, and his supercilious smirk will fool the voters.
We’re not mugs Scomo. If you go on treating us as mugs, we’ll repay you at the ballot box. Take a look at the polls following the chaos that’s putrefying the LNP from top to bottom. Don’t be surprised at what they’re telling you.
Baseball bats will be the least of your worries.