Finland and Sweden are currently exploring joining NATO. The about face from long term neutrality has come about because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The ABC reported
recently that there has been a significant shift in the attitude of the Finnish and Swedish Governments from ‘don’t poke the (Russian) bear’ to a position of seeking allies for protection should Russia do to them what it has done to Ukraine. It could be Putin’s largest mistake as his border with Nato aligned counties doubles assuming Finland and Sweden apply for NATO membership and the applications are accepted.
So what does this have to do with Australian politics? Good question.
When the last elections were held in Sweden and Finland, the candidates for the leadership role, cognisant of the opinion of a majority of their communities would have probably rebuffed the idea of NATO membership if the question was even raised. Circumstances have changed — as has the opinion of the majority of Finnish and Swedish people. Their governments have reacted accordingly.
Australians only get one chance every three years to make a judgement on the capability of our federal political leaders. To make the best decision, we need to be aware and make a judgement on the potential leader’s vision, ethics and moral judgement. To borrow a phrase from the movie ‘The Castle
’, ‘it’s the vibe, your honour
’ because the things that will test us all are the things we have no idea about until they eventuate. This is far more relevant to our future than if an Opposition Leader forgets a statistic or a Prime Minister forgets where they are in a press conference.
The Coalition and some media are arguing that Albanese’s ALP doesn’t have the knowledge, skills or abilities to form a government, an illogical argument as the only way to get direct and recent experience is to do the job. When Morrison started work in the Prime Ministerial office, we didn’t even get a say in his elevation, as the only election he won was one of his political party’s Members of Parliament. At that time, he too had none of the experience in the job that he now claims is mandatory.
In addition, Albanese and a number of his ‘shadow Ministers’ were Ministers in the last ALP Government, a minority government that had to form a consensus with independents in Parliament to get anything through both Chambers. Current member for the seat of Kennedy, Bob Katter recently observed on the ABC’s ‘Q&A’
, he was one of those independents and the Gillard Government never lost a legislative vote in Parliament, unlike the current Coalition Government. Albanese, as the then Leader of the House, was responsible for working to get the consensus.
So how is our media helping us get an appreciation of the ‘vibe’ of the two potential Prime Ministers? Generally they aren’t. If political rivals such as Bob Katter are happy to claim Albanese is willing to listen and compromise (which usually produces a better outcome anyway), surely the media should be discussing it — as it gives the rest of us some idea on how Albanese is likely to operate, should he become Prime Minister.
We also know that Morrison certainly changed his fiscally conservative tone during the early days of the COVID pandemic where his government aped the Rudd ALP Government of 15 years ago and effectively wrote cheques for everyone to keep the economy ticking over, albeit at a reduced rate. But the actions weren’t of his own doing, he was generally dragged kicking and screaming to the correct place by public opinion, state premiers or even at times his own MP’s. Even then, according to Morrison, at various times he wasn’t responsible for holding a hose, giving an injection or ensuring there was a qualified person in the Happy Memories Aged Care home to provide care, empty the bedpan or provide adequate nutrition.
Someone who might be accused of having too much time on their hands has produced a cross referenced and attributed list of 995 ‘achievements’ of the current Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Coalition Government
, none of which are flattering. Yes, it includes the lack of action on climate change, the lack of creation of a federal anti-corruption commission with ability to investigate all federal workers using the same process and appointing political mates to government boards and tribunals. If ‘someone on the internet' can produce a list like this, it can’t be that hard for the media to find out the information and report on it.
If the media in this country was doing its job properly, Albanese would be asked questions about how he managed the ‘Leader of the House’ role in the Gillard government, his skills and experience, vision for the future as well as the skills and experience of those around him.
We have some experience of Morrison’s management of government, his skills and experience as well as the skills and experience of those around him. The media should be asking Morrison his vision for the future, why his record doesn’t demonstrate his lack of accountability, ethics and morals and how he would do better if re-elected.
Instead, most media is letting bare faced lies (or strategically chosen statistics if you’re feeling generous) such as the Liberal Party’s recent social media ‘Look at the Facts’ advertising go straight to the keeper. Fortunately Crikey didn’t (paywalled)
Parts of the media are asking why there is an emphasis on dog whistling and gotchas in the current election campaign. As Laura Tingle recently wrote on the ABC’s website
In such times, perhaps the most interesting thing to emerge from our own leaders debate this week wasn't what leaders said, but what a room full of uncommitted voters were asking about.
They didn't want to know about trans people in sports or, for that matter, China or the Solomon Islands. They wanted to know what the two parties were doing about housing affordability, and nurses in aged care, and the NDIS, and electric batteries and vehicles, and what plans there were for dealing with disasters, and funding recovery from them, in the future.
In other words, they just wanted governments to do things. And to do them competently.
Maybe the same reporters complaining about the lack of discussion around experience and vision for the future should realise they are contributing to the general lack of knowledge around politicians’ experience and vision for the future. Their part of the solution should be to ask the questions people want to know about and report the responses without fear, favour or bias. It’s not that hard.
What do you think?