Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Grattan on Friday: If government is re-elected it could be because of Scott Morrison, not because of him

When Scott Morrison appeared before the traveling media at a stopover in Dubai on his way home, he looked exhausted. Here’s a man in need of a hot bath and a major political reset.

Possibly they had the opportunity for the former; He and his advisors would consider the latter for a long time. This is not an easy task, especially when there are issues of integrity involved.

The “character” question is important in politics. In recent political history, this was part of the downfall of then-Labor leader Mark Latham, which appeared a strong possibility in the lead-up to the 2004 election.

Morrison has long been considered a slippery political player. The dispute with the French, in which Emmanuel Macron called him a liar and he responded with a leaked Macron text, has further tarnished Morrison’s personal reputation – even with the Australians acknowledging Wouldn’t want to go to France’s side.

The negatives about Morrison that are already on the minds of some voters are Labor banking on these developments. Anthony Albanese said: “The only thing the Prime Minister has achieved on this visit is proving that he cannot be trusted”.

To adapt a line from Morrison’s climate policy mantra, the issue does not need to be an “if” or “when” going forward, but a “how.”

With next year’s election heading towards him, Morrison personally is no longer a clear asset to the government as he was in 2019. It could be that, despite that, if the coalition wins another term, it will be more because of him. .

The Coalition generally wants “faith” to be part of its pitch to voters. But how to do this, when its leader has been tagged “liar”?

It is difficult, though not impossible, on history. Just before the 2004 election was called, John Howard’s honesty was disputed anew in a hangover in the 2001 “kids drowning in water” affair. That didn’t stop “faith” from making the centerpiece when he announced the election. “Who do you trust to keep interest rates down?” He asked.



Read more: View from The Hill: A battered Scott Morrison announces it’s time to ‘move on’


A “trust” can function at more than one level. A voter may regard a leader as a person free of truth, but still rely on him for the option of managing the economy or national security. It becomes a matter whose “trust” issue weighs heavily with the electorate.

On the economic front, this government can expect a strong narrative for its election pitch. The figures for the September-quarter, when they come, will show that the economy has slowed down due to the lockdown, but the quarters after that are looking good.

Reserve Bank Governor Philip Lowe said this week: “As vaccination rates are further increased and restrictions are eased, the economy is expected to bounce back relatively quickly”. Growth is projected at 3% in 2021, with 5.5% and 2.5% over the next two years. Lowe added the apparent uncertainty – “the potential for another setback on the health front”.

The government may argue that in economic terms, it sustained the community through the pandemic and therefore economic management can be relied upon.

But it can take the premise of “faith” in general to be too treacherous, linking “faith” and “politicians” in particular to the laughing stock in the community these days. “Who do you consider more capable of managing the economy?” Morrison’s “faith” can avoid the dangers of campaigning.

Undoubtedly the prime minister would like to rope in “national security” as a pillar of his election pitch and may have thought that the tripartite AUKUS agreement with the United States and the United Kingdom provided the ideal platform.

But, as important as the aukus is, relying on it politically has become more problematic. Not only does this land Morrison in a tussle with the French, but questions are also rising over the much-anticipated promise of nuclear-powered submarines.

We have an 18 month consultation process for these boats. We don’t know whether the design will come from the US or the UK. We know the first sub won’t appear for nearly two decades.

Given the Coalition’s poor performance over most of its tenure on submarines, some of the initial shine has been taken away from the deal, although it retains Labour’s public support.



Read more: View from The Hill: How will Macron’s ‘Pants on Fire’ claim about Morrison playing in focus groups?


Generally, Labor remains close to the government on security issues, refusing to fight it.

Ironically, the issue that was predicted to cause trouble to Morrison in his visit – the government’s faded commitment to climate policy for COP26 – was the least of his problems.

Australia’s policy was not affected, but was influenced by the more general and significant disappointments at the conference.

So, political strategists may now be asking, where does this leave the climate issue up for election?

Still powerful, one would guess, but it lacked some sharpness prior to Glasgow – both because that focal point would have passed and because the convention, which is still underway, is not as predictable.

Labor would be wise to position its climate policy as somewhat more ambitious than Morrison’s, but not by much.

On the part of the government, citizens reluctantly got on board for net-zero in 2050, already feeling the heat in Queensland. They need the government to remove all the stops at the earliest to announce the trade-offs they were promised.

Morrison’s difficulties strengthen the case for waiting until May for the election and launching it on the back of April’s budget.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg pointed to the expected pre-election budget on Thursday. Asked on Sky to confirm there is a budget ahead of the election, he said “well, the prime minister has spoken in those words”.



Read more: ‘I don’t think, I know’ – why Macron’s comment about Morrison is so extraordinary and worrying


This will be the third consecutive election that effectively began with a budget. It worked for Morrison in 2019; It didn’t go so well for Malcolm Turnbull in 2016, when he lost a swag of seats.

A budget – if well received – can make a campaign useful. If the economic outlook is as rosy as it seems, the pre-election budget may emphasize it. This can be used to cast the new policy in the most positive light (wrinkles may emerge only later).

Another budget would give Frydenberg more prominence, which would be an advantage if Morrison is tracking as damaged.

April’s budget could also be a challenge for Labor, potentially forcing it into a more responsive position.

But while the arguments for using the budget as the start of a campaign are strong, there may be risks – one of them that the government cannot delay if circumstances suddenly change – that it may run out of time. has gone. And as Morrison’s journey so graphically showed, politics is always unpredictable.

This article is republished from – The Conversation – Read the – original article.

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