My Insiders colleague Niki Savva is a droll lady. She famous in her column this week that our prime minister possesses many skills. Stitching. Hammering. Squinting at issues in take a look at tubes. Flipping a breezy thumbs up within the cockpit of a airplane.
Anybody who watches the tv information usually may have glimpsed these items. I’d add one other to the record. Morrison can spin straw into gold. What I imply by that is our prime minister possesses some candy rebranding abilities. Numerous disasters are rebadged as triumphs.
Morrison pulls this Jedi thoughts trick fairly typically, and it’s arduous to know what’s extra irritating: the unapologetic prime ministerial chutzpah, or the very fact he will get away with it much more typically than he ought to.
Let’s illustrate with a few examples.
They’re making an attempt to repair it, however let’s be sincere, so far, the federal government has made a hash of its most vital job this 12 months: the Covid-19 vaccination rollout.
A number of the botch-up was unhealthy luck, however a whole lot of it was unhealthy judgments. The federal government was sluggish chasing provide initially, after which politics fairly than effectivity decided the rollout technique.
Due to the bungles, Australia is pulling up the drawbridge once we needs to be on a path to opening up. To masks the federal government’s errors, Morrison has learn the zeitgeist and switched roles. Just a few months in the past, he was the opening up evangelist. Now, the identical prime minister who lectured the premiers about lockdowns being no substitute for a public well being technique has morphed into Mr Lockdown.
Morrison can flip, the other will also be true, as a result of he is aware of arduous borders work within the present political local weather. The political efficiency of fortress Australia, to some extent, shields the federal government from a penetrating critique of what has led us up to now.
Whereas the politics really feel manageable for the federal government, coverage failure has actual world penalties. As a result of we will exist comfortably in our Covid-safe bubble, many Australians apparently really feel little strain to get vaccinated, which pushes again the border reopening.
Bizarrely, the well being minister, Greg Hunt, this week appeared to reinforce hesitancy that has constructed up in the neighborhood in regards to the dangers of uncommon and extreme clotting related to the AstraZeneca jab by noting “there will likely be sufficient mRNA vaccines for each Australian” by the tip of the 12 months. Presumably this was only a ham-fisted try to be all issues to all folks – however actually, who would know?
So fairly than being pinged, or subjected to a lot sustained discomfort, Morrison units his jaw, and sails on relentlessly.
Proper in the meanwhile, he’s totally intent on piloting previous the growing vexation of premiers who really feel they’ve saved Canberra from itself for the reason that pandemic started, previous the growing frustrations of companies that don’t have a sustainable enterprise mannequin till the border reopens, previous universities staggering due to the extended absence of overseas college students, and previous any irritating questions from journalists. Pesky questions may be safely ignored given the vituperative clamour of nationwide affairs muffles any discordant sound.
Morrison presents proper now as a chief minister crusing into the sunshine of the everlasting marketing campaign the place the incumbents write the foundations – which is his candy spot.
He has a unprecedented fluidity that permits his fixed, no-regrets repositioning (which is mostly thought-about the toughest trick to grasp in politics). However Morrison’s fluidity flows from the fastened level of his skilled identification, which is political operative first, second and third. Pump out the budget. How will any unfunded spending be paid for? Incorrect query – although that’s the central query the Coalition has been skewering its opponents with for many years.
Zip as much as Gladstone. Right down to Bass. Stitching. Hammering. Squinting at issues in take a look at tubes. Giving a breezy thumbs up within the cockpit of a airplane. Morrison is the self-styled star of the fake marketing campaign that may rumble on till the exact second he’s assured he’s obtained the viable path to victory, after which we’ll be thrust into the true one, ears pinned again within the slipstream. The working tempo will decide up, but in addition deaden because the campaigns assail disengaged voters with slogans examined for salience, and destructive promoting. Weaponised pretend information will roll by Fb.
I hope this doesn’t sound cynical, as a result of I’m not even near cynical, and even when I used to be, cynicism isn’t any use to anybody. My objective right here is diagnostic. I’m charting the topography of Morrison’s politics, and making an attempt to place a chief ministerial oeuvre within the unusual, slippery, age of bombardment and bewilderment all of us inhabit.
My objective right here is gentle, not warmth. We have to grasp that our prime minister governs by fixed calculations and recalibration, which is actually an artwork, and interesting in its method. However it might make an individual – nicely, this one, anyway – crave substance with a gnawing starvation.
A political world that’s heavy on stagecraft and lightweight on substance delivers us now to the Hunter Valley, and an influence plant nobody with experience requested for. After dropping hints for a lot of months, Morrison and the power minister, Angus Taylor, confirmed this week (conveniently in time for a state byelection within the Hunter) that a gas peaking plant will likely be constructed at Kurri Kurri.
Please perceive the next. A number of the authorities’s most senior power coverage advisers privately characterise this venture as completely “bonkers”. However the authorities has zipped bonkers into an “aren’t we marvellous” onesie, hoping you received’t discover.
This week, Morrison and Taylor instructed us the deliberate fuel peaker (which is able to truly run on diesel initially in the event you examine the high quality print) will ship cheaper and extra dependable energy. However it’s arduous to work out how, given the individuals who run Australia’s power market say fuel is likely to be more expensive than different choices, like batteries, pumped hydro and demand administration.
Let’s puncture the routine obfuscation with some plain phrases explaining why that is taking place. Australia’s power market is in the course of an inexorable transition. The Coalition federally has completed all the things in its energy to suppress this transition, telling voters for greater than a decade that issues can stay as they have been. This has by no means been true, and we’ve reached the purpose now the place the fiction isn’t holding.
Issues are shifting so quickly that the coal turbines which have propped up the system for many years could leave Australia’s energy market considerably sooner than anticipated. If these anchor fossil gasoline belongings stagger out the door in chaotic trend as a result of they’ve been priced out of the market by cheaper, low emissions alternate options, the lights may go off.
Voters would possibly even blame the brokers of chaos: the Coalition. So what the federal government is buying with Kurri Kurri isn’t cheaper dependable energy. It’s gold-plated insurance coverage at your expense: a model new, taxpayer-funded energy plant that may by no means function, or function solely very intermittently to agency renewables.
Once more, let’s be clear about culpability. When it repealed the carbon worth, the Coalition eliminated the coverage mechanism that might have pushed this market transition in orderly trend, and changed it with an impenetrable, arbitrary, Soviet-style, choosing winners and propping up fossil fuels program. When it did that, it transferred the price of the transition from the polluters, to taxpayers.
The botch-up is now so epic it’s doable that we’d want some costly, extra polluting, back-up dispatchability to stabilise the grid over the subsequent few years whereas numerous applied sciences mature.
These are literally the info, however you would possibly wrestle to find them in all of the moustache twirling, as numerous pundits in Canberra hold forth about how the Coalition lobbing this fuel plant is definitely tremendous intelligent, as a result of it delivers an atomic wedgie to Labor. I imply significantly. On this match report crap goes.
Sadly, this isn’t sport, and it’s previous time to be crystal clear in regards to the penalties of all the varied shenanigans.
Listed here are the implications. The joke is on you, good voters of Australia. When your authorities buggers it up, it sends you the invoice.