Nine months into his first term as elected Prime Minister, has the “miracle” man lost his halo and – like the acrid smoke which hung menacingly over the country – is Morrison’s Government on the nose?
THE BUSHFIRE EFFECT
It may be early days, but the tide is shifting and the bushfire crisis appears to have been the catalyst. Certainly, the PM’s recent advice that Australians should “adapt” to catastrophic climate events was heard loud and clear. Despite his oft-repeated rhetoric centred on the Government’s “action”, with that one simple word, people are realising that the opposite is true.
Such platitudes may have been sufficient to mollify voters during the Government’s honeymoon period and the honeymoon may have even lasted a little longer, were it not for the fact that, as a new study has shown, approximately 80 per cent of the population has been impacted in some way by calamitous bushfires.
The ANU study found several other interesting changes since the start of Spring 2019 and attributed some of these to the bushfire crisis:
… Wellbeing … has declined, … people are less satisfied with the direction of the country, and have less confidence in the Federal Government. People are more likely, however, to think that the environment and climate change are issues and a potential threat to them, with a significant decline in the proportion of people who support new coal mines.
Yet what is the Morrison Government’s answer to this inescapable conclusion?
WHAT CLIMATE CHANGE?
“Resilience and adaptation.” Oh, and more of the same: coal, fossil fuels, laws preventing protests and no real change whatsoever.
Australians are indeed angry that in place of action, there is only a half-hearted attempt to convince us that the PM and some (though by no means, all) of his ministers now believe in climate change — though not necessarily the man-made variety.
Nonetheless, this appears to have escaped the aptly named Coalition, their climate-change-denying mates in the mainstream media and, of course, most importantly, their donors. And so, more of the same means zero climate policy, no change to emissions reduction and, oh yes, more coal mines, more fracking and even another toxic nuclear waste dump.
What does this all mean for Scotty from Marketing? Perhaps like his previous tourism career, his miracle accession to the prime ministership may be coming to an end.
SCOTTY MARKETS HIMSELF
If the ANU study is correct, there appear to be three possibilities for our PM.
1. Maybe nothing
Morrison may recover. He may well pull another persona out from whence the "daggy dad" one came and succeed – aided by our ever-compliant mainstream media – to convince us that it’s too late to do anything on climate change. That, therefore, we need to harden up and “adapt” to a dystopian future.
As Turnbull and Abbott before him discovered, if the PM’s current plummeting popularity continues, it is likely he will soon be replaced. Possibly the baton may be passed to Dutton, Frydenberg (if he survives the High Court challenge) or Porter — who may even get a new tattoo to mark the occasion. Of course, this could be delayed until the next election is upon us. But this seems unlikely unless current voter anger abates and that seems less and less likely each time the PM defends Australia's "action" on climate change.
3. The Nats implode
If the current infighting, over the climate change debate and how much coal is too much, persists within the National Party, it is unlikely to end well for the Coalition. This could well cause a cataclysmic shift, similar to that of the ALP/DLP split of 1955, which saw the Labor Party banished to electoral purgatory for around two decades.
There is no doubt things are shifting. The question is, how much more resilience and adaptation are Australians prepared to cop?
It may be that unless the Greens and Labor, together with the progressives in the crossbench, start to see where the real problem lies and work together to provide a fighting chance, we may see yet another conservative government elected and our dystopian future sealed.
This editorial was originally published as part of the Independent Australia weekly newsletter. These editorials are usually only available to subscribers and may be read online in the IA members-only area.
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