A week which started out as the one in which the Liberals hoped to begin to fight back has delivered them even more bad news, says Bob Ellis.
A LONG TIME IN POLITICS.
A week ago, it was thought Labor might lose Griffith or do so poorly there that the crisis-feeling presently paining the Liberals might abate.
On Saturday night Brandis crowed a lot, swearing no Opposition party had done so badly in a century. This was after a 0.5 swing from a Prime Minister’s vote to a local male hero who’d campaigned for years against an unknown woman who, in the barely eight weeks of Christmas door-knocking allowed her, managed to beat him resoundingly.
On Sunday, we learned Mike Willesee would interview Schapelle Corby, and Seven pay her two million dollars — enough to earn a hundred thousand dollars a year in interest for the rest of her life. This seemed to some, who thought her guilty, an unjust reward for a capital crime and to some Indonesian authorities a breach of her bail conditions (no criticism of our system) which would put her, swiftly, back in prison. On Sunday night, a TV drama on Corby that gained much praise rated less well than one on INXS.
On Monday, some thought the month’s big headline story would be a Royal Commission that would show famous Labor figures to be the allies of crooks — and crooks, perhaps, themselves. By Monday afternoon, Toyota had said it would pull out in 2017 and fifty thousand jobs would go and a recession follow, maybe — with the knock-on loss of two hundred and fifty thousand jobs and the impoverishment of whole towns and regions.
The next day, Tuesday, nobody cared about the Royal Commission into unions, only Toyota, which Abbott called a ‘tragedy’ — despite Hockey causing the disaster by refusing Holden ten dollars per taxpayer per year and goading them into leaving.
Shorten scared the bejesus out of him in Question Time and, with two speeches as good as Hawke in full fury, made certain of a long stay as Leader of a newly energised party.
A long time in politics.
On Wednesday, the Government, scared, made sure many speeches criticising their loss of a job every three minutes since they arrived were ‘no longer heard’, calling this a trivial use of parliament and a waste of democracy’s time. A Newspoll showing Labor on 51 was contradicted by a Morgan awarding them 52. The Newspoll headline declaring Shorten on the way down seemed premature.
And Abbott, lying to parliament, said he had not said he promised to spend his "first week as Prime Minister" with the Yolngu people of East Arnhem Land, where twelve hundred jobs had been lately lost, lodging and sleeping in their comunity, but rather that he had said they would be the first community he would visit and stay in when he got around to it. This intentional misleading of parliament (AKA blatant, calculated, lie see video below) could see him sacked by a motivated GG who could, theoretically, so dispose of him.
On Wednesday and Thursday Fiona Nash was shown to have employed as an advisor on health a paid advocate of junk foods and Cadbury’s, and to have removed a warning against such things from her website at his behest. She lied twice to parliament about it, standing by her employee, before then – after two days – abandoning him and making him take the fall.
Also on Thursday, unemployment hit 6 percent, higher than at any time since Tony Abbott was minister for employment in the Howard Government — 10 years ago. This made his promise of a million new jobs in his first term ludicrous and Hockey’s plan to stimulate job creation by cutting ninety billion dollars from public expenditure bizarre.
Some doubts were expressed about Joe’s sanity, more when he said he had a ‘plan’ and could not specify what it was. That evening, Alan Joyce asked that Qantas get a government guarantee and freedom to sell off Australia’s icon to foreigners, and Joe said "kicking and screaming' he and Abbott would probably give it.
A week is a long time in politics.
By Saturday, it seemed Willesee’s interview with Corby would be cancelled and Campbell Newman would lose thirty seats in a hypothetical election held that day, including his own, and Indonesia was upgrading its disgust at Morrison’s ‘lifeboats’ invading the sovereign waters of a now unfriendly country.
A long time.
Bill Glasson will never be heard of again. Schapelle will never make it home. We will not see a surplus before 2035.
And so it goes.
Bob Ellis is a former Labor Party speechwriter..
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