Month: February 2019

No, ScoMo, we don’t want Tampa 2.0 or a 90 day season of Kill Bill.

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There’s something about the debate around asylum seekers that taps into the darkness in the souls of millions of Australians. There’s a reflexive suspicion and bigotry which is being manipulated and forged into hatred by wordsmiths on the government payroll.

 

It’s a practice of the black art of propaganda which is despicable and verges on the evil. It comes from those clever enough to know the power of language to manipulate and immoral enough to care little of the consequences.

Walkley Award–winning ABC journalist, David Hardaker

 

A pit-bull about to snap his leash, at least in his own fantasy, “Walter Mitty” Morrison lunges at Bill Shorten, across the despatch-box. ScoMo scowls, hunches, juts his jaw. The corners of his mouth turn down. He stabs the air with a forefinger; face twisted in fury and frustration. No nuance here. It’s less dog-whistle than honking fog-horn.

But it captures the tone of a week in which the government abandons any policy platform for a fear campaign based on a farrago of lies and a swill of wilful disinformation eagerly relayed by Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Stokes and others. Honk. Welcome to Tampa 2.0, the Coalition’s all-new recycled Kill Bill campaign with embedded media.

ScoMo will kill Bill Shorten on border security. You can read about his tactical genius in The Australian or anywhere in mainstream media, (MSM). All follow Murdoch’s lead. Nothing is said of ScoMo’s contempt for parliament, no protest over a PM with so little regard for democracy that he said weeks ago if the bill was lost he’d just ignore it.

ABC News Sunday night even has a segment allowing ScoMo to trash Labor for being weak on border protection after some nonsense poll that Kerry Stokes’ IPSOS gets up.

You guessed it. There’s a bounce for the Coalition! Already editors say it’s caused by Labor’s position on asylum-seekers. Cranking up the fear factor as we steam back to the future, is Attorney-General, Christian Porter, a name Charles Dickens would have loved for any character with a compassion bypass or a Centrelink, Robo-debt, bagman.

“Hundreds of asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru will undergo fresh security and character assessments as the Government prepares for an “influx” of medical transfers, AG Christian Porter says, reports Jane Norman for our ABC.

There’s no time to ask him about his contempt of parliament in trying to collude with Speaker, Tony Smith in supplying not-to-be-tabled legal opinion that Labor’s proposed Medivac Bill was unconstitutional.

In a rare win for democracy, Tony Smith tables the opinion that the Medivac Bill required doctors to be paid and therefore is unconstitutional because the senate can’t make bills which involve increasing expenditure. Labor’s response is an amendment stating that panel doctors would not get paid; making their positions voluntary. It is beyond scandalous for an Attorney-General to connive at such tactics but he’s not part of the MSM narrative.

No right of reply from Labor. Just another reminder of the way our national broadcaster has been subjugated through funding cuts and PM and Cabinet phone calls to the top floor of a corporatised ABC. Journalists’ union the MEAA is calling for a shake-up of the ABC to try and protect it from political interference, seeking a Board with more “independent, accountable and experienced” directors. It won’t happen under this government.

In a moment of epic self-parody, Communications Minister, Fifield offers to do an independent review himself.

Little is made of the Coalition’s historic defeat in the House over the Medivac Bill. Yet others are on their way. There’s a bill about making small business lawsuits more small-business friendly where they won’t have to pony up if they lose the case, which they mostly do, against a corporation with a big enough kitty to buy the best silks.

Disgraced former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce, making a comeback, is prepared to rip the Coalition apart to get this bill through he says (or words to that effect) if need be because when he’s not spruiking for SANTOS or backing Big Cotton against the survival of the Murray Darling Basin, he’s always been a supporter of the little man.

Barnaby is also keen on the big stick, until recently part of the Coalition energy plan – it doesn’t have a policy but it does have a series of postures. Errant companies would be forced to get their prices down and to lift their game. Now work experience treasurer Josh Frydenberg has tried to soft pedal the hard paddle. Joyce won’t let him. Expect a hoo-ha over the big stick resolved by some judicious media leaking of Barnaby-busting bombshells.

There’s also Greens’ Senator Jordon Steele-John’s motion calling for a Royal Commission into the abuse of the disabled. Expect ScoMo to embrace it now and just shelve it next to The Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry which will also gather dust unless he can do something to nobble industry super – unlikely now the Coalition is a minority government.

Braver to shelve rather than face another embarrassing defeat, or risk being seen to lack mettle or bottle.

By Sunday, it’s all ScoMo’s show. Super-ScoMo will run rings (of steel) around a limp Labor leader who

“…cannot be trusted on our borders and Australia cannot trust Bill Shorten on border protection,” despite their being not a cigarette paper between the two parties on the absurd fiction of border protection.

Protect 25,760 km of coastline? We can’t even protect Australia’s greatest river system, the Murray Darling Basin. And isn’t Australia over the demonising of refugees? Polls suggest that we have rediscovered our humanity. (Unless you count Kerry Stokes’.)

But not ScoMo. Dropping his bundle, Morrison unleashes a Kill Bill missile of character assassination, mangling metaphor, misquoting mentor John Howard and causing untold collateral damage to his own credibility.

Yet it’s a one stop shop. The sloth in ScoMo is cheered that all he need do is assassinate Shorten’s character. Paint him as an untrustworthy union-thug-puppet; or an arriviste who is somehow also flexible enough to be a class traitor who parks his shoes under the Pratt family table, (a Turnbull-News Corp creation), a straw man which those sedulous echo-chambers the ever-reliable and totally authoritative Liberal focus groups or party polling respondents claim to loathe.

“You’ve got to have the mettle, you’ve got to have the ticker, you’ve got to have the resolve (he can’t remember bottle) to actually see things through and implement these decisions and not roll over to whatever wind might blow your way to make you compromise Australia’s national security and trade it away,” ScoMo preaches.

The unsubtle subtext is ScoMo’s public pat on the back by himself for himself about himself; his own mettle; his ticker. Where was that ticker in February 2014, when Iranian Reza Barati was clubbed to death on Manus Island? Morrison told parliament that Barati was outside the compound. It took him a week to correct the record.

Behrouz Boochani, winner of this year’s Victorian premier’s literary prize, who has been held captive on Manus for six years gives eloquent testimony to the regime of sadistic cruelty which began on Morrison’s watch.

“For days on end after the riot the Manusian residents and local guards told the refugees that they were just following orders. They claimed they were not to blame and it was all the machinations of the Australians. This was a well organised plan. They wanted to put the refugees in their place; people who only wanted to know how long they had to remain in prison. There was just one objective to their plans: to make the refugees return back to their countries by giving them a severe beating.” 

ScoMo’s campaign strategy is a captain’s call. In a flash, ambitious sycophants leap up to praise the idea. Scott Morrison? Why, he’s a virtual Clint Eastwood. The Saturday Paper’s Karen Middleton reports that former Howard (man of steel) advisor, David Gazard tells Sky News this week: “I reckon it’s ‘make my day’ [for] Scott Morrison.”

If it’s on Sky it must be true. Mainstream media, or the Rupert and Kerry Show recycle the preposterous line that being defeated on the floor of the House of Representatives allows ScoMo to focus on William John Shorten’s weak, untrustworthy character. Call out Bill for being flaky on borders and national security?

Genius. Checkmate in one move.

Yet, sadly for the Coalition, it’s not 2001. Winds of change are blowing  – and Peter Dutton’s fate blows in the wind. His dysfunctional Department of Home Affairs is again in damage control after it’s revealed that it has awarded a contract via something called a “closed tender” to Paladin, a mob which operates out of a beach shack on Kangaroo Island – which is a step ahead of the reef foundation that didn’t even apply for its $444 million grant.

Nor did The Great Barrier Reef Foundation – an idea floated by a group of businessmen while waiting for a plane – even have to go through “a tender process”. But then its board members were all models of probity, supported by corporations which are bywords for integrity and tax minimisation: BHP, Qantas, Rio Tinto, Google and Orica.

Paladin, naturally, also boasts a post office box in Singapore, a handy tax haven which does not tax capital gains.

An Australian Financial Review scoop finds that as Australians return to work, the Coalition pays $109 million to the Paladin Group, which is clearly being given a go for having red-hot go, as ScoMo loves to say. Pick winners; damn the bludgers.  Bugger any social contract nonsense that gives a go to those who can’t have a go.

Having a go? In 22 months, Paladin gets paid $423 million for security on Manus Island, an oxymoron, which includes gangs of drunken PNG soldiers who shoot up the old detention centre just to keep Australians safe.  No biggie. Peter Dutton has secret information on why that’s all OK. Psst. Paedophiles. A local five year old boy.

“There was concern about why the boy was being led or for what purpose he was being led away back in the regional processing centre,” Dutton later says although his slur is refuted by PNG police and refugees who point out that in fact a ten year old boy was escorted to the camp and given fruit to eat. Dutton never retracts his defamatory claim.

Alarmingly, Dutton, who is head of far too much to monitor any one thing, (namely ASIO, AFP, Australian Border Force, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)and Office of Transport Authority) claims he had “no sight of” Paladin’s closed tender processes.

He freely concedes to Sky News that there are “very few people who can deliver services in the middle of nowhere on an island”, which is his nuanced way of blaming his departmental officers and handballing to Christian Porter who dutifully appears on ABC Insiders saying how fair dinkum Paladin really is. Nothing to see here.

Perhaps “Dutts”, as he is known to his mates, is working on a reverse Nuremberg defence: “Don’t blame me. I was just giving the orders.”

Whatever the explanation, OSB’s obsession with secrecy began with Scott Morrison who elevated his rank and status as Minister for Immigration into that of a tinpot military commander who was immune to the requirements of mere ministerial responsibility, an unaccountability, he buttressed by pretending that any information would be seized upon by demon people-smugglers. (DPS) Beyond despicable, DPS were so savvy with their depravity that they even had a “business model”.

And probably a Post Office Box in Singapore.

Answering questions was out of the question. ScoMo just gave up giving press briefings. Now he just harangues, sloganeers and evades questions unless it’s an on-air rub-down with Ray Hadley. Dutts just loves them.

Dutts is no slouch, either, when it comes to getting aeroplane people settled here. Who would have thought that people smugglers would switch to planes after boats? Or people would smuggle themselves, to the profit of people-smuggler Alan Joyce and his antique QANTAS fleet?

Well, certainly not Dutts but at least he can claim the record for biggest asylum-seeker migration. In 2017-18, 27,931 asylum seekers flew in to claim protection visas.

Only 18,365 asylum seekers came by boat in 2012/2013 at the peak of the inflow in the Gillard/Rudd years. Clearly, this fact is too nuanced for ScoMo and co, and well beyond the remit of News Corp.

The government’s argument – if we may flatter it with that term – has more holes in it than any of the bodies in the execution of Corleone’s enemies scene in The Godfather.

May 2018, 460 people are moved to Australia.  By last week, it’s 879.  But there’s no new flotilla of boats. Not a glimpse even of a demon people smuggler’s horns. Big Brother Scott mounts the mother of all scare campaigns including a video remake of K. Rudd’s 2013 classic sermon, No boat people will ever be settled in Australia!

Even more damaging for Morrison is that his claim to have stopped the boats is fraudulent. As John Menadue and others continue to point out, the boats stopped when Kevin Rudd declared in July 2013 that no asylum seeker would be settled in Australia. Yet a ruthlessly pragmatic Coalition, seized the chance to claim victory.

Fellow imposter, Tony Abbott, of course, needed to create his own high camp paramilitary force, giving his political chicanery high-sounding nonsense titles – Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB) – even though dealing with refugees in boats could be handled by our navy, in co-operation with Indonesia. But (OSB) took time.

And money. (Now “offshore detention”, or illegal, indefinite imprisonment in gulags -to cut the double-speak – costs over $4 billion a year.) And a shift in focus to boat turn- backs in violation of UN 1951 convention which has at its core a commitment to prevent refoulement. Our boat turnbacks violate this core principle.

We cheerily turn back boatloads of refugees; returning them to their persecutors. Innocents then face imprisonment, torture and death.

Stopped the boats? Operation Sovereign Borders did not gear up to turn back the first boats until 19 December 2013, when boat arrivals dropped from 48 in July 2013 to only seven in December 2013. That Morrison and Abbott stopped the boats is a lie we’ll hear a lot between now and the election. It needs to be called for what it is.

Similarly, the flood of asylum-seekers which the Coalition will continue to blame on Labor was, in fact, boosted by Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison in a cynical ploy to embarrass Labor. John Menadue sums up,

“Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison in Opposition gave the green light to people smugglers by opposing the implementation of the Malaysia Arrangement in September 2011.  Following the defeat in the Parliament of legislation to give effect to the Malaysian Arrangement there was a dramatic increase in boat arrivals. Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison gave the green light to people smugglers to really step up their activities.”

Thursday, Morrison’s macho plan is to filibuster. Fatuous Dorothy-Dixers and haranguing extend question time to a record 150 minutes to avoid Labor’s motion for a Royal Commission into abuse in the disability sector. It shows contempt for parliament process and an epic thumbing of the nose at our democracy which is a living, evolving and vulnerable institution- not as is commonly supposed – an immutable good or some fixed asset.

Stunt-master ScoMo, later, says he feared Labor would pull a stunt. Feared? Later, realising he has made a prat of himself, he says he has no problem with the legislation. He lies that he failed to receive notice of the bill. Yet the Coalition has, itself, abused disabled Australians by effectively redefining disability and tightening eligibility.

Last year, Industry Super Chief, economist Stephen Anthony reported that our federal government has created a “false economy” by restoring the budget bottom line through cuts to the disability support pension, forcing people on to the New Start allowance of $245 a week and potentially pushing more people into homelessness.

A 63% drop in successful claims for the disability pension between 2010 and 2016 was the result, Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) reports. A government that can do this is not only cruel and heartless, it is sadistic. Cue ScoMo’s gaze.

ScoMo’s eyes turn obsidian, a spectacle all the more chilling now he’s back in rimless specs after flirting with Turnbull horn-rims. Much too patrician? Clashed with his natty PRATT baseball cap?  His inner junkyard dog?

(Pratt Holdings paid no tax 2015-6 on a total income of $2.75bn yet donated $850 million to political parties.)

722 major corporations pay no corporate tax in Australia in 2016-17, despite one hundred firms reporting earnings  of over $1bn in total income. No problem. The Coalition simply takes more -and more from the average wage and salary earner to compensate for its scandalous unwillingness to expect the top end of town to pay its fair share. And it saves a fortune; denying most disabled Australians their rightful pension.

A maestro of mixed messaging and a muddle-class champion Morrison is incensed at the passing of the Medivac Bill which permits sick asylum seekers to come to Australia for treatment subject to approval of a medical panel and then only at the Minister’s discretion.

Wednesday, he loses control. Control of the parliament; the argument and of the beast within himself.

Now, I cant describe to you the fury that is within me that I have to now go spend money on opening a centre that I didnt need to open a week ago,

ScoMo morphs into some petulant put-upon national boarding house matron pouting and sulking at the prospect of suddenly being asked to put up extra guests. But devious. He’ll reopen Christmas Island. Frog-march the sick parade malingerers there. It’s an Australian territory, so technically, he can avoid bringing them to the mainland.

Yet the Coalition was happy to blow $275,000 in legal costs last financial year on challenging, in court, requests for urgent medical transfers of asylum seekers and refugees on Nauru and Manus Island. This figure doesn’t include the cost of air ambulances and subsequent treatment for critically ill patients, figures Peter Dutton must keep secret.

This year it will be more. Morrison cannot be taken seriously if the bleats about the cost of Christmas Island.

Nor does his government’s campaign impress those sampled in opinion polls. The latest YouGov Galaxy poll shows that the PM’s-all my own work -Tampa 2.0 stunt has lost support in Queensland, which pundits insist is a key election battleground, while overlooking Victoria where fear and division failed in November’s state election.

The QLD poll shows the Coalition down 3 to 35, while on a two-party preferred basis Labor is ahead on 52, to the LNP’s 48.

Worse, William Bowe’s Poll Bludger track’s aggregate of Newspoll and Essential Research shows 53.8 to 46.2 to Labor in a solid shift to the Opposition this week, much to the chagrin of The Australian and other right-wing media who were recently crowing about a Coalition “bounce” and fondly predicting a “re-set” as The ScoMo Show. By Monday, MSM will crow about a re-set based on Kerry Stokes’ aberrant IPSOS poll.

Morrison’s view in Opposition was ‘the more boats that come the better’. Nothing’s changed. Megaphoning the re-opening of Christmas Island is a blatant invitation to people smugglers. ScoMo is a desperate, ruthless Machiavellian pragmatist bent on boosting boat arrivals. What if a turnback somehow fails?

“Be it on your head,” ScoMo shrieks. In the politics of finger-pointing, malediction always triumphs over reasoned rebuttal.  If you have any kind of authority. Instead, all Minority Morrison can manage is an impression of a grown man throwing a tantrum. Now the beast takes him over. He leers at Labor’s front bench, his face a twisted mask of malevolent guile, a transfiguration evoking a Notre Dame gargoyle or Tony Abbott axing the tax in opposition.

The beast is stirring? Could the PM mean our wage crisis; the blatant beast that devours Since 2012, wages growth has slumped to record lows, with increases of only two per cent each year – well below previous levels of 3.5 per cent. This stagnation is affecting all states and territories, all industries and all types of work.

No. It’s Pandora’s Box. Heroically, our prophylactic PM boasts to Canberra’s national Press Club not only about his government’s solicitude for our well-being – there’s a plan. “Our plan for keeping Australians safe and secure.” ScoMo government will protect us from modern living, where calamity awaits at us all at every turn.

Or mouse-click and digital swipe. “The online world has opened up a dangerous place for our children. It is the terror of parents everywhere, including Jen and me.”  It is? Seriously? The terror of parents everywhere? No chance then, of teaching your children safe online behaviours – they have courses in most state schools.

“People smuggling, natural disasters, organised crime, money laundering, biosecurity hazards, cyber security, the evil ice trade, violence against women,” he declaims. Not a word about climate change – nor its devastating effects on our fauna, our fragile ecosystems, our environment that gives us life. Nor the vast new powers of the state. And nothing at all about the rise of lobbyists, the decline of democratic process and the rapid death of a free press.

Yet you can’t fault Morrison’s cheap theatricality, his hammy patent insincerity – the pantomime villain of our political stage. What a performer!  But will his voice hold out? Can he keep this up for ninety days?

Highlight of a week of lowlights is our Shaman-PM’s thrilling ritual invocation of the beast in parliament Thursday. Calling up The Beast is a climax to his bizarro shock-horror show to a non-plussed mob at The National Press Club. ScoMo eagerly poses as our nation’s Red Cross Knight, a crusader against a world of unfathomable evil, from whom our virtuous, if not saintly, Coalition noblemen and women in government will ever protect us. Journos yawn; check their smartphones.

Protect us? It can’t protect itself. Naturally we are obliged to overlook the Morrison government’s recent run of minor setbacks, which include its engineering of its own defeat in The House, mid-week, an epic feat equalled only twice previously, in 1929 and 1941 by two other governments who’d lost the plot.

Both were promptly voted out of office. Morrison’s mob should call an election now.

The federal government is now floundering; threshing and gasping like a Murray Cod in its death throes in the shallows of a dying Murray River at Menindee. Yet stand by for a miraculous resurrection as Kerry and Rupert breathe life into the Coalition corpse.

Despite the odd spot of bother, not to mention ineptitude, impotence and difficulty with arithmetic, our Broad Church Coalition will leap to the nation’s defence with an invigorating new production, of John Winston Howard’s 2001 catchy standby, The Babies Overboard or Tampa Crisis election, a classic Liberal victory if not a stroke of genius in Liberal annals, is also wrongly credited with winning Howard the election.

The Coalition has some dazzling theatrics up its sleeve. Yet amongst the hysteria and the rabid scare-mongering there are many issues on which it is to be held to account. It cannot base an election campaign on the lie that it stopped the boats. Or the lie that medical help will cause us to be flooded with an armada of boat people.

Nor can it conduct a campaign with no policy to speak of, especially in energy, education, environment and climate change. Australians will not tolerate a ninety day episode of Kill Bill, the Coalition’s favourite show.

Above all Morrison’s government needs to be held to account for its contempt for parliament, the Paladin scandal, its refusal twenty six times to hold a Royal Commission into Banking and the secret deal that seems to have been done between Ken Henry and itself over the terms of the commission and above all its evasion of responsibility for the death of the Murray-Darling Basin system.

These are just a few issues to begin with. The last thing the nation needs is a ninety day season of Kill Bill. Or a Tampa 2.0. Or anything with Scott Morrison’s beast in it.

 

Climate change is already making a bad situation catastrophic without ScoMo’s government’s denialism.

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Photo: Helicopter battles bushfires in Tasmania’s Southwest wilderness.

“Finished, it’s finished, nearly finished, it must be nearly finished Grain upon grain, one by one, and one day, suddenly, there’s a heap, a little heap, the impossible heap.” Samuel Beckett, Endgame.

 

Politicians fiddle as Tasmania burns. Freakishly new infernos blaze across 200,000 hectares; three per cent of the Apple Isle. Climate change fuels fires which now ravage fragile, ancient, high-altitude ecosystems that are not adapted to fire at all — relict forests from when Tasmania was a part of the vast Gondwana supercontinent, 180 million years ago at least.

Tragically, stands of pencil pines and magnificent King Billy Pines are gone forever.

Like an arsonist who must return to the scene of the crime, ScoMo-FIFO pays a flying visit to the Huon Valley, Monday. His quick pit-stop photo-op earns him a serve from The Greens’ Nick McKim who tells Scott Morrison to stop the nonsense; accept responsibility. And climate science. Stop pretending the Coalition has a climate policy.

Climate science is clear that Tasmania will face more bushfires and they will be more dangerous as a result of burning fossil fuels. Fossil fools like Mr Morrison should stay out of Tasmania until they are prepared to accept the science and adopt a decent climate policy,” McKim tweets. Ouch. ScoMo sulks and sooks; gets all huffy.

Morrison’s untimely riposte is to tell Nine Media that “many bushland areas in the state were unaffected by fire.”

Yep. Another captain’s call. Be of good cheer, me hearties. There are still parts of RMS Titanic not under water.

Labor’s leader, William Richard Shorten, whose party’s policy platform promises an emissions target of a 45 per cent cut and a renewable energy target of 50 per cent by 2030, pays Tassie a visit, too. He’s been there before. He knows the Beaconsfield Mine quite well. Bill’s no dill. He gives the conflicted Liberal leader permission to get real.

“Even the most extreme climate deniers are probably at the point of acknowledging that we are having more and more extreme weather events. New weather records are being set and the economic cost is growing … I think it is legitimate to talk about climate change.” 

Shorten knows Morrison’s Coalition leadership rests on his continuing the party line of climate change denial. Just after ScoMo knifed Turnbull, deftly riding the wave of instability; cutting in on Hunt and Dutton’s plot to make “Dutts” PM, Turnbull held a final press conference before he had to leave to attend to pressing, sniping business.

Turnbull’s lame excuse for failure on climate change policy is to blame his oddball colleagues; climate change is “very hard” for the Liberal-National Coalition because MPs have “bitterly entrenched” views, “actually sort of more ideological views than views based, as I say, in engineering and economics.” Or, God, forbid, science.

Ideological? Try ignorance. Last September, Party climate guru, cuddly Craig Kelly, the electric chair of the Coalition backbench environment and energy committee stood in for a no-show Tony Abbott. He knocked the socks off Mosman’s true blue-rinse Liberal branch by claiming that fossil fuels make us safe from climate change.

“The reality is we live in a time where our generation has never ever been as safe from the climate because of fossil fuels, concrete and steel,” Kelly confabulates.

“The climate was always dangerous. We didn’t make it dangerous.”

Emboldened, by November 2018, Malco spells it out. “The truth is … the Liberal Party and the Coalition is not capable of dealing with climate change,” Turnbull tells the Australian Bar Association’s Annual Conference. He adds, helpfully, that many of his former colleagues are convinced, like Trump, that climate change is a giant hoax.

Climate science denial is a huge electoral liability, according to the polls – even if – as Pyne threatens on ABC Insiders – to wheel out their totally discredited Direct Action, Emissions Reduction Fund, boondoggle again.

(Governments pay farmers to plant trees they would have planted anyway.)

But there’s a bit of ground to make up. Forest-clearing elsewhere in the country created enough emissions in two years to wipe out the gains of the emissions reduction fund.

Bazza Cassidy politely fails to mention that after the abolition of Gillard’s price on carbon – and despite the daylight robbery of the Direct Action fantasy, our greenhouse gas emissions are sky-rocketing. As are our electricity and gas bills.

ScoMo’s burning issue is less how to protect his own and his party’s ignorance than his politically sensitive skin, an engaging conundrum given, like Craig Kelly, or Abbott, he has the hide of Dürer’s Indian rhinoceros. He’s offended by Nick McKim’s tweet, he says. It’s always about him; never climate change, policy or any other issue at hand.

The Monthly’s Sean Kelly writes brilliantly about how Scott Morrison has made a career of never being responsible for anything that goes wrong; how he adroitly always removes himself from the frame.

“Morrison, in his own telling, is so often a mere observer. When reckless and false accusations have been made, it turns out Morrison has only presented the facts as presented to him; when offensive comments have been made, he has been only the dutiful messenger of the sentiments of others; in the rare cases he has made mistakes, they have been minor errors of timing. Events occur, but Morrison’s involvement is passive, tangential, almost accidental. He may be the minister, but he is not an instigator, only a vessel through which others’ bidding is done.”

ScoMo keeps shtum about Premier Will Hodgman’s requests for help with funding beyond the Commonwealth’s National Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements (NDRRA). While the Federal Government will fund up to 75 per cent of the damage bill, it applies only to people, public assets, some business grants and the clean-up.

Thousand-year old pines, and many older, not only burn; their seeds are destroyed, their soils incinerated, notes science writer, Nature’s Emma Marris. The pines represent species which have survived only because of their cooler, wetter microclimate. Now, extinction beckons, as drier, warmer weather is wrought by global warming.

Threatened also are pockets of a smaller but no less iconic tree, the Southern Beech, Nothofagus gunni, Tasmania’s only deciduous native with its spectacular rust-red to gold Autumn display whose relatives are found in New Zealand and South America, a distribution which provided first clues that the landmasses were once joined.

Climate change also brings its own tinder box; dry lightning strikes in the Southwest, now, while nearby logging and the record dry of 2015 leaves trees which surround the alpine forest with less capacity to act as a firebreak.

“There was no doubt pencil pine was on the mainland, but the fire and climate regime meant it couldn’t persist,” says David Lindenmayer, a professor of ecology and conservation biology at Canberra’s ANU.

“If Tasmania is going to become more like the mainland, there is a distinct possibility that its time is going to be done. That is a huge loss for the world.”

But the biggest loss is to ourselves and our federal government afflicted by the mental and moral blight of denialism, men (mostly) for whom climate change is “absolute crap” to quote Tony Abbott, the most destructive MP in politics today, whose ignorance and obdurate stupidity not only cost us a carbon price, but which inspire a small band of fellow saboteurs just big enough to abort Coalition climate change, energy or environment policy.

Lyndon Schneiders, federal director of the National Wilderness Society (NWS) says the Coalition is “missing in action” after five years’ undermining environmental protections. The Society targets former PM Abbott, former environment ministers Hunt and Frydenberg in its first major federal election campaign in a decade.

Tony should worry. A poll commissioned by GetUp! has Abbott losing his seat to Alpine skier, Zali Steggall. She’s leading the former PM 54% to 46% on a two-party-preferred basis, according to a ReachTEL poll of 622 residents commissioned by activist group GetUp and published in the Sun-Herald and the Sunday Age on Sunday.

AFR’s Phil Coorey sneers on ABC Insiders Sunday, The poll’s too small to be significant. Yet in Warringah, in the 2016 election, after preferences, Abbott got 61.55% of the vote vs 38.45% for the Greens candidate.

Abbott was saved by his nemesis. Oddly, last April, it was Coorey who reported Turnbull intervened personally by making robocalls during the final week of 2016’s election campaign to help save Tony after internal party polling showed the former prime minister was so unpopular in his own seat of Warringah, he risked losing it in a landslide.

The Guardian reports that Warringah’s voters worry about climate change. “Private polling conducted for the environment movement and for the major parties suggests community concern about climate change is currently sitting at levels not seen since the federal election cycle in 2007. Abbott, our own Dr No, naturally, denies this.

Morrison’s government needs to stop obsessing over photo-op politics and look south. Drop its populist posturing and  take responsibility. But that would require an open mind. And heart. The heart of Tasmania’s World Heritage area is dying, reports Richard Flanagan. The island’s sea waters are warming at two to three times the global rate.

Giant kelp forests which once dominated Tasmania’s east coast are dying. 95 per cent have been lost over the last few decades. They may soon become extinct, despite some brilliant long-term programmes to restore them. Kelp forests are vital to forming habitats on reefs around temperate Australia, and have been home to hundreds of species of animals and plants, Hobart-born journalist Lucy MacDonald reports for the ABC.

Yet ScoMo can manage only a token show of interest. The quick change artist dons another outfit. Heads north. He lobs in Townsville wearing an unbuttoned camouflage jacket. It’s useless. His blue shirt shows through; betrays a Liberal vainly trying to hide.

He’s photographed in a tank. A tank? It’s supposed to help with his posing as one of the troops cleaning up after floods, Tuesday. Abbott couldn’t resist dressing up in uniform either. Apart from macho image, it’s a prop to help him with his faux populism, a cunning way to evade any real engagement; answer any of the real issues of the day,

“My thinking is the support for Townsville people,” he puffs in his trademark humbug. “I’m not engaging in broader policy debates today. I’m engaging in the needs of people here on the ground, people in evacuation centres.”

ScoMo never engages in broader policy debates. When not plotting, his effort goes into scripting absurd Trump-like scare campaigns to prevent Kerryn Phelp’s bill to allow medical evacuation.

We’ll be overrun with refugees. Our national security is at stake. Murderers, terrorists, rapist will all race to the mainland if we allow sick refugees medical evacuation. We’d even have to spend over a billion dollars opening Christmas Island to contain them all.

Meanwhile, Tasmania’s wilderness is burning. Our greatest river system, The Murray Darling Basin is mortally wounded by mismanagement, maladministration and a man-made drought. 1,200 billion litres of water were extracted for irrigation in 2014-15 in the Northern Basin yet only about 35 billion litres, actually arrived at Bourke from upstream in the past year, according to the latest data.

Former Water Wallah – or Water Wally, ex-minister Barnaby is in witness protection.

Freak floods deluge Townsville. Two million hectares of Queensland forest have been cleared in the past five years. In the past three years, land clearing in NSW has increased by 800 per cent.

“The Darling River is dying, the Tassie wilderness is in flames, two million hectares of forest have been cleared in the past five years in Queensland alone and iconic species such as the koala are hurtling towards extinction,” NWS head, Lyndon Schneiders says. “Climate change is making an already bad situation catastrophic.”

Schneiders says the Coalition government has been “missing in action” after five years undermining environmental protections. Of course, it’s easier and more fun to put on RM Williams gear and be photographed “drought-proofing”. Flood-busting. Deal with climate change and its dangers? Our PM and his colleagues are in denial.

Or worse. Then Environment Minister in the Abbott-Credlin government, Greg Hunt, rings Tim Flannery personally to sack him; nuke the Climate Commission in September 2013. But brute force and ignorance fails. The Climate Council rises like a phoenix from the ashes. Like its predecessor, but with no government funding, the Commission’s mission is to warn us of effects of global warming and to advise us of possible ways to deal with it.

In the meantime, Tasmania is the canary in the climate change coal mine. The federal government can gain much by pledging its unconditional support and as much expert help as it can muster. It can help in other ways, too. And it can learn a lot about climate change and the dangers of mining and gambling on people and habitat.

This week sees an ANU report once-believed pristine lakes are contaminated by mining. Then Tassie’s a case study of a government captured by corporations some even donating proceeds of gambling, revealed only this week by virtue of lax political donation disclosure laws.  But the commonwealth can’t criticise, the laws are as effective as expecting ASIC to hold our banksters to account, the most risible proposition in Royal Commissioner Justice Kenneth Hayne’s report.

Spending four million dollars, but reporting only a quarter of its war chest, Tasmanian Liberals were able to buy the election. And lease political power. Wealthy corporate donors buy influence, off the record. in other states, too. It’s a major threat to our democracy. Yet no-one can buy time from the inexorable progress of global warming.

Or fathom its cost. The Council reports that extreme weather cost Australia $1.2 billion last year alone. While ANU scientists try to break the nation’s obsession with The Clayton’s Royal Commission into Ken Henry, with a bogus claim that solar and wind will mean we meet our Paris targets, the spotlight falls on the frenzied fear-mongering of a Morrison government unable to cope with any opposition, let alone the prospect of a whole ten sitting days until the election although Tasmanian Labor’s backflip on “gaming” – industry spin for gambling, our nation’s destructive $200 billion a year love affair with the punt -does raise the attention deficit stakes for a moment.

Tasmanian Labor abandons a policy to put pokies out of pubs and clubs by 2023. Did they cave in to federal Labor policy? Were they worried they’d shut themselves out of power? Whatever the reason, Tasmanians will suffer. Tassie Labor will suffer.

Along with the rest of us. Australians lead the world in wagering a staggering $11,000, per person, per year. Gambling ruins at least 200,000 Australians; causes families to suffer. Pokies’ addiction, can lead to self-beggary, theft and interpersonal violence (IPV) commonly, misleadingly, termed “domestic” rather than male violence.

Another ANU report, this week, has it that Tasmania, Hodgman’s Poker Machine state (Inc), a rambler and gambler’s natural paradise, has poisoned the water of its Highland Lakes – but it’s OK because it happened long ago.

Allowing miners to freely use lead, copper, arsenic and cadmium to extract precious metals, is a legacy of the environmental disaster our nation knows as “the mining industry”, Hodgman, dynastic Premier of the land of the eternal punt, takes pains to explain it’s just the way they did things in the past, by which he means 1893-1994.

Mining’s toxicity is a century old mystery? But there’s good news, too. TasWater says it’s OK; boosting Tassie and the nation’s global reputation as a budget holiday destination, with only 2000 natural species at risk of extinction, a third world country where it’s safe to drink the water – if you’re OK with slow, expensive, NBN broadband.

Fortunately, our country’s run of luck continues, The Royal Commission into Ken Henry has a happy ending. Banksters are sent to the naughty corner to be licked to death by ASIC, our toothless corporate watchdog which Kenneth Hayne criticises for hopping into bed with banks rather than litigate.

The Royal Commission show helps distract us all from our self-inflicted and our natural disasters and the love that dare not speak its name; our coal-lobbyists cum leaders’ climate change denying nihilism.

Two cheers for Kenneth Hayne! Happily there’s a big win for banks this week as Hayne’s Clayton’s report, a thorough flogging with a wilted celery stick, recommends that borrowers pay brokers’ fees upfront, a nip and tuck in the usury and extortion racket that is our banking oligarchy that will save our banksters $3 trillion dollars

Deputy PM Macca (Michael McCormack almost has the last word –“We are looking at climate, of course, (but) climate has been changing since year dot,” he says, before adding: “We don’t want to go down a path of renewables, which is not going to solve anything apart from de-industrialising Australia and making sure we don’t do manufacturing here and pushing electricity bills into the unaffordable state.”

Put that in your coal-fired chimney-pipe and smoke it. But lucky last word goes to cranky Kenneth Hayne whose wonderful performance of forensic irritability during the hearings, most capably assisted by the formidable Rowena Orr, was mistaken for the prelude to heavy penalties for banksters clearly capable of criminal misconduct.

His image has tarnished rapidly since the ACTU obtained a copy of a letter from Ken Henry to Josh Frydenberg laying down the scope and time frame of the commission. We’ve been had. Who knows if longer, better resourced commission would have led it to impose more serious penalties; more effective deterrents. What’s sure is that the government got the report it wanted rather than the one the industry needed.

“Experience shows that conflicts between duty and interest can seldom be managed,” Hayne observes. “Self-interest will almost always trump duty.” 

The Royal Commission, our favourite national theatre?

hayne and frydenberg

There is no scientific, intelligible or rational justification put forward for the reduction of 70 GL. The obvious inference to be drawn is that political considerations largely drove the NBR, not science. This is not only unlawful, but is deplorable.

Bret Walker SC, MDBA Royal Commission Report, p.63

The reek of corruption and decay mingles with the stench of another mass fish kill at Menindee this week. The  nation gags in shock and disbelief as not one, but two, of our favourite forms of national theatre, the Royal Commission Show, conclude with the obligatory self-flagellation in the form of tabling excoriating reports. Traditionally, this leads to a frenzy of self-exculpation in the uplifting and compelling “Don’t blame me” chorus.

Officials, everywhere, are left gasping for breath; floundering like a forty-year old Murray Cod left to perish on the bed of a Darling River whose waters have been sold off to profit wealthy rice and cotton farmers upriver.

In his report, SA’s royal commissioner, Brett Walker, SC, a distinguished constitutional lawyer, throws the book at NSW and Federal governments for their “gross negligence” and their failure to follow scientific advice.

In particular, he is scathing about how MDBA modelling failed to factor in the effects of climate change certainties into how much water was a “sustainable” amount to be taken from the river system for commercial reasons. The failure is systemic, historically traceable to at least 2009. It may prove catastrophic. Walker notes, however,

“The damage and depletion of the water resources, ecosystems and biodiversity of the Murray-Darling Basin since European colonisation, and the trauma and dislocation experienced by Aboriginal people, are part of the same story. The necessary work to protect and restore the river systems must go hand in hand with the necessary measures to include Traditional Owners centrally in decision-making about water planning and management.”

Walker castigates politicians for their “head in the sand” attitude to climate change and also buckets the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) for its unfathomable predilection for secrecy; its history of “grossly inadequate disclosure, explanation and consultation” in the handling of its responsibilities under the Water Act (2007) which regulates how water is allocated to irrigation or environmental flows in Australia’s largest river system.

In a world record water rort, The Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has contrived to lower the required environmental release; deny the river its allotted 70 billion litres of water. No wonder fish are dying. Yet NSW wants to take even more.

NSW regional water minister and deputy leader of NSW Nationals, Niall Blair cops a personal serve, Friday, from Walker for his “grossly irresponsible” and crude remarks in promising to stick the state plan in response to the Menindee kill. Anything less would “blow up” the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

It’s an alarming sign of the inertia, ignorance and hostility to sound advice as much as the vested political interests that threaten the adoption of the Royal Commission’s recommendations.

Blair wants to press on with the controversial Menindee Lakes project, a water-saving scheme to reduce the size of the lakes and empty them more often, a proposal which federal authorities caution would not help the environment – or as Walker puts it “threatens the national plan to save the Basin from irreparable degradation”.

NSW Nationals worry they’ll lose the local seat of Barwon as a result of the fish kills. Enter The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party whose donors include The Shooting Industry Foundation, a well-funded lobby group for relaxed or “simpler” gun laws and more gun sales. The party’s website takes pot-shots at “extreme” animal activists.

All up, the Shooters just shriek conservation and climate change science. Far too green for a National Party voter.

On the federal stage, The Nationals’ Big Dave Littleproud, Minster for Agricultural Resources and Water rorts, walks tall on the side of climate science denial. Last August, he told a Q&A audience and ABC viewers always eager to hear ignorance paraded in the interests of “balance” that he doesn’t understand the link between climate change and drought. Making the link is a “big call” for Dave. He does not “give a rats if it’s man-made or not”.

In minutes, it’s clear that for Littleproud, burning coal is the only way to safely generate reliable electricity.

This week’s fish kill? Dave is quick to blame the drought, but Walker painstakingly details a man-made river drought.  Busts a National Party billion dollar boondoggling triumph. At least four billion dollars of taxpayers’ money, has been given by the commonwealth, over the last few years, to farmers and agricultural groups for water-saving infrastructure projects that don’t work. Water buybacks are cheaper and more effective.

Brett Walker calculates that projects cost taxpayers two and a half times more than water buybacks to put the same amount of water back into the system. Over ten years, the cost of buybacks was $2026 per megalitre. $970 was the cost of purchasing a megalitre of water through efficiency upgrades funded under the Sustainable rural water use and infrastructure program (SRWUIP). As Bernard Keane notes it’s a lot of “free money for irrigators”.

Can the boondoggle, in fact, be busted? It’s not shaping well. Does the Federal Minister have the independence, authority and experience? DLP, as Littleproud is known to mates and staff, was Barnaby’s pick, a shrewd move that excluded the vastly more experienced Darren Chester in favour of the work experience boy; someone who’d mind his seat until Barney regained the leadership and the water portfolio for himself.

And Joyce is especially proud of his boondoggle. In his 2015 white paper, he brags

The Government is funding the largest investment in upgrading and refurbishing irrigation infrastructure in Australia’s history, investing in the future of competitive irrigated agriculture, as well as community sustainability. To implement the Murray–Darling Basin Plan, the Commonwealth has committed almost $13 billion through a range of programmes in the Basin through to 2024.

Clearly, Dave’s backers give him a boost. Sort of. Fairfax’s Mark Kenny gushes in a puff-piece how the “nerdy and bookish” looking Littleproud looks much bigger in real life he is than on TV and how his electorate Maranoa, the only National electorate to return a No vote in the same sex marriage survey, is three times the size of Victoria).

But the key is SA. Premier, Steven Marshall, who hollered for a Royal Commission while in opposition, says Walker has exceeded his brief. He claims the commissioner was supposed to look at a bit of water theft and leave it that. Still, it’s something he and Scott Morrison will get around to looking at later in the year. If Morrison’s still around.

Unafraid of doubling up, he’ll also look into the legality of the plan, something, it could be argued, Walker has just done. But Steve’s a crack-up as he wraps up with his dead-pan stand-up routine: “But I can assure every single person in this state, we are taking this royal commission report extraordinarily seriously.”

“Extraordinary and serious” doesn’t begin to describe the icy look given Josh Frydenberg by Kenneth Hayne, QC, who responds with a wintry glare as Josh Frydenberg tries to trap him into a photo-opportunity, Friday, as the Commissioner hands over his report to a Minister whose government is a big part of the problem. And let’s not forget that for a year in 2005-6, Frydenberg worked for Deutsche Bank as Director for Global Banking.

Hayne’s interim report depicts a finance industry rotten at the core by a culture of rampant greed and regulators too ineffectual to do anything. It’s safe to assume the theme continues in the final report. What’s wrong?

As Hayne puts it “Too often, the answer seems to be greed — the pursuit of short-term profit at the expense of basic standards of honesty. How else is charging continuing advice fees to the dead to be explained?” the royal commissioner writes.

Frydenberg is all smiles and faux-jovial affability; a rictus of offensive charm imposed over a shit-eating grin while former High Court Justice Commissioner Kenneth Hayne AC QC, skewers him with an icy disdain.

Hayne, a blackletter, black belt, in forensic dissection of fool and fraud, quite properly deigns a request to shake hands with jolly Josh, currently our federal treasurer, who had to be dragged kicking and screaming to accept a royal commission into banking. Twenty six times you denied me, Hayne’s face says. Spin collides with integrity as Frydenberg’s charm offensive blows up in his face. It may be the most damaging encounter of a damaging week.

“Nope” is all Hayne needs to say in a salutary display of personal authority, integrity and laconic brevity when a photographer suggests the pair shake hands. It’s a refreshing contrast to our palaverous political discourse.

Frydenberg may be frozen out Friday but an eerie silence stalks the land. Two dragon-slaying royal commissioners bust banksters and expose the Murray Darling Water allocation system as a billion dollar water-rorting scandal. But no-one stands up for their nation. Instead there’s a rush of weaving and ducking for cover.

Royal Commissioners Hayne and Walker file reports no-one in government could like – even a fit and functioning NSW state or federal government that could be held to account. There’s a slow bicycle race by states and Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to say the least they can. Then it’s only to disavow responsibility.

Faux-Mo, our PM for standards, applies the choke-hold. He won’t release Hayne’s report, until Monday, giving himself  time to remind us how to trust our banks. Swiftly, shiftily, he fills the gap with his own spin on that old standby trope – the table – as if a royal commission alleging criminal negligence and fraud is somehow an ambit claim; a matter for negotiation. He also pretends he doesn’t know what’s foreshadowed in the interim report.

“It will be a question of what suggestions or measures they put on the table but I will be very mindful that I want to see the oil that lubricates our financial system – which is access to credit – continues to flow, otherwise the consequences would be quite significant,” Mr Morrison tells Nine’s increasingly pliant newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Brisbane. He’s protecting the banks before the report is even published.

ScoMo’s propaganda 101 technique misrepresents the issue as a choice between not being able to borrow at all and seeing banks held accountable for a series of criminal acts exposed by the commission which include charging fees to dead people and banks and super funds charging fees for no service. As Bill Shorten says on ABC Insiders, Sunday, the choice ScoMo offers is between an unethical banking system or no system at all.

Prosecutions may well be one outcome; civil or criminal referrals to state prosecutors could be made.

On the water front, or ruined, dried-up backwater as it is now, there’s another massive fish kill at Menindee but shit happens according to David Littleproud, the former rural bank manager, whose RM Williams gear helps show he really knows the many hardships faced by those who live in the bush.

“Save the Gravy” Dave fronts the cameras again; reminds greenies, Guardian-readers and townies to stop carping. Again, the choice he offers is between a corrupt, unethical system and no river water allocation scheme at all.

“The basin plan is lawful and was lawfully made”, he blusters, despite Brett Walker SC’s excoriating report which accuses the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) of negligence and being “incapable of acting lawfully”.

There’s little chance Littleproud has time to read the report. Gross maladministration, negligence and unlawful actions by Commonwealth officials are just some of the multi-billion dollar failures of the MDBA to save Australia’s largest river system, according to Walker. Walker has to name names, including, of course that of Barnaby Joyce.

Star of the aquatic show, former Minister for water-rorting, Barnaby “boondoggle” Joyce is invisible, either white-anting Michael McCormack or busy showing prospective vendors around his property at Gwabegar which he bought for 12 years ago for $572,000 but must now sell, for family reasons, for a modest $878,000.

Those interested should note “the dams are full and cattle and sheep prices are very good”, a detail which will greatly cheer other farmers in drought, especially those downstream on the Darling. Above all the two parcels of land are openly advertised as being covered by an as-yet unused coal-seam gas petroleum exploration licence, PEL 428, owned by resources group, Comet Ridge, a detail old Barney used to shy away from.

Nothing to see here, says a government which has nothing to say for itself either. ScoMo’s “major” speech, another modest “headland”, “landmark” production, Tuesday, gets even less attention. Voters can’t stop yawning.

By Sunday, Nine newspapers publish a drop announcing that the last kids will leave Nauru for the US. Heaven. Not only will it ensure they don’t see their families, they can join government workers in living off food stamps. How does this square with “Peter Dutton has revealed that 13 refugee children on Nauru are with parents deemed national security risks by the US” late last year, tweets Michelle Grattan. But no-one’s over-impressed.

No-one listens. Fewer take ScoMo seriously.  John Hewson jokes the PM’s “preaching to the deserted”. His slogans about growing 1.2 million jobs don’t match the lived daily reality of voters whose wages have flatlined for years.

Experts point out that jobs are not created by governments overnight. It takes decades to create the conditions favourable to a buoyant labour market. Others note that the promise is hollow. Our average job growth is around 200,000 a year for the last ten years. And how many of these are full time? Another evangelical gets this handball.

Party paragon of integrity and icon of probity, the unofficial minister for truthiness, Stewart Robert, is brilliantly deployed to assure voters that all the new jobs will be part-time, a claim he has to retract. Quickly. A truer figure, he admits would be around half. Even Leigh Sales is on to how ScoMo talks out of the back of his neck, pointing out to him that half his jobs will be taken up by migrant workers. Yet Morrison has promised to cap immigration.

Diversion! Furiously, Morrison flogs Labor with the big stick he has left over unused from his power company standover stunt. Energy corporations are laughing all the way to the bank. Energy Australia posted a 200% profit last August, a rise in earnings for the Hong Kong-based utility company from $129 million to $375 million.

Of course the taxpayer effectively gives our battling power companies generous support. Investigative journalist, Michael West reports Victoria Power Networks, paid no tax at all on a four year income of $6,120,404,139.

It should pay tax. Just the health problems caused by coal-fired power stations cost the nation $2.6 billion a year.

As a user of fossil fuels, Victoria Power and Energy Australia are both also eligible for the fabulously generous fuel tax subsidy scheme, and a range of other subsidies, which, last year, totalled $11,692 million dollars – that’s around $12 billion each year that won’t be spent on schools, hospitals or age pensions.

Labor will put up your power bills. Taxes.  Run by union thugs. Tie businesses up in union knots. You can’t trust ’em. He fondly reprises the golden oldies from Abbott’s glorious but pyrrhic victory of 2013 when all you had to do was oppose everything Labor proposed – and promise to scrap a carbon tax that wasn’t a carbon tax to lower electricity bills – which it could never do and lie about no new taxes. And make up absurd scares.

Whyalla was going to be wiped off the map. Lamb roasts would cost $100. Barnaby Joyce’s incredible carbon tax-boosted price estimate of abattoirs having to charge $575,000 per beast at least is worth a re-run, ScoMo.

A fatuous two per cent News Poll rise puts lead in ScoMo’s pencil. But that’s only two party preferred. His approval rating is slumping along with his spectacularly bad captain’s call to parachute Warren Mundine into Gilmore. ScoMo sends an email the Gilmore Liberal Party, half of whom have resigned in disgust. It’s another master-stroke. Sheer genius. The old impersonal unsolicited self-justifying generic email template is bound to win everyone back.

Tuesday, The Australian reports its latest Newspoll is a “lifeline” for Morrison, with a “bounce” in the polls – a lift of two points on a two-party preferred basis (Labor on 53, the Coalition on 47). It’s coy about how many it contacted but typically it contacts up to 2000 people – a sample size with an error rate of two to three per cent.

Once this is factored in, the so-called bounce of two per cent immediately is meaningless. A distracting public stoush always works wonders. Team ScoMo brawl openly over rats in the ranks as lone wolves appear.

At war with itself over climate change, energy, refugees, the government is hopelessly divided. Homophobic reactionaries still smart from losing their gay marriage gambit, but have yet to demand action on the religious freedoms ruse to reintroduce discrimination. The election plan is to bag Labor and to kill Bill Shorten. And scare. Scrapping dividend imputation and reducing negative gearing will cause the economy to tank.

Christopher Pyne says that Labor will cause a recession which is the Liberal party version of Pauline Hanson’s eminently sensible plan to get everyone to use up all the electricity to bring the grid down.

Truly sensible would be for ScoMo to call an election as soon while he still has candidates to field. Delaying further is not going to give him any election policies, his party’s too divided for that. And the hard graft of dealing with the Royal Commissions – both its recommendations but especially the issues they address cannot simply be left.