Bestinau got that-
South Australian Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas has just won an election. Rather convincing. Prime Minister Scott Morrison is trying to win one. Given the help he’s been getting from his own side of politics lately, he’d probably settle for an inconclusive win.
Malinauskas is full of new enthusiasm and big ideas. Scott Morrison, like his government, just looks tired and, very often, cranky.
The South Australian Prime Minister came to the National Press Club in Canberra this week, eager to get some fresh ideas on the national agenda before we all disappear into the maelstrom of an election campaign.
The prime minister toured the country again announcing exceptionally large bundles of money for infrastructure in target voters, while apparently having to be dragged kicking and screaming to give more money to people whose lives have been devastated by floods.
The contrast in the Prime Minister’s approach between infrastructure and flooding is one of those mysteries of modern Australian politics.
Malinauskas spoke of the role of governments, noting that while he was “reluctant to make comparisons between World War II and the pandemic because they are very different things”, Australia had not had a moment like this – when “a global shock turned the way we think about things” – since 1945. Malinauskas said:
“Think of the thousands of companies that voluntarily closed their doors during the pandemic, not knowing what happened next. Think of all the workers who gave up their income, not for their sake but for the sake of others. These are people who made great sacrifices in the course of the pandemic.”
People want to know what the legacy of COVID will be, he said. “Is it going to be more of the same, just going back to where we were before – wage stagnation and a less fair economy? An incredibly tumultuous state of affairs in our politics? Or is it actually going to be a legacy that will lead to a brighter future?” he said.
“There is a hunger – in my opinion – a hunger for ambition and audacity in policy, a vision for the future of the country.”
The Trillion Dollar Question
Morrison seems to have a different view of time. He says the elections are “a choice, not a referendum”. (Subtext: It shouldn’t be a referendum on his government.)
“It is a choice between the Liberal Party and the Nationals and Labor backed by the Greens,” he said on Friday.
†[A choice between] our plans for the future and our record of economics and national security, and plans that we know nothing about from Labor and the Greens. They are unknown. It’s a choice between what you know and what you don’t know.”
The trillion dollar question of the election is whether voters want more of “what we know”: whether it will indeed be a referendum on the Morrison administration.
So, what do we know about this government on the eve of the election?
We know it stems from a dysfunctional political party, so divided that it was willing to risk going into the election without a mass of candidates in NSW. And we know that quite a few members of the government and the party have been willing to give an unflattering character assessment of the Prime Minister on the eve of an election.
We have a tendency to use taxpayers’ money for targeted voters, which is quite staggering.
Prime Minister’s stubbornness about funding for flood victims
The Financial Review reported this week that more than $1.3 billion of the $3.3 billion in infrastructure spending allocated to NSW — of the $17.9 billion announced nationally in the budget — has been allocated to Dobell, to the central coast of NSW, held by Labor by a margin of only 1 percent.
Are the people at Dobell grateful for that? Morrison faced some rather hostile questions from reporters when he showed up there this week. They pointed out that locals were still waiting for the delivery of promises from the last election, including parking spaces for commuting. And they wondered why a billion-dollar pledge for faster trains “covers 10 miles of track in this region,” but they didn’t address other slower sections of the route that previously undermined the goal of faster commutes.
On the other side of the equation is the Prime Minister’s almost incomprehensible stubbornness about funding flood victims in both NSW and Queensland.
The Prime Minister was at odds with both the coalition government in NSW and the Labor government in Queensland this week over flooding.
NSW wanted help with grants of up to $20,000 to make homes habitable again. NSW Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet was also critical of the way federal funding was distributed among some victims “based on where they live”.
In doing so, he joined a chorus of criticism, including from coalition members, of the federal government’s initial decision to increase aid to flood victims in Lismore (within a federal seat owned by the Nationals ) than the Tweed, Byron and Ballina shires (within a federal seat of Labor).
Queensland wanted help with a much larger plan – such as one used after the devastating 2011 floods in Grantham – to help people move to safer parts of the city.
Three weeks after Queensland’s request was made, the Prime Minister finally got around to saying “no” to it earlier this week, only to roll back – as he did with the NSW funding – following a public outcry.
Voters may want to see a vision for the future
The prime minister’s standard defense is to first cite the amount of money the federal government has distributed in immediate cash assistance to victims (which is the federal government’s job), and then argue that what the states are asking is outside of normal guidelines. of disaster relief agreements.
The states dispute this, based both on what the guidelines actually say about financing in exceptional circumstances, and on past practice such as Grantham.
The prime minister has suggested that states are exploiting the impending elections to “politicize” funding and put the government in a position of being forced to hand out money outside of funding guidelines.
Of course, he might have more moral – and policy – authority to argue this point, had his administration not become notorious for distributing hundreds of millions of dollars in grants from programs that either had no guidelines at all, or whose guidelines were spectacular. were ignored to push funding to targeted voters.
As Peter Malinauskas said this week, voters would like to see a boldness in policy, a vision for the future. And maybe they’d like to see it in the upcoming federal election. Even a little leadership.
In a report submitted 18 months ago, the Royal Commission on Natural Disasters, set up by the government, said that “making the nation more resilient to natural disasters will require ‘strategic imagination’ and ‘big country thinking’ – a national response and national strategic leadership”.
“The Australian Government should take the lead in developing and coordinating long-term national strategic policies aimed at strengthening Australia’s resilience to natural disasters. It is in a unique position to enhance the national picture, national risks and consequences for all Australians.”
If only this was “what we know”.
Laura Tingle is the main political correspondent from 7.30.