In an accurate assessment of the extraordinarily moribund performances of the federal Coalition government, in particular, and its Labor Opposition during the COVID-19 pandemic, Laureate Fellow in economics at Queensland University, John Quiggin, wrote in the recent issue of The Monthly, under the heading, Dismembering Government, "why the Commonwealth can't do anything anymore".
That, of course, comes down to leadership and as Friday on my Mind has persistently argued since the Conservatives foolishly allowed John Howard to continually keep the much smarter Peter Costello out of the top job, and allowed political disasters of theirs like Tony Abbott, incumbent Scott Morrison and, more recently, Peter Dutton to wreak further havoc.
In his assessment, Quiggin found Morrison's notorious remark, "I don't hold a hose, mate", made from the comfort of his Hawaii hotel to a Sydney radio station at the height of the bushfire inferno in 2019-20, "was widely seen as an evasion of personal responsibility in a national emergency".
It wasn't the last reckless smart-alec remark from "flapper" Morrison.
More importantly, though, Quiggin wrote: "It could equally be regarded, as pointed out by the historian, Stuart McIntyre, as an expression of the current federal government's incapacity to undertake essential services (which) has again been in full view during the pandemic".
Waleed Aly, in the same issue, described the Coalition's bumbling this way: "In America, the pandemic has expanded politics, while in Australia, politics is shrinking; from the beginning, Scott Morrison showed no desire to alter the ideological terrain".
That's not surprising.
He could not give the states and territories responsibility fast enough for floods, fires, and the pandemic (amongst heaps of other botched government duties, jobs, tasks and roles).
The Ruby Princess disaster could have been averted had Morrison's Home Affairs minister, Dutton, shown vision and sent it packing instead of letting 2700 passengers off in Sydney, some already with COVID symptoms.
Morrison's mob made it look as though it was all former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian's fault but she, too, like Morrison, was a country mile behind vaccination than all the other states and territories.
While it may never be known how many thousands of inter-state people caught COVID as a result of the Morrison government's failure to have sufficient quarantine facilities made available within Australia, the Ruby Princess might have been safely re-directed had it been concerned about facilities for ordinary people.
Paul Bongiorno, a veteran of the Canberra Press Gallery, put it succinctly when summarising the woeful state of the major parties and their capabilities: "Labor is yet to settle on a (climate) target but the argument for being bolder is gaining traction. No one wins the next election by fighting the last one. This is true of Morrison, but equally true of Albanese".
What Bongiorno did point out, and it is significant, is that the recent Essential Poll found that 45 per cent of Australians think it is time to give someone else a go at running the country; adding that Lord Deben, chairman of Britain's independent committee on climate change, "would find it hard to disagree with Albanese when he says, "this government isn't up to the task of governing Australia in this century".
Which leads us to what The Guardian's experienced commentator, Anne Davies, said about the current 40-plus community candidates focusing on Coalition seats in NSW and Victoria.
"The difference this time is a road-tested model of how to mobilise local communities and run a campaign," she wrote.
Simon Holmes a Court and his Climate 200 group are leading the community groups, which Davies reports: "Are turbocharged by the Liberals' slowness in adopting a net zero target for 2050 (also) by the rolling scandals in federal politics".
These include - as John Hewson numbered in The Saturday Paper - "various pork barrelling efforts, with rorts for sports, car parks and regional programs, to Morrison's continuing failures to deliver an effective national integrity and anti-corruption commission".
Meanwhile, these words from Holmes a Court: "Our impetus comes from the grassroots. We are not starting a campaign, we are helping to turbocharge them. They rise up in seats where people feel very strongly they are being misrepresented".
"Flapper" Morrison's recent quip that "people want governments out of their life" is quite misleading.
What people want is half-decent representation from competent MPs, not major party seat warmers.
As for the Morrison government's self-styled "good economic managers" label; this from 30-years' Canberra media veteran Crispin Hull: "I wouldn't trust this lot with a kid's piggy bank".
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