The latest Quarterly Essay is by Erik Jensen, and entitled “The Prosperity Gospel: How Scott Morrison won and Bill Shorten lost”. It’s not an argumentative essay – it’s an essay that very much lets you form your own opinion about the last Federal election result, based on Mr Jensen’s interviews throughout the campaign trail.
Interestingly, Mr Jensen notes that Bill Shorten was very candid with him, but Scott Morrison refused to be interviewed directly.
As many I believe are, I am still upset by the election result, because I thought Australia was ready for reform. It was a choice between consistency with our current lack of progress on social issues, and a new government who was going to attempt some reforms. Mr Jensen notes:
…tragedy is what happens when half the work is comfortable.
So Australia voted to be comfortable, and have consistency, instead of deciding to have the hard conversations and push some progressive changes.
I didn’t follow the campaign during the lead up to the election. I read a couple of deeper articles about Bill and Scott, and did some research on each of the major Party websites, as well as some of the minor Parties.
Here’s what didn’t filter into my knowledge, and perhaps was missed by some others:
- how religious Scott Morrison is, and how it appears to give him extraordinary confidence, like he’s chosen by God! Conversely, how Bill Shorten appeared to be seeking approval, and didn’t believe in himself (he had doubt). Shorten’s quote:
It is fundamentally two different view of leadership, him and I. He thinks it’s all about him, and I’m proud to lead a united, talented team.
- that Labor’s budget and costings showed a surplus of $21.7 billion by 2022, which was more than twice the prediction of the Coalition’s budget. I knew Bill Shorten was proposing sweeping reforms to tax and spending, and that the Coalition had latched onto the proposal to change franking credits as a ‘retirement tax’. But it appears that the Coalition’s incorrect message cut through, and Labor’s truth couldn’t.
- that Scott Morrison now admits that he believes in climate change, although clearly prioritises the economy (despite promising to delivery less than Labor in terms of infrastructure, investment and surplus!
- Shorten won both debates over Morrison.
- The timing of the approvals of the Adani and Yeelirrie projects by the Coalition create suspicion, but have somehow just slipped away. Similarly, the Coalition’s water buy-back deals with Angus Taylor are suspicious – a deal worth $80m, which was with an associate and above market vale! A tinge of corruption lingers around the Coalition, and yet the right-wing media leave it alone to focus on brutalising Labor.
Another great line from Jensen:
This whole election, [Morrison] makes a virtue of the unremarkable. He has nothing to sell and the emptiness can be mistaken for honesty.
This essay is within with such amazing observations and beautiful prose. Yet, it gives me very little answers, is just reminds me of how disappointed I am with the government and the election.