Governments’ obfuscation is a major factor behind the public’s frustration with politics and politicians.
Alannah MacTiernan is on a mission in Europe to talk up Western Australia’s renewable hydrogen industry. Where has all this hydrogen stuff been hiding for so long?
Anthony Albanese has a six-point plan for the National Disability Insurance Scheme, but he can’t remember what it is because it’s more about the vibe than the six points.
Scott Morrison thinks investigating possible corruption by a dodgy politician and secret ex-boyfriend of the former NSW premier constitutes a kangaroo court. Shouldn’t he wait until the inquiry is finished?
As a columnist, and long-time observer of the political class, it is occasionally better to muse about it all rather than go through the torment of a forensic analysis.
A greatly missed friend and colleague of mine, Matt Price, was a master at seeing through the folly of politics and ensuring his newspaper readers could both learn from and laugh at his insights.
Ahead of the latest state budget, it perhaps dawned on me more than ever how disingenuous governments are in the lead-up to unveiling their economic blueprint.
On one hand they refuse to answer any questions about the budget, saying all will be revealed on the day, and then cynically and systematically they release certain details for their own advantage.
Call me naïve for even raising that hypocrisy, but I still remember when a Perth journalist was hauled before the Corruption and Crime Commission after publishing budget information in what was dubbed a ‘serious leak’ worthy of an investigation under the criminal code.
“Section 81 prohibits unauthorised disclosure, by a person employed in the public service, of official information which it is their ‘duty’ to keep secret and carries a penalty of two years’ imprisonment,” the 2004 inquiry warned. “The state budget information would fall within this criterion.”
But if the budget leak is, let’s say, a controlled leak (complete with a press release) then it’s not a leak at all. It’s a government announcement.
As Sir Humphrey Appleby so eloquently put it in Yes, Minister: “The ship of state is the only ship that leaks from the top.”
Even before the state budget came down, we knew that the ailing health system would receive a further $3.4 billion cash splash over and above the usual $10 billion budget.
If throwing money at this unwieldy bureaucratic beast doesn’t work, then it’s a good job we have surpluses to squander. All hail iron ore royalties.
Regarding the budget, on the federal front it has been quaint watching Mr Albanese talk about federal Labor’s objective to increase people’s wages when the McGowan government wore its public sector wage restrictions as a badge of honour up until the end of 2021.
The premier held the line against agitated unions to rein-in debt. If Mr Albanese wins on May 21 he will inherit debt heading towards $1 trillion with no serious plan to curtail the spending.
On that six-point NDIS slip up, which came close to topping the opposition leader’s unemployment rate blunder, it signalled to me that Mr Albanese’s heart isn’t in this election fight.
It’s hard to put my finger on it, but the wannabe prime minister gives the impression of being an accidental candidate. It’s as though he’d rather pick up his guitar and enjoy more sunsets with new partner Jodie Hayden.
Mr Morrison, on the other hand, has all the evangelical enthusiasm needed to carry him to the promised land of Kirribilli House for a third term.
As often happens, though, governments lose elections rather than oppositions winning them, and the Coalition’s back is to the wall once again.
The percentage of undecided voters – and the number of ‘teal’ independents standing in seats the Liberals must hold onto – are only adding to the uncertainty for the Morrison camp.
If a hung parliament is the outcome, and enough of the climate action and integrity independents win seats, then Labor is in the box seat to form a minority government.
Mr Morrison has repeatedly said the federal integrity commission model his government put forward, which is roundly condemned as weak, is the best he has to offer.
Regardless of that, in condemning a live Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into issues that in part affects former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian, Mr Morrison shows an inability to remain impartial.
Is it any wonder ICAC commissioner Stephen Rushton took aim at the prime minister and others by describing them as “buffoons”?
“To make an uninformed comment that this commission is a kangaroo court has a real capacity to undermine the commission’s work,” Mr Rushton said.
Matt Price loved the word buffoon. We’ll save green hydrogen for another day.