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  • Writer's picturePete Jonson

News&Views, No 17, May 14 - 20

Updated: May 24, 2022

The Oz, May 14-15, P 17, Paul Kelly, ‘Looks like a Labor win, but is Albanese up to it.?’

‘As a nation we have not been here before. But with three leaders’ debates under his belt Albanese has held his position as front runner, shown he is at least competitive with Scott Morrison and, after five weeks of campaigning, has defied critics who once insisted he was never a tenable candidate for the job.’

And in conclusion: ‘Does Albanese and Labor really believe in the project? Is the nuclear-powered submarine concept an article of Labor conviction? You cannot be half-hearted about this project – yet Labor’s lack of enthusiasm is palpable. AUKUS becomes a litmus test for the entire government – if Albanese wins, the story in coming years will be the discovery of where his convictions really lie’.

Greg Sheridan, P 22, ‘Can Labor keep Australia safe?

‘Managing national security is the prerequisite for credible government in Australia. Scott Morrison thinks Anthony Albanese will too soft on China and too weak to stand up to Beijing. …

‘Defence Minister Peter Dutton accused Labor’s foreign affairs spokeswomen Penny Wong of claiming she can repair all the difficulties with China through honey-eyed words in Beijing. There is no evidence Wong thinks this. It is a baseless and fairly disgraceful claim. …

In conclusion: ‘Whoever wins this election will face massive security challenges. Both sides come to the table with reasonable credibility. But that is no more than the price of entry for a searingly tough assignment.’

Peter Jenning, P 22, ‘We must learn the lessons of war from Ukraine.’

‘Finally, Ukraine's tragic experience shows a determined smaller country working with the backing of allies can put up a powerful defence against the biggest of bullies.’ …

‘Australia can turn its defence fortunes around, but it will take lateral thinking of a type not happening in official circles’.

Geoffrey Blainey, P 24, ‘A harvest for the world’.

‘The war in Ukraine is studded with shocks and surprises, The multitude of deaths, suffered especially by Russia, is much higher than was anticipated, and a global energy crisis is feared’.

‘Even food supplies in impoverished parts of the world are a potential casualty of this conflict’. …

And in conclusion: ‘The past two years have been record-breaking for Australian wheat and barley and canola crops. It is almost certain that no matching has been so productive. While the recent floods in northern NSW have been proof that our climate is somewhat devastating, and we are seen by some scientists as somewhat out of control, there is hardly a mention of the fact that the grain harvests in vast areas of inland have been wonderful and a reason for intense satisfaction.’

AFR, May 14-15, P1, ‘I’ll change: PM makes desperate attempt to convince swing voters’.

‘Scott Morrison’s concession that he needs to soften his manner is a desperate plea to undecided voters, the Prime minister’s colleagues believe.

‘With the election to be held on Saturday next week and more than 2 million people already having voted, Mr Morrison’, whose unpopularity has been the biggest drag on the Coalition’s fortunes, has promised to change if reelected.’ …

P 5, [This time [like Julia Gillard’s first period of government] ‘which was dominated by leaks, blunders and poor policies’.

‘This time the blunders and unforced errors have all been Mr Albanese’s and Mr Morrison’s has been disciplined and on message'.

‘But voters appear to be sticking with Labor – such as their personal disdain for the prime minister.’

How come Mr Morrison’s key colleagues did not suggest his mea culpa be the attempt at the start of his campaign rather than tried with a week to go?

P5, John Kehoe, ‘Save Josh, push braves the odds in leafy suburb’, another example of ‘too little, too late’.

This case perhaps may be overcome by the aims of rescuing the Treasurer’s future. Hard to imaging that the people of Kooyong would not risk booting out Josh Frydenberg, one of the best ever Australian Treasurer. Presumably a sensible Labor government might find Josh a spot in the USA or UK as Ambassador. We are far too short of real political expertise to waste a man like Josh Frydenberg.

P 42, Editorial&Opinion, ‘Who will pay for the new world of big government?

‘The worst global pandemic in a century, devastating fires, then some of the worst floods on record have left Australia open to the idea that things could be better, perhaps under an alternative government.

[I can’t help asking why the pandemic, which also gets blamed by some left-oriented citizens, is not Scomo’s fault.]

‘Australians have been willing to to be locked down and directed, and to shrug at eye-oriented quantities of government spending and debt in ways unprecedented outside the world wars , which made big government a popular cause until it collapsed in the inflationary 1970s, generating the supply-side economic revolution that belated reached Australia a decade later.

‘But in 2022 it has created a new complacency about government capacity to fix all manner of ills, such as by borrowing more from the future to put things right today, or stop anyone going backward, ever.’

Read on comrades, and you will find some very interesting thoughts and opinions, What seems likely it that countries, including Mr Biden’s USA, have mostly adopted a borrow and lend approach. Soon all this will have to be rolled back.

Australia is often believed to be one of the most successful nations. Mrs Thornton predicts the future is a severe recession. Like the recession of the 1990s that had to be apologised for, as a very sad recession.

The Oz, Monday 16, P1, Geoff Chambers, ‘PM’s pitch for young voters’.

‘Scott Morrison has ignited a final week election battle with Anthony Albanese over housing affordability after offering first-home buyers access to their super savings to crack the property market and declaring a re-elected Coalition would take the nation to “a newera of opportunity”.’

‘The Prime minister’s last-ditch push to win over younger voters and families has set up a five-day housing showdown with Labor and union-controlled super funds, which suggested would drive up prices.’

I should report that Mrs Thornton says this is a very poor Proposal that will spoil superannuation funds and greatly raise house prices.

Paul Kelly, P1, ‘A strong message that hits the mark’.

‘This was Scott Morrison’s finest campaign performance. He was fresh, energetic and strong. He talked about the future as well as the past. And he launched a final week populist war with Labor over ever getting first home buyers into the market’.

Troy Bramston, P7, We stand on the edge of the new era … at a time of great consequence and decision for our nation’.

‘Scott Morrison has audaciously ask voters to trust him with a “second term” as Prime Minister, defended his pandemic, promoted his record on economic management and defence, and offered “a big plan” and housing initiatives at the centre of his final election pitch’.

Dennis Shanahan, P 13, ‘In an unforgiving climate, Morrison warms to task at last’.

‘Scott Morrison’s Liberal launch was the best contribution he’s made to the 2022 election campaign. He established for the first time a real policy dichotomy between Labor and Coalition, showed an emergence of empathy and warmth and has ensured that he will be competitive in the last five days before the poll.’

AFR, P1, Phillip Coorey, ‘PM takes on Labor, super funds.’

‘This will be a game changer for thousands of Australian families. They sit and looks at money on their balance and go; “If only I had that to help me now”.’

‘Labor’s housing spokesman, Jason Clare, and the superannuation industry condemned the move, saying it would push up house prices and erode retirement savings’.

Jennifer Hewett, P1 and P4, ‘Morrison’s last ditch rescue plan.

‘None of the enthusiastic applause and constant repetition of the word “strong” could obscure the sense of Coalition desperation lurking outside its official campaign launch in the Brisbane convention centre’.

James Thompson, P48, ‘Buying the dip? Be very careful.’

‘Forget the crypto crash, the most worrying signal from markets last week came from stock widely considered among the safest in the world. ‘

‘Shares in Apple fell almost 5 per cent, taking its year-to-date losses to 19.2 per cent’. The slump - which would have been much worse if not for the Wall Street dead-cat bounce on Friday night, which helped Apple rise more than 3 per cent – means the tech giant’s stock is now underperforming the rest of the S&P 500 for the year.’

Where too from here? A well known expert, one Doug Ramsey, depends on where to go from here. It depends, Mr Ramsay says, on whether the US economy enters recession.

‘If it can avoid that fate, bear market averages say the S&P 500 will jut 1.1 per cent from this point. But if there is a recession, history says the S&P 500 could fall by another 21 per cent from here That would have serious ramifications for global markets, including Australia’s.’

Read on with Mr Thompson, he has interesting matters to divulge, including the drop in Iron Ore prices.

The Oz, May 17, P1, Dennis Shanahan, Paul Kelly, ‘Voters still yet to decide: PM’.

‘An upbeat and assertive Scott Morrison has vowed a Coalition government re-elected on Saturday will be ready to govern on Monday and “will know what to do” unlike the Labor Party, which has acted “like a shadow” and announced more reviews than policies.

‘Fresh from his official campaign launch on Sunday in Brisbane and campaigning in the Labor-held seat of Blair, the Prime Minister said there would be no delay if the government was returned to government because they would know what to do on Sunday or Monday.

‘Mr Morrison extended the immediate post-election agenda to the critical Quadrilateral meeting of Australian, US, Indian and Japanese leaders in Tokyo next Tuesday to discuss the regional response to China’s assertion and influence in the Indo-Pacific.

AFR, May 17, P1, Phillip Coory, ‘Bigger debt and deficits under Labor’.

Why am I not surprised? It is always thus.

The first paragraph, however, has a surprise. ‘The extra spending is necessary to lift productivity’. But what precisely does Mr Albanese actually plan to do to boost productivity?

If I felt he had something serious to do, like 50 dams to limit the east coast propensity to flood various and cities, I’d be voting for the old boy, but I am more confident he will produce ‘Bigger debt and deficits’ but no productivity.

AFR, May 17, P 46, The AFR View, ‘Australia must join the global fight for talent’.

‘Australia urgently needs more people to fill the labour shortages that are holding back the economy in areas ranging from technology to healthcare, driving up inflation and eroding the buying power of local worker’s wages.

‘Immigration needs to be ramped up to, and beyond, pre-pandemic levels to regain the economy’s growth momentum that would help pay off the $1 trillion-plus debt burden.

‘Most of all, a frontier and immigration such as Australia needs to tap into the most skilled, the most entrepreneurial and the most enterprising people we can attract to boost the prospects of those already here.

‘This must be done actively, as other countries will compete more sharply for the world’s best talent. Yet the federal election has ignored this issue because it does not suit the populist mood on migration for either party to raise ir.’

AFR View no 2. The incredible reality of the 2022 election is that with deficits forecasts into the 2030s and gross debt expected to soar to $1.2 trillion, neither the coalition nor Labor has a credible for fiscal repair to bring the budget back to balance.’

Hear, hear. Budget repair and productivity are the two major repairs that Australia needs to continue its current status as a country with high quality people and enterprise. Merely holding fast will not be worth the effort.

Graham Young, May 17, P 47, ‘Why Albanese wins, and Morrison loses, with women voters’.

‘Fifty years ago it was blokes in signets who voted Labor governments in and women who voted them out.

‘Now those blokes have bought four-wheel drive duel-cab utes and become contractors, and it is professional women under 50 who have become Labor’s bedrock voting bloc.’

And in conclusion: This is Morrison’s real women problem – not that he is a misogynist, just the man he represents has fallen out of fashion.’ [He is an alpha male while Albanese is a more the beta male, and also classic follower.]

Read on gentle readers, this is a powerful analysis.

The Oz, May 18, P 14, ‘Election 22’.‘Albanese walks out as Coalition delivers costings’.

‘Four days from election day, it was a bad look from the aspiring prime minister. Campaigning in Perth on Tuesday, Anthony Albanese lost his cool and stalked out of a press conference after he was asked several times by journalists whether fiscal deficits would be higher under a Labor government. It was a straightforward question; it deserved a straightforward answer.’

The rest of the issue suggests Labor is planning slightly greater spending than the Coalition. What Mr Albanese thought it was an issue to walk out on is very strange. Is he a delicate flower? Today (Wednesday) I watched his competent talk to the National Press Club of Australia, a beta talk but sufficient. But too many hissy fits will reduce his reputation, so if he is not more careful last minute decisions might limit his apparent heading for a modest win.

Paul Kelly, ‘PM a fighter but revamp might be too late’.

‘Scott Morrisson will fight to the last moment but his final week policy and personality revamp points to a campaign whose defects reflects something far larger – lost opportunities during his past three years of governing during a pandemic and recession.

‘How could Morrison face defeat, having orchestrated fiscal support of about $135bn to save the economy and jobs supported by a central bank monetary stance of near-zero interest rates for most of the parliamentary term? There has never been such largesse before. Morrison may yet win, but if defeated, the conclusion will be the country changed around the Liberals. ‘

Cameron Milner, ‘Uneasy the head that wears Labor leadership crown’.

‘Labor’s got this election won. As Australia collectively wakes up next Sunday morning they’ll be blessed with one of the most experienced ministries the nation has seen.’ …

In conclusion: ‘Albanese needs to win big and govern with a vision for Australia that is bold and far reaching, otherwise recent history from both sides of politics tells us he may not get a second term.’

AFR, ‘Pp 42- 44’. ‘How the AFR called each federal election’.

This a most interesting set of ‘partners’ from Robert Menzies and H.V. Evatt, three times from 1954 to 195 , Robert Menzies and Arthur Calwell, 61-66, Bob Hawke, 83 to 93, Paul Keating, 93 to 96, John Howard, 96 to to 2007, Tony Abbott, 2003 to 2016, Malcolm Turnbull, 2016 to 2019, Scott Morrison, 2019 to 2022, who knows.

(I’ve just presented the greats and our 9 recent years of three Liberals. Well worth keeping the three pages for reference.)

Stewart Sweeney, Adelaide, P43 gets a gurnsey. ‘Another lost chance for change’.

‘I share the frustration of the Australian Financial Review that the opportunity of another election has been wasted, …

‘However, I am not persuaded that the Financial Reviews tax cut, budget repair and workplace reform agenda is sufficiently ambitiously to create the better economy and society that really is the best place on the planet.'

And in conclusion: ‘We await the ideas, leadership and, above all, changes required to make Australia the best it can be’.

Amen to that.

Two other pieces are well worth thinking about.

AFR Editorial&Opinion, P 46, ‘An antiquated workplace system waits a visionary’. And Gary Banks, p47, ‘Both sides of politics are trumpeting higher public spending, but not the productivity enhancing measures needed to pay down debt and lift real wages’.

Wow! Let’s create a relevant ginger group to tackle these two ideas.

The Oz, May 19, P1, Greg Brown and Olivia Caisley, ‘Race edging to photo finish’.

‘Anthony Albanese will lead a two-day, five-state blitz of 20 marginal seats as Labor attempts to hold off a late swing to the government which Coalition campaigners believed has tightened race in key battlegrounds’.

‘Albo woos voters with a 100-day plan for a ‘better future’.

I remain doubtful. ‘Better future’ is almost certain to require additional money, and while that may be cheerful the nation cannot spend it. Time for some austerity, don’t you agree?

And how come Labor leaves its costing until Thursday, ie today, to present its costing. Sorry, Albo, but it is too late to allow any one with serious things to do with 2 days to go. (Liberals 4 days of costing is not much better, of course,)

Nick Warner, is a previous senior official of DFAT. He says: ‘We need to sharpen national security edge – here’s how’.

‘Statecraft and diplomatic soft power are going to be critical in the decades ahead. We are going to need a stronger DFAT.’

AFR, May 19, P43, John Kehoe, ‘Whoever wins the election faces a big budget shock’.

’The next federal government will face pressures to get the fastest growing parts under control if inflation is to be curbed’.

Karen Maley, P 44, ‘Curtain falls on an era of cheap money’.

The best illustration is shareholders saying ‘no’ to the demands of the boss of JP MorganChase for his request for $50 million retention bonus for the next 5 years.

‘What better sign that the era of cheap money is drawing to a close’.

The Oz, 20 May, P1, Geoff Chambers, Greg Brown, ‘ALP’s decade of deeper deficits.

Election, P 14, ‘Choosing a leader for the challenges of tomorrow.’

The wrap up. ‘In our judgment the answer is clear. Mr Morrison has endured the worst a world can throw at a national leader and Australia has emerged stronger. And Mr Albanese has not yet proven himself ready to assume the high office he seeks at such a tumultuous time’.

AFR, May 20, P1, ‘Coalition closing gap on Labor’.

‘The Morrison government has failed to construct a credible program to ensure Australia’s post-pandemic prosperity. But a re-elected Coalition with the authority to govern would stil be Australia’s best bet.’

The Age, The Age, May 20, P1, ‘ALP defends deepening deficit by $7.4 billion.

‘For integrity’s sake, our nation needs a change of government’.

Sport. Last night I had a weekend sporting game. Carlton! vrs Sydney. Carlton! broke even in the first quarter, then flogged the Sydney boys, lost some ground in the third quater and came periolously close to losing in the final quarter. Do they need better fitness, or are they spending too much energy in the first half or do they take it easy when they feel they are unbeatable?

Of course Carlton! has won four very close games playing good teams and are now no 3 on the ladder. Go Blues, and try to save a bit for the last quarter. Fridays game in Q4 saw the

the young standin ruckman take 4 wonderful marks and toward the end several older men picked up their efforts Together the Blues prevailed.


Fiona Prior cover the Archibald Prize 2022. More her

Dear readers. Have a restful thoughtful Saturday, unless you have already committed your choices.

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