Second election television debate avoids the real issues

Photo from The Australian: Albanese and Morrison

Contributed by Joe Montero

Another debate between Scott Morrison and Tony Albanese and Another poor performance. Commentator Katharine Murphy described it as the Jerry Springer of leaders’ debates. Otters have been more scathing.

Murphy’s complaint is about the coarsening and trivialisation of politics. There is this. But it is the inability of political leaders to seriously take on the big issues Australians are concerned about that is the biggest problem. They prefer to scout around the edges and resort to mud throwing.

Scott Morrison was the worst. At times, he even made a fool of himself. One was when he denied there had ever been a case of corruption in the time of his government. The long list of past and pending cases put the lie to this stupid claim. He and everyone else knows that it’s not true.

Another was his blaming of international factors for everything that has gone wrong under his watch.

Scott Morrison’s massage to the public was to “stick with certainty.

Plenty of classical Morrison evasion was on display.

The big-ticket item was the rising cost of living. Morrison passed this off as a temporary glitch that will go after he is re-elected.

“We cannot control all the forces that are coming from overseas, but what we can do, by managing money well, that puts downward pressure on inflation,” he said.

Domestic factors are involved. You don’t have to be a genius to work this out. And they have been a big part of the rising cost of housing, the personal debt crisis, the lack of a solid manufacturing industry, the failure to create genuine new full time and permanent jobs, and the decline in real wages. It’s not all about the price of petrol and global inflation being imported into Australia.

To his credit, Albanese did mention “Our objective is to have real wage increases and we have practical plans to do that.” He is right. The need to increase real wages is immensely important. But there was little detail on practical plans. A few areas of more spending, as good as they may be, do not make an alternative economic strategy, and this is what was missing. It let Morrison off the hook.

Tony Albanese failed to take Morrison as he could have, and this meant failing to capitalise on his opponent’s greatest weakness. Instead, the method of keeping close and not being too different from the Liberal National Coalition prevailed.

The public response to the debate was unflattering.

A just released report by Plan International shows that many of the 17.2 million Australians enrolled to vote do not feel that the major parties are operating in their interests. Plan international is mainly concerned about the position of women, and this featured highly in its report. The climate issue came behind it. The younger the age group, the more important these two issues are. Despite this, both issues were side lined in the debate. It is a measure of the distance between the political leaders and Australia. They are not listening.

Surveys and polls show that the most important matter for all age groups is the cost of living, and they see both camps offering more of the usual. Most will still vote for the parties they or their families have always voted for. They believe that the Australian electoral system offers no other possibility. But it doesn’t mean they are happy with the choice.

in this context, Morrison seeks to weaponize fear. Albanese seeks to take advantage of dissatisfaction over the government’s performance.

Most people get that the only possibilities, in the present conditions, a Coalition of Labor government. So, most will vote for one of them. Their understanding is that Australia’s electoral system does not leave room for anything else. It does not mean they are happy with their choice.

Rising discontent will colour the result on election day, and this will have its effect on what comes next.

Put everything together and there is one unavoidable conclusion. Australia will be best served by the ending of the Morrison government. All effort must be put into making this come true. What happen next after will come after the election.

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