After Josh Frydenberg’s $60 billion creative accounting error this week, it’s so lucky that, as the PM keeps reminding us, “we’re all in this together”.
NOT ME, IT’S YOU
For those who may have been lulled into a false sense of security and missed the details, according to the Treasurer, there was a slight problem with the lauded JobKeeper Payment — that’s the one given to employers, and not directly to workers, ostensibly to save six million jobs.
The “error” was not through any fault on his part, or Scotty’s, but was caused – claimed Josh – by employers not being able to fill in those complex forms correctly.
Anyway, three million workers missing out on the allowance was a good outcome, said Josh, because what’s a $60 billion error between the obscenely wealthy and the destitute?
“Wonderful”, cried the Government’s mainstream media PR department, “More money in our pockets!” Only, which pockets, specifically, might be better off was not elaborated upon. This is because, of course, “our” pockets won’t be better off.
Asked whether he might take a pay cut to demonstrate how “we are all in this together”, or where this new-found spirit of solidarity with the masses may found, the Prime Minister told the National Press Club in Canberra:
“I have no plans to make any changes to those arrangements. I’ll just keep doing a good job, that’s my plan, and I will be accountable to Australians for that job.”
It’s also lucky for around one million overseas visitors, approximately one million casuals, 300,000 homeless and all those who were never going to get JobKeeper or JobSeeker, plus all those small businesses (and their employees) who now won’t see a red cent from this Government, despite its grandiose promises.
Oh, and of course, it’s so lucky for all the bushfire-affected communities whose citizens are still living in tents and caravans and for whom the promised $2 billion in bushfire relief has not been forthcoming. “We” were all in that together, too, since Scotty had to cut his Hawaiian holiday short because those infernal bushfires just wouldn’t stop burning everything down. Of course, the PM did mention the bushfire package was a “notional” fund — we just forgot to read the fine print.
There is no need to read the fine print, however, to conclude that it’s most certainly lucky for the PM, his incompetent Government, his mates and the big businesses who will help Morrison and his gang get re-elected. They actually are all in this together. For this group, at least, the pandemic has become the “lucky” new catch-all excuse for everything.
Here are just a few examples (by no means exhaustive) of how Morrison’s use of the royal “we” does not in any way include “us”.
THE ROYAL “WE”
1. Coronavirus credit
The Prime Minister is claiming credit for Australia’s low coronavirus death toll. This is despite his total disinterest from the onset of the pandemic when he was telling us all to go to the footy and planning conferences for his globe-trotting Hillsong Church mates.
The fact that it was the state premiers who led the response, despite Morrison’s ongoing pushback, has been conveniently forgotten. The detail that due to the bushfires, there were fewer virus-carrying tourists in the country – while the PM was sunning himself on the beach and well before the lockdown – is also conveniently never mentioned.
This is hardly surprising, given Scotty is still taking credit for “stopping the boats”, despite his Government allowing plague ships to disembark and infect all in their path.
2. Spoils of the job
The Prime Minister claims to be doing such a “good job” with the pandemic, according to him, that his exorbitant pay packet must keep rolling in — and so must those of his Government. Workers, public servants and small business, however, should just suck it up and accept pay cuts or job losses.
This was a rushed relief package, welcomed by most in the mistaken belief that it would be equally apportioned to all those in need. As IA’s Dave Donovan predicted, however, since it was paid to employers to dish out to their employees at their discretion, it was never going to benefit all workers in need. And since it was intentionally bureaucratic, only larger employers with the available resources were ever intended to reap the rewards.
Just like the fable of the budget surplus – which IA also foresaw – JobKeeper was never going to deliver as promised.
Never one to waste a good crisis, Scotty is using the advantage of high unemployment to full advantage via his latest advertising slogan: the “JobMaker” package.
Citing “tribalism”, “conflict” and – without any apparent irony – “ideological posturing” on the part of unions and employers, the JobMaker plan is, said the PM, “industrial relations reform”. Therefore, by definition, this will not benefit workers but will, instead, achieve the Coalition’s long-held agenda of stripping away any remaining employee rights.
5. Completely unaccountable*
Accountability is now on the backburner — indefinitely. We can be sure that the pandemic is keeping the PM so busy doing a good job, that the sports rorts fiasco, the many Angus Taylor scandals, the bushfire management disaster, the “lost” $60 billion and others will be quickly forgotten.
In keeping with this new get-out-of-gaol-free card, Josh Frydenberg has flatly refused to appear before the Senate’s COVID-19 Committee to explain how a $60 billion error occurred. Any insistence on accountability on the part of the Opposition is just “ideological posturing”, after all.
YOU — AND THEN THE REST OF US
Instead of illustrating how “we’re all in this together”, Josh has again reminded us how much meaningless rhetoric – nay, just plain bullshit – has been spun by Scotty from Marketing and Co, shovelled out by the (mainly) braindead mainstream media and swallowed whole by a vulnerable nation, eager to believe our elected representatives mean well.
After this week, if you still think “we’re” all in this together, then it’s also possible there’s a $60 billion cheque in the mail. Oh, and can we interest you in a used car that has only been driven to a Hillsong church on Sundays?
*This is only half the story! Read more reasons in the IA members-only area. It takes less than a minute to subscribe to IA and costs as little as $5 a month, or $50 a year — a small sum for superb journalism and lots of extras.
Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.