THIS morning’s bad Newspoll result for Scott Morrison will arouse party room conniptions and a story-unto-itself nuclear half-life in the media but the figures are only as foreboding as the Prime Minister wants them to be. The poll is a chin cut – bloody but not deep. Yes, a month of causal linkage made by commentators between Mr Morrison’s actions (or whereabouts) and deadly bushfires took a political toll. No surprise there. The bigger the lie, the bigger the bill. But the idea that hundreds of thousands of voters suddenly want Anthony Albanese to hold the reins of Federal power is laughable. Apart from a few notably goofy photo-ops with firemen, he has said and done nothing of any importance or relevance to the unfolding national crisis. His first instinct was to defend the PM when the Hawaii hysteria began. Both men underestimated the journalistic appetite during the Christmas lull for a scandal to rival the cricket as a lazy-days diversion for the bored and the fanatical. The Opposition Leader altered his messaging only when it became clear Mr Morrison was the arch-villain. The poll also shows there was a public appetite for a culpability narrative. That’s no bad thing. The dollar coin has to stop rolling at somebody’s boot-tip. But it’s doubtful the public holds the PM accountable for the fires or their scope and fallout. They realise that’s deranged. No, they mostly hold Mr Morrison responsible for mismanaging his own vulnerability to criticism. He should be on top of such political basics.
Polling aside, the broader hate-campaign against Scott Morrison had three phases. First, a few journalists – all carbon dioxide foes still smarting about yet another electoral repudiation for the cause – decided that a Prime Minister (with two young children) had no right to Christmas leave while bushfires were burning. If he couldn’t man a hose like Tony Abbott or dole out a cut-lunch for the cameras like Mr Albanese, he sure as Adam Schiff could visit some forward areas and a command headquarters; he could be seen to care, in other words. Phase two was predictable: by the time he did return to work, the media had primed those he visited – many of them sullen ferals or “firies” living fifteen minutes of fame – to abuse him. A few even expressed a desire to assault him. Other ‘protesters’ were arrested after invading his family home in the Shire – later boasting their intention was to defecate in the swimming pool used by the Morrisons’ two little girls. Amoral animals like this used to be clubbed by Special Branch in the Bjelke-Petersen era but they now sashay around Australian political life like ennobled heroes. In Victoria, they are a special branch themselves – of the ALP. The third and final phase was something the Nolan brothers’ filmic magicians called ‘the Prestige.’ The ta-da moment when we see what the set-up was all about. It was ‘climate change’ pulled out of a top-hat. Same old rabbit.