Scummo Government disintegrates

It appears the Scummo Government is entering its death throes, via The Australian:

Scott Morrison’s pre-election legislative ­agenda is in disarray after Victorian MP Julia Banks quit the ­Liberal Party and defected to the crossbench, aiding Bill ­Shorten’s attempts to destabilise the minority government and ­target Home Affairs Minister Peter ­Dutton.

The shock resignation, deliv­ered at the same time the Prime Minister announced an April 2 budget, has increased the threat that Mr Dutton will be referred to the High Court to test his eligibility to sit in parliament.

The Australian understands the Prime Minister was blindsided by Ms Banks’ announcement yesterday, with the Malcolm Turnbull loyalist marching to the office of Attorney-General Christian Porter with independent MP Kerryn Phelps to seek urgent advice on Mr Dutton’s case.

…The Australian understands Mr Turnbull, who retains support from former staffers, has remained in contact with a group of ­Coalition MPs and ministers since he quit parliament following the August leadership spill. He is accused by some of running a shadow campaign against Mr Morrison to bring down the government…

More at The Guardian:

Labor is working to build the numbers to refer the home affairs minister, Peter Dutton, to the high court before parliament rises for Christmas, with the government also meeting crossbenchers in an attempt to frustrate the sortie.

Kerryn Phelps, who is yet to declare a position on the referral, met with the attorney general, Christian Porter, and the shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, on Tuesday as part of settling her stance, and Cathy McGowan has signalled to colleagues she’s reassessing in the light of Tuesday’s events.

And Domainfax:

The government is bracing for a Labor attempt to challenge Mr Dutton with the help of the stronger numbers on the crossbench, seeking to refer the Home Affairs Minister to the High Court over claims that he has a beneficial interest in child care centres that receive money from the Commonwealth.

While lawyers dispute whether this would disqualify Mr Dutton from Parliament under section 44 of the constitution, the government expects Labor and the Greens to get support from crossbenchers to seek a court ruling.

In a bid to head off that prospect, the government has identified Labor MPs Mike Freelander, Tony Zappia and Anne Aly as equally vulnerable to section 44, arguing they should be referred to the court if Mr Dutton is.

And New Daily:

The Morrison government is secretly threatening a tit-for-tat referral of crossbench MP Kerryn Phelps and Labor MPs to the High Court if the Parliament moves on Peter Dutton.

The New Daily understands that manager of government business Chris Pyne communicated the threat to cross bench MPs on Tuesday night in a move designed to shut down a push to force the High Court to examine the Home Affairs Minister’s eligibility to sit in Parliament.

Mr Pyne “named names” according to those familiar with the discussions, including the Member for Wentworth Kerryn Phelps, SA Labor MP Tony Zappia and NSW Labor MP Mike Freelander, on the grounds that his work as a doctor could invoke section 44 because of Medicare payments.

A desperate John Howard appeared at the ABC in a rear guard action to prevent disaster:

But The Australian commentators have flown the coop. Dennis Shanahan:

The time has come to concede the reality of an apocalyptic vision for the future of the Liberal Party and the Coalition government.

Until now, it has been possible for Liberals to grasp at straws, like Bill Shorten’s unpopularity, and point to undeniable positives, the strength of the economy, as Scott Morrison battles almost impossible odds to win the next election.

But after the Victorian Liberal rout, there is a stench of panic among federal MPs. The “departure lounge” is filling with those planning careers after politics; some ministers are so shell-shocked by the leadership fights they have been rendered useless.

And Paul Kelly:

The Liberal Party is divided against itself and alienated from the political centre. This is a dual crisis and it runs deep. The truth is that recovery and reconstruction will take years. In the interim, Scott Morrison will govern as best he can, minimise the damage and hold out for a May federal election.

…The Liberals have misread the times. They struggle to talk to their own voters because they are ­unsure of their core beliefs. They have lost the battle of ideas and are usually outplayed by Labor at tactical politics. There are two rival mythologies fashioned from within — the conservative and the progressive — and this split is worsen­ing despite Morrison’s best efforts.

…The Liberals have been outsmarted in terms of power and ­influence. The institutional norms that helped them from big business to the Christian churches are manifestly weaker; the rise of progressive values has caught them short and divided; the feminisation of the workforce has assisted Labor and left the Liberals ­exposed; the pervasive influence of the universities and education sectors fuels prejudice against the Liberals; they are constantly trapped by the rise of climate change as a moral issue and they have remarkably little cultural influence — witness the long-run damage the ABC as an institution has done to the Liberal cause.

That’s kind of true but once again it misses the woods for the trees. The underlying issue for political parties remains economic. It is very simple. Households have been left behind in the new Australian growth story and that has made them angry:

The Labor Party has done a better job of corralling this grievance into a “fairness” agenda while the Liberals have done nothing but make it worse while pretending otherwise. All of the culture wars stuff is just an excuse.

We will see in time if Labor can rectify it when in power. I have my doubts. It will take mutual sacrifice and Labor has readied everyone for a fairness fix.

David Llewellyn-Smith

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.

Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


    • Too many self-serving ego’s, too little genuine interest in the public, that’s politics for me. A big sideshow.

      • I’m gunna use your quote, of
        “Its all go till the wheels fall off”
        From someone who knows,
        the wheels are gunna come off the economy quicker than a tyre change in F1

      • And yet Victorian election just proves you entirely wrong.

        Labour being like the LNP is the biggest load of absolute tosh.

      • In Queensland the electorate swung wildly to the LNP and then wildly back to Labor before settling back in to established disillusionment.

      • ‘Labour being like the LNP is the biggest load of absolute tosh.’

        Yeah Labor is much more relatively obvious and de rigueur on selling Australia out to the corrupt CCP.

    • Not only will they NOT rectify it, it will get even worse as they continue to turbo charge immigration. At best you’ll get mealy mouthed lip service, whilst in reality you’ll be getting another kind of servicing….

  1. DefinitelyNotTheHorribleScottMorrisonPM

    I’m not worried. People always vote for high House prices. It’s the Australian way.

  2. GunnamattaMEMBER

    There is another female Liberal MP, member for a seat which is dead certain to go down next election, who dines with Julia Banks each week, who has received threats from figures on her side of politics (and is appalled by them), who was a Turnbull supporter, and is being told by some of her own staff she should ditch the party prior to the calling of the next election, and who has mentioned to her own staff some time ago that she thought the Liberal Party was heading for the wilderness.

    Will Sarah Henderson stick with the boys or make a political mark?

    Remember the faux bonhomie of ScoMo ostentatiously supporting Malcolm in those final days? Was that bravado because he wanted to support Malcolm or bonhomie because he knew he would slip into Malcolms chair?

    • The odds of every single remaining female leaving are not zero.

      People are talking about Bishop defecting and Kelly O’Dwyer almost stepped over the line the other day.

      If anyone is wondering why the LNP is stuffed until it completely reforms and will never be re-elected in Australia again take a look at this page.

      You may not be down for “multiculturalism” – fine – but don’t expect to get voted in. A sea of white males. Nothing wrong with white males – but there is something deeply wrong with running your country like the National Party of South Africa.

      Just beyond absurdity.

      • Yep, and furthermore it can’t change quickly because of the Pre-selection mechanisms that ALWAYS deliver candidates that exactly mirror the current party makeup.
        Pre-selection is the antithesis of diversity. I’ve meet several Prominent Chinese Australian businessmen that have though long and hard about entering Politics. These are guys that really want to give something back to their country…it doesn’t take them long to understand that, at its core, the Liberal party is not their party….or maybe I should rephrase it as…. they’re not welcome at the Liberal parties party.

      • from previous

        “Too many self-serving ego’s, too little genuine interest in the public, that’s politics for me. A big sideshow.”

        a comment on politics in general, not on a particular brand, I have little faith in any of them, except to put their careers and interests first

  3. Australia needs a different electoral system, MMP or even popular voting!

    Two party systems are not democracy.

    MB why not look into alternative democratic systems in a series of posts?

    • No thanks.

      If I wanted to read a Zerohedge “article” I’d huff some paint and head over there.

      I’m not paying MB for pointless garbage.

      • What is pointless about information on how other democracies are organising their elections? New Zealand introduced MMP, very interesting to follow their exploits.

        Very Aussie of you to show zero interest in alternatives to that what you know. Island mentality much?

      • @AnonNL

        Listen mate, if you want to dictate this publications direction, at the very least pay for a membership.

        And I don’t need MB to tell me about other political systems. That information is readily available from numerous other sources.

      • Politics and economics are one in the same thing, and hence a post on the different ways that governments can work and the likely political ramifications of the different methods would be informative.

    • Because they are true believers in the current system, like all economists?
      It’s the new religion, you know.

    • Democracy is an illusion. Banks, pharma etc. control this country as well as many other countries. We are just voting in car salesman trying to sell us a sh!t sandwich

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        The god cult of islam would sort all that mess out! Another one I’d be keen to try, for the same reasons I outlined above.

    • I agree AnonNL. Don’t mind the myopic responses from some on here. Your contribution is appreciated. Having said that I have heard from some the same criticisms of MMP, basically the same that things can’t get done.

    • Multi-Member Electorates are already in place in several areas of Australian Government, its not really a foreign concept.

      1. Federal Senate
      2. Victorian Legislative Council
      3. Tasmanian House of Reps
      4. South Australian Legislative Council
      5. New South Wales Legislative Council
      6. Western Australian Legislative Council (although with a city/rural split, still proportional representation within those bounds)

  4. “I owe the Liberal party so much”. Screw the people … I owe them nothing; its the party that sits on top of everything. This sums up the issue with our politicians – the party (and themselves) is at the forefront of their thoughts and actions and the people don’t figure into the equation.

    • Yep, agree. Who do they actually serve? Themselves, their donors, you rarely hear reference to what the people actually want.

      The right people usually won’t put their hand up to be elected.

      • Even when the right people do put their hand up, the party machine ensures they don’t make it through the process.

  5. I agree its about economics, it suits the Libs to whinge about culture wars and identity politics, they have the mental illness of never ending greed which they cannot admit to themselves, let alone anybody else. Attack universities, blame the ABC, blah blah blah. Lib cheerleaders can never admit to themselves the horror of the 2014 Hockey budget. No cuts to health, no cuts to education, no changes to pensions, no cuts to ABC or SBS. That was what Abbott said just before the 2013 election. The 2014 budget broke these promises and was a massive political mistake sold by an inept Treasurer. Attack the weak, help the strong and based on a raft of broken promises. There was senior NSW figure, John Riddick in the Herald on Monday in his Victorian election post mortem still saying the 2014 Budget was “”desperately needed.””They just dont get it. And since that Budget, the big U turn, the Liberals abandoned the Budget emergency approach and started throwing money around, in full retreat from the internal and public backlash. In the UK, PM Heath also did a U turn when the going got tough in 1972 and abandoned his free market reforms promised in the 1970 election, in favour of a collectivist Keynesian reflation. His reputation never recovered in the electorate and with the right of his party. Same with the Liberals u – turn on the Budget, lost a lot of credibility and left people wondering just what they stand for. They served up the 2014 horror Budget and then spent the remainder of their term back tracking from it. They have had two new Treasurers since then, just to underline their retreat from the 2014 budget. Interesting to see Denis Shanahan be so gloomy. I remember well in 2006/7, he repeated “Rudd honeymoon”” again and again, putting forward his Howard is invincible theories in The Australian. But not this time, there is no General of Howards class to lift the spirit of the troops leading to the election.

  6. I’ve got to say the whole “survival of the fittest” party resorting to cannibalism after a spell in the old life raft is not something some PR firm can dress up or redirect, wellie they can make a packet sucking the life from the corpse tho, so there’s that bright moment before the dark.

    Kinda makes the right wing faction of the ALP look amateurish in retrospect.

    Off to another day in a Queenslander reno…. nice to enjoy ones work… better than telling lies all day… even if getting payed the big bucks to suppress the part of the brain that does not like it.

  7. With the govt frozen for the next 26 weeks, that is gunna
    smash house prices
    stall the asx (and add the oil issue to that)
    stall jobs
    right through the Xmas Easter period

    • Yes. At the time Scummo is most desperate to pass new laws to pump up the bubble, half his party are at war with him and the other half are thinking “why bother saving anything? Labor will win and get all the credit”.

      Whereas if they do nothing they can try to blame the collapse more squarely on Shorten.

    • And those investors who repeat like an article of faith “government will always intervene to save house prices” must be watching this show… and feeling the cold tendrils of fear and doubt…

      • I heard an american once say, when snow and blizzard went through Kansas
        and wiped out all the cattle
        .”its like hell without the heat”

  8. Exactly HnH. The Libs only really have one policy, maintain the status quo for as long as possible.

    Only really works in the good times. As the lived experience of people diverges further from the story getting sold to them, the Libs grip on the narrative fails.

    I would also mention Tony Abbot. This man has destroyed so many governments on both sides (including his.own), all for what? The guy is cancer.

    Paul Kelly is hilarious, blaming everyone but the Libs themselves. It’s all the ABC’s fault…. waaaaah
    The parties failure to recognise Abbott’s massive defects early on, like back when he was health minister for JH, and stunt his political career before he had a chance to wreck the joint all for his own personal crusade, is all on them.

    Again the Libs have one purpose, maintain the status quo. They let a one man cancer grow who has no grasp of that purpose, and it’s basically killed the host.

    • there is no more status quo
      read the elon musk article in links, on the merger of humans and machines
      the future will not resemble the past,
      in nearly every aspect

      Ps, as as aside,
      I’m working out how to merge r2m with a concrete mixer ?

      • PFH surprisingly there is a helluva market for recycled concrete
        all the concrete you see about on non structural jobs, paving repairs etc is recycled concrete
        it is whiter cos it has the additional cement from its remixing -recycling.
        on the GC we have a huge no of highrise which have to be recycled as they are demolished
        but the readymixed boys have that stitched up.

      • reusachtigeMEMBER

        The problem with Elon Mask is that he is high on the unsociable drugs. That sh1t will always destroy your ambition. He should be able to afford some serious and specially designed chems that boost his talents instead. That is where he would best be applying some research.

      • I’m working out how to merge r2m with a concrete mixer ?

        I am only faintly amused when a completely uneducated (by his own admission) trailer park denizen like WW threatens me. Keep it up, bogan.

    • Mining BoganMEMBER

      The best bit is that our Tony will go down in history as the man who destroyed the party.

      Not quite the legacy he wants.

      • Abbott and Costello were the two “young” guns who were expected to lead the conservative charge in the 2007 election but Abbott ran dead. I doubt they could have saved the election but the aftermath of that election was that Peter Costello did not take up the leadership role everyone expected he would. Costello was not a PM scalp for the mad monk but I’d argue he was an important early scalp.

  9. The underlying issue for political parties remains economic
    Yeah Yeah Nah!
    It’s a party about to fragment, the right wing has way over played their hand and will in the end be left standing around with their D1ck in their hand wondering wtf happened.
    Of course that wont do the rest of the party any favors, it’s never positive when in the public’s mind you’re closely associated with a bunch of jerk-offs.

  10. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Only the Liberal party will save house prices! Do not, under any circumstances, vote for that loser Shorten, ok!!

    • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

      Noticing some “performance Anxiety” at those relations parties of yours, Reusa?
      That old nasal delivery technology or blue pills won’t be much help with crashing equity.

  11. proofreadersMEMBER

    This is absolutely delicious to watch and absolutely deserved. A plague upon their houses.

    • You might be onto something. I wonder if there’s commercial value in politics as reality tv show (thinking comedy). Might help out with funding our gov

  12. Ross Fitzgerald with an excellent opinion piece in today’s Oz:

    “Immigration rates a serious challenge for the Coalition”

    Using Stephen Harper’s assessment of Trump and Brexit, the Reagan-Thatcher free market formula has lost appeal – free trade, balanced budgets and high immigration are poison.

    He ends with
    “A key question is which way will the Coaltion jump: will it back business (it’s traditional supporters) or back it’s voter base?

    On the evidence so far, there’ll be more talk than action. Although Scott Morrison has indicated some downward direction with regard to immigration, most likely he will be caught dithering between the beliefs that characterised centre-right parties a generation ao and what voters expect of them now”

    • If I was a POLITICIAN I’d be dithering as well. The problems being thrown up by high immigration have been baking for 60 years of successive governments of every colour. Other than Reusa I’ve not seen anyone in these pages who has a real grip on what is going to happen if immigration is substantially cut. It’s going to be a recipe for getting thrown out of government at the earliest possible moment.

      I’d also have to add that none seem to have a grip on the consequences of most of the stuff they advocate.

      Note: I’m not saying ‘don’t cut’ 0 should be the number we import for the next 10 years. We’re just screwed no matter what we do.

      • ” I’ve not seen anyone in these pages who has a real grip on what is going to happen if immigration is substantially cut. It’s going to be a recipe for getting thrown out of government at the earliest possible moment.”

        Exactly. A cut will lead to a recession and no one wants to be the government to break streak.

      • Yes, I know, I agree with you and Jason. This is the bind we are all in – we build an economy on holes and houses and need migrants to keep the game going. Trapped!

      • Everybody else other than the FIRE economy and the migrants haVe been in recession for quite a while.

    • The answer is clear. The Coalition will do whatever it takes to protect the banks and big business. Scummo is owned lock stock and barrel by them. He was put into the prime ministership by them.

      He will serve his masters faithfully until the end.

  13. How’s Paul Kelly. He’s on another planet.

    feminisation of the workforce has assisted Labor and left the Liberals ­exposed; the pervasive influence of the universities and education sectors fuels prejudice against the Liberals; they are constantly trapped by the rise of climate change as a moral issue and they have remarkably little cultural influence —

    Feminism in the workplace. Dearie me. Clowns, all.

  14. scottb1978MEMBER

    It’s like a game of musical chairs except that you don’t want to get the seat when the music stops.