Will the last candidate standing please vote for someone else

May 5, 2019

I’ve been consciously participating in Australian politics since I first voted in 1974 and I can’t recall any campaign period that’s been more shambolic than this one.

Already, fourteen (yes, 14) candidates have been disendorsed by their parties and one, the bankrupt former One Nation senator, Rod Culleton, has been referred to police over his ineligibility to stand.

Most have been struck down since nominations closed a week ago, so they’ll still be on the ballot paper.

What an omnishambles wrapped in a clusterf*ck and dipped in glitter-infused turds!

I don’t think even 1975 came close to being this bad and that was a bitter campaign on both sides that eventually saw Malcolm Fraser elected and Whitlam vanquished.

The Murdoch press played a role then in demonising the ALP and helping Fraser win. The Murdoch papers and Sky News are playing a similar role today – as they have in almost every election since the late 1960s – this time, though, their preferred Prime Minister is looking like a cooked goose.

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#AusVotes2019: Are we there yet?

April 23, 2019

As a rule, I don’t mind election campaigns but this one already feels like stale pizza sitting in the bottom of the fridge. I’m hungry, but I really don’t want to eat it.

So, we got through the first couple of the of five election campaign weeks relatively unscathed. Good Friday provided a respite day even though we still got footage of a smirking Prime Minister bothering God and small children.

Bill Shorten went to Luna Park in Melbourne, an apt metaphor for the swings and round-abouts of campaigning and the roller-coaster ride of chaos that has characterised federal politics over the last four years.

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The ‘circus’ analogy gets over-used, but if it’s OK for Michelle Grattan to double-down on it, who am I to be picky.

We may have had a short break from the campaign over Easter, but are we any closer to having a clear front-runner for the only poll that counts on 18 May?

Well, I thought it was pretty clear from the last gazillion Newspoll results that the ALP was going to win the election in a canter.

However, Michelle Grattan (no, I’m not picking on her) reckons it was a “scratchy” first week for Shorten because of a small gaffe on superannuation and because he’s “vulnerable” on Labor’s ambitious carbon emission reduction policies.

Well, I’m Okay with that because at least the ALP has some policies to quibble about. The Liberals, on the other hand, are in such confusion they don’t even know what their own policies are – like on electric cars, for example.

But some scribes even reckon Morrison is somehow making a comeback.

That’s like saying a man on life-support in a palliative care ward is going to make a full recovery.

I’m really not sure how they reach such fanciful conclusions.

Ah well, I suppose anything is possible inside the Canberra “bubble”.

So how is Morrison going to stage this political miracle?

Well he is, after all,  Scott the “disruptor” according the Katharine Murphy writing in The Guardian:

Scott Morrison’s strategy is to run over the top of the trench firing bullets every which way, in an effort to disrupt Shorten’s rhythm.

Well, he has to, doesn’t he?

Morrison has no choice but to act like a demented and stupid-brave World War One sapper high on the fumes of battle. There is nothing else there.

The Liberal Party has been totally devoid of ideas, imagination, initiative and innovation ever since Peta Credlin and Tony Abbott were running the country after trashing the joint in the 2013 election.

Turnbull had nothing in 2016 and only just hung on because Labor started from a long way behind after the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd omnishambles and the deceitful ‘carbon tax’ campaigning masterminded by the discredited Credlin.

Three years later and Morrison has had a chance to prove to the Australian public that he’s an empty vessel. Well, not exactly empty, he’s actually full to overflowing with bombastic populism, smug ego and meaningless fury.

Let’s take the electric cars policy as an example.

The COALition began the campaign bagging Labor’s pledge to have 50 per cent of all new car sales converted to electric vehicles by 2030. That’s a whopping decade away and its only half of the average 1.1 million new cars sold each year, according to industry figures.

So that’s 500,000 electric vehicles added to the national fleet, on average from 2030 onwards.

It is an ambitious policy given that there are less than 10,000 electric vehicles currently on Australian roads, including about 4000 Tesla models. This is about 0.3 per cent of the total number of cars on the road.

So, it seems that the Liberals might have been right to poke holes in Labor’s policy. The only problem was, the COALition had an almost identical policy on the books.

Morrison and his ministerial colleagues looked stupid when they were warning Australian petrol-heads that Bill Shorten was coming for their petrol utes and big-engined cars, in a bid to wreck their enjoyment of the traditional Aussie weekend pursuits, like boat and caravan towing and driving illegally off the beaten track through national parks.

Morrison looked stupid, but then Peter Dutton and Angus Taylor stepped up and gave Scotty their beers.

Peter Dutton is on a knife-edge margin in his Queensland electorate of Dickson, so he made the excellent decision to attack his Labor opponent for not living in the electorate.

Fair enough, if you conveniently forget that Dutton owns several luxurious multi-million dollar properties outside of Dickson himself.

But the attack focused on Ali France’s disability. She has a prosthetic leg because of a horrific car accident. She lives close to Dickson in a home she spent over $100,000 on to modify in order to make it convenient for her.

So what did Dutton do? Well, he’s well-known for his sensitivity to less-fortunate people and promised us when challenging Turnbull that we would see more of his engaging human side.

Thanks Peter, you’re doing well.

He said – in an engaging and human way – that Ms France was milking her disability in order to win the sympathy vote in Dickson. His grovelling apology was equally engaging and human.

I guess we should also not be surprised that this story was first run in The Australian. The Murdoch media is going all out to help the coalition.

Senior kool-aid dispenser Piers Akerman was photographed out on a door-knocking campaign walk with Tony Abbott in Warringah. He looked really happy to be there just standing “in the background”, but the candid snap confirmed what we have been saying all along.

The Liberal Party is a subsidiary of NewsCorpse.

And what about poor old Angus Taylor. Taylor is the Energy Minister in Morrison’s government and he has previous form as a nasty, spiteful dickhead. He was famously sacked by British Tory knob, Boris Johnson, while he was mayor of London.

In that instance Taylor was accused of making insensitive racist comments. He’s right at home in the modern Liberal Party where he has languished for the last five years.

Taylor must have been thinking that the Liberal campaign could do with a boost in the past week, so he thought it the right time to grab the headlines with a poorly-timed and ill-conceived threat of legal action against two independent journalists over their retweet of a now infamous Twitter thread on the minister’s involvement in the snowballing water scandal that brewing away nicely in the background.

There is no better way to draw the spotlight onto yourself and your possibly dodgy dealings than issuing threatening legal letters to journalists who don’t have a lot to lose.

Given Mr Taylor’s propensity to launch his lawyers at anyone suggesting he acted with impropriety we are making no comment on the water sales issue, but we can’t help but think that firing off a defamation threat in the middle of an election campaign is a distraction Scott Morrison could do without.

As an aside, we can note that the other senior COALition figure allegedly in the centre of the water sales scandal is the delightful family man and member for New England, Barnaby Joyce.

It’s a short week this week with the Easter Monday and ANZAC Day holidays. Both Morrison and Shorten have said they won’t officially campaign on those two days, but we can be sure that their faces will grace the nightly news and dominate the front pages because it’s much easier for the journalists to just follow the leaders than attempt to cover actual policies.

Burn of the campaign – so far

The false war over electric cars made for some interesting door stops and prompted several car manufacturers to publicly critique the COALition’s scare-mongering.

My favourite burn moment of the campaign so far has been the start of a television advertising campaign for the global launch of the all-electric Hyundai Kona, a compact SUV that will retail for around $37,500.

This is an affordable and smart-looking option for people wanting to go into the EV market.

It may not be deliberate, but the Hyundai advert feels like a giant FU to the Liberals this week.

It’s quite funny to think that the COALition might get run down by a fleet of electric cars.


Morrison will deal with One Nation on preferences because he has no choice

March 28, 2019

In the wake of the Christchurch massacre, Scott Morrison has called for an end to “toxic tribalism”, but this doesn’t mean he won’t exploit it in the federal election.

Morrison sets 'tribalism' agendaTwo things are fairly certain in the wake of the Christchurch massacre and the NSW state election: Scott Morrison will not let go of his commitment to toxic white nationalism and the Coalition will preference One Nation and other racist factions above Labor and the Greens in the federal election.
The third predictable leg of this tripod of tribalism is that most of the news media and commentariat will go along with Morrison’s decisions and ideology because they treat politics as a game of appearances rather than a matter of real consequences for real people.
Perhaps we all thought that the shock of a self-confessed “eco-fascist” who was groomed into murderous violence by his connections to Australia’s home-grown white supremacists would shift the political debate decisively.

It hasn’t. Maybe it did for a few too short days and hours, but by the end of last week it was back to the same old same old, just as I predicted in IA on Thursday last week.
Just six days after Christchurch I wrote that “normal transmissions” would be resumed quickly and that Morrison would lead the way by:

…returning to the rhetoric of border security and community safety as quickly as possible and spinning the Christchurch attacks into the Government’s re-election strategy. The media plays along with this because that is the game they know well and are most comfortable with. But there’s also another reason that the news media plays along — journalists share the broad world view of the Government.

Unfortunately, that is precisely what has happened.

It has taken less than two-weeks after the worst terrorist attack in our region since 88 Australians died in the Bali bombings of October 2002, for the COALition to work out how to adjust its rhetoric and get its re-election strategy back on track. The key shift has only been in the messaging, not in the policy direction and not in Morrison’s intent.

For all his bluster in the interview with Waleed Aly, in which he sought to re-frame the now infamous 2010 cabinet discussion, Morrison is a leopard who cannot and will not change his spots.
The Prime Minister stands accused of seeking to inflame divisions by using Australia’s Muslim community as a political punching bag in order to connect to voters still stuck in the racist dialectic of Australia being a white, European country.
In the interview he attempted to deflect criticism by claiming that he had merely been “addressing” the issue. This mealy-mouthed response dodged the central question about whether Morrison was seeking to inflame the issue or calm it down and it was delivered with all the shouty arrogance that we’ve come to expect from this hollow tin barrel of a man.
That Morrison is his own aggressive and endless echo chamber on legs is not the issue. As Katherine Murphy wrote in The Guardian over the weekend, we already know this about the Prime Minister; he will be judged on his record, not on some cardboard cut-out reinvention of a person with empathy.
Like most things with Morrison his empathy is as fake as his glad-handing and his smiling jocular public persona. He is indeed a shallow pond, full of scum and toxic algea blooms.
In this vein we can confidently say that Morrison’s new-found concerns with “tribalism” is just as fake and transactional. He is not interested in healing wounds in our national psyche, he is still intent on stoking division for political gain. Invoking “tribalism” is just a slight modification of his earlier very explicit anti-Muslim dog-whistling. That is why I am so disappointed that the commentariat Press Gallery opinion writers have fallen for it.

Let’s return for a moment to Katherine Murphy’s Saturday column. Most of it was pretty good. She rightly saw through Morrison’s attempt to bluster and bully Waleed Aly and his pathetic plea to be given a second chance. “Don’t pre-judge me,” he pleaded, and Murphy skewered him with precision:

You cannot outrun your record as a public figure, because you are still that public figure, and your identity is the sum of your record.

But there is also a problem in Murphy’s analysis. When Morrison talks about trying to end “tribalism” as he did early last week, Murphy agrees with him.

Now, Morrison, prime minister of Australia, believes there is too much tribalism, and the current excess of tribalism is corrosive to social cohesion…
He’s absolutely correct; I applaud this sentiment.

This is disturbing, but not surprising. By conceding this point to Morrison, Katherine Murphy reveals, again, that there is far too much ideological agreement between supposedly independent journalists and government figures. Instead of critical distance and critique the political agenda of the government is endorsed.
Importantly, it also allows Morrison to continue setting the agenda. Funnily enough – though it’s not at all funny – this is precisely what happened.

“Tribalism” is junk science

The idea that Australia is riven by tribal division has now become the media narrative, even though in terms of sociology and political science it is, at best, a nebulous concept that displaces other important categories of analysis, such as class, economic division, ethnicity and gender.
“Tribalism” is an appealing trope of pop psychology and by invoking it Morrison is only after one result – to signal to One Nation voters and supporters of the conservative fringe that he is still on their side.
This is what he is reported to have said in a speech to the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, just days after Christchurch:

“I see every Australian as an individual, not part of some tribal group to be traded off against another.”

While denouncing racism and “tribalism”, Morrison also said the community needed to be free to hold “legitimate policy debates” on issues such as migrant intake and border security without the conversations being “hijacked” by accusations of intolerance or racial hatred. This betrays Morrison’s true intentions. He is signalling to the hardcore racist rump that they are free to continue their slander of Muslims because both “tribes” are as bad as each other. And, it was confirmed by further remarks in the same speech reported in the Nine newspapers:

“This is true of the left and the right, and even more so from those shouting from the fringes to a mainstream of quiet Australians that just want to get on with their lives.”

This is the same “both sides” language that Donald Trump deployed after white supremacists marched through Charlottesville and Heather Heyer was murdered by a maniac Nazi in August 2017. Even conservative US commentator Christopher Chantrill correctly describes nationalism of figures like Trump and Morrison as “fake tribalism”.

Patriotism is when the ruling class keeps tribal feeling in reserve, to crank it up only when it is necessary to send a generation of young men onto the killing fields against an enemy. Nationalism is when the ruling class loses control of the narrative to some yahoo like Trump.

Morrison is using “tribalism” to the same effect. The use of both-sides are bad rhetoric is an attempt by the PM to place himself in the middle ground and the mainstream media amplify it because they are in synch with the ideology behind it.

After Gladys: To boldly go where racists have gone before

The re-election of the Berejiklian government in NSW on 23 March will only embolden Morrison to continue down this path.
In the Waleed Aly interview he refused to commit to putting the racist fringe elements last on the Liberals’ preference allocation. This was a “wait and see” decision and, now that it’s clear that One Nation has a sizeable base in NSW, the wait is over.
Liberal Party strategists know that the coalition needs to harvest the seven to 10 per cent of voters who are willing to cast a ballot for out-and-out racism if it is to have any chance at all of winning the federal election in May.
When asked about preference deals with One Nation on Sunday’s Insiders, Liberal senator Arthur Sinodonis also refused to commit to putting them last. He managed to get around the question by saying that he personally would “repudiate” the racists but didn’t go so far as saying he wouldn’t accept their preferences.
Morrison knows his only option is to continue to play the race card, he is carefully recrafting the message post-Christchurch, but the message has not changed.

I have no doubt that the COALition will do preference deals with One Nation, Morrison cannot even come close to winning the election without them.


Is the Wentworth by-election result the middle of the beginning of the end for Skid?

October 21, 2018

I woke up this morning with a slight headache. Maybe it was the blackbird singing outside my bedroom well before dawn; maybe it was a disturbed sleep because the cat kept jumping on my head.

Nah, it was the celebration of the middle of the beginning of the end of  Scott Morrison’s interim occupation of the Prime Minister’s comfy leather couch.

 

I admit it. I probably had too much to drink, but who didn’t?

COALition supporters were either drowning their sorrows or drinking angrily whilst plotting revenge against someone — anyone really — on the other side of the factional fence.

Labor supporters were celebrating their guy losing so convincingly in a winning kind of way; while the Greens will find an excuse to drink at any time.

Kerryn Phelps deserves to nurse her own hangover this morning too. She has woken up to the aftermath of a political tsunami that rose up out of Double Bay on Saturday morning and came crashing down along the sandy coastline from Bronte to the Sydney Heads in the evening twilight.

It feels delicious to write this morning that Skid has led his tory scum to their worst EVER defeat in a by-election. It is historic and has captured attention from the international media.

Wentworth Nightmare

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Someone get Skid a mirror; he no longer recognises Australia

October 17, 2018

Somebody needs to get interim Prime Minister Scott Morrison a mirror. I didn’t get a chance to watch Question Time this week, I was usefully engaged at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal, but I noticed that at one point on Wednesday afternoon Skid Toryscum cleverly called across the chamber to the Opposition leader that he was “just another politician in a suit”.

politician in a suit

Really, Skid; is that the best you can do?

Of course Bill Shorten’s a politician in a suit. You are all politicians in suits; you are cookie-cutter copies of each other. You are one of them despite your apparent blindness.

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Mate, just take a look around you; or even better, use the mirror in the bathroom.

Mirror in the bathroom recompense

For all my crimes of self defense

Cures you whisper make no sense

Drift gently into mental illness.

And yes, it seems the Morrison government is gently drifting into mental illness.

At least we might expect something like “We were suffering a nervous breakdown,” to be the next idiotic defence they slide into when the inevitable steaming pile of their own excrement leaks out of their sagging arses and flies into the rotating blades of the aero-oscilator that’s just around the corner.

Why? Because this week their fallback position was that they are in fact incompetent and make silly “administrative errors” that lead a majority of coalition senators to vote for Pauline Hanson’s white supremacist call sign.

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On days like this it is seriously embarrassing to be a white Australian. Of course, none of us can be held responsible for the colour of our skin; that is a simple accident of genetics and parental hook-ups; but we can be held responsible for our attitudes.

We need to hold these useless seat-warmers to account; preferably by holding their feet to a very hot fire.

The senators who voted for Hanson’s racist rubbish had plenty of time to work out what it was about. The motion was on the Senate notice paper since 19 September.

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Nobody who voted “Yes” to the neo-Nazi meme can hide behind the lame excuse that they didn’t know.

As for those Senators who said  — on the floor of the chamber — that they didn’t care, or that they were just “following orders”; well how can they  sit there without remorse and not resign in shame?

Their excuses are pathetic, like this one from Senator Nigel Scullion, Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

“As acknowledged by Matthias there was an error in the Senate vote yesterday.

“In fact, my own understanding was that the Government would be voting against this motion.

“I was unaware that when we entered the Senate to vote that it was on this particular motion.

“I am sorry for any suggestion that either I, my colleagues or the Government supports any form of racism and I categorically reject any implication contained in yesterday’s motion that downplays racism and historic injustices against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.”

He has once again proven himself unfit for the job. His apology is meaningless; this is a time when “Sorry” doesn’t cut it.

Nah, piss off Nigel. You should resign your ministry.

As for Senator Lucy Gichuhi. Well, she’s there because of a countback and she was a candidate for some horrible right-wing ginger group [Bob Day’s Family First party, which is now defunct]; but FFS what was she thinking?

We should not be surprised if Senator Fraser Anning of the Mad Katter Party gets up next week and moves a motion along the lines of “The Senate approves of the fourteen words, that 88 is Australia’s national number and, henceforth 20 April is declared National Australian Zeppelin Inspector’s Day.”

I have no doubt that, given the propensity for creating their own perpetual omnishambles, we could easily see 25 coalition senators voting for the motion and then blame it on a “slight mix-up in scheduling” when someone points out the horror of what they’ve just done.

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However, one thing did make me a proud Australian this week. I was doubly delighted because I’m also a soccer fan.

On his debut for the Socceroos, Awer Mabil scored a great goal against Kuwait.

Mabil and his good friend Thomas Deng shared the excitement of playing their first game together for Australia’s national team. They are refugees from Sudan and they have more Australian spirit in their hearts, their souls and soles of their tricky feet than the entire Morrison Senate team.

The problem is that Skid Toryscum can’t see these great young Australians. He’s too busy gazing at his own lilywhite projection of racist fear to notice that the country has changed around him.

Morrison is looking to the past, Thomas and Awer are the future, I can’t wait to get there.


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Finally, I’d  just like to dedicate this classic ska hit to our Prime Minister.

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Don’t panic unless we tell you to

December 27, 2014

It was a difficult couple of months that closed out 2014. In fact, you could say I had a bit of a crisis. I was not entirely sure what I should be panicking about more: the threat from Ebola; being blown up in my sleep by a “death cult”, or the hordes of black-clad anarchists that were allegedly threatening Brisbane during the meeting of the G20 group of rich nations.

Most of us are not prone to panic attacks, but all of us lead our stress-filled lives just one little incident away from the panic threshold. It seems at the moment like a tsunami of panic-inducing threats is rolling towards us.

Doctors and scientists will tell you that a feeling of panic occurs when our normal “fight or flight” reaction to danger is over-stimulated and triggers in response to “false alarms”. In other words, we tend to panic when there is actually no real danger present. Of course, panicking in the face of a real and present danger is a psychological response to a “true alarm”. Under such circumstances fighting back or running away might seem like totally logical reaction to threats.

According to researchers, the “fight or flight” response to imminent danger (real or imagined) is based on three possible scenarios:

  • some of us have a biological vulnerability to anxiety, which can lead to a nervous over-reaction to events in everyday life;
  • some have a generalized psychological vulnerability, which the experts say can be a reaction to being over-parented and can lead us to think that the world is a dangerous place, best avoided;
  • then, there’s a more specific type of psychological vulnerability which leads to a learned fear of certain objects or situations that are, in fact, not dangerous at all.

It seems to be that, being human, all of us are perhaps subject to each of these vulnerabilities at some point in our lives, or in response to a persistent external stimulus. We can also learn to overcome our anxieties and to lessen our fear of external events or situations that might lead us to panic. But what can we do when all the information coming into our cerebral cortex from the media points at panic being the only rational response to a world careening out of control?

You see, it’s rational to think that beyond the chemical processes in our brains there are probably social causes to the psychological distress that can lead us to panic. And, to my mind, three of them relate to fear of epidemic (Ebola); fear of imminent attack (“death cults”) and fear of social breakdown (the nightmare of anarchists running loose in a major city).

But how do we know that these are things we should fear? Well, if you read certain newspapers; listen to or watch enough broadcast news, or get sucked into the vortex of unreliable rumours in social media channels, it seems like the reasons to panic are multiplying on a daily basis.

I have a friend in Brisbane and in the build up to the G20 he’s described it me as the “City of Fear”. My friend has become so alarmed by life in the “City of Fear” that he asked me not to use his name: so I’ll call him Melcure.

Melcure was watching closely as Brisbane went into “lockdown” ahead of the November G20 meeting of world leaders. He sent me daily email missives relating stories of low-flying helicopters and widening prohibitions on residents moving around the CBD as the police and armed forces practiced their counter-terrorism moves.

However, the real target of the police action appeared not to be “death cult” terrorists, but a shadowy international anarchist group known as “Black Bloc”. Luckily, the ever-vigilant news media was all over this story. The danger was talked up to such an extent that it seemed as if every anarchist on the planet was going to descend on Brisbane.

keep calm1

A year of worry, but the anarchists stayed away

But, think about it for a minute. What single prominent feature might define the world’s most dedicated anarchists? In my mind it’s the fact that they probably haven’t got a lot of money. Travelling to Australia from Europe or North America, just to throw rocks at dignitaries, seems like it would be low on their list of priorities. And also consider this; anarchists are notoriously lackadaisical about organizing. The idea that they might coordinate themselves to land in Brisbane in large enough numbers to be effective against 20,000 trained and armed riot police is laughable.

I’ve been in the political left for 40 years and to my knowledge the number of identifiable anarchists in Australia is measured in the low hundreds, not the 10s of thousands. My rational mind tells me not to panic about anarchist hordes burning down Brisbane.

If the anarchists were not going to be a threat then perhaps the “death cult” terrorists of D’aesh (ISIS) might target Brisbane. Should we have been worried about a secret operation by an Ebola-infected “death cult” adherent to infiltrate the G20 to spread even more panic and destruction?

I wasn’t sure until I heard and saw the news that PUP senator Jacquie Lambie was worried about just such an eventuality.

Let Senator Lambie do the worrying for you. That's what she was elected to do.

Let Senator Lambie do the worrying for you. That’s what she was elected to do.

This suggestion cleverly combines two panic-inducing thoughts: epidemic and terrorism. Surely here is something that we can sensibly worry about. You know it makes sense: Ebola is out there and it’s killing people; so to are the “death cult” lunatics in northern Iraq and in the eastern parts of Syria. Surely they’ve got the resources to fly one Ebola-infected suicide bomber into Australia – specifically Brisbane during the G20 gabfest – so as to cause mass casualties and mayhem.

Yeah, I know, your rational mind (mine too) says this is a bit far-fetched and Jacquie Lambie is not the sharpest chisel in the toolbox. So, perhaps we can put this one aside. However, that doesn’t mean we can relax when it comes to Ebola.

The deadly virus may not get to Australia incubating inside a “death cult” terrorist, but it could still be on its way. So that’s why I’m grateful that my government has once again demonstrated its commitment to Fortress Australia and locked the arrivals gate to people from Ebola-affected parts of Africa.

It is the logical humanitarian response; after all we are more important and our lives more precious than theirs.

Scott Morrison is keeping Ebola under lock and key

Scott Morrison is keeping Ebola under lock and key

Never mind that this could be construed as racist; never mind that the world’s leading epidemiologists have condemned Australia’s poor response to the Ebola crisis and never mind that brave individual Australian medical workers have volunteered to help contain the outbreak at source as recommended by the World Health Organisation. WHO are they to tell us how and why and over what we should panic?

Really, the global busybodies should leave that to our government and our media. After all, it is they who know best what is in our national interest and therefore it is them who should direct our nervous energy into the right sorts of panic.

Don’t panic unless we tell you to

The lesson of the modern media is that we should only panic when they tell us to.

That is, the appropriate form of hysteria-inducing “moral panic”; the fear of the irrational that can be stirred by rousing speeches, three word slogans and a news media hungry for sensationalist headlines. A good moral panic does wonders for an unpopular leader’s approval rating and it leads to improved ratings for the news media too. That is why we see such sterling collaboration between politicians and journalists and why we see such wonderful leadership on issues like fighting “death cults”, stopping anarchist hordes, tackling a deadly virus and ending world poverty (that last one’s a joke).

The clear message is that there’s no need to panic, unless the government and the media tell you to.

That’s the only rational explanation for this recent headline on the ‘newspaper of the year’, The Courier-Mail. On Monday October 27, the Brisbane tabloid carried a fantastic, calming front-page story about the Ebola crisis. The message comes across loud and clear.

What, me worry?

What, me worry?

This is a clever front-page and one designed to make us not panic even more. Just look at that horrible virus, it’s the size of a large double-headed tapeworm and it’s heading our way. The take-out from this is that we need to learn to panic only in response to the right stimulus, such as scary and misleading front-page stories about epidemics, “death cults” and anarchist hordes.

Well, so far these panic-inducing problems have only affected Brisbane, so no need for me, living in Melbourne, to panic; But for the sake of Melcure in the “City of Fear”, who’s made more anxious by what he reads in the always restrained and accurate Courier-Mail, I’ll just keep calm and pass him the worry beads.

First published as “Keep calm and pass the worry beads”,  in The Australian Rationalist, December 2014