Flat White

A friendly reminder: Anthony Albanese is completely bloody useless

5 July 2021

12:00 PM

5 July 2021

12:00 PM

After last Monday night’s AstraZeneca slip of the tongue announcement, Scott Morrison simply vanished for three days until National Cabinet met on Friday, where he rolled over and wagged his tail when the premiers told him what to do.

Pretty bloody useless?

Well, as Terry Barnes reminded us in his Morning Double Shot on Friday, incompetent oppositions enable incompetent governments.

And Anthony Albanese is completely bloody useless.

SpecOz readers aren’t big Niki Savva fans, but her column of June 10 was a must-read when it first appeared — and has only got better with age. It needs to be quoted at length:

Imagine if Tony Abbott had been opposition leader during a pandemic and there had been yet another quarantine leak from an ill-equipped hotel in one state that then led to a lockdown in another.

If Abbott had been leader last Thursday, after the bell rang to suspend parliament for a week, he would have flown to Adelaide the next day for a doorstop outside the Playford Medi-Hotel, where one guest received an unwelcome gift he then passed on to others.

With a few words Abbott would have excoriated the prime minister for compromising health and economic recovery. He would have accused the nation’s leader of negligence for not building fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities and incompetence for not providing a speedy, efficient vaccination rollout that even countries without world-class health systems such as Australia’s had accomplished.

Imagine if Tony Abbott had been opposition leader during a pandemic and there had been yet another quarantine leak from an ill-equipped hotel in one state that then led to a lockdown in another.

If Abbott had been leader last Thursday, after the bell rang to suspend parliament for a week, he would have flown to Adelaide the next day for a doorstop outside the Playford Medi-Hotel, where one guest received an unwelcome gift he then passed on to others.

With a few words Abbott would have excoriated the prime minister for compromising health and economic recovery. He would have accused the nation’s leader of negligence for not building fit-for-purpose quarantine facilities and incompetence for not providing a speedy, efficient vaccination rollout that even countries without world-class health systems such as Australia’s had accomplished.

Abbott, as Liberal legend Tony Eggleton once told this author, was probably the best opposition leader he had seen… [H]e performed an extraordinary feat to get his party re-elected in a few short years. He had consistency of purpose and message and he acted like he was hungry to win. He never took his focus off the government’s weak spots.

And Albo? How did the current opposition leader take advantage of all of last week’s thrills and spills; the PMs lapse (if it was a lapse), then his absence, the contradictory messages from premiers and their chief health officers, the Queensland hyperbole and idiots such as South Australia’s Steven Marshall pushing the panic button without any cases on his hands?


He gave a speech.He gave a speech, even though it was all but guaranteed to be drowned out by the premiers’ commentary ahead of the National Cabinet meeting and outcomes.

But Albo gave a speech on employment. On full employment. On a White Paper on full employment.

Now, the May unemployment rate for Australia — the latest figures we have — was 5.1 per cent. Economists define full employment as employment at 5.00 per cent and below.

Ah, but Albo said. He had a cunning plan. He talked about underemployment and insecure work in the context of full employment.

Now, underemployment and insecure work — not to mention casualisation — are significant issues for many Australians. So why did Albo bury the lead? Why did he make them subsidiary to full employment; a White Paper on full employment, yet another government piece of paper.

Now, most of the Canberra Gallery couldn’t explain what a White Paper is and how it differs from Green Paper. Neither could most of the parliament. You might get a better rate with ministers, but they have lots of White and Green Paper obsessed departmental liaison officers on their staffs to tell them how to think.

Bluntly, everyday Australians don’t give a shit about White Papers. They want an opposition that talks to them in their language about how they will do better than the government at keeping Australians safe, healthy and in good jobs in a strong economy.

Yet, on Friday, after a week of chaos and confusion everywhere, that’s what Anthony Albanese offered.

It’s Monday. A new week. A new page in the diary.

And every time you despair of Scott Morrison, just think of the alternative.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.


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