Leading article Australia

How to lose an election

23 October 2021

9:00 AM

23 October 2021

9:00 AM

Scott Morrison and the Coalition have a unique opportunity to go to the next election with their own version of the GST: pledging to lift the moratorium on nuclear energy in Australia on the first day of a new Parliament. The pitch is simple: ‘If you really believe in net zero emissions, nuclear power is the only way to get us there whilst keeping us economically strong. But to do so we need a solid majority in both Houses of Parliament’. Lifting the moratorium on nuclear power would also allow us to lease or buy US nuclear subs off the shelf as an immediate and powerful deterrent to any malicious intentions being harboured to our north. Watch the Left tear themselves apart in a frenzy. And watch the Coalition romp in at the next election.

In a rare moment of optimism earlier in the year, this magazine offered the government the above blueprint under the headline ‘How to win the next election’. That advice was available to the Coalition for the cover price of the magazine, about equivalent to a couple of large chai lattes at the Parliament House cafeteria. The essence of the advice was this: do what John Howard did in 1998 with the GST and take a seemingly politically ‘hard sell’ policy to the electorate – namely, an easy-to-fulfil commitment to revoke the Australian ban on nuclear energy –explain the benefits, trust the wisdom and self-interest of the voters and watch Labor implode as you romp home.

The benefits were obvious: Labor would never agree to it, giving an ideal political differentiation at the election, money would flow into the Australian economy from overseas investors, we would finally set ourselves up to build the industrial muscle and military deterrence potential to at least give China pause for thought, jobs would be created – oh, and as two neat little side benefits, Australia could then go ahead with nuclear as opposed to diesel submarines and be able to say in all honesty that without in any way damaging our coal or gas industries we were ‘doing our bit’ for the planet. Win, win, win, win, win.


Perhaps someone in the cafeteria spilt their chai latte all over our editorial, or perhaps, in the manner that David Bowie famously used to write his bafflingly obscure lyrics, some bright spark in the highly paid Morrison strategy team cut out the various phrases and sentences of our editorial, threw them up in the air and then reassembled them where they landed.

How else to explain the fact that in the space of a few short weeks we have ended up with a topsy-turvy, back-to-front strategy for supposedly defeating Labor; namely, scrap the French submarine deal but nonsensically retain the commitment to build American or British nuclear submarines in Australia, thereby guaranteeing we remain defenceless for decades to come; at the same time, resort to Turnbull-esque waffle about which subs we may or may not buy and when we may or may not get them; then in the next instance go and commit to crippling our economy by demonising fossil fuels in order to be able to attend a silly conference in Glasgow boasting that you have a policy to reach ‘net zero’ emissions – oh, and in doing so publicly admit that Labor’s policy at the last election that you so vehemently opposed was correct all along and while you’re at it refuse to float the idea of removing the ban on nuclear energy, thereby again confirming that Labor is correct on this issue, too.

Thus we end up with a Coalition government committed to an economic future predicated entirely on technologies that don’t exist. (Rumour has it that when asked in his presentation to the Nationals about what would happen if these technologies don’t work, Energy Minister Angus Taylor said ‘we will find other technologies’. Righto, then.) And a defence policy based around submarines that won’t be in the water for decades, when we need them now. End result? Lose, lose, lose.

The Adventures of Greta and Snowy

As readers of this magazine are only too aware, much pleasure comes from the tasty morsels that garnish the main courses of quality writing. This week, writing with his customary flair and habitual insights, Paul Collits drops into his article a random detail that is as thought-provoking as it is utterly bizarre: that Greta Thunberg’s middle name is Tintin. What were her parents thinking? And what sort of a complex (or heroic ambitions) did possessing that comic book hero boy reporter’s name give the young lass? One thing’s for sure, even Hergé would have struggled to come up with a plot as preposterous as that of the young Swede saving the planet from imminent destruction brought on by farting cows.

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