The Morrison Government’s economic response plan to the coronavirus outbreak has effectively broken Australian politics. Up is down, water is dry and Labor now seemingly cares more about debt levels than the Coalition.
Despite handing down one of the most disastrous budget outlooks in the history of the nation, with the projected deficit blowing out to the highest level since Darwin’s skies were filled with the aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy, the Morrison government recorded a commanding six-point lead in the latest Newspoll.
Debt levels are exploding, billions of dollars a month are being wasted on providing JobKeeper payments to people and industries that were never threatened with job losses, yet somehow the Australian people think Scott Morrison is doing a fantastic job.
If you had said to someone six months ago that the Morrison Government wasting billions of dollars a month as part of a crisis response would generally be welcomed by Liberal voters as a fantastic outcome, they would have thought you were insane.
But that is arguably the affect tens of billions of dollars in “free money” has on some people.
This record-breaking peacetime cash splash has left Labor and its leader Anthony Albanese without a real angle of attack, as the Morrison government embraces a level of deficit spending that makes Kevin Rudd’s Global Financial Crisis era cash handouts look like a rounding error by comparison.
As long as the dollars keep flowing from the Treasury into the pockets of the public, Australia’s established political landscape will remain distorted and broken. Albanese will remain an ineffective counter to the Morrison government riding high on public support for their ongoing cash splash. Morrison will continue to be popular with voters more broadly, despite still lacking the same appeal and connection that made John Howard a legendary figure.
But in the end, nothing lasts forever.
The cash splash will be tapered, the Morrison Government’s popularity will return to Earth and the natural Australian political landscape will begin to recover, as things return to a sense of normality.
When that day comes we will assess the wreckage and chaos this period has wrought and wonder, can things ever be the same again?
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