Christopher Pyne: The Critical Thing ScoMo Has In Common With Bill Clinton
When George Bush Sr (George W’s father) was running for President of the United States in 1988, the political catchphrase “MO” was coined.
Some people believed it was short for modus operandi, in other words, the person with the formula for action. But insiders knew it meant the candidate with the big MO -- momentum.
George Bush Snr had it. He won in 1988. He didn’t have it four years later. By then the economy had headed south. He lost in 1992 to Bill Clinton.
Bill Shorten had momentum going into the end of 2018. Labor had led the Coalition in 30 plus Newspolls. He was an unbackable favourite. He lost it in the first week of the campaign when he couldn’t explain the economic cost of Labor’s 45 percent carbon emissions reduction target to the electorate. He never regained it.
Scott Morrison gained the electoral momentum just when he needed it and it grew throughout the campaign and crested on May 18.
It's an interesting phenomenon. It's hard to beat someone once they've got momentum. It's like in an AFL game when one side has dominated for the first three quarters but hasn’t quite broken the other team yet. Teams can go into the fourth quarter 30 points ahead but if the other team gets the momentum swinging their way, it's hard to counter it. They seem to have the ‘ball on a string’ and can do nothing wrong.
The Prime Minister still has it. The first sitting week of the Parliament confirmed this.
On Monday, the PM's choice for Governor General, David Hurley AC DSC FTSE, was elevated to his position in a ceremony that showcased the Government and the Prime Minister in particular.
On Tuesday, the new Parliament was sworn in, confirming the victory of the Liberal and National Parties over Labor. In the House of Representatives, The Speaker, Hon Tony Smith MP, was elected unopposed.
Wednesday was given over to condolence speeches noting the death of the Prime Minister of Australia, Bob Hawke AC GCL. As is appropriate. Of course, the Prime Minister led the speeches.
But the real action was occurring behind the scenes as the Government negotiated with the Senate Cross Bench to achieve its signature election commitment to deliver $158 billion of personal income tax cuts to Australians.
Labor wanted to bring forward some of these reforms and sever others permanently from the package.
We heard the usual debate about whose mandate was bigger. Naturally, the Government insisted, rightly, that the Australian voter had elected it to implement the policies it took to the election, including $158 billion of personal income tax cuts. Labor doesn’t really know how to counter this argument because if it had won the election instead, it would have made the same argument for the implementation of its $157 billion of tax increases.
It tries to avoid the obvious. Of course, the Australian Green party is shameless -- it claims that because the Government doesn’t have a majority in its own right in the Senate, the voters delivered a mandate to the Greens and the rest of the Senate to frustrate the Government’s agenda!
The Prime Minister and his team, particularly Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Senate Leader, Mathias Cormann, ignored the static and focussed on gathering the numbers. They succeeded. By Thursday afternoon the number one election priority of the Government was passed through both houses. In one week of sitting! It's an amazing achievement.
READ MORE: Full Income Tax Package Passes Parliament
But just to prove who was in charge, the Prime Minister got straight onto social media on Friday to post a picture of himself and Josh Frydenberg planning the first $13.5 billion of congestion-busting infrastructure for the year ahead. In case anyone missed it -- the message was clear, the grass is not growing under the feet of this Government. They are getting on with it.
Flashback to the week before Parliament resumed. There was the Prime Minister at the G20 Conference in Osaka, Japan, winning endorsement of his personal proposal to put pressure on the social media giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter to be much more responsive to legitimate concerns about terrorists using the internet to magnify their heinous deeds.
Not only did he secure an outcome but he looked the part. He was clearly at ease with President Trump and other G20 leaders. He even felt confident enough to encourage the United States and China about working together to grow not weaken the world economy.
On it goes. There will be more such weeks. There’s no doubt that the PM has the big MO.
For Labor right now, it’s a terrible time. The newly minted Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese can’t do anything about where Labor finds itself.
All Labor can do is be spectators of the sight of ScoMentum.