Cartoon courtesy of Alan Moir. Subscribe to Moir here.
Sooty Morrison's $8.1 billion RortSeeker program of shovelling public money to enclaves of Lib privilege and marginal electorates bought the Tories a two seat majority in the 2019 election - a net gain of one seat. That's $8,000,000,000+ for a single seat increase. That's the self-trumpeted "superior economic management" of the born-to-rule touts in action. They can't even do grift cost effectively.
But for the Tories it was other people's money well spent.
Blatant lies, FUD, fraudulent election posters, the excrement from Murdoch's propaganda apparatus, an appeal to greed and self-interest and an $80M nod & wink distraction campaign from the flabulous accused fraudster Clive Palmer all helped of course. But in the game of mates that is Tory government the success of RortSeeker in the federal election has seen it remodelled as RortKeeper in office.
Sooty's disappointment at his failure to win the Eden-Monaro by-election was palpable. After weeks of shoving his candidate aside to mug to the cameras he reverted to his where's wally routine and went AWOL. He had marketed himself as the product but the electorate didn't buy it even though Eden-Monaro was bribed with twice as much funding as the average seat under SportsRorts. Clearly the rorts program would require finessing given that voters cannot be trusted.
You can't prise traditional venal practices from a dead Tory's fingers - what's different now is that a pandemic and a bushfire-charred environment provide new opportunities for the monetisation of other peoples' misfortune. The crisis also conveniently provides cover for and distraction from their odious and incompetent behaviour and so RortKeeper was rolled out.
Few sentient beings were surprised when it was revealed that Stu Robert's latest fuck-up in a series of fuck-ups1, the COVIDSafe e.placebo, cost circa $68M without tracing a single case of infection. Snafu Stu is the type of guy who could wear a sombrero the wrong way round so of course this one man tech-wreck is the Tories' preferred I.T. geek. If Stuie can't break it, it's unbreakable.
The rorts dimension to this incompetence is found, as always, if you follow the money. The CEO of the development company DELV is the spouse of a Liberal Party candidate. Purely coincidentally no doubt, his company hosted government grants enthusiast Angus Fingers Taylor MP at business events2. Fingers' talent for accessing tax payers' funds to subsidise the entrepreneurial endeavours of chums and family is the stuff of legend.3
Another Hayekian champion of free markets who nevertheless is ever eager to indulge in tax-payer funded largesse to support his own enterprises is the billionaire cockroach king and hacker of dead children's phones Rupert Murdoch.
Murdoch the undead and Keith Richards are the only two people guaranteed to survive a nuclear war but pending such a possibility Sooty wants to secure his own tithe-enabled availability for the rapture by keeping the old monster on side. A $10M top up to a previous $40M donation to Newscorpse, friendly tax treatment and the dismemberment of the ABC is a small price to pay to facilitate Sooty's 1st class boarding pass to the last flight to heavenly reward. (Jen and the girls will be down the back.)
The COVIDSafe farce and the protection money paid to Murdoch are but two examples of the early phase of the roll-out of RortKeeper.
How are lurk merchant extraordinaire Fingers Taylor and his old #Watergate mate Barking Barmy Joyce faring in the updated model? These two grifters could sniff out a dollar in the skat of a Werribee duck.
Hot out of the blocks Fingers has appointed one of his former advisors and a prominent critic of renewable and carbon policies to the board of the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. And there's $4M to Shine Energy for a feasibility study for a coal-fired power station despite them having no energy sector experience and having never completed a project. Good job, well done Angus!
Angus's stuntman partner in grime, the Evel Knievel of provincial politics Barking Barmy Joyce vacated his front seat on the gravy train after he fell into the gland canyon of one of his staffers. Barmy was compensated with a $600,000 gig to send unread text messages from the front bars of country pubs.
Now that he has been able to settle his VB tab, organ donor Barmy will no doubt be pondering further opportunities to fund his designated drivers and Playboy subscriptions while plotting the demise of his bête noire and boss, the Wagga Wagga chook magnet Mickey Mac McCormack.
While Fingers and Barmy are freestyling our PM and his flustered Treasurer are focusing on retro-fitting their neo-con ideology into their forced framework of capitalist socialism. Morrison's SkidMarx manifesto is a work-in-progress but a key feature will be RortKeeper as evidenced by the shelving of requirements for the banks to change their criminal behaviours.
We may all be up to our collective armpits in ordure but there is something deeply satisfying in watching Bubble and Squeak at the podium, blustering in red-faced embarrassment at being forced to adopt and sell a Keynesian response to an economic crisis. It worked after WW2, it worked during the GFC but it's anathema to the Tories' discredited dogma of punitive austerity and look-after-the-wealthy trickledown voodoo.
Morrison's discomfort at having to sell the biggest deficit in our history after decades of snakeoil about surpluses, the Lib's denigration of government stimulus spending and their failed experiment in time travel ("we've brought the budget back to surplus next year") may finally wipe that repulsive smirk from Sooty's pie hole. But the smarmy yahoo's boondoggles, rorts and his normalising of blatant corruption will continue so I suspect not. Plus he's got the rapture to fall back on.
1 COVIDSafe, RoboDebt, MyGov non-existant DDos attack, $38,000 home internet bill
2 Coronavirus: Government's COVIDSafe app could have cost 'tens of millions' for zero tracing results. Nine News.
3 The adventures of Angus Taylor - Michael West Media
Close to the wind: the trials of Liberal Money-Man Stuart Robert - Michael West Media
The Angus Taylor story: from the Liberals' golden boy to a man on the edge
- The Guardian