A powerful speech by Prime Minister Scott Morrison overnight has many of Australia’s top political scribes convinced that the LNP government can now power on and win the May 18 election.
Mr Morrison gave what many of those journos are saying will surely now go down in political history as his famous “who do you blame?” speech to a packed crowd of supporters at the Rooty Hill RSL Club 42km west of the Sydney CBD.
When the PM began his speech in the usual fashion by prowling the stage with a hand-held microphone and talking about Bill Shorten’s shiftiness, facial moles, girlish running style, and the fact “that Bill always lies; he always does”, few in the audience would have been aware of the forceful oratory that was to follow.
But after his opening remarks and a clever pause, Mr Morrison pointed the forefinger of his right hand towards the auditorium ceiling and simply asked the crowd: “Who do you blame when your finger breaks through the dunny paper just as you’re wiping your bum?”
“Bill Shorten and Labor, that’s who!
“C’mon everybody. You know you want to point a finger skywards because ain’t that the truth?
“Who do you blame when you’re about to go to bed for the night and realise you’ve run out of heartburn tablets? Bill Shorten and Labor. That’s who!
“Who do you blame when you get your McDonalds drive-through order home and there’s a big fries or an apple pie missing that you’ve paid for?
“Bill Shorten and Labor. That’s who!”
“Who do you blame if your weekend barbecue is ruined by showers? Bill Shorten and Labor. That’s who!
“Who do you blame if the red-hot tip you back gets beaten by a half-head? Bill Shorten and Labor. That’s who!
“Who do you blame if you sneak back into the pokies after we’re finished here and lose another $50 that you really can’t afford to lose? Bill Shorten and Labor. That’s who!”
As soon as the PM realised he had the crowd right where he wanted them, he ended each question by cupping an ear with one hand and pointing the microphone at the audience, prompting the crowd to respond each time with the “Bill Shorten and Labor. That’s who!” refrain.
“Who do you blame if Sunday’s roast doesn’t come out of the oven exactly the way you want it?”
“Bill Shorten and Labor. That’s who!” the audience shouted back cheerfully.
“Who do you blame now that your teenage kids have turned out the way they have?”
The crowd again with even greater force: “Bill Shorten and Labor. That’s who!”
And so it went on for the next half hour – Who do you blame if that new pair of shoes doesn’t feel quite as comfortable once you get them home from the shop? Who do you blame if you cop a big fine for not parking your car rear-end in first at the Cronulla Lifesaving Club? Who do you blame if you go to the movies and the only empty seats are the ones right up front closest to the screen? – before the PM’s minders managed to get him out of the venue amid countless backslaps, “hip hip hoorays” and the PM’s endless requests for selfies.
The nation’s political scribes were quick to express online what they had just observed.
Nine’s political editor Chris Uhlmann tweeted: “I don’t know who’s writing the PM’s speeches but ‘Who do you blame?’ went right to the heart of what the average Australian voter is thinking – that their struggles and travails in every day life are being ignored by pollies. 1/2″
“The PM’s ‘Who do you blame?’ attack was the perfect counterpoint to his other main message: ‘Who do you trust?’ Together, they present a formidable argument that will be hard to resist. 2/2”
The Courier-Mail’s national political editor Renee Viellaris tweeted even before the Prime Minister took to the stage: “Morrison’s ‘Who do you blame?’ speech was perfection for mine. It left Julia Gillard’s Miss Oginee (sic) speech and Paul Keating’s Red Fern (sicker) speeches for dead. We’ve seen the election decided here tonight.”
ABC TV’s Insiders host Barrie Cassidy posted on the program’s Facebook page: “You can put down the glasses. After tonight, the government has clearly won the second week of the campaign.”
Channel 9’s Chris O’Keefe texted: “Tonight’s brilliant speech was further proof that the government is successfully chipping away at the Opposition.”
ABC identities Patricia Karvelas, Fran Kelly, Leigh Sales, Virginia Trioli, Laura Tingle and Annabel Crabb all tweeted similar messages along the lines that “Bill Shorten has been put on notice by this brilliant speech and will really need to lift his game. He can’t afford any more of the missteps that blighted his first week on the hustings.”
The Daily Telegraph’s national political reporter Malcolm Farr tweeted: “I couldn’t make up my mind between the two club meal specials tonight – the roast lamb and vegies or the chicken parma – so I had both.”