Two things were bound to happen at the weekend. They were as certain as night follows day, as Andrew Peacock was fond of saying.
They were that the Labor Party in Western Australia would win a landslide election victory on Saturday, with only the size of the Liberal Party parliamentary rump left up for debate. Would they have two seats left in the lower house? Three? Five if they were lucky?
And that on Sunday night, Newspoll would reveal that Scott Morrison has finally lost some bark over ministerial rape scandals and the fact that he’s Scott Morrison.
Any political observer with a scintilla of nous and basic interpretive skills would have known therefore that the parliamentary sittings that begin in Canberra today would not be pretty for the Father of our Nation, even without thousands of angry women outside baying for blood, quite possibly his.
But enough about sensible observers; let’s talk about Peter van Onselen instead.
As the image at top shows, Peter as the contributing editor at The Australian is in no doubt about who will come out on top at the end of the current sittings in Canberra.
True, van Onselen has some harsh words about PM Morrison’s performance on several fronts but he’s quickly onto one of the mainstream media’s emerging tunes from its political songbook: “Poor Albo is not up to the task.”
Peter opines: “While Labor will zero in on the government’s myriad problems in question time and estimates, in a further twist to federal politics right now, Anthony Albanese is the leader under the most pressure, not Scott Morrison.”
And a bit later on: “….. the closer we get to the next election the risk grows that opposition MPs panic and make a move against Albo.”
On the other side of the aisle, Morrison …”has time on his side”. There are no threats to his leadership.
“The PM chooses the timing of the next election and remains in front in the polls.”
That’s not true, of course. Not true after last night’s Newspoll and not true of the two previous Newspolls.
Peter has been loose with the truth, conflating better PM and better approval figures to a generalised “remains in front in the polls” that conveniently ignores the crucial two-party-preferred finding.
It’s the sort of sloppiness – shitty political analysis and even shittier journalism – one would not expect from this nation’s most celebrated professor of politics and public policy and founding head of a university’s journalism school.
It’s the sort of basic blue that would have a trainee political reporter headed for the editor’s office and a damn good carpeting.
van Onselen should have known what was coming at the weekend. Labor in Queensland and now WA have consolidated their positions, a redwash in the latter case. Both states – the weak links for federal Labor seats wise- will be stronger for it next federal poll. They will have mini campaigning hubs throughout their lands; possibly still popular Premiers not far into their four-year terms.
And van Onselen should have known Newspoll would not be kind to Morrison.
Add to those problems that fact that rape allegations continue to fester around two of his senior ministers and this current sitting looks horrific for the PM.
And a political observer with any basic feel for the game would know that things are unlikely to improve for Morrison if he continues to defend Porter and Reynolds, the political pain coming his way once Jobkeeper cuts out at the end of the month and Jobseeker makes way for a still pathetically low Newstart allowance and the vaccine rollout continues with more potential mistakes and delays.
Any fair and reasonable political commentator might have mused on all those dangers ahead for the Morrison government but van Onselen sees only trouble for poor old Albo.
As Peter flexes his vocals and opens his MSM political songbook in preparation for his next amazing rendition of Poor Albo is Not Up to the Task, we mere mortals can only marvel at the incredible insights that only years of tertiary study and unparalleled academic achievement bring to the table.