Spoiler Alert: Team Liberal is moving the Goalposts - » The Australian Independent Media Network
It is pretty much a no-brainer these days when
the government is in trouble to resort to some kind of scoundrel
activity in an effort to win back support. With the government
haemorrhaging from a budget disaster and multiple gaffes from ministers
and also criticism from within its own ranks, Team Liberal is reverting
to a fall-back position it believes is a winner; that of national
It seems the key message delivered by Liberal Party federal director Brian Loughnane
and his Nationals counterpart Scott Mitchell to a strategy meeting of
cabinet last week, was “no more distractions”, “no more ideology”,
“stick to the middle” and “slow things down”. This is the sort of
message you would expect from someone on the sidelines who can see the
bigger picture. But the ‘no more distractions’ advice looks suspiciously
like a ruse. A distraction was exactly what they were looking for.
So, out of the bag of tricks comes the tried and tested ‘terrorist
threat’ script. One wonders if some of Team Liberal’s strategists hadn’t
stayed up one night watching ‘Wag the Dog’. The idea of starting a war
would have circled inside their heads but the technology would be too
much to pull off, so why not simply create the illusion of a threat?
And what could be better than a ‘major’ announcement as broad as possible with as little hard detail as possible and then have ASIO Director General David Irvine front
up to the cameras with some timely advice, which was also just as
vague? By any other language they were simply moving the goalposts and
getting the players and the crowd to look in a different direction.
Having achieved that, and with little else to continue this scam, another announcement became necessary. When the Prime Minister advised parliament
that already one person had been detained at Melbourne Airport while
waiting to board a flight to Lebanon it sounded like a melodrama that
could have been written by the Working Dog team for a ‘Utopia’ episode.
The evening television newscasters loved it. It filled in at least 60
seconds of their air time. It’s puzzling though, that we have not heard
anything about it since. I wonder why. Perhaps it is now an ‘At Airport’
The revival of the terrorism threat comes as the crisis in the Middle
East escalates raising the possibility of another involvement in Iraq
and a humanitarian involvement in Syria and perhaps, Ukraine. But
despite Abbott’s quite pathetic attempts at sabre rattling and his call
to arms, the reality is that we are a small player in these events and
Abbott is pretending to play a game that he thinks advances his standing
has the mainstream media on board and they have created the illusion
that his talents lie on the international scene. What an absurd
proposition. He is small change out there and it shows. He is a pawn,
and so are we. The proof will be seen in the outcome. Any contribution
we make will be token at best.
But what makes this look so contrived is the implementation. Surely
issues of national security are best managed secretly. If the government
wanted to be truly effective in its efforts to protect us from any
terrorist threat, would it not be more prudent to do it without a
megaphone? After all, that is what they are doing with border security.
Why telegraph the government’s intentions to the broader community
when it might have the reverse effect and be a trigger for some
individuals who harbour evil ideas to carry them out? After all, isn’t
the government’s policy not to advertise its intentions? Trying to get
information from Scott Morrison about ‘on water matters’ is like
extracting teeth, and even then it is not forthcoming.
Yet here we have government ministers lining up to tell us
that Australia is ready to join the US in Iraq; a very broad statement
that tells us nothing specific, but does succeed in mobilising the minds
of the ‘gung-ho’ brigade.
So why are they making such a noise about combatting terrorism?
Ramping up a perceived threat, as has been happening recently, is
nothing more than a pathetic attempt to win back votes. It achieves no
other purpose, except to alert possible terrorists to be more vigilant
and to be on their game.
Western Australian Labor senator, Sue Lines was mindful of this attempt at distracting attention from the budget mess. “[The prime minister] is just using this as a shield to try and deflect from the awful mess they’re in with their budget,” she told Fairfax Media.
Sue Lines is not the only one awake to this attempt at diverting
attention from the budget mess. I suspect we all are. It’s a poor
exercise in distraction. We should all be awake to this style of
deception wherever it occurs. That it plays on the fears of the
easily-led exposes the hypocrisy behind it.
So why did Bill Shorten slap down his own members who spoke up to
reveal the attempted distraction? This is not 2001. This is not 9/11.
This is a thinly veiled attempt to side-track our attention away from
the domestic stuff-ups.
The Labor party has been wedged once again. It doesn’t want to be
seen to be discounting the terrorist threat, but doesn’t seem to realise
it can show its resolve to protect the community and still expose the
deception. It should go on the front foot, raise the stakes and detail a
comprehensive strategy of its own.