No less than three times did Sheridan declare the Greens insane. Which is Entirely Sensible and the way to win over several million Australians to your point of view!
And there was this, also from Sheridan: “The Greens party is a party of hatred of Western civilisation and of our economy which wants to deindustrialise Australia and destroy every tradition we’ve been built on.”
Entirely Sensible! Thank goodness for an election campaign that has brought back common sense, and also brought back Greg Sheridan to Q&A.
Sheridan has a visual as well as rhetorical appeal. He is the only man in Australia who voluntarily goes on television looking like a cigarette you found in your washing machine and this lack of pretence is to be admired.
For the other panellists, challenging Entirely Sensible Greg was a challenge in itself.
It gave rise to such statements as: “I want to take issue with something that Greg said…”
And from host Tony Jones: “We’re talking about childcare here, Greg. Go back from China to child care.”
And the eternally respectful qualifier: “Greg, with respect…”
Sheridan carried on regardless, though he was sort of in agreement with Labor’s Chris Bowen on one point: that Clive Palmer is somewhat less Entirely Sensible than Sheridan himself.
At one point he called Palmer “a fruitcake”.
“A lot of things Clive Palmer says are idiotic,” he said.
But then again — how about those Greens?
“A lot of the things the Greens say are utterly idiotic, insane, about the treatment of cattle in Indonesia and about the need for militant veganism to ruin our agricultural industry.”
It came down to this. The Greens, Sheridan declared, were… competent.
“They are absolutely as extreme and much more dangerous because they’re much more competent than either Clive Palmer or Pauline Hanson.”
It all made perfect sense.
The debate over Palmer naturally embraced the question of preference deals. Liberal Senator Mitch Fifield was on hand to answer questions regarding his party’s number-crunching with the Palmer brigade.
Fifield went to history, then swiftly to modern Green-fuelled armageddon.
“We’ve had compulsory preferential voting in Australia since 1918,” he began. “When a party enters a preference arrangement, it doesn’t mean that party endorses the parties further down on the ticket. It doesn’t mean that they support their policies or their candidates.
“If that were the case, the Australian Labor Party would be guilty of supporting the Australian Greens — of supporting the abolition of the alliance with the US, with supporting death taxes, supporting the criminalisation of the export of coal. I don’t believe they are the positions of the Australian Labor Party but neither are the positions of the UAP [Palmer’s United Australia Party] the positions of the Coalition.”
Nothing to see here! And yet Tony Jones wasn’t convinced.
“Mitch, are there any moral issues here?”
Fifield assured us that any “moral issues” — such as millions in unpaid wages by Palmer — were before the courts, and in any case not relevant given Labor had the same “moral issues” — thereby rendering all moral issues redundant.
Chris Bowen wasn’t having it.
“There is the moral issue. [Palmer is] a charlatan and a fraud. He owes the taxpayers $70 million and his workers $7 million … Scott Morrison has abrogated any moral responsibility here. And there is the chaos. Scott Morrison has guaranteed his return to the Senate. Have we forgotten the chaos that went with Clive Palmer being in Parliament?”
Over to Entirely Sensible Greg Sheridan: “I think this discussion is complete baloney. There is no moral difference between preferencing Clive Palmer or Pauline Hanson or the Greens. We have a very eccentric electoral system which means you have to preference somebody.”
Somebody. Anybody. Entirely Sensible, and even non-sensible voters will be relieved to learn it’s all over in three weeks.