THIS COLUMN has thus far avoided talking about the foibles of “John,” the imaginary friend invented by Julia Gillard to justify the utter failure of her government to effectively manage money; in the name of public sanity, however, it’s time “John” disappeared, and Gillard’s government with him.
Has there ever been a more contrived, ridiculous, or grotesquely crass contribution to public debate by a sitting Prime Minister in this country than the cretinous “John?”
To be fair, consider the context of “John’s” “birth”: a desperate Prime Minister and Treasurer, forced into (at least a partial) admission of the true state of the national finances under their alleged stewardship, are desperate for a distraction, something, anything; and this poor bastard, this illegitimate quisling whose foolhardy approach to personal finance and employment relations was instilled into him at the point of “conception,” sprang into a kind of God-forsaken existence through no fault or wish of his own.
This reprobate — accurately described as an imbecile by a commentator in another forum — seems to be a chip off the old block, so to speak; in foisting his existence upon an unsuspecting public, Julia Gillard informed us — among other things — that when “John” lost his job, he borrowed
heavily prudently in order to maintain his lifestyle, and that of his family, in the tradition to which they had become accustomed.
“John,” based on the full template we have been given by Gillard, would appear to be a guaranteed example to follow all the way to ITSA and into bankruptcy, with his cavalier disregard for personal responsibility and his finger-pointing refusal to get a grip on himself and to live within his means.
And I say he appears to be “a chip off the old block” because that’s precisely what his “parents” — electorally doomed Prime Minister Gillard and her pious and self-important little gnat of a Treasurer, Wayne Swan — have been up to, racking up close to $300 billion in “prudent” debts to maintain the uncontrollable and senseless spending spree their government has grown addicted to.
Indeed, he’s probably the sort of chap who’d end up in jail for white-collar fraud.
The reason I provide this psychological insight into such a contemptible specimen is simple: he doesn’t exist and, if he did, he’s the type of fellow that people would queue up to kick the living shit out of — and with good reason.
It raises a rather obvious question: what the hell was Gillard thinking by making such a pusillanimous and thoroughly irrelevant contribution to what is supposed to be a discussion — a deadly serious one at that — about the parlous state of the economy?
I did debating at high school and afterwards for years; one of the first things adjudicators would jump down speakers’ throats for was the creation of “Johns”: anyone could invent them, and make them say whatever they liked; they were unrebuttable with fact, given they were fictitious, but they held absolutely no merit or substance whatsoever with which to build a convincing case.
One would think Gillard — whose ability to communicate is beyond question, despite the misgivings her messages frequently elicit — would be a bit smarter than going down such an infantile and puerile path in a debate over economics and the budget.
But no, the cop-out is always preferable when it comes to this Prime Minister, and the fairy-tale of “John” was preferable to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in the tiny matter of the federal budget — which her government has trashed, and which will take years for a responsible Liberal government to fix the damage to.
The problem, of course, is that mainstream commentators and journalists seem to have taken a liking to “John” as well, or perhaps they simply feel sorry for him; as a result, we have seen an unending stream of articles about how “John” would respond to this, and what “John’s” views are on that.
The articles and debate and hypothesising about “John” simply have to stop.
He isn’t real, he isn’t a metaphor for anything remotely grounded in reality or anything an intelligent, functional human being might aspire to, and he sure as hell isn’t representative of the mainstream majority in Australia — irrespective of anything Gillard or Swan might have you believe.
The problems Australia now faces after six years of Labor ineptitude on a scale that would make the likes of Jim Cairns blush are real, serious, and demand proper solutions and reasoned debate, not immature schoolkid doggerel of the type Gillard has contributed by the introduction of “John.”
The federal budget next week will be horrific if it is to make any serious attempt at all at redressing the mismanagement and eye-watering uselessness with which the ALP has discharged its economic management obligations during its present stint in office.
But even then, it will be a fraud; trotting out admissions of bad news is well and good (we have had the third “writedown” in revenues in four months announced today by Finance minister Penny Wong), but what’s the point if the “honesty” is selective?
This government has spent three years in utter and public denial of the true state of the books with over 500 specific guarantees since the 2010 election campaign, from Gillard and Swan, that a budget surplus would be confirmed next Tuesday night.
To abandon those, the announcement was made in the afternoon on Christmas Eve in a cynical attempt to evade accountability and scrutiny.
Why should anyone believe that a $20 billion deficit (which the “writedown” announcements all but confirm) is anything less than a fraction of the true figure?
All this comes as rumours have circulated today in the business media of a budget deficit as high as $80 billion and, tellingly, those claims — some from respectable sources — remain unaddressed by the Prime Minister and her Treasurer.
In the meantime, this silliness about a contrived low-life moron in clear need of a boot up the backside has persisted; the next thing we know will be Gillard announcing that the Tooth Fairy is connected to a “writedown” of $2 billion for failing to pay FBT (or something) on payouts provided to kiddies.
Let’s get real and nudge the debate onto a more factual basis; there is much that this government needs to account for and much that it likely still has to be forced to reveal, and the time and talent of competent journalists would be much better served in prosecuting that task.
As for “John,” it’s time he was phased out of existence and — when he has been — the standard of public discourse and debate in Australia will be much the better for it.
As Margaret used to say, it’s a funny old world…