Federal Election 2019: Meet Karl Morris

Summary

Website: https://www.karlmorris.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karlmorriskeepingthebastardshonest
Slogans:
Keeping the bastards honest while protecting pensions and super
Themes: Being a true independent who supports the government of the day.  Protecting superannuation and pensions, clearly.  Stability in general.
Electorate:
Upper House: VIC (Ungrouped Independent)
Preferences: Mr Morris is an ungrouped independent, and as such, he relies upon people voting below the line and being able to count to twelve.  Rather than telling people which way to vote, he has created six tickets, depending on whether you prefer the ALP, the Coalition, the Greens, One Nation, Hinch’s Justice Party or United Australia, and each of the tickets starts with him, and then follows a typical ticket for the preferred party in question.  So the ticket which favours One Nation then preferences Rise Up Australia, the Shooters Fishers and Farmers, the LDP, the Christian Democrats and Sustainable Australia; whereas the ticket which favours the Greens then sends your votes to Animal Justice and Labor.

I’m kind of impressed at his even-handedness, to be honest.  He’s not trying to tell you who to vote for, and is trying to make sure that if you vote for him, the rest of your vote will reflect your core values, whatever they are.  My only quibble is that there really is no fun to be had in stopping at a mere twelve preferences on a ballot of this size, but to be fair, even I would draw the line at creating six full below the line ballots, each with a different personality…

Policies & Commentary

Karl Morris starts off well:

7 Prime Ministers since 2007, is our system broken?

You would be forgiven for thinking our political system was fundamentally broken, however, living here in Australia we cannot see the forest for the trees. We still live in the lucky country where opportunity abounds and our standard of living is the envy of the majority of the world.

Look, it’s a valid complaint (setting aside the fact that I can only count 6 prime ministers since 2007, unless you include Howard, who wasn’t really a ‘since’, and can’t truly be blamed for the exciting political parade we’ve had since then).

Mr Morris then lays out what he sees as the problem:

I believe that in recent years our Senate has been hijacked by independents and minor parties, making it very difficult for the government of the day to ensure key legislation has been passed.

Um…

How are we going to break it to him…?

To be fair, while this does sound like it breaks new ground in cognitive dissonance, there is more to this theory than meets the eye.

Mr Morris’s hypothesis is that the reason we have been going through Prime Ministers like Kleenex is that independents and minor parties have been holding the balance of power, and using this to obstruct the government’s policies and to try to get their own policies enacted.  The government is thus unable to get anything done, discontentment arises, and oops, we just lost another Prime Minister.

This is not a bad theory at all, and Mr Morris has a plan to test this, essentially by still being an independent but not being the kind who is obstructive.  #notallindependents

His view is that the Senate is intended to be a house of review, not a place to be setting agendas.  I feel as though he longs for the good old days of the Howard government, when the Government held both houses of Parliament and the Senate acted as a rubber stamp.  Admittedly, this did mean the government was able to pursue its agenda unchecked, but I would argue that a house of review should be reviewing things, and part of that process involves amending legislation that doesn’t quite work.

Mr Morris, if elected, will support the Government’s legislation, under three conditions.

  • Party policies must be nominated on or prior to the 11 May 2019 for the current term
  • Policy or legislation must not be detrimental or negatively impact pensions and or superannuation
  • Party cannot change Prime Minister – all bets are off under these circumstances

 

OK, I actually kind of love that first idea.  I would strongly support the idea of holding a government to what they say in the campaign, with the proviso that there needs to be some flexibility if circumstances change.  Incidentally, this entire manifesto is also provided in video form (no captions, sorry), in which he says he wants the policies to be nominated *and costed* seven days before the election, which I think is an even better idea.

His second idea is, I suspect, a fancy way of saying ‘keep away from my franking credits!’.  Full disclosure, I think Labor’s policy on franking credits makes economic sense, but I know that a lot of people feel very strongly otherwise, and evidently Mr Morris is one of these people.

(… Actually, moving into the world of rampant speculation, I’m wondering if Mr Morris is someone who kind of wants Labor’s policy platform, but without the franking credits, and is hoping to achieve this by becoming an Independent in a Labor government, holding the balance of power, and voting against the franking credit bill?   I don’t think his strategy will work, but it’s an interesting one, and I can certainly see where someone might be fed up with the Morrison Government, but not quite ready to vote against their own retirement arrangements.)

As for his third idea… ah, there is nothing like a beautiful, impossible dream to make an independent candidate irresistible to me!  But seriously, yes, I think pretty much everyone in Australia who isn’t Barnaby Joyce, Tony Abbott or Peter Dutton would really like someone to do something to stop this endless parade of Prime Ministers (and even those three would probably like to do so, so long as they get to be at the front of the parade when it stops).  So Mr Morris is speaking for a LOT of Australians with this policy.  His difficulty is going to get it to cut through.

Mr Morris has a whole page where he expands on his theory about the brokenness of the Senate, and another where he expands on what he stands for.  There isn’t a lot to add here; he does reiterate his belief that only the House of Representatives should be setting policy (which does have the effect of locking minor parties out of any possibility of setting policy, so I’m afraid I have disagree with him there), and he has a nice line about being ‘party agnostic’.  He has not, it seems, entirely forgiven the Democrats for moving away from ‘keeping the bastards honest’ to ‘attempting to dictate policy from the Senate’.

Mr Morris also has an ‘About’ page, where he tells us that he is the managing director at Goop Digital (no relation to Gwyneth), a web design and online marketing company that particularly looks after small and medium sized businesses in regional Australia.  (In passing, I will note that his website, while basic, is well-organised and functional, which is a point in his favour.  It is, however, fairly difficult to find, unless you already know what it’s called.)  He has worked as an accountant and has been a local city councillor, prior to founding Goop.

And that’s about it.  Mr Morris strikes me as someone who will do what he has said he will do, if he gets into the Senate.  The problem for me, though, is that I have a fundamental disagreement with him on the role of the Senate.  A house of review needs to be able to say, on occasion, wait, no, this is not good policy, you can’t do that.  Otherwise, it’s nothing more than a rubber stamp.  And that can be very dangerous.

I think Mr Morris is a good person and a person of integrity, but I want Senators who stand for something more than preserving the status quo and the stability of the government.  So I’m sorry, my friend – I’m afraid you’ll be joining the ‘harmless, but misguided’ section of my ballot.  (Which, at this point, is still going to put you in the top third, because there are a *lot* of monsters in the basement this year.)

Eurovision Theme Song as determined by me, very objectively

Eurovision songs for independents are tricky, because I’m well aware that they can be perceived as mockery, which is not my intention.  So Mr Morris, if you are reading this, please know that this really is about your conception of the Senate – and my obsession with Eurovision – and not about you.

I may win on the roundabout
Then I’ll lose on the swings
In or out, there is never a doubt
Just who’s pulling the strings

The Senate should be a house of review – but it needs to be, well, independent, in fact.  It can’t simply be a puppet of the Lower House, letting the government pull the strings and set the agenda without protest.  Not every agenda deserves to be gone along with.

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