Budget blowouts begin: Constance puffs on

Despite a plague of public transport disruptions costing taxpayers billions, the prime minister has supported the federal election of former NSW Transport Secretary Andrew Constance, writes Geoff Dyer.

LOOK! In the air! It’s a tram. It’s a train. No, it’s Andrew “Ferry McFerryface” Constance being dropped in the Gilmore federal electorate because Scotty “Hardhat McFluro” – this strange”liar from another county” – convinced Constance to give it another try, despite the train wreck of his career in state politics.

As the prime minister finally pulls the string in the federal election and fills the air with the captain’s choices – ‘deplorables, backgrounds, liars, underminers and liberal followers’ – he has chosen Andrew Constance as his first weapon in the fight for the Lodge and continued access to government benefits.

It is shocking that in an age of accountability, best practices and merit selection, we are not just pre-selecting and electing politicians, but continuing to re-elect politicians with a proven track record of incompetence. Constance can certainly lay claim to such a record. When he started running for Gilmore as a Liberal candidate, journalists should have asked him what he was running from.

As NSW’s transport minister, he was not fit for purpose – any more than the trains, ferries or light rail he bought from overseas. He cost NSW taxpayers billions of dollars to “fix” transportation problems and left the public with a crippled transportation system.

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His “accomplishments” include a train fleet that is too wide for tunnels, ferries that are too high to pass under bridges, and trams that were a different width than the trams on the Inner West Line so that they could not be used to keep the route going.

Incompetence, outsourcing and budget bursts are visible everywhere. A veritable scourge of public transit breakdowns that waste billions of dollars in public funds on “Andrew McFerryface’s” watch.

I hope the irony of Mr Morrison opening his reelection campaign with a $40 million “bribe” for local roads in Gilmore voters – while skipping school for a man who wasted billions as transport secretary – is not lost on the Gilmore voters.

Still, Morrison backs Constance by saying:

“Andrew has… a lot to offer at the federal level, especially given his experience in the NSW government.”

What planet is Scotty “Hardhat McFluro” from? For all our sakes, I hope he doesn’t put McFerryface in charge of the climate and forest fire prevention. On form, you could assume that Constance would buy cheap flammable fire engines from abroad, buy firefighting planes that don’t hold water, and then cut down all the trees within a mile of a road so they don’t burn.

To cover up his mistakes, he could fire a skilled civil servant, pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in severance pay, then re-hire him for another job for double the price!

To be fair, Constance has his good points. First, he can hold a hose, something Scotty struggles with despite being photographed with every other tool in the workshop and doing some flash welding for Australia. And like many of us, he experienced the trauma of wildfires.

Second, Constance, like many MPs from liberal and national parties, has had moments of honesty and clarity when speaking about the prime minister. For example, say the PM has received “the welcome he probably deserved” when confronted by locals in the fire-ravaged town of Cobargo, on his return from Hawaii.

But Constance also did “political gymnastics,” which tells us what an excellent job Scott Morrison did during the floods.

In another moment of honesty he said:

“It took a hell of a lot of fire to make me realize how wrong the politics in this country are.”

Constance wisely decided to resign from politics, but said he would wait until after the bushfires recover to make sure no victims were forgotten.

Therein lies the problem – with many wildfire victims still struggling and forgotten, Constance got out of there. He is now back, announcing millions of dollars with the Prime Minister for weighing in the seat he aspires to.

His efforts to get back into the political jug should be judged in light of his past failures and his current lack of understanding of what Scott Morrison has brought to the table. Usually the norm you walk by is the norm you accept.

Scott Morrison was wrong during our latest natural disasters, as he has so many times. He sits on a nearly $5 billion emergency fund, while people still live in caravans and have not rebuilt their homes since the wildfires — thousands of flood victims are left homeless. Apparently it is a ‘last resort’ fund.

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Morrison tells us that the past three years have been very rough: there have been droughts, floods, fires and a pandemic. Yet he and his government have been late, inactive, disinterested or absent — absent from disasters, vaccinations, housing, aged care, climate change, childcare, domestic violence, honesty and integrity.

Look! In the air! Slower than a blazing fire, sneakier than a rising river, and able to turn the truth into several lies in one speech.

The strange “liar from another county” – who, disguised as Scotty “Hardhat McFluro”, can dabble mighty rivers without a plan and bend the truth with his marketing skills – is in Gilmore to offer you his recycled choice of captain: Andrew” Ferry Mcferryface “Constanz.

Don’t be fooled by this Hi-viz fraud. Your job is to vote out this few fake traditions knocking on doors, to quote voices. They will not get the job done and they have no intention of bringing integrity back to Parliament. So, “Damn Scott!” Constance too.

Unsurprising news: When asked about his record in the NSW Parliament, Constance indicated he doesn’t want a cabinet position, suggesting he just wanted a comfy backseat seat. Some of the pork without some of the responsibility.

Another retail politician wants the government out of his life, but wants our vote to keep him out on the open road.

Geoff Dyer is a retired teacher with 41 years of classroom experience. Subjects taught include English, modern and ancient history, society and culture, and Aboriginal studies.

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