Daily Telegraph editorial: Survivor PM to outlast trolls

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When Scott Morrison goes to the polls in May next year – as he is now almost ­certain to do – he will have achieved something extraordinary, writes The Daily Telegraph.

When Scott Morrison goes to the polls in May next year – as he is now almost ­certain to do – he will have achieved something extraordinary.

And that fact alone is a stain on both sides of politics in Australia.

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Morrison will be the first prime minister to have completed a full parliamentary term since John Winston Howard a decade and a half ago.

It is a feat that should be wholly unremarkable. Up until 2010 no Australian PM had been rolled in their first term in post-war history. Since then every single one has — Rudd, Gillard, Abbott and Turnbull.

If any more evidence were needed that politics has become more debased, more divisive and more juvenile over the past decade this fact alone would prove it.

It is probably no coincidence that the infantilising of political office has occurred in lock step with the rise of social media and its limitless capacity for misinformation, mob justice and fleeting viciousness.

And, so it is perhaps fitting that one of the PM’s last parliamentary acts before going to the polls is a bill to curb the worst extremities of this with new rules effectively preventing ­social media giants from being able to protect faceless trolls who abuse and defame others with impunity.

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Those who decry this as an assault on free speech are clearly unfamiliar with the concept – and indeed they often seem to be from the same side of politics that seeks to police the language of others while defending hate-fuelled anonymous attacks.

Hopefully these laws should they pass – or even the prospect of them – will encourage more civil and thoughtful public debate. Or, failing that, at least more accountable public debate.

Likewise perhaps a prime minister finally serving a single full term before going to the polls might at last restore some semblance of stability to Australian politics, which was once, for all its faults, arguably the most stable political system in the world.

It is not much to ask – indeed it is literally the least that a major party can do – and it is a sad indictment on both that this is something that now must be wished for instead of taken for granted.

Still, if Morrison can achieve even this small feat it will be a legacy to be grateful for.

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The Daily Telegraph, printed and published by the proprietor, Nationwide News Pty Ltd A.C.N. 008438828 of 2 Holt St, Surry Hills NSW 2010, at 26-52 Hume Highway, Chullora. Responsibility for election comment is taken by the Editor, Ben English.



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