Dennis Atkins in Scott Morrison’s antics show Australia is going to the polls in 2021 tells us that PM Scott Morrison likes to look busy during Question Time.
It looks like the height of rudeness, but it is actually worse than that:
- During Question Time the Prime Minister thinks little of firing off a quick message to political journalists sitting in the gallery to his left and one level up.
More often than not – almost always – Morrison offers assessments of how Labor is performing. “Look at Albo’s backbench,” he might offer. “No happiness there.” This would probably be accompanied by a thumbs down or sad face emoji.
He is well-rewarded:
- Many of those journalists who happily receive and repeat those text messages – with the attribution of “a senior Liberal” – have given Morrison high marks for his pandemic period efforts.
- Morrison oh so casually rolled out a new nickname for Albanese, “Each Way Albo”. He’d road-tested it during the last sitting days of 2020 and found it pleasing to his ears.
Scott Morrison has started using Sky After Dark host Paul Murray’s ‘Each Way Albo’ sobriquet.
“No wonder everyone calls him Each Way Albo,” said Morrison. Most people don’t call Albanese this, with the Sky After Dark host Paul Murray being the only person other than the Prime Minister who uses this sobriquet.
How can we have civility in politics, and elections based on a consideration of policy proposals when we put a ruthless amoral clown in charge?
Belinda Jones in Scott Morrison’s not-so-good year of 2020 points out that in addition to Paul Kelly and Rupert’s gang, David Speers from the ABC and David Crowe of the SMH and The Age thought Morrison had a good year. She herself thought otherwise, reminding us with a long list of what really happened. Certainly he showed an outstanding talent for taking credit when the states did well on Covid, and blaming them when things went pear-shaped, as in aged care, for example.
Clearly they don’t like him at Independent Australia, so we have founder and director David Donovan and managing editor Michelle Pini delving deep to uncover the truth as to whether Morrison is a prick, or not.
They go into his early life and find:
- prior to entering politics, #ScottyFromMarketing was sacked from every marketing job he ever held.
But Morrison turned things around after entering politics. Before, he was the incompetent idiot who couldn’t keep his job. After entering politics, however, he’s become the bloke who keeps his job, despite being the gormless buffoon creating a shitstorm at every stumbling turn.
And that’s not as easy as you might think.
In his earlier political career, Morrison displayed all the necessary traits to lead. In fact, he excelled by managing to gain, in 2007, the Federal seat of Cook after losing Liberal Party preselection. Later, he became the “brains” behind Robodebt, which led to the Federal Government paying out a $1.2 billion settlement for demoralised welfare recipients. Along the way, Morrison made official abuse of refugees an artform of unaccountability.
Dr Jennifer Wilson finds Scott Morrison’s biggest success is manipulating his own image. Who else would crawl into a submarine’s washing machine for a photo op:
Nick Feik, editor of The Monthly, finds the PM The announcement artist (pay-walled, probably). He changed his approach after the disastrous bushfire debacle:
- Press conferences are held at short notice with details postponed until later, and inconvenient questions are easily batted away, well after headlines have established an underlying narrative. Outlets rush to break the news first, follow-ups are negligible, corrections are buried, and the media as a whole paints the picture you would expect from an ecosystem increasingly dominated by supporters of Morrison and his government (most notably in the News Corp stable).
It’s all working for the prime minister – he’s a self-styled practical dad, an optimist taking care of business. If there are objections or uncomfortable revelations, he doesn’t accept the premise of your question. Next, please. And tomorrow he’ll have another announcement.
However, what happens after the announcement, if anything, can be another story:
in February … his government released a coronavirus emergency response plan. It said that while the states and territories would be responsible for public health and hospitals, “the Australian Government will be responsible for residential aged care facilities”.
That went well!
In early March:
to cushion the economy from the likely impact of the pandemic, including a $1 billion fund for tourism. The fund never appeared, or at least not for tourism operators. Delving into it in the Senate’s Select Committee for COVID-19 in late August, Labor senator Murray Watt questioned several tourism industry representatives: Were they surprised that the “fund has ended up being used for airfreight support, campaigns on eating seafood and securing forest resources? … That a $1 billion tourism fund has been used for a range of things that are not related to tourism?”
Also in March:
Morrison announced that international borders would be closed and no cruise ships would be allowed into Australian ports, other than four exceptions including the Ruby Princess. There would be “bespoke arrangements that we put in place directly under the command of the Australian Border Force to ensure that the relevant protections are put in place”. The “bespoke arrangements” were never introduced. Instead, a chaotic chain of command resulted in the disembarkation of hundreds of COVID-positive passengers from the Ruby Princess.
Then soon after JobKeeper expenditure was found to miss its mark by $60 billion, JobMaker was announced:
JobMaker was an entire agenda, a whole-of-government effort “supporting small, medium and large businesses through skills, affordable and reliable energy, research, access to finance, more efficient taxes, less regulation and workplace relations reform”.
A few months later in the Senate COVID committee hearings, Deputy Secretary (Skills and Training) Nadine Williams could not identify who was in charge of JobMaker, or what had happened in this government ‘effort’. Later:
- responding to a question on notice, it was revealed that the first time the Department of Education, Skills and Employment heard of JobMaker was the day the prime minister announced it.
In effect the JobMaker scheme was just a grab bag of talking points collated for media consumption.
There’s more, but Feik concludes:
- Australians have a great piece of vernacular once commonly applied to someone who talks a big game but never delivers on it. They’re called a bullshit artist, but it’s a term we don’t use so much anymore.
Bernard Keane at Crikey finds Mates first policy: Scott Morrison’s No. 1 value is seeing the country rot from the head down:
- When ‘looking after our mates’ is your foundational value, those who work for you will get the message: taxpayer funding is there for the taking.
Keane quotes Morrison:
‘Remember, my value is: we look after our mates.’ – Scott Morrison, September 6 2018
Everywhere you look in the Morrison government, you see sleaze and self-interest, if not outright corruption.
There is a long list, including a million dollars paid to a Liberal mate for government advertising without the inconvenience of a tender, the sports rorts and the “festering sore of the Community Development Grants program, a scandal 10 times bigger than sports rorts”, giving over $440 million to a tiny Great Barrier Reef charity run by people connected to the Liberal-allied Business Council without process, and so on.
when ministers are caught out lobbying for their family’s business interests, or pedalling forged documents without consequence; when a department like Home Affairs can be repeatedly assessed as incompetent in the use of its powers and its expenditure of billions of dollars without any repercussions for its secretary or minister; when over a hundred thousand Australians can be targeted by an illegal scheme like robodebt without a single bureaucrat or minister suffering any consequence; when forensic independent reports by the auditor-general are dismissed by senior bureaucrats and the funding of the Australian National Audit Office is cut, when those who seek to hold the government up to scrutiny are raided, rather than rewarded, that too sends a signal.
Accountability doesn’t matter. You don’t need to fear the consequences of misuse of taxpayer funding.
“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept,” David Morrison famously said. For the Morrison government, it hasn’t merely accepted the low standards that have mired federal politics in sleaze, it has actively promoted them.(Emphasis added)
Keane is concerned that the sleaze promoted by the Morrison government is permeating public administration and public life generally.
Mark Buckley at Pearls and Irritations in This rabble of a government quotes a recent commenter in either The Age or The Guardian (he copied the comment and lost the reference):
- “Jesus I am sick of this rabble of a government of ours – if it is not making an ass of itself in its handling of relations with our biggest trading partner it is attacking the little bloke’s Super – all of this is inspired by the twisted ideology of the IPA and the ASPI that leads it to think that we will all go to Heaven in the long run if we just follow Donald Trump and stamp out Communism and foreigners in general and anyone who does not contribute funds to the Liberal Party”
He then fact-checks the claims and finds them pretty much on the money.
I found it interesting when after identifying Tim Wilson and James Paterson as intellectual titans “produced by the twerp factory, otherwise known as the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), which specialises in turning out otherwise unemployable spivs in shiny suits” Buckley does a roll call of pollies who are current members of the IPA:
Abetz, Birmingham, Cash, Christensen, Cormann, Evans, Fletcher, Frydenberg, Hawke, Hunt, McGrath, Morrison, Paterson, Porter, Roberts, Ryan, Stoker, Dean Smith, Tony Smith, Tehan, Tudge, and Tim Wilson. All are affiliates of the Global Atlas Network, supported by right-wing loonies who hail from the U.S.A.
Scott Morrison is a current member, as were Abbott and Howard.
Again at Pearls and Irritations Robin Boyle asks Is it time to put our PM and his Treasurer into quarantine? His answer is in the affirmative:
- For our country’s sake it is time they were put into permanent quarantine, after all that’s what we do with others who are a danger to the community.
He makes the case that:
- The seven years of Coalition leadership is a litany of failures, incompetence, cronyism, hypocrisy, indecision and paralysis.
That article is quite broad about the Coalition. Dennis Atkins brings us back to Morrison’s special ability in a perceptive article – All politicians lie, but Scott Morrison’s untruths transcend the usual.
He says Peter Beattie and John Howard were good liars, but they always knew when they were lying, and did so for a specific purpose.
However, Morrison simply transcends the truth, is able to shape-shift reality in any way that suits him, and always to his advantage. One example Atkins gives is Morrison accepting the responsibility for aged care, but dumping the Covid failures on Victoria:
Morrison started by seeking to bury the whole issue of aged care failures in a word salad about “shared responsibilities” and finished with a breathtaking flourish which picked up aged care and dumped it into a basket marked “someone else’s fault”.
The full quote should be used in journalism and political science classes: “Well public health, we regulate aged care, but when there is a public health pandemic, then public health, which, whether it gets into aged care, shopping centres, schools or anywhere else, then they are things that are matters for Victoria.”
Morrison shut down further discussion with one of his favourite linguistic devices to have the last word, chiding the questioner for being “too binary”.
For me personally, I parted company with Morrison on his role in stopping the boats and his callous disregard for dignity and for life itself in a string of subsequent decisions. There is an excellent exposé of Morrison’s role in this in a article by Sam Langford in an August 2018 article by Sam Langford in Junkee We May Have Escaped Prime Minister Dutton, But Scott Morrison Is Also Pretty Shit on the occasion of his ascension to the role of PM. Langford goes through an extensive list of Morrison’s deeds which should disqualify him for the position of PM. Langford says:
- We have, of course, focused on the negatives here — as Morrison and his fans will no doubt point out, he has done some things well. We’re guessing that for many Australians, though, quite a few things on this list may just be dealbreakers, the kind of things we don’t want our Prime Minister to ever represent or stand for.
Malcolm Turnbull told Annabel Crabbe that the only issue that really stirred Scott Morrison was his opposition to the marriage equality proposal. Other than that we can be excused for believing him when he says he is there to look after his mates.
However, Dennis Atkins warns that Morrison’s shape-shifting style which allows him to transcend the truth is now part of the way he operates, not just a technique to get out of a tight spot in an interview or press conference.
And I haven’t even mentioned climate change.