The Morrison Government talks about "a fair go" for all but makes a mockery of the notion of equality, writes executive editor Michelle Pini.
UNLIKE the great trickle-down wealth myth, a fish generally does rot from the head down. This explains why, in Australia, the calibre of members of parliament has been steadily declining since Tony Abbott took over the fish tank back in 2013.
While the Liberal Party leadership has changed twice since then, things have only got worse. You see, if it’s true that Malcolm Turnbull was elected simply for not being Tony Abbott, then it’s deadset indisputable that Scott Morrison now leads the Liberal Party simply because he ain’t Peter Dutton.
Although there is no doubt that Morrison’s “daggy dad” persona is completely confected fantasy, in many ways, this idea of Morrison as “average” or “moderate” has stuck.
One of the chief reasons for this is that ever since the name “Peter Dutton” started being thrown around as a serious leadership (and therefore prime ministerial) contender, Morrison began to seem like a small ‘l’ Liberal. And let’s face it, when compared to Herr Dutton, few could seem more extreme.
But extreme, in almost every right-wing way possible, is exactly what Morrison is. And many continue to underestimate him. In fact, while he may have produced one of the worst tourism campaigns ever, our current PM possesses one extremely important marketing skill in a politician: he stays on message.
As anyone in advertising or marketing will tell you, the message needs to be consistent and repeated often. And, while there is no denying that many of Morrison’s underlying aims may be heinous, “ScoMo” never deviates from his marketing message, right down to his own choice of nickname. The take-home is: I’m a daggy dad, an unfashionable church-goer and a “fair dinkum” middle of the road guy — a safe bet.
And Morrison sticks to the script, regardless of the occasion or political scandal he may be facing. This, then, conveys an idea of what he is not: a complete nutjob like Abbott, a slick toff like Turnbull and, most importantly, an evil dictator like Dutton.
However, like many ad campaigns, there is no substance behind the spin. And this is why, when it boils right down, ScoMo – or "ScoMao" as he was dubbed this week – makes lots of soothing noises and says pretty much anything he thinks we want to hear, such as the concept of "a fair go", which Australians hold dear.
Morrison’s actions, however, only deliver favouritism to his fellow right-wing mates and make a mockery of the notion of equality.
Here is a short and by no means conclusive list of examples where the opposite of a fair go is the reality.
1. THE RACIST CARD
Morrison denied referring to former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari as "Shangai Sam" despite using the term 17 times. He has continued to suggest that Labor's calling for Member for Chisholm Gladys Liu to give one straight answer about where her loyalties lie, then, must be due to the fact that she is of Chinese origin and thus, racist.
Yes, Gladys Liu’s links with Beijing may have been investigated by ASIO, her fondness for relaxing foreign ownership laws might well be a conflict of interest and there is a possibility that she may be a Chinese spy but, hey, she managed to contribute around a million dollars to the Liberal Party and also the Coalition only has a two-seat majority, so it can’t be that bad, surely?
2. THE ANTI-SEMITIC CARD
Sure, the Treasurer may be a dual citizen, but unlike everyone else who had to resign under s44 dual citizenship legislation (Scott Ludlam, Larissa Waters and others), Josh is Jewish so, these suggestions are just anti-Semitic, according to the PM.
3. THE CLIMATE CHANGE ENTHUSIAST
Of course, I believe in manmade climate change I’m not a climate denier — that would be“ludicrous”. And we will meet our Paris climate commitments in a canter.
But Scott’s merry band of climate deniers includes (among others) all the ministers charged with making decisions that impact climate change: Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor, Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud, Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley, Former Special Envoy for Drought Assistance and Recovery Barnaby Joyce and Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan. Like their “fearless” coal-toting leader, all of these ministers have now professed to “believing” in manmade climate change.
However, their actions directly contradict this hollow statement:
- visiting decimated bushfire regions to “help” but allowing the rivers to be bled dry and the environment to be crushed by a handful of giant cotton growers;
- investment in new coal;
- ignoring Pacific Islander pleas;
- backing the Adani coal mine;
- refusing to put a price on emissions;
- revisiting nuclear power;
- telling kids striking against inaction on climate change to be "less activist";
- not investing in renewables;
- not bothering to turn up to the UN Climate Summit; and
- blocking Lord Howe Island’s wind turbines, forcing it to rely on diesel.
4. RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS, FOR SOME
Morrison – himself a Pentecostal Christian – has championed the pointless, bordering on comical, “religious freedom” legislation, which seeks to give special rights to those who refer to themselves as religious to say whatever they like to whomever they like, while not extending the same “freedom" of speech for their non-denominational counterparts.
5. MARRIAGE IS FOR HETEROS
Morrison vehemently campaigned for the “No” side in the postal survey on marriage equality, on the basis of protecting “religious freedom” — in this case, the right of religious people to be openly homophobic without consequence.
Morrison then said that he had been the victim of "quite dreadful hate speech and bigotry" akin to that experienced by LGBT+ people, due to his opposition to marriage equality.
6. WE NEED A FAMILY COURT INQUIRY
Though it is unclear where this idea sprung from, the so-called “minister for love” – but only if it's love between heterosexual married people, of course – Member for Menzies Kevin Andrews, has been appointed by Morrison to run the new inquiry into family law.
Andrews, who famously compared gay marriage to friendship with his cycling mates, says he just wants relationships to be “stable” — unlike his faculties, clearly.
The Morrison Government may look average and even shiny on the surface but in reality, it is more like the sludge that slowly builds up at the bottom of the aquarium, until nothing but a complete cleanout will do.
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