Somehow, Scott Morrison has managed to exploit the current crisis so that he is now being presented as a sage leader, a statesman, even – most disturbingly – the father of our nation.
Gone is the “accidental” Liberal leader, the daggy dad and the kingpin of rorts.
Missing, feared dead, is the outrage at the PM’s negligence bordering on criminality, which allowed a cruise ship – known to be carrying coronavirus-afflicted passengers – to disembark without issue.
This single profound act of negligence has led to
'... more than 600 cases [of coronavirus] ... and at least 21 deaths, making it the single biggest source of infection in Australia.'
Forgotten are the many transgressions, which, just a few short weeks ago, exposed a ruthless, self-interested, incompetent politician. In his place, “ScoMoses”, the benevolent father figure, has risen.
And the mainstream PR machine is lapping it up, only stopping short of bringing him slippers and a pipe after a hard day’s 40-minute media conference. The PM’s pressers are now presented as public information sessions, in which Scotty from Marketing’s self-congratulation for Australia’s COVID-19 response is repeated incessantly — lest we forget the previous day’s key talking points.
We can hardly fail to get the picture. Australians are tucked away from reality, self-isolating and feeling nervous for our future and that of our children — we are vulnerable. Many of us long for a kindly, decisive father figure to rescue us.
Enter Scotty from Marketing and his mainstream media publicity department.
But when it comes to this Government, caution is key and we should beware the marketing manager bearing gifts and positioning himself as Australia’s father of the year. Has ScoMo really saved us from COVID-19 or has the pandemic saved the PM from getting toppled as Liberal leader and the political purgatory which would await him?
For those whose memory needs a little jogging, here are just nine of the many reasons not to embrace Scotty from Marketing as our big daddy:
SOMEONE ALERT CHILD SERVICES
1. Daddy Morrison abandoned his “children” during the bushfire crisis. He also covered up his Hawaiian holiday location, lied about it and, when he was found out, pretended to cut his holiday short for the sake of the nation. His responsible ministers were also missing in action. Upon his return, Morrison made his key priority a publicity campaign to appear as though he was actually doing something.
2. Aided by his chief henchman, Peter Dutton, this particular Daddy made it his mission to torture the children of refugees along with their parents — even reopening a previous island persecution location, just to stop them receiving medical care. A family of four with two small children is still being held captive on Christmas Island, serving as a case in some convoluted but cruel point.
THE "GOD" FATHER
3. As Prime Minister, Daddy ScoMo has overseen the biggest rorts scandal since ... well, since those of his two predecessors, the "choppergate" and "travel rorts" affairs. Most of the ministers who had previously been demoted for various rorts have also since been rewarded for their misdeeds with promotions — by Morrison. The latest "sports rorts" saga has seen only one demotion, despite indications that Morrison himself was well aware, if not directly responsible for the shenanigans.
4. The surplus is probably the least worrying of the many areas where Morrison has been derelict in his duty — since not delivering a surplus is unlikely to lead to death and destruction. However, given that this, along with the promised tax cuts enabling this promise to eventuate, was the only policy this Government took to the election, the fact that it hasn’t materialised is a major problem. The fact that debt had also doubled prior to the coronavirus has also apparently been forgotten.
Where are the catcalls of "worst economic managers" from the mainstream media?
PLAYGROUNDS OF MINEFIELDS AND PLAGUES
5. When it comes to ensuring a safe environment for his “family”, this PM has not only failed dismally, he has actively engaged in harmful practices, such as worshipping coal, ignoring the science and even bragging about doing something positive while simultaneously and deliberately increasing our carbon emissions.
Even when the evidence of the link between climate change and Australia burning down before our eyes became undeniable, Scotty stubbornly refused to do anything remotely helpful to alleviate the climate emergency and future disasters, to which Australia is particularly vulnerable.
6. Australia was aware of the coronavirus well ahead of any action on the part of the PM. Indeed, his initial response mirrored that of Trump. "Let’s all go to the footy", cried ScoMo. Followed by, "We must go into lockdown for the sake of our health! ... But only after my mates from all over the world attend the essential Hillsong mega-church conference."
Then it was only adults that needed to stay home, despite sending their kids to school and kinder with other adults.
It’s hard to know what triggered the change in his behaviour, perhaps it was the state premiers, who mostly did act quickly and decisively, largely ignoring ScoMo. Perhaps that marketing instinct just kicked in. But although Morrison did, eventually, take crucial steps to deal with the pandemic, he did so kicking and screaming — even threatening schools with loss of funding if they closed.
And, as if allowing the kids to run free in a pandemic wasn’t enough, Daddy ScoMo decided to give the babysitters months off at the same time, inexplicably shutting down Parliament until August.
Then there was the ongoing comedy of mixed messages where we were allowed out, but only in some states, during a full moon and for the purposes of getting our hair cut, but not coloured.
7. And when Labor suggested a stimulus package to offset business and job losses, Morrison and chief bean counter Josh Frydenberg ridiculed the idea.
Eventually, a huge stimulus package was created. However, it is important to remember that – like the bushfire relief package – most of this promised money has not yet been received by workers or businesses. Many people will also be required to pay it back – Robodebt style – since the qualification criteria is open to interpretation.
And while this Government has been completely opaque about almost everything else, it has been clear about the so-called “snapback”. That period immediately following the pandemic when it will, supposedly, get that budget "back in the black" but sometime in the future. Expect austerity. Big time.
8. "Stopping boats" except when they are coronavirus-infected cruise ships, is perhaps the most criminally negligent failure of Scott Morrison and his fellow “adults” in charge. There are at least 600 confirmed cases and 21 deaths directly linked to this one epic disaster. How on Earth did this happen and will anyone be held responsible?
9. Lastly, not content with his bizarrely increased popularity, Morrison is once again milking this crisis for all it is worth and using that patriarchal authoritarianism to increase surveillance on his own citizens. An app, tracking our every move, ostensibly to ensure we are conforming with social distancing rules, has been created — for our own good, of course.
Seizing the opportunity, Home Affairs Minister and head bouncer Peter Dutton also wants to fine us $50,000 and send us to prison if we fail to give him our passwords for good measure. After all, we might be playing up on social media behind our parents' backs.
There is no doubt Australia has fared well compared to many of our counterparts with respect to this pandemic. Australians have accepted the restrictions and, for the most part, heeded the warnings indicated by the experience of countries such as Italy. But even a cursory analysis of Morrison’s individual part in this comes up short, if not completely negligible.
The man who engineered Turnbull’s demise, the daggy dad pretending to ride around in a blue bus while cramming in as many photo ops of pie eating and beer drinking as possible and the leader of rorts just happens to hold the title of PM.
We are "flattening the curve" of the pandemic in spite of Morrison rather than because of him.
This editorial was originally published as part of the Independent Australia weekly newsletter. These editorials are usually only available to subscribers and may be read online in the IA members-only area.
It takes less a minute to subscribe to IA and costs as little as $5 a month, or $50 a year — a very small sum for quality journalism and many great extras.
Support independent journalism Subscribe to IA.