Politics Analysis

9 things Scott Morrison could have done for the flood emergency — but didn’t

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons)

When people are sitting on their rooftops and clinging to discarded car tyres to avoid drowning as they watch all their worldly possessions float away in a torrent of devastation, what is the leader of the nation to do?

Meet with Murdoch-installed far-Right nut-job Piers Morgan — of course!

This week, floods and tornado-strength winds ravaged huge swathes of Queensland and northern New South Wales, with ten lives lost, thousands of homes washed away, tens of thousands of residents ordered to evacuate and rescue calls overwhelming the capabilities of emergency services.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, meanwhile, was very busy. Not visiting affected areas to help with mitigation measures, like sandbagging or rescue efforts, or just in an attempt to lift morale. Nor was ScoMo tapping into the unspent $4.7 billion disaster fund, set up for, well … disasters just like these.

Instead, the PM – the same PM who was too busy to attend the National Press Club address by Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins or with women protesting domestic violence – was busily chewing the fat with Piers Morgan. UK far-Right poster boy Morgan had recently arrived courtesy of the Murdoch lear jet, after getting sacked from his Good Morning Britain gig, to add still another, as yet unrepresented level of insanity to Sky News — and also to attend “power meetings”.  

One such power meeting was with our Prime Minister, about which Morgan fawned on Twitter:

‘Great to meet Australia’s Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP at his office. Had a fascinating 45-min chat about Ukraine, China, cancel culture (not a fan), @BorisJohnson (big fan), cricket (the Ashes) & my new global TV show. Thanks for your time, PM.’

The image of the PM shaking hands with Morgan emerged on social media as much of Australia’s east coast submerged into swampland and, whether or not the meeting happened prior to the flooding as Morgan claimed, it says a lot about Morrison’s priorities.

Morgan added later that he also “met” with Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese. Except Albanese and Morgan happened to meet while they attended the same Sky News event (at which Morrison was also in attendance), not quite a scheduled 45-minute tête-à-tête in the Prime Minister’s office but nice try, Piers.

But back to our list. What other possible courses of action could the leader of a nation faced with this level of emergency take?

Here are nine suggestions:

  1. visit a flood-affected site to roll up your sleeves and help volunteers — not just to release photo opportunities;
  2. declare a state of emergency;
  3. give immediate and sufficient monetary aid and resources in a coordinated national response – perhaps using the allocated $4.7 billion fund set aside for this purpose;
  4. ensure the needs of emergency workers and volunteers are met;
  5. give immediate unconditional aid to flood victims;
  6. concede that his Government’s policies are exacerbating the risk, frequency and intensity of catastrophic events;
  7. declare a climate emergency;
  8. act to reduce carbon emissions; and
  9. formulate a long-term strategy without further delay to deal with future catastrophic events.

Ever hard at work, the Prime Minister and his diligent ministerial team instead did the following:

1. Refused to hold a mop

 Like his aversion to hoses, the PM also refused to hold a mop, but he did offer meaningless platitudes such as:

“There will be some very tough, days weeks and months ahead for thousands of people in NSW and Queensland and the clean-up and recovery process will take some time.”

2. Held on to $4.7 billion disaster relief fund

Morrison has not offered assistance from the disaster relief fund expressly set aside for this purpose – which has remained hitherto untouched, even following the bushfire emergency – for reason or reasons unknown and about which we cannot speculate. Others, however, have speculated that it will be added to the Coalition's election war chest.

3. Passed off pandemic measures as “disaster relief”

While claiming Australians have already received $17 billion in disaster relief over the past three years, the Morrison Government has “accidentally” included pandemic measures in the total expenditure.

4. – 5.

(See the full editorial here.)

6. Refused assistance to flood-prone Lismore

Lismore – a state Labor electorate – and one of the most flood-prone areas of Australia has been devastated by the recent catastrophe. But it was not classed as a priority area for Federal flood mitigation funding, removed from the list just three months before its current battle with record floods.

7. Announced a woefully inadequate one-off payment

After much public criticism, Morrison announced a one-off payment of $1000 for each adult and $400 for each child in total for every family that “qualifies for help”. Based on sports rorts and car park rorts, non-marginal Labor electorates need not apply, obviously. 

8. Provided disaster support teams ... only  for Coalition electorates

It appears that flood victims can only expect assistance if they happen to live in a Coalition electorate as the following Tweet from Senator Murray Watt suggests:

9. Persisted in his denial of climate change

Morrison has refused point-blank to instigate meaningful policy to help mitigate future national (and international) disasters or even to accept the warnings and advice of his own departments on the topic.

Yesterday, we learned that Morrison has tested positive for COVID. Due to the timing of this dramatic announcement combined with Morrison's penchant for telling porkies, many have expressed doubts over the veracity of this news.

However, it is important to note that the PM had ample time to implement many if not all of the above suggestions prior to his isolation. Morrison also announced that he would "enact all his responsibilities as prime minister" while in isolation (ahem). Perhaps he is only able to perform prime ministerial duties while isolated, then.

This latest national disaster echoes Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s inability to lead during the bushfire crisis and during the pandemic. It paints an unflattering, if not repugnant picture of a man’s ignorant refusal to act in the face of the climate emergency. It reveals his lack of empathy for bushfire victims, for rape victims, for the old, the sick and the homeless, and it reminds us that he prefers to keep the company of people like Piers Morgan. And it will likely cement his fate when the Federal Election is finally called.

This is an abridged version of an editorial originally published in the IA weekly newsletter. Subscribe now to read the full version online in the IA members-only area.

You can follow managing editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter at @independentaus, on Facebook HERE and on Instagram HERE.

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