Politics Editorial

Coalition gaffes galore to the tune of an off-key ukulele

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Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons

The Prime Minister's abysmal ukulele performance is a parable for the off-key tune by which the Coalition governs Australia, writes managing editor Michelle Pini

IT IS FITTING that the Prime Minister chose to strum away on a ukulele the tune of a well-known song this week.

It is fair to surmise that he chose to go on national television with this display without having practised, or even bothering to respect the music enough to learn the words, performing a much-loved Dragon song badly and without any apparent embarrassment. Even the song's subject matter, which deals with a fracas between the U.S. and Cuba, appears to have escaped the PM.

Morrison’s advisers may think it made him appear more like an ordinary, everyday flawed person.

It did not.

This performance, instead, mirrored Morrison’s approach to the job of governing this country. As Prime Minister, he displays a shameless disrespect for the privileged position he holds, leading his ministry with the entitled air of an incompetent monarch, without preparation, without effort to properly educate himself and without care for the consequences.

Under this Prime Minister, this is the off-key tune by which the Coalition governs Australia.

TUDGE MAY FINALLY BUDGE

This week, it emerged the Prime Minister has been sweating over whether to sack former-Education Minister Alan Tudge for some time. Well, for about two weeks, anyway — longer than he spent practising the ukulele.

You may remember Tudge as one of the ministers who inspired Turnbull’s “bonk ban”. Tudge was the one who had an affair with staffer Rachelle Miller and covered it up. Miller then accused him of abuse. An internal “investigation” was commenced in secret, during which time Tudge admitted to the affair but not the abuse.

And all was forgiven.

Until now.

Because ... affairs with staffers? Not a problem. Abuse of staffers? Neither here nor there. But staffers (particularly female ones) getting promoted and still blowing the whistle? That’s just too embarrassing and cannot be tolerated.

The report from the secret inquiry was given to the PM on January 28 and surprise, surprise, it did not find Ms Miller’s physical and emotional abuse allegations against Tudge were warranted.

However, it did find that Tudge had attempted to promote his staffer while they were having an undisclosed relationship.  

Miller, understandably, refused to participate in the internal inquiry, saying:

“The government’s rush to judgment and sanitising of the terms of reference smacks of a political fix.”

Despite his inertia since then, Morrison said he was taking the matter "extremely seriously” but has made no formal announcement.

Nonetheless, the removal of his ministerial nameplate from Tudge’s door would appear to be a dead giveaway. Of course, it would also not surprise anyone who has watched earlier ministerial misconduct rewarded if Tudge has, instead, been promoted but his new nameplate is still to be delivered.

MALE CEO? NO NEED TO GO

Then there’s the matter of which executives must go and which may stay as long as they like and rob everyone blind. You may recall the Prime Minister’s apoplectic response to then-Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate’s gold watch gifts to four senior staff (totalling $12,000). Holgate was humiliated and bullied into leaving the organisation, which after mediation, paid her $1 million compensation. Morrison has steadfastly refused to apologise to Holgate.

This week, reports of five senior (male) managers at Australia Post receiving gifts in the hundreds of thousands and more than $500,000 being handed over to just one staff member, to encourage them to stay on, has raised not a whimper from Morrison. But current CEO Paul Graham is male, so, naturally, he can stay. 

In the meantime, New South Wales nurses – who are predominantly female – have had to take to the streets for better conditions and an increase to their average annual pay of approximately $71,599 in total. 

The Government announced a public sector worker pay freeze in 2020.

It seems they (and others on the frontline, such as teachers and daycare workers) are only deemed to be "essential" and described as "devoted", as long as they don't expect to be properly remunerated. Or, in the case of nurses, request mandated staff to patient ratios so they don't drop dead from exhaustion during the escalating pandemic disaster. 

GIFTS FOR DONORS/FREEZE FOR WORKERS

Then there’s the long list of tenders being gifted to companies of dubious eligibility. The latest, exposed during Senate Estimates, yesterday, involves everyone's favourite despot, Minister for Defence Peter Dutton.

Dutton awarded Canstruct International a $1.8 billion contract, despite the organisation having no staff, no assets and no revenue at the time.

Nor was any due diligence carried out before the money was handed over — the transaction most likely taking place at one of the many new car parks built by the Federal Government, with the cash stashed in a brown paper bag.

Canstruct International, however, does have a rich history of political donations to the Liberal Party. 

Dutton's largesse has helped the Queensland-based detention centre operator make $101 million in profit (at least $500,000) for each detainee on Nauru and has cost the Australian taxpayer over $4 million each year ($12,000 per day) per asylum seeker.

It is fitting that the Prime Minister chose to strum away on a simple ukulele the tune of a well-known song this week, without having practised, learnt the words or informed himself of the subject matter, and without any apparent embarrassment. His performance is a metaphor for the Coalition Government he leads.

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. Also, follow Independent Australia on Twitter @independentaus and on Facebook HERE, and in the new IA subscriber-only Facebook page HERE.

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