Latest Coalition scandal erodes trust in politics

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Angus Taylor is currently in deep water (screenshot via YouTube).

Our Government is reaching Trumpian heights, writes Dr Jennifer Wilson.

BEING OUT OF the 24/7 news cycle for a few weeks offers an opportunity for perspective on what Prime Minister Scott Morrison so dismissively refers to as the “Canberra bubble.” It is indeed a bubble, though Morrison uses the term to avoid answering questions he ought to be answering by implying that they are irrelevant to the rest of the country, an act of bad faith.

It’s disturbingly obvious that politics has about as much to do with good governance as the law has to do with justice. On the increasingly rare occasions good governance and politics coincide it is more by accident than design. The LNP government appears to hold limited interest in good governance while being strongly committed to a particularly low form of politics.

The most recent example of this low politics is Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s extraordinary foray into fake news this week, when his Department sent a press release to the Daily Telegraph claiming that the Sydney City Council spent $15.9 million on travel expenses for its councillors.

In reality, the Council’s annual report showed the figure was less than $6,000. When challenged, a spokesperson from Taylor’s office doubled down, making the truly outlandish claim that the council had changed its figures from $15.9 million to $6,000 in order to conceal its extravagant costs. Taylor himself continues to insist that his figures originated from the Council’s website and that those figures have since been changed. However, checks of Council’s metadata show this not to be the case and Federal Labor intends to refer the matter to the NSW police.

Taylor is not known for his accuracy with figures, repeating misleading claims on carbon emissions yet again. And of course, there’s his central involvement in the Grassgate and Watergate scandals, both of which have yet to be addressed by the Government in which he is a Minister.

However, Taylor’s absurd claim of millions of dollars of travel expenditure by Sydney City councillors is an escalation to another level of contemptible behaviour. It is, or perhaps more accurately it used to be, unthinkable that a government minister would knowingly permit the issuing of an allegedly fraudulent set of figures to a national newspaper for publication with the intention of discrediting a political opponent. Yet, here we are.

So out of control is Taylor that he exaggerates the figures by millions, not thousands, and seems to expect us to believe that the Council is so corrupt it would falsify its Councillors travel to such an astounding extent. Having apparently got way with so much already, Taylor appears to have entirely lost his head and what little judgement he ever had.

Taylor’s latest exploit is pure Trump. Like a gorilla throwing its excrement at zoo visitors, Trump hurls disinformation from the White House out into the world where it is smeared across the news cycle. If some of it sticks, if some of it enthuses the base, then the goal has been achieved. What Taylor has done is no different, and he has the Murdoch sewer to spout his views.

In Australia, the liars currently rule. They only rule by a very small majority, however, they do rule. This is the case across the Anglosphere, where white men who appear to have the ethical standards of English kings maddened by syphilis, and Caligula, currently hold all our fates in the palms of their hands.

The wilful, destructive and ego-driven obstinacy of such men is heartbreakingly obvious in the Australian landscape, perhaps more than any other. White settlers were determined to force a country new to them and about which they were entirely ignorant, into a replica of home.

They neither knew nor cared what their parochial vision would do to the land and the Indigenous people who have cared for country for 60,000 years. Such men had no sense of custodianship, rather their ambition was to exploit. The same can be said today.

The Morrison Government has no sense of custodianship, of good governance. Its ambition is to exploit, for the benefit of its own kind and at the ongoing expense of the country and everyone in it not of their tribe. Angus Taylor is their current poster boy. He’s allegedly exploited our water and our grasslands, betrayed his responsibility as Energy Minister by misleading us on carbon emissions and is now embarking on a mission of gross misinformation in an extraordinarily immature attempt to discredit an opponent who does not share his views on climate change.

Taylor will, of course, be supported by the Prime Minister. We are plunging into Trumpism at a vertiginous speed. At the same time, it must be acknowledged that Australia is once again allowing a white settler mentality to dominate our politics and we cannot entirely blame Trump for the direction we’re taking.

The combination of Morrison’s religiosity, the Government’s affiliation with the U.S. leader and its increasing adoption of his methods and an inherent white Australian inclination towards exploitation of the land and its citizens, is a sobering and frightening one.  

You can follow Dr Jennifer Wilson on her blog No Place for Sheep or on Twitter @NoPlaceForSheep.

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