ScoMo: Soft and fluffy with added stain remover

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The Abbott-Turnbull government’s new ScoMo, the soft and fluffy laundry product with added stain remover, is being aggressively marketed. Yet no-one is buying, writes David Tyler.

Morrison the Monster of Manus and Nauru, the Operation Sovereign Borders Chief who militarised our refugee response, is irretrievably shop-soiled by his dark past.

His pitch assumes otherwise: “trust me", he pleads, "I’m not bringing in any changes to the GST. But we need to find a way to get our tax rates lower”.

Morrison has his Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) script off pat. It’s pure Tea Party nonsense. Our tax system with its bracket creep is crippling our productivity. As if those on $80,000 or over will knock back a pay rise because of a few extra cents in the dollar tax. Or get their goals all confused. That’s what he would have us believe.

What he means is he needs a GST to pay for tax cuts. He’s just not saying.

In saying nothing, Morrison reveals a lot. Much of it ugly. "Bugger the Westminster doctrine of ministerial responsibility. I am not here to account for my actions."

Commodity prices are crashing, export earnings are at an all-time low, we can't collect half the company tax that's due us but we do not have a revenue problem; we have an expenditure problem. Because of Labor.

You don’t have to be a Freudian to sense the man’s not well. Just as well he’s not in charge of anything important.

Morrison has been booted upstairs because he’s a rival to Turnbull. Not because he has talent. Now he poses as our cute and fluffy Treasure-bunny, a stuffed toy in the window of Business As Usual the department store run by Adani, the IPA and Co.

Treasury does all the work. The minister takes all the credit and dodges all responsibility while focusing on the main task ahead. Sell a new version of himself.

Cue Annabel Crabb’s soft-soapie touchy-feely recent episode of Kitchen Cabinet. This is the new ScoMo commercial, a vehicle for reminiscing fondly how he and Jules were given the bum’s rush in Sri Lanka but how he just loves its curries.

Annabel can’t shut the man up, he’s so pumped with his own promo.

“Crabbers” helps all she can but, in the end KC, is a tacky mess.  We are meant to see a wholesome, home-loving, sweet and decent human being. But behind the rimless glasses lurks the bully who had a go at Gillian Triggs for questioning the detention of children — part of Abbott’s plan to force her to resign. That went well.

All we get on KC is a feeling of being deceived — and worse. Morrison will do anything to present his best side, but the ScoMo promo demeans us all.

In 2010, Morrison condemned Labor when relatives of asylum seekers killed in a boat tragedy off Christmas Island were flown to attend their loved ones’ funerals in Sydney. Tax-payers should not be paying for this, he thundered.

Later, he would spend millions on turn-back boats. As Minister of Immigration, he ordered officers to intercept terrified refugees, confiscate and destroy their boats before decanting men, women and children into dinky custom-built orange fibre-glass craft with just enough fuel to get back into the hands of their tormentors. They were then consigned them to the high seas. Stop them drowning.

Morrison would wash his hands of his ministerial responsibility to protect those seeking refuge and not endanger them. To say nothing of refoulement, and other UN conventions on refugees. Or change portfolios. None of this absolves him.

Reza Barati, the 23 year old Iranian bashed to death February 18 2014 on Manus by guards, leaves a grieving family who want answers. Others attempt suicide by ingesting laundry products and anything else toxic they can get their hands on. Every second day someone attempts self-harm.

Hamid Kehazaei, 24, dies of septicaemia from a cut three weeks because there’s so much paper work in the way of getting him to a Brisbane hospital. A 23 year old Somalian refugee, Abyan, who is pregnant after being raped on Nauru suffers monumental obstructionism instead of timely access to a termination procedure and other relevant medical help.

Criticisms, Morrison tells us are 'not based on any primary knowledge of the event or the circumstances’.  Besides, we’ve stopped the drownings. Dutton is equally dismissive of the preventable death of Fazel Chegeni in October 2015 or the Christmas Island riot, which resulted from his decision to mix violent criminals, minor offenders and asylum seekers. 

Oddly, none of this bubbles up through the KC froth. Morrison is not to be held to account for his past portfolios: he’s been granted immunity by dint of his elevation to Treasurer-Poo Bah and Lord High Everything Else. He stopped the boats. Amen. While Rudd was PM? Besides Liberal treasurers don’t do questions. They rant about Labor’s wasteful failure while blithely creating a debt and deficit mess of their own.

To be fair to the treasurer, even if he could atone for his horrific past, there are just too many questions to answer, not even counting those from previous jobs he’s walked away from. Here’s a few for starters.

  • Where’s the eighty billion of school and hospital funding your government took from the states?
  • Why is it a fantasy to require all multinational corporations to pay their fair share of tax?
  • Why spend $50 billion subsidising Super for wealthy contributors? 
  • What is fair about a GST rise that will hit poor and needy people hardest?

Our ABC Sunday night, helped the PM in “having a deeper conversation” about domestic violence. This was Turnbull’s defence of cuts. Tell that to women desperate to find shelter. Some 423 people are turned away from homeless shelters every night.

Just repay the money, Mal. Cut your subsidy to rich men’s super. $38 million would do it. It’s a pittance when you put it alongside your multinational corporate tax evaders. Take Shell, for example, which you’ve allowed to pay no company tax although it has pumped $60 billion from us over the past three years.

Clearly, the Treasurer has no intention of levelling with us. He can hope that a tax cut bribe for some of us will fool us into buying a GST hike for everyone which will have double the real cost on lower income earners than on the well-heeled. And once again ScoMo’s simply not telling.

Instead, chants his mantra: “We don’t have a revenue problem, we have an expenditure problem.”

Don’t rule out something colourful — some more high camp performance art. Tax accountants may be decorated for their courage in collecting more from the poor while the rich get rewarded for evasion?

Will ScoMo match the sheer Dadaist brilliance of his “on water” denial of ministerial responsibility? Will we suddenly be at war with the demonised, desperate poor who like our asylum seekers have done everything to deserve our compassion and absolutely nothing to incur our bizarrely inappropriate show of brute force and hostility?

Suddenly? Aren’t we there already?

You can follow David Tyler on Twitter @urbanwronski.

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