Prime Minister Scott Morrison is more concerned with potential threats from outside the nation rather than focusing on domestic problems, writes Hannah Thomas.
THE RECENT FOOTAGE of Prime Minister Scott Morrison lifting his safety visor and staring directly into blinding flames while welding for a photo op encapsulates the reckless idiocy that has defined his prime ministership and made us all less safe.
And it must be emphasised, against the din of his hyperventilated ravings on national security, that we are all less safe because of Morrison.
By any rational, meaningful definition of “national security”, there is no greater threat than climate change. So, any leader whose approach to dealing with climate change is to hasten it by opening new coal, oil and gas plants is the threat and should never be taken seriously on national security, end of story.
Climate change poses a much greater existentialist threat than the traditional security concerns that Morrison likes to fantasise about and froth over due to the relationship between climate stability, food and water supply, public health and ecosystem stability. Climate change is also a crisis multiplier with its potential to exacerbate refugee crises, inequality, political instability and conflict.
In the immediate term, we in the colony face more frequent, extreme weather events that are directly and indirectly harming our health, livelihoods and communities. Despite our vulnerability in the driest inhabited continent on Earth, Morrison is responsible for the world’s worst climate policy, without exaggeration. And every disaster sets a new low, with a government-initiated GoFundMe page to help Queensland flood victims being current rock bottom.
Morrison’s approach to the other threatening elephant in the room, COVID-19, has been similar: unleash the mutating beast and leave it to individuals to avoid being trampled. He shirked responsibility right out of the blocks and continued to run from matters which were unambiguously for his Government: quarantine, aged care outbreaks, vaccine and rapid antigen test supply and the broadcasting of vaccine misinformation by his colleagues.
As of 31 January 2022, 2,639 people have died with or from COVID-19 in Australia according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Those deaths were far from evenly spread — it turns out it’s much harder to “live with the virus” and survive the Morrison Government if you aren’t rich and White.
At the peak of the most recent wave in Victoria, a code brown emergency was declared across the hospital system. Ambulance Victoria declared a code red twice in a week. Supply chains were thrown into chaos and worker shortages brought the economy to its knees, proving beyond doubt that economic stability depends upon human health (as if that needed to be proved).
Morrison was his usual cool, calm and absent. He went to the cricket and Bathurst, refusing to do the bare minimum to keep us safe by making RATs free or at least clamping down on the businesses overcharging for them. He completely abandoned us.
And whilst our summer wave continues to kill those in its path even as it slows, Morrison has set us up for a terrifying winter onslaught. He’s flung borders open while booster rates remain low (perhaps because he keeps pandering to anti-vaxxers). Nothing has been done to fix the structural problems in aged care.
Worse, by failing to fulfil our duty to vaccinate poor countries (none of the promised COVAX doses has been delivered), he’s locked in the inevitability of a new variant. There’s no telling what it will bring. It could be milder or deadlier. Perhaps harsher for children or with greater instances of long COVID. All we know is a new variant will come and will be more transmissible. And if Morrison is still in office, he will say no one could have anticipated it — except that everyone could have.
Morrison is no better at keeping us safe on the national security issues he likes to focus on. He ignores the Nazis outside Parliament House and those threatening senators and burning flags. Instead, he focuses on ramming through unnecessary visa cancellation character test legislation seemingly for the sole purpose of testing the flaccidity of the Opposition.
Morrison can’t even mention China without endangering us. His attempts to portray Labor as soft on China and find policy differences where they don’t exist (do any policy differences exist?) sparked concerned interventions from not one but two ASIO bosses. His dogged determination to manufacture hostility against China at every opportunity is also putting the safety of people of Chinese descent in the colony at stake.
And of course, there’s Morrison’s version of a billionaire’s penis rocket. The decision to acquire eight nuclear submarines at an estimated cost of between $70 billion to $171billion has not received nearly as much scrutiny or pushback as it deserves thanks to the Murdoch chokehold and a vacant opposition. But it’s a decision that makes us all unsafe according to nuclear experts, placing us at greater danger of war or nuclear accident.
Worse, it’s a decision that tethers our fate to the U.S. for decades to come. A truly startling decision made just weeks after the disastrous end to America’s longest war, an unmitigated tragedy which Australia should never have had a hand in.
It seems inconceivable, even taking into account Morrison’s breathtaking incompetence, that a government could act so consistently and blatantly against the interests of its own people on matters of safety, often with bipartisan blessing. Explaining that treachery became easier with the recent release of the Australian Democracy Network’s report on state capture.
State capture is the systematic erosion of our democracy by powerful, private interests, including through financial intervention in politics, lobbying and institutional repurposing. State capture explains why fossil fuel company profits come before children’s futures, why Harvey Norman’s bottom line comes before our health and why the prosperity of the arms industry comes before peace.
Politicians from the major parties no longer serve our interests; they are all Manchurian candidates, but the enemy powers pulling the strings aren’t countries but corporates. It’s easy to see why national security, our security, is secondary — corporate interests come first in this captured state and will continue to do so unless and until we elect enough candidates committed to fixing our democracy.
Hannah Thomas is a lawyer currently working in public policy. She has a keen interest in Australian and Malaysian politics.
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