Scott Morrison has promised change if re-elected, but it's an empty promise after bulldozing Australia to ruin over the last three years, writes Dr Jennifer Wilson.
SEVEN DAYS before an election seems on the face of it a peculiar time to announce you’re going to change your personality, but that’s what Prime Minister Scott Morrison did last week.
He knew, he said, that he had been a “bulldozer” over the last couple of years, but that was out of necessity given he’d had to get the country through fire, plague and flood. According to Scott, the only way to successfully achieve that goal was to “bulldoze” a traumatised population through its manifold tribulations. No need for compassion and anyway, Scott doesn’t hold the tissues, does he?
Unfortunately for us, Morrison equates bulldozing with strength and resilience when in fact, as Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese pointed out, the machine is more aligned with rampant wrecking and wanton destruction, with tearing down rather than building up.
Of course, it is sometimes necessary to tear down before the building up can begin, however, inflicting that process on humans already shattered by events out of our control is, well, grossly miscalculated.
Indeed, a moment’s reflection tells anyone with a functioning brain cell that people affected by some or all of these events have not, by anyone’s standards except Morrison’s, “got through” these visitations of biblical proportions. Bushfire and flood survivors are still living in extremely difficult conditions. Australia now leads the world in COVID infections, with the death toll increasing daily.
We have not “got through” anything, and only the very privileged can claim that we have reached a mythical “other side.”
All Scott’s bulldozing has achieved is the burial of the realities of our situation in a metaphorical trench deeper than the Mariana, with the cooperation of the majority of media, of course. Little attention is paid to the plight of flood and fire survivors anymore, or the enormous difficulties they continue to face with minimal government support, while the silence on our increasingly alarming COVID status is deafening.
Prime ministerial bulldozing has brutally crashed through the anguished aftermath of calamitous events with little regard for additional damage caused and then he’s told us that it’s all over.
Scott has attempted to eradicate all evidence of trauma and instead impose his perverted narrative of resilience and strength on a population still reeling from two years worth of catastrophes. He’s bulldozed it all into the trench and us with it, and he’s currently backfilling.
The denial of our reality for his advantage has been the motif of his leadership style and it is by any definition, abusive.
It is hard to disagree with Scott’s own description of his methods throughout the crises. It’s notable that his rare moment of “self-reflection” has, despite all the odds, actually led him to a place of truth. He has bulldozed and he continues to bulldoze.
He is now attempting to bulldoze voters into risking his brutality for another three years, by undertaking to change gears. Research tells me that bulldozers generally have five forward and four reverse gears, so the PM will need to be a little more specific about which gears he will engage and under what circumstances he will engage them.
Scott’s promise to change if we re-elect him vividly echoes for many women our experiences with abusers who gave similar undertakings when they were also on the brink of defenestration. The Prime Minister has more than once been accused of gaslighting women and likened to an abusive partner. It does make one wonder if his spin doctors were too panicked to factor in this existing reputational stain when they advised him to throw himself on our mercy.
Like the promises of all abusers, Scott’s is contingent on you doing something for him — take him back and he’ll stop bulldozing, gaslighting or abusing you. It’s clear that he has no insight into his behaviour otherwise he’d undertake to change it whether we took him back or not. And without that insight, Scott, like any other abuser, won’t change. The best he can do is throw his bulldozer into reverse and smash us all over again.
Standing in the gutter outside the peoples’ house, his personal effects strewn around him and the locks the only things in the process of change, Morrison is desperate. He’s facing immense loss, the biggest of his life, and an uncertain future. He’ll promise anything to avoid what’s coming. He’ll be anything you want him to be for the rest of the week.
It’s not clear what about himself Scott is promising to change. What is clear is that the offer is driven by his fear of loss and humiliation, not regret for the many serious mistakes he has made while in office. The offer is made in bad faith and should be treated with contempt, as should any further offers.
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