The price of not paying attention: Five ministers we cannot afford

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Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons

The Morrison Government, whose only motivation appears to be getting elected and maintaining the status quo, can do a lot of damage in another three years.

Three years is a long time in any democracy. Three years of callous disregard for the vulnerable, the ill and the homeless, for the voiceless First Peoples, for the disabled and the elderly, the unemployed and the underemployed, and those held in detention without trial — some of whom have already attempted suicide this week. Three years is also a long time to spruik religion to a secular society, spit in the face of science and ignore the havoc we are wreaking on our natural world.

The reasons Labor lost this “unlosable” election are the same reasons any party loses: they didn’t read the mood of the people. This is what happened in the UK with the Brexit. It is what happened in the U.S. with Trump.

When you are politically engaged, when you have the luxury of being educated and the time to read widely, it’s easy to become complacent. It’s easy to assume. Many assumed that the fight was about ideas. That it was about putting forward policies and changes to meet some of the problems we face as a society.

1. Prime Minister Scott Morrison

How, then, could anyone have voted for Scott "ScoMo" Morrison? Morrison, a dictatorial religious zealot, toppled Turnbull, who toppled Abbott. He was a cruel and heartless immigration minister, now determined to overrule the Medevac Bill. 

Morrison has already wasted $185 million on a stunt purely to stop critically ill asylum seekers (including children) from receiving medical attention. Morrison voted against a banking royal commission 26 times. He believes coal is the answer to our problems. Morrison is a failed Treasurer, who managed to double our debt. And ScoMo campaigned with only one policy: tax cuts.

Read more about Scott Morrison here and here.

2. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton

How could anyone vote for Dutton? An even crueller immigration minister than Morrison, he believes compassion to be "a luxury we cannot afford". Dutton spends much of his time and a great deal of taxpayer money in the courts, fighting humanitarian efforts to help asylum seekers.

Dutton is a megalomaniac who favours his friends and continues to increase the powers of his super ministry, the Home Affairs Department — already a law unto itself. He has questions to answer regarding the Constitution and whether he should legally even be a government minister.

Read more about Peter Dutton here and here.

3. Member for New England and former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce

How could anyone vote for Barnaby Joyce? Joyce drinks and slurs his words before falling asleep in Parliament.

Barnaby spent endless hours actively campaigning against same-sex marriage on the grounds of the “sanctity of marriage”. At the same time, Barnaby was having an extra-marital affair, which has led to two pregnancies – apparently not against his brand of sanctity – which he continued to deny and which the mainstream media withheld until after his re-election. He then left his wife and four children and that particular marriage sanctity. Meanwhile, the object of his desire, a staffer in his ministry, was given promotions in other government departments, trips and expenses on the taxpayer dollar.

Joyce is the minister responsible for the destruction of the Murray-Darling system, who refuses to take any responsibility.

Read more about Barnaby Joyce here.

4. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg

Josh Frydenberg is a failed environment minister who had one job: implementing the National Energy Guarantee, a watered-down energy policy intended to address increased emissions and rising power prices. One job at which he failed, but for which he was promoted to Treasurer anyway. Josh’s other claim to fame is bringing the Budget “back in the black” — only he hasn’t.

When Frydenberg’s eligibility to be in Parliament was under question, he jumped up and down and called it unfair as his mother was a refugee. At the same time, 600 refugees were stranded on Manus Island without food, water or medication.

Frydenberg also wants to move the Jewish Embassy to Jerusalem. Forget decades of negotiation for a two-state solution, which Australia has championed.

Read more about Josh Frydenberg here.

5. Environment Minister Melissa Price

Melissa Price is the current Environment Minister, though you could be forgiven for not knowing this since she is rarely seen and does not give interviews. Her whereabouts became a running joke on social media as she disappeared from view completely in the lead up to the election.

Price has so far done zero to address the issue of species extinction, our dying water supply emergency or the threat to the Great Barrier Reef.

Surreptitiously, however, Price has managed to approve a new uranium mine in WA — one day before the election was announced.

Read more about Melissa Price here and here.

How could anyone vote for this Coalition Government?

While many of us were busy reading about Labor’s policy statements and decrying the ineptitude of this Government, we were lulled into a false sense of security.

As we mentioned earlier, the Coalition’s message was clear: “The Bill you can’t afford”.

Labor’s message? Well, it was complicated, it was detailed and, in the end, it was complacent. It did not adequately explain the benefits for workers, for middle-class Australians or how addressing climate change would help everybody.

How could we be so complacent as a nation as to re-elect this Government?

The answer quite possibly lies in this statement from Inside PR CEO and former editor of The Age, Michael Smith:

“In my view the election proved the old psychological maxim that people feel much more passionately about what they may lose rather than what they may gain.”

For readers who may not be aware, citizens have the legal right to refer any elected official to the High Court if there are question marks over his/her eligibility. For example, due to questions of citizenship, conflicts of interest or misleading campaign methods. This may only be done for representatives in your electorate for a period of 40 days following an election. Details are available here.

This editorial was originally published as part of the Independent Australia weekly newsletter. These editorials are usually only available to subscribers and may be read online in the IA members only area.

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You can follow executive editor Michelle Pini on Twitter @vmp9. Follow Independent Australia on Twitter at @independentaus and on Facebook HERE.

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