In the first of a regular Independent Australia column, colourful Melbourne racing enthusiast, legitimate businessman and alleged Russian bot John Wren gives his take on this week's events in Australian politics.
Where do I start?
In Melbourne, which is the grips of a State election (Saturday, 23 November), we had the unedifying sight of our seat-warming PM, Scott Morrison and his annoying Victorian side-kick, lobster aficionado Matthew Guy shedding crocodile tears over the murder of Sisto Malaspina, bon vivant and co-owner of Melbourne icon Pellegrini’s Café.
The murderer was well known to police and ASIO. He was clearly mentally-disturbed and his fragile mental state no doubt made him susceptible to Islamic extremism. Was he a terrorist? Or was he just mad? Clearly the Liberal Party desperately wanted him to be the former so that they could capitalise on the so-called law and order issue in Melbourne for the election. To stand in front of Pellegrini’s – an institution founded by immigrants, an institution that welcomed all – and spread division, racism and Islamophobia was simply wrong. It might go down well in Morrison’s Shire, but in Melbourne, it was met with the same dismay as a pork chop at a Muslim wedding. The fact Guy went along with it and joined in demonstrates how unfit he is to lead the great multicultural state of Victoria.
Mathew Wise-Guy has been talking up crime in Melbourne now for well over a year. The statistics don’t support his stance, but his scare campaign has been picked up by Murdoch’s Herald Sun. The great unwashed masses who read the drivel scribbled by Bolt, Devine, Kenny et al give it some currency.
Anecdotes, of course, are not statistics, so what is the true story? Well, the last Baillieu/Napthine Victorian State Liberal Government cut funding and police numbers dramatically, this in turn led to an increase in crime for the incoming Andrews Labor Government. You’d have to live under a rock in Melbourne to not know that the Victorian Police has been on a massive recruitment drive to replenish and add to the numbers cut by the Liberals. The increased police numbers have in turn led to a decrease in the crime statistics. Melbourne is now arguably the safest city in Australia and in fact one of the safest cities in the world. One thing that’s a constant for the Liberals though, is they never let facts get in the way of a good story.
He claims to have done this so that he could talk about abortion without being accused of being an “old white conservative male”, which would of course not be an accusation but a simple statement of fact. As it turned out he was the vanguard of a new drive by the coalition to get more elected women into their ranks. The word has gone out for other coalition male MPs and Senators to do similar. Chris Pyne is strongly rumoured to be the next cab off the rank. It was also said that Barnaby Joyce had made a bee-line to Beryl’s offices on the news that there was a new female in parliament house. He was heard to be muttering something about “fresh meat” as he ran down the corridor.
And finally, we saw Morrison make an idiot of himself overseas. It was good to see him do it outside of Australia for a change. Australians cringed watching him tell the Chinese Premier that he knew the words “ni hao” from his time as a tourism marketer (a job he was sacked from both in NZ and later Australia).
It was on this trip that Morrison’s Wentworth by-election brain-fart about moving our embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem came home to roost. The announcement was made in a desperate and pointless attempt to win over Jewish voters — who were already mostly on board with the Liberals anyway. There is no upside to the embassy shift. It would cost a substantial amount of money, is at best symbolic and as we have seen will upset our hugely populated Muslim majority neighbours to our North. From a practical sense it also makes little sense. The bulk of Israel’s population live in the coastal strip from Tel Aviv to Haifa and the Galilee to the North East. The current location is much more central and has easier access for those who need to visit it.
The Indonesians pointedly said they would not sign Morrison’s much vaunted Free Trade Agreement if the embassy were to move. It was reported that the Australian delegation told the Indonesians that there was less than a 5 per cent chance of the embassy actually moving. Which is ironic given that there is also less than a 5 per cent chance of Morrison being re-elected as PM. It will be comical watching Morrison now try to back away from his embassy shambles without being seen to lose face.
That’s it for this week. As the Government lurches from catastrophe to crisis to omnishambles, I can’t wait to see what next week has in store for us!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
Get on the right track. Subscribe to IA.