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ScoMo plays Djoko but Dutton buys tanks

“Nine years long” reads a handmade sign in a sealed window of the Park Hotel, Swanston Street, Carlton, a grim, grey, makeshift, Melbourne gaol for forty-six refugees and asylum-seekers. Most were originally locked up on Papua New Guinea and Manus Island. Now the men are held against their will indefinitely, in contempt of international convention, compassion and human decency. Their food is mouldy and has weevils in it. A couple of floors catch fire in December, but no-one is allowed to leave the building.

Novak Djokovic also lobs here, Wednesday to Monday, a world champion reduced to persona non grata, after Border Force cancels his visa, but – in a sensational comeback – after Monday’s federal court hearing, he’s released into the care of his lawyer$.

The Park Hotel is a far cry from the Serb’s mountainside mansion in Monte Carlo, where he lives tax free. True, he has an incredible portfolio of luxury properties all over the world. New York. Miami. Soho. Even a penthouse in New Belgrade. But Border Force give him no option. Cancel his visa. Lock him up with the other poor sods.

But not for ever, Federal Court Judge, Anthony Kelly quashes the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa on procedural fairness. Border Force breaks a promise.

It’s a technical victory for the tennis star. Border Force fails to keep its word that Djokovic has until 8.30am to seek advice about his pending cancellation, instead cancelling his visa at 7.42am to finish the business before one officer’s shift ends.

Now the international tennis champion, antivaxxer, kinesiologist and property tycoon awaits a call from Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, a mate of the PM, a fellow evangelical and Morrison’s numbers man in the NSW party machine.

Mike Seccombe sees Hawke as a man made in the image of his mentor “hard-charging and abrasive”, an MP reviled by both wings of the party.

Seccombe, writes in The Saturday Paper detailing how Hawke’s leadership of Morrison’s faction in NSW, the centre-right, and his work as ScoMo’s delegate on the party’s state executive has been a catastrophe for the PM. An insider claims Hawke,

“has used his time as Morrison’s representative on the state executive in an endeavour to advance their factional position to the detriment of both conservatives and the moderates – to the point now where the conservatives and the moderates are in an alliance against Hawke. And that means against Morrison.”

In brief, Morrison’s Mini-Me is just the man to forge consensus and garner party support on the Djokovic fiasco, a blunder that splits a parliamentary party already frantic at the PM’s catastrophic failure on the pandemic, the economy, trade – everything he touches. Will the Serbian serve the coup de grâce to Morrison’s corrupted, clapped-out career?

It’s a mystery drama with a dilemma. Morrison’s Pentecostal pal, Hawke has the power to cancel Djokovic’s visa. Or Morrison, a notoriously sore loser, a man with a glass jaw, who hates us to see he’s a fool, looks a right royal prat. Which way it will go?

Hawke decides not to cancel Djokovic’s visa Monday night. He has four hours to use his personal power, under section 133 A or 133C(3) of the Migration Act 1958 if the Morrison government wants to try to keep the tennis champion in detention. Instead, he’ll let us know, Tuesday. In the meantime he discovers his party is divided.

Meanwhile it’s leaked that Border Force, our PM’s personal paramilitary is concerned the Serb or his agent may have lied on his travel declaration.

An alley cat toys with a six foot two mouse. It’s a PMO tactic to stretch out the saga; string us along. Distract. Helps distance Morrison from his minister’s act.

Meanwhile, Omicron ravages the nation while rapid antigen tests (RATS) and booster shots just can’t be found. Federal government policy in the face of a catastrophic rise in cases is a DIY testing regime. PCR test centres are overwhelmed, revealing yet again the wisdom of neoliberal outsourcing and privatisation of public health.

In an echo of its former inglorious failures, our Health Department didn’t order enough RATS. Or boosters. This helps shrink ballooning case numbers. As does the shrewd requirement that you phone in your result. Or making us pay. Other nations provide the tests free. But unless you’re a concession card holder, you pay. Or if you’re one of the millions in low paid casual work, the third of the workforce with no paid sick leave entitlement of leave, you simply do without. Such are your freedoms.

Reports of profiteering or “price gouging” as our “medium” prefers, proliferate. In an inspiring act of charity, the PM shares how his Jen is shopping for RATs, scouring Sydney’s more select suburbs, on a search and supply mission. Making herself useful. Having a go. Just one of us, really. It’s an uplifting fantasy of a Mum on struggle-street where Dad earns half a mill a year plus free board, lodging, transport and healthcare.

Also consoling to a nation wracked by coronavirus psychosis, a heady blend of fear, anxiety, depression and sheer despair is Spud’s uplifting shopping news.

Defence minister Dutton orders 120 yank tanks and other armoured vehicles, because you just don’t know when you’ll have to quell an ugly uprising by the poor. Suddenly submarines and long range anti-panda missiles are out Tanks and Humvees are in.

Spud finds a lazy $3.5 billion down the back of Abbott’s padded Defence Budget. The budgie smuggler pledged two percent of GDP to waste on war toys and other defence over-expenditure. Just for the optics. Make Labor look weak on national security.

Billions are wasted on new toys: replacing the ’59 Abrams M1A1s we bought in 2007, still in mint condition and unused in battle bar the odd ‘Roo shoot and bush bash.

As US imperialist running dogs of the century, we love buying America’s castoffs. Even obsolete military hardware can be a boon in a pandemic. A tank, or two, can help clear any congested supermarket carpark. Counter insurgency thrives in tight corners. Be just in time to quell bread riots as shelves empty across the nation. Besides hunger games, there’s the prospect of ugly insurrection over our fossil fuel mania, our ecocide.

Equally comforting in Morrison’s PsyOps is an image of the PM with a platter of two barramundi. Let’s just get Humpty Doo Barra home delivered like the Morrisons. It’s heady, aspirational stuff that helps us pull ourselves together in time of need. Almost as helpful as knowing we’ve got government ministers who can do what they like.

Hawke’s “personal power” as Immigration Minister allows him also to let the men banged up in the Park Hotel be released into the community. Or hospital. At least twenty are now sick with Covid. Not that you’d find space for ten now. Still, a triage in a taxi or a tent can save your life. If you can afford the fare. Or you can still walk.

But Hawke goes MIA. At The Park, medical care means you get one Panadol, dry, although a guard does say hospitalisation will be provided to the one or two who may need it, based on Omicron’s mild effect on the rest of the population. But that’s it.

A chap who asks for ginger to gargle to ease his Covid-affected sore throat is ignored.

Formerly, The Rydges on Swanston, The Park was May’s COVID-19 top super spreader, triggering Victoria’s second, deadly wave of coronavirus. Hundreds die. Almost all seven thousand infections, which devastate the state, are traced back to overseas arrivals at the hotel. Now it’s shaping up for an Omicron encore.

It’s a timely reminder of the Morrison government’s wisdom in not providing dedicated quarantine – and it also highlights our ongoing war on The Other which helps keep us safe, feeling relaxed and comfortable and gets Tory MPs re-elected.

Political prisoners, hidden in our midst, in shabby hotels, across Australia are suddenly thrust into the spotlight when Djokovic, Tennis World Champion, has his Visa cancelled by Border Force on arrival at Melbourne to play in The Australian Open. Is the refugee publicity an unforced error? Or are non-citizens now completely invisible?

We lead the world in secret prison camps. Calling them “detention centres” stops any hint that they are gulags. And how good is the word “processing” instead of indefinite, detention? But where we really shine is in throwing away the key.

On average, an asylum-seeker sentence in Australia is currently 689 days. Even in the US, it’s 55 days, unless they put you in Gitmo. In Canada it’s a fortnight. All you need do is arrive here by sea. It’s not a crime to seek asylum but the government still call you illegals. Neglect, maltreat and abuse you. Call you by a number, never your name.

Then PM, Abbott tells the UN to butt out in 2015, when Professor Juan Mendez, Special Rapporteur on Torture finds Australia’s asylum seeker policies violate the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Bugger rules-based order. Abbott is quick to declareAustralians are “sick of being lectured to by the United Nations.” Professor Mendez says Australia has failed to provide adequate detention conditions and that it should end the detention of children. Biloela? None of his business. Now the Park Hotel is a stark reminder on nightly TV.

Team Morrison banks on most of us not caring. Scoring points with the “tough on borders” voter. PMO advisers hope to capitalise on public outrage that a travel exemption has been made for a multi-millionaire sporting star, while families are unable to get together at Christmas. Time for a quick pivot on the politics of Djokovic’s entry.

“People are welcome in Australia. But if you’re not double vaccinated and you’re not an Australian resident or citizen, well, you can’t come,” the PM says 6 January.

Could this be the PM’s Tampa Crisis? A show of manly decisiveness. Upstage his pandemic catastrophe. Curiously, they said the same of Morrison in 2019, normalising Howard’s chicanery and cynical dog-whistling to racists, xenophobes and One Nation supporters. Yet now, opinion polls suggest that wedging your opponents with the politics of race to is unlikely to be the silver bullet Morrison so desperately needs. People just can’t avoid seeing him as a monstrous failure, a fraud and a career liar.

Guardian Australia’s Essential Poll finds that only 37 percent of us believe immigration levels are too high, down from 56 percent in 2019. Yet it remains a divisive issue.

But how good is a distracting scapegoat – especially one which lets Mo remind us all how he invented Border Force, border protection, boat turnbacks to politicise xenophobia, racism and total indifference to the plight of those forced to flee their countries of origin by boat? Two-year-wonder- PM Tony Abbott did much the same toward the end of his miserable prime ministership, largely run by his office.

“I stopped the boats,” Abbott reminds us, a lie that overlooks the Rudd government’s 2013 Pacific Solution announcement that “asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia”. Push factors such as the end of the Afghanistan war helped. Neither Tony Abbott nor Scott Morrison, stopped the boats.

Morrison is on to Djokovic’s extradition like a rat up a drainpipe. But it’s a rapid backflip even for a shit-house rat or a cunning, opportunistic politician. The PM hasn’t bothered to tell Home Affairs’ head, Karen Andrews. Someone has to go under a bus when there’s a country to run. Yet Andrews is on record as expressing a dissenting view.

Djokovic’s unvaccinated status disqualifies him for a visa but, somehow, in cahoots with one of our overweening, “peak bodies” in our pantheon of sport, the temple of Tennis Australia, (TA) Home Affairs Minister Andrews has written to the grand slam champion telling him that he has “a medical exemption”. Did TA dictate, ever mindful of its gate?

So powerful are our sporting organisations that they can tell federal governments what to do. Or at least they can try. And some are down on their luck in a pandemic.

Or was there federal government collusion to waive the big star through the visa process until it discovered that such an exemption did not sit at all well with fans?

Tennis Australia is said to be on its last $2.4 million after what The Australian reports as a $100 million Covid hit. Now TA’s borrowed $80 mill from the State of Victoria. It’s not only keen to get back in the game, clearly, it also has a formidable fan base. Our sports empires, or “governing bodies” as they are known are no strangers to wheeling and dealing. The game of mates. Or a bit of power play.

Tennis Australia puts the lob into lobbying.

Now things get messy. Health Minister, Greg Hunt, writes to Tennis Australia, CEO Craig Tiley, 29 November 2021, stating clearly that people who had tested positive to Covid-19 within six months do not meet exemption requirements to enter the country. But does he show the letter to Kaz? Does he ever intend to? It’s a line-ball decision.

Has Ms Andrews been set up? Morrison’s office is a Bermuda Triangle of careers that just disappear without trace -especially women’s careers -despite PMO lip-service to internal inquiry and promises, one day, to implement every one of Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ recommendations in her Set The Standard review.

Or could Home Affairs’ letter of acceptance be a figment of Djokovic’s imagination? His quack doctor has him on a weird diet. What he fails to provide is evidence in the form of a positive PCR test of his having had COVID-19 in the last six months. Or twice, depending on which account you read. Is he on some macrobiotic hallucinogen?

Or is it just testosterone? What is clear is the outrage from Belgrade. Is Serbia’s hero lured to Australia to be humiliated? Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vučić says he’d do the same to Morrison should our PM ever visit. He’d have no trouble selling tickets.

Vučić vows to “fight” for Djokovic to be able to enter Australia. Another diplomatic shit storm brews. Morrison’s government alienated France after the PM lies about welching on our submarine deal in favour of AUKUS and nuclear subs we can’t even crew.

As for our biggest trading partner, China, President Xi won’t even speak to Canberra; responding instead with a trade war after Australia calls for an inquiry into the origins of the “Wuhan Flu”, pandering to conspiracy theorists and others who would like to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic. Sabre-rattling Defence Minister Dutton talks up war, Canberra must be prepared for whatever lurks “on or below the horizon”.

Across the ditch, Jacinda Ardern is miffed that we repatriate Kiwi-born Australian residents who break the law. Many were children when they left the land of the long white cloud. “Taking the trash out,” Peter Dutton calls his deporting of New Zealand offenders. If that sticks in your craw, kiwi crayfish are selling for a hundred dollars a pop in China as our federal government’s trade war sinks our own export businesses.

A $3 million marketing campaign by federal government to entice New Zealanders, is not going so well. Bookings are down 76 per cent year-on-year for the four weeks from April 19. Our pacific island workforce is also inexplicably smaller this year.

Migrant workers are critical to Australia’s farming sector and food security. What is shameful are the conditions leading so many to abscond, notes Deakin University’s Victoria Stead.

Is Morrison aiming for his own grand slam in alienating the world? Pay them back for treating him as a sick joke on curbing carbon emissions, flouting refugee conventions, and lying. Or does he just not care? As he tells Annabel Crabb on Kitchen Cabinet.

Lying? Djokovic does have a document bearing the Serbian Institute of Sport’s letterhead, which says he caught Covid 16 December. Yet there’s no medical test evidence, sniffs Home Affairs Supremo Andrews who is refused an extension to postpone the federal circuit court hearing of his case until Wednesday.

Clearly, she’s been left right out of the loop, standard operating procedure for Federal Liberals with their record of misogyny, sexism, secrecy and captain’s calls.

“The tail won’t be wagging the dog here”, Judge Anthony Kelly says

Kelly’s quip may be a sly dig at PistoI and Boo, Johnny Depp and then partner Amber Heard’s Yorkshire Terriers who, accidentally, helped us to show our borders are tough.

The stars forgot to quarantine their pets. In 2015, a righteously “tough on illegal immigrants” Barnaby Joyce threatened to euthanise the “illegally imported” pair of mutts (the pets not the actors) if they weren’t out of the country on the next plane. A document was alleged to be forged.

Heard has recently named one of her new dogs Barnaby Joyce in honour of the fiasco.

Djokovic is known for his dogged tenacity. Certainly, for a man with Covid, the star has wasted no time lying doggo in iso. A photo emerges on social media of the Serbian hero unmasked in public 17 December at a state ceremony to honour him by presenting him with a set of Serbian National postage stamps bearing his photogenic image.

For someone with a potentially deadly viral infection, Djokovic is quite the social butterfly, appearing not only to be in rude good health, but actively engaging with young people. Hugs and back pats. On December 17, he participates an open PR event. Images appear of the star embracing children at an awards ceremony at an event organised by the Tennis Association of Belgrade. Talk about infectious goodwill.

But that’s not all that’s caught in the spotlight; illuminated is an inept, cruel and increasingly desperate Morrison government which will do anything to divert us from its failures. Our PM threatens to shirt-front the Serb; put him on the next plane home. By Monday, this is toned down and Morrison’s office puts out word of amicable discussion between our PM and his Serbian counterpart – in which Morrison explains our rules.

But Djokovic is used to winning from behind. It’s his trademark. Along with abusing injury time out. With help from friends in high places in Belgrade “the Serbinator” successfully lodges an appeal against his extradition.

This is not the outcome that Morrison’s office had in mind. Or is it?

Djokovic’s lock-up is a political intercept; a stunt to distract from the Morrison regime’s disastrous mismanagement of the pandemic which by Monday, reaches 972,000 cases, after restrictions are abruptly eased in a backflip which Morrison calls Living with the Virus aka Playing with Fire as the Omicron variant rages through the population, bringing an already over-stressed hospital system to the point of collapse.

Welcome to Shitshow 2.0, an homage to Bill Shorten’s zinger: “it’s not a race” the Morrison government’s first, vaccine stroll-out fiasco, a display of extraordinary ineptitude, disinformation, outright lies and rapid back-flips.

In Shitshow 2.0 business meets the PM in secret to force sick workers in supply chains back to work. No workers’ representatives are present, nor is the ACTU invited, its secretary, Sally McManus warns. Not only does his “small” government mandate work for sick workers, it helps spread infection. Talk about sharing and caring.

But look over there! Border protection opportunity knocks. Dead cat on table time. Cancel Novak, Djokovic’s visa. What a stroke of genius.

Once again, despite a battalion of advisers and all of Scotty’s military escort, JJ Frewen’s much-vaunted, spit’n polish, military efficiency plus weapons-grade logistical expertise, it is painfully obvious that the Morrison government has stuffed up everything.

True there’s a bit of help from a friend, NSW Premier, Dom Perrottet who “lets her rip.” Now he must mend the tears to the fabric of NSW society and its tanking economy.

There are no Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) but the public must use them and phone in their results because PCR testing, heavily outsourced to private firms collapses. Boosters are dwindling. Hospitals are not coping. Doctors are angry and exhausted.

315785 active cases, underestimates the true number just in NSW. Self-administered tests are yet to be recorded, while others don’t bother to get tested. Some experts say the real number could be as much as 5-10 times higher.

  • 2,186 are admitted to hospital
  • 170 are in intensive care
  • 51 require ventilation

Hospitals are stretched. “Elective” surgery cancelled. Not only are too many cases being admitted, thousands of workers must be spelled because they have been exposed. Some simply resign in exhaustion and frustration; cross the border to work in Queensland where wages and conditions are higher and a government which is not infected with crazy libertarianism.

Everywhere there are long queues to get tested while RATs just can’t be found. Supermarket shelves are stripped bare. Customers stay at home while shops close their doors. Making it even harder on business and consumer, there’s no JobKeeper.

Yet to hear Scott Morrison, he’s a paragon of quiet, modest diligence as he quietly reassures those attending a Sydney Institute Dinner last week.

“What is most important to me as Prime Minister is that I seek to humbly do everyday things that make Australia even stronger than we are today, both now and in the future.”

Morrison’s hypocrisy is boundless. The humble housekeeper pose is laughable coming from the man who warned Julia Banks “I. am. The. Prime. Minister.”

The Bronte bogan loves a motivational slogan,

“There’s no guidebook to COVID. We all know that. And so what I think is important is the country just focuses on the task ahead. Keep looking through that windscreen. That’s where I’m looking. We’re looking forward.

Inspirational or terrifying? Government is not a self-driving Tesla. Shoulders right back, no hands on the wheel and eyes on the road ahead Morrison, is a black-belt in bumper-sticker wit and witless boosterism. And lashings of public self-adoration.

But no-one’s fooled. The task ahead is our Prime Narcissist’s own squalid political survival, not the public good or the welfare of the commonwealth. He’s a ruthless pragmatist, a truculent bully whose sole goal is to stay on top of the dung-heap; maintain his own undeserving, increasingly threatened ascendancy.

Today, Morrison wrests control of his party by appeasing its libertarians whose influence has grown since the charismatic John Howard inspired them to “big themselves up”. Despite presiding over our biggest government since Curtin, the PM declares stumps and pivots; announcing that it’s time for government to butt out of peoples’ lives.

No-one believes a word Morrison says but we all know he will say or do anything. And say and do something else tomorrow. Then deny both. Witness his witless excrescence at a cricket match, Saturday, “Australians taking wickets in the virus” while grandstanding in the Ashes commentary box on day three of the fourth Test at the SCG.

While shoppers fight over toilet tissue in panic buying and Australians are intubated in ICUs and hospitals are stretched beyond capacity and then some, only Scott Morrison would seek to buoy the spirits of a nation with a bizarre cricketing analogy.

Morrison excels in buck passing. Our fearless, leader’s fortune-cookie windscreen wisdom inspires a claque of fellow travellers; no ideas persons, moral pygmies, clowns, contrarian libertarians and fellow former apparatchiks in the confederation of dunces which passes itself off as Australia’s federal government.

Yet his latest move is to exhume the pernicious myth of personal responsibility, a version of Margaret Thatcher’s nonsense. No such thing as society, she declared.

2022, the Great Evader declares will be The Year of Taking Responsibility. AKA I’m all right Jack – and bugger the rest of you. There’s no guidebook for Covid, he lies. He’s an expert at not reading the map. Ignoring or contradicting expert advice. His ministers share a vision, an adolescent Hayekian fantasy that sanctions doing nothing .

Once we take personal responsibility for our own health, a free market will cure all. Cue the sound of one invisible hand clapping. A wag in the Canberra press gallery tackles health minister, Hunt, over his government’s lack of any clear plan to procure rapid antigen tests, last October. The Minister snaps “let that market develop”.

Living with Covid is Mo’s latest backflip, undoing two years of containment. No more nanny state. Buy your own bloody test kits. Under pressure, he backs down. Some of us may access ten free tests every three months. 6.6 million concession card holders across the nation are overjoyed. Such fun trying to find a test supplier.

Sensing a dip in credibility according to recent NewsPolls and still smarting at being an international laughing-stock because of his behaviour at last year’s G20 COP26 with its green hydrogen and “technology not taxes” claptrap, a green-washing of mining business as usual, Morrison opts for yet another cop-out. And a dead cat.

In a heaven-sent opportunity for distraction and tough-talking, his private militia, Border Force cancels anti-vax, health crank Djokovic’s visa and puts him up in the Park.

Acing the champion tennis player certainly gets everyone’s attention. An astute Djokovic clan member declares our PM “not a human being”. But Morrison loves a fuss, especially a heady brew of sport and the institutionalised racism of “tough on borders” rhetoric, despite some of the most porous borders in the world. If you fly in.

We’ll decide who gets into our Australian Open and the manner in which they do so.

Taking Personal Responsibility, a staple of Reagan and Thatcher political misrule, is a ruse to cover the Morrison government’s utter ineptitude. As it abandons all pretence at keeping Australia safe, it shifts the blame to the victim of the latest wave of the pandemic, a wave that appears fit to swamp us all.

Let ‘er rip. Politics trumps science, with the help of Neoliberal econobabble, the perversion of economics fetishised by such exalted local Tory politicians as NSW’s Dominic Perrottet or Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer of our nation’s federal Coalition of mining, business and finance Muppets. Omicron, the latest mutant variant of SARS-COVID-19 surges, bringing our infection rate to match the United States.

It’s a shameful, culpable dereliction of duty and abdication of responsibility that we also see in in fellow clown, Boris Johnson, muppet of the UKs Policy Exchange boffins, a front for corporate greed, fair wages and anthropogenic climate change denial.

Locally, our own mineral and Business Council flogs wag the dog of Morrison government. Rupert, Gina, Andrew and Kerry and their merry band of ruling oligarchs now urge sick workers to man the supply chains lest profits or fall or business founder.

To them, also Morrison must seem a liability. Morrison and his government may have been useful fools for a while but their future looks increasingly uncertain cloudy now they threaten to cost our oligarchs their profits.

Whilst voices with the sound of money in them call for an end to the Djokovic sideshow, there is a chance the debacle of the un-cancelling of a tennis player’s visa may alert the nation to other ways its federal government falls short in humanity and democracy. The Australian Open’s biggest drawcard may prove a Djoker in the pack.

The saga of a tennis star’s visa cancellation certainly serves to highlight the incalculable damage the federal government is suffering as it utterly fails to deal with a pandemic catastrophe which its own Libertarian easing of restrictions helped create. It also exposes a mind-boggling degree of incompetence and miscommunication, of posturing and dissembling that would be comic were it not so toxic to the health of the commonwealth.

 

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Mr Joyce goes to Washington

Our nation is shocked at news from Washington that Tamworth’s favourite son, deputy PM, blue-blooded, Red Octopus, Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce, picks up a dose of ‘rona and must abort his mission to shirt-front Mark Zuckerberg after a brilliant one day bull-session in The Old Dart with deputy PM Dominic Raab who has great tips about his latest spreadsheet to select only the better type of refugee from Kabul and Transport Minister Grant Shapps, guru of infrastructure and the Zen puzzle of “levelling-up” which as every student of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s rhetoric will tell you, involves fixing inequality without making poor areas richer by making rich areas poorer.

If no-one can understand Al (to his pals and family) Johnson’s “levelling-up” gibberish, Riverview Old Boy, coal seam gas-lighter, Santos’ shill, Murray-Darling tilter and knight-errant in RM Williams’ armour, Barney is clear about one thing. He’s on a (very public) crusade to defend his daughter Bridgette’s honour from vile cowards on social media, who assume that she and her former boss, John Barilaro are an item. At it like rabbits. Vile stuff. Ugly. Even Harvey’s Weinstein’s casting couch would blush.

Turns out it’s all the work of one coward, @SewerRat420. No-one been seriously harmed, moreover. A tiny, online, rumour becomes an issue only when Joyce gives it oxygen. It’s the Streisand effect. You get a lot of it in a policy-free Morrison government.

But it’s timely. Joyce’s war on @SewerRat420’s tweets to their 69 followers may be quixotic but it’s all Barney needs to manufacture outrage. Grandstand. A protective Dad he takes things into his own hands; pens a lurid op-ed for Costello’s Nine Newspapers.

Brace yourselves, this is a disquieting passage; Barnabese is not easy to read.

‘Twitter, it is not the trolls that inspire the devastating mental health issues. The trolls don’t have a voice unless you give them one, and you do! You make money from their noise, their ambit scratchings on the back of a lavatory door. They post their character assassinations from the back of the door at the servo and you illuminate it in on a city billboard for all to see.’

BJ’s surely in the running for Australian Florid Laureate. But how could a young Nationals’ staffer, straight from Uni, who got her “senior political adviser” job through cronyism, be so wrongly accused of having an affair with her sleazebag boss, a married man? An MP?

Joyce has a veritable Flagstaff Mountain of moral high ground to stand on, given his own affair with his former media adviser Vikki Campion, now the mother of his two bouncing boys, although, at first, he nobly cast doubt on the paternity of the first. It is something he had to do but he wasn’t going to take any paternity tests.

A very post-modern anti-hero Joyce also has a history of groping women says WA Labor’s Jackie Jarvis. Yet rural advocate, Catherine Marriott’s allegation of sexual harassment goes nowhere when the NSW National Party’s thoroughly independent internal inquiry can reach no conclusion but won’t make its finding public.

It’s a long trip to protect your daughter’s virtue but someone has to do it. Of course, it’s overkill, but, just for perspective, Joyce did tell the house he would not let his girls get Gardasil because it would make them promiscuous. As for social media it is filth.

Anyone can post anything about anybody Joyce reckons. What is the world coming to?

Using anonymous social media should be restricted to the party in power. Or tapping Clive Palmer’s piggybank to peddle lies about the Labor Party raising taxes.

Andrew Laming has over 30 fake accounts. Amanda Stoker has her “Mandy Jane” alias.

Yet Barnaby’s complaint is a bit misleading. @SewerRat420’s account was promptly suspended. Twitter’s private information policy, prohibits sharing content that would violate anyone’s privacy. Phone numbers and addresses were the target but late last month the ban was extended to include photographs and videos of people taken without their permission, even if they’re depicted in public.

Crikey’s Cam Wilson reports that Twitter users who’d used the platform to document behaviours of people like QAnon adherents and Proud Boys were suspended from the platform for sharing footage of these groups taken in public. He, himself is suspended for tweeting details of public records freely available online of Alan Jones’ new YouTube venture backers Australian Digital Holdings.

None of this assuages Joyce’s fury. It’s an attack on Bridge’s morality, chastity, pedigree and a blot on the Joyce Family reputation for integrity. Paterfamilias and pocket moral philosopher, Barney whips himself into a lather. His blood is up. Nothing for it but to nip over to the US. Sort out the bastards in charge. Coronavirus? Can’t touch him.

Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey, retired 29 November, but it won’t be too hard to rock up to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s palace. Nor should it be impossible to get hold of Dorsey’s successor, Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal.

Happily, Morrison’s VIP, private executive jet, is idle. That’s rare. Australia’s First Dad, ScoMo dashed down from Canberra to Kirribilli, last Father’s Day, at a bargain cost to us of $6000, last September.

Big family man, Barnaby is a Walter Mitty. Sees himself as a SAS crack paratrooper in the Morrison Jihad against social media, (SM) the Great Satan of our click-baited age of disinformation, trivia, superficiality and sexploitation, a formula not yet patented by ex-pat Rupert Murdoch, but very much his house style.

SM is a handy scapegoat in any election campaign when you have no real policy to campaign on – and when social media is less easily controlled than the mainstream – and can express unpalatable truths. If not hold you to account, it can at least expose your lies. Morrison calls it “coward’s castle”, a bit rich from someone whose MPs abuse parliamentary privilege to smear Labor regularly.

It’s rank hypocrisy, moreover, given the Liberal Party’s own rich history of anonymous trolls on social media, neatly summarised by Andrew P Street, in Independent Australia.

But in an era of post-truth, post-shame, Tory politics, who lets the facts get in the way of a top story? The Tamworth Family Values Crusader takes it up to Zuckerberg narrative evokes David v Goliath, despite Barn telling Gina’s daughter, Bianca, in a typically controversial intervention, in 2011, that his parents were millionaires.

You have to be a millionaire to run for office in the US.

In October, Joyce rings John Thune, number three Republican in the Senate, a long, tall South Dakotan (1.93m) who is big on algorithm transparency, and who looks like the president from central casting. Thune is pushing his Filter Bubble Transparency Act to unmask internet platforms’ perfidy. His own prose is a beacon of lucidity.

“For free markets to work as effectively and as efficiently as possible, consumers need as much information as possible, including a better understanding of how internet platforms use artificial intelligence and opaque algorithms to make inferences from the reams of personal data at their fingertips that can be used to affect behavior and influence outcomes. That’s why I believe consumers should have the option to either view a platform’s opaque algorithm-generated content or its filter bubble-free content, and, at the very least, they deserve to know how large-scale internet platforms are delivering information to their users.”

Thune is pushing it uphill. His bill is wishful thinking. Not exactly what Joyce is after. He wants something like the man with the red flag in the UK who had to walk in front of the new-fangled motorcar in 1865, restricting its speed to four miles per hour in case it frightened stock in the fields by the road. Or some protective censorship, such as is enjoyed by other repressive regimes around the world.

The Committee to Protect Journalists lists the top ten and their ways.

In the top three countries–Eritrea, North Korea, and Turkmenistan–the media serves as a mouthpiece of the state. Other countries on the list use harassment, arbitrary detention together with sophisticated surveillance and targeted hacking to silence any independent press.

Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, and Iran specialize in jailing and harassing journalists and their families, while also monitoring and censoring internet and social media.

But our Deputy PM offers Australia’s help to the bipartisan bill, especially, after whistleblower and former Facebook product manager, Frances Haugen tells Congress she’s seen how the company prioritises profits over the wellbeing of its users, reports the AFR’s Tom McIlroy.

Profits before well-being? Incredible. Sounds exactly like Australia’s Federal government-subsidised-private-Aged Care scam where 34% of homes for our elders are run for profit.

During the last Covid wave in Victoria in 2020, over forty per cent of the total of seven hundred deaths occurred in just ten homes, none of which were run by the state government. Yet the dominant media narrative is that the Andrews’ government is to blame. Who needs censorship?

Being placed in a for-profit home means an aged care resident is twice as likely to suffer serious injuries in a for-profit home as in a government-run one, the royal commission investigating the sector finds.

Yet there’ll be no rush to reform. Expect instead over five million dollars of public funds to be spent on a classic Crosby Textor ploy; a series of talking points and ads all repeating a pledge to keep Australia Safe from evil cyber trolls, hackers and other malignant unseen enemies of the public good.

Always identify a peril to unite your supporters around. Or invent one. Just skip the harm caused by the slurs, lies, disinformation and conspiracy theories posted by your own MPs including George Christensen and recent defector to the UAP, Craig Kelly.

To win votes, an anti-trolling bill is proposed. No draft is yet available, but the vibe of the new law is to make it easier for plaintiffs to un-mask real names of trolls on social media, a process already available through our legal system and one which then relies on the victim having the money to run a defamation case.

The federal Coalitions ’s plans will help it to sue you; not protect you. Cam Wilson notes, they are more likely to help the powerful get revenge than help your average Australian stop online abuse.”

Of course, there’s wealth of other public duties our multi-talented multi-tasking Deputy PM would be able to perform, according to the officialese released by his government’s organ-grinder. Some of it is pure poetry:

“Mr Joyce will focus on infrastructure and meetings with counterparts on how to restore the aviation industry after the pandemic.”

Yet public fuses with private for Joyce in a great display of a father avenging a wronged daughter. He’ll be able to claim he was prepared to go halfway around the world to go toe to toe with Zuckerberg, himself, to protect his innocent eldest child, the fair young maid Bridgette. Of course, there are personal motives behind Joyce’s quest.

Joyce is making another bid for redemption with the nation including ex-wife Natalie and his first family. (This would be his first second family if we followed the US nonsense of the President’s wife being the First Lady, his pet, First Dog, the late Champ, and so on.)

We are, nevertheless, on that track or steep decline, but it’s mainly Anti-vaxxers in MAGA hats waving Trump banners and protesting their rights under pseudolaw, close cousin to pseudoscience.)

Close also to madness. Last month, one of Australia’s aspiring singers, Claire Woodley, daughter of Bruce Woodley, of The Seekers, dedicates a performance of I am Australia to “victims of satanic ritual abuse” – a rhetoric common in US-born QAnon conspiracy theory about abducting children for satanic rites.

An equally bizarre aberration is the appropriation of My body My choice a slogan stolen from women seeking the right to control their own fertility through pregnancy termination if need be. Yet Trumpism, with its mindless morass of alternative facts, intoxicates our current PM who marvels at how the Donald did things, even appearing at a campaign rally with him in Ohio September 2019.

ScoMo’s sycophancy is rewarded with a medal, The Legion of Merit, for leadership in meeting global challenges and we’ve all seen how well that went for him in COP26 and by US suppliers nicking our markets in our trade war with China. Now there’s a submarine deal which could reach $170 billion.

Trump’s crypto-fascism is not without its parallel in Morrison’s politics but the two trends spring independently from larger changes including a decaying news media ecology and a failure of traditional empirical knowledge-gathering processes.

Also playing its part is the alienation as seen in the gig economy, wage theft and the rise in casual insecure underpaid work, a precariat of 2.3 million workers, last year according to the ABS.

But you’ll never find Barnaby voting to increase the minimum wage if you check the record. Nor, like his PM, is there evidence of any excess empathy for the battlers he eulogises when it suits him. He also shares with Morrison a type of narcissism.

For the Tamworth Rat, things haven’t been the same since he left Nat to shack up with his former media adviser, Vikki Campion. In Barnaby’s febrile mind, redemption and rehabilitation beckon but, given the nature of the man, it’s above all, another chance to star in his own movie as Australia’s elder statesman who can wrangle the plain truth out of any fancy-pants hombre in five minutes face to face.

The narrative of Joyce’s movie, Barnaby holes up in the Jefferson Hotel, is a postmodern version of Mr Smith goes to Washington with a twist: Mr. Smith turns out to be the grifter Barnaby Joyce.

Of course, the spin is terrific. BJ’s sorting out the UK’s transport issue, with his insights into inland rail and if only he could get out of that hotel, he’s just itching to hawk AUKUS. Of course, he’ll patch up the crack in the Liberty Bell while he’s in the land of the brave, and he’s got ways and wiles to fix Morrison’s blue with Macron, a new, post-Brexit EU with France in charge. Give that Marise Payne a run for her money.

BJ jets off in Shark One, A Qantas A330 converted in 2015 by Airbus to a freighter and air-to-air refueller, the KC30-A tanker. How good is ScoMo’s upgrade converting the ‘bus into a VIP executive jet, at a bargain $250m? You’d think that the Coalition won in a landslide – not that it clings to power by one miserable seat.

Cynics on social media suggest the OS junket is a chance for Scott Morrison to get Joyce out of the way. Labor’s slogan, “vote Liberal get Barnaby Joyce” seems to be cutting through. But that’s a bit harsh.

Not only is our urbane, suave, master of nuance, deputy PM a born diplomat, Joyce’s linguistic gifts are as legendary as his Akubra millinery. Bi-lingual, fluent in both New English and in word-salad, he knocks the socks off Scott Morrison when it comes to communication. Let alone oratory.

Who can forget Barnaby’s recorded speech to Shepparton irrigators in 2017 where he boasts that he forced Turnbull to take Water out of the Environment portfolio so that he could protect wealthy upstream interests? It’s the sort of sell-out that endears you to your children.

“We have taken water, put it back into agriculture, so we could look after you and make sure we don’t have the greenies running the show basically sending you out the back door, and that was a hard ask,” he is recorded, bragging.

Does he want a medal or a chest to pin it on?

But now, alas, Barn can’t riff about transport and infrastructure, make them boggle at his inland rail boondoggle or brag about his luck in acquiring “mongrel land” with coal-seam gas under it. Worse. Barn can’t shirtfront “Zuck”. Schmooze Ted Cruz. But he’s a Tongue-Fu Master from way back. Just listen to his mission statement.

“In a car, if I run over a person I go to jail, seatbelt or not. Online, I’m apparently indemnified. What’s the difference – breaking a leg or breaking a mind? We spend billions on mental health while they make billions in profits. I want to put the fear of God in them.”

Barney’s probably picked up a bit of man-flu in BoJo’s London, Brexit’s party animal playground, after a mask-less Dominic Raab, sacked Foreign Secretary but still deputy PM, ear-bashes Barn about his new spreadsheet to screen asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, although a plane load of dogs gets priority, when Carrie takes pity, another triumph in the Tory race to inflict gratuitous cruelty on the most vulnerable.

Oddly no-one seems to be talking about the latest of eight books which Andrew Leigh has published since entering parliament in 2010, What’s the Worst That Could Happen? Populism cops a serve.

“Tackling long-term threats requires four things: strong science, effective institutions, global engagement, and a sense of cooperation and order. Populists are anti-intellectual, anti-institutional, anti-international, and anti-irenic (‘irenic’ means to strive for peace and consensus).”

This posture is at the heart of their popular appeal – and denialist myopia regarding systemic risks is its inevitable by-product. Barnaby Joyce take a bow, with your claim that the COP26 accord doesn’t apply to your party, even though you are supposed to be in a coalition with the Liberals.

And whilst Joyce loves the fiction of the practical, man on the land, in contrast to the latte-sipping inner city urban guerrillas sabotaging The Australian Way, his trip as the UK is gripped by another pandemic wave including the highly infectious and still largely unresearched Omicron mutant variant seems decidedly ill-advised, if not foolhardy.

What is it that requires Barnaby Joyce to take such an ill-advised flight into the teeth of a raging pandemic in the UK – & then on to the wen of infection that is the US? What could he not do remotely via Zoom? His populist denialism is not heroic, it’s stupid.

Doubtless Joyce’s cult-followers will be sending him packages of the horse de-wormer Ivermectin that the Morrison government so desperate to court denialists, conspiracy theorist and anti-vaxxers that it still permits quack Craig Kelly to spruik online.

What could Barnaby Joyce not do by Zoom that requires he risk his life on a junket taking in two nations with dangerously high rates of endemic infection?

Busier than a cat watching two rat-holes, devouring briefing papers and making calls, Joyce will at last get a bit of me-time. The Red Octopus, as Barn is known to Nationals’ women, can put the finishing touches to his submission to Morrison’s women’s taskforce to which he is a recent appointment.

Clearly Joyce’s gig on the women’s’ gabfest is endorsed by the formidable Marise Payne, the “one wise monkey” Easter Island statue of women’s issues and contender for worst advocate for women in history since Tony Abbott’s public gesture of contempt in appointing himself as Minister for Women.

He’s also got time at last to check the interest on the $675,000 he claimed for his three weeks’ work on the ground during his nine months stint as Special Drought Envoy for which he produces no written report. Swears he sent texts instead. No biggie, says the PMO, it never expected any report. The Envoy was to be “focused on getting into communities and talking to farmers in drought.”

The Morrison government claims that Joyce has Covid and will be in isolation for ten days but when has Morrison ever told the truth about anything? At best, the current PM’s enticing the old rogue bull elephant away from attacking McCormack, former nominal Nationals’ Leader who got the job only because he wasn’t Barnaby. Perhaps the Ivermectin will do the trick and Joyce will up and at them after Christmas. But by then, Morrison will want his jet back so that he can fly ahead of his campaign bus and pretend that he’s been on board it every inch of the way from Kirribilli to Queensland.

On reflection, Barnaby’s barnstorm is bananas. Dangerously daft. What was the Morrison government thinking in sending its Les Paterson to England, ravaged by pandemic at a time when Boris faces defeat over the lies he told about who paid for the gold wallpaper and the two hundred thousand pounds’ worth of other accoutrements to do up the flat above number 11 Downing Street where he and Carrie make do?

What evidence is there that even in perfect health, that a personal visit from Joyce would seal any deal? The prospect of his shirt-fronting the billionaires atop their social media empires is ludicrous. It just doesn’t work like that. Besides the whole idea of intervention and censorship doesn’t bear inspection.

There was never any likelihood of any good coming out of swapping ideas with a Johnson government that rode to power on a wave of Murdoch-fuelled Brexit-mania but which has now lost the plot on everything?

As for our family man’s personal mission to fend off the troll-masters and protect his vulnerable young daughter, it will be at best a noble failure. Barnaby will be able to say he did everything he can but his best efforts were sabotaged by Omicron.

The whole fiasco of Joyce’s trip to London and Washington is a cautionary tale. It smacks of ineptitude, dud judgement and miscalculation. Even if it did get the wretched Deputy PM out of the way of Morrison’s campaign, it shrieks desperation. Abdication of duty of care. And callous indifference, if not something more sinister.

The Morrison government’s intention to make a Clayton’s cyber-safety a plank in its re-election is an abuse of public funds. It’s also another cynical hoax.

While ScoMo gets to spin his South Korean stunt, a set piece in the world leadership strand of his Second Coming Miracle campaign, sending his deputy on an abortive tour of two major trading partners at the height of a pandemic, raises serious questions. We trust Joyce recovers. But ScoMo and his Crosby-Textor guard’s reputation won’t. Reason. Intelligence. Integrity. Where the bloody hell are you?

 

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Morrison woos Gladys to attack ICAC

You can smell the exhaust, the burnt rubber and a thousand cigarettes, this is a crowd in love with living dangerously, breaking rules, especially the dictates of reason and common sense – the perfect setting for larrikin-lad, Scott Morrison, to head down to the racetrack at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama leaving Labor’s leader Anthony Albanese in Ashfield, flower of Sydney’s inner west to promise A Better Future, winning his listeners with a speech of passion, principle and authenticity.

The Liberal Party revs its gas guzzling 5.4 litre double-overhead cam V8. 447kW. It’s a grunt stunt. Our bloke’s bloke, PM –one of Morrison’s favourite avatars- along with Bunnings Dad’ and The Chosen One, to whom God speaks out of a photo of an eagle -is strapped into a Gen3 Ford Mustang for a mad lap at Bathurst, NSW’s petrol-head heartland, a bastion of toxic masculinity in an act of homage to a St Hydrocarbon shrine.

The ritual visit offers testosteronic risk-taking, horsepower and reckless endangerment – (how good is a near death experience?) – and at flag fall, high on hi-octane nitro, Morrison declares war on ICAC; calls the commission a kangaroo court.

Not that Scotty’s word means much, even this egregiously false smear. Macron destroyed forever the Liar from the Shire’s plausible deniability, outing, for the world to see, a deceitful, dishonest shonk. “I don’t think. I know.” Our PM’s a type the bard had in mind, “… a most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker, the owner of no one good quality.”

Coalition water-boy Simon Birmingham rushes out of Kirribilli’s BS Castle and on to the field of Mars or Sky News or the Coalition’s ABC, to douse the flames after Macron sets fire to Morrison’s name. Dares call out a liar when he sees one. It’s all the fault of the media, says Birmo.

It’s only an issue because it’s being reported on. Just a beat-up, he says, as his PM’s reputation amongst key leaders of state becomes synonymous with deceit, distrust and duplicity. And disinformation, as in his latest slur on the NSW ICAC – a desperate attempt to discredit a body or its federal analogue which he knows full well would have a field day with his own corruption.

Not that Morrison will do anything. Act on his ICAC misgivings? He’s all talk. Scotty’s just a passenger along Conrod Straight, but in a post-Cobargo Australia, no-one expects him to hold a steering wheel.

Yet he’s firing on all three cylinders. An air kiss to Grid Girl, Gladys, completes the PM’s triple-pronged attack. He wows those few who revere St Gladys as a martyr to a monster ICAC, by cheering his favourite filly on in a race, whom, “close sources” say, is a hundred to one chance to even enter. There is also the teensy problem of Morrison’s picks all being duds, like Warren Mundine in Gilmore.

Morrison doesn’t stoop to ask the disgraced premier. He’s The Prime Minister, as he made clear to Julia Banks and other Liberal women he’s coerced. Of course, Glad’s hot to trot – she just can’t wait to be Morrison’s quocker-wodger after being bullied in National Cabinet. Privately, she calls Morrison “evil” and “a bully”, according to Peter Hartcher’s impeccable contacts.

But the PM has plans for her. The Australian reports that Morrison’s even intervened to extend the deadline for pre-selection applications, to 16 January, a move which, some gush, will give Glad more time to make up her mind, but which is also Morrison’s cynical each-way bet to accommodate the ICAC finding.

Even, then her odds are a bit iffy. True, The Warringa Liberal Preselection Stakes has only once not been won by a Tory candidate since its inception in 1922. Yet, apart from Zali Steggall, who won with a thirteen percent swing against Tony Abbott, in 2019, it’s also been a blokes-only show.

In a Steggall-Berejiklian contest, the incumbent must start as favourite, surely, before you even get to the political back-flip Gladys would have to do on climate change. In a state that’s run by the coal industry she, like former Energy Minister Matt Keane, favour a 50 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Morrison would have her scream at Labor for daring to suggest 43 percent?

While you can always back a nag called Self Interest because you know it will run on its merits, even folk in Sydney’s richest electorate are increasingly averse to cooking the planet, polluting precious waterways or voting for a candidate who helped bring COVID to Australia. Not just once.

But this is no spontaneous joy ride or gibe. Or punt. Everything with Morrison is a calculation.

Morrison’s 220 kph spin screams “un-woke bloke”- just as his gibe at the ICAC is so wrong that top silks take him to task. Expect to see a signed page in The Australian paid for by eminent judges, QCs, SCs and other members of the legal fraternity condemning Morrison for his slurs on the ICAC.

Let them protest. It’s all publicity. Tough-guy branding. Aloha, ScoMo the Brave. Above all, it’s part of his eternal, personal jihad on accountability as is his outrageous spruiking of Gladys Berejiklian.

Backing ScoMo’s captain’s call are a swag of Liberals. The PMO’s even dragged alleged Iraqi war criminal, John Howard, a narrow, mean-spirited little man, the “lying rodent” as George Brandis calls him, a moral and intellectual pygmy who frittered the proceeds of the mining boom on tax breaks for the wealthy while giving Australia a meaner, more divided society, but with school chaplains, babies overboard, more funds for private schools and Robert Hill’s Kyoto credits scam.

Howard raised up the rich and the strong, corporations over the vulnerable, the poor and wage earners. He divided us across most public policy areas notes The Canberra Times Crispin Hull.

Yet he’s a Liberal icon whose backing ensures Gladys’ preselection. If Gladys were to run.

Glad’s Morrison’s human shield, observes Katharine Murphy in a shrewd insight into Morrison’s war on an external scrutiny he can’t control and doesn’t care for. Berejiklian, certainly would feel used being dragged into the PM’s defence of his indefeasible delay of a federal ICAC nor the absurdly, toothless tiger proposed by the sandgropers’ Solon; MP for Pearce, retiring scion of a Liberal dynasty, Christian Porter – son of Olympic high jumper Chilla Porter – for whom no bar was too high – a limbo bar ICAC model (how low can you go?) which is designed to further hide MP’s corruption from the light of day. Even their fake proposal fails to get up because Morrison fears amendments that may give it teeth to bite him. Luckily, there’s always a scapegoat in the house.

In Morrison’s virtual reality, Labor is to blame for a thousand days’ delay in his government’s slow bicycle race to get its Clayton’s Federal ICAC bill through parliament and on the statute books. The claim is balderdash yet it gets repeated verbatim on the news. As does Berejiklian’s fake Warringah candidacy – who is not only applying for pre-selection, she’s in like Flynn according to most outlets.

Or giving former Winter Olympian Zali Steggall a downhill run for her money.

Oddly, Vox pops with voters in Warringah suggest Gladys would have Buckley’s chance of victory as federal Liberal candidate for Warringah, Tony Abbott’s former electorate, a Northern Sydney, former Liberal stronghold, whose current incumbent, independent Zali Steggall, cares about the environment, climate change and the need to preserve a world for our children. And has integrity.

Gladys for Warringah is, moreover, an untried filly over the distance with a lot of lead in the saddle. Her preparation for a shift into federal politics has been less than ideal. That’s the track talk.

Changing metaphor, in honour of the Bard, to Bathurst, the talented Joel Jenkins sums up the tactic,

The LNP, desperate from the loss of experienced crew and some promising drivers, looking at its outdated build and realising this might be its last attempt at glory, is looking toward former disgraced and disqualified prodigy, Gladys Berejiklian, to add some much needed calm into the team. This is despite her bringing the sport into disrepute, awaiting a decision from the race marshals and in spite of no indication from her personally.

The ordure first hits the fan, October 12, 2020, when Berejiklian outs secret lover, Wagga Wagga MP, rustic charmer, and notorious urger of the first degree, spiv, Daryl Maguire.

Silver-tongued Dazza sweeps Gladys off her feet, with his debonair charm, wit and his schemes to make himself rich out of their liaison. But true love never runs smooth. Especially in the classic country and western, Gladys finds herself in. So, she says. He was her man, but he was doing her wrong. Yet they are Frankie and Johnny for at least five years.

September 13, 2015, the premier of the premier state ditches Daryl and agrees to support an inquiry into his business interests. Yet, out of the blue appears a silver lining to the gold standard bust-up when who should happen along but high-profile barrister Arthur Moses, SC, who represents Gladys at the corruption hearing into Maguire. By June 2020, Arthur and Glad are seeing each other.

Daryl turns out to be such a political liability that Gladys tells her on-air confessor, spiritual adviser, KIIS 106.5 Sydney’s, Kyle Sandilands, that she’d fallen for the wrong fella – an MP for whose electorate she helps, loosening state purse strings by over $30 million, as Treasurer and later Premier, to fund a clay target shooting club, already flush with funds, and a conservatorium.

Liberals love the weak-headed woman alibi. How good is demeaning all women? Whilst some uphold her as a trail-blazing feminist, Gladys hawks her victimhood bid around all media.

Anyone who claps eyes on Mr Maguire, or does deals with him, would have trouble seeing him as a lady-killer. Nor is Gladys any shrinking violet. But it’s a pitch that resonates with respondents to a recent Essential Poll, who get almost all their news from a Murdoch-led media.

Now Berejiklian finds herself awaiting the deliberations of the ICAC, a body akin to a Royal Commission, not a court, on whether she breached public trust. Was her conduct in relation to decisions about funding grants dishonest? Did she breach public trust in failing to report her relationship? Could her conduct have allowed or encouraged corrupt conduct by Maguire?

“Even those who admire Berejiklian for many of her qualities when she was premier, realise there has to be a serious inquiry into the situation that arose … in unloading millions of dollars of public money into the Wagga electorate at the same time she was in a relationship with the member for Wagga,”

Chair of the Centre for Public Integrity, former NSW supreme court judge, Anthony Whealy, is alluding to to the Wagga Wagga Clay Target Club’s a $5.5 million upgrade and a $20.5 million plan to build a recital hall for the Riverina Conservatorium of Music.

“For Morrison to dismiss that as being of no significance, is to trash integrity and accountability in the most terrible fashion,” Whealy proceeds, unloading on a PM who is a household weasel-word.

But the fix is in for Morrison, a man Berejiklian loathes, after much bad blood between them during the NSW bushfires and her Delta disaster. He pretends he doesn’t understand, bizarrely touting the former NSW bean-counter-cum Premier as a candidate for Warringah. Anyone who can bring both alpha and delta strains of COVID-19 into Australia is bound to win big with voters.

What’s baffling is that Gladys still has any support in NSW despite her Ruby Princess and Limousine Man track record of incompetence, evasion and self-promotion as the “Gold Standard”, a title given her by Morrison. The PM hopes to harvest Glad’s fans by boosting her stakes as a candidate, a desperate bid to boost his tanking popularity, a tactic noted by Nicholas Cowdery QC, member of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties and a former Director of Public Prosecutions for NSW.

Morrison’s perverse wooing of Gladys is also a cruel trick to let him bag ICAC calling it a kangaroo court and abusing parliamentary privilege to paint Berejiklian as the poor victim of witch hunt – and more. Spraying disinformation wildly as is his wont, he lies that the ICAC is a monster capable of

“… political vendettas, as we have seen in New South Wales with disgraceful treatment of the former premier … who was chased out of office before that even made a finding”.

“It’s absolutely outrageous,” sputters Labor’s Climate spokesperson, Chris Bowen, “the prime minister of the day has undermined the ICAC,” noting that his politicised kangaroo court smear was how the PM was undermining all independent anti-corruption bodies across the country.

Morrison’s heavily tarnished, gold standard diva, Australia’s Typhoid Mary, who let the Ruby Princess disembark and introduce the alpha strain of the virus to the nation, an act of “criminal negligence” is eclipsed by her role as “The Woman Who Saved Australia” an accolade the Australian Financial Review was soon to regret, as her government bungled vaccinating an airport chauffeur in his sixties plying a limousine ferrying aircrew between Sydney and its airport.

Her Limo-gate debacle will forever link her government with both alpha and delta strains of COVID-19 entering the country. Gladys get herself pre-selected for Warringah? Talk about recycling the trash. If Morrison pulls off this risky stunt, it will be the most cynical pivot in Australian politics.

Morrison’s muppet is being talked up as a proxy for an attack on ICAC as much as a pile-on on Zali Steggall – and all other independents across Australia, including the impressive Helen Haines whose prominence owes much to voters’ disgust at the corruption as normal routine of Coalition politics.

“Gladys was put in a position of actually having to stand down, and there was (sic) no findings of anything,” Svengali Morrison lies Friday. The facts are the premier chose to resign and ICAC’s inquiry is still in train. It has yet to hand down its findings. Morrison is in contempt of ICAC. Other stooges dutifully appear, Simon Birmingham, the Noddy in Toyland of the federal bikie gang.

“… by openly downplaying the seriousness of corruption, don’t the Liberals realise they are adding credibility to pro-integrity independent campaigns across the country? The Monthly’s Rachel Withers warns. Let’s hope Ms Withers is correct.

By Wednesday, Morrison is walking back his rhetoric, Gladys or Arthur or both have told his office it’s just not going to happen. Yet in the meantime, Morrison has used her to take a pot-shot at ICAC making great mileage out of disinformation and popular myth while normalising corruption and signalling that the NSW carbon emissions target needs to be trimmed back in line with federal policy.

The PM repeats his mantra that Gladys has not been charged with a criminal offence, wilfully obscuring the nature of the ICAC whilst narrowing the definition of corruption; restricting it to acts which are illegal. He dog-whistles the anti-vaxxers with a Bathurst analogy,

“What we’re about is getting government out of your lives, because I think Australians have had a gutful of government in their lives over the last few years, and they’re looking forward to getting back in the driver’s seat,” he lies about a Coalition which is uniquely involved in our lives.

For Jacqueline Maley there is a conundrum behind the rhetoric akin to a Zen koan.

The leader of a government lamenting government intervention is too brain-boggling a thing to ponder deeply, a sort of deep-state stoner’s dilemma: if the head of the government wants government to get out of our lives … isn’t that government telling us what to do with our lives?

Yet what if big government is actually good for us, as many respected economists suggest. What if we’d been denied, for example, the Rudd government’s $52 billion stimulus package?

This big government protected us from the recession which we know as the global financial crisis. Without big government, Australia would have suffered recession with the rest of the world.

The Australia Institute’s (TAI) Ebony Bennett reminds us how public investment, trend growth in public sector employment and household consumption drove Australia’s growth. Australia Institute polling shows most of us agree the stimulus package kept Australia from recession.

The final implication in Morrison’s rhetoric and the subtext of his key ministers in their retro campaign kick-off with its calculated swipe at regulation its salute to simple-minded hedonism is that the tap that was turned on to prime the economy during COVID-19 must now be turned off.

And although his stunts are wacky, embarrassingly corny, there is method in Morrison’s madness. He’s sowing the seeds of a simple-minded return to the world of the V8, a world in which you could burn rubber and hydrocarbon fuel like there was no tomorrow – a world with no COVID and no threat of anthropogenic climate causing irreversible global heating and our extinction.

A type of 1950s post-war Nirvana is within our grasp if politicians are allowed to go about their business growing the economy, doing deals with their mates without being pilloried by kangaroo courts. If politicians are just allowed to get on with their whatever it takes politics, Gladys Berejiklian would still be Premier of NSW. The ICAC forced her to resign, he lies, in flagrant Trumpian alternative factual zone of his own but with a petulant show of contempt for the historical record and the judiciary and the rule of law upon which our civil society is based.

Above all, Morrison’s backing of Gladys helps normalise corruption as a way of government and the price of doing business. Whilst it’s a dog-whistle to the “freedoms” mob demonstrating against being vaccinated and imported lies and conspiracies about a deep state, it is also an act of desperation born out a Machiavellian realpolitik that tells him his government needs to win at least one other seat in NSW.

“Politics is governed by the iron laws of arithmetic” his mentor Howard drily opined in an absurd reduction that helps our democracy drown in cynicism and distrust. In reality as Tony Fitzgerald argues, we need every politician to acknowledge that “membership of a political party doesn’t excuse them from their personal obligations to act honourably, and political parties to understand that voters will only vote for politicians who make and keep promises to act ethically.”

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Not a dry eye in the House as rats abandon ship

Omicron, OMG? No worries, Health Minister Greg Hunt is all abreast of the latest threat to public health, even finding time at the end of his statement to parliament to read aloud a letter from Olivia, the mother of Bella, a six-year-old girl in Koo Wee Rup, who is seriously ill, before a half-nelson clinch with bestie Josh Frydenberg as Hunt quits the Morrison government’s rapidly sinking ship; its motley crew mugged by sordid reality.

Trust Hunt to ensure his exit plan from the Morrison omnishambles includes a public back pat. Sentimentality triumphs over true feeling, particularly in a government whose PM gets high on his own schmaltz.

Treating the house to moving stories of his selfless efforts or his team’s tireless work to relieve suffering by making medication more available is Hunt’s signature and it is a fitting swan song for the self-indulgent egotist. Yet it is off-key in the context of his government’s vaccine debacle.

There is nothing wrong with alleviating the suffering of one person. But what of the five million who are known to have died worldwide of COVID-19 so far? It’s a figure likely to be only a third of the true total. Vaccine inequity is a huge global issue. Yet here we shirk our duty.

Whilst two thirds of people in wealthy countries are vaccinated, only 2.5 per cent of peoples of low-income nations are fully protected. The pandemic has, moreover, set back the work of tackling global disease and poverty

Hunt loves lashings of schmaltz. So did Charles Dickens. But, as Oscar Wilde warns, one would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing.

Yet there’s not a dry eye in the house as Hunt tears up as he tugs the heartstrings of his fellow empaths, woke blokes and sensitive New Age Males with a modest tale of his truly heroic procurement of compassionate access from an overseas company of a medication for Bella that would never be available in Australia and never a listed medication.

Yet is self-congratulation in order? Richard Denniss notes the “PM, his health minister and the secretary of the department of health have overseen the most expensive public policy mistakes in Australian history, but to hear Scott Morrison or Greg Hunt speak is to hear a man seeking praise for his performance. Yet their failures have cost tens of billions. Two thousand lives already. Many more must follow.

Then there’s the economic cost of the federal government’s failure to procure vaccines in a timely and adequate manner. NSW with its gold standard premier, Gladys Berejiklian, cheered on – and on – by the PM and his “team freedom” fail to contain the Delta variant. Both federal and NSW government’s COVID failures help create the third-largest quarterly decline in Australia’s economic activity in sixty years.

Beneath its veneer of inefficiency and inadequacy lies further corruption. exposed this week, in the release of a report which exposes a party rotten at the core; the rampant misogyny, bullying and frigging in the rigging, which Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ documents at length in her report ‘Set the Standard’ an indictment of male behaviour in parliamentary workplaces which the PM has no intention of reading, let alone heeding – preferring just to hold a copy aloft as a prop – while his MPs are all at sea over climate, energy, economic policy; baffled by a Captain barking orders which some just openly ignore. Or jump ship.

Hunt’s not the only Victorian rat to desert a ship that long since ceased to be sea-worthy. Former footballer, Damian Drum, Nationals MP for the northern Victorian electorate of Nicholls, also beats a retreat, Friday. Team Morrison is down ten members, two-thirds of a Rugby team but the PM’s game plan will stay unchanged. Labor hasn’t learned its lesson, he shrieks, claiming as Abbott did before him, that a modest increase in carbon emission targets will ruin the economy, triple the cost of the Sunday roast.

But he can’t blame Labor for his own snafu in making new laws no one needs or wants, a process fancifully dressed up as a legislative agenda.

Much fuss is made in the tamed estate of a legislative agenda getting stuck in the S-bend of the Senate, but Morrison’s agenda is the problem. It’s just unreal. Confected for its own sake. Religious discrimination is a lame way to appease a few religious conservatives who find 2021 confronting and yearn for a simpler world where God knows what’s best for us and who feel cheesed off they lost out to marriage equality in 2017.

Despite its title, the bill would promote discrimination. So it’s off to a committee for a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down. It’s been malingering since 2019, a bill if not an act of bad faith; a sop to gay marriage nay-sayers and other homophobes.

We have no religious discrimination – and like the government’s racist voter ID fraud law planned, it is another solution in search of a problem. Bernard Keane sums up the farce.

“The government has no actual agenda addressing issues of substance – not on climate, not on wage stagnation, not on housing affordability, not on higher education, not even on defence, where the year has been marked by a major step backward in procurement of our next generation of submarines.”

Luckily, a crisis pops up in the form of Omicron – the WHO latest “variant of concern” because it is highly infectious. It’s too early to know whether it’s deadlier than Delta but much of the fuss results from the federal government’s own failure to plan.

“We’re well-prepared and we are in the best scientific hands in the world,” Health Minister Hunt lies, the Dr Pangloss of a hands-free government of dud judgement and failure to deliver. Unless you’re talking about spin. Vacuity. Entropy. Or mindless, hyper partisanship.

Or the $10.3 billion in subsidies we paid our battling gas and coal producers last year, all part of the Liberal Party’s very postmodern interpretation of Adam Smith’s invisible hand, whereby the wealth of social goods and public benefits that flow over the beaver-dam of accumulated self-interest – are boosted heroically by a rising tide of subsidies that floats all boats and super yachts. Santos, Twiggy Forrest and Gina Rinehart never had it so good.

Twiggy Forrest’s superyacht, the Pangaea off Bundaberg

Just because there’s a pandemic on doesn’t mean you forget to look after your mates. Why waste funds on dedicated quarantine stations? OK. They do work. The Howard Springs facility is a 100 per cent success. But this is a federal government which works around the clock to dodge its federal responsibility. Evasive talking points don’t just write themselves.

“Well, I cannot control what ATAGI advises” says a PM in full flight, last July, implying he’s in a constant battle to get his scientific hands to change their advice but a new deference is apparent as Hunt does the prelude to OMG it’s Omicron, the latest show stopping number in our sensational government-drip-fed media’s Covid series, which includes such memorable performances as Wuhan Flu and Twiggy Bigs Up Test Kits, a spectacular confrontation in April 2020 between Australia’s richest man and a plutocracy he co-owns.

The Twigster gate-crashes a federal government press conference to present ten million test kits plus some PPE gear which his business links help him secure at a bargain $325 million, for which the Morrison government will reimburse him, naturally, despite initial press suggesting that the billionaire’s intervention is a philanthropic gift.

Some BGI kits are used in Victoria, but other states prefer their own tests. WA says, they weren’t needed at all, a reflection on federal government health efforts generally. The states have done all the heavy lifting, prompting some pundits to propose a new phase in commonwealth-state relations, or at least a shift in the balance of power under a weak and manifestly incompetent Prime Minister.

Hands? Let’s put our hands together for the biggest health policy disaster since federation from a government that cares not a jot about doing its job; whose dereliction of duty is matched only by its ability to cock up the simplest task. Like order vaccines. But be fair; at least Hunt’s got something right. Yep. He’s retiring to spend more time with his family.

As for Hunt’s glib lies and his incompetence, we will be paying the price for some time. The world’s “best scientific hands” help deliver us over 213,339 Covid cases. Nearly 15,000 cases are active. Two thousand and twenty-one Australians have died. Albanese’s right about the Morrison mob having two main jobs: vax and quarantine. They stuff up both.

Dutton backer, duck-‘n-cover-Hunt saw his credibility shredded well before his graveyard shift as Health Minister in a government that fails vaccine procurement and distribution whilst also evading responsibility for senior Australians; the elder abuse and neglect endemic in the nation’s corporatised aged care. Investors continue to prosper while their “clients” die. Dedicated quarantine facilities are simply another federal responsibility still in search of a responsible federal government.

As Greg legs it, we pause to reflect on his earlier incarnation as Mr Soil Magic, the MP who spruiked climate denialist, Tony Abbott’s Direct Action, boondoggle. Polluters were paid $3 billion to pursue efficiency projects which they would have implemented anyway, while soil-magic paid farmers to play-act carbon sequestration, or soil-carbon, a fantasy still popular with a National Party lining up to receive subsidies for farmers as recompense for having to agree to net-zero by 2050.

His legacy? Hunt will go down in history as the shyster who aided and abetted Tony Abbott, another IPA mining puppet in his disastrously successful crusade for the abolition of a price on carbon, a practical and effective way of curbing carbon dioxide emissions.

But it’s not as if fossil-fuel corporations don’t pony up when it comes to political donations. It’s just that they are very hard to trace. We do know from the Centre for Public Integrity that that over last twenty years, the resources sector gave at least $136.7 million to political parties and lobby groups. The real amount is many times higher. Yet this but one measure of influence in what is the owning and controlling of political decision-making.

There are lobbyists. Fund-raising dinners where corporate CEOs pay hugely to bend the ear of the minister who can help further their business interests and to hell with parliamentary democracy. What we have running the place is an oligarchy of corporate plutocrats.

Enter Clive the Dinosaur. The impossibly litigious Palmer gifts $89 million to getting the election result he wants in 2019. Big Clive is the most generous donor, but his gift is a tad one-sided. The Coalition gets over three times the amount directed to Labor, while a high disclosure threshold of $14,000 hides another estimated third of all political donations.

In effect, Australia’s federal government is a fully paid-up subsidiary of mining, banking, gambling, Big Farm and Big Pharma and allied commercial interests who get to decide climate and energy policy – and just when we open our borders to the latest WHO mutant variant of interest.

Yet all is well, as the Covid-19 pandemic proves endemic, just as experts predicted, an inevitable outcome of a world in which multinational corporate greed decrees that only the rich get vaccinated. Hapless millions have no choice but infection and becoming a giant human petri dish. Vaccination must be global if Covid is to be eliminated. Yet less than five per cent of all poor people in low-income countries have had one jab.

Hunt invokes ATAGI. We get boosters and if we can’t get boosters or they don’t work we get Omicron. But it won’t be as bad as we fear. Just like the flu bubbles Parnell McGuiness on The Drum.

Or it will be bad but we’ll get new vax.

Under the government thumb – yet only overruled when the PM disagrees – ATAGI could bring forward boosters. If we have any. Or if they work. ATAGI’s, an agile and dynamic if not svelte, advisory panel of twenty-three health experts and other interested parties. If boosters don’t work, there’s always Pfizer. Whip up a vat of vax overnight.

Outside a Morrisonian fantasy-land, Pfizer guesses it could make commercial quantities of an Omicron vaccine by March 2022. By then, the new variant will have spread everywhere.

Omicron, the latest WHO high risk Covid variant of concern will be all over the world well before Hunt remembers the paediatric vax he forgot. Greg The Unready is chief apologist, the man who is top pup on the empty tuckerbox of a Morrison policy-free government of perpetual unpreparedness and colossal bungling. And not just in failing Covid.

Who can forget the forty billion dollars the treasurer, Greg’s BFF from Kooyong gave to multi-nationals and big Australian firms that simply did not need the money?

We could have doubled Newstart for five years on forty billion.

The runs are on the board for the Morrison experiment. It’s already shown a criminal failure to provide quarantine, protect first nations’ peoples, or procure in timely fashion, vaccine for kids in a world where Covid mutates readily in populous nations such as South Africa, too poor to access vaccinations jealously hoarded by the rich. It can’t claim it wasn’t warned.

Instead, we got the shadow puppetry, a Covid Commission. Sounds potent, prudent and provident. Yet it was entirely gas-lighting, a secret cabinet committee led by a gas industry for a gas industry rich-lister nifty Nev Power, formerly Fortescue Metals CEO.

Morrison’s response to Covid has little to do with protecting public health and everything to do with private profit. The federal government gives the green light to Santos and co to guzzle even more public funds under the ruse of a “gas-led recovery.”

It’s grotesquely absurd. As TAI points out. If the Morrison government had to pick the industry least likely to help the economy, gas would have been the perfect choice. Not only does it employ few workers, its emissions help destroy our rapidly depleting atmosphere

Our federal MPs are in thrall to a mining oligarchy spruiking ecocide. It’s a rapacious, relentless, powerful elite which helps itself to resources, as in the NT intervention land grab, yet cannot prompt its Muppet government to honour its pledge to protect vulnerable, high-density extended family communities such as those in the Northern Territory.

Flash as a rat with a gold tooth, mining magnate Twiggy Forrest, is flogging green hydrogen, our robber-baron, corporate cowboy’s latest snake-oil, a product so rare that not a molecule is yet to be made. Twiggy’s butler, world-renowned liar “Pinocchio Morrison” shoots himself in both feet in international trade and diplomatic circles by scuttling our submarine deal with France. Lying. Leaking personal texts.

And then lying about lying afterwards.

Not that it stops Scotty setting up Australia’s stand at COP26, as a market stall for coal and gas – at a conference of handwringing over global warming, climate change and the need for everyone to promise to phase down but not phase out coal.

The Glasgow Climate Pact itself is a predictable let-down; a missed opportunity to address the catastrophic health impacts of the climate emergency, according to academics at the UNSW School of Population Health. They say it’s shameful.

But nothing deters Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) pitching its rocking horse manure to the world. Take a bow, mining titan Twiggy, godfather of The Indue cashless welfare card, a fantastic, plastic, social metastatic, which a Morrison government will extend to all welfare recipients. It’s a form of coercive control if not abuse.

As for abuse, Indue enables Twiggy to call The Greens, “the party for paedophiles” in 2017.

“I have to hold the Greens accountable here; the Greens might as well be the party for paedophiles, the party for child sex abusers – you’re the party of human rights and you’ve forgotten the human rights of children, just call yourself the party for paedophiles.”

Why? The Greens oppose the card which researchers say adds misery, is racist and helps only its backers, Murdoch reporters help promote Indue as the cure to sexual depravity, pornography addiction and drunken excess amongst Aboriginal communities.

In case the logic is not obvious, the Twigster alleges that because First Nations’ folk can’t budget, they fritter their income on drugs, grog and pornos, leaving children to roam the streets at night; their own kids are too frightened to be at home in their beds.

“Paedophile” arises in Howard ‘s 2007, The Northern Territory Emergency Response slur on Aboriginal culture in which paedophile rings were alleged to operate in the Northern Territory, despite ABS evidence that only 4.2% of substantiated reports for Aboriginal child abuse and neglect were for sexual abuse compared to 9.3% of non-Aboriginal NT children.

A Rumpelstiltskin in RM Williams moleskins, Forrest and his tame PM, Morrison, boast how they will spin straw into gold. Or water into hydrogen – a simple process which involves vast amounts of water and electricity. It’s so simple you could do it at home with a couple of jumper leads attached to the national grid. Try Bunnings. And a Murray Darling basin of water. Oh. And somewhere to dump toxic salt by-products.

To make 70 million tonnes of pure hydrogen per year – the current global output, you would need about one-and-a-half times as much renewable electricity as the world produces.

Funding? Part of the big picture. Build it and they will come with open cheque-books. Who cares if the Twiggy Piggy bank is empty? A mere bagatelle to a gas-captured Morrison government, which underwrites Santos’ gaslighting in Glasgow as at home.

In a post-truth, post-shame political world having nothing to sell but our souls is part of The Australian Way. And what better venue to set out our gas cartel’s stall than COP26? Certainly, the Morrison government goes out of it way to besmirch our nation’s credentials.

We are now dishonest broker, international conman, and carnival barker for the fossil fuel industry’s business as usual- exclusive greenwashing scam. Just listen to the Twigster,

“Hundreds of billions of dollars” in “implementation capital” will be “funded by the world’s greatest institutions, who must invest in humanity’s journey to a zero-carbon future.”

The green hydro hustle comes from the same mob that brought us natural gas or re-badged methane, a gas with 80 times the global warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it enters our atmosphere. Hitching our wagon to the Santos star fixes Australia’s global reputation as money-grubbing, fossil fuel grifters.

Gas prices have tripled over the last seven years as gas production tripled in Australia. It takes a fair amount of effort, not to mention skullduggery to increase the price of a product as you increase supply.

Not that we’ve been idle behind the scenes, slogging our guts out to help China and India undermine any hope of an agreement to cease burning coal. Hopes for the planet’s survival are dashed when the hoopla that is COP26 fails to agree to phase out coal or even set effective rules for global carbon trading. Shonky carbon offsets will allow fossil fuel corporations to continue polluting and global heating in dirty business as usual.

The COP is now all over bar the shouting, squabbling and bickering. Until next year in Egypt where shameless, ecocidal, climate derelicts such as Australia will be flogged with a limp lettuce leaf, if we can’t improve on the Abbott Experiment’s pathetically inadequate 2030 carbon emission reduction target to reduce emissions by between 26 and 28 per cent on 2005 levels. Yet Barnaby Joyce is keen to have the last word.

In an Abbott-like gesture of integrity, Nationals’ Santos’ stooge, Joyce, who is also currently deputy PM of Australia claims “I did not sign it.”

Not to be out-bid, the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) – representatives of 18 gas exporting countries meet in Qatar to stick up for the fossil fuel underdog, in a statement protesting the “the ongoing reductionism and cancel culture on hydrocarbons.”

Reporters ask Joyce if his rapidly dwindling and hopelessly divided party is onboard with COP26’s lamentably diluted communique, an anti-climactic flatulence from some self-deflating whoopee cushion at the end of the Glasgow-a-go-go climate summit. At the eleventh hour, India gets the text altered from “phasing out” coal to “phasing down”.

Providing a bit of slapstick slap-down, Elvis impersonator, Michael McCormack, upbraids Rinehart cowboy, Barnaby. Points out that anything the PM signs on behalf of the secret squirrel coalition that poses as a federal government automatically entails the assent of its junior partner. Given his PM’s capacity to pivot on submarine deals, Mick-Mack’s either a very brave or foolish ex-deputy. This will not end well for either MP.

Above the squalor of our Nationals’ barney a Santos’ float with blue and green LEDs showcases the wholesome new miracle fuel like some type of gelati vending machine.

Australia attracts gold diggers. Led by the US and the UK, other economies invest $4 trillion here, mostly in mining, followed by real estate and finance. We rely on foreign investment, DFAT is quick to tell us, to reach our “economic potential”, but let’s not confuse what fuels our economy with our right to a fair and decent society. Or pretend that economic imperialism is The Australian Way and not a global neoliberal tyranny. Above all is the reality that we are a neocolonial tributary state.

Ironically, the ambitiously bellicose Peter Dutton, eager to declare war on China, warns hacks at his Press Club harangue that China sees Australia as a “tributary state.” It doesn’t wish to occupy us, he says, but rather wants us to “refrain from making sovereign decisions and acting in [our] self-interest.” China is right, Mr Dutton but not in the way you would prefer us to believe. Our masters are the US and the UK and have been for as long as we began to be profitable to them.

Above all, while our PM or his Thatcherite treasurer babble about open markets and invisible hands, there’s nothing fair about market forces dominated by oligarchs or duopolies and monopolies. As most of our markets are. Before we even get to our corrupted government providing handouts to prop up uneconomic fossil fuels.

Government subsidies, to Santos, for example, permit it to continue business as usual, fracking and extracting, while its carbon capture and storage conjuring show, “a very elegant project” permits it to continue making methane while banking tax-payer subsidies or carbon credits because CCS.

Our rulers’ Neoliberal faith in market forces means that investors generally get what they want, while increasingly, middle- and working-class Australians miss out. Our lives are relentlessly impoverished, each year, as capital swells investors’ profits while leaving workers an ever -shrinking share of the economic pie.

That “can do capitalism,” our Prime mining muppet, Scott Morrison’s keen to embrace is increasingly a story of foreign investment largely out of Luxembourg, The British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and other notorious tax havens.

Our neo-colony has also been seen as a cornucopia of fleece, beef, mutton, butter, wheat; hailed as a virtual workers’ paradise where Jack was as good as his master if not better, the antipodes of an Old World of class and privilege and a post-war place of refuge, a dream shattered during the eastern colonies’ depression of the 1890s.

But not today. Now we are the untrustworthy Australian, shunned after boat-stopper Morrison, mining corporation shill to the world goes full Cobargo in his own anti-charm offensive at the G20 pow-wow and its after-party, the COP26, where almost 200 heads of state see our PM publish Emmanuel Macron’s personal text then lie about its contents, while he is first of our PMs to leak a confidential security briefing against a sitting US President.

Morrison’s already abused the G7 gabfest in Cornwall to leak a list of 14 grievances Beijing has with Australia, including restrictions on foreign investment decisions based on national security grounds, government funding for Sinophobic think tanks, and hostile reporting by Australian media.

What could possibly go wrong?

First, there is the Morrison government’s abuse of a world convention on curbing carbon emissions as an excuse to flog fossil fuels, along with that naff Santos stall promoting carbon, capture and storage, (CCS), a notorious scam.

Twiggy Forrest’s artisanal, hand-crafted, bijou, behemoth, Fortescue Future Industries is also there along with NBN genius, Fizza Turnbull, AO, conscripted to explain how we’ll all be saved by Twiggy’s green hydrogen, despite his having no financial backing apart from a $500m pledge from Fortescue Metals on a project he talks up to cost hundreds of billions of dollars from anonymous investors and despite it not having produced a single droplet yet.

The investors have no names. There is not even indicative funding. It is FFI funded by NFI. Joe Aston scoffs in the AFR. But none of this stops the Twig from taking multi-billion pound orders for a product which doesn’t exist, has never been developed commercially and for which there is nothing but hot air in place of the cold cash of capital investment.

But it’s a great story in which heroic, humanitarian, eco-friendly, mining companies will brew up a bit of brown hydrogen and use it for a while, let’s say fifty years, before some lab invents a way to switch to blue hydrogen – or like the mouldy old orange that invented Fleming’s penicillin, then abracadabra up will jump, green hydrogen like Athene born fully armed from the head of Zeus.

Expect Green Hydrogen about the same time as CCS, elctrolyser technology and interplanetary travel become as cheap as chips. No wonder purists at Glasgow take offence. But how good is Forrest’s bait and switch scam?

“So, voters and investors might think they’re getting green hydrogen funded by Covid-19 relief packages, but they are actually being propositioned with polluting blue hydrogen, and will most likely end up with more brown hydrogen,”

write Alex Grant and Paul Martin in their paper Hydrogen is Big Oil’s Last Grand Scam.

Above, all, there is our clandestine love-in with China, India and Russia in which we punch above our weight; helping abort both gatherings of world leaders’ aims to phase out coal, an obstruction, helped no end, by five hundred reps from fossil fuel corporations.

Morrison can brag that not everyone’s giving us the bum’s rush. China, India and Russia are all over us like a rash even if it’s just cupboard love. And selective.

The land of Oz, an oligarchy of Big Miners backed by Rupert Murdoch’s army of hacks and flacks, wins Colossal Fossil Award as COP 26 winds up in chilly Glasgow – not that our PM and sidekick Taylor even hang around.

Minister Keith Pitt calls it an economic win. Australian mines won’t have to close. Within hours, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne cut up ugly in a pugnacious statement making it clear the government would not lift a finger to better its inadequate 2030 goal.

Multinational Muppet Morrison and his sidekick, fellow fossil fuel fanboy, Round Upper of rare, native grasses and Lord of Murray-Darling rorts, Angus Taylor, rush home to tell lies about Australia’s path to net zero. This translates as business as usual – we’ll actually increase our carbon emissions while, presto, the magic of CCS will suddenly start working; prove itself worth the six billion dollars we’ve already wasted on it.

Not that there is anything but gratitude from our Big Australian trans-national mining corporate party donors who are a hawking, talking, driverless truckload of promotion for what Morrison now calls can-do capitalism evoking old pal, Campbell Newman.

Our fossil fuel industry is a magic pudding. It banks $115 billion from selling Australia’s petroleum and coal resources in 2019-20. It pays state and federal governments $7.3 billion in royalties. Yet, in 2020-21, it gets over $10.7 billion in subsidies, reports Michael West Media’s Callum Foote citing The Australia Institute’s analysis of state budget papers.

Morrison bangs on about how private sector “can-do capitalism,” not government policy, will be crucial to cutting carbon emissions. Provided it is a fabulously well subsidised ward of the state. He hopes to further politicise climate change to win the next election.

“Glasgow has marked the passing of the baton from targets and timetables … to private enterprise and the millions of dispersed decisions, flashes of inspiration, which make up consumer-led technological progress,” he bullshits the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) on Wednesday, a hotbed of innovation, disruptive change and subversion of the dominant paradigm.

“We believe climate change will ultimately be solved by can-do capitalism … (not) governments seeking to control people’s lives.”

See what he does there? Someone on ABC Insiders credits Morrison with tapping into lockdown anger, something largely manufactured by the Murdoch gutter press – and like transitioning from brown to green hydrogen – fuelling a miracle election victory.

Morrison will be lucky to be around to hear the outcome of our betrayal of our Pacific neighbours as we choose self-interest, profit and plunder by siding with China, India and Russia at the G20 in Rome against a proposal by the UK and EU countries to pledge to phase out coal production.

Australia’s shores are girt by sea; lapped by an azure Pacific, a vast body of water bigger than all the world’s land masses and islands combined, whose rising seas will drown our Pacific Island neighbours on whom we rely to pick pears in Orrvale and harvest stone fruit in Maroopna and where Vanuatu is out to sue the fossil-fuel corporations responsible and the governments that enabled them.

Australia’s representatives steal away like a thief in the night from COP26, a conference based on the need to co-operate, but not because they are shamed but because they believe that the planet can wait.

The federal government’s contempt for global co-operation, humanity and for climate science is brazen. Nothing is more important than winning the next election. And serving the fossil-fuel oligarchs who rule us through their wholly-owned subsidiary, the Liberal National Coalition.

Yet what neither may have counted on is the Morrison government’s rapid disintegration through ineptitude and acute dysfunction combining with its record of betrayal over COVID to keep any of its promises; discharge its responsibilities. Add in the seamy underbelly revealed in the release of Kate Jenkin’s report, an expose of toxic masculinity and bullying guaranteed to alienate women voters. Despite all of Clive Palmer’s money and anti-Labor lies it may be in for a big shock at the ballot box.

 

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COP26, Boris and Scotty’s cop-out, just a lot of hot air in the end?

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. Carl Sagan

On a clear spell in a chilly November day in Glasgow, on Clyde’s bonnie banks, you can see all the way to the end of the world; hear the crack of doom in distant thunder, if you are Boris Johnson, climate denialist turned climate evangelist, who is a half-hour late to his own convention where he seeks to whip up urgency in curbing greenhouse emissions before we fry our little blue dot of a planet to a crisp.

“Eco-Warrior”, Boris, as ITV’s Robert Peston dubs the Tory PM, is a Damascene convert, an epiphany courtesy of third wife, Carrie, (much as our own ScoMo, architect of the unlawful Robo-debt, extort-the-poor-scheme despite his lies of denial, gets his Jen-lens to clarify empathy), appears before the multitude as a hot-eyed zealot, a mop-headed prophet who peers out over a choppy sea of greenwash as 122 (almost all male) heads of state and their digital wallahs check texts, email and mining markets on smartphones in the Twenty-Sixth United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, 31 October-12 November 2021.

Welcome to COP26, the curtain raiser for the last call for the End of the World, where trade fair and carnival seek to upstage our finest, noblest, minds, as a serious gathering of world leaders and negotiators is hi-jacked; press-ganged aboard the comic floating opera of a show, with a star cast including a grotesque mix of rent seekers, hangers-on and political wannabes warns Nine Newspapers Bevan Shields.

Thirty-thousand turn up -about a third of those who would have liked to attend -had there not been a pandemic to contend with. Or if transport were not an issue. Or they weren’t too poor. Or from the South. And if organisers had been able to provide wheelchair access.

Israeli Energy Minister, Karine Elharrar, who has muscular dystrophy, is left stranded outside in the damp, chill Clydeside air of greater Glasgow in her wheelchair.

Little wonder that COP26 is decried as the most exclusionary climate summit ever. What is surprising is that we expected better from a Johnson government. Like the UK PM’s opening speech, things seem flung together at the last minute. Or not at all. Boris is like our own PM in his tendency toward word salad when given occasion to speak. Both struggle to consistently produce joined-up thinking in public.

Neither seem capable of organising a cup of tea without a special commission of inquiry. Despite being host, Boris himself cannot even stay awake during the summit.

Unlike earlier COPS where leaders such as our own, Kevin Rudd, arrived late but stayed until stumps, working into the wee hours, drafting communiques and getting “ratfucked by Chinese ratfuckers(Copenhagen 2009), most opt to attend the opening gabfest; get snapped and papped before they nick off early.

Or are laughed out of town, as liars whose polyester viscose pants are on fire as in Morrison’s sensational own goal with Macron, in which ScoMo leaks personal texts to prove how trustworthy he is, an act of duplicity helped by inviting Santos to set up its Carbon Capture and Storage disinformation display.

Seriously, how good is leaking a private text to a Murdoch newspaper when you want to win public trust and confidence? Little wonder Morrison rushes home to break out the Hi-Viz and hard hats, snag a gaggle of Nationals and head for mining electorates in NSW. Feel the love of the campaign trail.

World time is one minute to midnight by the doomsday clock, Carrie Johnson’s latter-day Cassandra, Boris, warns in press drops. Moments later, her prophet opts for a soccer analogy. “We’re 1-5 at half time.” Nothing prosecutes your case so well as a metaphor mixture of Christian theology and football paganism.

Yet Johnson’s audience fidgets long after the seer makes his late arrival. Why a thirty-minute delay if every moment counts? Perhaps, like our own PM, Boris’ policy-free abyss engulfs him. Brexit turns from heroic act of sovereign independence into an Aldi of empty shelves. Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have single lines of products to disguise bare shelves. Entire aisles vanish. Winter approaches with no gas to heat homes. No petrol is a worry but no beer?

At least Boris got Brexit done as his campaign slogan had it. But what of things undone? Is the human toll of his disastrous “Freedom Day”, 40,000 Covid cases and 200 deaths per day and rising getting to him? Has Johnson lost confidence in his own leadership? It’s not easy at the top.

You couldn’t blame Johnson for feeling mortified by his catastrophic failure to close the border with India. It has made the UK the Delta variant capital of Europe. Being the cause of so much sickness, so many unnecessary deaths, such suffering, must be hard to live with. Boris has blood on his hands. Scott Morrison and The Ruby Princess, Gladys Berejiklian, his Lady Macbeth, must suffer similar self-reproach.

The Ruby Princess is Australia’s biggest single source of COVID-19 infection.

Mortification and remorse, however, require a conscience. Maturity. A sense of moral responsibility. No evidence exists for any of this in the wanton Boris, who has more than deceit, ineptitude and egomania in common with his empathy bypass pal, Scott, “I’ve just learned not to care,” Morrison.

Boris may, of course, run habitually late just as part of his assiduously cultivated Bozo persona, a thoroughly postmodern performance artist, like our Scott Morrison, who stands for nothing other than his own self-promotion, but with an act of such wacky vacuity it disguises his political guile; his ruthless dispatch of his opponents.

We know the type. Our daggy Dad, ScoMo, loves to pose with Sri Lankan curry ingredients or a Bunnings’ kit hutch, he reckons is a henhouse, power tools or other products to pretend he’s a wholesome, homemaker – an aspiring tradie (amen) instead of a world-renowned liar, a bully and a climate recalcitrant.

“Morrison’s own worst traits have been on full display since Rome: the slipperiness, the spin, the smirk, the failure to listen, the aggression, the blustering self-justification, the shifting of grounds and above all the faux conflation of himself with the Australian people,” The Mandarin’s Verona Burgess notes.

Faux conflation? Deceit always returns to its master, as they say in France. Macron takes pains to distinguish his contempt for Morrison from his great respect for the Australian people.

L état, c’est moi is an apocryphal conceit attributed to Louis XIV, the Sun King whose power was extensive, as were his achievements. His palace at Versailles still stands today. Morrison and Johnson, on the other hand, are dangerous, vainglorious louts both at home and abroad.

ScoMo’s Glasgow sideshow is embarrassingly woeful. First up in the Australian Pavilion, is Santos’ Carbon Capture and Storage Scam, one key to the Morrison government’s net zero by 2050, a vow it boasts won’t be mandated. Delegates mock both display and plan. Malcolm Turnbull, who attends as chair of the Fortescue Future Industries, is scathing,

It’s “a pity” Australia had not signed up to the methane pledge, Turnbull points out and “a joke” that Santos had been given prime placement. “Look at the Australian stand – you’ve got a gas company highlighted apparently at the insistence of the energy minister, who thinks that our energy policy should be all about burning gas,” he says. “The whole object is to stop burning fossil fuels.”

Australia’s PLAN is puerile. Carbon emissions will be a thing of the past because CCS will magically start to work even though it’s been exposed as a hoax by the coal industry itself. Or someone will come up with something. Somehow. Hi-tech. The Micawber principle. Something’s bound to turn up.

Perhaps DFAT could resurrect Julie Bishop’s innovation hub, her “gorgeous little funky, hipster, Googly, Facebooky-type place”. DFAT paid $1700 for three bean bags. The hub has innovated itself out of existence, since her departure from politics.

Our painfully lame display is, ironically, juxtaposed with Curb Methane promoting The Global Methane Pledge to cut by 30% emissions of methane, a gas far more damaging being eighty times more powerful than CO2 in the first twenty years, which has rapidly increased its presence in the atmosphere since 2007 when CSG fracking became widespread. Accounting for 30% of methane released into the atmosphere are sheep farts and cow burps. The plastic in our oceans is also believed to be a source of methane but it is less easy to calculate how much.

Unlike CO2 reduction, a slow, process, public health benefits of just curbing methane would appear in twenty years. Climate in just ten. But Australia refuses to sign the pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030. Morrison’s gas-led recovery stunt, a front for Liberal gas industry donors to boost profits which is certain to increase consumer gas bills, on the other hand, will inevitably increase methane leakage.

Of course, Johnson’s got other things on his mind, along with the scandal of who paid what and when for the £200,000 renovation of Boris and Carrie’s 11 Downing St flat, (customarily reserved for the Chancellor), with its gold wallpaper at £840 per roll, not only, decadence itself, surely, but something which simply would not stick to the walls.

Much as Boris would love to stay, he can’t stick around either. Has to dash away; leave his own climate conference by private jet, to dine at the boys-only Garrick Club with veteran climate denialist and former Daily Telegraph boss, whom Boris appointed a Peer only last year, Lord Charles Moore.

Keeping your audience waiting half an hour, when your theme is urgency sends its own message. As does jetting away to dine with a chap who opposes everything COP26 stands for. Even keynote speaker, the earnest Prince Charles wishes his mother had been well enough to open the show. His father would be turning in his grave.

Whilst the peerless naturalist David Attenborough provides his own, uniquely moving, heartfelt testimony to species depletion and extinction in a warming world, Tory organisers might reconsider their reliance on the Royal family. Inspired and inspiring as it may be, to many, its circumstances and its carbon footprint are problematic.

England’s greenest royal spins his fourteenth century handcrafted feudal birthright as a model village, where six hundred, New Age loyal tenants tend self-sustaining, mixed farms amok with organic, free-range, hand-reared mutton, beef and pork.

Charles’ modern-day serfs put on a jolly good show of course. They’re a Potemkin village of beekeeping, cheese-making and weaving to pay rent whilst tugging their forelocks, “Thankee kind sir”, in rustic, homespun smocks and sturdy, handmade wooden clogs, the length and breadth of his Duchy of Cornwall, a modest 52,789 hectares which spill across 23 counties chiefly in the South-west of England where temperatures now can reach 31°C. But during Boris’ harangue, Charles frowns at his iPhone.

Is there a hitch with the 2,500 housing estate the duchy is to build in the Faversham countryside?

Managing to live on £20 million pounds a year is tough. The prince must provide £6 million PA for his heirs, for example. Luckily, his housekeeping money is topped up from the £90 million Sovereign Grant his Mum gets from government to help defray expenses the kids may incur on official business. Like COP26. There’s been a rise of 26% recently. Imagine that in the average worker’s pay packet.

It’s not easy being a Windsor. But a green Windsor is a real stretch. The Royals clock up 3,810 tonnes of CO2 a year in their combined carbon footprint, whilst their subjects average only ten tonnes. Charles and Camilla, alone, notch up 400 tonnes in their private jetting about hither and yon.

Yet help is on its way. Divesting. Coutts, private banker to Elizabeth II and family, promises to drop its investments in tar sands/oil sands, Arctic oil and gas exploration, thermal coal extraction and generation, and to reduce the carbon intensity of its holdings 25% by year’s end. Every bit counts.

On the other hand, special arrangements are made for a Queen “whose lawyers very recently lobbied the Scottish government in secret to change a draft law to exempt her private estates from a major carbon-cutting initiative?… [making her] … the only landowner in the whole of Scotland who doesn’t have to facilitate renewable energy pipelines on her various estates in the country.”

One does what one can of course. Charles’ fifty-year-old, Aston Martin is converted to run on bioethanol brewed from “surplus English white wine and whey from the cheese process”. Other cars run on biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil.

But Boris takes the apocalyptic view. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, (friends and family call him Al), Little Britain’s class clown in a fright wig and bespoke suit is Crosby/Textor’s current UK PM. Better late than never, he does his crowd warm-up gig at COP26, a liar’s convention where nations such as Norway, Australia, the USA and the fast-fraying Gordian knot of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, all foregather to feign public shows of concern and vow to cut emissions, while leaving minions to beaver away at home, licensing ever more oil, coal and gas for export.

If, like Boris, you are a bigwig, you try to snag a headline early, before you nick off home, to pat yourself and your pals on the back for saving the planet, as The Guardian’s John Crace notes. The whoopie cushion of UK politics, Boris does it with his clever doomsday crack and the odd, irresistible, fart joke about cows and methane.

Young delegates from several continents look on in “silent, muted, disgust”, reports The Civil Servant in The Guardian. Much of what Boris says offends his audience. But then, as Crace reminds us, Boris doesn’t do gravitas. “They had come for gravitas, and he was just too lightweight, too flippant, too obviously amoral for not just the most serious but also the only game in town.”

Lightweight, amoral Australia is already up and running in the breach of protocol and offensive behaviour stakes. The Santos stall says it all. Morrison is concerned purely with his own political advantage, linked inextricably to the fossil fuel industry at every level from staffing his own office to decisions taken by his Covid Commission, his government’s supposed gas-led recovery. But there’s ever the need for public, self-promotion.

Our own Crosby/Textor PM, Scott John Morrison breaks early in the race to the headline by releasing private texts from Emmanuel Macron when France’s President calls him a liar.

Morrison lies that the texts show that France knew well in advance that we were going to dump it for the US, ending abruptly our submarine romance, a dalliance based originally on a flawed plan to win the SA seats of Sturt and Boothby. Whatever it cost. Such is the making of our national security.

For Niki Savva, Morrison’s Nine News nemesis, the texts do nothing of the sort. True. But it is Scott Morrison. No-one expects Morrison to do anything but lie. Is Savva not savvy to the power of negative advertising? Morrison’s confected stoush with Macron gets him world headlines. In fact, he’s gone for the trifecta.

“In an extraordinary diplomatic feat, Morrison has somehow managed to have China, France and the United States offside simultaneously. It’s an outstanding trifecta, when the Chinese refuse to talk to you, the American President thinks you are a boofhead and the French President calls you a liar.”

Similarly, a clip of his talk to an empty room, Tuesday goes viral on Weibo when in a Freudian slip, Morrison urges “global momentum to tackle China” He means to say, “climate change”.

State-run Guancha.Com reacts swiftly to condemn Morrison. “He doesn’t have a passion to protect the environment but does have anti-China passion under the name of protecting environment,” its opinion piece says. “This episode is the actual reflection of his mind.”

As befits any convocation to save humanity, COP26 is beset with hi-tech wizardry. First up, is a manic video clip, the sales promo shock and awe, assault on hearts and minds type of attention -grabber, barely six minutes long so as not to tax the harried, multi-tasking modern statesman’s attention span.

“Action, this day,” concludes Earth to COP26 a frenzied splicing of fire, flood, freak tide and high wind climate change disaster porn, an offensive of Anthropocene woe intercut with lovely images of dolphins, kids, folk in ethnic rig and a magnificent, endangered, sacred, Kyrgyzstan snow leopard to offer hope.

Hope an endangered planet can rid itself of 28 gigatonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere in eight years if global heating is to be kept to 1.5°C. Hope we survive our coal-fired catastrophe begotten out of modern global capitalism and the fruits of cotton field slavery by an industrial revolution which began in Eighteenth Century Britain. Hope that we are not, already, beyond hope; a species so toxic we have triggered Gaia’s final act of revenge, our own extinction.

Sea levels are steadily rising, while freak weather brings heatwaves, torrential rains, wildfires, floods and droughts ever more often and each more dire, warn chief scientific advisers and presidents of national science academies of over 30 nations.

“Climate modelling indicates that with every fractional increase in warming, these effects will get worse with all countries vulnerable. It’s one minute to midnight by the doomsday clock” thunders Johnson, a hint of John Cleese as Headmaster, in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life chiding errant pupils of the Lower Fifth for being inattentive to his practical demonstration sex education class.

Boris is so excited by his own sententious exhortation that he is seduced into bathos; adding a gratuitous “and we need to act now.”

Wise men speak when they have something to say. Fools speak when they have to say something.

If only BoJo’s performative oration, (which some adjudge one of his best – OK it comes off a low base), remotely matched what his government’s actually doing in its recent humbugger of a budget. Or its re-opening of coalmines.

Neoliberal UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, dances to the beat of one invisible hand clapping. Tells Brits, their only hope lies in growth. Paving the way, he doles out more money for roads which he says will boost industrial expansion and a cut in taxes on domestic flights.

Jet engines add only two percent to our greenhouse gas emissions. Charles can easily squeeze in a few more trees to offset that. Brazil’s Bolsonaro can stop clear-felling Amazon rainforest. Or we just won’t buy any more coffee. That trade deal with Australia will save Britain’s bacon.

As to trade, however, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates the boost from the Australia agreement at around 0.01 per cent of GDP. Meanwhile, live data, on the other hand supports its expectation of a 15 per cent fall in trade with the EU. Brexit has been all cost and no benefit.

A stiff telling-off is just the ticket. Always change the topic. Imagine, the legions of dreary Heads; masters, mistresses and other public finger-waggers who have imprinted the need to chide on the subconscious of our Boris, a PM of Olympian ineptitude who, like our own Prime Hypocrite, Mendacity Morrison, makes it his business to lecture others on acting while doing as little as possible himself.

Of the $2 billion ScoMo boasts about for bushfire relief, for example, victims have yet to receive a cent, reports The Monthly’s Nick Feik. Its bushfire fund turns out to be another lie, a type of fiction, which boffins tell Senate Estimates, is a “notional entity”.

Morrison, a liar’s liar, attends Glasgow only to continue the fight he picks with France at the G20 – and to peddle fossil fuels. He puts out his stall as a fully paid-up member of The Coal Club. Standing up for The Australian Way means siding with other coal club members, more notorious, human rights abusers who make our own gulag of indefinite detention centres, our systemic, endemic racism, and our zeal to expand state surveillance and quash dissent appear trivial by comparison.

We join India, China and Russia in blocking a push at the G20 in Rome by the UK and EU countries to commit to phasing out coal production. Poland withdraws its pledge later. Our government floats a $250 billion coal mine funding facility.

To flog coal and gas at a climate convention takes chutzpah. Who else to help than road-show buddy, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction and sticking it to Clover Moore, Angus, “air miles” Taylor. Morrison plays the plucky little digger from down under who sticks up for his fair young country’s reputation against international depravity and that vulgarian, Macron’s ugly departure from protocol.

Our National Interest is at stake. Just in case anyone notices Australia’s a pariah at any climate convention. Our PM abominates sledging, as anyone watching Question Time can attest.

Several embedded hacks bag Emmanuel Macron for speaking English and daring to call our PM a liar, “I don’t think, I know” Macron’s immortal response to being asking if he thinks that Morrison is a liar. The utterance is unprecedented in public exchanges between heads of state. Attempts to explain it away as just a form of electioneering, a stunt to win votes at home miss how great a breach of protocol it is.

As Christopher Warren notes in Crikey, the narrative is now all about the election. It matters not a jot that the coalition’s disgraced the nation at COP26 with its shameful inability to come up with a policy to reduce emissions. It’s OK if it promotes business as usual for coal and gas because of CCS, a failed technology which puts billions into mining corporation pockets.

So what if it will settle instead for a plan to have a plan based on the hope that others will invent stuff? Not only have we got coal and gas in the mix, above all we’ll market it as The Australian Way. What matters is whether it will be enough to let Morrison just squeak an election victory. We must, at all opportunity resist this facile reduction.

An international laughing-stock who has given offence to three powerful nations, Morrison returns home with his reputation in tatters. His government will never be trusted by any other nation. It’s the most disastrous trip overseas ever taken by an Australian PM. Above all he’s been called out for what he is, a liar.

Morrison’s so used to lying at home and getting away with it given this nation’s tamed corporate media monopoly that he is furious that he’s been called on it – and by another leader, no less who has put the lie to his attempt to lie about his lie. The text the PM’s office released to media does not corroborate Morrison’s claim that France knew all along that Australia would go back on its word and abandon its contractual commitment.

While the UN’s COP26 may prove disappointing in its capacity to achieve binding commitments from enough nations to cut carbon emissions enough to keep to the 1.5 degree increase in temperature agreed in Paris, on a local level it has been of great benefit to Australia in exposing to the world the duplicity and dishonesty of its mining corporation puppet-government. Forget the hard hat and Hi-Vis, Morrison and his corrupt, rorty government of gas pipeline boondoggles and new coal mines are toast.

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Berejiklian, Morrison and Joyce mugged by reality.

“Money makes the world go around?”

As Gladys Berejiklian fronts the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, ICAC – only to be told to stop her pre-rehearsed pleas of innocence and virtue and just answer the question, taped phone calls reveal former love- buddy, Daryl Maguire, had a virtual key to the public treasure chest, along with a key to her home as part of her swinging “Love-circle” – as she fondly dubs her retinue of friends with benefits.

It’s going very badly for gold standard Gladys and mentor Scott Morrison. Especially Morrison, who’s betrayed by protégé Mathias Cormann whom the PM worked maniacally to make his OECD mole. Then the world mocks his absurd energy “Plan”.

Morrison also loses his pin-up girl to what sounds unmistakably like corruption on taped calls, allegedly between the ex-premier and her former paramour.

Worse, it’s an ill-timed reminder of the government’s promise of a federal ICAC, impotent, unworkable and now three years’ old.

The PM doesn’t want any type of ICAC at all, least of all one with teeth, Rachel Withers notes because most of his government’s ministers would be hauled in to answer to it. Like a squid squirting ink, the Coalition quickly exudes a noxious miasma of lies to discredit the state integrity body and to cloud our view of its own transgressions.

It’s “a witch-hunt”, “the Crucible” and “a kangaroo court”.

Sleazy peas in a pod, Barnaby Joyce and Maguire chorus, “it’s the Spanish Inquisition” before disturbing the torpor of breakfast TV’s Sunrise, with the bombshell that MPs are “terrified to do their job” a brave, yet sadly gratuitous, attempt to normalize the endemic corruption that infects every level of our politics.

Above all, Gladys’ appearance at the ICAC hearing taints the Liberal brand, just when the PM and his minders least want the slightest whiff of corruption. His Crosby-Textor minders are already knee-deep in industrial strength turd polish over The Plan, a campaign pamphlet in search of a climate policy.

“The Plan”, a transparent attempt to pollute as usual, whilst hustling gas and coal, attracts hoots of derision from the Old Dart to New York. But it is meant to set up another miracle election win based on Clive Palmer’s money.

The campaign’s already begun. Expect heaps of steaming ordure about the Morrison government’s heroic victory over Covid, its net-zero agreement with the Nats and more lies about Labor’s yen to legislate our freedoms away. Raise our taxes.

As for carbon emissions – behold- not one but a herd of unicorns – New Technologies, as yet unborn, will gallop to our rescue, avoiding any need for a nasty, carbon tax – whatever Mathias Cormann reckons, now he’s gone all green outside and soft and pink inside, a Watermelon, Leftie Secretary-General of the OECD.

After Gladys, Cormann is a second unexploded bomb in the path of the Morrison campaign for re-election. Cormann makes out its always been his view.

“I have had a consistent view that in order to be generally effective and publicly supported over the long run you need a globally coordinated approach,” The Cormannator bullshits to Sky News in Rome.

Who would have thought? Cormann was once part of Tony Abbott’s “axe the tax” sabotage of Labor’s price on carbon emissions.

Since Abbott’s brief but disastrous reign, electricity bills continue to increase while carbon emissions climb. The worst thing is that he and Peta Credlin now admit the whole anti-carbon price campaign was based on the lie that it was a tax.

In 2011, Cormann called a carbon tax an expensive hoax. but that was then – this is now. Now he claims,

“A consistently applied price on carbon globally could be the most efficient.”

In the NSW ICAC hearing, meanwhile, things take a turn for the worse. Daryl is also a big picture man. Wagga’s population may be a mere 65,000. But, boy, can he talk it up.

“Wagga is the centre of the universe, I’ve always said it,” Walter Mitty Maguire tells Berejiklian.

“Wagga is going to be the best electorate in the world … keep listening to me and it will be the blazing star of the southern universe.

… That’s why we need a stadium, that’s why we need a conservatorium, all the things that Sydney has got.”

Is his plan fair to other regional MPs?

“Fuck them,” he says, “Wagga’s where it’s going to happen.”

Revealing the rotten underbelly; the sheer venality of both Liberal and National politics, above all, WaggaGate, live, steamy, seamy and online, exposes Glad’s extraordinary power to oil the wheels of NSW state bureaucracy. Or strip its gears completely.

In two hours in 2018, a then Premier could get her puppet Dominic Perrottet, a treasurer who “just does what I ask him to do” to find $170 million to meet Maguire, her stud-muffin’s needs. She even brags about her capacity to corrupt due process.

“Just put 140 in the budget” she hears herself on ICAC playback saying airily to a petulant Dazza who pouts most unattractively. He says he’ll need $170 million dollars for Wagga Hospital to sweeten his appeal to voters. His tone is peremptory, hectoring, more coercive control than kiss-kiss. Of course, there’s more.

Maguire is insatiable. Demands include $50 million for a Wagga Wagga music conservatorium and the spiking of the guns of the Shooters and Fishers, to the tune of $5.5 million for the already well-heeled members of Wagga’s clay target fraternity, surely the beating heart of every regional community.

All grist to ScoMo’s mill. Robbing the poor to give to the rich is increasingly The Australian Way.

Michael West reports that ACTA, the Australian Clay Target Association, which runs the Wagga club already has $1.4 million, “in the tin”. Daryl’s clearly helping those who have a go to get a go, especially given the club got $162,00 from JobKeeper and a lazy $100,000 from Cashflow Boost. It’s funding for those who least need it syndrome. And it’s the signature of Liberal governments, especially in collusion with Nat$.

As for the poor, Foodbank provides food to more than a million Australians each month.

Maguire redefines altruism, community spirit and next-gen welfare. In other evidence, he’s asked by Scott Robertson, counsel assisting ICAC, if the former member for Wagga received a benefit through G8way International, a company linked to Maguire, from a furniture purchase for the Wagga gun club.

“No one works for nothing, Mr Robertson,” Maguire says.

Tell that to charities like Foodbank. Across Australia nearly six million of us volunteer each year. It’s the Australian way to cut back on government services, while expecting charities with armies of volunteers to fill the gap, unpaid of course.

Perrottet’s pliancy is only possible, of course, with a tame bureaucracy. Is Perrottet in trouble? In rushes stout defender of the public good, The Daily Telegraph, NSW Liberal Party hand sanitizer, to turn the stench of effortless, utter corruption into a funny who-wears-the-pants-chez-Perrottet family story.

“My wife messaged me this morning and said ’why do you do what Gladys tells you to do and not what I tell you to do?”

Or so Dom tells Daily Tele deputy editor Anna Caldwell, in a timely corrective to any wimp-Dom canard.

“My wife” is Helen Perrottet, a senior associate at Bicknell Law and Consulting. At least Helen seems to have a successful career, despite the Tele’s hokey, blokey story.

Such a relief. The former treasurer may have been Gladys’s lapdog but he’s top dog at home. As it should be. Perrottet can’t betray the Liberal Party’s rich tradition of male chauvinist leaders. Voters love a bloke who’s a top not a bottom. Which is why the federal scene is a bit of a worry, recently.

The tail wags the shaggy dog in the hermit kingdom of Australia, “a land of spivs, shonks and charlatans” (and that’s just the politicians, warns Bernard Keane), in Roll out the Barrel, another episode in the long-running Coalition soap opera based on the pursuit of power for its own sake.

It’s a prequel to A lump of coal in his sporran: Scotty goes to Glasgow. In Roll out the Barrel, Morrison is haunted by the hungry ghosts of the National Country Party, The Nat$, a steadily dwindling rural rump of grifters, neo-con-artists and David Littleproud. Many are clearly past their use-by date.

And then there’s barking Barnaby Joyce, hell-bent on doing his best. Anthony Albanese calls him the whoopee cushion of Australian politics. You know you shouldn’t, but you can’t help laughing at him. Note to Albo: Joyce will do anything to stay in power. He is not some sort of harmless buffoon, however much he may clown around.

It’s a fight to the death with the National Party. Out of nowhere, an all-in brawl erupts. Mixed martial arts are a love-in compared to a Nat$’ barney.

The monkeys take on the organ-grinder, The Federal Liberal Party. The Libs, a mob of increasingly nervous Nellies, incompetents and other non-entities, largely run by the PM’s Office are under fire from their junior partner over climate, but media leaks assert that Scotty will triumph. Forge consensus in a weasel word salad sandwich.

Word salad? It’s never easy to follow the Nationals, but in a brief respite from fighting amongst themselves, or against science and the dictates of reason and common-sense, the backstabbing, bitching and bullying Nationals pick a fight with the PM.

The PM vs Nat$’, is an all-in wrestling sideshow, which ill-disguises an ugly brawl in the Coalition that Scotty has neither the wit nor the will to heal; a naked bid for political power that results in bitter, internal division.

Disunity could wreck his plans for a third term. A large part of this is his own doing in electing not to lead or negotiate but to leave it the Nationals to make up what will be our energy policy. This may play well in a few Queensland seats but it’s more likely to be a disaster across the whole nation. Above all it signals a lily-livered leader.

Then there’s the baggage of bad decisions. Barnaby 2.0, alone, even repentant, re-made as he claims, is an electoral liability outside New England.

The Nat$, collectively, are disunity itself and merrily snipe at each other about net zero emissions by 2050, a state of affairs which putative leader, Barnaby Joyce, says is none of his business. He takes the same stance over George Christensen’s incitement to riot and other social media support for anti-vaxxers. Talk about abdication of leadership.

But Joyce has a vested interest in prolonging dissent on the issue of net zero because he knows he has the PM over a pork barrel. It’s about tactical delaying. A decision has to be made before Glasgow, an expensive extended indulgent photo shoot which Morrison’s set up as a prelude to his government’s reelection.

Joyce knows if he stalls and throws up his hands, Morrison will throw $billions his way.

Ultimately the net zero pledge Morrison makes gives Joyce what he wants, notes Crikey’s Kishor Napier-Raman: “a plan without detail that leaves the fossil-fuel sector untouched and avoids a more ambitious short-term emissions target while pouring billions into regional infrastructure projects.”

In the end, Barney dissents from his own party over net zero by 2050, a nonsense given that it’s far too little and way too late and we’re more likely heading for a three degree rise in temperature, according to scientists at the Australian Academy of Science.

Even if governments meet their current Paris pledges on time, Earth is likely to reach average global surface temperatures of 3 degrees C above pre-industrial times during this century, with catastrophic consequences. Rupert Murdoch helps us to blame this on China and Russia who won’t be at COP26.

ICAC provides a convenient distraction from Morrison’s capitulation to the mining oligarchy disguised as a Plan. But it is also, somehow, at fault for picking on Gladys and generally exceeding its remit – The Spanish Inquisition – in the wide eyes of former member for Wagga, NSW National Daryl Maguire. Morrison praises Berejiklian; hints archly of a further role for his gold standard premier in public life.

Perhaps Scotty’s already promised Berejiklian a governor-general gig somewhere. It’s pushback against ICAC least the idea take hold at a federal level. The Coalition promises a totally ineffectual two-tier model which Christian Porter whipped up before being stripped of his Attorney-General job over rape allegations he vehemently denies, the reporting of which saw him sue the ABC for defamation.

And fail.

As luck would have it, a group of civic-minded mystery donors club together to chip in a million dollars to a blind trust, a parody of transparency, accountability and justice to ensure Porter is not out of pocket over his legal costs.

The Morrison government, a riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, upsets speaker, Tony Smith by trashing the tradition – observed since 1901- of respecting the speaker’s casting vote – opposing a motion to refer Porter to the privileges committee.

Why the secrecy? No-one must ever know the names of Porter’s donors. Smith resigns as speaker to join the back bench. When the house resumes, a new speaker will be elected.

In a brave, but late, attempt to show who really wears the moleskins, the deputy PM who always sounds like he’s off a farm, or out of a dud Dickens novel, but who is, in fact, a silver-spooner and Riverview Old Boy, gets partner and former staffer, Vicki Campion, to bag royalty in The Daily Telegraph.

“Prince Charles lectured Australia on climate change this week,” Campion carps when -as the AFR’s ever-savvy Joe Aston notes – the Prince does nothing of the sort.

“The Queen has never let her private views be known in the course of her duty, yet her son does not follow suit,” Campion boldly claims barely a day after Her Majesty is caught on hot-mic having a tight-lipped, but right royal whinge, about world leaders who will wag the Glasgow climate talkathon, sniping:

“It’s really irritating when they talk, but they don’t do.”

Expert Morrison-watchers are convinced that this tidbit gets our own vacillating PM on board. It must be very difficult for the closet monarchist to conceal his shame.

But let’s be fair. HRH the Prince of Wales, heir to the throne of a post Brexit Little Britain, whose rivers are filling with raw effluent and whose Mama is showing signs of increasing frailty, even to the extent of “not going to church”, something she does religiously, as befits her role, is a model of studied indirection.

“You gently try to suggest there may be other ways of doing things, in my case anyway; otherwise, you lot accuse me of interfering and meddling, don’t you?”

You lot is Charles’ way of bundling media into yet another hazard after the untreated sewage, one’s ailing mother and the difficulty of being organic and green as well as the heir to the throne, which, of course, he could pass up to keep his new age credibility in favour of eldest son, William.

Collecting one’s tenants’ rentals in one’s duchy can also be a risk to one’s health.

Britain is hosting a climate summit. Yet “its governing party just voted to allow water firms to keep discharging raw sewage into the nation’s rivers and seas, a practice they indulged in just the 400,000 times last year. Time to add irony to the extinction watchlist, observes the incomparable Marina Hyde in The Guardian.

Our lot makes much of the spectacle of the Nat$’ demands; their posturing as the saviours of the bush while shying from actually reporting any details of the deal.

By Sunday after Morrison’s lambasting by Lord Deben, Climate Change Committee chair, who tells the BBC, Saturday there is “no indication” that the Australian prime minister, Scott Morrison, has a plan to deliver on the commitment to net zero despite being pressured into a public statement.

In the wake of freakish, East Coast climate change storms, Barney promises that the regions will be safe.

Much of the Nat$ scrapping, like professional wrestling, is all for show, while Barnaby battles to save his hide as leader. He’s been anxious to honour his pledge to return to cabinet one extra, but entirely superfluous, Nat$ member to a group of like-minded cronies that Morrison ear-bashes but seldom if ever consults on anything.

It’s enough to give you the Keith Pitts.

Climate dinosaur and rhyming slang, Keith Pitt was demoted in June, after Barnaby’s knifing of Michael McCormack, a bloody spill campaign built on Joyce’s vow of one more Nat in cabinet and other empty promises including that his charisma, oratory and capacity to cut through are way better than what’s-is-name’s.

Yet times have changed. There’s no tumult of approbation. Joyce narrowly persuades his tiny party of 21 to give him the edge over a homophobic Elvis impersonator.

Minister for Resources and Water, Pitt is back? How good is giving Nat$ control of nature’s bounty? You only have to look at Barnaby Joyce’s fabulous work as Water Minister, or his spruiking Santos coal seam gas on radio, to shudder in disbelief. But it’s a shotgun marriage because – Glasgow beckons and with it the photo-shoot.

Yes. There’s billions in federal government hush money in a secret deal. A Murdoch-led press is too highly invested in the deal to investigate its details. But it will be a first, if Morrison honours his pledges. Don’t hold your breath.

For at least a week, the nation is diverted by the fable of the virtuous little National Party, all 21 members locked in a deal over the federal government’s outrageous demands they fall into line over the Liberals’ net zero emissions by 2050, an accounting trick to permit a net increase in carbon emissions.

It’s a typical Clayton’s commitment. Morrison’s government is not even prepared to make “net zero emissions by 2050” into legislation.

The Nationals are beholden to their mining backers. Santos, for example, struggles to pay any tax but finds $900,000 over the last twelve years to donate to the Coalition’s war chest.

The Nat$’ posturing as champions of graziers, farmers or folk on struggle street among the gum trees of regional and rural Australia is a brazen, calculated, act of wholesale betrayal.

Their claims to represent farmers is false. Clive Hamilton highlights the gap between the Nationals’ collective, irresponsible and wilful ignorance of climate science and farmers. The abyss between the Nat$ and the NFF, the National Farmers’ Federation, for example, has never been larger.

Behind the scenes, Nat$ resort to stand-over tactics. Demand details of costs to communities before they can possibly sign up to a net zero before 2050, a hoax that Scott, “Honest John”, Morrison, our fabulist PM, a rusted-on mining shill, vainly hopes will fool Glasgow. Until he reads the world press. Or sees the billboards.

Net Zero to Morrison’s government, means increasing carbon emissions while pledging carbon capture to soak it all up. Except it doesn’t work.

“(CCS) … is neither practical nor economic,” US coal giant Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray confesses. “It is just cover for the politicians, both Republicans and Democrats that say, ‘Look what I did for coal,’ knowing all the time that it doesn’t help coal at all.”

The Nats’ assent is pure theatre. Cabinet will make the call. The PM has a majority there. As is net zero. Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is an industry scam. Australia has pumped at least a billion dollars in public funds in subsidies to operators such as Glencore who just can’t get it to work. Like Abbott’s ill-fated Direct Action, his soil magic, however, polluters stand to do very well out of it.

Adding to the theatre of the absurd is the decline in the primary vote, which The Nationals command today – from a whopping 11.5 of first preferences in 1987 under the charismatic Ian Sinclair to a record low of 4.5 per cent under the hapless Michael McCormack, a former rural newspaper hack.

It’s not about jobs either. Coal mining employs fewer workers in Australia than McDonald’s, as The Australia Institute notes, while Barnaby Joyce’s speeches, sheep farts and other noxious farm emissions speed up global heating, a conundrum, the Nats will fix by feeding stock low flatulence feed, whilst demanding billions to compensate for a few lost jobs and other costs they can’t and won’t calculate.

Already agreed is a $3 billion subsidy to extend the Inland Rail boondoggle, a white elephant that will never pay for itself because of moves to deregulate Australia’s shipping industry.

Taking the rail to the port of Gladstone in North Queensland is futile, if there’s no freight on the trains. Should deregulation proceed, it will be cheaper to move goods around the nation by sea using foreign crews and ships, at slave labour rates in “ships of shame” as the former Maritime workers’ union calls them.

As for king coal, National Party MPs from die-hard climate deniers such as Keith Pitt or Matt Canavan whose brother, John, until recently owned a controlling minority share before the Rolleston thermal coalmine went bust, all want fossil fuels to “stay in the mix” to ensure the party gets the corporate donations which make them so attractive to their coalition bedfellows.

Without such donors, the marriage of convenience would fail completely.

As Bernard Keane argues, the Nationals have a vested interest – if not an addiction – to serving their corporate donors rather than the marginalized rural or regional electorate they forever bleat on about.

If they ever actually delivered for those communities, they’d lose their primary tool for leveraging taxpayer dollars out of their Liberal colleagues. They have a vested interest in, even an addiction to, keeping their communities poorer, worse educated and in poorer health.

By all key indicators, voters in Nationals’ electorates have gone backwards in health, education, employment, despite Nats holding office for the last eight years and for nineteen of the last twenty-five. Long-term unemployment has doubled, for example, between 2006 and 2013 in inner and outer regional communities, according to a data set compiled by Torrens University.

Coal, especially, may help the Nationals stay relevant, but it does little for our GDP. Big Coal employs less than 0.4% of our workforce. Coal’s royalties add only 2% to revenue in NSW and Queensland’s budgets. And Governments have already given approval for coal mining to continue for decades. The tears shed over lost jobs, moreover, are crocodile tears. 99.6 per cent of us do not work in coal mining.

Above the ovine, methane and ammonia scents wafting across from the sale-yards is the rank stench of hypocrisy; The Nationals want untold billions they can’t and won’t put a figure on for boondoggles, subsidies and other barrels of pork they have haven’t thought of yet.

But Barnaby insists that the Liberals produce a detailed plan of the cost of carbon abatement, something it can’t produce, given that its net zero by 2050 is a ruse to produce even more emissions while pretending it can capture and store them.

Joyce even lies that his party has been given only four hours to think about working towards net zero. Madonna King and others point out, his party is part of the government. It has been for 48 of the past 70 years.

That 70 years has seen the people they represent shrink into electoral insignificance as the towns and cities they live in largely decline.

A lead role in spruiking the deal goes to daggy Dave Littleproud, whose meteoric rise to deputy has been made possible by the untimely, but brief, setback to Bridget McKenzie’s career which helped popularize colour-coding Sports Rorts.

MP for the vast, largely empty, gerrymandered Queensland electorate of Maranoa, which is three times the area of Victoria, with an estimated resident population of 12,600, a place where One Nation gets about as much of the primary vote as Labor, David Littleproud, a dorky, horn-rimmed grifter, a former NAB hired gun, would sit around the kitchen table with farmers to talk about cashflow, as he tells it.

Then the bank would foreclose, unlike its rival ANZ which had a moratorium on foreclosure. Dave could talk about money until the cows came home.

Dave’s all over the airwaves with his case to hold the PM to ransom over carbon emissions, a nifty distraction from the fact that Morrison’s net zero by 2050 is a hollow slogan which will see carbon emissions increase, gas fracking and coal mining expand because carbon capture and storage and soil magic and other schemes which simply don’t work are sold to the nation as some solution.

Dave’s Dad, Brian, a teacher and a farmer, was a Queensland LNP Education and Environment Minister. Yet Dave votes against spending more on university education. Dave talks as if he’s had the Nationals’ quadruple bypass, irony, self-awareness, self-parody and accountability.

Littleproud wants more money for the Nationals to bribe voters so the Coalition can actually increase carbon emissions, the cunning stunt of net zero by 2050?

Its just more National Party talking points. More, self-interested, rorty, pork-barreling, corporate boondoggling pretending to represent the battlers in the bush.

You pity the poor hack who has to interview him on ABC’s News Breakfast. And his constituents. Not to mention the rest of us. Poor fellow my country, when a witless tool of Big Mining and his mates dictate the nation’s energy policy.

Deputy Dave’s all over News Breakfast with his “net zero by 2050”, as if it means something. (You get a lot of that on News Breakfast. Like working breakfasts, it’s a show that does justice to neither, by a cowed corporation, the last gasp of a once-proud, independent national broadcaster; now an emaciated Federal government lapdog, starved, bullied and having its board stacked with Liberal stooges.)

Money makes the world go round.”

Dave says. Perhaps Cabaret and the decadence and corruption of the Weimar Germany, it exposes, is an instructional video for some Nationals.

Certainly its themes would resonate with the former Minister for Water’s own experience of the $20 million Murray Darling water fraud of his relative John Norman, a scandal featuring the incomparable, Barnaby Joyce and Angus Taylor.

Were it not so apt, Money … could be the Nationals’ new anthem. Naturally, in case we’re slow on the uptake, Littleproud denies that The Nat$ are holding Scotty “hostage” over any target. Repeatedly.

He’s right. It’s far worse than that. Someone far more powerful has the PM trussed up like a Christmas turkey. Someone so powerful that Scott Morrison is prepared to demolish the speaker of the House over keeping secret the details Christian Porter’s secret benefactors, who club together to ensure that the poor former attorney-general can afford his legal catastrophe – his foolhardy attempt to sue the ABC for defamation over its account of an alleged rape.

A pregnant pause falls over a vexed nation as it watches in horror, the Nationals’ chokehold on the very air we breathe, the life that remains in our over cooked planet.

Minds boggle over their coercive tactics over climate policy.

“It will be ugly” if the prime minister, Scott Morrison, commits Australia to a net zero emissions target by 2050 without Nationals’ backing threatens Nationals Bridget McKenzie.

What could be uglier, however, than a minority, gerrymandered party with a hand-tooled, RM Williams boot on the neck of battlers in the bush it pretends to represent when a quarter of its members own mining shares?

Or mines to be developed and land with gas to be fracked, such as Barnaby Joyce bought out at Narrabri. His career has been resurrected more often than Mel Brooks’.

All hat and no cattle, Barnaby Joyce, the mouth that roars, dictates Australia’s energy policy, despite the party’s laughably marginal stake at five percent of the primary vote.

Also tail wagging the dog, states and territories tell Scott Morrison who’s boss in a Commonwealth that Liberal Gerard Rennnick describes as eight different, totalitarian states. Try independent and self-reliant rather than totalitarian, Gerard.

Newly anointed NSW Premier, Opus Dei alumni, Dominic Francis Perrottet, announces his high-flying lawyer wife, Helen, is expecting a seventh child.

Her husband whose geeky Bill Gates – exterior belies a busy Mr Quiverfull, at heart can still find time to open NSW’s borders to international arrivals defying Morrison.

How dare Father Dom be eating ScoMo’s lunch? Because he can.

During ScoMo’s national cabinet fiasco, the Premiers got used to doing everything for themselves. While the PM took credit for any success.

Dom’s doing the PM’s job for him on the open NSW border to International arrivals decision. Who decides who comes to this country and under what circumstances is a much-coveted element of the Liberal Party of Australia’s repudiation of its obligations to refugees under international law.

Perhaps Perrottet will go all the way and close NSW’s borders to Shark One with its PM in name only aboard.

He might even see it as his public duty. An act of Christian charity, perhaps to both nation and failed, fraudulent PM who has caused Australia’s reputation great harm.

Or an act of revenge in the tradition of the best secret societies of which he is a member. Proclaim himself PM. King Dom has a certain ring about it.

Whatever Perrottet decides, it’s certain that Morrison’s return will bring only trouble.

And nothing that Morrison can ever do will restore a skerrick of trust or credibility. Not only has he burnt his bridges with the states over his failure to lead in vaccines, quarantine or in energy policy, he has been found out on the global stage as a charlatan, a poorly disguised mining corporation shill; neither a leader nor a Prime Minister.

At home and abroad, Morrison has been mugged by reality – just as surely as his former gold standard premier, Gladys Berejiklian and his deputy PM suffer the same ignominious defeat.

Denialism and self-interest have caught them out in an era which demands urgent, practical action to curb carbon emissions and selfless dedication to their duty of care in world wracked by global heating and ravaged by what is shaping to be the deadliest pandemic in world history.

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Hey, hey, it’s Perrottet. Can Morrison survive?

“…the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favoured few booted and spurred, ready to ride them…” Thomas Jefferson.

“It’s not just a health crisis, it’s an economic crisis.” Dominic Francis Perrottet, a gangly colt by Gordon Gecko out of Margaret Thatcher in party apparatchik’s blue tie saddle-cloth, a heavily tipped favourite, but up in class, easily beats his lunchtime jogging pal, Planning Minister, pious Anglican and fellow anti-abortionist, Rob Stokes to the winning post in NSW’s forty-sixth premier stakes.

It’s a rigged ballot, after much horse-trading, yet a novelty in a party which hasn’t voted for a leader since 2002. NSW prefers, like La Cosa Nostra, to keep its succession planning simple.

Gladys is a no-show. Is she in witness protection already? Scuttlebutt from “senior Liberals” is that she’ll be parachuted into a safe federal Liberal seat. If ICAC doesn’t send her to jail.

Federal Liberals and Nationals unite behind the terminally compromised ex-Premier, if only to show their hostility to the very idea of the ICAC and air their continued contempt for accountability. As thick as thieves, the saying goes.

Also continuing is Ms Berejiklian’s salary – not her $407,980 as premier but a handy $14000 a month pocket money – as is her ex-deputy’s, the self-styled John “Pork” Barilaro, as you’d expect from two pillars of selfless dedication to the greater good.

Neither has formally resigned yet. Nor has Andrew Constance. Nor need they, until by-elections, costing around a million dollars are held.

To the delight of his corporate owners, bankers and investors, Perrottet immediately pushes the economic panic button. Thanks to our unique media oligopoly, everyone knows that being locked down causes horrendous losses while “opening up” is the one true path to eternal prosperity. But austerity budgeting will do nothing for employment.

Since May, there are 244,000 fewer people in work in NSW while a further 217,000 people report working zero hours last month due to “economic or other reasons.”

To the horror of the PM’s handlers, saddled with an absolute dud in the leadership stakes, aka the PM for NSW, Perrottet, The Premier for Australia, in Laura Tingle’s call, goes rogue; decrees that he’ll abolish caps on overseas arrivals and dispense with tedious quarantine requirements. It’s refreshingly assertive, attention-seeking and an homage to the Ruby Princess. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s a heaven-sent opportunity for comic relief, even if it is egg on face. Libertarian autocrat, King Dom is a whirlwind of free will, divine right or hidebound arrogance – no-one’s quite sure – especially the state’s increasingly casualised, precariat, its baggage handlers and an underclass of overworked, underpaid and contract staff whose lives are consumed over getting enough hours to get by.

A world away, on The Drum, ABC’s leisure class salon, no-one’s booking OS holidays. Yet.

The ACTU says one in three jobs are casual or contract or labour hire and gig workers. Federal government gurus such as the very Christian Porter counter that it’s one in four.

In fact, the ACTU understates the case given our Uber-army of self-employed workers. The true figure is closer to 37% of the workforce or about five million workers.

Denied paid leave, casual employees generally have no guaranteed hours of work, work irregular hours and can have their employment ended without notice, says the Fair Work Ombudsman. But the federal government rejects, out of hand, any suggestion it revive Job Keeper. Or any Dom keeper.

Perrottet’s already lost a shouting match with the PM on the topic in July. Now, Morrison must slap-down the uppity Premier for Australia again. He must lasso the bolter fast.

“The Premier understands that is a decision for the Commonwealth government not for the state government and when we believe that is a decision to make, we will make it in that time,” Morrison issues a pointed, but ineffectual rebuke.

It will be a different story should infection gallop away again, as it has elsewhere in the world, as a result of prematurely easing restrictions. Or importing new mutations.

Already there is a massive miscalculation baked into the Federal Plan or Roadmap, a Clayton’s plan Morrison imposes on premiers and waves in front of the camera. Vaccination rates are never uniform across any state. Perrottet’s grand gesture spells disaster for regional NSW, especially for the state’s rural aboriginal communities.

Rick Morton reports in The Saturday Paper that the Covid-19 infection rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is two and three times higher than that of non-Indigenous Australians. He cites leaked federal government confidential briefing papers.

The death rate amongst First Nations’ peoples aged 40-60, given low vaccination rates and the prevalence of early onset chronic diseases, is three times that of non-indigenous people.

Now, as the two most populous states, NSW and Victoria, begin to ease restrictions, the woefully low vaccination rates among First Peoples generally and especially in some communities pose a real threat to the lives and wellbeing of those for whom the priority vaccination effort has been anything but urgent.

So much for the PM’s assurances that his pet unicorn, “federal cabinet” and its National Plan would give top priority to the vaccination of our most vulnerable.

A few hours after the Premier for Australia usurps him, the PM for NSW, who spends all week in “coward’s castle”, Kirribilli, letting the Nationals hijack the carbon agenda, emerges to peg back Perrottet, claiming opening up applies only to returning Australian citizens (the same group he promised to have back home last Christmas).

King Dom has another go. He walks back his travel thing a tad. He puts regional freedoms on hold a month or two because of low vaccination rates.

Not to be outdone, Saturday, Morrison announces he’s giving everyone the freedom to buzz off overseas and back. Permanent residents, only, of course.

In just one week, despite his bluster, Perrottet’s sounding as weak and indecisive as the dithering Berejiklian. And every bit as shifty. Neither gives a fig about any duty of care towards anyone.

By Saturday, Perrottet is at it again. All international travellers will be welcome in NSW.

He’ll decide who comes into NSW… besides the state urgently needs a shed load of cheap migrant labour.

Morrison’s utterly gazumped by the young upstart. Never has a PM’s authority been defied so brazenly. Nor his impotence exposed so publicly. Dominic Francis Perrottet knows that Scotty’s all piss and wind. And that he has Sydney business behind him.

Moreover, his pernicious, economic crisis, tabloid scare, helps the state’s latest Great Helmsman to divert from the inconvenient truth of his own controversial role in Treasury.

Perrottet was in the wheelhouse in Captain Gladys ship of fools’ inglorious retreat from Delta, a textbook case in turning crisis into catastrophe. A headless chook ought to be NSW emblem. Or a barbed wire canoe. We’re already all up shit creek as far as national public health is concerned.

Perrottet’s choice peddles a deadly deception. People gasp their lungs out in intubation in a hospital system gutted by gung-ho post-modern neoliberals who’ve defunded public health and privatised just about everything left worth selling. But the Perrottets of this world insist it’s your own fault or a lifestyle choice if you’re sick or must live in overcrowded poverty in a Western Sydney ghetto.

“Privatize everything. Abolish help for the weak, the solitary, the sick and the unemployed. Abolish all aid for everyone except the banks. Don’t look after the poor; let the elderly die. Reduce the wages of the poor but reduce the taxes of the rich. Make everyone work until they are ninety. Only teach mathematics to traders, reading to big property-owners and history to on-duty ideologues.” And the execution of these commands will in fact ruin the life of millions of people,” writes Alain Badiou in Capitalism Today, (2012, 13).

It could be a page from Dom’s secret diary. It certainly fits federal Coalition “policy”.

Not only is the state not coping, but its health system itself needs intensive care after botched neoliberal surgery. The pattern is the same across the nation. All states are infected with the deadly neoliberal virus. Expect ever greater unmet demand, fewer hospital beds, overcrowded emergency departments and longer waits for elective surgery. Our public health system puts at risk the lives of all Australians reports The AMA in its recent analysis, Public Hospitals: Cycles of Crisis.

The crisis was full-blown well before Covid. As for the crisis induced by the Berejiklian government’s failure to respond, the former premier insists she acted on “the medical advice,” yet three months pass before Michael West Media investigative journalist, Callum Foote even gets a reply from her office. Foote simply wants to know what the medical advice was. The Premier’s office can’t tell him.

Incredibly, three months later, Foote receives an email from Kerry Chant dated early June, three weeks before the lockdown on June 23. But that email is not about public health advice in NSW. It’s about lockdown restrictions in Victoria. ICAC could turn its attention to what seems to be a desperate bluff. NSW’s response is dictated by the top end of town’s business interests. Gladys’ mantra about “the medical advice” is a pathetic attempt to evade accountability.

Perrottet’s glib diagnosis of economic crisis gaslights a state so wracked by existential crises, its vital signs are faint. News of a fourth resignation doesn’t help. Rats.

Nor does the new premier’s opposition to laws requiring priests to disclose to police confessions of child abuse. He believes that canon law trumps any state legislation.

Bringing schools back a week earlier without any consultation has teachers’ unions furious. But it does get everybody’s attention. It’s the new realpolitik which holds that a even wilful blunder can pay dividends in generating publicity for a newbie leader.

But is it just to keep himself in the news all week, that Perrottet, announces that NSW will abolish quarantine from 1 November? It’s a calculated act of contempt for Scott Morrison and federal authority over borders that he represents. And more.

Perrottet adds another, crisis to the disaster area that is NSW State politics, a state in crisis in an age of crisis; economic, political, environmental and social. And engineered.

“Crisis, rather than being accidental or episodic – as is too often assumed – has been a regular feature of state practice in the neoliberal austerity regimes of contemporary capitalism,” writes Canadian academic, poet and activist Jeff Shanks, echoing Naomi Wolf’s Shock Doctrine and Anthony Lowenstein’s Disaster Capitalism.

Thursday, Melanie Gibbons becomes the fourth rat to desert a sinking Liberal ship, leaving Perrottet a four-by-election popularity contest crisis.

Gibbons quits her marginal, Western Sydney seat of Holsworthy, to have a crack at federal politics in Hughes – seat of Craig Kelly, climate science denier, anti-vaxxer and Covid quack – the arse end of Clive Palmer’s UAP panto horse; a pseudo-party set up to peddle anti-Labor lies. Help the pro-mining federal coalition buy another election.

But there’s more. UAP now has 65,000 members, which Kelly reckons makes it the largest political party. It’s free to join via a simple online form. The politically comprised AEC says it’s all legit. Meanwhile UAP is joined by an extremist group.

Monday brings news that UAP will turbo-charge its toxic disinformation as Reignite Democracy Australia’s (RDA) top firebrand, Monica Smit, who has Liberal links, is to “join” the UAP.

How good is RDA’s call that all Commonwealth Health Officers be prosecuted for crimes against humanity? Vaccines are deadly? Contact tracing is unconstitutional?

Smit is a rabid conspiracy theorist who says her movement began “in response to the Victorian government’s catastrophic handling of the Covid Pandemic.”

Reignite Democracy Australia (RDA) boasts 80,510 subscribers, a thousand paid up members and an extensive online presence in an algorithm based digital echo chamber in which the deluded and irrational collude in paranoid fantasy, insidiously promoting the growth of outrageous lies, disinformation and bias.

RDA-UAP political interference suits the Morrison government’s agenda and is boosted hugely by Palmer’s funding. Clive’s spent almost $1m already, bankrolling Kelly’s election ads on YouTube. Google’s political transparency report shows that the UAP has spent $878,250 since November 2020, twenty times its nearest rival; over sixty per cent of the total political advertising spend.

The hard right, dry white, Dominic Perrottet’s ascension to Premier is, like Scott Morrison’s, a miracle given Dom’s tendency to treat the state treasury as a hedge fund and his role in the iCare scandal. The Liberals’ Pravda, The Australian, aka Catholic Boys’ Daily, reports Dom’s got the top job only after a deal to make his party deputy, Stuart Ayres, a St Dominic’s College Old Boy and Marise Payne’s man bag. Veteran Liberal powerbroker, lobbyist Michael Photios works the phones.

Fellow “committed Catholic”, the highly ambitious, green energy advocate, Matt Kean becomes treasurer. Ayres’ “Western Sydney profile” seals the deal, and leaves moderates out in the cold.

The superbly named Paul Toole gets the Nationals’ leader’s baton when pork-Barilaro does a Gladys and quits before ICAC can separate him from his superannuation. This makes Toole the new token deputy Premier, largely a walk-on role. Expect to see a lot of images of Paul Toole scowling in the background while Perrottet makes it up as he goes along. It’s the federal coalition in miniature. But with more political deaths onstage than the last scene of a Shakespearean tragedy.

Perrottet steps booted and spurred over three rivals, an Olympic standard pile-up- even for the perilously thin ice skating of contemporary Liberal politics. Imagine Steven Bradbury morphing into a predatory, bespectacled, giant stick insect.

Too Kafkaesque? Perrottet’s economic crisis diagnosis is woefully deficient and wilfully misleading. Imagine if this were a Labor government. NSW Leadership Crisis would be all over the news. Or what passes for news in our benighted island paradise, a fully owned subsidiary of News Corp with its retinue of fawning hacks, flacks and Morrison government stenographers.

Instead, Leigh Sales goes in soft on Ita’s ABC 7:30 midweek, letting Perrottet get away with murder.

“I think … Leigh, in relation to the workers compensation scheme in New South Wales. I think, as I have said very clearly in relation to that scheme, the reform was the right thing to do when I was finance minister. The scheme is in a much better place than it was before.”

Some things Perrottet would have done differently? Create an iCare without racking up four billion dollars in debt while underpaying 52000 workers $80 million?

Some subsequently perish. Others just have their lives ruined. But three key iCare executives get a total of $1.2 million payouts. Labor calls for an end to iCare executive bonuses after eight executives share $8 million in salaries and bonuses over two years.

Miraculously, a branch-stacking scandal in Victoria monopolises media attention while Perrottet’s Freedom Day lets you have a beer while you get your hair cut or your nails done, or all three, simultaneously, provided you are fully vaccinated.

These freedoms leave no-one any time at all to heed a terminally, politically compromised Federal Treasury, which confesses Monday, that it blew $40 billion on JobKeeper subsidies to businesses who did not qualify; did not lose a third of their turnover – and not $27 billion as previously reported. No-one cares?

Undaunted, Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce appears on ABC to spruik a further $100 million of corruption in The Building Better Regions fund (BBR) whilst BBR is being audited by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) over whether funding was consistent with the Commonwealth’s grant rules. Talk about contempt for accountability.

The Nationals, a critically endangered political subspecies, who represent five per cent of a gerrymandered electorate, rush to top up the scheme; blow their bags about how much control they have over the purse strings. Brag about a colour-coded spreadsheet.

How good is colour-coding? Such a boon to our innumerate ruling classes. “Get the money out the door” is a Coalition mantra. Shame is dead, buried and cremated. It’s the Morrison government’s biggest achievement.

God forbid that we exercise due diligence, even-handed justice or duty of care in federal expenditure. Any ideal of a democratic commonwealth is corrupted; mired in the stampede to buy votes.

Above all, the celebrity cult sucks the oxygen out of our politics. Hacks rush to gush over how many children the premier has sired. His Catholicism. How he’s only 39.

It’s a hot mess of irrelevancies which displace the cardinal question of the day; how in Dog’s name did Perrottet get the gig?

Is it his scandalous fiscal incompetence, or his Wolf of Wall Street stunt such as punting public funds on stocks, shares, junk bonds, anything bar the 7:30 at the Dapto Dogs, which equips him for the role of NSW premier?

Or like Morrison, has his God spoken to him out of a photograph of an eagle or a parrot or the hindquarters of a bandy-legged budgie smuggler? The suppository of all wisdom?

Such is the bizarre, supernaturalism and magical realism at the heart of our polity: a Trumpian adulation of celebrity leaders who betray us with their venality, their narcissism and their gobsmacking incompetence, while they bleed us dry.

Rivals, Berejiklian and Barilaro flee the ICAC, a body booed by Murdoch hacks, while Andrew Constance is lured out of the comp by shonky Morrison’ promise of a safe federal seat in Gilmore.

Constance. So promising a name, so quickly waylaid by the whiff of a chaffbag of cash.

Perrottet proclaims himself “first family premier of NSW”, an award he selflessly gives himself in his inaugural speech. Hugely cheered by Dom’s posturing, doubtless, are families suffering because injured or sick workers were underpaid in the state’s iCare workers’ compensation scheme scandal.

iCare nearly collapses under Perrottet’s mismanagement, making a $4bn loss.

Taking on the unions to cut public servants’ pay, or freezing nurses’ wages, similarly, is always a family friendly career move. As is not consulting teachers’ representatives.

A dry, right, family guy Perrottet seeks to distract us from the elephant in the room, his own fiscal incompetence and the sudden, rapid, decapitation of his government.

Liberal leadership may have taken a fatal hit but Perrottet’s kept his powder and his Thatcherite economics as dry as they were in his maiden speech.

“I strongly support the principles of free markets. I oppose plans for more social engineering, more welfare handouts and the continual obsession with our rights at the expense of our responsibilities,” Perrottet declared in 2011.

It’s vacuous, hypocritical, cringeworthy, neoliberal cant. Did an IPA hack write it for him? All parties are social engineers as The AIMN’s John Lord so capably shows.

As state treasurer, Perrottet helped former Premier Gladys Berejiklian ensure that Sydney’s elite Northern Beaches received four times the amount of lockdown support from fellow social engineer, Morrison a defender of the rights of the kleptocracy to help themselves to funds diverted from the poor and needy or unvaccinated battlers on the Death Star Victoria.

Middle-class welfare, the genteel euphemism for tipping buckets of money stolen from workers into bosses’ Cayman Island accounts is the class act of our economic theatre for the last fifty years. The myth of trickle-down makes the reverse Robin Hoods of Coalition economics public heroes. At least in their own echo-chambers.

Workers starve as billions of dollars are gifted by Frydenberg and his government’s subsidies to fossil fuel corporations and private insurance shysters. Naturally, one of Perrottet’s first moves is to announce a “package” of funding and other measures to help the struggling business classes.

Perrottet is perfect successor to Gladys in a state which is run by business for business.

Dom’s cranking up the economic crisis because he’s just shunted Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant off-stage in the state’s daily Covid Punch n Judy Show with its ritual case tally, fatalities and finger-wagging. Saturday there’s no show at all. Bugger the medical advice, King Dom’s in charge now.

We’ll miss passive-aggressive Gladys’ ineffectual pleading. Imploring people to follow the medical advice which she never divulged because it never existed. And the way she could still bag Victoria. Her outbursts of petulance when journos expected answers.

On ABC Insiders, recently, a sage says shooting the medico messenger is part of a general return to elected representatives. It’s a revealing comment from an embedded press, given the extent to which those self-same representatives, including our federal Health Minister, just love to hide behind “the medical advice” until there’s a political point in ignoring public health experts. Now it seems to be open slather.

The myth of an economic crisis caused solely by lockdown; of liberty curtailed by dictatorial Labor premiers out to sabotage a nation’s economic well-being is one many lunatic absurdities created by a Murdoch-led media which endanger public health.

Yet it sells well – at least with the hired help who turn up outside the CFMEU, who keep building workers safe, before blocking the Westgate Bridge, scene of one of the worst industrial accidents in the history of construction, an industry notorious for injury and shoddy work practices which ruin or cost workers’ their lives.

Urging states to open before restrictions have done their work is madness. Yet Perrottet is a more than eager accomplice. He’s in competition with his let ‘er rip PM, the latest avatar of Scott Morrison, ever a work in progress.

Goodbye dullsville; hello Gladesville. Make way for an up-beat, corporate, kleptocratic patsy, who like his predecessor has all the libertarian rhetoric about granting freedoms off pat while acting like a petty tyrant, arbitrarily bringing Freedom Day forward for his own political gain. We’ll know in a week at what cost. If we can trust the data.

Dom is head of a state that now becomes even more about cheering on its celebrity premier than any social contract, political covenant or civil society. Suffer mere voters who may yet cherish quaint hopes of democratic representation. Or responsibility. King Dom has a bent for autocracy, secrecy and golden parachutes.

With Perrottet at the helm, Icare, NSW’s WorkCover 2.0 almost collapsed. It underpaid 52,000 sick and injured workers, eighty million dollars in claims benefits, as it racked up four billion dollars in debt. Yet it was immensely successful in looking after its executives. Executives collected four million in salaries and bonuses in 2018-19 alone, a parliamentary inquiry was told.

Another $1.2 million helped ease the pain of termination, icare announced, this February, when interim CEO Don Ferguson would depart the government-owned insurer in six months’ time, while group executives Rob Craig and Sara Kahlau were to go sooner.

But look over there! Dom promises more freedoms. By Monday, 11 October he tweaks Gladys’ hopelessly nanny-state plans to let shops and hairdressers reopen to the fully vaccinated and apply a five kilometres-from-home travel limit.

“Hey, hey it’s Perrottet” firms as favourite in the stakes for the title of the new, occasional Covid NSW infotainment which dumps “the medical advice” in favour of appeasing corporate greed.

Our medium, singular, given all outlets sing from the same hymnal, choruses that new King Dom’s a “devout” Roman Catholic with a six-pack of kids. Dom, a Castle Hill Quiverfull denies he’s a member of Opus Dei, but in the immortal words of Mandy Rice-Davies, “Well, he would, wouldn’t he?”

If he were a member of a secret cult, his superiors would, presumably, insist that he not advertise the fact, John Carmody notes drily. But Perrottet makes his allegiances crystal clear.

Fear not. Dominic’s faith will not affect his politics or his religion; the uber-neoliberal flogging of every public asset he can get his hands on, poles and wires, roads, even the Public Titles Office.

It’s not his family Dom’s talking about. Perottet’s tickled pink to be elected NSW’s new Godfather at The Liberal Mafia’s Macquarie Street palace after self-professed – self-deceiving – “goody-two-shoes” Gladys goes under a bus, bequeathing Dom her Fiefdom of Little Mateship and HQ of The Jolly Bagman as Operation Spicer discovered, where developers make donations to The Free Enterprise Foundation, a Canberra slush fund, which are then washed back into state politics.

Bugger the law. On with the party is the Liberal anthem, fostered by Pepsodent Kid Mike Baird, whose career dipped when, in 2014, ICAC found a swag of Liberal MPs “acted with the intention of evading laws under the Election Funding, Expenditure and Disclosures Act.”

For ten, the party was over. Not all left politics entirely, some took refuge on the cross benches.

Dom’s not giving too much away when becomes clear that even the Press Gallery knows Morrison called the former NSW treasurer a “fuckwit”.

Others claim he was told to go away. The latest NSW Premier, a gawky, asthenic, bespectacled, geek who lost a mozza on his iCare scam, for which he may yet face the ICAC, is no dear friend of the PM. Not because he’s failed spectacularly already but because he’s a rival and he’s pushy and he’s shrewd. He intimidates the PM.

But Perottet’s not going to break Omertà, the code of silence binding Liberals.

Politicians are like diapers. They should both be changed regularly. And for the same reason. As for the Liberal Party of NSW, its MPs must also contend with Engadine Macca’s syndrome, where our PM involuntarily soils himself over a Rugby League Grand Final in 1997 and must then go on Sydney’s KIIS FM, three years later, to clear up the matter.

Doubtless, Gladys is similarly indisposed on hearing that ICAC is on her case. Perrottet has every reason to expect a call also. In the meantime, he’s humiliated Morrison publicly, with his defiance of the PM’s authority over borders. It bodes not well for either.

Ultimately, the rise of Perrottet is another chapter in the rise of a ruling elite, to whom Morrison does not wholly belong, an elite that exists to promote its own and to serve the interest of its wealthy corporate sponsors. Despite much distraction over the NSW’s new premier, it is not his religion but his dry, right politics that merit our full attention.

 

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Glad All Over

“My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or other of us has got to go.” (Oscar Wilde).

Tributes flood old and new media, when NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is pushed under a bus, a bloodless coup, her parting shot at ICAC, timed to beat Friday’s putting out the garbage time slot. She falsely claims she has no choice but to resign when she could have stood aside. A Primadonna to the end, she rues the timing. The ICAC is interrupting her life’s greatest work.

As if. ICAC’s the warning light that comes on when your engine needs attention. Across Australia, Liberal Parties would rather disconnect that light than diagnose the fault in the motor. What could possibly go wrong? SA Liberals lead the way; render their ICAC a hollow joke.

Heard about the Morrison government’s Clayton’s ICAC? SA’s just got one. Its new ICAC has no powers to investigate either corruption, or misconduct and maladministration. But while Liberals hate accountability, probity and transparency, everybody loves Gladys now she’s gone.

Hypocrisy Morrison coughs up his typically evasive, empty encomium “Gladys is a dear friend of mine we’ve known each other a long time. She has displayed heroic qualities, heroic qualities as the premier of NSW,” he lies, of the woman who privately calls him “evil” and a “bully”. He’s got rid of her.

What Gladys hasn’t displayed is that she is free of the endemic corruption that infects the NSW government, poisoning trust; hollowing out a leader’s authority in times of crisis.

“I have worked with her extremely closely and she has always been a vibrant spirit when it comes to our debates, doing the best for the people of NSW.”

Morrison’s patronising tone betrays his paternalism. He’s a notorious, micro-manager and control freak whose approach to debate is to browbeat or evade, seek refuge in sophistry and specious argument.

Or beg off. Disagree with the premise of your question. There’s no sense here either of respect for his “dear friend”. Nor do we expect Morrison to have any friends in politics, apart perhaps from Stuart Robert.

Best for the people of NSW? Berejiklian’s rapport is decidedly with the top end of town. Her business-friendly approach; her lockdown lite or “mock-down”, where Bunnings is still open and masks are voluntary, is her undoing. She departs just before the worst of her pandemic hits.

Aircrews need rules for safe transport in a pandemic. Failing to regulate their travel, Bernard Keane notes, sparks a conflagration.

Unwilling to lose her coveted “gold standard” koala stamp from a PM who is a late recruit to lockdown, she dithers, until forced into restrictions that are too late. Her softly-softly regime feeds catastrophic infection rates in NSW which then infects Victoria, the ACT and New Zealand, and what looks like “a return to recession for Australia.”

Before she jets off to her post as ambassador to Singapore, as whispers have it, Gladys could explain how her government could tell nurses to take a wage freeze during a pandemic. Overworked? Stressed? “I don’t need to know about that” is a cruel cop out.

NSW Train drivers can’t feed their families and pay rising rents and utility bills. Inflation is back on the rise. “I don’t need to know about that” Gladys offers workers a 0.3% increase – an increase that will be instantly devoured by her mentor Morrison’s, you beaut, flat tax “reforms”.

Ed Husic, member for Chifley and shadow Minister for Industry on ABC Insiders tells of two Sydneys in Gladys’ government. He calls her “the premier for the east and north of Sydney.”

“She managed a very ideological, political lockdown that divided the city, saw things happen in the west that would not happen in the north and east, played politics with public health.

I represent nearly 7,000 largely unvaccinated residents in the suburbs of Chifley that caught Covid, and I could not look those people in the eye and say ‘I thank Gladys Berejiklian for her service’ when really the phrase that should be uttered by her and the NSW Liberals is,

‘Sorry we let you down,’ and then they fix it.”

Why, Gladys was best on brand in handling the pandemic,” cries Andrew Probyn, on ABC Insiders. “Probes” seems to have missed the electorate of Chifley and others in the west of Sydney together with the Ruby Princess debacle.

Above all, he skips over how Gladys’ ineffectual, “lockdown lite” helped spread Delta throughout NSW and the rest of Australasia.

“… I think she has been an amazing premier, a person of high integrity, and someone that I would place my trust in completely and I think that’s what the community of NSW has done as well during these last 20 months.”

Brad Hazzard gushes, brushing over the fact that his Premier, who occupied positions of public trust, responsibility and power as State Treasurer and Premier misled the ICAC and kept her secret boyfriend a secret, even after he was brought before the ICAC. Why did she wait to disclose a conflict of interest only when ICAC forced her to?

The “Evil bully”, in her eyes, “a man of mystery who wants to control everything and to cut us out of everything,” as a senior Nat has it, Scott Morrison brings forward his Friday presser to upstage Gladys; do his announcements shtick, a surreal performance art which he’s cultivated to the point where it usurps any true leadership, government, or heeding the will of the people.

“It’s time to give Australians their lives back,” he bleats ‘n repeats, with typical vacuity, although some wags see a Whitlam allusion in the first two words. Implied is the PM’s Covid sales campaign pitch falsely equating lockdowns with the deprivation of life and liberty.

But, alas, there’ll be no political Lady Lazarus act for Gladys who gets a call, Thursday, telling her the ICAC will investigate her for corruption. The ICAC is holding further hearings into Gladys Berejiklian and her relationship with Daryl Maguire – in relation to grant funding and whether she “was liable to allow or encourage the occurrence of corruption.”

The commission would have called Gladys earlier, but according to legal scuttlebutt, a judge involved in Further Operation Keppel was badly injured in a cycling accident and is only just sufficiently recovered to attend court 18 October.

Former NSW supreme court judge, Assistant Commissioner, the Hon Ruth McColl AO SC, will preside. It is expected the inquiry will continue for approximately ten days.

It’s the sort of news that Scotty just can’t top. But just to rub his nose in it, Gladys fans all over NSW are putting blazers out, according to the Daily Mail’s plagiarists and a slightly less racy, Pedestrian TV. Glad, ever the snappy dresser, is famous for her designer label blazer collection.

But it’s not just about appearances, or disappearances for that matter, (who can forget the premier announcing giving up appearing at NSW Covid pressers), Gladys knocks the socks off everybody, with her work ethic and her integrity.

Along with blazers on letter boxes, there’s a Tsunami of good-will. And a feeling that compared with her federal counterparts, Glad’s been harshly dealt with. Hypocrisy is alive and well in the Federal Liberal Party.

“Christian Porter keeps his job, and she doesn’t,” says Ms Stacey Le Tessier of Kirribilli.

Or is it sexism? Speaking to Fergus Hunter in Nine’s The Sydney Morning Herald, Ms Le Tessier, seems to buy the spin that the NSW Premier is in trouble only over bad choice in partners. Ms Berejiklian is being punished for conduct that would be OK if she were a bloke?

Paeans of praise flood the nation’s fawning corporate media, led by Federal Liberal Party, Pravda, The Australian, whose role in our fetishising of wealth, a state religion, up there in the pantheon along with sport, ANZAC and anyone in uniform, includes praising St Gladys of the Cash Nexus and sundry other public acts of Neoliberal, libertarian or corporate hagiography.

The Oz is busy, busy, busy, posting announcements on behalf the business class and the government it owns, a bumper crop of bumper sticker talking points, Yellow Peril 2.0 alerts and sundry other grandiose fantasies, paranoid delusions which the PM and his cabal of former Crosby-Textor, Tory advisers, apparatchiks and PSA hacks concoct for our consumption.

St Gladys leads the nation’s war on Covid – according to its current, pernicious mythologising, until she falls victim to the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). ICAC’s an unholy trinity; a Frankenstein monster, a Star Chamber, a usurper, despite NSW Libs assiduously slashing its funding.

Now the watchdog must sit up and beg government for funds, requests which Berejiklian is keen to deny, last November, when she sees she is in ICAC’s sights. Bad move Glad.

ICAC misses out on an “extra” $7.3 million in funding, the premier announces; adding that spending public funds to win elections is not illegal just “part of the political process.” No. It’s a corruption.

The ICAC has conducted landmark corruption inquiries into public officials, including Arthur Sinodinos in the Liberals’ Australian Water Holdings (AWH) scandal, which corporate media successfully con the public is only about Eddie Obeid and Labor. Yet it must now plead with Berejiklian’s government for enough money to do its job. Without proper funding, it warns, it would be forced to reduce the organisation to its smallest size in its 30-year history.

If ICAC is the villain, Gladys is the victim. How dare they pick on a poor, single woman, a paragon of diligence and multicultural assimilation, whose close friend is fellow Armenian-Australian Joe Hockey? Glad just made the wrong choice of shonky boyfriend.

The absurd fable continues via The Guardian Australia where readers learn that Morrison will never now approve a Federal ICAC. Preposterous? His government’s Clayton’s federal ICAC would see corruption flourish.

“(a) sham [that] falls disastrously short” warn seven retired senior judges of the Coalition’s draft plans. “Extraordinarily misconceived” is Labor’s Mark Dreyfus’ view of the Scott Morrison model which makes a government of the day sole arbiter of which parliamentarians or their staff would face referral to its ICAC.

Those who currently claim that NSW’s ICAC is politicised would create a federal model that could be a purely political weapon?

“ICAC curse claims Covid crusader Gladys.” The Australian wails, committing two howlers in the one headline. Whilst the former Willoughby, Commonwealth Bank branch manager will be missed by her pals in corporate boardrooms, Gladys is under investigation for corruption.

“Typhoid Mary of Australasia pushed under bus before ICAC stench – and NSW Health collapse infect Morrison’s re-election chances,” is the real story, The Australian is trying to hide.

ICAC is investigating the former NSW Premier on four counts of misconduct. Yet even as she makes her teary farewell to a state she claims to have served virtuously, she hits out at the ICAC.

“My resignation as premier could not occur at a worse time, but the timing is completely outside of my control, as the ICAC has chosen to take this action during the most challenging weeks of the most challenging times in the state’s history. That is the ICAC’s prerogative.” she says, tweaking the myth of victimhood to insinuate a political motivation to the ICAC.

Meanwhile at home, wracked by Covid neurosis, a folie a deux between people and government, we worry ourselves sick searching for face-masks, QR codes, hand sanitiser, news of extended family, anti-vaxxers and “medical advice”. Stress over keeping social distance from supermarket space invaders. And paying the rent as well as buying groceries and paying the power bill.

Now, workers forced by lockdown to forgo wages, learn that support will be withdrawn. Treasurer Frydenberg muffs his lines when asked why. There is no rational explanation. Callous indifference or calculated cruelty? This mob reckons life on Jobseeker’s forty dollars a day “incentivates” you to find work.

All the while, each day, on Odin’s eye, the widescreen TV, plays out a theatre of recrimination in which a cub flubs a simple question, while veteran scalp-hunters go for the stiletto, in a ritual badgering of MPs, health experts, premiers and medicos that exhausts everyone.

Is it a version of the medieval witch hunt but with multiple inquisitors and witch-finders general?

Or is it a bad parody of the fourth estate; a tamed estate reduced to quibbling and twitting instead of holding politicians to account? No-one holds Berejiklian or Morrison or their corporate donors to account.

The slow dance marathon of state premiers’ daily pressers may begin briskly with a volley of trivial pursuit or frenzied, hyper-partisan, sniping but it all gives way to a torpor of exhaustion.

When she does throw in the towel, Friday, Gladys Berejiklian takes no questions. It seems- like her resignation itself- a tacit concession of guilt. Despite her protests.

ICAC has it all wrong. “Historic matters” already dealt with. Doesn’t the Independent Commission against Corruption know that she has her hands full handling the Covid crisis?

Shocked by the inexorable spread of a virulent mutant variant in a pandemic which kills 700,000 making it the deadliest in US history, we are all vastly comforted by the notion that an anti-corruption body is, itself, a moral hazard, a malediction or just a bloody, dirty rotten boobytrap.

Or all three. Yet “Covid Crusader Gladys” is gaslighting 101, given that the former NSW premier craves approval above duty. She’s so keen to be the PM’s favourite in appeasing business at any price that her government is criminally lame, late and lax in its efforts to contain Delta.

True, her act could win a Cohen brothers’ award for its noir spin-fest. Her regime injects a dark comedy into its misgovernment by posing as libertarian or laissez-faire, a neoliberal state that looks after its people by doing as little as possible – lest it impinge upon their freedoms or family picnics.

Cue the sound of one invisible hand clapping – doing nothing undoes everything. The Covid Crusader’s government presides over the baffling mystery of who gave permission to the Ruby Princess to dock in Sydney 19 March 2020 and to let all 2650 passengers disembark.

It’s an enigma. At least the ruling elite’s cult de jour, our Hillsong prosperity gospellers, are allowed to come ashore and bring their covid infections with them. No-one is brought to account. What we do is have an inquiry.

Normalising corruption is something the Morrison government has turned into an art form, the embossed wallpaper of modern politics. Instead of penalties, Ministers get promotions. Witness sports rorts’ Bridget McKenzie. Back with not one but five portfolios.

In the end, Gladys makes a bad exit. Whilst she may appear to enjoy a type of celebrity, this is not to be confused with legitimacy.

Indeed, her authority is undermined by the corporate media’s wilful myth-making, in which she is taken captive, made into a type of mascot or trophy wife for appeasing business demands for as little regulation as possible.

Pernicious in the extreme is the idea that the premier’s blinkered, submissive diligence is good government. Or good leadership. But it’s alarmingly widespread and sedulously cultivated by those with vested interests in securing a compliant figurehead to legitimise their shady or unscrupulous dealing.

Gladys’ resignation should come as no surprise. It was inevitable from the moment she disclosed to the ICAC her secret relationship with Daryl Maguire, a grifter who could exploit and use her but only if she were prepared to let him.

Or aid and abet him. Ultimately “I don’t need to know about that” is no protection at all but a facile and fatally compromising collusion.

Rather than rail against the ICAC, Ms Berejiklian should be grateful for it. For without it, who knows how much more trouble she could have got herself into? Not to mention how her manifest capacity for dud judgement would have caused even further suffering of those in her duty of care.

And rather than gut or defund our ICACS, we should ensure they have all the powers and resources they need. For without their vigilance, our Commonwealth would be a congeries of corruption, in which each state would engage in a free for all with the others to the detriment of the many for the benefit of a powerful few.

We’re halfway there already.

On her duel with the wallpaper of corruption, both must go – but it is Gladys who must make the first exit. Let her PM follow her example.

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Morrison runs up the white flag on Australia’s sovereignty.

We all live in a Yellow (Peril) submarine, yellow peril submarine, yellow peril submarine … All our friends are all on board, everyone of us lives next door…”

Up periscope. What’s that smoke on the water, that oily miasma, that stench over the wreck of The Sandgroper? Why, it’s Top Secret Morrison, world’s most furtive PM, slyly offering us a preview of his rotten-to-the-core federal mis-government’s new campaign ditty. Yellow (Peril) Submarine.

Submarine’s a winner with its Sinophobic top notes and sublime harmonies from Smokin’ Joe Biden and the Neocons on backup. Above all, it ensures we talk about boats, war and the fantasy of being allowed into our imperial master’s top secret nuclear stuff. Why, we’re practically a nuclear power, now. We’ll completely overlook Christian Porter’s blind trust or how JobKeeper boosted millionaires’ profits. Or that ScoMo™ forgot to buy vaccines and organise quarantine. Nor must we pay heed to reports of NSW paramedics at breaking point.

Forget Crosby Textor’s legendary dead moggy on the table distraction tactic, Morrison tells Emmanuel Macron that our deal with French government-owned, Naval Group to buy a dozen ludicrously overpriced, underwater boats is dead in the water. We’ve sunk over two billion dollars, into a ninety billion project – a total of $300 billion over its lifetime, before we even see a shortfin-Barracuda Block 1A-based diesel-electric submarine, let alone discover its computer system is a sealed US module to which we will be denied access.

There’ll be break fees to pay as well but, heck, Washington is offering nuclear and a new defence pact called AUKUS, an acronym that sounds like Orcus, the hairy, bearded Etruscan and Roman god of broken oaths, whose mother Eris, Greek goddess of strife, is called Discordia. Someone is having a laugh at Macron. And Morrison. The French seem a bit upset. Recall ambassadors from Canberra and Washington.

‘Maybe we’re not friends,’ ambassador, Jean-Pierre Thebault reflects in the press as he leaves. Morrison ‘kept us in the dark intentionally.’ Feeling betrayed, “stabbed in the back”; screwed by Australia will ensure France, which takes over the rotating EU presidency in January 2022, goes out of its way to help our efforts to forge a new EU-AUS trade deal.

Little wonder Morrison wants the trade deal done and dusted done by December. Or is even our Prime Motormouth all talked out? There’s already been eleven rounds of Brussels’ sprouts.

France has a strong track record of voicing an open hostility which blocks trade deals. Under Francoise Hollande, Paris sank the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership talks with Washington in 2016. Macron has already made clear his implacable opposition to the Mercosur agreement with South American countries.

Let’s not be fooled by the free trade slogans. Australia needs France’s support for the European Commission to grant Australian farmers preferential market access for their beef and dairy products. It was always going to be challenging, unlike the recent UK trade deal, writes the AFR’s Jennifer Hewett.

Luckily, we have Dan Tehan blending a whiff of the Wannon wool-shed with his cosmopolitan savoir faire, sparkling wit and spell-binding oratory applying all his well-honed talents as Trade Minister to dispel the well-deserved scepticism of the French.

The Middle Kingdom is also miffed. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, claims with a poker face, that the agreement ‘seriously undermines regional peace and stability and intensifies the arms race.’ It’s a theme that’s echoed by Malaysia and Indonesia whose concerns mirror Beijing’s. China’s state media warns Australia that it is now an “adversary” of China and should “prepare for the worst.”

Malaysia’s PM, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, phones Morrison to warn that the US-Australian deal could lead to a nuclear arms race in the region. Friday, Indonesia foreign affairs spokesman, Teuku Faizasyah, says Jakarta notes Australia’s decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines and stresses “Indonesia is deeply concerned over the continuing arms race and power projection in the region.”

Seriously? Buying eight subs, each past their use-by date which we can’t possibly crew nor refuel and won’t be allowed to service starts a race? Much stock is placed in promises that these are sealed units which run for thirty years before being returned unopened to their maker. No mention is made of servicing. Nor price.

We’ve had this sort of deal before when we fell in love with the F-35, aka “the flying brick”, with no tender process and less evaluation whose problems are so enduring that the USAF gives them another nine years before they will be unable to penetrate defended airspace past 2030. We’ll get seven years out of the last nine to be delivered in 2023. Provided we modernise them. Yet we’re not allowed access to their top secret antique software.

By Tuesday, writes The Guardian’s Amy Remeikis, EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, demands Australia explain its conduct in defence of EU member state France. Account for its actions? That would be novel.

Secretive Scotty doesn’t ease the tension by blabbing to Macron that he and the US hatched their plot to abandon Naval Group’s contract a good eighteen months ago but he had to keep shtum, because, you know, Trump. It’s been no secret, he and Dutton add, that we were unhappy with a deal fraught with cost overruns and delays.

Naval Group’s relationship with Defence is fraught. Progress is expensive and slow. It’s clear that the project is designed to benefit the French taxpayer. Even Peter Dutton fears we’re being boondoggled. Spud demands costs and schedules which Naval Group complains are based on ScoMo’s political agenda. Naval Group sulks. Suspects, correctly, ScoMo’s team of bull-shitters is stringing them along – if the PM’s latest story is true.

Barely a month ago, Dutton teaming with equally dynamic Foreign Minister Marise Payne, hold the “Inaugural Australia-France 2+2 Ministerial Consultations” with their French counterparts, notes Press Gallery doyenne, Michelle Grattan. Under “bilateral cooperation,” in the official communique, is a coded kiss of death:

“Ministers underlined the importance of the Future Submarine program”.

Abbott had the right idea in February 2015 but dropped the ball. Buy Soryu subs off the peg from the Japanese. Our navy’s Nippon clip-on would be quick and cheap as chips. Japan’s deal offered a dozen Soryu Class submarines for $20 billion with home delivery. The first two ships would arrive here 18 months after contract signing.

One a year would then roll off a mature assembly line.

Part of the stunt, then as now in ScoMo’s sudden, steep, deep, plunge into underwater matters is to distract a scurvy, mutinous, Liberal crew, sharpening their back-stabbers.

The budgie-smuggler snuggles up to the hawkish Shinzo Abe, whose legacy is his “reinterpretation” of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, a clause inserted by the US to restrict Japan’s militarisation. Abe’s take, made law in 2015, is to claim the land of cherry blossom is permitted to come to the defence of an ally, a form of words that could get nation into all sorts of strife and not only over its ally, Taiwan.

Japan hates the change. It is the biggest and least popular single shift in the country’s security policy since 1945. It trashes a mainstay of Yoshida’s security policy set up in the early 1950s and permits Japan to be dragged willy-nilly into a range of conflicts, such as on the Korean peninsula, over Taiwan, or in the South China Sea.

Abe, the ultimate princeling of Japanese politics – whose total charisma bypass was not the only cause of his personal approval sinking even lower than Abbo at the time – was sure that the Aussie contract would go to Japan. Abbo led him on.

A nod and that notorious wink over an Ashahi Super-dry? It mattered not a jot that the Japanese sub was as unlike our own clapped out Collins class as possible; nor was the budgie-smuggler deterred by the fact that the Japanese had never built a sub out of Japan, let alone work to a Down-Under local content requirement.

Alas, as with Morrison, Abbott was sunk already. Not the sub, nor adding extra flags to every presser could revive his ever-tenuous grip on the leadership nor morale amongst Team Australia, which after the brush with the empty chair was flagging badly.

It’s a simple but familiar story. Abbo’s leadership is on the rocks. He succumbs to pressure from SA Liberals. Switches to a competitive tender process which would “give Australian suppliers a fair go.” Sayonara, Soryu. Enter DCNS, Naval Group, whose sole commendation is their promise they can build something in SA. As with his party’s current incumbent, Scott Morrison, whose incompetence blends hidebound indifference and brutish cruelty with dud judgement, buying submarines is all about the politics; buying mates and seats when you know your own career is taking a deep dive.

But our fetish for subs is itself a big worry. For the last thirty years at least, we’ve created a cargo cult that submarines would fix all our underwater woes. Down under, upside down at the arse end of the world, if submarines are the answer, you are asking the wrong question. A sub is meant to supplement a navy. We don’t have one. Instead, we have three destroyers and eight frigates. The rest are coastal craft.

Submarines are also rapidly becoming easier to spot as detection technology develops, with Moore’s Law. Little point in hiding underwater, if your enemy can see you clearly. Or hear you. Two years ago a whistle-blower accused shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls of falsifying quality tests on the stealth coating of Virginia Class attack submarines, thus “knowingly and/or recklessly” putting “American lives at risk,” reports Forbes Magazine.

The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) warns, “Recent advances in commercial tools and technologies now give open-source researchers some ability to monitor submarine fleets. With commercial satellite imagery, synthetic aperture radar (SAR), hydro-acoustic sensors, and even social media analysis, open-source researchers can better understand the size and composition of countries’ submarine fleets, monitor construction of submarines and submarine bases, and potentially learn about patrol patterns and behaviours.”

Risk doesn’t enter ScoMo’s calculations. For Abbott, too, it was time to rally round the flag – a long seven months after his epic 61-39 triumph over an empty chair in the Liberal Party’s glorious leadership spill of March 2015, to run another submarine up the flagpole.

With two deals dead in the water, a third conning tower in as many decades, looms on the horizon, a nuclear powered sub which ScoMo and his claque of corporate media spin into Australia being promoted to the US nuclear club. Of course it’s no such thing. Scotty runs up the white flag on our national sovereignty.

Paul Keating calls Morrison on his betrayal. Morrison is “shopping” Australia’s sovereignty by “locking the country and its military forces into the force structure of the United States” under the guise of a nuclear submarine deal. “It takes a monster level of incompetence to forfeit military control of one’s own state,” he says, “but this is what Scott Morrison and his government have managed to do.”

It began so well, too. After knifing Abbott, Turnbull was all for helping Pyne save his seat. Location was all he appears to have considered. Fizza’s deal was decided entirely on an assurance that the build would take place in ASC’s South Australian workshop -despite former defence minister David Johnston saying he wouldn’t trust ASC to build a canoe, an opinion he courageously later tried to walk back as a “rhetorical flourish”.

The project is as deeply flawed as Turnbull’s NBN. French contractors, Naval Group struggle to re-jig a nuclear sub to run on diesel. It’s an absurd task which ‘dumbed down a nuclear submarine by removing the whole basis of its superior capability, and then charging at least twice as much for a far less capable submarine,’ Submarines for Australia’s, the late Gary Johnston pointed out.

Little wonder that Morrison wanted out. Even less wonder that he has no idea of the right way of going about it. He might, for example, have told the French before the media. He could, experts argue, have invited Naval Group to tender for a nuclear-powered option. Instead, he just blows his bags. Let the cheese-eating surrender monkeys chuck their hissy fit. They’ll get over it.

His attitude is similar to his inability to read the room and his total disrespect for his audience that led him to promote himself as keynote speaker at the Australian Women’s Safety Summit.

The carnival barker and big-noter in our PM squawks AUKUS™ into being. It’s a one-stop shop for self-promotion. Not only will get nuclear subs, we’ll be let into the Pentagon clubhouse. Phrases such as “game-changer” are bandied about. The only big change, however, is that France is no longer a key player in the Pacific playground.

AUKUS is an artful, orchestrated mutual self deception. On the surface, it is a sort of troika of former big, white boss cockies now past their prime and ourselves, two and a half musketeers; fearless, gung-ho despite the loss of a few feathers, territories and the wit to govern themselves effectively, if at all. Boris just wants a US trade deal.

Below the surface, (pressure increases as a submarine dives), AUKUS is a surrender to US plans to draft “that fella from down under” as Joe Biden calls Morrison – and his government into its new Indo-Pacific rules-based order. In reality, this will mean lurking in the South China Sea, playing tag-along in America’s new cold war with China.

It’s a Bo-Jo-ScoMo come to Joe moment; a scalene security triangle. What could possibly go wrong?

No-one has seen the AUKUS treaty, if it exists at all, binding our marriage of convenience but it’s a thoroughly postmodern agreement, not so much “all for one and one for all” but a type of meshing and integration and other fabulous, neoliberal newspeak for following orders – which, as Crikey’s Guy Rundle notes – presume the abolition of the sovereign nation state, or, at least divorce its backbone from its central nervous system.

As the breathless leaders’ statement on it indicates, this is about the meshing and integration of high-tech development and deployment (robots, pilotless air- and sea-craft, cyber warfare, space warfare) in such a way that de facto materially abolishes the nation-state command division altogether. Questions of command that arise for olde-worlde forces like crewed submarines are the least of it.

What AUKUS is, may be as opaque as the Nicene Creed, although we can be certain that it’s not just about Australia getting eight, obsolete US Virginia class nuclear submarines, some time in the 2040s. Delivery is the least of our worries. We won’t be able to crew, refuel or even afford to purchase the 10,000 ton monsters. Not that the subs are the point of AWKUS at all. It’s all about another coalition of the willing lining up behind Washington.

What AUKUS does is easier to discern. First, it recruits Australia to play gooseberry on the USA’s next big military misadventure; cruising the South China Sea. Poking the panda. BYO sub supplied by our sponsor at whatever cost – Morrison has said you just can’t put a figure on it. We’ve increased our defence spending to two per cent of GDP, he notes (thanks to hairy-chested Tony Abbott randomly plucking a figure out of thin air). We could build on that, the PM is certain. That’s the nature of the modern world, he says, airily, as if that settles the matter. Imagine if a Labor PM tried that.

Nothing unites a nation of states, territories and 4,600 islands excised from the map for immigration purposes, by John Howard in 2005, as much as a common foe. Rocked by revelations of the perfidy of the giant Panda’s plans for world domination – not to mention slapping tariffs with abandon on our wine, barley and iron ore amongst other commodities we are forced to export to China, since we killed off most of our local manufacturing, a nation thrills to the derring-do detailed in our corporate media, led by another of our crude exports, war-monger Rupert Murdoch. Who can forget The Sun‘s “STICK IT UP YOUR JUNTA” a Falklands War which put the rag on the map.

Always a class act, The Sun reverted to soft porn during the dull bit of a completely pointless war over a barren group of islands in the South Atlantic.

Ships were taking days to get anywhere near any shooting. ‘THE SUN SAYS KNICKERS TO ARGENTINA!’ featured pictures of semi-naked young women ‘sporting specially made underwear embroidered across the front with the proud name of the ship on which a husband or boyfriend is serving’.

Expect similar in our coming war with China already being talked up as if it were some reality game show. The shadow of the panda almost obscures the spectacle of the rapidly sinking Sandgroper, a merchant of fortune, whose skipper, Christian (son of Chilla) Porter, barely treads water. Around his neck is a giant canvas version of a St Bernard’s rescue dog’s barrel of brandy, a buoyancy device fashioned from a chaff bag stuffed with a million dollars in cash by a mysterious but recklessly benevolent Blind Trust whose names must never be spoken.

Porter’s heroic efforts on shark-infested waters elicit a disturbingly show of support from Matt Canavan, teary Stu Robert and colossus of incompetence, acting PM Barnaby Joyce, but no-one is fooled. Crikey’s Bernard Keane sums up the former Attorney General’s utter lack of judgement, despite all his legal and political experience.

“He believes it’s appropriate to remain a minister while unresolved allegations of historic sexual assault – vehemently denied – remain over him. He believed it was appropriate to pursue the ABC for defamation despite it never naming him in relation to the allegations. He believed it was a good idea to engage a conflicted lawyer on his team. And when his lawyer was knocked out and his case ran into the sand – fancy a defamation case that doesn’t win in Australia! – he cut bait and settled for his costs being covered, insisting at a media conference that he’d inflicted a major defeat on the ABC. Into the bargain, he wanted the ABC’s defence locked in the vault.”

For his latest trick, the blind trust which he cannot name has sprung a million dollars to cover his legal costs. Morrison gives him an ultimatum, according to his backgrounders, while claiming that the equivalent – as Turnbull puts it – of receiving a chaff bag stuffed with cash somehow poses complex ethical issues that only his man-servant, The Butler, (ring a bell and the fix appears) Phil Gaetjens can run his fine legal mind over it. Sparing us any delay, and Gaetjens is the master of delay, Porter resigns from cabinet.

“The relatively benign environment we have enjoyed in many decades in our region is behind us,” Scott Morrison declares with his typical rapier-like wit and word-salad. His way with words puts him head and shoulders above his peers, especially his deputy PM “barking” Barnaby Joyce whom he leaves in charge as The Shark guns down the runway on another OS junket.

“It was only a few weeks ago that a generation-long war in Afghanistan came to an end,” Alison Broinowski of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network, says in a statement shared prior to the first squawk of AUKUS.

“Instead of reflecting on the pointlessness and horror of U.S. militarism, Australia and the U.S. are already talking about their next military adventure.”

AUKUS sounds like the squawk of a seabird, the alarm cry, perhaps, of an albatross as it pitches into a stiff wind off a sheer cliff, but it also spells the end of another rare bird; our national sovereignty – born of decades of nuanced diplomacy from Canberra, balancing our relationship, with China, our biggest trading partner with our biggest ally, the US, to whom we now truckle with increasingly shameless, fawning, servility.

Emotionally illiterate and a moral and intellectual minnow among the sharks, Scott Morrison is happy to trash anything he believes will get him an advantage in the November election. His government’s latest debacle, however, is a humdinger.

Morrison’s de facto declaration of cold war on China can only further damage the nation’s relationship with its biggest trading partner, while his break-up by press announcement with France over the epic absurdity of its romance of the retro-fitted diesel nuclear submarine can only help destroy his credibility and that of his government even further. Above all, AWKUS sees an alarming retreat in Australia’s foreign policy from an independent nation with pretensions to being a middle power, to a vassal of the United States, not a deputy sheriff but an indentured servant.

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Josh and Scotty’s excellent adventure can have no happy ending.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s snap lockdown forces PM fan-boy, Josh Frydenberg to doss-down at The Lodge, in ScoMo ‘n Frydo’s Canberra Sleepover, a lightweight sitcom pilot about mateship, relatability and who does the washing-up.

In Episode One – An Odd Coupling – scripted by professionally coached, empath and noted folk-orator, Scott “Demosthenes” Morrison, the PM puts up his Treasurer in the now, largely vacant, forty-room, 1927, Georgian revival mansion, the PM’s, Deakin bolt-hole, which, like Old Parliament House, was, wisely, never intended to be a permanent residence. Buoyed by a landmark oration, he preps Josh to flog his vision.

Only Frydenberg could lead by arguing in The Australian that we must open up because we’re all going stir-crazy and our economy is up shit-creek.

Embrace fear, the dark or the dawn – it’s still not clear which – Morrison tells a mystified House of Reps. His pitch includes the idea that The Croods, a 2013 DreamWorks animated movie about cave dwellers, is an allegory for our times. Some MPs are reminded, instead, of the PM’s modest intellectual horizons, which a wag reckons you could easily stroll up to and back before breakfast. Horizons, were all the rage, in June, when the PM flourished a document, coyly entitled Covid Vaccination Horizons.

Leigh Sales made fun of his evasiveness. “One of the grandest euphemisms I’ve seen in 25 years as a journalist.”

And his ear of tin – this is a PM who, lamely, defends his decision to take a family holiday in Hawaii, at the height of the bushfires, a year ago, as equivalent to “a plumber taking that extra contract on a Friday afternoon.”

“Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out,” he tells Grace Tame after her moving and powerful speech, detailing her experience of abuse and her determination not to remain silent, at the Australian of the Year Awards.

“Are you better off now than you were 4 million years ago?’ is similarly crass tagline from The Croods, which our PM sees as a parable to help him pitch his proposal that we sacrifice our health, well-being and security in “learning to live with” the Coronavirus pandemic; a “National Plan” of his own devising, which he sprung on the states in July. It’s worked so well, after all, in the UK and in Trump’s USA.

Morrison’s “plan” is a punt; a political gamble with all risk of infection, chronic illness, death and the collapse of the NSW hospital system falling on everyone but himself. Doherty is the fall guy. He’ll do or say anything to secure his own dull, political survival.

A “safe plan,” urges a man who is so desperate to be “the man with a plan” that he invents thousands of lives, (which miraculously become “millions upon millions” in Question Time, Monday), – of lives which we’ve saved already. The concept of extrapolating a figure from other OECD countries is flimsy, if not patently absurd. But the PM spruiks his plan with a reckless desperation. He morphs into your crazy punter mate, the coat tugger, who’s done his all dough but won’t leave you alone; insisting that you put all the money you’ve got left on Dead Certainty in the 4:35 at Doomben.

But Morrison is more malignant than a mug punter. He does not have agreement from the premiers. It’s neither national nor a plan at all. Worse. It’s a white flag of surrender to the virus, an abdication of duty of care and a shameful capitulation to the corporate sociopaths and fat-cat-Liberal Party, mega-donors who call the shots, helped by a servile media; a tamed fourth estate. And Sky all over your web browser.

“We can’t live in lockdown for ever,” Frydenberg smirks, setting up yet another straw man. As if anyone proposes that lockdown is anything but a prudent interim measure.

Tuesday the PM talks up Team Australia, an Abbott era hangover, which ignores the fact that we are neither all of one accord, nor should we ever aspire to be. Nor are we all in this together. The pandemic hurts most those who have fewest resources, the elderly, the poor, recent migrants and first nations’ communities such as Wilcannia.

COVID-19 is rampaging through First Nations communities In western NSW, where, 11.6% if Indigenous Australians are fully vaccinated in contrast to 28.9% of non-Indigenous Australians report Anne Kavanagh, Helen Dickinson and Nancy Baxter in The Conversation. But it’s not as if the federal government did not time to act.

“Our indigenous people”, he shouts, The Great White Bwana of Question Time, patronising and glossing over his government’s abuse and neglect, seen most recently in report of a letter, written eighteen months ago, warning Ken Wyatt, the Morrison government’s Minister for Indigenous Australians of the grave risks faced by Wilcannia.

The Maari Ma Aboriginal health corporation writes to the Minister pleading with him to take action to prevent an outbreak. “Basic mathematics says that by the time our first hospital patient presents, around 100 cases will already exist in the community, and this is based on best case modelling.”

Yet the Morrison government’s response has been “chaotic, substandard and services are vulnerable to collapse” reports The Guardian Australia’s Lorena Allam. By Monday, Wilcannia records sixty-nine coronavirus cases in a population of 720, the highest transmission rate in NSW.

Despite its team rhetoric, inequality has increased during the pandemic, under a Coalition addicted to the myth of trickle-down economics and the lie that tax breaks for the rich lead to a prosperous community. More jobs. Instead, the nation gets a revealing demonstration of how a ruling class looks after its own, as ScoMo puts up Frydo.

Canberra Sleepover is a limited episode, series, artisan-crafted by PM Puffery™ to be a PR repair-patch for FIGJAM Frydenberg, who is overdue for an image upgrade since Julia Banks outed him as one of Scotty’s “bully-boys.”

Monday, Frydenberg’s all over the airwaves droning low, slow and ponderous; talking over those who know the plan is toxic bullshit. Beyond the public coercion of state premiers and chief ministers is a wilful misreading of the flawed Doherty report which is based on small numbers of community infection and a better standard of testing, tracing intervention and quarantine than NSW, the pariah state, will ever muster now after its fatal delay and its failure to take the pandemic seriously, even today.

Showing just how in touch he is with the average Australian, Frydenberg warns ABC Radio National listeners that residents in NSW and Victoria may be able to travel to Canada before Cairns, or Bali, before Perth. Planning an overseas trip may not be the first priority for the twenty-eight percent of NSW’s workforce, now underemployed.

Hours worked in New South Wales in July fell 7%, reports The Guardian’s Greg Jericho, taking a reliable measure of employment. It’s 40.5 million fewer hours in total, the third biggest drop in NSW history. A 0.9% drop in the number of people employed in the state is accompanied by a huge 28% increase in the number of people underemployed.

Rather than overseas flights, Australians will be faced with a health system in crisis. It’s possible that NSW doctors will have to extend their triage to exclude those over seventy from ICU. Already, they are forced to triage to preserve a hospital system, rapidly stretched to capacity. Since 30 July all non-urgent ,elective surgery is postponed.

Morrison also needs a reboot, given recent reports he continues to be rude, crude and abusive towards premiers and their staff, especially when anyone has the hide to seek genuine consultation, or ask what happened to the vax. And while the latest News Poll shows he’s up one per cent in the fatuous preferred PM question, his government is increasingly on the nose.

There is the smell of political death about the PM writes The Canberra Times’ Jack Waterford. The veteran joins Niki Savva in noting the unprecedented shift of power from the commonwealth to the states, a direct function of a weak, untrustworthy PM who increasingly reveals his lack of leadership in National Cabinet meetings. It may take the federation decades to recover from the collapse in Prime Ministerial leadership.

The Coalition’s primary vote drops to 36 per cent, according to News Poll – the party’s lowest since March 2019 and over two points below its May 2019, election result. Yet Labor support rises to 40 per cent – its best result in the poll since December 2018.

As Frydo and ScoMo buddy up, imagine a McCain Man Size Chicken Kiev pinging in the microwave, a few games of pool and Yes Minister on widescreen TV. Frydo, the 26 billion-dollar dill, sets out to regale ScoMo with his hilarious JobKeeper SNAFU. Peta Credlin’s $12 million reno, the cost of two new builds, makes The Lodge almost liveable.

 

 

But Credlin’s eye-watering overspend, helped by thirty changes to the original redesign brief, for a pad Albo never got to crash in, is dwarfed by Frydo’s free money plan. Labor’s Andrew Leigh, who says the Morrison government knew and did nothing about the massive overspend, commissions a report by the Parliamentary Budget Office, (PBO).

“By mid-2020, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg already had a report from Treasury warning that billions of dollars of JobKeeper were going to firms with rising revenue,” Dr Leigh says. “The Morrison government is yet to explain how it saved jobs by giving money to firms such as Best & Less, AP Eagers, Premier Investments and Accent Group.”

Frydenberg was gulled by wily business types – who were only too happy to forecast losses due to Covid – into doling out $25 billion in as many weeks, the PBO reports to the ATO.

A tidy $13 billion goes to firms which increase their profits, reports John Kehoe in the AFR. Laugh? Any other treasurer would get the ATO to raise a debit in their tax return. Bake it into JobKeeper law. It’s already a standard ATO procedure.

But not “business-friendly” Frydenberg. He leaves it up to hard-nosed tycoons to decide. If they want to pay back a lazy $13 billion, they can. Or not, as the case may be. Or so he says. Besides it’s the law, now. His own bad law. It’s an incomprehensible error. A colossal stuff-up, even for a Morrison government, whose pandemic response, alone, combines criminal negligence with a catastrophic failure in quarantine, aged care and vaccine supply and distribution.

For $13 billion, you could build a solar farm covering all of Far North Queensland, the AFR’s Joe Aston, estimates. He’s talking quality German panels not the cheap Uighur slave ones on Fortescue’s solar plant at Chichester.

But let’s not be too harsh. Glad-handed Frydo may be channelling his idol, Ronald Reagan, who, in two terms, took the world’s largest creditor nation to the world’s largest debtor. Reagan also falsely believed he’d served his country in wartime, as he confused his B-grade movie roles with reality, or what vaguely approximates reality, for any US President.

Reagan also helped the US de-industrialise, increased inequality, pushed personal savings into the red and increased government indebtedness, expressed as debt to GDP ratio. Sounds familiar? That’s because we make the same errors. Frydenberg’s certainly doing his bit. Team Australia? It’s a tale of two cities in Sydney, especially.

But $25 billion? It took the ADF fifteen, long, years to get Treasury to blow $25 billion on submarines, AFR’s Joe Aston notes. But that’s a bit unfair. Overnight, February 2015, military genius, Abbott, decreed a new “competitive evaluation process. Instead of tenders for contracts being based on suitability, time and place were the only criteria. Could subs be built in SA? And could a deal be announced in time for his next election campaign? Tony needed to win over a few Liberal MPs to shore up the budgie-smuggler’s waning popularity. A challenge from Fizza Turnbull was in the wind.

But let’s not take away from Frydo’s Olympic gold medal standard stuff-up. No wonder there’s no JobKeeper 2.0.

Fellow incompetent, “Photo-Opp” Morrison whose government is run by Mad Men; spin doctors and fixers, such as “The Butler”, Phil Gaetjens, a personal manservant, who cooks up a fix when the bell rings, as Labor’s Katy Gallagher has it, could swap his shaggy dog story of how he failed to buy vaccine, squibbed his quarantine responsibilities and let over eight hundred old folks die in a privatised aged care system, built to be fit for profit -not fit for purpose.

Phil’s just announced another delay into his investigation into who-knew-what about you-know-who and the Liberal staffer’s alleged, March 2019, rape of Brittany Higgins, who was the junior staffer, her former boss, Linda Reynolds supported by calling “a lying bitch.” Ms Higgins later receives a creepy “sleep tight” voicemail from Michaelia Cash.

ACT DPP, a superbly named, Shane Drumgold, says Gaetjens’ private and top secret inquiry “could be prejudicial” to the case being brought by an ACT police (AFP Canberra Office) with zero experience in bringing a rape case. Yet it’s very hard to see how and why. Morrison is pointedly refusing to guarantee that he will ever release his man-servant’s report. Perhaps it would make sense if we knew what Gaetjens asked Drumgold. Regardless, justice delayed is justice denied.

Still, Phil’s decision, taken after legal advice, will make doubly sure nothing comes out before the next election. It’s the same theme with Christian Porter who was going to clear his name in court, you remember, opting instead to make twenty-three pages of testimony off limits to journalists – held in a special, sealed envelope by the court.

Five weeks ago, ABC’s 7:30 Report challenged Frydo. But the Treasurer hasn’t got back. Because there is no explanation. Scott and Josh have a bit of a giggle over an Ableour single malt. Morrison riffs on his speech. Brags about his plan for an October election, or perhaps the following January, another miracle victory, with Clive’s help, in which he casts himself as setting the nation free from Labor lockdowns.

Cue the PM’s coercive control of the states. How good is taking Peter Doherty’s name in vain so often that the phrase Doherty Report now bears no relation to the original, nuanced, scientific modelling of the same name?

Morrison’s redefined Doherty as a licence to let ‘er rip when we’ve vaccinated 70-80% of the eligible population. Or 56% or 64 % of us, unless you include children in your duty of care and your calculation of risk. Yet he’s counting on our having short memories. It was only last year, August 2020, “Dr Morrison” was telling Sunrise audiences that 95 per cent of Australians would need to be vaccinated for a national immunisation program to be effective.

“You have got to get to herd immunity with any vaccines, and for those who are unable for absolute medical reasons, not able to take vaccines … they are the ones who rely on everybody taking it even more.”

 

 

But in July of that year, the PM was going to the footy, watching his Cronulla Sharks play the Penrith Panthers in an NRL match at the Kogarah Oval. In fact, forget the words, “Doherty” or “Plan”, Morrison has done a series of Olympic-standard backflips to arrive at the very place he began. Behind the thicket of verbiage, it’s “let ‘er rip”.

What Morrison’s urging on the state premiers is that they follow BoJo whose Freedom Day fiasco is followed now by a rise in UK cases, to a total of 6.6 million since February 2020 with 132,376 deaths. But, fear not, fellow cave-dwellers, our bogan with the slogan is also a word-salad wizard and he has twenty-twenty fortune-cookie vision.

“It is always darkest before the dawn, and I think these lockdowns are [a] demonstration of that, but the dawn is not far away and we are working towards that dawn and we are hastening towards the dawn. We should not delay it. We should prepare for it. We should not fear it. We should embrace it. And we should move forward together.”

Morrison’s Delta Dawn won’t go down in history as his finest hour, nor, even earn him an Andy Warhol five minutes of fame. It’s too long for starters. (Anything over five is the province of petty notoriety or infamy – and the hall of shame is already stuffed full with politicians and petty tyrants.) But he’s not bluffing anyone in his National Cabinet hoax.

The PM’s seen as an “evil bully” by Gladys Berejiklian, reports Peter Hartcher, who adds that the NSW Premier’s colleagues reject Dan Andrews’ PM for NSW gibe, in favour of “The PM for Morrison” in a piece which is a clue that just possibly, maybe, the premiers have had a gutful of The Prime Minister for Appearances and Announcements on whom you can rely only for his failure to deliver on his promises – his arrogance and his contempt for accountability.

Nowhere is this better seen in his government’s quarantine debacle. Hotel quarantine has led to twenty-seven outbreaks of Coronavirus, including the current NSW disaster, which quickly spreads across Victoria’s border where by Tuesday, seventy-six cases are reported out of a total of 841 and more mystery cases mean that the state-wide lockdown will not be lifted Thursday.

Cue another anti-Dan pile-on from our Murdoch-led media claque. Expect more anti-lockdown, Dictator Dan sniping. Look over there. Let’s not dwell on the 16 thousand, nine hundred active cases in NSW or its 137 deaths and 1164 cases since the pandemic began, Tuesday. Pollyanna Gladys is upbeat about the good times just around the corner. Or after October. Or whenever. She appears on Sky News urging other premiers to support the bogus national plan repeating the Morrison lie that they have “signed off” on it. All they have is a Clayton’s “agreement in principle.”

There is no corresponding clamour to rush to end lockdown from states such as South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, or territories such as the ACT and NT where the virus is yet to run rampant.

“There is simply no way Queensland or Western Australia are going to open their borders to people from NSW while the virus is running rampant in that state, and nor will Victoria, the ACT, Tasmania or SA commit to any course of action that will obviously endanger their populations,” notes The Monthly’s Nick Feik.

Scotty’s Office wonks are slaving to depict The Blue-Tongued Lizard of Oz, as our heroic liberator, battling Labor premiers who white-ant a national agreement -and also at war with Labor HQ, Federal Opposition’s yellow-bellied snakes -and what’s left of the left – after Labor’s tax and carbon abatement concessions and The Murdoch Empire’s jihad on Labor, joined by mining and media billionaire, Kerry Stokes’ Seven, a Liberal Party COMM’s Department outlet. And don’t forget Sky over everything networked.

The federal government pitch is you choose between its safe plan or you lose your freedoms, your jobs, your picnics, weddings, parties, everything and business goes bust. St Peter (Doherty) says. Amen. It’s a travesty of the real report.

Everywhere in our Vaccination Plan we’re hitting our marks, the PM claims. Yet as with fan-girl, Typhoid Mary Berejiklian, the PM over promises and under-delivers; he’s more your Uber Eats than Ubermensch.

A freedom Deliveroo will be heard ringing his bicycle bell to give us back our libertarian birthright. Never mind that federal government will soon legally “hack into or alter” your online communication, as its Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) became law, last Wednesday.

Neoliberals commodify everything and each other, as freedom rider, Auntie Gladys B, NSW’s lame duck Liberal Premier, makes clear in bizarre attempts, this week, to equate getting your hair or nails done with emancipation. Weddings with up to five guests are permitted as of Saturday, she says, but you’ll have to do your own hair and nails.

NSW schools will open late October in a staggered start plan which includes wishful thinking about younger children wearing masks, if they wish, and overlooks the fact that even “fully vaccinated teachers” can still carry a full viral load.

In this rosy-tinted perspective, there is no room for the fact that the world is a giant petri dish of eight billion people and that as fast we get vax into arms, the virus is mutating. Our current Pfizer and AZ may be become less effective, after four or five months, according to recent studies. There already is excellent medical advice advocating a booster but there is also evidence that new variants of concern in South Africa, such as B1.351 for example, pose a challenge in being fifty per cent more transmissible and possibly, less susceptible to existing vaccines.

But the dominant narrative in our media monopoly is simplistic. Scotty’s gold standard Premier helps turn NSW into ground zero of the Delta wave sweeping Australia, but Gladys promises the full nail bar, wax , tan and hair salon extravaganza as a reward for good behaviour. We will get through this, she claims, citing vaccination rates as cause for celebration when the bigger picture is far more complex.

But just for now, it would be refreshing to hear some acceptance of responsibility. The state was too slow to get its lockdown act together and its efforts are hampered by a shortage of vaccine and a reliance on hotel quarantine despite the federal government having had more than enough time to construct dedicated facilities. In frustration, Queensland and Victoria are building their own, but it’s a federal responsibility.

The gracious granting of spurious freedoms in exchange for nominated rates of vaccination compliance is a crass PR stunt. The 70-80 but effectively 56% -64% rates are too low and the freedoms do nothing to alter the fact that had her government acted in a timely and effective manner, the virus would not have got out of hand. Failing to exercise duty of care is not repaired by easing restrictions when It is unsafe to do so.

Blue tongue? NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, won’t deny that Morrison drops the “F” bomb to make clear there would be no JobKeeper for NSW workers in a “National Cabinet” exchange reported by Niki Savva whose sources inform her that the “tired and cranky” PM let his temper get the better of him – as bullies do.

Readers will recall, as Peter Gutwein, must, when the PM is reported to have called him a “fucking mendicant” in 2018, in a meeting convened to reach agreement over sharing the GST, a report, the Tassie premier, now disputes. Begs off.

Poor Mr Gutwein is rushed to hospital, after a recent bad turn at work, but latest report is of no serious condition, other than being a member of National Cabinet, which is less a consultative body than a screen for a PM who can’t lead. Increasingly, leaks depict premiers telling the PM what they think of him and what they plan to do in their states.

Of course, none of this sits well with a PM who not only has tin ear but also a glass jaw.

Government sources, quickly, point out that “if anyone had a go at Perrottet he probably deserved it” – which is the type of blame-the-victim response you’d expect from a party with a toxic culture as Julia Banks puts it.

Our glorious and noble rout in Kabul triggers a round of Anzackery, flatulent claptrap and patriotic humbug from MPs behind newly-erected Perspex pandemic barricades giving a novel spit level transparency to parliamentary proceedings. And an eviction.

“There are thousands of Australians and their loved ones who are only in Afghanistan because you haven’t processed their visas for years and now you are leaving them to die,” Labor MP Julian Hill shouts, accusing the Morrison government of “killing my constituents” before Speaker, Tony Smith throws Hill out, along with truth and compassion. While Hill’s electorate has a high percentage of Afghan refugees and migrants, you would hope others abhor the cruel injustice.

There is little in MPs responses that acknowledge the failure of our foreign adventure but, instead, they relegate the complex issues of foreign policy failure and the human tragedy of our ill-fated intervention to the ANZAC level of veneration of lofty ideals and noble rhetoric that misses the grotesque obscenities of imperialist warmongery.

Doubtless the Morrison government’s decision to cut and run will be lauded as an heroic rescue, despite the leaving of thousands of Afghan collaborators behind. No heed will be paid to our abrupt closing of the Australian Embassy in Kabul in May, which would send an unambiguous signal of commitment to retreat – to both Taliban and groups of terrorists, harboured in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s big supporter, Pakistan.

Hope surges in a nation’s heart, however, as independent, Craig Kelly, claims he’ll lead mining billionaire Clive Palmer’s UAP, a type of Trojan virus or even a political hack registered as a political party. Kelly’s also got an anti-vax bill he’d like to introduce.

And with Kelly on the team, Clive need not fret about having enough members. On the other hand, he’s already had to undermine Kelly who as party leader had the odd notion he’d be able to dictate policy, such as running anti-lockdown candidates. Palmer says instead that Kelly will have “input into policy,” as part of the Party Executive.

Politics is show biz for ugly people – and UAP does provide an exhibitionist outlet for Palmer’s pals and extended family clan, but UAP’s main purpose is to let Clive tell targeted anti-Labor lies on social media and older media next election.

UAP won’t win a seat, but its preferences go to the pro-mining Liberals. How good is gaming our electoral system? And there’s a poetic justice in Kelly’s new career, too.

Who better to inspire the flagging spirits of an ailing nation than “Wellness” Kelly, another mountebank peddling snake oil? Yet these are dangerous fake cures for coronavirus, such as the de-wormer, Ivermectin and malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. Nothing can be done, of course, because the government needs his vote.

Bonus points. A former Liberal energy and climate guru, Kelly is also a former small businessman, the sainted backbone of the nation. Amen. But a flawed saint.

Kelly, who appears in Kiwi court documents as a listed director of DVK International – and, therefore, liable for $4 million, his family furniture sales business owed staff and creditors when it went bankrupt. Luckily, it’s all a mistake as Kelly says, because the constitution does not permit undischarged bankrupts to be MPs.

Moral bankruptcy doesn’t count. An increasingly unpopular, unscrupulous and devious Morrison omnishambles may spring a General Election upon unwary voters as early as October, or if not, Australia Day, as MPs peddle their Crosby Textor stable of spin-doctors’ myth of an heroic PM standing up for our freedom, against a gang of bolshie lockdown state premiers, especially the Labor traitors.

Premiers and Chief Ministers just don’t get that a National Agreement exists just because Morrison says it does. Nor do they understand that we’ve got to learn to live with Covid and not be bullied into lockdowns; ruining the economy. In Friday’s faux national cabinet, state leaders learn that the nation may well be able to increase intensive care beds by 944 places – but has staff to operate only 346, at best, reports Rick Morton in The Saturday Paper.

Together with the smell of political death, there is a desperation about the Morrison government as it gambles on being able to politicise the pandemic before victims of its own failure to provide enough vaccine or quarantine in time, to say nothing of its aged care failure confront it – before it is forced by the suffering it inflicts on a nation becomes too widespread even for this government to deny. Or evade. Or explain away, poorly with its straw men or its spurious statistics from pandemic deaths in other countries.

In the meantime, Josh and Scotty’s excellent adventure in the Lodge is a bromance or even a type of marriage of convenience which illustrates vividly the values of a government which has spent years refining its objective, which is simply to stay in power by whatever means available. Look after its donor class come what may.

Politicising the pandemic, however, is a risky business and the PM’s desperate gamble against time may backfire as his mind-numbing rhetoric of bumper-sticker slogans fails to gain traction amidst a nightmare world of real pain, fear, suffering and rampaging contagion, his inept, ill-prepared government for a rich and powerful corporate oligarchy by a rich, privileged and entirely self-centred elite, has unerringly helped bring about.

Above all, it’s hard to pose as the nation’s saviour when you’ve lied and backstabbed your way to power so openly that no-one in their right mind would ever trust you.

In the end, however, what will count the most against Morrison’s chances will be when CEOs realise that his government’s plan to end lockdown and let the pandemic rage will, in fact, end up costing them a lot of money. It has everywhere else in the world.

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Glad not happy; PM leaks against her as Delta goes viral.

“This is literally a war and we know we’ve been in a war for some time but never to this extent.” Gladys Berejiklian


“Stay calm. Delta is here.” Dazzling the entire nation with her gold standard sang-froid and petulant self-righteousness, a plucky Gladys Berejiklian, premier of The Premier State, claims to be at war with the deadly Delta variant of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus) – whilst heading a government which is in bed with the enemy; the fat cats, thin spivs, coffee bar-keepers, garden centres, Bunnings theme parks, IKEA, QANTAS and the “gaming” and liquor “industry” touts, who lead the NSW push to open for business. That’s even before you get to the ex-bankers running its Treasury.

Or Glad’s deputy, “Let ‘er rip” Dominic Perrottet, another fine young, aspiring, right wing chap is captured by private sector finance emigrants, warns AFR’s Joe Aston, who’ve “effortlessly colonised state government enterprises”. Treasury is run by Westpac alumnus Mike Pratt, a former deputy chairman of the troubled icare $60bn government workers’ compensation scheme. Former Macquarie banker, Michael Carapiet and NAB director Peeyush Gupta are part of his team.

Being at war for a Berejiklian-Barilaro government, looks and sounds more like unconditional surrender. Or a rout.

“We accept that Delta is here, we accept heading to zero across the nation, especially once you open up and live freely will be an impossible task,” the premier says with a Morrisonian Gish-gallop -baffling, if not infuriating to the novice. When Glad comes out each morning, talking up the jab-rate, she goes for a Phil Spectre wall of words, just like her mentor Scott Morrison. The trick is to ignore the verbiage and watch what she does.

Nothing.

Small wonder, then that the AFR has the premier as its April cover-girl and dubs Gladys The Woman Who Saved Australia, while Gladys fan-boy, Phil Coorey, mounts the curious argument in a follow up -that by her bungling, the ineffectual, Berejiklian liberates us from COVID-zero’s gilded cage; forces us all to enjoy what it’s like to live (or die) with the virus.

Delta infection rockets up in Gladys’ eight-week mock-down. Friday, 470 people are in hospital; 80 in intensive care. 27 on ventilators. Saturday, 825 new cases are reported. Another three people are dead. Between ten and thirty per cent of the NSW cases may go on to develop Long Covid, a poorly understood but chronic, debilitating illness.

A third of patients being admitted to hospital are aged 30 to 49. Nearly half of all hospitalisations involve patients 49 and under; those with the least access to vaccinations. Cue “This is not a race” – a Morrison government which refused to concede any need for urgency in order to hide its failure to seal a deal with Pfizer; to secure and supply enough vaccine, or to build dedicated quarantine facilities, is helping turn NSW into a disaster zone.

While Berejiklian’s “Delta is different” defence is logically unassailable, her response amounts to her confessing that she chose to bring a knife to a gun fight. Her minders just ignored Delta’s dawn overseas? Leading epidemiologist, Professor Mary-Louise McLaws, from the University of NSW, says Sydney’s escalating outbreak is driven by a rising trend of people who are infectious in the community. Australia’s been given ample warning of Delta in other countries. The government should have locked down Sydney much sooner, a view hotly contested by the Berejiklian team.

McLaws would like NSW Health to provide more detail and suggests that it’s likely to be essential workers causing much of the spread. Currently the term essential worker is so broadly defined that it offers little useful diagnostic data.

“What the government is not telling us, which they need to, is how many of those not in isolation were essential services workers who inadvertently acquired it at work and then took it home to their household and caused ‘x’ number of people in their households to be infected,” Professor McLaws says. She could also point to local examples.

Victoria’s short, sharp lockdowns succeed. Our media is on to this. They add them up. Even the ABC uses “Dan’s 200 days of lockdown” to divert from NSW’s debacle and to foster the pernicious myth that the Andrews’ Labor government in Victoria is the real villain of the pandemic, a theme embraced by Murdoch’s hacks. It’s part of the PM’s subterfuge that what is really at stake is our “freedom” – not his government’s duty of care to help keep us safe.

Gladys uses the word freedom freely while meeting later to rush through laws which restrict it. One source in her crisis cabinet tells The Guardian Australia’s Ann Davies,

“We make decisions there that would take 18 months under normal circumstances and would require legislation through parliament. We’re taking decisions that curtail people’s freedoms or pay out millions in an afternoon.”

It’s also the refrain of a federal government that defines itself by what it’s not and must ever attack its opponents, especially now its neoliberalism is exposed as a hoax. Or, like the PM and his deputy, all hat and no cattle. Tragically, however, the neoliberal yen for cutting public health and outsourcing to the private sector is taking its toll.

In just one week, NSW Covid-19 patients requiring ventilators will double and intensive care admissions will rise by 70 per cent, a paper marked “sensitive” leaked from Morrison’s gagged COAG, his supposedly top secret, “National Cabinet” Rick Morton reports. Just over half the state’s total staffed ICU beds – 444 of 863 beds – are already in use.

A continuation of the rise in patients, as predicted by Glady’s advisers, will stress a system that is already stretched, especially the state’s capacity to staff intensive care units, putting ICU patients of all types at risk, warns the paper.

We knew that vaccines could halt the spread of infection but the federal government failed to vaccinate younger people, our most socially mobile group. Instead, the Morrison roadmap put great stress on vaccinating the most vulnerable in its 1A and 1B phases of its five-then-four phase model, while failing to get enough vaccine in time to achieve even that. Morrison will, doubtless, blame ATAGI or “medical advisers” but his roadmap is fit only for lining the parrot-cage.

The phony war on Covid is over. Could it be curtains for the terminally conflicted premier’s chequered political career? Berejiklian has stared down a few big scandals, including her dalliance with debonair Daryl McGuire, her Wagga wannabe, a liaison she packaged as a “mistake in my personal life” when it may involve abuse of her public office.

Glad doesn’t want to be reminded of her mistakes. She fires up when ABC’s Paul Farrell raises the Clay Target shooting club in McGuire’s electorate which receives a $5.5m grant after a first application doesn’t quite hit the cost-benefit analysis target but, eighteen months later, succeeds with some help from her office, according to evidence at ICAC.

Crikey’s Bernard Keane sums up, A large grant of public money was given to a project which had clearly failed the test when conducted at arms’ length. The premier requested that the test be attempted again, and the evidence suggests she was taking particular interest in it. The test was passed, and the public money flowed, as the premier’s secret boyfriend had been seeking all along. Will Farrell now drop the potential, perceived conflict of interest? Unlikely.

In public life, Gladys has been unsinkable. Berejiklian and Brad Hazzard, her exquisitely named Health Minister, survive the 2020 Ruby Princess fiasco with its 662 Covid cases and 28 deaths,, despite Commissioner Bret Walker SC’s report of his Special Commission of Inquiry, that “…NSW state health department officials made ‘inexcusable’, ‘inexplicable’ and ‘serious mistakes’ in the Ruby Princess handling.” Doubtless, they’ll all have learned from their mistakes by now.

Walker makes few recommendations, but he does say that he shouldn’t have to tell Health to do its job properly.

More serious threats to Glady’s tenure come from her partner in criminal negligence, Scott Morrison, who knows that one of them is going to cop the blame for a corrupted Fed-State Liberal pandemic policy dictated by the top end of town that helps infect not only the rest of Australia but our trans-Tasman dormitory suburbs of Auckland and Wellington.

The fix is in, however, as his office continues to background against the premier, the PM elevates the status of the state premier’s agreement to the Doherty Report or to what Morrison pretends the report says. Friday he proclaims it’s an agreement with the Australian people that states open up on 70-80 per cent vaccination. We’ll get there by December.

Frydenberg steps up to threaten premiers. Don’t expect government funds if you aren’t all open by Christmas.

But that’s assuming that there are enough doses of vaccine available – and Doherty makes no hard and fast prediction. It is a nuanced prediction based on there being only a few cases of infection in the community. Several premiers point this out. Other experts query the percentages. 20 or 30 per cent unvaccinated is way too high with Delta, they say. Look at Israel. Israel is not the only source of data suggesting that current vaccines may need boosters or are less effective against “variants of interest” of which Delta is but one example.

“Two doses of Pfizer-BioNTech have greater initial effectiveness against new COVID-19 infections, but this declines faster compared with two doses of Oxford-AstraZeneca,” researchers at Oxford University report. The decline period is a few months. Yet so much of the government discourse in Australia implies two doses confer lasting immunity.

Allied to this disinformation is the mantra of vaccinating being the way out for Sydney. And blaming those slow to come forward for their jabs as recalcitrant misreads the reality. Kiwi migrant workers, for example, are one of many groups in Western Sydney’s precariat whose members may not even qualify for a Medicare card.

Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud, or long white shroud, in Kiwi satirist Peter Harcourt’s 1959 classic album, New Zealand, is the country of origin of an Australian resident population of at least 600,000, over a third of whom are some of our most vulnerable workers in a pandemic being unable to access any form of welfare.

Along with residents are the many classes of visa holder which are similarly abandoned in a lockdown. Include Sydney’s share of the 60,000 who have overstayed or are “undocumented” and the government’s police and ADF show of force is both ill-conceived and counter productive. But it may play into the politics of Morrison’s tired, tough-on-borders rhetoric.

Being in a war, of course, is not the same as being at war, as Glad’s Clayton’s lockdown parody reveals, yet she bangs on about NSW being under the harshest restrictions in Australia, when any Victorian could tell her it isn’t.

“We’re doing everything we can, we’re throwing everything at this … It is time for all of us to bunker down and take this as seriously as we can,” she lies, Friday, in yet another of her fact-free, Trump stump pressers – bulked up with bumper sticker slogans, platitudes and lies – before she snubs a reporter who asks about indigenous peoples at risk. In vain, she tries to evade reporters’ questions suggesting that she delayed imposing stricter lockdown measures.

Hiding behind the skirt of your Chief Health Officer or the cap, braid and epaulettes of your Police Commissioner does nothing for your public image. Yet it’s clear evidence of the desperation that results from poor planning.

Gladys Berejiklian is at war on many fronts, none of which feature her as a Xena Warrior Princess. Remotely.

The war talk evokes her own guerrilla campaign for political survival. And her war on the truth. Before the week is out, Glad the Liberator is spruiking “exciting opportunities” and promising freedoms in a frenetic turd polishing of her own failure to run a timely, proper lockdown. Or a successful presser – as opposed to a bragging and gaslighting bull-session, which includes her lying about her own fatal errors, while imploring everybody else to do the right thing. Because it’s all their fault. Never her own colossal stuff-up.

Never a hint of her own ineptitude – eight weeks wasted as she feebly tries a velvet fist in a velvet glove approach, that she hoped would win the hearts and wallets of her party donors, while posing as a sweet and reasonable consensus authoritarian. At Friday’s presser, journalists probe her dithering and deadly time-wasting. One flourishes a list.

‘This is the list of things we could do earlier, so why is the question, why didn’t we do it earlier?’

It’s a list she received only last night, she cries, begging her top cop and doctor to back her up before scuttling into the wings. In fact, Gladys is as tough as teak. Indecisive? Sure. Ineffectual? Only when it comes to policy. In clinging to power, she’s a black belt. “Excuse me, it’s not your press conference,” she tells Sky News’ Andrew Clennell when he asks how many days it will take to impose a real lockdown. Does anyone expect this premier to be held to account?

Or set some coherent rules. Say something that makes sense. Instead, we get vacuous, patronising entreaties and beseeching to be good boys and girls because our governess will reward us. Bizarrely, she can’t say how. Like National Cabinet proceedings, until Rex Patrick’s challenge this week in the AAT, it’s classified confidential.

“NSW is up to 5.5m jabs. When we get to 6m jabs, those that are vaccinated will have the opportunity to do something that they can’t do now,”

Glad channels Mary Poppins, about to get her children to laugh so hard they fill with their own laughing gas and float up to the parlour ceiling. Her promised secret reward is in itself laughable.

There’s very little Sydney-siders haven’t done already, judging by scenes of a crowded Bondi and unmasked Passeggiata in busy streets. Saturday brings reports of open defiance from Western Sydney, framed helpfully in Chairman Peter Costello’s Sydney Morning Herald, which increasingly runs a pro-Morrison line. Saturday’s paper makes short work of scapegoating those who have to go to work to pay the rent, keep the power on and buy the groceries.

“Young men in south-west Sydney who are refusing to heed lockdown laws have sparked the NSW government’s about-face on harsher restrictions, which Premier Gladys Berejiklian says is the state’s last stand against the Delta outbreak”. Just in case anyone was in any doubt who to blame for Sydney’s stricter lockdown. Strict? The Berejiklian government just got around to mandating mask-wearing in public, this Friday. But not for exercise.

Of course, things have tightened up, hugely, since the phony war of the first few weeks of her Clayton’s lockdown. Helping tremendously, “Can I just ask everybody to care…” is Gladys’ outsourcing of her own responsibility.

Gladys deserves gold for her Olympic spin; a desperate pivot to necessity as she touts her state’s rising vaccination rates Thursday, (because they are increasing) and for her industrial-strength gaslighting lie that her government’s catastrophic failure to contain the pandemic is, in fact, cutting-edge – the best in Australia, if not a world-beating exemplar of “learning to live with COVID”, (because you’ve utterly failed to contain it). Morrison parrots the same phrase.

Gladys is upbeat about how she and her PM have engineered what Crikey’s Bernard Keane and Glen Dyer term the greatest public policy failure since the Iraq and Afghan wars – but it’s worse than that. The NSW Premier, with the assistance of the Morrison government, has contrived to turn a public health crisis into a catastrophe.

“What I am absolutely convinced about is that NSW can lead the way,” she claims. “If we keep people out of hospital, we keep people out of intensive care, we stop people dying, that means we are starting to live with COVID.”

Lead the way? There is little sign of anything but catastrophic failure in each of her three conditions.

Glad follows her former number one fan-boy, turned arch nemesis, the spineless, Scott-forgot-to-buy-the vaccine-Morrison, as she confuses the need to do something with a cue to declare war on the poor workers of Western Sydney, a bellicose rhetorical flourish, she hopes will make her sound like a leader. A woman with a plan.

Joining Gladys in The Joy Of War chorus is alleged war criminal, John Winston “babies overboard” Howard, another foghorn of moral authority, with a compassion bypass. Despite a deathless role in public life that is a bit like the ABC’s over reliance on repeats of Grand Designs, JWH is yet to enter the lists of the insightful or original thinkers, let alone the interesting, yet he’s ever-ready to add his thin, adenoidal descant to Morrison’s lie that our Afghan defeat was worth fighting.

Readers will recall that the lying rodent”, as gorgeous, George Brandis called his then PM, misled parliament 18 March 2003 that he had legal opinion that made our illegal invasion of Iraq not only lawful, but a moral imperative.

Since then over 9 million Iraqis have been displaced either internally, or forced to seek refuge in other countries. Many of those who came to us in boats; (Howard helped persuade us were “illegal immigrants”, another fiction,) – still remain in indefinite detention.

Legal, no doubt, were weapons which used depleted uranium, a substance which is still, today, causing birth deformities in Iraqi babies born near Tallil airbase, site of the US-led military “coalition of the willing”. Almost as cruel is the legacy of Islamophobia played upon by Morrison’s rival, Peter Dutton, who is in no rush to rescue Afghan interpreters because they may be terrorists; members of Al Qaeda or Taliban.

It’s a toxic dog-whistle which can only add to the hardship faced by migrant workers struggling to survive the pandemic in Western Sydney, or elsewhere in Australia. Yet the NSW Premier cranks up her scapegoating and victim-blaming.

Gladys takes a leaf out of our PM’s playbook, while Police Commissioner Mick Hillsong Fuller muscles in on her patch, calling in the troops he hopes will make him look good, as he further white-ants Gladys’ hopelessly undermined premiership. Mick auditions for Liberal pre-selection as Sydney’s super-hero, while the mutant variant goes viral.

In NSW’s production of the Premier Prima donna, Morrison’s former Golden girl, the ineffectual, Gladys Berejiklian declares war on Delta and on Western Sydney – together with any hack who disrespects her – in any presser, surprising many, including the PM’s Office fixers, who make her life hell by beavering away; “backgrounding”, a gutless type of backstabbing by dripping poison into the well-pricked ears of select media hacks in the Canberra gallery.

The toxic drops just don’t stop. Constant undermining, the Premier’s office screams, Sunday, in an internal brawl with key ministers. Mick Fuller, meanwhile, who is commended in earlier despatches as the Morrison family’s loyal bin-retriever, morphs into a State Emergency Operations Controller, Obergruppenführer with seven hundred soldiers to help his ten thousand cops kick a few heads in Western Sydney. They’ll make life hell for the “non-compliant”.

Rome wasn’t sacked in a day. Sydney’s decline has been unwinding since 1856, when the Emerald City was but a pup, begat in one thrust by an upright Colonial secretary, honest Edward Deas Thomson by the bestowal of power upon a democratically-elected parliament and premier. The rot set in immediately.

To local conservatives, notes historian John Hirst,

“it appeared as if the government had been debased into a giant system of corruption with needy ministers and members bound together by their joint interest in plunder.”

Little has changed. If anything, corruption is more overt in a government where a Premier can survive a Daryl McGuire, an enterprising, close personal friend, who admits pocketing thousands of dollars in a dodgy visa scam; using his office for private business gain, even using lounges in the premier’s office suite to stage a $350 million land deal. But it’s no biggie, Glad tells Sydney radio – just a poor choice in men, or as gallant Malcolm Turnbull, author of the Bonk Ban in Federal Parliament and an insufferable know-all, “she fell in love with the wrong guy”.

These things happen in Australia says Scott Morrison. People do things and then they regret them.”

Its not just that its soft, rotten, heritage underbelly of rorts and dodgy deals may be normalised by a pork-barrel Premier, who shrugs off corruption as “just politics” – but The Emerald City’s dependence upon the top end of town and its business-class oligarchy has left it politically impotent. Now as the pandemic rages, a state government stalls and a premier dithers while her PM stitches her up.

Scott told Glad to lockdown heaps earlier, The Daily Telegraph dobs. But would she listen? Incredibly, at that very moment, The Sydney Morning Herald also reports “an anonymous source in the PM’s office” briefing, exactly the same thing to one of their hacks. Deidre Chambers, what a coincidence!

Glad is not happy. The worm has turned; Glad’s fling with National Cabinet’s Fat Controller, is going the way of the laptop and phone that Dazza McGuire ran over with his tractor. In this case, however, Scott Morrison’s desperate to push Glad under a bus before she drags him under with her, a fate, Niki Savva believes he can’t escape.

Hill Singer and Liberal political aspirant, Police Commissioner Fuller cranks up the militarisation of the Sydney Shitshow™; ordering up ever more mission creep, highly trained, culturally sensitive troops in camo to fix up morale of Western Sydney’s working poor. Boosting numbers to nigh a thousand lads and lasses winning hearts and minds by daily door-knocking, roll-calls and generally enforcing compliance. Choppers fly overhead. Meanwhile there’s a mad scramble for vaccine, as the AFR puts it delicately.

It’s all the vision of the PM, who first showed a fetish for uniform back in his time as border enforcer, when he militarised compassion and helped our nation rat on the refugee convention, according to a plan drawn up by Jim Molan, the butcher of Fallujah, in which asylum seekers became illegals and we cheerily put them into indefinite detention, which the UN told Tony Abbott is a form of torture, only to be told by the suppository of all wisdom to butt out.

If the thrill of seeing our army lads and lasses out on the streets at all hours ensuring everyone does as they are told is not enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, Morrison government’s technology investment roadmap turns out to be a love note to the fossil fuel gang, a multinational corporate mafia who play us for suckers while we give them ten billion dollars a year in subsidies, a favour returned in donations to a Coalition of mutual self-interest which has long lost its base.

“This is all about balance” cries Angus Taylor while his PM, ScoMo, channels Mandrake the Magician’s rapid hypnotic technique helped by the jungle drumbeat of the Murdoch media, Morrison and Taylor.

Not helping Scott Morrison’s distress is news that contrary to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s insistence, a ruling by Justice Richard White in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) confirms that all working documents for the meetings of federal, state and territory leaders are accessible under freedom of information law.

Karen Middleton reports in The Saturday Paper that the PM could be in strife with his fetish for secrecy. The AAT ruling may scupper the device Morrison uses to extend federal cabinet’s secrecy provisions … the cabinet office policy committee, or COPC. Since he invented it in 2019, Scotty uses this committee, of which he is the only permanent member, to claim cabinet confidentiality extends over anything he wants shielded from public view. If it sounds far-fetched, if not patently absurd, it probably is, but there’s no denying the PM’s zeal to keep everything under wraps.

Without dipping into the late, unlamented, Donald Rumsfeld’s known unknowns, it’s certain that none of this will turn out well for Gladys or for her former fanboy Morrison. Numbers will continue to soar in NSW because contact tracing is now impossible due to sheer numbers of COVID infections. Vaccine supplies are not assured for those most at risk – and for those most mobile, the younger victims now showing up in statistics, despite whatever the PM may announce.

It may be too cynical to say that the failure of COVID-zero was contrived to force the “learn to live with it” option – the Boris Johnson con over the Dan Andrews’ strategy. But, as Mick Young said, whenever the choice is between a conspiracy and a stuff-up, go with the stuff-up every time. Expect numbers of cases to soar in NSW because even its tough new measures are too little too late. Expect Berejiklian to run up the white flag and declare an easing of restrictions as soon as she can. The results will be horrendous. Expect her PM to continue his undermining until Gladys resigns.

Enter her deputy, Dominic Perrottet, who’s always quietly advocated letting her rip, to be Morrison’s new gold standard, golden-haired boy.

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Bronte Python’s Flying Circus and the mystery of Morrison’s moving vaccination goalposts.

“If they open up at 50 per cent, that would be insane. Even at 70 per cent they are going to have to be massively careful.” Professor Peter Doherty


Hoots and jeers break out from socially distanced Coalition MPs, with some zooming in from home lockdown as a depleted, motley, crew, who by chance and a good deal of Clive Palmer’s money, find themselves in government if not in power, continuing to show scant respect for Parliament, the people or the truth, as the clock ticks down on Team Morrison’s weakening grip on power, given its criminal neglect of its duty of care and its betrayal of the people’s trust; both brought dramatically into focus by the virulent, fast-spreading, Delta variant of SARS-Covid-19. And now the sixth IPCC panel report.

Not only is the rollout a race, the virus is winning. And we still don’t have nearly enough vaccine. Morrison lies to cover up how badly he and his team botched vax supply and distribution. Health Minister Hunt huffs and puffs on ABC Insiders, Sunday.

Tells us how lucky we are that we’re not Indonesia or India or Mexico – and how fabulously well we are by comparison and to deny there was any Pfizer deal.

But a deal was underway. The crisis in vaccine supply is entirely the Morrison government’s responsibility. We have Norman Swan’s word for it, supported albeit, by anonymous sources and by the Victorian government.

“From Pfizer’s perspective, I have been told they think there’s nothing in it for them to sour their commercial relationship with the government by getting caught up in a political row,” Swan says.

Despite a concerted coverup, a deal was aborted by Morrison, who insulted the giant multinational corporation’s head in sending a junior bureaucrat to negotiate; who then tried to haggle over the price and intellectual property rights. Hunt does himself and his government no favours in trying to fix the record with a semantic quibble. If all had gone to plan, why did Australia get so much less out of Pfizer than other countries?

The UK agreed to purchase 30 million Pfizer doses on July 20, the US followed with a deal for 100 million on July 22. Japan signed for 120 million doses on July 31, and Canada made its first agreement with Pfizer for 20 million doses on August 5, reports Rachel Clun, federal political reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.

James Merlino is unequivocal. “There is no doubt at all. Meetings occurred. Negotiations occurred,” says the Victorian Deputy Premier. “The deal was not sealed, whereas other nations aggressively pursued Pfizer and got the vaccines that they needed for their community. We did not.”

Responding to climate change and global heating is also a race. Denialists hold sway in the federal government but it is our responsibility as global citizens to reduce our carbon emissions and to cease pretending that in exporting coal we’re not big polluters.

Just as Howard got Robert Hill to scam future generations with our dodgy Kyoto credits in 1998, an agreement his government didn’t deign to sign, the Coalition’s climate change canards are coming home to roost, Other countries will soon charge us a carbon tax on our exports. We are already the climate pariahs of our Pacific neighbourhood. And beyond. To say nothing of the legacy we leave our children.

Digging in, Tuesday, our coal lobby puppet-PM refuses to set a goal of net zero by 2050 because he’s scared he’ll be rolled by Dutton or what Barnaby and the boys might think, after an international “code red” warning is issued by global leaders. The least worst scenario is that urgent, concerted action between now and 2030 in doing everything we can to curb emissions will see a 1.5 degree rise which will go higher but then settle slightly below. The consequences of the least worst case will be felt for millennia.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases the first instalment of its landmark Sixth Assessment Report (1). It’s the most comprehensive and authoritative overview of the physical science of climate change to date. The scale and pace with which humans are altering their environment is unprecedented, certainly in the last two thousand years, it reports. It’s accelerating, every fraction of a degree matters and we must do everything we can to lower emissions.

Forget the Canberra Press Club bubble nonsense of moving towards zero in 2050 as being in any sense a commendable commitment, the line the PMO is spinning, the report shows that the globe will warm by 1.5 degrees well before the end of 2040

Yet Morrison is not moved. He sets up a straw man, the lie that we don’t know what we are signing up to, if we commit to emission reduction targets. The other lie is that such targets cost people jobs – when the alternative is neither jobs nor planet – and when jobs may be created in renewable energy – if the government had another set of donors.

“I won’t be signing a blank cheque on, on behalf of Australians to targets with no plans,” Morrison says. (It didn’t hold the Coalition back from giving $440 million to its Great Barrier Reef Foundation boondogglers) – which the auditor general found had almost no useful detail in its plans at all apart from vaguely aiming at:

improved management of the Great Barrier Reef” and “management of key threats to the Great Barrier Reef.”

How good is having no targets? Instead, Morrison’s minders have got him to add as much of the word “Australia” he possibly can into every word salad. It’s cheapjack nationalism, he’s whipping up, a narrow and potentially dangerous brew which is based on the lie that there is somehow only one Australia.

But you can’t have an aim or a target if you don’t really believe climate change is real.

“It’s really important that this government actually resolves its internal issues and starts acting with intent in relation to action on climate change,” Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles says, urging the government to commit to a net zero target by 2050.

“To have the government party room full of a whole lot of people who are essentially denying the science of climate change in 2021, is genuinely unbelievable.”

What is also unbelievable is the Abbott-like determination to oppose everything Labor proposes. In full mock outrage mode, the PM squawks like a cornered galah, when Labor proposes a $300 incentive to encourage the eighty percent of the nation who remain unvaccinated, to get a jab. Perhaps Albo is winding ScoMo up. It works.

Outside, the virus rages out of control in NSW, fanned by the state’s Clayton’s lockdown, a lack of vaccine and an underclass of essential workers who cannot afford to take a day off, let alone a month or two of lockdown. The state has a record 356 cases by Tuesday and now six deaths, but gas-lighter-Hunt, on ABC Insiders, praises the job the premier has done in containing infection.

It’s a refrain which fails to distract from Ms Berejiklian’s affair with the-tractor-ate-my laptop, disgraced former man bag and bag man, Daryl McGuire, as ABC 7:30 Report has documents linking the then treasurer with the grant of a tidy five and a half million dollars to a shooting club in McGuire’s electorate. 7:30’s Paul Farrell is rebuffed by the Premier, Tuesday morning on the grounds that his questions are disrespectful.

“I refer you to my previous answer and please respect this press conference.”

Everyone knows what a bastard the truth can be; so it’s heart-warming to hear Gladys evading a question which goes to the heart of her integrity and credibility on the grounds of respect for what is, at best, a disastrous PR exercise.

How good is Covid Shield in protecting an unwary Premier from a matter she’d prefer kept off the record? If the NSW Premier keeps this up, she’ll be upstaging the Morrison government, the most secretive in our political history.

Given that the gun club grant is reassessed after she directly intervenes, when the original submission fails a cost-benefit analysis, a problem which never worries the PM with his sports rorts and his pork ‘n ride car parks, it would seem Gladys’ dismissal of the question shows her disrespect for the public; a shying away from her responsibility to act accountably with public funds.

But it’s no big deal, just a conflict of interest that would have the Newscorp pack howling had she been a Labor premier. Besides, she’s a minnow compared to the PMO with its colour-coded spreadsheet apportioning of the notorious sports rorts. And the sports rorts pale by comparison with Morrison’s $660 million carpark pork-‘n ride scandal.

Morrison appeals to national pride. It’s every Australian’s patriotic duty to comply with a corrupt, double-dealing state government, insanely keen to re-open at the end of August. NSW’s Delta variant now reaches Tasmania, while infection spreads in Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. Learn to live with it, he says. In the meantime, there’ll be a zillion doses of vax arriving next month or next year – and we’ve just got our hands on some Moderna, a vaccine which other countries procured months ago.

We’re “hitting our marks”, Morrison lies. Not only do those marks change daily, Greg Hunt, our lame duck Health Minister quacks that “so far” fewer than 57% of residential aged care workers have had their first vaccination dose. Group 1A is of course, the Bronte Python’s Flying Circus’ highest priority group. No mention is made of personal carers who make door to door home visits. They’ve been left out of the plan.

(Python here has a less familiar meaning: a person who is possessed by a spirit and prophesies by its aid.)

“This plan is a bubble without a thought,” sneers Moriarty Morrison, troubled by Labor’s $300 carrot. (Baker Street fans will know Moriarty, a sadistic, psychopath who shows fiendish cunning, grandiosity, incapacity for remorse, arrogance, and overweening self-confidence. Machiavellian, Moriarty commits no crimes directly, but shrewdly uses his networks to get others to carry out his dirty deeds for him.)

Naturally, Moriarty’s character traits are found also in other colleagues but he is the archetype of our post truth, post modern, PM. Just add a dose of raging mythomania and a mentor who runs a megachurch, or a multinational corporation, selling its flock a prosperity theology; God loves you if you’re rich, Moriarty.

It pays to belong to Hillsong. Being granted riches is part its gospel. Serve him well and ye shall receive material wealth. Morrison’s mentor, Brian Houston, whom the police are charging with concealing his father’s alleged child sexual abuse, has written a book about the subject. You Need More Money: Discovering God’s Amazing Financial Plan for Your Life. Yet Morrison baulks at paying punters to get the jab.

It’s out of the question, he barks. First and foremost, the government doesn’t have nearly enough vaccine to want to boost demand. Secondly, it’s really not a race. Suppliers won’t be hurried and the government has changed its tune from suppressing the virus to “learning to live with it” – or die as the case may be.

And there will be a lot of deaths to live with even the vague 70-80 per cent vaccination rate that our Prime Weasel is now making noises about. Up to two thousand in six months. Third, it’s a good idea- even if it is heresy to true believers; Albanese is turning his back on the Labor ethos, to Guy Rundle’s disgust; putting the cash nexus above solidarity forever. Cue ancient, false analogies, comparing Covid with the flu.

It’s all on ATAGI or Doherty advice of course, which is another conundrum the government loves. When it suits its case, the Morrison government would have us believe it is like putty in the hands of expert bodies. Yes sir. No sir. Three bags full sir. At other times, the PM boasts without spelling it out, of bullying ATAGI into line.

“And doing it for the CASH, this is not what would motivate an Australian.” Morrison goes off like a frog in a sock. Or “like a dropped scrabble-box”, tweets Labor’s Graham Perrett, as the PM leaps to his feet, this week, to “Holgate” a Labor proposal; denouncing Albo’s $300 offer to entice us to get vaccinated.

“A vote of no confidence” in the Australian people, bellows the PM, whose government is prepared to splurge on carparks in the air, (only two were ever built); $660m handpicked by the government on advice of its MPs and candidates; “sports rorts on steroids” says Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Andrew Giles, all to buy votes in marginal electorates – 77% of the car parks were in Coalition-held electorates. 10% were in six non-Coalition held electorates after a word with candidates.

It’s a bit rich for a government of spivs, shonks and expense account rorters to pretend that it’s un-Australian to do it for the cash. Especially, given the government’s entire flat-tax proposal is engineered to buy votes and reward its pals. And the wannabes. Whilst it chiefly benefits its fat cat pals, earning over $200,000, other lower-paid workers are enticed by the delusion that, one day they, too, could be big earners.

As for doing it for the cash, Morrison’s government condoned Job-Keeper rorts by thriving firms, such as Harvey Norman, a franchise operation which supplies stock on credit at a rate that would shame a pay-day lender. Clearly not satisfied with its windfall, Hardly Normal seeks to freeze retail wages via the National Retail Association.

It didn’t need $20.6 million. Gerry Harvey, himself, netted $70 million in dividends. As for Un-Australian, thousands of millionaires claimed JobSeeker unemployment pensions from Centrelink when the assets test was temporarily lifted for six months in 2020.

Guardian Australia reports in July that Wesley College, a fabulously well endowed, elite Melbourne school for the privileged, offered fee discounts of 20% last year after banking $20m in JobKeeper payments.

As this generosity is extended, however, with no expectation that fat cats who never needed JobKeeper have to refund their windfall, the federal government demands that unless 11,771 poor Centrelink clients pay back any overpayment, they will be slugged with an interest fee.

“As at 30 April 2021, approximately $32.8m in debt has been raised through completed reviews,” the agency tells Greens senator Rachel Siewert.

“This is not a game show,” harrumphs a PM whose government evolved from The Price is Right, or the AWB wheat for oil scandal, exposed in The Cole Inquiry of 2006, in which we paid Saddam Hussein’s government $300 million in bribes in violation of UN Sanctions. Alexander Downer endorsed the wheat exporter. In true game show spirit, the Coalition sprung a $40 million door prize on Rupert Murdoch so that Fox could do a bit more on women’s sport or something – no strings attached. No questions asked. Gave money to polluters to plant trees they would have planted anyway.

Morrison’s manufactured outburst is a sure sign that the government has, itself, canvassed jab incentive payments. Just as it’s likely to be embarrassed by any increase in demand for vaccines which it has contrived to under-supply. As for material reward, it’s certainly talking to TABCORP about a lottery open only to those who’ve had a jab and booster.

Running Operation Covid Shield is Lieutenant-General JJ Frewen, whose uniform adds an illusion of authority and authority to Morrison’s ShitShow™. JJ’s candid about cash incentives being on the table, just as he does not hold back in his public attack on Gladys Berejiklian the week before when she asks for more. Vaccine, that is.

Of course we’re kept in the dark as to whether he’s in charge or just another Morrison stooge; firing the PM’s bullets. Either way, his rebuke of a state premier is way out of line. Under any other Prime Minister, it would lead to his resignation.

The incident passes without mention because it is reported by Rick Morton of The Saturday Paper and later commented upon by The New Daily’s Bruce Pascoe.

“The most extraordinary newspaper story over the weekend disappeared with little trace, swamped by broader, more immediate COVID issues, the Olympics and journalism’s frequent failure to follow up another paper’s exclusive – the “not invented here” syndrome.” Pascoe writes.

Most of us are prevented from learning that an unelected official fires a broadside at a State Premier and that this is condoned by the PM who speaks after the Lieutenant General, of Operation Khaki Creep as The Australia Institute’s Allan Behm puts it.

Naturally, Morrison would be looking at gambling, gimmicks, tricks and spot prizes, perhaps even a getaway to Hawaii, if and when it ever re-opens. It is his stock in trade. His failure to lead in a pandemic is now a running sore even with rusted-on Tory supporters, such as Denis Shanahan, economics editor at, The Australian.

It’s also on the nose in Newspoll’s online survey, published Monday, which continues to show the Coalition’s downward trend in all other recent opinion polls. And the PM’s.

“Scotty’s incessant jawboning, self-promoting and self-applause – “don’t just do it, talk about it” is alarming. His personal approval rating, whatever that means, is negative, whilst not yet the -16 percentage points of his Tory mentor, Boris Johnson.

The Morrison misgovernment and its Covid Shit-Show™, as Bill Shorten dubs it, are now as unpopular as in the Black Summer fires – largely over its capacity to turn crisis into catastrophe; its scandalous ineptitude in every aspect of its pandemic response from supply to distribution to quarantine. Yet there’s no chance of a bipartisan approach to promote vaccination.

For Morrison, the promise of incentives is merely another chance to be hyper partisan, the doom loop of mutual mistrust which has severely corroded democracy in the US and in the UK, as parties and their voters retreat into tribal epistemologies, an increasingly incompatible set of facts, alternative facts and first principles – except that Labor has dropped its opposition to the Coalition’s plans to give a third bracket of tax cuts to the rich – to present a small target. But the government’s intent on giving in to the business class’s demands to open up shop, come hell or high fever, however it dissembles – and especially in its theatrical faux deference to the best medical advice and its fetish for acronyms such as ATAGI and TGA.

In The Mystery of the Miraculous Moving goalposts, the latest ripping yarn from our Prime Mini-serialist, Morrison, part of his prolific Roads to Nowhere series, a 75 per cent vaccination rate – suddenly drops to 56. Risky, irresponsible and out of step with overseas experience and local expertise, his roadmap out of Covid takes us down a one-way, dead-end street, at speed with no brakes, no-one at the wheel and the lights out.

Meanwhile, a virus spreads out of control in NSW into Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, largely because the Morrison government botched its deal with Pfizer, underestimated the time it would take to produce sufficient quantities of AstraZeneca – and failed to set up an effective vaccination programme or quarantine system. Its lukewarm effort, its failure to secure vaccine and its insistence this is not a race, suggest more than ineptitude at play.

Remember, before his last-minute pivot, Morrison was, like Boris Johnson, happy to let ‘er rip. Above all, hovers the hypocrisy of a PM of handbrake turns; it was Pivot Morrison and his claque of ministers who urged open borders and railed against lockdowns, an idea, writes SMH’s economics editor, Ross Gittins,

“… eagerly pursued by the business lobbies and business’ media cheer squad. In his efforts to score points off Andrews, no one worked harder than Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to propagate the mythology that only Labor premiers were so dictatorial and disregarding of business wellbeing as to lockdown and close state borders at the first sneeze, whereas Liberal premiers knew how to get results with superior testing and contact tracing.”

Mystery is ghost written for the PM by his right hand man, John Kunkel, the PM’s Principal Private Secretary and his left hand man, former Crosby Textor CEO, Yaron “The Fixer” Finkelstein. There’s a bit of input from the Group, an assorted baker’s dozen of brown-nosed MPs, (Hunt’s in there), the odd hard-nosed miner, department head, past and present along with a clutch of big business and big banking bovver boys.

Mystery is about our path to a normal that doesn’t exist, as Pacific leaders remind Australia’s PM, who appears on Zoom, ripping into a slice of toast like a famished Mako shark at the Pacific Island forum leaders, 51st Meeting. It’s a confronting image of neo-colonial rapacity and Australia’s Pacific Aid.

The toast doesn’t stand a chance.

Incredibly, leaders are offended by vision of Morrison Zooming while on the tooth – not just because many Pasifika peoples consider it impolite to guts yourself while someone else is talking to you – especially the leader of Tuvalu – but because it’s clear that Morrison doesn’t give a toss about climate change; an existential threat to Islanders ahead of the rest of us. There’s also more than a hint of white privilege.

Minders are meant to make sure that the PM doesn’t disgrace himself in public. Do everything but eat his toast for him, Kunkel and Finkelstein are the masterminds behind the chaos, catastrophe and corruption of Scott Morrison’s Gaslight Orchestra but can reasonably disavow all responsibility for the PM’s “learn to live with it” speech last Friday.

Morrison confuses everyone, partly because what he says bears scant resemblance to the Doherty Report, on which it is based and partly because it just doesn’t make sense.

There is no normal after this pandemic, Rick Morton points out in The Saturday Paper.

The figures don’t provide for it mostly because they can’t.”

Cue the spin doctors. No-one knows Morrison’s pet-name for his minders, Fink ‘n Kunk? “Funk” has a ring about it given the desperation in the office these days with the PM’s perceived pandemic management plummeting, as it frets over a slew of bad opinion polls; Morrison’s negative popularity and the Coalition’s fading electoral prospects.

Friday, the PM makes another palaver about a Pandemic Exit Plan an “updated four-phase road map” that, in fact, has only two phases – only gets us six months down the track and contains absolutely nothing about the thousands a week likely to die once we “ease” restriction. As if that matters. Even 70 per cent means 2000 deaths over six months.

There’s nothing you can’t achieve if you lower your goals – as you see in a suite of federal policies from energy to environment to elder abuse and neglect in “aged-care facilities” locked down in profit-driven private prisons, staffed by underpaid, overworked casuals who are forced to share their services or COVID across several institutions.

And you can fox clever. Friday, our wily PM slyly mis-reports The Doherty Report as way out of our Delta blues. If we have three quarters of any one Australian state vaccinated and provided the Australian nation meets the same goal, lockdown will be lifted and we can go back to our Australian lives of blissful, contented fulfilment. Bingo. Feet up. Name your poison.

Gladys Berejiklian’s clearly smoking something. Several days in a row she’s been talking up a fifty per cent vaccination rate allowing restrictions to be lifted in most places. Kerry Chant’s on record Tuesday saying this would not be a good idea. Boris Johnson’s adopted the hands-free-let-‘er-rip approach to steering Little Britain through the UK’s Covid crises, driven by the latest headlines. My, it’s been a tremendous success.

For the virus, that is. Modelling suggests that the central case for UK daily hospitalisations at the peak of the third wave – expected at the end of August – could be between 1,000 and 2,000, with deaths predicted to be between 100 and 200 per day.

Last Friday sees the fiftieth “National Cabinet” another of Morrison’s fantasies, according to a recent verdict of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, explaining that it’s not an extension of cabinet; which means he can’t claim confidentiality. It’s a pity because, for a while it seemed such a neat way to get the premiers to do all the work while the federal government took the credit. It’s not working the way it should.

Now it’s Australian to do whatever the PM suggests. Australian content in the PM’s Shouty-McShoutface-oratory has been absurdly increased lately; but if patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, his first refuge is the barefaced lie. Scott Morrison’s no ordinary mythomaniac, however, nor pathological liar, he actually believes that because he’s said a thing, then it is true – not only true and incontrovertible but a precedent.

Strap yourself in, Australia. It’s going to be a wild Australian freedom ride.

“So, last Friday I announced Australia’s plan to live with the virus. I announced the whole country’s plan to get us back to that position where we can ultimately live with this virus, in the same way that we live with other infectious diseases that are present in the community, and we can get on with our lives.”

Aussie Morrison wraps himself in the flag and kids us it’s Australia’s plan, when in fact it’s a federal rather than a national plan. More specifically, it’s his government’s bid to appease Liberal Party donors who care more about their profits than our health. If it’s a plan at all, given that it’s not compulsory and there’s no timeline. No way known to man of calculating when we enter the last two phases.

Could be a few thousand dead each month, says Doherty, but, Morrison has been told, we’ve got to learn to live with the virus.

Or not as the case may be. The plan is a marvel of lucidity, cogency and futility.

“Phases [are] triggered in a jurisdiction when the average vaccination rates across the nation have reached the threshold and that rate is achieved in a jurisdiction expressed as a percentage of the eligible population (16+)…”

But if a crap vaccination state is stuck on fifty, the rest of the nation can still party on. (Lift your game NSW) but that’s the joy of federation, the rest of us need not hold back. And won’t. Given the state’s track record of infecting the rest of the nation – surely, it’ll be the other way round. Other countries, such as the US warn of the danger of localised pockets of pandemic, typically where anti-vaxxers are active.

Big business and high finance will be over the moon, however. A baker’s dozen strong, Morrison’s Group, a cabal of MPs, corporate heads, merchant bankers, civil servants, past and present, seem bent on an October election. Former Crosby Textor CEO, Finkelstein has mapped out the narrative.

Behold! Morrison, a deeply spiritual, otherworldly, almost saintly being, whose religion is everything to him, according to recent PMO press and emetic puff pieces, is now reborn, remade and with added hair plugs.

Let ‘er rip. Stop all this lockdown oppression. Open those borders. All hail our liberator, a sort of Simon Bolivar of Sutherland Shire in reverse.

Holy ScoMo will give us our freedom by lifting lockdown, just as a stash of vaccine arrives on our shores, which he defends from The Evil Empire of the Expanding Panda, China, a bad actor, which flouts a new Us-led global rules based order (neo-colonialism), runs bat-infested wet markets, does us down on trade and spies on our war games with the US. Cue a lot of play-acting which includes an Uncle Arthur slide-show or a presentation where the print is too small to read.

It’s not a bug. It’s a design feature. Morrisonian Democracy, invisible to the naked eye.

Affecting an eye-catching red, yellow and black, patterned neck-tie in a beguiling, serpentine, indigenous motif, borrowed from Ken Wyatt, perhaps, Snake oil Morrison is spruiking the success of his mob’s billion dollar reboot, or Closing The Gap 2.0, Thursday, when he abruptly abandons Ken.

It’s his style as laid down in crisis management 101; when the pandemic hit plague proportions, when you’re called out over your rorts, your pork barrelling and your diabolical failure to order enough vaccine, let alone discharge your responsibilities to those in aged care or those who must be put in quarantine – put out a good news story.

Slap on the snake oil. Smirk. Don’t twerk- leave that to Clive Palmer – Find something upbeat. Or beat something up. But Thursday, the Crosby-Textor playbook, the strategists who did so well for Theresa May and Malcolm Turnbull, lets a rattled PM down. He cuts and runs. Beats a hasty retreat. Makes a disgraceful exit.

What prompts Morrison to hurriedly exit stage right, pursued by a bear, like Antigonus who abandons the baby Perdita in The Winter’s Tale? A reporter asks about carparks.

It’s another stellar performance from a government which excels in showing itself up despite all its brilliant minders, its fixers and the grubs that “background” against their enemies, as they do against Brittany Higgins by leaking against David Sharaz, her partner.

Our PM blows hard, ending his homily on working together with our indigenous peoples by abandoning his Minister for Indigenous Australians to face a feral press on stage, alone.

Morrison pivots, Ducks and weaves out of the line of fire into the haven of a PMO where his minders, fixers and flunkeys are working out how to tell him that the carnival is over now that the AAPT has ruled that the PM has no grounds to keep his “national cabinet” proceedings secret given that it is not a subcommittee of the federal cabinet .

But don’t get your hopes up. There are no minutes. Just a record of outcomes such as Morrison announces after every meeting. No chance at all of unearthing any real dirt, such as what JJ – Lieutenant General John Frewen said when he monstered Gladys Berejiklian last week.

Ken’s breakthrough is that communities are involved. Apart from its title sounding enough like the Coalition to confuse unwary punters with Liberal Party which shacks up with the boondoggling, pork-barrelling, Akubra-wearing Nats, in a ruse to get enough seats to form government, the Coalition of Peaks represents community organisations.

Badly. It’s an outfit which senior Aboriginal leaders, including Noel Pearson, Professor Megan Davis and Roy Ah-See Pat Dodson claim lacks a mandate and is not representative of Aboriginal people. But you’ll hear nothing but good news of the breakthrough – which meets only three targets, can’t measure another seven, but gets the Coalition of Peaks on board. Nor will you hear anything but praise about carparks.

In a scene straight out of Utopia, Simon Birmingham tells former Sky News political editor, David Speers, now helping to turn away audiences as host of ABC Insiders:

“The Australian people had their chance and voted the Morrison government back in at the last election and we are determined to get on with local infrastructure, as we are nation-building infrastructure,” Birmingham tells Speers.

Poor Ken Wyatt, already a conflicted figure in a mining-lobby dominated government denying constitutional recognition and a voice to parliament by pretending it is a request for a third chamber in a bi-cameral parliament which can barely cope at that, left in the lurch once again … as the new plan is air-brushed to cover its conceptual failure, the notion that if old white men keep estimating indigenous disadvantage every year, systemic racism, paternalism and inequality will disappear but not as rapidly as the heat-evading missile that is the PM this Thursday.

“We’re doing things differently with accountability and transparency, and in true partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders,” Morrison’s statement, says.

“We are a good team and good teams know how to win when they are behind in the heavy weather on a hard and muddy track. That’s how you know you are a good team.”

That and moving the goalposts. Opening up at fifty per cent vaccination will be a disaster for NSW. And the percentages which Morrison is throwing around are shonky. Neither of his 70 or 80 per cent vaccination targets include children under sixteen. Above all, Morrison is misrepresenting the Doherty Report which is not a plan to open up prematurely at all but as a cover for his intentions to follow Boris Johnson.

As Morton points out the Doherty Report is no “roadmap to freedom.”

Under an 80 per cent vaccination scenario, the report is careful to underscore that low public health measures may be enough to control an outbreak. But to reduce the transmission potential of the Delta strain below one – similar to a virus reproductive number, below one demonstrates control – the Doherty work indicates moderate public health responses including stay-at-home orders will be needed at 70 per cent and possibly even at 80 per cent.

But that’s not what the Prime Minister is saying. But since when, in any field of endeavor, particularly climate science or medicine has Morrison ever been constrained by what the experts have to say? What he’s about to do now is not merely foolhardy, it’s an act of dereliction of duty of care, an act of criminal negligence. And rather than egg her on from the sidelines, he needs to let Gladys know that opening up NSW on a fifty per cent vaccination rate will bring no her state no freedoms. But it will invite disaster.

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Typhoid Mary, Gladys, no longer PM’s poster girl, gets the Delta blues.

There’s no roadmap out, wails NSW premier, Gladys Berejiklian, Typhoid Mary of our Delta blues, parroting Scott Morrison, the PM for NSW, who savages his gold-standard, open for business poster-girl; turns on her to save his own hide. Hand-ball Morrison gets JJ Frewen to fire the bullets in Friday’s national cabinet. It’s like the scene in Apocalypse Now where the water buffalo is hacked to death.

There’s no exit for Gladys. Yet there are plenty of entrances and an upstaging – notably from JJ – not The Beatles’ “Get back JoJo (to where you once belonged) – Lt General JJ Frewen, the Grim Dig who rips into a woman Premier, ostensibly, for having the hide to ask for more vax in a cabal a big-noting PM calls his “national cabinet” – a COAG of competent, experienced, leaders who have long since taken over the controls, carrying a PM poseur who is just not up to the job as Crikey’s Bernard Keane puts it, a verdict which skips the Machiavellian in Morrison and his theatre of cruelty.

That Morrison’s not up to the job is something Keane’s been saying since 2018. And many others, not part of a sycophantic, Pravda-like media which blankets Australia.

Is Scott a dangerous incompetent? It’s a view that is rapidly taking hold even amongst Quiet Australians who vote purely for self-interest. Anyone can see ScoMo & Co™ are artless dodgers. Incompetent. Fail vaccination supply, distribution and quarantine – but excel in creating confusion and vaccine hesitancy, yet always with a nod to their tin god ATAGI which Morrison says he bends to his will, like Yuri Geller with spoons.

The virus is in control. And out. When it comes to anyone doing anything useful, you have to applaud most premiers. Morrison’s on the nose with voters. July 19, Newspoll shows Morrison’s handling of the pandemic fell nine points in the past three weeks to 52%, far below the 85% rating at the previous peak of the pandemic in April last year. Confidence in the vaccine rollout slumped to 40%.

57% of respondents are dissatisfied while even Coalition voter support is lukewarm.

Other pollsters agree. Since March 2021, when the attributes questions were last put to respondents in the Essential poll, Morrison is down eight points on voter trust, nine points down on being seen to be in control of his team and a nine point drop on vision.

Rating the PM as good in a crisis drops 15%, while increasingly, Morrison appears out of touch with ordinary people (up eight points since March); a PM who avoids responsibility (up six points). And (well-done pollsters), 73%, also believes that Morrison plays politics. It’s the only game he knows.

Newspoll gives a six-point lead to Labor – 53-47, two-party preferred – a shocking result for those all government MPs, especially those in key Victorian electorates.

Last Friday, premiers and chief ministers are on the job telling a lame duck PM to pipe down while they get on with practicalities over a crook NBN hook-up when our PM turns his back and stokes the fire. He’s peeved to be upstaged; redundant, but as always, it’s a calculated gesture. That he delegates much of the wrangling and arm-twisting business of the meeting to Frewen is alarming.

But getting JJ to blast Berejiklian is petty, vindictive, bullying.

Later, Morrison, Sorcerer of out-sourcing, stumbles as he reads out something the Doherty Institute whipped up for him earlier. He clearly is not across the detail of his own “National Plan to transition Australia’s National COVID-19 Response” which proclaims “early, stringent and short lockdowns” to be central to the current phase. Phase? A meaningless obligatory three-word slogan “vaccinate, prepare and pilot”.

When we reach 70% or 80%, the good times will roll or something. Not counting children. His word-salad is impossible to follow. The plan it’s so hedged about with provisos it’s impossible to follow. Besides, it’s bound to change next week.

The road map Glad can’t see is in Victoria, where the Andrews’ government has successfully dealt with Delta, twice in what shapes to be a long guerrilla war, as Covid re-infects us with ever new strains. Monday brings further evidence NSW is ignoring any lessons from Victoria’s experience. Sydney’s inner west sees a nursing home hotspot traced to a “superspreading”, Christmas in July party. An infected nurse at the centre works at several aged care facilities.

Shocked by polls suggesting poor leadership and a federal government that has let the nation down badly, Morrison resorts to a stunt. Fellow Hillsong congregation member, and Morrison’s neighbourly, curly-haired, bin retriever, NSW Police Commissioner, Mick Fuller, calls in the army.

No. Not the ARMY, PMO press drops quickly quash that idea, but, instead, lads and lasses in uniform carrying hampers of health-foods to the needy as they sing We Are Family. It’s a fetching image but no-one in Western Sydney is fooled. Enforcing compliance is the name of the game. Making you do what you are told. It’s tricky. Instructions are unclear, changeable. Fuller shuns community leaders.

It’s nigh impossible, writes Paul Daley in The Guardian Australia for “non-Indigenous Australians whose families have been in Australia for generations to fathom the fear some former asylum seekers – from Syria, Afghanistan or Iraq, for example – have towards police and the military.

But the NSW police have things all under control. What could possibly go wrong?

Enter a three hundred “civilian police-led armed forces operation” as it’s dubbed by a defensive Dave Elliott NSW Minister for Police-and-strip-searching-twelve-year-old-girls, (3919 searches in four years up, to last year, according to Redfern Legal Centre data). Monday, Job well-done-Dave’s keen to let us all know that it is not as if the army are being sent in alone. His cops will keep them in line. The NSW Police? Phew. Everyone’s at ease already. Last year, Elliott placated everyone,

“I’ve got young children and if I thought the police felt they were at risk of doing something wrong I’d want them strip-searched. Having been minister for juvenile justice, we have 10-year-olds involved in terrorism activity.”

The military helped the police with compulsory quarantining at Sydney Airport in March last year. They have been called in to help again.

Leaving Dave’s arresting turn of phrase with dangling participle to one side, the Premier is boxed in like Tulloch; Gladys is wedged betwixt Police Minister and PM and Lieutenant General JJ Frewen, who becomes “apoplectic” as he bawls her out over Zoom, a derisive -and utterly out of order- attack by an unelected public servant upon an elected premier. At least one state leader tells colleagues he would have “stopped the meeting had he been spoken to in that manner”, reports The Saturday Paper‘s Rick Morton. His sources tell him Friday’s atmosphere is “venomous”.

Morrison gives his take on the traditional Māori gesture of contempt, turning his back on premiers and chief ministers, as he bends down to poke The Lodge’s fire. Whilst he does not drop his dacks, Friday’s semi-whakapohane or bare arsed snub, may just be Morrison’s homage to his Kiwi heritage or his troubled two years as inaugural Director of Aotearoa’s new Office of Tourism and Sport, where he warred with the NZ Tourism Board. And lost. Got sacked. It’s the Morrison career paradigm.

Or it may just be another, calculated, gesture of contempt, like Phil Gaetjens’ inquiry into who knew what on or about 23 March 2019, when Brittany Higgins alleges she was raped by a senior staffer who worked for Linda Reynolds’ office. Justice delayed is justice denied. Two years later, she is still being denied justice.

A further show of contempt for due process is the PM’s decision to allow Porter to be leader of the house when Dutto texts in to say he won’t attend parliament next week, (so he’ll stay home plotting a Lib-spill, his revenge on Morrison)? Dutton’s had Covid. But he’s got to lockdown with his sons, is his message.

Is Christian Porter really the right choice? A fit and proper person to lead the house? Morrison’s career of serial failure suggests yet another dud judgement – even if the Machiavellian sociopath in him will have control at any price. Next week’s sitting will win him no friends, however. Labor may wonder aloud what is in the sealed envelope of testimony that is Porter’s bizarre condition of settlement in his botched attempt to bring a defamation suit against the ABC.

As Crikey’s legal expert, Michael Bradley points out “there could be myriad reasons for Christian Porter dropping his defamation case against the ABC, none of which appear to vindicate the former attorney-general.”

And before Porter moves that the member may no longer be heard, Labor may challenge his fitness to be a cabinet minister. But if this runs through Morrison’s mind, he is not distracted from enjoying the dressing down of Gladys. It’s got the works: misogyny, scapegoating and abuse of authority.

When it’s his turn at the conch, after JJ’s blast, Morrison says nothing. Silence is equivalent to applause here. Furthermore, he takes up from where Frewen leaves off, echoing the case of the man he’s just promoted to head the National Covid Vaccine Task Force. Like Oliver, Gladys asks for more. More vaccine, of course, but the idea of diverting precious resources sends Frewen into a frenzy.

Or does it? Has Frewen been worded up to publicly chastise Berejiklian? Help push her under a bus. Too much damage is done already to the Morrison brand for him to continue the public association? Besides, if Gladys continues to ask for more, it will reveal there is none, thanks to the reckless improvidence of a federal government which was equivocal about vaccination from the start and which was cut right down to size by Pfizer when a junior bureaucrat tried to haggle over the price.

Gladys is in an existential nightmare. She could be a character in No Exit (Huis Clos), Sartre’s drama where three damned souls are ushered into the same room in hell by a mysterious figure (wearing a Covid-Shield mask?). None at first will admit the reason for their damnation, a gambit adopted today by Prime Denialist, Scott Morrison, Greg Hunt and Gladys Berejiklian – and when they do things get a whole lot worse.

No Exit postulates that hell is not some place a cruel God knocked up in his spare time on the seventh day, after a hectic week at the creation works; hell is other people.

NSW records its fifteenth Covid death, Monday, a man in his nineties who had received one shot of AstraZeneca. 207 new local COVID-19 cases are recorded; fifty-one are infectious in the community. Tuesday there are 199 locally acquired cases. Suppression? The virus is rampaging out of control.

Ten children under nine years old have COVID among Queensland’s 15 new cases, Monday. Tuesday, brings another sixteen new cases.

“There’s no roadmap for Delta, there’s no perfect way to deal with it,” Berejiklian tells Sky TV, which deserves an Olympic medal for fewest viewers while continuing to metastasize all over real news websites. And beyond. On Monday, in the UK, Reverend Tim Hewes, 71, sews his lips up and stands outside News Corp’s London offices in protest at the climate emergency across the world which Murdoch completely ignores.

Vicar Sews His Lips Shut During Dramatic Protest Against Rupert Murdoch And News Corp

Australia’s FOX News, which is to be commended on providing a warm place out of the rain for RWNJ’s and other notorious fabulists, with no hope of gainful employ, can now deceive, mislead and disinform regional viewers -24/7.

The boss likes to keep his shock-jocks desperate for attention; last year, talking heads were told they could appear for nothing, or not at all. With Sky, Murdoch gets what he pays for, although some heads, such as Andrew Bolt, are on his payroll as columnists in his failing newspapers. Does the ABC still pay journos to do spots on Insiders? Each week, David Speers echoes Morrison’s framing of the news.

But it’s not just ABC Insiders looking through Rupert’s portal. Outpourings of grief clog ABC news airwaves, as young tanned, owners of coffee-bars, waxing salons, travel agents and other small businesses in NSW are cast in their own melodrama; encouraged to vent by a media obsessed with the epic battle of the poor little sole trader against the cruel state facing certain ruin under lockdown. It’s a moral fable, nurtured by the myth that small business is the backbone of economy.

This is as false as the claim that NSW is the engine room of the national economy, a claim which is used to boost NSW exceptionalism but one also made Friday for WA by Premier Mark McGowan. Victoria also makes the same claim.

“Victoria is proud of being the engine room of the Australian economy, occupying just 3 per cent of this vast continent, it is nevertheless responsible for a quarter of the nation’s economic activity. … In fact, Victoria has maintained its AAA ratings (Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s) throughout and beyond the crisis.”

Whilst small biz employs 45% of the workforce it accounts for only 5% of job growth.

It’s a resonant, deceptive and dangerous narrative. If lockdown were lifted, prosperity would return tomorrow. Businesses would hum; hives of industry where wage theft, overwork and underpayment would disappear. Implied also in the myth, is the notion that – after a little dose of ‘Rona – our two nations, rich and poor will bounce back. Because … freedom to exploit our fellow man and woman is divinely ordained or a human right or in the constitution.

Or something. It’s a narrative flogged to death on our middle-class middle brow ABC News which uses the Murdoch or the Morrison frame to peer through as it dons its Rose Bay spectacles. All that’s missing from the Sole Trader Tale of Woe is its unofficial anthem, Moving Pictures’ What About Me?

Auntie’s comfort-zone-only perspective clouds its view of Sydney’s workers; its less telegenic, “multicultural” precariat who face an even greater battle to survive. Or be valorised. Instead, they are patronised by Hazzard using othering terms “vibrant” and “multicultural” – code for strangers in silos we’d rather fear, blame and coerce, than reach out to; try to support and understand.

Western and South-Western Sydney residents are blamed, directly and indirectly, for not following unclear, contradictory – and at times half-baked – instructions for breaking lockdown. Berejiklian doesn’t help by telling a whopper.

Thursday, she claims that in NSW,

We have harsher restrictions than any other state has ever had.”

It’s a shambles writes David Milner, in The Shot.

“no curfew in place, in-person real estate inspections underway, no specified time limit on being outdoors, travel to holiday homes totally legal, day cares as open as Bunnings, golf courses still actually used by golfers and not yet taken over by BMX gangs and Northcote hippies. Masks were only made mandatory outdoors on Thursday, and only in eight local government areas.”

Yet some government MPs barrack for the anti-lockdown brigade. Like Trump, hard-nosed opportunists see votes in any dissenting group. Dissenters are alienated from the major parties or just government of any stripe and need only your star to hitch themselves to. Tuesday in the house, George Christensen gives a huge ninety second speech on the anti-lockdown “freedom” protest.

He says he won’t hesitate to stand with them again.

Always back a nag named Self Interest. You know it’ll run on its merits. Covid-cowboy-MPs aid and abet conspiracy theorists, QAnon and a range of others organised by the “Free Citizens of Kassel” in Germany, whose Worldwide Demonstration (WD) organise 129 co-ordinated rallies in May alone. WD also is a big help with anti-lockdown rallies Down Under in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney 24 July. Things don’t turn ugly all by themselves. They help organise our own keen mob of paranoid conspiracy theorists, Antivaxxers, rogue MPs and others.

WD gets a lot of local help, reports Rick Morton, from Australians vs The Agenda and Harrison McLean, an IT worker from Wantirna, whose two groups have 30,000 followers. This is probably double the National Party’s total membership across all states. Little wonder then that LNP poster-boy and Member for Manila, George Christensen leaps aboard, along with the MP, who quit the Liberals but votes with them anyway, Craig Kelly.

Jason Falinski appears on Patricia Karvelas’ show busting with bluff and bluster, protesting far too much that he has nothing to do with anti-vaxxers. For him, a semantic quibble gets you off the hook. He doesn’t oppose lockdowns, but he supports the free speech which allows other people who do – along with their toxic lies and delusions about herd immunity and how it’s no worse than the flu. Let’s not get to 5G, microchips, or how Covid was deliberately cooked up in a lab.

Always quick to spot potential voters and promising alt-right trends to nurture, former furniture salesman, and loyal employer and defender of staffer Frank Zumbo, now charged with sex offences, Craig “Hydroxychloroquine” Kelly who poses as a medical authority when he isn’t giving character references, joins gorgeous George Christensen in wooing the loopy consumers of the lockdown vs liberty false narrative.

Similarly confused notions of “freedom” dog Berejiklian’s rhetoric. Perhaps she could upgrade and substitute the word survival. And offer some real support. Sydney, the backbone of the state’s economy, has an underclass precariat of at least a tenth of the NSW workforce on temporary working Visas. Yet construction is shut down in her belated and ineffectual lockdown.

Instead, workers cop a serve from NSW’s Health Minister, Brad Hazzard who is mad keen to put the boot into the poor and vulnerable whom he patronises as multicultural and vibrant, Lib-speak for un-Australian and therefore a public health hazard.

Despite not consulting community leaders, Mick Fuller, the PM’s fellow Hill singer and former neighbour and wheelie bin retriever, is happy to send in the troops to in a shoot-first-ask questions after approach that’s worked splendidly in other tinpot despotic states for decades.

“Boots on the ground” is a phrase helpfully offered by Health Minister Hunt.

It’s not just language that is a barrier to his target audience heeding his government’s injunctions to get vaccinated and stay at home. Stay at home? These are people who need to work to survive. For many of them there is not even an inadequate Centrelink “safety-net”.

Mick’s decision to butch up his police team baffles those compressed by necessity into extended family survival units or cramming “bijou gem” apartments where there isn’t room for Gran to take her teeth out or powder her nose without dipping her elbow in a grandchild’s nappy bucket. Families far and wide in LGAs across the nation are gob-smacked; “reeling” as the pandemic rages in NSW infects other states. Anti-lockdown lunatics, condoned if not urged on by George Christensen, play with fire in the street.

A man punches a police horse.

Whilst the Emerald City has colonised our popular culture and dominates a tamed, depleted and declining national media, its plight illuminates our two nations, rich and poor and the yawning gap between them, widened by a federal government obsessed with depressing real wages while boosting business profits and tax cuts for the wealthy. To which of course, Labor has dropped its opposition as it saddles up for the last long stretch before a May election.

What is certain is that those in federal parliament, who are able to travel, return this week for its winter sitting, but it’s no longer the springboard to an October election. Even The Australian‘s Dennis Shanahan concedes that Labor has the upper hand. Morrison’s made sure he’s there in person by quarantining in The Lodge, but he may have to contend with being upstaged by MPs in lockdown zooming in.

It’s a pincer movement. Covid advances crab-like from the right under a Coalition kakistocracy of dills, duds and drones which sells itself as Keeping Australia Safe while it keeps its mates out of jail and attacks workers in the name of an invisible hand, Adam Smith’s vision of market forces, or the power of accumulated self-interest to achieve public good.

Or not. At odds with its Let It Be songbook of laissez-faire, the Morrison government’s is a paid up member of The Game of Mates where favours bleed the country and its catastrophic ineptitude.

Add a dollop of state socialism. Even Michelle Grattan concedes that its decision to build a 660-megawatt gas-fired power station in the NSW Hunter Valley further shows a government preferring state control, to markets, in its bid to appease its mining donors on energy and climate change.

Let’s not pretend it’s got any real policies on either.

“Australia’s calamitous energy and climate policy is going from bad to worse with the government decision to build a $600m gas-fired power plant that will deter private investment,” warns the Financial Review’s Economics Editor, John Kehoe.

Labor says it is On Our Side but gives up opposing tax breaks for the rich. Negative gearing. Capital gains tax, both pet projects of former leader, Bill Shorten. It’s a policy of small target opposition. Don’t promise anything which a Morrison misgovernment with a Murdoch megaphone can trash.

Good luck. Already, as with Bill Shorten, Antony Albanese’s name is now a term of derision with our media. Or treated as if it were the punchline to some snide in-joke about hopeless incompetents in politics, by ABC’s The Drum‘s Ellen Fanning.

On the right are our Tories, the corporate-small business and aspirational tradies’ alliance led by The Swinging Big-Dicks, the Liberals in an unmade bed with The Nationals, Big Mining’s flea circus. It’s a dangerous liaison, spruiked as a coalition which is founded on victim blaming. Yet, it is still a shock to see the army sent in to quell Western Sydney; assist the police with Covid compliance – so desperate is the PMO to find scapegoats for its abject failure to protect us from a pandemic.

Covid is not spread by people being disobedient. Nor is NSW made any safer by its Premier’s pathetic pleading. Sending in the army is calculated to create confusion, anger and resentment.

On the centre-but somewhat-leftward (leaning in) is a Labor Party, which once held a torch for the poor. Labor’s sick of being a soft target; Labor will tax you to death, and now runs up the white flag on a fair and just income tax system.

But of course, there are more than two parties, even before we get into the division and disunity within a twin-set, the ABC loves to call “Both Major Parties”, or even Joel Fitzgibbon’s Hunter for Coal ginger group.

Greens’ leader, Adam Bandt does bag Labor for being gutless. Top income earners get up to 400 times the benefit of median income earners, he also quickly points out.

Labor’s backflip on high-end income tax cuts, notes Paul Bongiorno, has one aim. It seeks to make Morrison and his catastrophic bungling of the pandemic the key focus of the election campaign. The Australian Financial Review, reports an Utting Research poll, supporting Albanese’s tactic.

Greg Jericho reports that if Labor wants to fix the regressive tax regime they’ve agreed to they should implement a Warren Buffet Rule tax strategy where high income earners pay a minimum rate of tax on their earnings before any deductions are claimed – proposal by The Australia Institute.

There’s no anodyne for grinding poverty. A decent minimum wage and adequate pensions for the aged and those looking for work would, however, be a start.

As for part-time PM and moralist Scott Morrison’s self-help philosophy – his have a go to get a go – it’s a kick in the teeth, a wanton disregard for the causes and consequences of poverty. You do have to work hard to acquire his level of ignorance and prejudice. Like most of his maxims, it is a patently absurd lie – hurtful in times of economic recession measured by hours worked and underemployment, however much neoliberal treasury boffins choose to define it as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP. Rick Morton reflects,

What is a recession but surplus insecurity, the loss of opportunity and scarcity of hope?

Three and a quarter million people in Australia are poor; more than one in eight adults and one in six children live below the poverty line. How do they cope with half the population in lockdown due to the federal government’s catastrophic failure to buy vaccines, set up a quarantine system – let alone look after the elderly or provide for those out of work or underemployed?

“No poverty” is the first of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Australia is a signatory yet it has the 16th highest poverty rate out of the 34 wealthiest countries in the OECD.

Labor’s decision to agree to the Coalition’s third tier of its fat-cat, flat tax, policy with its tax cuts for the rich to be paid for by the needy is distressing. Those earning between $45,000 and $200,000 will all pay thirty cents in the dollar.

It’s a volte-face, “a political triple backflip”, Paul Bongiorno calls it, from Albo; Anthony Albanese, the leader of a party that once, famously, sought the light on the hill, as former Labor PM and engine-driver, Ben Chifley put it, seventy two years’ ago, after four years as leader to the 1949 NSW ALP Conference.

“I try to think of the Labour movement, not as putting an extra sixpence into somebody’s pocket, or making somebody Prime Minister or Premier, but as a movement bringing something better to the people, better standards of living, greater happiness to the mass of the people.”

The Whitlam spirit has gone from the Labor Party, laments Crikey’s Guy Rundle, who notes that the party’s base is fractured and reflects that a progressive tax policy may as well be just a Chifley a pipe dream for a political party whose voters are now as much knowledge class as working class.

Gone? That may be a little premature. And Whitlam did own up to his own pragmatism: only the impotent are pure. He understood that vision without executive power is the prerogative of protest groups, not of a party wanting to govern.

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Morrison and the exploding fish. A reverse ferret. Gladys under a bus. A khaki-Covid snap election?

Don’t you just love the suspense? A tiny peepshow of a lectern opens on your widescreen as Fauziah Ibrahim interrupts her “show” as she is wont to call ABC News 24; the PRIME MINISTER, is about to make an announcement (all brought to you less by the ABC than by mining magnate and Titanic liar, billionaire Wide-Boy Clive Palmer).

Indirectly. Clive’s $80 million negative advertising blitz on MSM and social media won the Coalition an election it fully expected to lose in 2019. Hence ScoMo’s massive, rorty cash splash. But how good were UAP’s anti-Labor, Shifty Shorten lies? Expect another round, when Morrison calls a snap khaki-Covid 2021 election with Lieutenant-General JJ Frewen in support; waiting at attention in the background.

There’s billions in the war chest, in large part, thanks to Liberal bag-man and Reaganite Josh Frydenberg who speaks softly and carries a big debt; his deficit binge is unprecedented. Of course it’s not all on our tab. It’s topped up by corporates and other donors with deep pockets but shallow arms when it comes to paying workers or taxes.

But how good’s the AEC now no-one can tell just how far you are open for business?

The AEC’s just come up with a nifty way of making it even harder to track donations – the new, you-beaut “other receipts” category in which donations over $14,300 are left to the discretion of giver or receiver, reports Luke Stacey for Michael West Media on the latest scam to corrupt our democracy.

But the money’s in the bag, as Bernard Keane notes, a pair of $100 billion deficits, the biggest in our history outside an economic crisis, despite unemployment being predicted to dip under five per cent.

“If the government can’t win an election with this cash splash, it should give up politics.”

And the PM’s always in election mode. Morrison’s legacy to Australian politics will not just be his petty point-scoring or his toxic hyperpartisanship – or behaving like a vainglorious lout – that all started with Abbott, who was also a notorious liar – nor his gargantuan gaming of funding schemes to funnel billions into electoral campaigns, nor as Bill Shorten says on ABC Insiders, his obsession with secrecy, running his government inside a “black box” – although any one of these would earn The Prime Gas Lighter undying notoriety, as would his lies, in any other government were it not so utterly, wantonly corrupt and inept.

This is what gaslighting looks like, tweets Bradpsychology.

March 2020: “I’m going to watch the Sharks while I still can.”

July 2020: “We’ve got to live with the virus.”

Yesterday: “I’ve been calling this a national emergency for two years.”

Whilst this is, indeed, Olympic class gas-lighting, Morrison will go down in history as the PM who pork-barrelled vaccines. He’s got something up his sleeve. Gladys has been publicly begging other states for their share of vax so that she can be seen to be doing something other than pleading with the great unwashed from her balcony. All of this runs through your mind while you try to follow Fauzia but that peephole is so distracting.

Perhaps the PM will roll out a barrel of vax Friday, you wonder, as he’s about to dash out of another COAG, meeting, which it suits him to dress up as “National Cabinet”; the delusion of a constitutional nincompoop but a grandiose title, Morrison feels can only add to his importance. Ionesco worried about how such abuse of language robbed us of our individuality and humanity. To say nothing of integrity and truth.

But it bigs our Bald Prima Donna up – as he shrewdly calculates.

As does keeping the nation waiting. Yet he’s got to be careful with the optics.

Big-noting yourself can backfire a bit in politics as in the real life. Hubris, the ancient Greeks called it, excessive pride, violating the bounds set for humans. And it was punished by the gods. Well, the PM is being put back in his box by Pfizer.

Morrison keeps us waiting even when his presser’s held at his home at Kirribilli. As it almost always is now. No good knocking. Clearly, like the porter in Macbeth, Morrison has a bit of trouble opening his own door. The Porter, nevertheless, has Morrison The Prime Equivocator’s number in Macbeth;

Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale; who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator.

Why it was only in May that Scotty modestly declared victory over Covid. We are “out of the emergency phase” he says. Disbands his Covid Commission Advisory Board. Job done. Mission accomplished. Huge back-pat of self in public. Group hugs. Selfie sticks a-hoy. Stellar A-listers, such as Jane Halton, a former chair of what Paul Barratt agrees was the “appallingly named” People Smuggling Task Force – of Babies Overboard and Crown notoriety can always get a government out of a tight spot.

Halton has been a boon also to Crown’s board despite a fragile memory, although counsel assisting the NSW Crown Resorts casino inquiry, Adam Bell SC, accuses her of playing semantics. Splitting hairs, playing semantics or casuistry is a big part of the Canberra Babel-bubble that is ScoMo-town.

The COVID-19 Commission Advisory Board was established by the federal government to have a go-to panel of experts that would help it ‘troubleshoot in the crisis management phase of the pandemic’ Morrison bullshits, but don’t you love his officalese? You can tell he’s an apparatchik from way back by his verbiage. Today, three states in lockdown may be cursing the PM for his boondoggle.

Nifty Nev Power, formerly of Fortescue Metals and other business-class blowhards were supposedly meeting, and pooling their experience; “looking at things from a business perspective”. AKA putting the foxes in charge of the henhouse.

How do we profit out of Covid? It’s beyond business types to think of others. Pop over in our private jet to Dr Albert Bourla the Pfizer-Kaiser, uncrowned emperor of the Southern world? Go down on bended knee? Never was going to happen.

Ensure we had adequate supplies of vaccine secured? A viable distribution or quarantine system? Never crosses their minds unless they can cut a deal. If only CSL and AstraZeneca had paid off. Morrison’s Covid commission con will cost him dearly. Some of the tamed estate are already connecting the dots between the Prime Time Waster, the pandemic and his criminal neglect of critical responsibilities.

Of course, like leading the world and being at the head of the queue it was another Morrison con. The outcome, after a year of expensive deliberations, was the “gas-led recovery” another pipe-dream. Gas will be so costly it will impede any recovery. Not to mention its dirty little secret – methane emissions. No-one could call it green energy. We’ll soon be paying an external carbon tax because we ditched our own.

Yet Power’s ploy serves the gas industry. Appeases the mining industry. Wins votes in Queensland electorates and in big mining muppet Joel Fitzgibbon’s benighted Hunter.

“Remember, my value is: we look after our mates,” Morrison told us 6 September 2018.

And ourselves first. Like a self-inflating Michelin man, Scotty’s been puffing himself up ever since he bought his miracle win. Yet, at the risk of hurting thin-skinned Clive’s feelings, we can’t leave Murdoch’s puffery out of the picture. Nor its uncanny capacity to turn on ScoMo’s frenemies.

Witness the Daily Tele’s bagging Glad recently. Papped as she and new beau, defamation silk, Arthur Moses SC, duck out unmasked on a morning coffee run.

How very dare she? Her mask-wearing rules are “ambiguous”, thunders the Tele. My, the PMO’s fixer has been busy. The Australian’s Katrina Grace Kelly also does a reverse ferret back-flip, (UK journo Kelvin MacKenzie held that a good reporter should stick a ferret up a public figure’s trousers), based on the Northern sport of ferret-legging. Fawning and flattery saw him run out of his office shouting, “Reverse Ferret!”

MacKenzie would keep very fit in Australia media establishments. KG Kelly, too is exercised, even though her gymnastics may be triggered by a press drop from a PMO fixer. Whatever its origin, the rebuke is clear. And a fair call.

“The NSW government must be held to account. Its actions endanger its own people and the rest of the nation. Failure will cause misery, illness and death, and eliminate our one strategic advantage – isolation and international border closures.”

But it’s not just a pliant press, billion dollar handouts to the likes of Gerry Harvey, via the heavily rorted JobKeeper and powerful media mogul mates prop up our dud PM – whom Hugh McKay says is not even a good salesman;

“In the world of commercial product marketing, brand integrity matters. Honesty matters. Sincerity matters. Delivering on your promises matters. And so does some grasp of the psychology of communication. Yet Morrison shows no evidence that he understands any of this.”

Along with a fawning claque of press gallery courtiers posing as reporters, credit for Morrison’s miracle win and the stupor mundi that is his rapidly unravelling misgovernment is also due to carparks in the air, SportsRorts© – dwarfed tenfold or eleven according to Michael Pascoe by the Community Development Grants program and pork-barrelling; an election bought with rorts; so on the nose that you get a fishy whiff every time Morrison is due to speak.

A fish rots from the head down, but this government is also rotten to the core. From Robo-debt’s extortion of the poor and the tightening of NDIS – a sadistic cruelty which McKay believes Morrison appears to enjoy – through to the 1000% mark up on the Leppington triangle land for a Liberal donor, wall to wall corruption.

From leaking against Julia Banks and David Sharaz, partner of Brittany Higgins, whose alleged rapist appears to have vanished, to the $3.7 million the government is prepared to spend in the prosecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery – just to deter to any would-be whistle blowers in the future – corruption.

It’s a study in putrescence rotten with sleaze, self-interest, scams, rorts and malice aforethought.

South Korean contemporary sculpture and installation artist Lee Bul, whose work “questions patriarchal authority and the marginalization of women by revealing ideologies that permeate our cultural and political sphere” captures our federal government’s essence with her Majestic Splendour, (1991-2018) a series of sequin-covered rotting fish she displayed at London’s Hayward Gallery.

Tragically, Majestic Splendour catches fire as it is being removed. Lee had added potassium permanganate to attenuate the stench. In an otherwise flawless 1997 showing at New York’s MoMa, Majestic Splendour’s stench makes visitors puke. But the chemical is also an accelerant.

Only minimal damage is done to the gallery thanks to the London Metropolitan Fire Brigade who are quick on the scene to extinguish the exploding fish but Morrison may not be so lucky.

Trashing Labor helps. Flash forward to Saturday’s Dan Bash. Richard Willingham tells ABC viewers that “frustration is mounting” with the Victorian government when a trio of orchestrated demonstrations against lockdown, vaccination, 5G, reason and common-sense, bring thousands into the streets of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. Things turn ugly. Violent. A man punches a police-horse in Sydney.

Dan is almost done according to Willingham who detects “a general shittiness around the community over the latest lockdown. His article’s headline reads,

“Premier Andrews needs to offer hope to ease mounting anger, but it’s a nearly impossible task”

Oddly, apart from the PM’s favoured Newscorp stable, there is generally less censure for Gladys. But give it time.

For Sydney in a Clayton’s lockdown, there are fears that this will prove a super-spreader. The super-spreader, however, is Morrison who’s knocked back vaccines offered by the almighty Pfizer Corporation, failed to discharge the federal government’s responsibility for quarantine and totally failed the supply and distribution challenges of a vaccine roll-out. But what will be his spiel on Friday?

We are besides ourselves in anticipation.

No. He’s not coming out to tell us he didn’t shit himself in Engadine Maccas. He did that a week ago on Sydney radio’s top-rating Kyle and Jackie O Show, while the city is locked down in a pandemic of epic proportions for, which Morrison is largely responsible. He brings it up, himself. Priorities.

When Gladys was on KIIS she came bearing gifts, a set of cuff-links for a man who never wears a shirt and a bottle of red and a white. That’s when she swore she would never ever impose a lockdown.

But look over there. Up pops a lonely lectern in a little picture frame all on its own down low. It’s OK, you can still read the chyron. How good is a single wooden prop to build our mounting excitement? Waiting for ScoMo. There’s a lot of Beckett’s theatre of the absurd about the entire Morrison production. He’s kept us all waiting for years. And frustrated. Existential angst? Who can forget the balding prima donna’s bravura performance in The Boat Stoppers, a long-running theatre of cruelty soap opera?

At first a weekly presser with a mute, uniformed Angus Campbell doing backup vocals as ScoMo militarised our compassion. No. You can’t ask questions about any on water matter. National security is at stake. Then the weekly Canberra soapie moved to Sydney so ScoMo could be home for tea. After a few heady, histrionics from the man who would keep us all safe, the pressers became more infrequent until they petered about altogether, in line with every enterprise Morrison has ever been involved in.

The suspense of awaiting his Prime-ness to bless us with his presence mounts as Scott Almighty Morrison keeps the nation waiting, as he does last Friday, only to bust out of the almost suburban door of the Lodge, interior all done up nicely on a frugal budget of $8.8 million by Tony Abbott and his Canberra landlady Peta Credlin.

Tragically, Abbo never got to move in thanks to Fizza Turnbull knifing him and the Morrisons are never there, expect on sufferance, under Covid.

And the last Trump shall sound. Morrison dashes out of the Lodge to appear at a greatly relieved lectern. His face is a study. Things are not going well in the National Cabinet. The premiers have been used to fighting the pandemic by themselves and now for the PM it’s like herding cats. Morrison’s upstaged by his own pretension. Mike Seccombe’s impeccable contacts give us the inside story.

Straight into the call, the New South Wales government minister was ripping into Scott Morrison. The prime minister had two jobs, he said: roll out the vaccination program and fix the quarantine system. “And he stuffed it.”

When it was suggested to the minister that he sounded as if he was reciting Anthony Albanese’s talking points, he replied: “Well Albo’s absolutely correct.”

The Lodge looks scruffy on the outside. Needs a paint job. No wonder ScoMo spurns it in preference to playing King of Kirribilli. But then again, he has tickets on his tickets on himself. He is as Katharine Murphy says, aspirational; a project still in process.

Morrison’s speech is ordinary, too, when at last we get to hear it. He’s an Olympic standard word salad tosser and a Gish galloper who’s almost impossible to parse or follow. Sets out to overwhelm his audience with as many arguments as possible, with no regard for the accuracy, validity, or relevance of those arguments.

The Delta variant completely changes the game, he tells us. And off he gallops using a favourite personal brow-beater, the completely spurious list. My, how he loves to list information already well known. It gives him time to think, of course; a temporizer, but it’s also a tactic he knows will wear his listeners down. Here he goes

“… the Delta variant presents a very fresh challenge and we have to adapt and we have to change on occasions how we do things, just as countries are all around the world, whether they be in Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, indeed of course here in Australia and across Europe and other parts of the world. That’s the nature of the Delta variant.”

Masochistic readers can enjoy the full text of his edited presser themselves. By the second paragraph he’s come up with the solution. We’ve got to soldier on.

“So, in New South Wales, as we continue to combat this in Sydney, what I want to say to those in Sydney is we’ve got to press on. We’ve got to continue to show that strength. We’ve got to continue to support each other. There are no easy solutions here. There are no silver bullets, just as there were not last year when Victoria went through their prolonged lockdown. This thing only gets beaten by suppressing it. Of course, vaccines can put wind at the back of those who are trying to achieve that outcome, and that’s what we have to do.”

If only we’d remembered to buy the vaccines, which are morphing here from a shot in the arm to a tailwind for those of us who are keen to stay alive or out of an ICU. If only we’d got them into peoples’ arms. We’ve had plenty of time to do both.

Spoiler alert: the day after his presser in which he publicly sends Gladys “Oliver” Berejiklian, who dares asks for more, away with an empty vax bowl, in another Oliver Twist (remember he played the Artful Dodger in his High School production, in 1982 – the PM or his fixer comes up with a solution. He has a secret stash of vaccine.

Sceptics wonder if this just a virtual surplus vaccine derived by extending the Pfizer second shot from three to six weeks – against all medical advice.

(“I’d Do Anything” is the anthem of the resourceful pickpocket and street urchin). So well cast. Right on cue, The Dodger finds some more vaccine in a national stockpile that must have fallen down the back of the sofa – no- not that sofa. The next day.

As the learned Dr Sheep Devil Person aka Dr Jennifer Wilson tweets,

Morrison says he has “found” 280,000 Pfizer doses. But he couldn’t “find” anything when Queensland asked two weeks ago? Only the most vile person would play games with vaccines in this way.

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A four phase, fur-lined, gold-plated, double-barrelled, ocean-going, right royal, shit-show.

Buddy, our PM’s photogenic pet black Schnoodle, gets his own column in our yellow press; The Daily Telegraph. Bet you never had Schnoodle on your ScoMo winter bingo card. Schnoodle could become a transitive verb, given the recent dip in approval ratings for Morrison in three major polls; Guardian Essential, Nine’s Resolve Monitor and NewsPoll.

Trust that mongrel, Morrison, to schnoodle up to us after failing to deliver on any vaccination promise, people could say. But how good, how quick are his new promises? If stringing a country along were an Olympic event, (and Covid’s entrance in this year’s $20bn Tokyo Olympics may cause its committee chief to pull the pin). Morrison would be sensational; a world champion, instead of making Australia a pariah over its lame “zero by 2050, preferably, BS. And now we’re a laughing stock. The BBC, CNN and NYT are asking how Australia could botch its pandemic response so comprehensively.

Now Scotty’s let everyone in Australia down. Three states are in lockdown because he couldn’t get his vax act together. Five people have died in NSW. ICUs are filling up with people who need intubation just to breathe. Your heart goes out to the family of the mother in her fifties who is found dead in her home, Saeeda Akobi Jjou Stu, 57.

Her twin sons Roni and Ramsin Shawka, 27, are charged by police for allegedly working while infectious with coronavirus. They say a language barrier is to blame. They didn’t fully understand how the lockdown applied to them. NSW Health authorities claim the deceased woman was offered “alternate” meaning alternative care. Vaccination would have helped. The Health Minister and his PM are full of lame excuses as to why vaccine supply is too little and too late.

Or silence. Other countries could secure a billion does, Chris Bowen claims. Kevin Rudd has a virtual meeting with the Pfizer CEO and Chairman Albert Bourla to ask if a million doses can be brought forward. Bourla is insulted by Morrison’s attempt to bargain through a junior bureaucrat. Rudd says our PM has not bothered to pick up the phone to Bourla.

Morrison certainly knows how to use his ScoMobile. He makes fifty-five calls to thirty world leaders to get Mathias Cormann a post as top dog of the OECD, in a job-seeking junket that cost us $11,000 per day, but he can’t place a single call with the Pfizer Czar? Even that genocidal crook, Packer’s pal, Bibi Netanyahu, could make nice with Pfizer.

“Netanyahu was obsessive, calling me dozens of times, even at 3 AM!” Dr Bourla laughs. But what seals the deal is that Israel boasts one of the most advanced health services in the world – every Israeli, Jew or Arab, young or old, is enrolled in a public health service. Highly organized, it could immediately begin to inject millions with the vaccine very quickly.

Israel puts us to shame. Morrison goes fully Bodmin to gate-crash a G7 in Cornwall, but does he button-hole a single leader who could help us? No he skives off on a pub crawl and he just must look up a felon in his family tree.

Current opinion polls are a slap down; rebuking the federal government and its leader for stuffing up. You had only two jobs to do. Vaccination and quarantine. Albo likes to remind him. You did neither. Punters blame the federal government for the mess we’re in with Delta. No-one buys the bullshit of a brand-new, four phase plan. It’s just the old five phase plan with bit of pruning, although to hear Morrison spin you would expect at least a bit of topiary.

In the eternal sunshine of Scotty’s spotless mind, he has already won. Of course. Not only will Buddy turn all this around like a border collie with wayward mob of merinos, Dr Doolittle will skip away unscathed. But others beg to differ.

“… a drover’s dog could lead the Labor Party to victory the way the country is and the way the opinion polls are.”

Bill Hayden was miffed in 1983 to be stiffed by the silver bodgie; rolled for the leadership by Robert James Lee Hawke, (1929-2019). But Bill could be right on the money again. There’s talk of Albo needing a bit more of a combover, or a makeover or a total replacement but such misgivings may be redundant. In Australian politics, oppositions don’t win elections; governments lose them and Morrison is shaping spectacularly as a loser; a reverse Steve Bradbury.

This week brings news of another huge SNAFU. Instead of discovering how to prevent and treat COVID-19, the Morrison government frittered its research investment on the now-discredited hydroxychloroquine treatment, according to the Medical Journal of Australia. Craig Kelly is out but Clive Palmer must have friends in high places. Or a big war chest.

With over half the nation’s population now locked-down, uptight or out of sight in the Morrison Shit-Show™ as Bill Shorten calls the federal government’s delta debacle; its failure to deliver on any of its vaccination promises is telling. No-one trusts its offers of support: you get no money if you’re already on a pension.

But you do get the compassionate Anne Ruston looking after you with her industrial-strength tough love – or is it withering contempt? Coercive control?

Who can forget her slur on those out of work, that raising Newstart would be a gift to drug dealers?

While a yellow press uses lurid features and sensationalised reports in newspapers, along with dog stories and beat ups featuring druggie dole-bludgers, to entice readers and boost circulation, The Terrograph or Smellograph as it is also known, is also, like Sky and The Australian, larding Murdoch’s sewer with a fatberg of Liberal propaganda.

Where does Murdoch begin and Morrison end? They are joined at the hip-pocket.

In Morrison’s case, more ever, The Daily Telegraph helped a hugely unpopular candidate but a useful idiot cheat the system. Himself.

The Tele helped create Morrison, MP. News Corp’s notorious, dog-eat-dog Tory dung-heap-raking, dirt sheet gave Morrison a way to hack into post-truth federal politics. He’s always keen to think outside the box. The ballot box.

In four articles in July 2007, “The Tele” defames Lebanese Christian Michael Towke; causing NSW Libs to dump ScoMo’s democratically pre-selected rival candidate for blue ribbon Cook. Towke is pilloried as some type of imposter; a serial liar. Accusing another of your own behaviour is a classic gas lighter’s tactic. Towke wins a defamation case which News Limited settles out of court. But irreparable harm is done to Towke and his family. The stress puts his mother into hospital.

Faking a family pet’s perspective is another nifty initiative from the same creative whiz behind the fifty-five million dollar fiasco of the 2014 Cambodian Solution, which resettles two refugees -another Morrison Shit-Show™ stunt, light years ahead of its time. And how good are budgie smugglers? Morrison’s unique genius in marketing NSW Liberal Peter Debnam in his swimmers helped him lose the 2007 NSW Liberal election Shit-Show™. Labor had a field day.

“The member for Vaucluse barely ventured outside his harbourside comfort zone. But when he did, it was for staged stunts in his Speedos. That’s not listening to the community, it’s offending common decency,” then NSW Transport and Police Minister, who later become Labor Deputy-Premier, John Watkins, calls out ScoMo’s modus operandi.

Robodebt is another Morrison brainwave, hatched in his thirteen months’ stint as Minister for Social Services, a brief role which, nevertheless, created interminable suffering for victims. Apart from those who took their own lives.

At least 2,000 vulnerable citizens who had received a Robodebt notice between July 2016 and October 2018, died during that period, although with no official coroner’s report, it is not known how many were driven to suicide.

Robodebt went beyond offending common decency and into court where the government wasted $1.2 billion settling a case it should never have brought. The total comprised refunds of $721 million to 373,000 people, $112 million in compensation and $398 million in cancelled debts.

Given the PM’s pathological obsession with secrecy, no-one will ever know just how many similar triumphs he or his office are behind. Or why. There’s the baffling disappearance of Brittany Higgins’ alleged rapist who once had access to the entire ministerial wing at Parliament House and who could knock up security in the small hours. If he were a Labor staffer, there’d be such a brouhaha and a hullaballoo from the Murdoch media you’d never hear the end of it.

This week comes news of an optional online learning module of two hours for staffers and one hour for MPs. Brilliant. Fix up all that disrespecting. Of females. The women who marched on parliament have been studiously insulted. Mocked. Abused.

Sends a clear message to all serial sex pests. The boys’ club rules, OK?. But there are signs of waning support for the PM and his government among women. Finger On the Button, Dutton keen to keep himself relevant as his PM crashes and burns, beats up two Chinese spy ships lurking in international waters off Queensland to watch our navy’s sailors play war games with America’s.

Settle down, Dutto. Chinese ships visited when the biennial games started in 2017 and again in 2019. Let’s not pretend it’s up there with malicious cyber warfare, although it’s touching to see how we come running, panting, when our US masters need token support from their imperialist running dog lackeys as we were in Mao’s era. Bound to help our merchants solve China’s current Aussie export embargo.

If spying’s old hat, it also seems the hard way to garner Oz-defence secrets. All it takes to get into the defence minister’s office is a Liberal junior staffer or two with a pass, even at absurdly early hours of the morning. You don’t even have to be sober. Any security guard who challenges this system and speaks on ABC will be sacked.

If a Yellow Peril 2.0, doesn’t put the wind up you, a blue Katie Hopkins™ pops up on the starboard bow just when the PM and his open-all- hours poster girl, Gladys Berejiklian, need another Shit-Show™ distraction. Hopkins’ claims to fame include being caught en flagrante delicto frolicking naked in a field with Mark Cross, a former married colleague, but her racist bigotry and attacks on refugees make her a serious threat to the Coalition’s One Nation supporters.

“Get over yourself,” Katie tells a UK journo. I’ve stolen both my husbands. There’s a tip right there, Kerry and Peter, for Farmer Wants a Wife.

Billed as a “far-right provocateur” and a “reality TV personality”, both iron-clad guarantees of security – if not integrity – in our state-sponsored dog whistling racist political culture, Hopkins is astonished to be given the bum’s rush after she flouts quarantine rules by refusing to wear a mask or anything else in her luxurious quarantine hotel, a grave risk to our multi-skilled AFP wallopers on room service calls. She hopes to “frighten the shit out of them” by answering the door naked, she boasts.

Hopkins’ deportation mirrors the overkill of Morrison’s slathering attack on Christine Holgate, over the Cartier watches she gave a few workers as bonuses. We all know, now, that Holgate was not on board with his plan to privatise Australia’s Post. Had to go. By bullying a woman, from the floor of the House, protected by parliamentary privilege, Morrison hopes to pose as an authority figure who just happens to go MIA whenever there’s set of bad opinion poll results, or a Covid or a bushfire crisis.

Barking Barnaby Joyce, a changed man, he tells us, also gets a chance to butch up and put the boot in on Insiders. If he’s going to be paid a Deputy Prime Minister’s salary, he might at least pretend to take the high moral ground with Ms Hopkins over her breach of quarantine etiquette, even if he is upstaged by his mate Kerry Stokes’ outfit Channel 7 whose business end terminates Katie’s Celebrity Big Brother contract, given the threat that advertisers might boycott his Olympics broadcasts. If there is an Olympics.

Behind his Po-face, however, WA’s bantam rooster and Ben Roberts Smith godfather, billionaire mining, construction and media showman Stokes is laughing all the way to the bank. We’re all in this together, as Morrison says. To all his A-lister associates and toadies. In Western Sydney where the workers live, it’s a different story.

NSW police are demanding ID on the street or wherever they knock you up. Some even helpfully rummage through your Westie shopping bags, a welfare call, to help poor working class consumers determine which of their purchases are essential.

Invasive? Discriminatory? Legal? All of the above. It’s another top idea made flesh under emergency super powers the Coalition gives itself, in the interests of public health. States rush to follow suit. Some more quickly than others.

But help is on its way. The Indue cashless debit card for all welfare beneficiaries including age pensioners will quickly sort out the vexed issue of taking the discretion out of discretionary expenditure.

Cunning stunt of the week, however, goes to the Shit-Show™ that is the federal government in secret squirrel mode for its refusal to release details of fixer Phil (The Ferret) Gaetjens’ secret enquiry into Bridget McKenzie’s role in the Morrison scandal known as the Sports Rorts Affair.

Sports rorts are minor compared to the $600 million car parks in the air scam.

Why buy one election when you can buy three? The budget-minded need fear no more. Michael West reports Jimmy Tee’s 2020 research which shows team Morrison has stashed away billions in the Community Development Grants Program to buy at least the next two elections. The official extension of the CDG “provides the government with yet another campaign war chest of $1 billion for the next election in 2022 and a yet-to-be-determined figure for the election after that in 2025 – a case of rolling rorts.”

Another day, another government corruption scandal. The plot thickens in senate estimates, reports The Monthly’s Rachel Withers; the same PMO staffer enabling the “sports rorts” corruption is confirmed “as the contact for the car parks fund, for which a list of the top 20 marginal seats was created to canvas for projects – not just for commuter car parks, but for the entire $4.8 billion Urban Congestion Fund.”

FOI requests are rebuffed because the Rorts Report was commissioned for Cabinet ministers’ eyes only, a bluff that rather defeats the object of FOI laws, but in our brave new world of government by disinformation, deception and double-speak, a world in which Barnaby can stand in a paddock in a corn pone hat and blow his bags about how he’s the Deputy Prime Minister and not just some random Nationals leader.

And how Hopkins better remember how he dealt with Johnny Depp.

But Morrison’s circus is not just a flea-bitten dog and (corn)pony show, there are clearly big ideas in the offing.

Next the chooks will be cackling on 2GB. Other pets are bound to follow. History lessons from The Morrison Goldfish, Shark. ScoMo’s QAnon bestie, Tim Stewart, will pen a personal reflection: So Your Family Dobs You in to the National Security Hotline? Stewie could also do the odd family friendly report on our war with satanic paedophiles. Be just the sort of re-set we all need given the Morrison’ government’s monumental ineptitude; a paralysis that is turning a coronavirus crisis into a catastrophe.

Not everyone’s taken in. The vaccination disaster is the worst national public policy failure in modern Australian history, rivalled only by Paul Keating’s early-1990s recession “we had to have,” ANU Historian, Professor Frank Bongiorno writes in Inside Story.

Malcolm Turnbull cuts to the chase on The Project. The inability of the federal govt to secure enough Pfizer vaccines for Oz is “an epic fail.” It is the biggest failure in public admin he can recollect.

“The vaccines were able to be got, because other countries got them. What we lacked was leadership.”

Morrison could never be accused of being a leader. Or much of a success, really. His career is filled with stunts that blow up in his face. “Crass and sickening” The Greens call his decision to rock up twenty minutes late to the Cambodian debacle – and then to break out the champagne. Toasting his Cambodian “dirty deal” with champagne would be one of the lowest points of his political trajectory if there weren’t so many rivals.

Keating observed that Peter Costello, Howard’s eternal bridesmaid, was, a low altitude flyer. Morrison claims to have heard the voice of God in a painting of an eagle. He’s a low-flyer, too. Eagles may soar but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.

As the PM’s career goes to the dogs, you are struck by a groundhog day vibe.

In a career spanning a series of election campaign failures, notes Bernard Keane, Morrison’s employment pattern is to leave or be shown the door before his contracts end. It’s a bit like serial monogamy. Coitus interruptus? Or chronic incompetence? .

Scotty’s NSW Liberal godfathers, John Howard and Bruce Baird helped Morrison become NSW Liberal Party Director and Toe-Cutter, 2000-2004. Next, “Where the Bloody Hell Are You?”, he’s Lara Bingle’s travel agent (2006). An even more hypomanic period follows where the quick change artist and protean, shape-shifter poses as a federal MP who claims to be Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Treasurer. What we have here is chronic case of delusions of grandeur.

For some time now Morrison’s been insisting that he’s PM. Julia Banks vividly recalls Morrison telling her; “Julia. I. Am. The. Prime. Minister,” Paul Bongiorno, notes that he’s made himself King of Kirribilli with more than a hint of The Castle in his claims to legitimacy, abandoning The Lodge to those of less exalted status.

Now, as Delta exposes Morrison to be a dangerous sham, it’s time for the Bronte Bogan to mimic something more presidential. The affection of a literary pet should do it. The tradition dates to 1789 when George Washington brings Polly, to his administration. While George’s parrot’s commentary is unknown, during the period between his death in and internment, in 1845, the earthy Andrew Jackson’s Poll, another African Grey, turns the air blue with obscenities.

Is it grief? Or Old Hickory’s faithful, feathered, two-legged companion’s playback, payback, panegyric? All we know for sure is that the parrot has to be removed from the premises. Reverend William Menefee Norment, who presides at Jackson’s funeral, observes that the ex-presidential parrot is, “excited by the multitude and … lets loose perfect gusts of ‘cuss words.’” People are “horrified and awed at the bird’s lack of reverence.”

Buddy Morrison has a hard act to follow. A Schnoodle is not renowned for causing shock and awe. Yet everyone is cheered by a shaggy dog story, especially when times are rough if not downright impossible. Despite Glad’s Gold Standard Clayton’s lock-down of Botany Bay, the omphalos of Oz and spiritual shopping centre of our corporate oligarchy’s universe continues to put on a brave face. Seldom does it deign to wear a mask.

There’s business class muppet, Gladys Berejiklian’s mock-down fiasco, a spectacular leadership debacle and toxic by-product of the ongoing failure of a morally and intellectually bankrupt federal government to govern, let alone lead.

A NewsCorp photograph of Gladys and her new squeeze, hot shot defo lawyer, Arthur Moses, unmasked on a morning Macciato run doesn’t augur well for the Premier. Watch out for that bus. Nor does her mentor’s disappearance bode well for Glad. RoboScomo doesn’t give an Engadine Maccas whom he pushes under a bus if it saves his own hide.

And as for all those stricken with the deadly Delta variant of Sars-Covid 19 – and all those who worry about their friends, their neighbours; their family members’ safety, especially mothers bearing the bulk of the emotional labour of parenting – and even more in an era where women are forced into insecure underpaid part-time casual work.

“I”ve just learned not to care,” Morrison tells Annabel Crabb.

“And I really don’t that much.”

It shows. Increasingly, as a pandemic rages that could so easily have been brought under control just with vaccination and a dedicated quarantine system. A plan that’s not just four, vapid, flatulent phases of evasive rhetoric.

And a government with its heart in the right place from the start. A government fit to govern. One that honours its contract with the people. Not an endless series of announcements; a cynical shitshow™ of promises to be broken.

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