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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.


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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A Turd in the Surf at Bondi

“Australians all let us re-Joyce.” The second coming of Weatherboard Nine Messiah, Barnaby Joyce, causes much glee amongst cult devotees and much clutching of pearls within Coalition circles.

Multitasking, miracle-worker and maven of lost causes, Peta Credlin, AO, Tony Abbott’s stage mother and former front-end of the pantomime horse that was his government, a two year IPA triumph, jumps for Joyce, also a Riverview Old Boy. Calls Joyce a fellow “conviction conservative” who is just what the doctor ordered.

If Barnaby can’t put lead in the Nationals’ pencil, then, who can?

Not only will BJ miraculously resurrect a party shagged by agribusiness, done over by beggar-thy-neighbour neoliberals, populist grifters and carpet-baggers; under a coercive “partner” and in terminal decline since the fifties; now in a long twilight of bewildered nostalgia. He’ll shift the whole Coalition clown-show stage-right. Seriously?

Of course, this is what Credlin is paid to say. She’s another Murdoch handmaid, servant of an oligarchy that makes its money by investing in Big Mining, Big Pharma, Big Cotton and other soulless corporations; who enable an intensive multinational capitalist agriculture that brings with it deadly new viruses.

“COVID-19 should not be seen as an exogenous shock (that is, something coming from the outside) to our otherwise healthy social system. Rather, the pandemic is a side effect of capitalism’s extractive relationship with the natural world, mediated through and multiplied by globalised chains of production, distribution and travel. This growing likelihood of global pandemics is just one example of how this dynamic will have deadly consequences far beyond planetary warming,” writes Omar Hassan.

On the other hand, or in Joyce’s case, ham-fist, Regional Coalition MPs, Anne Webster and Michelle Landry fret that BJ will frighten the fillies. Joyce 2.0 will not go down well with women voters.

Founder of Australian Women in Agriculture, Alana Johnson, tells Guardian Australia it is “astounding” the Nats would reinstate Joyce. “like a dog returning to his vomit”; The Australian‘s Troy Bramston, puts it nicely.

Barnaby’s a Brahman bull in a China shop, whose animal spirits coupled with his blunt, outspoken oratory can crash through all affectation, civilised decorum and the rule of law to get results, his fanatical followers fondly believe. Who cares if a Taylor mob business’s Cayman account gets $80 million in a water rort? That’s BJ’s “retail” political genius. He’s also Scott Morrison’s useful idiot; a timely distraction in a crisis.

Joyce rushes into Alan (The Parrot) Jones’ studio for a quick benediction from The Sky Priest of Coalition Politics. Racist, misogynist, mining shill “I don’t swallow all this zero-emissions rubbish” Jones eagerly obliges.

Ratings can only improve with a deputy PM on his “very pro-coal” Sky TV show, piped free like Zyklon-B into every parliamentary office. And into the better class of private dementia wards in Sydney.

Joyce, ever the celebrity politician, gets a pat on the head for his word-perfect recital of the coal-miners’ creed. Backs both coal and nuclear power to make electricity we already make more cheaply and more reliably with wind, sun and hydro. Basking in the Sky-light, recycling mining companies’ lies, Joyce helps paint Morrison positively green by comparison, with his vapid, “… towards zero by 2050, preferably” Clayton’s commitment.

Having BJ, the clown, around is very timely. Upstaged, momentarily, is the horror show Morrison government’s criminal negligence in aged care, (910 fatalities to date and counting). Add its catastrophic failure to secure a nation’s vaccination or provide an effective quarantine system, declining Pfizer’s offer to provide any amount of vaccine in July 2020. How good is AZ? A dud vaccine, you can’t even make enough of in time?

Monday, Morrison blames the pandemic for the NSW crisis. It’s a desperate bid which won’t wash with the public. The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy notes,” … coronavirus didn’t stop Australia getting Pfizer, or failing to vaccinate workers, or failing to roll out dedicated quarantine facilities.” Morrison’s government did that.

Rachel Withers, in The Monthly, generously speculates that Morrison is tired; in a slip of the tongue, he declares AstraZeneca fit for all Australians. He has to be seen to be doing something. The latest wave of infections which began in NSW has his name on it. The AMA or ATAGI won’t have a bar of it.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advises the Minister for Health on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) and other immunisation issues. Or that’s it’s official rationale.

But Hunt ignores ATAGI. In pure pandemic politics, Health Minister and Chief Medical Officer rush to support a PM. In a revealing, parallel tactic, leaks against Health Department Secretary Brendan Murphy find their way to media outlets who regularly help a Morrison regime with the scapegoating so vital to good governance.

On Sky, or its website, we can read just how Brendan Murphy is “a big problem in the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.” Sky News Editor, Andrew Clennell, explains how Morrison and Hunt have been misled by Murphy on vaccinations in stadiums, on getting your jab at your local chemist – how he opposed regional quarantine; how he was confident in the AstraZeneca; how he’s been usurped by Lieutenant-General JJ Frewen, (you can always trust a man in uniform).

Ominously, Clennell adds a thinly disguised call to sack Murphy,

“Scott Morrison needs to show leadership… Yes, you listen to the health advice but at the end of the day, you’re in charge.” Clearly, Clennell is misinformed. Morrison doesn’t hold the swab. The PM’s whole modus operandi is to deny responsibility. Unless singing his own praises. It’s hypocritical from a government which has long preached how every decision taken is on medical experts’ advice. Above all, it’s dangerous to public health.

“It’s a train wreck” says former Federal Health Department Secretary, Professor Stephen Duckett, now of The Grattan Institute. For Duckett, the federal government’s vaccination fiasco is a staffing failure at heart. Many of the ‘over-hyped and under-delivered’ failures of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout have origins in another pandemic; a neoliberal ideology which led LNP and Labor governments to strip the APS of its resources and expertise over decades. Atop these dire shortages, the Morrison government imposed a staffing cap.

After six weeks, Duckett criticised the vaccine “stroll-out” for the wrong pace, phasing, model and messaging. Now, four months in, he says, there still no real sense of urgency. Health-care, quarantine, disability-workers, aged-care workers and residents have still not been fully vaccinated. Mass vaccination requires vaccination centres and whilst there’s been some movement towards these, the Pfizer phase reverts to a GP model.

Finally, he notes the damage done by the wrong messaging, the relentless self-congratulatory boosterism, the endless shonky, dishonest superlatives in which we were the world’s best ruled out admitting mistakes.

And learning from them. Mid-week, Health Minister Hunt is corrected by Simon Birmingham: we’re not first in the queue for Pfizer, we’re last in the queue. Greg Hunt is still spinning the lie that we lead the world in vaccine uptake. In fact, we are last in the OECD, with five percent of our population fully vaccinated says Nine’s Waleed Aly on The Project. He flashes a graph from Our World in Data.

“Envy of the world” bullshits the PM. Yet both the BBC and CNN ask what is wrong with Australia’s rollout. In the end, his government’s vaccine advice has been bewildering. Incoherent. Confused and contradictory.

Calling in men in uniform can misfire, too. Drafting a navy commander, an army general, and now the national security committee of cabinet into Operation Covid Shield not only sounds over the top, it further undermines an Australian Public Service already browbeaten, underfunded and outsourced – a privatisation by stealth.

What we can rely upon is the government’s inconsistency. Hunt’s upbeat and down about the AZ vaccine, launching a scare campaign about blood clots, which have afflicted sixty-four Australians so far according to ABC’s Ellen Coulter. Two so far have died. The overall case fatality rate in Australia is 3%. Today, Hunt’s commending AZ – adding a bit of gas-lighting – “always been our policy” when it clearly hasn’t.

The Federal Health Minister’s embraced five official changes of position on who AstraZeneca is safe for.

One moment, Hunt declares a moratorium; the vaccine will be withdrawn in October. Now he’s suddenly advising everyone over eighteen to have a jab. Doctors will be given legal immunity, he promises. (Patients can fend for themselves?) It’s hardly a resounding vote of confidence in the vaccine.

Oddly, doctors want to see that in writing. Legal experts politely suggest GPs already have indemnity.

Why the change? Morrison’s made a captain’s call, long after the Premiers have switched off his virtual national cabinet meeting microphones and cameras. It’s just COAG by another name but like all of MC Morrison’s moves it sounds impressive. MC? He doesn’t do stuff, he just makes announcements.

Did he order the Pfizer. Or just talk about it? Do we really have only 300,000 does of AZ left?

Premiers are not happy. It’s a desperate attempt to cover up the mess that he’s got us into. Wednesday, they distance themselves from Morrison’s decision. It did not come from national cabinet, they say, despite Hunt’s insistence that it was “noted”.

Queensland is vehemently opposed to Morrison’s big new idea. Its protest can only add to an undermining of public confidence in AstraZeneca, a confidence the federal Health minister and his PM have already wrecked.

More damage is done when Queensland reveals that its requests for more Pfizer are being denied by the federal government. Is the PM’s lifting of AZ age restrictions, in fact, a desperate move to cover up an acute shortage of Pfizer vaccine? Queensland says it is, The Monthly’s Rachel Withers, reports.

But look over there. The Auditor General releases a report condemning Al Tudge and Mick McCormack’s Infrastructure Department’s $600 million plus car-park-pork-barrel bonanza. Part of a larger rort, the $4.8 billion Urban Congestion Fund dumps truckloads of public funds in forty-seven electorates in a bid aimed at saving Liberal seats in Melbourne and Labor’s marginal seats such as Lindsay in the 2019 election campaign.

No process, guidelines or criteria need apply, notes Bernard Keane. The never-say-sorry Morrison mob says it’s all OK, they were “election commitments,” aka bribes.

Another dead cat is on the table is called for. How good are Crosby Textor playbook trained minders? The cat is very dead. Scotty’s convict ancestor, William Roberts was born on Cornwall’s Lizard Peninsula in 1755.

Scotty has convict ancestors? Who would have thought? Flashback to his OS junket where he acts the fawning colonial with the Queen venturing the palpable lie that HM’s presence at a G7 was anything but inappropriate;

“Quite the hit, your Majesty,” he toadies. Betty Windsor winces. After getting the bum’s rush from Biden at a G7, he gate-crashes, he looks up a family felon in a Cornish pub-crawl. As you do.

Oxymoron alert. Online rag, Cornwall Live, tells a bemused reader that our PM just has to tear himself away from the G7 to visit three pubs because he’s in quest of his fifth great grandpa William Roberts.

Convicted of stealing “five pound and half weight of yarn” from William Moffatt of Launceston, Cornwall, Roberts was packed off to Botany Bay for seven years. But don’t try this at home, unless you are a Kiwi.

Roberts spent time in Bodmin Jail and St Keverne, which his great grandson just has to visit, too. It’s all totally innocent and not at all doing personal stuff on the public purse, Morrison protests on Monday to Ben Fordham on Sydney’s 2GB where the PM’s always up for a rigorous, on-air, full body massage.

What the PM doesn’t explain, (no-one tells him), is that behaving oddly is known to locals as going “a bit Bodmin”. Aussies stranded overseas are unimpressed with Scotty’s soft-diplomacy, as Simon Birmingham describes it. Catching up with family on a taxpayer funded junket? If only they could do the same.

Never missing a trick, Labor Senator, Kristina Keneally, is quick to take up their cause;

“Aussies can’t visit loved ones overseas and stranded Aussies can’t get home,” she says.

“In November, I said goodbye to my dying father on Zoom. Haven’t yet visited his grave in the USA. A secret trip to visit UK relatives who died 200 years ago. One rule for Scott …”

Pulling the wool runs in Morrison’s family. How good is a black sheep? Ask Fran Bailey who had Morrison sacked a year before the end of his contract in 2006 over his departure from established tender processes, a breach that just can’t be traced. Incredibly, Morrison may have lied at the time, reports Michael West.

“FoI documents … reveal the PM either lied about a critical probity report, or numerous government departments and agencies are so incompetent that all of them – together, coincidentally, jointly and severally – lost it.” Morrison lie? Documents? “Where the Bloody Hell Are You?”

But don’t look over here. Look over there! Murdoch’s claque which usurps an independent press in most of Australia – and which even sets the agenda for our ABC, is applauding NSW for imposing a lockdown – after spending a fortune rebuking Dan Andrews for his government’s handling of the pandemic in Victoria.

There’s at least 177 victims of the Morrison Pandemic in the Bondi cluster this Thursday day; NSW’s biggest Covid cluster, yet. Worryingly, as it was with the Ruby Princess the state may be, again, a super spreader.

Number one fangirl, Gladys Berejiklian, puts “gold standard” NSW under lockdown, an act of apostasy that ScoMo can only admire by complimenting the virus on its fiendish virulence. The virus made her do it.

Ex-beau, Daryl Maguire? Not guilty. Thrown under his own tractor. Gladys’ new squeeze, Arthur Moses SC, who is also appearing for the plaintiff in Ben Roberts’ defamation soap opera loves a full brief. Handy pal to have should victims or families of those suffering effects of a botched rollout bring charges of negligent homicide. Yet all is not lost on the dog-eat-God dung heap that is our national body politic.

He’s back. Dan Andrews, that is. Scotching loopy Louise Staley’s malicious myth-making and Murdoch’s conspiracy theorists who accuse the Victorian premier of lying down on the job just to fake a sickie, Long running daytime TV show Dan in Dock resumes transmission in Spring Street this week.

Series critics, Sky’s Peta Credlin and News Corp’s Rachel Baxendale are already booked to do their infamous, fatuous nit-picking, innuendo, airing of rumour and lynch mob parody aka Dan’s press conference.

He’s back 2.0. Cue Alice Cooper’s theme song from low budget slasher, Friday 13 part VI: Jason lives as Santos’ man in the populist mask, Tamworth Tupper, Oz-politics’ answer to bonking Boris, Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce bobs up in the murky undertow of Nationals’ politics like a turd in the surf at Bondi.

One term of Barnaby as Nats’ leader was bad enough – but, as Niki Savva sniffs, two begin to look like sheer carelessness.

Is Niki right? Did Morrison’s overweening ego and contempt for McCormack lead him to abandon the Kabuki theatre of deference toward the Coalition’s junior partner and pave the way for Joyce’s coup?

Or did he shrewdly engineer the return of the man who kindly reminds us that regional dwellers like himself “don’t give a shit” about what happens in Melbourne. Because beef and coal are up.

Perhaps the PM has a similar indifference to BJ’s elevation. Joyce can only make the PM look good – And Morrison can certainly use a bit of distraction. Currently, he couldn’t look any worse. Why waste energy?

Even though ScoMo can’t abide Mick-Mack, he could hide it better. Captain Smirk of the Liberal starship Enterprise may have just given up pretending McCormack is a leader. Macca’s so dull he could bore for Australia. Even 2GB’s Coalition catspaw, Fordham sees it.

Calling for the current rural mouse plague to gnaw inner city trendies, however, suggests aberrant thinking.

Mice “rehomed” to inner-city suburbs to nibble the feet of animal rights activists and “scratch their children at night”, Michael McCormack, tells parliament whilst Morrison is drinking beer in pubs in Cornwall.

But the homophobic Elvis impersonator is not just a master of rebarbative wit in the lower house.

Getting his Infrastructure Department to rort the Urban Congestion fund over $600 million to buy seats in electorates the Coalition needed to win in 2019, was a stroke of genius. The funds ended up in places where congestion either wasn’t a problem or the carpark for rail commuters, proposed could never be built.

Why pretend that the Nationals, a rump of rorters and spivs from central casting stand for anything beyond pork barrelling, shilling for mining corporations and losing seats to Liberals?

Things come to a head when Morrison drops his “net zero emissions preferably by 2050” trick slogan with no consultation. Not cabinet. Not with anyone, let alone the Coalition’s “junior partner”.

Where experts such as ABC psephologist, Antony Green will tell you that for thirty years, the Nationals mostly lose their seats to Liberals and hardly ever win them back, Morrison already has the party dead and buried. Yet without the Nats’ RM Williams’ moleskin bums on seats, the Libs would be just another clapped-out, Tory party failing in opposition. As in WA, Victoria, Queensland or the NT.

(Although in Victoria, lobster-with-a-mobster Libs may become another chapter in the Book of Mormon.)

If Mick-Mack lowers the tone, the re-elevation of Joyce, another climate denier and mining shill, leaves the PM without even a hollow promise to lowering carbon emissions. It’s more bad news for anyone who has grandchildren or who cares about the planet; anyone who isn’t a mining company tout. Or a Murdoch.

Above all, BJ’s big step up is a resounding slap-down for women. Not only is there every chance that another misogynist will step into McCormack’s place on Morrison’s Task Force for Patronising Women but we now have two cabinet members with unresolved allegations of sexual misconduct or worse against them in a cabinet in which includes Linda Reynolds who calls Brittany Higgins “a lying cow”.

A petition demanding Joyce’s removal is currently only about 400 signatures short of its 25,000 target, reports Crikey’s Charlie Lewis. Another petition on GetUp to remove Joyce for corruption is doing well, too.

Naturally, our Murdoch-controlled press is tickled pink to see the BJ (beetroot jus) soufflé rise twice. Our man from Pravda, (The Australian’s) Greg Sheridan, hails his pal Barney’s return, as “a high-wire populist leader”.

It’s a big stretch. Even for fossil-fuelled, Sinophobic, warmonger and Trump fanboy Greg Sheridan. Leader?

Next it will be “visionary”. (On carbon emissions, Joyce reckons 2050 is too far away to be sure of anything, other than that most MPs will be dead.) Fans reach for easy clichés. Barn’s a “retail politician” who could sell you anything and who achieves “cut-through”, a buzz-word for Trumpian vulgarity, upstaging, buttock-pinching and harassing a seventeen year old woman in the Ladies’ toilet of a Canberra pub, it is alleged.

A Murdoch media fawns over Joyce. His copy writes itself, as with Trump or Boris.

Sometimes it has to. A few praise Joyce for his jazz-like improv work. Unlike Trump or Boris, Barn segues effortlessly – fearlessly – from the logical to the scatological. Take his recent riff on a recent Q&A

“I don’t want their problems in our streets … If I get engrossed in Palestinian/Israeli politics, I take my mind off here … I don’t want to see someone else’s turd in my toilet and if you come into our country … flush it.”

Barn has a few fans, but probably not amongst Palestinian refugees. He’s “the perfect political animal,” gushes Richo a flush former (Labor) Party animal and fellow dodo himself. But Joyce 2.0 is fit, rested. Restored. In epic and abject inadequacy, he tells us he’s a reformed character. Often.

I’ve become “a better person”, he claims. Person? The women’s allegations go to his workplace behaviour. But, let’s be fair, Barnaby, like Joh, doesn’t do coherence. Or contrition. His rise will do nothing but add to the Coalition’s problem with women – women voters that is.

Flash as a rat with a gold tooth, he’s off like a frog in a sock after being back-benched after Catherine Marriott’s allegation that that two years prior, after a 2016 Canberra function, he sexually harassed her.

Marriott is a prominent, highly respected WA agricultural businesswoman.

Must be lying.

BJ made the news, just prior, by going public with details of his long-term relationship with his former media adviser, Vikki Campion, who has since become mum to his two sons, Sebastian, who was born in April 2018 and then Thomas, born in June 2019. He still says he believes in the sanctity of marriage and spoke against enabling free Gardasil vaccination against HPV because it would make young women promiscuous.

Sebastian is a sensation at Dave Hurley’s joint as he tears into frame, fit to wreck any Governor General’s decorum, kneecaps or antique furniture. So comforting to see Seb’s a chip off the old block, as Barn gets sworn in a second time as Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, a preposterous legacy of a Coalition deal that perpetuates the lie that the two parties’ union is anything but a marriage of political convenience.

Or that we actually have a functioning Prime Minister instead of an observer, someone who makes tedious, flatulent, announcements about vaccine supplies but who never really ever gets around to getting any. (Show us the vaccine, Morrison.)

Or that the Nats are anything but an historical atavism, or, as Morrison implies this week, a very junior partner. A Britney Spears’ type of conservatorship may well be the new paradigm. The secret agreement will not be re-written just because the Tamworth Tupper gets the hollow crown. Nor will the vitriol from the PM’s office now oozing into favoured media outlets ever let up. Morrison’s reliable that way.

Joyce drunkenly “… pinched me on the bottom” following a 2011 awards ceremony at a Canberra pub, claims another woman who must be making it all up. Joyce complains that his political rivals have fabricated malicious stories about him. Yet in 2011, he was just a Queensland senator. Just a bloke behaving badly in a pub according to John Clements, former chief adviser to Tony Windsor.

Joyce denies it all. His own party could reach “no determination”, on the allegation after eight months’ deliberation. Yet the Federal Nats did throw due process to out the window by immediately leaking Marriott’s confidential complaint to News Corp. Naturally, the party refused Marriott’s repeated requests to make their deliberations public. It’s how it is in the boys’ club of Australian politics. Secret men’s business.

“I walked up to my hotel room and I burst into tears. I then couldn’t sleep that whole night. I didn’t actually sleep for a week,” Marriott recalls, in her account of the aftermath of her encounter with Joyce.

Barney’s elated. He’s off his chops to be top dog again. Yet he wins last Monday’s Federal National Party spill by one vote; eleven out of twenty-one. His appointment confirms that the National Party is not listening to women, say a number of rural women leaders reports The Guardian’s Sarah Martin. Nationals’ Michelle Landry and Anne Webster both believe restoring Joyce to the leadership will alienate women voters.

But always back the horse named self interest. The Nationals morphed into Rorts R Us long ago, opines Crikey’s Bernard Keane.

“Always remember that the Nationals are, foundationally, not a political party, but a conspiracy to rort taxpayers. And that will always come through in whatever they do.”

Now the mining corporation shills have their work cut out to keep up the pretence that they’re a political party or that they represent the bush. Desperation rules. Recycling a diabolical liability in favour of ScoMo’s muppet, the dud, homophobic Elvis impersonator, Invisible Mick, “Get off the Grid” McCormack is one way of keeping yourself current. Hell would freeze over before Mick would listen to the Greens on climate change.

“Unplug ya mug.” Mick is already a legend for his advice to all latte-sipping, hemp shirted, mung-bean sandal, inner-city hipsters and any other critics of Coalition’s plans to build new coal-fired electricity plants.

“We absolutely need high-efficiency, low-emission coal-fired power stations,” Joyce tells Alan Jones. As if they exist. As if they are not more mining company propaganda. On climate, BJ is Tony Abbott in an Akubra.

“No one likes big holes in the ground … but the point is, you like your health system, you like your education system.” Another lie. Subsidies enjoyed by mining plus the cost of the damage done to environment and climate far exceed any income they provide us.

Joyce says small modular reactors could “power the city of Tamworth, the city of Armidale and a lot of other towns beside” with technology you could transport “on the back of a truck”.

Except they don’t exist outside of mining corporation propaganda. A single 300 MW reactor operating at 90 percent capacity factor would withdraw 160 million to 390 million gallons of water every day, heating it up before discharge. SMRs are a chimera. They will not play any real role in climate change mitigation.

Nor is there a role for Darren Chester as Barnaby swiftly rewards those who backed his coup and punishes those who did not. “Flash bit of kit”, champion sports roster Bridget McKenzie is now back in cabinet proving you can rort all you like. An MP can get away with anything in Morrison’s government. It’s his insurance policy.

Whether Morrison will get away with neglecting the Liberals’ relationship with the Nationals or engineering Barnaby Joyce’s resurrection through wilful neglect of the Coalition’s junior partner remains to be seen. What seems inevitable is that Joyce will cost the Coalition votes in the next election, at least amongst women.

Equally inescapable is the conclusion that the Morrison pandemic is a catastrophic failure to organise an adequate supply of an appropriate vaccine and an effective distribution system – just as it’s clear the government has failed in its responsibility to the vaccinate the elderly and frontline workers.

It has also ducked its duty to set up an effective quarantine system and instead wasted time criticising hotel quarantine in Victoria.

But look over there. The arrival of Joyce on the scene may be a welcome distraction for a PM who thrives on evasion and may even gain from a climate denier and coal lobby shill even shriller than himself or his own right wing ginger group. On the other hand, Bramston, a favoured Morrison government flack, thunders;

“Joyce has little credibility in rural and regional Australia. He is a turn-off for most voters, including those who vote traditionally for the Nationals, and especially women. Nationals voters are typically socially conservative. They will recoil at the return of Joyce, his bumbling manner and soap-opera life. He was once a great retail politician but his life became a train wreck. He is a wrecker and a spoiler.”

In the end, the Joyce factor may end up multiplying Morrison’s challenges and highlighting even further his government’s corruption, ineptitude and inadequacy; its lies and, above all, its catastrophic failure to protect its people.

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Blood on your hands, Prime Minister?

“Future generations will thank us not for what we have promised but what we will deliver – and on that score Australia can always be relied upon,” Scott Morrison.


“PM, good morning to you. Do you have blood on your hands?” chirps a chipper Karl Stefanovic, who wears the same suit on Nine’s Today for a year to point up the sexism behind critics of former co-host, Lisa Wilkinson who dared wear the same shirt twice in four months. No-one noticed Karl; proving a breakfast TV point about sexist objectification which is neither original, unresearched, nor something not well understood by half the population. Perhaps in his next stunt he could don a dhoti – if he wants to disappear completely.

Everybody notices Morrison’s racist dog-whistle, “we’ll decide which of our citizens return to Australia and the circumstances in which they do so.” It’s a Tampa-style homage to his mentor, “lying rodent” John Howard. Thanks to both, it’s OK if our PM abandons the rule of law to be “tough on borders”. Or is it?

The criminalising of citizens just because they want to come home from pandemic-ravaged India is unprecedented. Experts warn that it may not even be legal. Former Race Discrimination Commissioner, Tim Soutphommasane asks what citizenship means if you can’t rush home from OS in time of crisis. Morrison’s practising discrimination; promoting an Australia where some are more Australian than others.

Typically hypocritical, Scott Morrison was quick to bag Queensland, last September, for closing its border, a move by a state aimed at saving lives, but one which drew the PM’s ire for risking Australia’s “humanity”.

Not that the federal government is keeping us all safe at home. The New England Journal of medicine reports new research suggesting Astra Zeneca, the mainstay of Australia’s vaccine program, is just 10% effective against the virulent South African Covid strain, which is found in Bali and Djakarta this week.

A range of vaccines would have been a wiser choice. Pfizer, for example, shows 75% effectiveness. Yet we’ve been unable to secure adequate Pfizer supplies. Nor do we have the multinational’s consent to manufacture our own even if we were all tooled up and ready to brew up a batch, as is CSL’s Melbourne lab, whose output the Morrison government keeps secret, in case we discover just how inadequate it is. Calculation based on current production, however, suggests it will take until 2024 before we’ve all had an AZ or Pfizer jab.

Preferably Pfizer. Because the SA variant shares key characteristics with another highly infectious variant which emerged in Brazil, (P.1) AstraZeneca’s vaccine may also have low efficacy rates on P.1. But Mum’s the word. Besides the government is in crisis management mode bringing citizens home from India. Or not.

Worse, the PM cops flack from unexpected quarters including the PM’s own back-bench, its chipper TV breakfast show hosts and its fair weather friends, Australia’s mainstream media. Even Tory hacks, such as Andrew Bolt say the decision to lock out brown Australians “stinks of racism”.

The death of any one Aussie will shame the PM, Bolt warns. By Saturday, one death is reported but this prompts the PM to declare that we don’t repatriate people with Covid-19. Always been policy. Standard practice globally. The man’s family is incensed. Even worse, “pushback” transcends mere mortals to reach the divine-pavilion of celebrity-cricketers, (Amen). Morrison just has to walk it all back. Duck, weave, deny and lie.

Karl’s first up on the PM’s media crab-walk, Tuesday. Our nation’s divinely ordained pastor, Morrison, to whom God speaks through a Ken Duncan photo of an eagle, confirming that he chose Scott ‘n Jen to lead us all, tries to weasel out of all responsibility for his SNAFU-prone government’s dumbest stuff-up.

Karl’s co-host, Allison Langdon, is on the (eye)ball, however. She cuts to the chase,

“The problem you have here, Prime Minister, the optics of threatening your own people with jail and huge fines is not a good one.” Criminalising citizenship? Definitely not a good look for a government which has busted a gut ear-bashing us all with how Aussie citizenship is a privilege not a right. Like extra virgin oil. Here’s Dutto blowing his bags over a bill entitled, Strengthening the Integrity of Australian Citizenship in 2017.

“Membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be granted to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia.

Citizenship is at the heart of our national identity. It is the foundation of our democracy…”

Work hard? Morrison’s off like a frog in a sock. Like a democracy sausage – all sizzle and no meat. His mission? He wants to con us that his fiat banning all travel from India is no big deal. What began as a brown ban is quickly toned down to a “temporary pause” until 15 May. It’s a worry. There’s a temporary pause on investigation into the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins, two years ago. As always, there’s a herd of scapegoats to whom he can pass the parcel of blame, this government’s next best game after its game of mates.

It’s the media’s fault. It hasn’t been helpful for “these things to be exaggerated,” he tells reporters, Tuesday.

It’s the doctors. The government’s acting only on the best advice of its medical experts – we are told ad nauseam – despite Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly making no such advice. In fact, the CMO alerts the federal government to the dire health risks to citizens who will be trapped in India by any travel ban.

It’s the law’s fault. Hunt tells a sleepy nation at just past midnight Friday a week ago, but this just buggers up Morrison’s attempt to blame the media for the threat of fines and gaol sentences. Hunt is unequivocal,

“Failure to comply with an emergency determination under the Biosecurity Act 2015 may incur a civil penalty of 300 penalty units, five years’ imprisonment, or both. The temporary pause will be reconsidered on 15 May by the government following advice from the chief medical officer (CMO).”

Morrison, however, can’t resist one last squeeze of the lemon even though the pips are squeaking.

“I’m not going to fail Australia. I’m going to protect our borders at this time.”

A duly sceptical Dennis Atkins in The New Daily won’t have a bar of it. Gutless Morrison “tried to pretend this didn’t happen six days later by saying it was the media’s fault, but he and his health minister did it. They did it for one reason: to get a tough guy headline, and that mission was accomplished.”

And because they could. The Biosecurity Act 2015 gives unbelievable power to the government, says Marque Lawyers partner, Michael Bradley, once a human biosecurity emergency has been declared.

Section 477 gives the health minister power to “determine any requirement that he is satisfied is necessary to prevent or control the entry of the disease into Australia.” This can include “requirements that restrict or prevent the movement of persons between specified places.”

But Greg Hunt’s got to watch himself. Measures must be “effective, appropriate and no more restrictive than necessary” – lyrical legalese from the unacknowledged poets of the world, as Shelley nearly said. A legal challenge on these grounds is mounted by Marque Lawyers, who file a case against Hunt in the Federal Court, Wednesday, on behalf of Gary Newman, a 73 year-old, who’s been banged up in Bangalore since last March.

Justice Stephen Burley will expedite the case for a hearing the following week.

Whilst there may be an implicit constitutional right to return, which courts would be unlikely to find unlimited, Bradley argues, the current ban is illegal – because it exceeds what is appropriate – and because it’s outside the powers which the constitution gives to federal government. Bradley echoes many others in noting that there are means by which the government could have rescued its 9000 citizens, concluding that its actions are “unlawful, disgraceful and racist.”

Another shot across the bows of Scotty’s Tampa 2.0 is fired by the UN’s commissioner for human rights, Rupert Colville who lets our federal government know that what it’s proposing flouts Australia’s human rights obligations; breaches international law.

“In particular, article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is binding on Australia, provides that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.”

Elvis, aka his impersonator, Michael McCormack rushes on to ABC radio to repeat ScoMo’s sophistry that his government has to take a hard line but it never meant to lock anyone up … At this time.

Given his past record, Morrison, as did Abbott before him, is likely to tell the UN to stop meddling in our affairs, which rather defeats the object of signing up to international agreements.

“We can never answer to a higher authority than the people of Australia,” Morrison said two years ago. “We should avoid any reflex towards a negative globalism that coercively seeks to impose a mandate from an often ill-defined borderless global community and, worse still, an unaccountable internationalist bureaucracy.”

Is the PM is channelling Trump? It won’t wash. The Human Rights Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, has already warned our PM that the scrutiny Australia is receiving is based on the high standards we ourselves helped create.

Marque Lawyers may well contend the ban is unconstitutional, but Morrison repeats no-one is going to gaol or anything. Welcome back to a Joh Bjelke-Petersen moonlight stage-like age of innocence and endemic corruption where the separation of powers can’t exist if your leader’s never heard of them. Not to be outdone, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews pops up to take matters from the subliminal to the ridiculous.

Always a barrel of laughs, a boss whom a senior Liberal adviser alleges to be “disrespectful, humiliating and demeaning,” Karen Andrews cracks hearty, at Wednesday’s chook-feeding presser. The best way to avoid doing time would be to stay where you were, if you were stuck in a raging pandemic, quips Kaz.

What a scream. Morrison’s cabinet is full of stand-up comics but lately it’s pure theatre of the absurd.

Only a ScoMo government could have a minister opine that your right to return is perfectly safe – provided you don’t try to exercise that right. Phil Ruddock is similarly reassuring in his religious freedom to discriminate bill which seems to have risen without trace to the Prime Minister’s orifice. But let’s not race ahead.

“Jailing and fining returning Aussies, I mean, as a sitting prime minister, it is incredibly heartless,” Karl Stefanovic says.

“Pretty much zero” chance of that happening replies Morrison, scrambling the separation of powers.

ScoMo tells Karl he doesn’t mean anything by his threats, Karl. His government’s vibe, Karl, is just one big warm and fuzzy buzz, Karl; like Strawberry Fields, Karl, where “nothing is real; nothing to get hung about.”

Karl’s keen to shirt-front Morrison but the PM’s dog-whistle is already exploding in his face as his hard borders, brown ban on Australian citizens’ trying to return from India earns a serve from “cricket great” Michael Slater. Meanwhile talking heads defend the PM; tell us how popular hard borders are with voters.

The messaging from the PM’s office is determined to blur the distinction between closing a state border and preventing Australians returning home from a nation which faces a catastrophic Coronavirus pandemic.

ScoMo’s speaking eagle must have been a wedgetail. He’s in a tight spot. Add in our pretensions to do business or be done over by Adani and how Modi loves our true blue, clean as a whistle Aussie coal. The ban has the government wedged between a black rock and a hard place. Aussie icons as Michael Hussey, who’s got Covid, David Warner, Steve Smith and Pat Cummins are stuck in Delhi. (Note: these men are cricketers a sport in international decline before Coronavirus struck, yet still more popular than religion in Australia.)

When Cricket Australia (CA) talks, governments take notice. On ABC TV’s PK show, some suit from CA, one of our Kafkaesque sports bureaucracies – aka “controlling bodies” that rival the medieval papacy for administrative bureaucracy – and alleged corruption – warns us that cricketers, bless their flannel trousers, may be super-heroes but some may still need a bit of TLC or an 1800 number state of the art type telephone counselling service when they return to the unreality of their Peter Pan lives.

Yes. It’s the poor hard-done by cricketers who tug CA’s heartstrings not those suffering the worst Covid outbreak yet, a pandemic which could reach a million cases per day. And unlike our own hospitals, or those to which cricketers would have access, India must deal with a dire shortage of essential supplies such as oxygen.

But no such TLC from CA nor from Barry O’Farrell our invisible ambassador to India for Sonali Ralhan’s father who dies in a New Delhi hospital Wednesday. Ralhan says she contacted consular officials with “great hopes” at first that her parents would be helped home. Instead, she finds herself mourning the death of her father.

“I write to you with so much anger brewing inside me,” Ralhan writes 6 May. “I am an Australian citizen and highly disappointed to be one today. What nation disowns their own citizens? (It) is a matter of wonder for the entire world.”

The family’s suffering is not helped by what seems to be Australia’s unjust targeting of citizens in India.

No ban happened with the UK or the USA, commentators helpfully chorus. They overlook at least 40,000 poor souls stranded overseas, whom Deliverance Morrison promised to bring home by Christmas, past. Plus both nations had more infections per capita than India, busting open the PM’s specious, “safety first” argument.

It doesn’t help Morrison when he claims that he’s halting all flights to safety from a pandemic ravaged land just so he can bring more Australians home safely. The fruit-loop is drowning in his own word salad gloop.

But blood on his hands? Is Karl plagiarising the late, great, Richard Carleton? Or paying homage? Or is he just quoting Slater, former Aussie cricketer cum presenter? Either way, Karl gets up Morrison’s nose.

“No, Karl,” the PM snaps. “We haven’t had a shift. How you’re reporting it is a shift.”

Mission accomplished. Morrison reverts to his government’s Trumpian default. Any unwanted criticism is fake news. He rebukes his genial host before falsely accusing a servile media for misrepresenting his government’s position. Position(s). It’s so simple a young child could grasp it, as The Monthly‘s Rachel Withers explains.

“The government will be defending the ban, which it insists it has the power to implement, but it won’t be imposing it, despite deliberately invoking it.”

It’s not an invisible pivot. It’s more of a flip-flop with a lot less flip than flop. Morrison is just making empty threats to act tough. Again. Like the war with China, pencil-rattling Pezzullo is picking in his bid to get back to Defence. Insiders say it will never happen. The Pezz is also over-stepping the mark for a shiny bum; an unelected pencil-pusher, even if his boss sees fit to over pay him nearly a million dollars a year.

Morrison utterly contradicts his Health Minister. Huntaway Hunt our fearless leader’s cub was baring his fangs and howling at the moon, midnight Friday. You could be banged up for five years or fined $66,600 if you even looked like you were an Aussie booking a flight home to safety. No wonder Labor is having fun accusing the Coalition of chest beating gone wrong. It’s easy to understand. But first make sure you have a chest.

Slater’s stuck on the subcontinent as Big White Bwana Aussie cricket commentators love to dub India, unable to get back to his Island Continent home on the NSW waterfront somewhere- just because the federal government’s sprung a travel ban. He’s not a happy camper. He nicks off to the tropical haven of the Maldives, a “no news, no shoes” Shangri-La, haunt of the rich and infamous, where COVID-19 is still a risk along with insect-borne diseases such as dengue, Zika virus and chikungunya. Falling coconuts can kill you, too.

China’s Long March 5B, which sounds as if it should be a pencil but is, in fact, a spacecraft plunges into the sea nearby but as its government says, most of the rocket burnt up on re-entry and besides it’s too early to know if any of the debris from the ten storey cylinder actually fell on any of the Maldives 1192 islands.

Slater’s not going anywhere. But the biggest threat to life in the low-lying islands is climate change, which for Morrison, or his former finance minister and newly appointed secretary-general of the OECD, who takes up his five year term in June, Mathias Cormann, will all be solved by exporting our super high-grade, extra clean coal to India where its cheery blaze will lift millions out of poverty as it heats the planet into oblivion.

Ninety islands have disappeared so far and even by the typically generous projections of climate scientists, the entire Maldives archipelago will be underwater in eighty years. Ironically, in a microcosm of parts of Australia’s economy, the tourism, on which islanders depend, fuels the global heating which will drown them. But to a man of Morrison’s faith, it’s all part of God’s plan. Whilst many churches are concerned about climate change, there is not a murmur from any evangelical group. It’s a perfect setting for Slater’s attack on Morrison.

Of course Morrison’s got blood on his hands. With this happy clapper, punters are spoilt for choice. And Karl knows it. It’s dramatic irony – if you could call Today’s cheesy infotainment a drama. A woman is killed a week by a current or former partner. Experts warn the Morrison government that its recent abolition of the family court will help cause a spike in men’s violence (or domestic violence as it’s officially euphemised). As Abbott’s border enforcer, we can only guess how many of Morrison’s boat turnbacks ended badly.

We do know that 23 year-old Iranian Kurd, Reza Berati was bludgeoned to death inside the Manus Island gulag, one of our offshore prisons we’ve been happy to call detention centres. Witnesses say guards were in a frenzy and jumped on the man’s head in a rage.

Despite first telling parliament it happened outside the compound during the riot where dozens were injured on Manus 17 February 2014, despite assuring all parties that G4S were able to maintain security without the use of force, Morrison did update his story several days later. Naturally, then PM Tony Abbott was quick to defend his captain’s pick.

After Morrison is caught out lying, Abbott helpfully declares that Morrison’s doing a “sterling” job, adding that “you don’t want a wimp running border protection.”

Blood? Morrison knifed his own PM, Turnbull in August 2018. Then, there’s the two thousand Australians who died after receiving Centrelink Robodebt letters of extortion. Thank heavens we don’t have a wimp in charge. But boosting a macho man image means putting in the hard yards. Take Scotty’s marvellous Barnes dancing.

Scott Morrison and Andrew Twiggy Forrest at Christmas Creek FMG mine site

Shots of Twiggy and Scotty in hi-vis rig stretching to Jimmy Barnes’ Working Class Man along with 300 Fortescue Metals Group miners in a workout routine at the Christmas Creek iron ore mine in WA, also reassure a nation sick with worry over PMs turning wimpy or compassionate or that the Coalition is soft on its promises to dance in step with mining oligarchs. After a night on the beers, Scotty’s up early the next morning for the workout photo-shoot travesty.

Whilst statistics show our average worker may be a woman health professional, tradie votes depend on spinning work as blokey and physical; something you do outdoors in your hard hat and Yakka overalls, Bro.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Fortescue Metals chairman Andrew Forrest join workers for morning exercise during a visit to the Christmas Creek mine site in The Pilbara, Western Australia, Friday, April 16, 2021. (AAP Image/Pool, Justin Benson-Cooper)

Just in case limbering up to “Barnesy” isn’t enough bullshit in itself, Twiggy leaves nothing to chance, Fortescue’s owner tells Sam Maiden and other media hacks on tap that a bend and stretch routine is vital to get its workers ready for a long hard day’s work in the mine.

What isn’t spelled out is how highly automated and (buzzword-alert) “autonomous” modern mining is. While fitters have light, driverless, vehicles to fetch spare parts, even the big trucks can drive themselves. Fortescue boasts a fully automated haulage operation.

Still, it would pay to limber up before hitting the computer console or checking the smart sensors and drones.

Similarly, Scott Morrison’s office has cleverly taken much of the drudgery out of the PM’s work, substituting instead hand-crafted moving pictures of our leader being a man of the people, celebrating small business heroes in barre classes, building a Bunnings kit-set chook house or fawning all over the nation’s richest man, iron ore miner, Dr Twiggy Forrest, who in 2020, completed a PhD in marine ecology. As you do.

Scotty sucking up to Twiggy? Check. Hamming it up? Check. Token women workers taking part? Check. There’s even more talk, again of a gas-fired power station at Kurri Kurri in the Hunter. Visionary. We’ll all be paying for it in the Coalition’s insatiable appetite for state socialism despite its gospel of self-help, small government and the invisible hand of capitalism. The word is Snowy Hydro’s already approved the little beauty which is said, variously, to be set to deliver anywhere from 350 to 1000MW – but you know how good our Minister for fossil fuel Energy, Angus Taylor, is with figures. And doctored documents. Just ask him. Or Clover Moore.

One thing not in dispute is the buckets of money Coalition government’s lobe to shower over the fossil fuel industry. A ten billion dollar a year annual subsidy helps the little Aussie billionaire battlers.

Who’s beating the drums of war? Just in case anyone, anywhere, is in any doubt as to who’s a climate criminal, mining muppet Scott Morrison, the only PM to flash his pet black rock in parliament, seals the deal for Australia when he takes his mark at the back of the pack of forty world leaders at the USA’s virtual Earth Day climate summit, 22 April. On ANZAC Day, Mike Pezzullo, deftly turns our attention to the fact that those drums of war don’t beat themselves in the mother of all beat ups our war with China over another bit of China.

In a forum set up so that forty nations can increase their commitment to fighting global heating, ahead of a Conference of Parties, (COP26) scheduled to be held in Glasgow, this November, Morrison pledges to do nothing. Nothing but spin. Australia will make “bankable” reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, he says; even without a concrete 2050 net-zero target.

Cutting emissions by 26 to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, our current target, is already “insufficient” in the eyes of Biden’s administration.

As for being relied upon, just look at Kyoto, another meeting with the aim of producing binding commitments to reduce emissions. We are the world’s Artful Dodger, (a type-cast role played by “I’d Do Anything” Morrison at fifteen in the 1982 Sydney Boys High School production of Oliver!)

Kyoto credits – brainwave of John Howard’s Environment Minister Robert Hill are now off the Coalition table but that doesn’t mean other nations have either forgotten or forgiven our chicanery and bad faith.

Even a late spot on the programme flatters Morrison. He’s lucky to be invited to speak at all. Perhaps he believes in doing nothing because, the end times are upon us, as all good Pentecostalists believe.

Australia gets the Graveyard shift on a Long Earth Day’s Night. So why not tell the world just how much his government is a front for fossil fuel corporations who would kill the lot of us just to boost a balance sheet?

President Joe Biden sensibly leaves before ScoMo gets his slogan mojo on. Nature abhors a vacuum. “It’s not the when or the why it’s the how,” he says as if he’s doing some cheesy infomercial to teach teenagers, how good is consent. But he has no “how” to demonstrate and his insistence that carbon capture and storage is a viable technology makes us a laughing stock. We’ve spent nearly a billion dollars failing to make it work.

The Earth Day Zoom meeting is an international forum which acts as a prelude for heaps of other huff n’ puff stuff. BoJo is holding a G7 while Norway is getting the whole band back together.

Scotty’s also a hot prosperity gospeller. Believers get rich. The godly become wealthy and the wealthy become godly. If global heating means the world is going to fry like a fisherman’s basket, that’s God’s plan. Try to combat that? Sacrilege. Or even sin. Nothing to be done. Yet as one of the saved, our wealthy PM’s our to save others. Because he knows it’s what God wants him to do. Even if it means a Yuri Geller truth-bender. Not only does our happy clapping, rapture-rat, evangelical fabulist and con-artist, PM lie about Australia’s climate change policies, he bags every one of the forty nations who pledge to slash their greenhouse gas emissions.

The summit may be seen as the United States’ homage to the potlatch, a traditional, ceremonial gift-giving amongst some North American first peoples in which goods are given away for power in a complex ritual which includes the reaffirmation of family, clan and international relationships. The US opens the bidding with a pledge to cut emissions 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030.

While a terrified nation hides under the doona, our PM spruiks hydrogen. Not just any hydrogen or the green hydrogen advocated by some climate change experts but hydrogen that will be produced by burning coal or gas. The details are murky. Morrison’s a big picture man. As big as possible when he’s in the frame, posing as a tough on borders populist or a mate of Twiggy Forrest and his working class men. No hint emerges from the PM or his government that extending fossil-fuel usage is an act of wilful criminal negligence if not homicide.

His answer to what Biden calls “the existential crisis of our time”? Hydrogen valley. Where the fatuous meets the vacuous. Setting up a totally unnecessary coal-fired power station in the Hunter. Seriously.

It’s not the why or the when it’s the how. It doesn’t help that Scotty’s still a rusted-on fanboy of The Donald or that his microphone is off or – he’s on mute – as he is in half of all households around the country. The President has already left the building. This administration will decide later how it will reward Australia’s obstructing global consensus in curbing carbon emissions and embracing renewable energy.

Trade Tariffs may well be added to nations such as ours which seek to evade their international responsibilities with regard to curbing greenhouse gas emission and climate change abatement. It will not go well for us.

Joe Biden knows that Morrison’s not speaking to him. The PM’s not trying to reach an international audience. His remarks are for domestic consumption. Our totally transactional PM is frantic to appease the right wing of his party which, he believes, will see him as a true believer with his hard-line stance on border protection. Yet it is, in fact, an act of calculated, callous inhumanity which goes against the spirit of our constitution and against the letter of international agreements to uphold human rights which we once helped to write.

Morrison is right – but not for his vacuous rhetoric. Future generations will judge us on what we deliver. Just as they judge us today on what we do rather than whatever our government might say – and then pretend it didn’t say or try to crabwalk away from. The inaction of this government to honour its obligations to its citizens in its travel ban on those trapped in India – or its chicanery on energy or climate change, its betrayal of its stewardship, or duty of care of the planet for future generations, is an indictment of its motives to seek and hold power for its own sake and a travesty of democratic principle and responsibility to its people. It is also a declaration of moral bankruptcy.

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Keeping a Morrison government honest?

Warning: this article contains material which will shock monarchists everywhere, especially citizens of the south Pacific island of Tanna in the Vanuatu archipelago who once worshipped Prince Philip as a spirit or a god and who now must transfer their adulation to Charles, the son of (their) god.

Keeping a Morrison government honest is like trying to nail a jelly to a wall, as Teddy Roosevelt wrote of his efforts to get an agreement with Columbia in April 1912. Or the ABC’s work to take the twerk hurt out of 101 Doll Squadron’s sensational dance rendition of Koffee’s Toast (remix) for the “launch event” of HMAS Supply II in Woolloomooloo, (not be confused with HMAS Supply I a vessel which was actually launched where it was made in Spain in 2018).

The ABC is told to undo a video edit creating an image of top brass watching – Governor-General David Hurley, Chief of Navy Vice-Admiral Michael Noonan and Chief of Defence General Angus Campbell “observing the performance.”

The women complain ABC camera angles amount to upskirting which is then shown to the world. They feel “threatened and exploited.” Defence Minister Dutton declares that future ship launch celebrations will be twerk-free zones.


101 Doll Squadron


Hurley and Noonan claim they arrived post-“Toast”. The ABC releases Toast 2.0 which does show just a sole, impassive, Campbell mentally rehearsing his tribute to the late Prince Philip; doubtless pondering what Philip – both a sailor and a pants man might have made of proceedings. Meanwhile Liberal MPs are unhappy at the dance/warship fusion. They sook about how our armed forces are now too “left” and “woke” at a cost to their core business of killing people.

It’s another top opportunity for the PM to bash the ABC and throw another dead cat on the table to distract from his vaccination debacle. He brands the ABC camera woman’s work “disrespectful to the performers,” on Thursday. “To suggest the Governor-General or others were in attendance there in that way I think was dishonest.

The twerk angle is escalated into a major issue for all armed forces and Morrison’s standards: “ … standards have failed, and so I think Defence will look at these matters and make whatever changes they wish to in the future.”

Standards? Morrison’s invoking standards? What a crack-up. Kristina Kenneally finds her flight to Christmas Island cancelled by Peter Dutton a few hours after she’s made it. She wishes to visit the Biloela family in indefinite detention and she plans to take her joint parliamentary committee with her. Dutton says no suitable aircraft are available.

Ever resourceful, committed to the cause of open government and justice, Kenneally secures a Virgin flight.

“Peter Dutton did the one thing he could as defence minister and cancelled the committee’s flight on a Government Special Purpose Aircraft,” she says. “This from the same Minister who didn’t hesitate in spending $36,000 of taxpayers’ money flying himself on the same Government Special Purpose Aircraft from Queensland to Tasmania to announce a highly political “Safer Seats Rorts” grant during the Braddon by-election.”

Scott Morrison’s government has standards. And to adapt Groucho, if you don’t like those standards, it’s got others.

It’s a week of revision and revisitation. After five abortive tries to get a vaccination programme happening, the PM just gives up. If at fifth you don’t succeed, why try again? Scotty screws up his vaccine roadmap. He’s not playing the jab-plan game any more. Instead, National Cabinet, another Morrison, Secret Squirrel comic fiction, will Zoom bi-weekly to nut out a vax plan. Of course that doesn’t prevent the PM from hinting broadly, Friday, at open borders and quarantine at home for vaccinated Aussies returning from foreign locations. At least 40,000 stranded Australians are in limbo. They are still waiting for him to honour his promise to have them all home by last Christmas. National Cabinet will fix that, too?

So he’d love us to believe. He needs another scapegoat. And headlines. Wrest the narrative from his bullying of Christine Holgate, the interview he’s promised Brittany Higgins, her upcoming book – or reports that Ben Roberts-Smith buries a pink plastic children’s lunchbox of USB flash drives in his backyard. The drives, sources report, contain images that may implicate fellow diggers, a violation of Justice Brereton’s 2016 request that soldiers surrender any such material.

The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes have evidence that Roberts-Smith intimidated witnesses to prevent them giving evidence at the Brereton Inquiry. The media also have Images which show elite, Perth-based SAS troops at a fancy dress party at The Fat Lady’s Arms, an unauthorised bar, frequented by both officers and men in Tarin Kowt in Southern Afghanistan. One wears a Ku Klux Klan costume. Friends of his, dressed in similar outfits are alleged to have executed fathers, brothers, sons say locals in a series of complaints, dating from 2006.

A midweek press drop is called for. In synchronised stenography, surely a future Olympic Event – our media flacks oblige with “Back on war footing amid vaccine mercy dash to Europe.” It’s just another desperate Morrison stunt; set up another story that casts himself if not his motely crew of rorty, incompetent failures as valiant, chivalrous heroes.

Mercy dash? Knight errant, valiant, Dan Tehan kits up. Booted and spurred, he’s off to tilt at Brussels’s windmills. Another stunt. None of it fools Niki Savva, whose basilisk stare turned Gillard to stone, or so Savva swears.

“First Australia was in the front of the queue, then it slipped towards the back of the queue, now there is no queue, no timetable and no targets. All too hard.” The Liberal insider, scoffs at Morrison’s farrago of lies in the party’s Pravda, The Australian. To her, the PM’s a dead man walking. The pandemic will be the kiss of death because it reveals his government’s utter incompetence -when it comes to governance. And ScoMo has Pinocchio’s nose. His government’s paralysing ineptitude is compounded by its mythomania; its pathological inability to tell the truth.

But the Morrison omnishambles does some things rather well. It’s a well-oiled machine when it comes to injecting money into the economy via Job Keeper. Over a billion dollars went into some of Australia’s biggest and most profitable companies last year, boosting a $3.6 billion return to shareholders. A few will repay $78 million in return. Corporations don’t have to repay – unlike Centrelink beneficiaries receiving overpayments who get debt collectors set on to them.

Where the Morrison government really excels is being frugal with the truth. While it bullshits about its affection for small government, what it loves most is secrecy and deception. And it’s not just good at lying its head off, it’s mean and sneaky. It’s a black belt in the dark arts of persuasion such bullying Holgate, who cops a bucketing from Jared Lynch for her grandiose ideas, which did not endear her to the government, as he tells the story, in Friday’s The Australian. Add in the backgrounding against Brittany Higgins and David Sharaz or steam-cleaning a sofa. Anything underhand.

Or under Hunt. Down. Down. Down. Monday’s jab tally sags to 56,000. By Wednesday it is only slightly better at 63,633. No biggie, lies our Health Minister who, like his PM, would con us that in a pandemic, best to be the tortoise in any race to the mortuary. Or how we always stuff up on the best expert advice. Professor Murphy says so. “Vaccination alone,” moreover, “is no guarantee you can open up.” Yet last month, Morrison was promising an October jab-by-date.

A travel backflip is not without its risks. QANTAS’ ruthless CEO, one of the highest paid executive in Australia (total salary last year of $24.8 million) a $700 million government corporate welfare recipient, Alan Joyce, is overjoyed that domestic travel is back to eighty per cent of pre-pandemic level, whatever that means in an industry of brutal cutbacks. Joyce is still barracking for open skies in October, despite the Morrison’ latest dummy-spit on setting any target at all.

Alan’s not alone. Others join Joyce in intoning “October” as if it were some holy mantra – as if by power of repetition the month will bring news that we’re all vaccinated and back to business as usual. All our trading partners fit and well again.

You can always trust Hunt to plant his feet firmly in the air. Our thoroughly post-modern Health Minister Greg Hunt is always up for a back-flip. Or pivot. Or somersault. Just don’t ask him to reverse his refusal to testify to what he saw at the Intervarsity Debating Tournament in 1988, attended also by Christian Porter and Paul Fletcher.

For Hunt, there’s no open border on the horizon, ever. Nope. Nope. Nope. No commitment to when we’ll all have had the jab. Even when we do have everyone vaccinated, borders may stay shut. It’s a last-ditch effort to dump the whole vaccination distribution debacle back on to state laps. But before any smartarse can query the futility of more talk about distribution without having any supplies, Holgate-gate breaks, a public name and shame of bully-boy Morrison.

Clad in suffragette white, Christine Holgate appears before a senate committee to accuse the Prime Misogynist of trashing her reputation; gaslighting her resignation, in an orchestrated psychological war on one woman that she says leaves her suicidal. All too much for Scotty. He vastly prefers the old Holgate who was a self-serving corporate hack and Murdoch lackey on Ten. Scotty steals away on Shark 1. Jets to the western front for photo ops, a cash splash for Seroja cyclone victims and perhaps a single malt with merry, Kerry Stokes. WA is showered in handouts, a token five hundred dollars for kids and twice that for adults -just enough to big-note the PM but useless to those who must rebuild.

Shark 1 is a modest one hundred and two seater, a Qantas A330 converted in 2015 by Airbus to a freighter and air-to-air refueler. The RAAF KC30-A tanker is set up to ferry the PM and claque of embedded journos on big overseas trips. If he gets to make another: Morrison flew to Japan, last November. Foreign Minister, Marise Payne and former Defence Minister Linda “Lying Cow Reynolds” flew Shark 1 to Washington but PM’s office told them not to use the VIP suite.

Nor its comfy bed. The $250 million re-jig is worth every cent. A nation wonders how any PM ever did without it. No doubt it will come in handy if it ever becomes safe for any leader to jet away. The pandemic is raging globally.

WHO reports a rise in new COVID-19 cases around the world – for the seventh, consecutive week. Over 4.5 million new cases are reported, as of last week. 76,000 new deaths are reported. Alarmingly, the number of new deaths continues to rise over four consecutive weeks. It’s up by 7% compared to last week. Our PM would do well to heed this trend.

In the meantime, he’s desperate to wrest control of the narrative which entails despatching former DFAT pen-pusher and onetime diplomat in our nation’s Embassy in Mexico, dapper Dan Tehan, Minister for TTI, trade, tourism and investment to EU HQ to plead for more vaccine, even though we don’t deserve it. Dan’s had stellar success in Education, which he equates with training for jobs. Why, he singlehandedly doubled the cost of an arts degree, while helping ensure that Universities and the like did not qualify for Job Keeper. Bet that wins him fans in academia worldwide.

Perhaps the flight will also give Morrison time to reflect on his peroration on the dying of Abbott knight, Sir Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, for whom tributes still flow, thick and slow. Scotty’s no Boris Johnson who fancies Philip as an expert carriage-driver, whose racism and misogyny were just ways to “break the ice; get people laughing.”

“You look like you’re ready for bed!” he tells the President of Nigeria in 2003, dressed in traditional robes. It’s a quip that’s guaranteed to build respect and rapport between the two leaders and their respective nations. Just ask Boris.

It’s a tough gig. Morrison’s got a bit of competition, too. The demise of the notorious gaffer, the fabled Duke of the eponymous Scheme and self-reliant to the last, inventor of his own, patent, modified Land Rover hearse springs a gush of tributes. It’s tricky territory, which Marina Hyde reminds us, reveals more about the author than the subject.

” … neither royal fans nor royal detractors care entirely selflessly about what the royals want. Emotions are for us, not them. They are mostly required to serve as Rorschach blots, in which we see only what we wish and reveal only ourselves. Knowingly or otherwise.”

Many of us warm to Britain’s royalty, described by US Ambassador, William Crowe, in 1997, as the royal family mourned Diana as “aloof, rigid and lacking in empathy.” Many of us don’t. We project what we believe we see; and even that projection is shaped by others. Hamlet asks Polonius. “Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?

Polonius: By the mass, and ‘tis like a camel, indeed.

Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.

Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.

Hamlet: Or like a whale?

Polonius: Very like a whale.”


Prince Philip and Elizabeth in Australia


“The Duke’s life was one of duty and of service, of loyalty and of honour,” Morrison intones, unwittingly evoking his own back-stabbing, duplicity. The citing of the dutiful, master-servant, a mythological beast is compulsory. Unsaid are the hard facts of privilege. Despite Philip’s apocryphal stories of his poverty, he got by with a bit of help from his family including his grandmother, Princess Victoria at Kensington Palace, and later, his guardian Uncle George, Marquess of Milford Haven. His mentor was the distinguished Uncle Dickie, Lord Louis Battenberg, also renamed Mountbatten to disguise his German ancestry, but not his paedophilia, described in FBI files as his “perversion for young boys.”

Philip himself spent his married life playing gooseberry to a Queen’s love affair with her own royal duty. It did not sit well with him. “I am nothing but a bloody amoeba. I am the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.” Self-disparagement aside, he generally did as he pleased, if not without a certain ironic resignation.

Less well-aired are Battenberg’s views on the social picnic, although on one occasion, Philip did demand service. The Duke knew what he wanted but never really got it, a tragic subtext the obsequies of mourning clogging our screens.

“Bugger the table plan, just give me my dinner.” Cut off in his prime at 99, HRH, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, is said to be a “shock death”. The consort, on sufferance, of Queen Elizabeth, the Second, whom he said was “only interested in something if it farts and eats hay, is admired for daring to share his inner vulgarian. Yet the Duke knew that fine words butter no parsnips. He’d be quick to deplore our media’s manic eagerness to fawn over him on his demise.

The gush threatens to become a deluge. Our own closet monarchists on The ABC are awash with tosh. They prattle endlessly, recycling well-worn, clichés and reheating stale platitudes. We learn yet again how Philip “modernised the monarchy” or how his gaffes were really helpful in instructing us what to avoid. Or taken out of context.

Yes. He was a devoted family man. Royal biographer, Sarah Bradford writes, of the younger Philip, “the women he goes for are always younger than him, usually beautiful and highly aristocratic … He has affairs and the Queen accepts it.

The BBC creates a dedicated complaints form on its website to cope with a volley of protests from viewers who find its royal fawning emetic. Many object to East Enders, Gardeners’ World and the final of MasterChef being replaced by simulcast pre-recorded tributes from Philip’s children. Randy Andy, Jeffrey Epstein’s pal, who was sired, by Lord Porchester, The Seventh Earl of Carnarvon is very much in frame. As is Harry, whose paternity is also controversial.

The BBC form’s a handy counterpoint to the sycophantic, bollocks of countless, mindless, fatuous, fact-free eulogies.

Philip did marry well. It should be his obituary. Being born an aristocrat was another stroke of luck. Forget the myth of his poverty. His people knew people who knew people with money. And mansions in England. Philip fled Corfu in 1922; smuggled out in an orange crate borne aboard HMS Calypso. (Greek: she who hides). The plan was to evade anti-monarchists out to kill his Papa, Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, brother of King Constantine of Greece.

King George sent a Royal Navy gunboats around, as you do, when a rellie is in spot of bother. He’d never forgiven himself that time when he was too slow to pull the fat out of the fire for his other cousin, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia whose main claim to fame is that he had no idea how to be a Tsar. Nor did he want to be Tsar. Russia was less than understanding. It ended badly for Nick and family. Now things were looking crook for cousin Constantine.

Con was forced to abdicate. Grovelers gush that the sea rescue kindled Phil’s interest in the navy, but that’s a bridge too far. He was an eighteen-month old tot at the time. He could hardly be expected to know his Navel from his Naval. Oddly, he has no fond memories of Greece or the Greeks especially the Greek who shot his uncle George in 1913.

King George I of Greece and Denmark was on an afternoon stroll in the streets of Thessaloniki, Greece’s second-largest city, when shot in the back by Alexandros Schinas, who declared that he shot George for refusing to give him money. He’d even petitioned the palace a few years earlier. Philip took the story to heart.

Schinas, whose tubercular delirium may have triggered his shooting, as he claimed, died six weeks later in a fall from a window of the Magistrate’s Office.

Like LEGO, the Greek monarchy, in 1922, was an expensive Danish toy, imposed on the Greeks by a referendum in 1862, after thirty odd years’ under Bavarian import, King Otto of Wittelsbach, a dud they fell in love with at first sight but whom they later came to detest, depose and expel. Surprisingly, there was no mad rush of candidates to replace him.

Prince Wilhelm of Denmark, the eventual winner, received a paltry six votes. More popular candidates, include Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, another debauched party-goer. Instead, Alfred is sent on tour to Australia, by his mother, Victoria, partly to curb her son’s appetite for society high-life. A bullet which lodges near your spine can also have that effect. Prince Alfred, Earl of Kent and Earl of Ulster, is the only royal known to have been shot whilst on a visit to Sydney.

Henry O’Farrell shoots Alfred in the back in a visit to a picnic, a fund-raiser for the Sydney Sailors’ Home held at Clontarf Reserve in February 1868, the first royal tour of Australia. Men and women faint. Tears are shed. Tempers flare. A few quick-thinking bystanders barely manage to prevent O’Farrell from being torn asunder on the spot. An “Indignation Meeting, only a day later, draws 20,000. Things turn ugly for Irish-Catholic Australians across the nation.

O’Farrell fesses up to being a lone wolf. Just before he’s hanged, he disavows any link with any other Fenian, much to the relief of NSW cops who are quite unable to find evidence of any fellow terrorists.

O’Farrell is fuelled by Fenian republican sentiment; the desire to liberate Ireland from British tyranny. Prince Albert made an heroic recovery by the end of March yet he was not destined to become the king of Greece.

“Affie” as Prince Alfred was fondly known to his family, won 230, 016 votes. Yet he was forced to politely decline the offer to become King of Greece, however, flattering largely because his mother, Victoria, disapproved. He would later marry Duchess Marie Alexandrovna, the only daughter of Nicholas II and Marie Alexandrovna of Russia and on the death of his uncle Ernest II, in 1873 took up the duchy of Saxe Coburg and Gotha and gradually became popular and was well regarded by his subjects on his death in 1900. Fast forward.

The Calypso took Philip to Italy and he went on to Paris. Philip never looked back. Or forward. Phil, the Greek, or Stavros or The Hun as the Queen Mother called him, may technically have been a Greek prince, but he neither lived in Greece nor spoke Greek. French and German were his languages. As a young child in Paris, he saw himself as a Danish prince.

At seven, he was abandoned by his father Andrew who left to set himself up in Monte Carlo with his mistress, while his strikingly beautiful mother, Alice Battenberg, profoundly deaf, but who could lip read in several languages, believed herself to be a nun and the only woman on earth and married to Christ. A doctor diagnosed her as a paranoid schizophrenic. Philip’s grandmother was persuaded by psychiatrists that Alice was best placed in a secure sanatorium.

Alice did not go willingly. In Easter 1930, the highly distressed woman was physically subdued by the doctor, sedated and taken by car to a clinic near Lake Constance. His mother’s committal, 2 May is the end of Philip’s family life.


Alice of Battenberg, Prince Philip’s mother


Philip did not reconcile with Alice until 1967, when they were re-united and they spent her last days together.

Philip was sent to England to live with his maternal grandmother. His childhood was chaotic and infused with tragedy, writes Andrew Scott in Politico. He was cared for by his grandmother, Princess Victoria in England at first and was later in the guardianship of his uncle. Gordonstoun school and later the Royal Navy were to be profound influences on his character and personality.

As an adult he retreated into a Colonel Blimp caricature, a public persona that could be an irascible racist and sexist. Examples abound. Philip once asked a group of women community workers in the East End of London who presented the Queen with a sponge cake, whom “they were sponging off.” “Do you meet for a gossip?” he added.

Did he fill the House of Windsor’s random stand-up comedy slot? Leaven her Majesty’s chit-chat and banter? He was far too shrewd to be its court jester. Philip is credited with introducing a business like approach to the royal household and he did notch up an Olympic record of seventy six years as her Britannic Majesty’s “Cookie’s” chief squeeze.

Hacks at The Daily Telegraph and other sycophants enjoyed creating the myth that Philip was a no-nonsense man of the people but he showed no great fondness for commoners. He was no democrat. He greeted the brutal Paraguayan dictator General Alfredo Stroessner in 1963: “It’s a pleasure to be in a country that isn’t ruled by its people.”

The man, however, remains an enigma. Much is made by British media of the royals’ charity work and there is no doubt it is hard work. Perspective matters, however. Whilst Tory tabloid toadies love to fawn over Philip’s statistical record of 22,219 “engagements” in his capacity as the Duke of Edinburgh over six decades: “… most such engagements, involving anything from launching battleships and unveiling plaques at town halls to guzzling drinks and tucking into banquets in the company of other reactionary toffs, lasted on average an hour.”

His working week averages about 350 hours a year of seven hours a week over sixty-four years. For his he earned a stipend of £360,000 PA. All expenses, such as travel, accommodation and meals were paid for him. A complex and reticent figure despite his rhinoceros hide, Philip is not found in his obituaries or the obsequies of public figures.

Another baffling enigma, Scott Morrison is back into his cosplay, the mainstay of his Prime Ministry, doing stretch exercises with mining workers (but not twerking) to the strains of Jimmy Barnes’s Working class Man. It’s quite a stretch even for our protean PM. He tells pet journos that we could be all be jetting OS again, Friday.

“The doctor ate my homework,” or the experts told us to take a punt on a few vaccines are its first line of defence. But when the going gets tough, Morrison gives up. Fail to honour a single pledge to meet any vax distribution deadlines? It’s the only thing, for which federal government will take direct responsibility. Now it refuses to even have a plan. You can’t criticise a plan that doesn’t exist. Just as you can’t be held to account for a rape you don’t hear about.

The non-plan won’t catch on. Vaccination rollout an omnishambles? All of us have skin in the game. Morrison’s inspired decision to abandon all targets is all lamely explained away by scapegoating suppliers. Uncertainties such as vaccine nationalism have been known since the first vaccines appeared. Labor’s Antony Albanese warmed the government of the risk of putting all our eggs in one basket at the time.

Critics such as a left-wing ABC or the sewer rats of social media are confounded. Great solace is to be had that we rank just ahead of Bangladesh or one hundred and fourth in the global vaccination race?

Of course it’s just a walk in the park; not a race and we’ve lost only a total of 909 says the PM in a video he posts on Facebook, a type of social media he tells Australians not to trust, Laura Tingle, reminds Greg Hunt.

“We’ve been very clear to point out where you get your information from. You don’t get it from Facebook. You get it from official government websites,” Morrison patronises our National Press Club, 1 February, this year.

Yet our dilemma deepens – and with it Morrison’s problem. New evidence from researchers at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital indicates that just counting fatalities does not begin to assess the effect of the pandemic because it ignores Long Covid which may afflict at least nineteen per cent of all Australians who contract acute COVID-19.

“Long COVID hits women more often than men, affects young and old, and while more common in those who had severe symptoms in the acute stage, it can also afflict those who had only a mild course of COVID-19,” reports Crikey’s Jason Murphy.

Health Secretary Brendan Murphy praises the rigour of St Vincent’s research model which selects patients before they succumb to COVID-19 and which tracks them after they do. The experimental design side-steps some vociferous critics of studies which include non COVID-19 sufferers who dismiss Long Covid as all in the mind.

But don’t call Dr Laming. Liberal love rat, Andy Laming, the LNP’s upskirter can’t get enough of Facebook. He has a swag of fake Facebook community and news pages. The AEC is looking into the Queensland MP’s failure to make any political disclosure. Given the AEC’s record of investigations clearing Liberals in Kooyong for example, he’s got nothing to fear.

But Laming is in a spot of bother over his awarding a $550,000 govt grant to a rugby club in his electorate with links to one of his electoral staffers. Worse, the grant which comes from funding aimed at female participation, goes to the Southern Cyclones rugby club, which does not even field a women’s team?

MP for Bowman, Laming flip-flops on his vow not to stand for re-election thereby making himself a “de-selected candidate” who is entitled to a $105,625 resettlement allowance , explains researcher and Walkley finalist, William Summers. A net loss to his own party in terms of scandal, Laming will exit politics at our expense. Yet Morrison’s refusal to stand the MP down is yet another sign that the PM lacks the bottle to be an effective leader; much as he lacks the moral compass to condemn the behaviour of a party member who is a stalker and a troll who bullies women online.

Finally it’s still a shock to many that the PM takes it upon himself to offer an Easter Message. Worse, the sentiments expose the inadequacy multiplied by the inhumanity and sadistic cruelty of his government’s policies

“A very special time when people and families come together?” OK. Not so much for forty thousand Australians stranded overseas by his government. Or the Biloela family in indefinite detention, a type of torture according to the UN, on Christmas Island. Not for the poor whose numbers his government’s IR and economic policies have vastly expanded. 3.24 million of us are forced to live below the poverty line of half the minimum wage, ACOSS calculates.

But how good is The PM’s Easter Massage? Lynton Crosby may throw a dead cat on the table to distract us but it takes a Scott Morrison to get Jen to pet someone else’s live labradoodle. Get real.

A nation goes wild over platitudes and re-hashed homilies as we are left pondering his parable of the girls who must grow up but who’ll never lose their love of chocolate. Tony Abbott’s mentor, Cardinal “Melbourne Solution” George Pell reinvents Easter in an op-ed in The Australian in which he bullshits that the pagan festival has Christian origins.

But imagine if the Easter Message were not words at all but deeds; a commitment to a living minimum wage. Businesses can afford higher wages. The Guardian’s Paul Jericho reminds us businesses can afford higher wages. Profits increased by 15% in the last 12 months. It’s the first recession in Australian history when profits got bigger, not smaller.

Women would benefit the most. Two thirds of all award-dependent workers are women. Yet government policy increases inequality. As women returned “to part-time, casual and low-paid roles last year, the gender pay gap across all jobs (including part-time and full-time) widened from May to November, reaching 31%.

The federal government needs to do more than hand-ball the pandemic to the states to deal with. If it can’t secure enough vaccine, then say so. Call an election. But at the same time it needs to heed the women who marched on parliament not patronise and divide them or buy them off with a women’s cabinet taskforce.

A real boost to the minimum wage would not only help address the gender pay gap and the scourge of inequality, it would stimulate an economy that is coming off job-keeper in a world in which the coronavirus pandemic still rages, only to be depressed by the application of austerity economics – as seen in the shameful measures mooted by a Morrison government to make it harder for our most vulnerable to access the NDIS.

Time to drop the evasion and the indecision, Prime Minister, the nation is calling out for leadership not only in obtaining adequate and timely supplies to ensure a successful vaccination roll-out – but leadership in applying consequences to the likes of Andrew Laming. Above all leadership and vision is required from your government in boosting the minimum wage to stimulate the nation’s prosperity and to attack the scourge of violence against women at of its key origins – the undervaluing of women’s work and gender inequality in the workplace.

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Morrison can’t take a trick

Warning: this article discusses rape.

Morrison can’t take a trick lately. He fails the 4 million Covid vaccinations by March target he set in January. Massively. Andrew Laming is off on empathy training to stop his stalking women; curb his up-skirting? Because the party needs the pervert’s vote. Morrison doesn’t have the bottle to sack him. He’s barely promoted Amanda Stoker as deputy of his new women’s taskforce when Grace Tame calls him out. He’s either pulling a swiftie or he’s got dud judgement. And the latest skirmish in the PM’s guerrilla war on women who investigate rape accusations against mates and staffers blows up in his face.

The PM smears Sam Maiden via a snide dig at Sky’s Andrew Clennell for an act of sexual harassment in a News Corp women’s loo. But it didn’t happen. News Corp and Sky swiftly point out how wrong he is. Water closet-gate will be his undoing. But how good is ScoMo as a rapid-fire shit-canner?

“One more scandal. One more boneheaded disgrace. One more backbench troll sent off to study how to impersonate a human being.” Speaking at the ALP’s virtual annual conference, which our press mostly ignores, Bill Shorten sees Morrison’s as already a virtual minority government in disarray.

AFR’s Aaron Patrick has to do Morrison’s hit job for him. It backfires badly. “A crusade of women journos,” upbraids Maiden, Laura Tingle and others for being good journalists and being women.

“Anger at the government over the abuse of women is being led by a powerful group of female journalists,” Patrick pouts in a personal attack rubbishing the “challenging,” “spiky” and “difficult” Maiden’s single mother’s poverty, the writer’s bad temper and ambition. Other women are incensed.

“So apparently giving Brittany Higgins a platform, calling the powerful to account, exposing government coverups & a vile rape/sexual assault culture in Parliament House, is not journalism. According to the AFR, it’s angry activism. Welcome to the new world order boys. Tweets Lisa Wilkinson.

Morrison makes a shocker of an apology on Facebook and on MSM. Blames the emotion of the moment. His cabinet reshuffle just looks like a ruse to demote Dutton, Porter and Reynolds, promote Stoker and to dodge responsibility for his government’s sexism. Misogyny. He press-gangs his women ministers into a “taskforce” to deal with girly stuff. But he and Marise Payne will “co-chair” it, just to keep it on track.

Why put four men in a women’s taskforce? It’s Morrison’s signature; he loves to smirk while twisting the knife. He must know we see him thumbing his nose. The taskforce is just another cynical act of coercive control in the abusive relationship his sexist government has with the nation’s women.

But first his vax debacle; the four million Covid jabs, he promised us by 31 March turn out to be a paltry 600,000. Only 3.4 million shy. The “vaccine rollout” won’t even meet his fudged target (2.0) of the end of April. Seventy-seven leading epidemiologists warn, Tuesday, that failure to vaccinate within the year will pave the way for dangerous mutations against which most current vaccines will prove useless.

Complicating matters, a tad, AstraZeneca, (the only vaccine we, plebeians, are due to get) may cause blot clots in the brains of those under sixty. But only seven people have died, worldwide. So far. And we won’t be halting the program because our Therapeutic Goods Administration says no.

Of course, our corporate elite call the shots behind the scenes. Peter Costello is smirking all the way to the bank. The underwhelming, $161 billion Future Fund, which dropped 0.9% in value last year, whose grandiosely-titled “Board of Guardians,” he chairs, has doubled its one billion dollar investment in vax manufacturers to a $2 billion punt during the pandemic. Costello also chairs Nine newspapers. Always plugs a good cause. While Greg Hunt boosts the TGA ceaselessly, the investor class is in for the kill.

Covid Commission adviser, “Babies Overboard” Jane Halton, has also healthy interests in our nation’s well-being including being Director of Crown Resorts, the COVID-19 quarantine facility in Victoria.

Best TGA in the world, says Greg Hunt. Endlessly. A model regulator. Who is he kidding? While there’s not a corporate arse, in any boardroom, anywhere, this government won’t blow smoke up, the TGA is supposed to be a government body. But it’s one which depends on those it regulates for its funding.

A watchdog which receives funding from health and medical companies has no conflict of interest? Model regulation? Not its transvaginal mesh scandal. The TGA approved the mesh without any studies to show it was a safe or effective prolapse treatment. It wasn’t. Thousands of women report complications, including severe pain and damage to nerves and nearby organs, including the bladder and bowel.

Similarly, a herbal remedy for benign prostate enlargement, from The Tomato Pill Company is TGA approved, despite research showing it is no better than a placebo. Clearly, critics just don’t know how our TGA works. If you have BPH, you might like to try a tomato pill, a TGA spokesperson says.

Morrison could bullshit for Australia but even then he meets only 15% of his original target. Work Experience Boy, Minister for Health Hyperbole, Hunt storms Sunrise, Today and sundry other TV infotainments to spruik his government’s huge success. In Hunt’s view, we’re the envy of the Covid World. Everything his government ever does is world beating or world-leading. Even its wanking. Revelations that Liberal staffers regularly film acts of self-abuse at work do help take the focus off rape cases and the government’s failure to honour its vaccine commitments. Thank you, Peter van Onselen.

(Anxious readers will be relieved to learn that one Liberal has now been sacked for jerking off at work). Bound to fix the problem. But even this token bust is too much for Michelle Landry who stuns everyone when she is sent out to praise the young man.

“The young fellow concerned was a really good worker and he loved the place. I feel bad for him about this, but it’s unacceptable behaviour,” Landry, assistant minister for children and for Northern Australia, says, outside Parliament, trivialising, if not normalising, lewd sexual misconduct – whilst neatly turning the perpetrator into the victim – a common inversion in the defence of male violence and sexual abuse and no small part of Morrison’s declaration of Christian Porter’s innocence and need for sick leave.

“Politician feels bad someone is suffering from the consequences of their own actions. Right,” tweets former Fairfax reporter now The Guardian Australia‘s Political journalist, Amy Remeikis.

Others see the behaviour as more disturbing; a defilement or desecration. If it’s not an act of violence, it’s certainly an offensive display of disrespect to any female boss. Ten has video of at least four other staffers in a “wankers at work” video which those involved keenly shared amongst friends.

But Morrison moves on. Reports of any man masturbating over a woman boss’ desk are now consigned to the memory hole of history. Furthermore, it’s been made quite clear, in the usual fashion, that this story or others related to it, are not to be pursued if you value your place in the Canberra Press Gallery.

The PM would love to pick a fight with the states over his own failure to honour his vaccine promise. But the states aren’t having a bar of it even if the PM’s office is able to team up with News Corp to release figures which imply that vax hoarding is the reason for the slow pace of the rollout. Time for a reset.

Enter the ineffable Hunt. No-one believes Hunt. Ever. His spin echoes the twaddle of his “meet and beat” our Kyoto targets. Or his soil magic, a boondoggle of bogus carbon offsets to pay polluters to plant trees they would have planted anyway. Offsets were never measured nor were they permanent.

Our vaccine delivery’s been overhyped and under-delivered, writes Stephen Duckett, The Grattan Institute‘s Health Director, who diagnoses a lack of urgency and poor phasing – frontline workers should have been vaccinated first. Delivery has been compromised, furthermore, by being politicised with Liberal Party logos everywhere and countless, interminable, brag-fests of self-advertising and relentlessly upbeat, absurd over-promising. They call this messaging? The danger of this hype, notes Duckett, is that it leaves no margin for error; blocks any capacity for a government to learn from its mistakes.

Learn? This is a government of covering up mistakes. Beyond even Hunt’s puffery, our PM of sleaze-baggery, self-interest and government by decree even takes a hit in Murdoch’s News Poll. Amen.

Run by YouGov, News Poll now operates solely online – a change which may render it even less reliable than last election, an epic fail that would cause any self-respecting poll to close down – but there’s also an Essential poll out to suggest that Australian women don’t like what they’re seeing in their PM.

Women’s disapproval of the PM rises ten per cent in two weeks – from 30% to 40%. His approval rating drops to 57% (from 62% earlier in the month) driven by lower approval from women (59% to 49%). Three out of four Australian women do not believe women are treated fairly in politics.

Not meeting the women marching for justice has cost him. The sex scandals may not have helped. Along with Michelle Landry’s loveable lad with Portnoys’ Complaint, reports pour in of rent boys, assignations, orgies during Question Time, abuse of Parliament House’s prayer room for carnal pursuits.

Certainly not helping is the government’s mishandling of the rape allegation against former Attorney-General Christian Porter by Katharine Thornton, a complaint she emailed police not to proceed with, a day before the woman, tragically, took her own life. To pronounce Porter innocent is not leadership by the PM but a painful, gratuitous, reminder to women of how the system works to protect men.

Speaking of protecting men, where’s Bruce Lehrmann, the former Liberal staffer in Linda Reynolds’ office? The rising star seems to have vanished in plain sight after committing himself to a North Shore mental hospital. All this helps turn Morrison’s dag persona into a reprehensibly clueless Mr Magoo.

Yet is anyone fooled? The PM is as quick to tip a bucket of shit as he is with a disappearing trick.

No-one’s sure Lehrmann still in the country. No-one’s talking. Million dollar man, ($914,000 PA) Phil Gaetjens reveals he’s “paused” the inquiry that the PM set up because the AFP told him to. The AFP denies this – only quickly to change its tune. It’s clear to all, except, perhaps, Brittany Higgins, that there’s no inquiry under way. The AFP, moreover, not only lack the resources and the experience to pursue a rape investigation, since its inception in 1979, it has done nothing to embarrass a sitting government. It’s sheer bastardry to keep up the pretence. But don’t expect Morrison to back down. He enjoys it.

Worse, there’s an orchestrated campaign to discredit Higgins and to impugn her character which ranges from Eric Abetz’ alleged slut-shaming to the alleged briefing against her from the PM’s office. In similar vein, Aaron Patrick attacks Samantha Maiden, who published details of the late Katharine Thornton whom Christian Porter is alleged to have raped. Maiden also broke Ms Higgins’ story.

A cabinet reshuffle is just what’s needed. A reset. While he’s at it, Pro-Mo sets up his own advisory council or taskforce, a cringeworthy display of tokenism and duplicity nurtured by a pliant MSM.

The Liberal’s woman problem? Fixed. Morrison anoints Marise Payne,“the PM for women,” a preposterous over-promotion, to say nothing of its dud subtitle. A journo asks if Payne’s newly exalted status means he’s PM for blokes only? Morrison walks back his spin to a meaningless “Primary Minister for Women.” Now his mob will be all ears to all women. Just don’t expect an answer from his five media advisers. His government by secret fiat is flat out hiding its stuff ups. It has so much to cover up.

Crikey’s Amber Schultz asks Nick Creevey, Senior Media Adviser to Team Morrison, whether there’d been hint of allegations of bullying against Karen Andrews before the PM promoted her to Home Affairs, made vacant by Dutto’s demotion to Defence. The PM’s Media team does not respond.

Andrews is not alone. Cash is a controversial choice for Attorney General, given her role in the hounding of AWU and the leaking of a police raid to the press. Is Morrison’s reshuffle plus political CWA just another bum note from the tone deaf goanna strangler? Or is it more sinister, cynical skullduggery?

Scotty’s taskforce is a Jen’s party of all seven women in cabinet, co-chaired by himself and the invisible Minister for Women, our low-profile Trade Minister Marise Payne who’s been knocking herself out lately, not commenting, not visiting the women’s march; not calling out Andrew Laming. No. She has no comment on the government’s failure to read Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate JenkinsRespect at Work, a national sexual harassment inquiry report. It’s been on Porter’s desk over a year.

The Commission says fifty-four of the fifty-five recommendations still await a government response. Australia is also yet to take any action towards ratifying the 2019 ILO Convention on Violence and Harassment. Whilst it moots a women’s summit, the Morrison government has plenty to work on immediately. What it would like to label “women’s issues” – rather than matters of common humanity and justice are not a priority. This reality is revealed in its failure even to respond to Jenkins report.

“It may come as a surprise to some in the government, but women don’t exist in a vacuum, writes Crikey’s Amber Schultz. Childcare is an issue for parents, not women. Workplace sexual harassment is an issue for employees and companies, not women. Sexual violence is an issue for society, not women. As a new report shows, even women’s salaries are not only an issue for women: domestic violence risk increases by 35% when women start earning more than their partners.

Jenkins notes that Australia ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women in 1983 with accompanying domestic legislation. Yet “over 35 years on, the rate of change has been disappointingly slow. Australia now lags behind other countries in preventing and responding to sexual harassment.”

Despite calling herself a feminist, Payne acts the complete enabler, the Coalition’s iconic Stepford wife.

Women’s equality, safety, economic security, health and wellbeing are “on the agenda,” says the PM’s press drop. Or will be. How could they not? We all know they’ve gone MIA since 2012 when Abbott made himself the Minister for Women, a calculated gesture of contempt, that no-one could forget.

In 2014, the Commonwealth government suddenly abandons forty years of practice and fails fifty-one per cent of the population by ceasing to publish its Women’s Budget Statement, an integral part of its federal budget. No sources are tipping that anyone intends to restore it. Instead it’s all fluffy stuff.

Senior government sources add the rush of improv theatre to the TF concept by bullshitting The New Daily that “It’s about making sure the policies are aligned with where we want to go as a government.”

No shit, Sherlock.

Other seers of the bleeding obvious see a taskforce with “a major hand in federal budget preparation” putting a “gender lens” on (The Big Swinging Dicks’) major policy areas and government initiatives.

If that sounds a tad murky, what is crystal clear is that no thought at all has been given to what his taskforce will do. Or how. But that’s the nature of a political stunt. It’s not meant to work. This is for show. Worse. Just a glance at its composition suggests Morrison is making sure TF it won’t work.

Kaye Lee profiles the women in the taskforce in a compelling argument that whilst the ministers may be women, their record on women’s issues suggests that they will not be agents of change or real reform.

Michaelia Cash, a lip-readers’ dream, maintains the pernicious myth that feminism is so old hat that it’s irrelevant to today’s women. Like solidarity. In 2018 Cash, a former Minister for Women boasts that she has the dirt on Bill Shorten’s female staff. No-one had the foggiest idea what she was referring to but then, as our PM just showed, you don’t have to have any factual foundation for a smear to be effective.

She’d heard the “rumours.” For women, unspecified “rumours” are still career death. In fact, any whiff of sexual misbehaviour, even if not directly committed by them, sticks like glue,” writes Jane Caro who notes that Cash, along with many other conservative women MPs are content to ally themselves with men. Token blokes or worse – enablers of a sexist, misogynistic, patriarchal regime that gags on quotas.

Home Affairs is huge. So big in fact, that experts warned Malcolm Turnbull against creating it. The departing, demoted, Peter Dutton, a former Health Minister who was voted worst minister ever by a group of doctors has done nothing in the portfolio to suggest good management or even that the monster is, in fact manageable. Already, however, sleuths such as Mark Kenny are keen to know if Karen Andrews will bring more compassion. Forget it Kenny. Her reply is to make a threat about social media.

More compassion with our applications and ad hoc deportations? Wash your mouth out. The thing that sticks in Karen’s craw is anonymous online disrespect. Of course. Dutto had the same bugbear.

[I] will certainly be taking an active interest and engaging as much as I possibly can on that issue.

Look, social media has significant challenges, one of those issues is the level of anonymity. We need to make it very clear that people can’t hide or should not be allowed to hide on these social media platforms so absolutely I will be taking a very close look at that.

Assistant to Marise Payne is right-wing darling of the Christian lobby, Amanda Stoker. Observers note that she began her career being seen as some sort of libertarian by being parachuted into George Brandis’ Queensland senate seat with a couple of years left on the clock. Then she turned hard right.

Stoker gets a big rap on and she’s spoken up for the victims of false rape accusation. Tertiary institutions don’t do enough to protect the rights of students (overwhelmingly male) accused of sexual assault harassment and sexual assault. Accordingly, Bettina Arndt is a big fan.

The Catholic Leader dubs her “Queensland’s voice for life,” and she’s been an outspoken opponent of abortion, regularly starring at pro-life rallies around Brisbane. Naturally, she is convinced that something she calls “freedom of religion” to be under attack despite a lack of any empirical evidence. Morrison shares the same belief and it may help explain why Ms Stoker’s been so rapidly promoted.

He’s got that beaut bill which Phil Ruddock charged a fortune to shape up. Christian Porter’s polished it.

“If we fail to defend people’s right to believe, and to practise their faith, we deny our nation its moral bedrock. Tolerance must cut both ways. It is deeply troubling to have so many examples to point to that suggest this freedom is under attack in our culture,” she claims, declining to point to a single example. It’s the “everybody knows” or “folks tell me” fallacy integral to Trump’s populist rhetoric.

It’s dangerous. Luckily, Frydenberg and Birmingham are along for the ride; helping the ladies’ keep on track. Keeping the boys in line is Elvis impersonator Michael McCormack, who owes his job as The King of the Nats to not being Barnaby Joyce. Big Mac has yet to display any leadership ability whatsoever. He is, however, a National Party MP who owes his deputy PM badge to the Coalition’s quota system.

While Macca’s icon, Presley, liked to take a clutch of fourteen year old girls on tour, the titular Deputy is unlikely to emulate his hero’s pillow fights, tickling, kissing and cuddling. But he’s bound to be right on the button when it comes to helping the ladies come to a decision about gender equity.

If work permits. His “meetings all day” made it quite impossible for him to meet the March4Justice women or even organise his wife, Catherine Shaw, into whipping up a batch of lamingtons. Or a pav.

Morrison’s latest faux pas is greeted with derision, disbelief, anger and weary resignation by at least half the nation’s population who grit their teeth and just get on with their day to day oppression.

As second-class citizens, women know all about gaslighting and abusive relationships- even if the good news comes from Papa Morrison’s hand-picked, handmaid Marise Payne. Or will – if she gets to speak. She may leave that to her assistant, Amanda Stoker. Stokes and ScoMo could be quite a show.

Both would very much like you to believe there’s no such thing as objective truth, and that after a while, the audience will simply lack the energy to understand or argue with what they’re watching – as Marina Hyde observes of Boris and his Brexit clowns.

“Blokes don’t get it right all of the time,” Morrison opines to his oleaginous on-air masseur, Ray Hadley, on 2GB, Wednesday, using that cutesy Love-Rub man-child special pleading he tries on in emergencies.

On this occasion he’s got dirt all over his face after his mudslinging at Sky’s Clennell bombs because Sky and News Corp say there’s no mud to sling. Morrison is quick to invent a salacious slur about a woman being sexually assaulted in a women’s toilet. Only top-shelf stuff from our Prime Mud-slinger.

“Blokes don’t get it right all the time, we all know that, but what matters is that we’re desperately trying to, and that’s what I’m trying to do, and we will get this right – we all need to focus on that.”

Of course. It’s not the stuff-up that matters – it’s how hard you try that gets people vaccinated. Ray could be an honorary Stepford wife himself, the way he coos over the PM; soothes his fragile ego. The glass jaw is a bit more of a challenge. But just listen to Morrison begging to be given a koala stamp for trying his best. Telling us to focus on his rhetoric not the reality. Is this what national leadership has come to?

Come in spinner. A session with Jen the clarifier helps him to understand that rape is a criminal offence?

Women won’t forget. Men are not quite perfect? Incredible. This ploy is a tricked-up version of “boys will be boys.” But just lately, the PM’s been getting nothing right – least of all his call to cut Job-Keeper and raise job-seeker by a paltry fifty dollars. Women will be most affected as at least three million Australians will plunge below the poverty line – all in the interests of saving expenditure.

Yet, on the debit side of the ledger, there’s no compulsion for billionaires such as Gerry Harvey to pay back a profit-boosting Job-Keeper they simply didn’t need. Welfare beneficiaries who are overpaid get no such indulgence. The government’s double standard, here, does not augur well for its new taskforce.

But what Morrison’s up to is his old hand-ball trick. Rather than burden poor limited men with women’s issues, he’ll give them to the few women in his cabinet to sort out. ScoMo’s silo. In a flash, he elects the Minister for Women, Marise Payne, Prime Minister for Women, while Amanda Stoker, another senator, a pin up girl for men’s rights groups, who supported a fake rape crisis tour to be her deputy.

Grace Tame unerringly calls him out. Appointing Stoker to second in command of his faux-taskforce demonstrates he either is “ignorant of the cultural issues at hand, or he understands them completely, and is making calculated moves to perpetrate them.

“If the latter is true, then what we are seeing is further abuse of power, masterfully disguised as progress – the very same psychological manipulation at the heart of these recently exposed evils.”

All but forgotten, thanks to the PM’s orchestrated litany of false promises, dissimulation and paternalism is the story of Brittany Higgins, now pilloried by such crusty right wing henchmen of the government as Eric Abetz. Her story, as recounted recently on ABC Four Corners, must not be forgotten.

“As I opened the door, I noticed that the female was lying on her back, completely naked, on the lounge that was adjacent to the door … for which I’ve gone, ‘Oh’.”

A whole nation goes “Oh” with Nikola Anderson as the former security guard at Parliament House’s ministerial wing, who was on night shift at 2:35 am, 23 March 2019, tells ABC Four Corners her shock discovery of a nude Brittany Higgins on a sofa in Defence Minister, “Lying Cow” Linda Reynolds’, office, located only a drunken stumble away from Morrison’s office; aka Big Swinging Dick HQ.

Morrison claims that he didn’t hear about Miss Higgins for two years; a claim so improbable it would be laughable – were his abdication of responsibility – to say nothing of the suffering – his office’s leaks help heap up upon Brittany Higgins and her loved ones – a laughing matter. But he miscalculates. Badly.

“It’s incredible… Inconceivable” that Morrison’s own staff would keep him in the dark about such a serious matter, says former PM, “Fizza” Malcolm Turnbull, the man Morrison knifed to get the top job, a job proving way too big for the man. You know you’re in trouble when Fizza calls bullshit on you.

In a desperate reset of his story, Morrison: Model Boss 2.0, the man Michael Keenan describes as an absolute arsehole, now makes noises about having made offers to meet Ms Higgins – as if meeting her somehow atones for his abdication of duty of care, or his office’s subsequent cruelty. Or losing her job, her credibility, or, in the latest of an orchestrated campaign of attacks on her credibility and character, becoming the butt of gibes fired by Abetz, who, of course, denies he ever slut-shamed her.

Morrison’s new version of his own melodrama is crafted solely for the purpose of diminishing a young woman who alleges she is the victim of a rape; paint her as spurning his support. Once again, he displays a rare talent for breath-taking hypocrisy and brazen denial as he gas-lights her version of events.

M:MB 2.0 has a twist or two in the plot. “Just before she departed,” or resigned, the PM tells Channel Nine, Ms Higgins was “offered the opportunity” to meet with himself and Michaelia Cash. Yet Higgins left Cash’s office 5 February, ten days before the story broke. Ten days before he says he knew anything.

Belief will not be beggared, however, much Morrison has “steadfastly maintained that he knew nothing of the alleged rape until 15 February, 2019,” writes Dr Jennifer Wilson. And now he is undone.

Morrison’s bluster; and his big-noting, braggadocio on the run will prove the end of him. His posturing merely accentuates the vulnerability of his victim as she appeared to Nikola Anderson, two years ago. The encounter is richly resonant, confronting as it is instructive; a type of violation in itself.

It’s a nightmare for both women. You want Anderson to say she immediately covered up the young woman; put her clothes back on; took her to hospital. Comforted her. But Parliament house doesn’t work that way. Anderson loses a job she goes public to try to keep. Guards are low down parliament house’s food chain. Along with whistle-blowers, you get sacked, or worse, for speaking up.

Already, Anderson’s testimony contradicts Finance Department reports that Higgins was found half-dressed. Above all, the guard’s version negates the PM’s lie that Bruce Lehrmann’s employment was terminated because of a security breach. There was no security breach. Two guards let him in.

And they let in Ms Higgins, who was, clearly, unable to walk straight. Or put her own shoes on. Anderson’s narrative also hugely damages the myth of Parliament House – to say nothing of how it punctures the rhetoric of national security and the fantasy that we have vital defence secrets.

“Nobody really knows the truth but me,” Anderson tells Four Corners

There’s security and then there’s Parliament house’s travesty. It’s an indictment. If security guards are so subservient to their overlords, how do they challenge aberrant behaviour? Anderson’s story shows how. Badly. A young staffer, with neither pass nor key and an allegedly “falling down drunk” young woman in tow, is admitted into the office of the Defence Minister at 2:00 am Saturday, two years’ ago?

“Can’t it wait, guys?” Anderson asks.

“Not really,” replies the man.

It’d be a walking bust in most outfits. The male emerges around 2:35 am, alone and exits quickly. Says little. No-one on the security team puts two and two together? No. That’s beyond their pay-scale.

A wave of revelations of acts of depravity, debauchery and slut-shaming follow; including word that Tasmanian Senator and Christian-right Tsar, Abetz, is alleged to have said that on that night, Ms Brittany Higgins was “so disgustingly drunk [she] would sleep with anybody.”

Abetz is also reported to have said that Christian Porter is “safe because the woman’s dead” and the AG will be protected by the law. It’s classic victim-blaming which sides with both alleged perpetrators in a singularly prejudicial way. It’s almost as if such outbursts are orchestrated by a fixer somewhere.

But if the most dangerous place in the nation for a young woman to be is in a cabinet minister’s office, the Morrison government appear to be running a bawdy house elsewhere. A rising tide of licentiousness threatens to capsize Morrison, a leaky rudderless craft.

It’s clear that The Miller’s Tale has its counterpart in our parliament and doubtless there will be much clutching of pearls in the suburbs, but, for Morrison, the most damaging aspect of being publicly mugged by reality is that it reveals a PM who is a sham; a leader who is clearly neither in touch nor in control.

First, the PM’s security breach story is contradicted by Anderson’s candour. Security let in Ms Higgins and her companion, Bruce Lehrmann. There was no breach of security, she stresses, but this quandary is soon upstaged by Peter van Onselen. His timely account of lewd acts, dissipation and low pursuits atop the desktops of Canberra threatens the record of Calcutta (Kolkata) under the dissolute Wajid Ali Shah.

Hook-ups and blow jobs? A prayer room, where Stuart Robert knelt beside his pal Scott Morrison just before Morrison knifed Turnbull, appears to be a multi-function, pleasure centre. “Tom the Whistle-blower” provides confidential information to Senator Simon Birmingham, that would earn Parliament House an X-rating, were it a computer game. But he’s not talking about virtual reality. The testimony he supplies to Birmingham involves four current and former staffers; three non-staffers; one busy sex worker; a former minister and a sitting MP in a slew of sexual encounters from September 2015 to 2020.

Dangerous liaisons are taking place right under the PM’s nose. Or knees as the case may be.

Nothing to see here, of course. The Office of PM and Cabinet, (PM&C) positively reeks top-secrecy when not leaking against its enemies, such as Brittany Higgins’ loved ones. Ms Higgins lodges a formal complaint with John Kunkel, Morrison’s Chief of Staff with evidence that Morrison’s media team has been “backgrounding” or leaking, off the record, information to discredit, demean and disparage her partner, former Canberra lobbyist, David Sharaz, who has been forced to quit his Canberra job.

Nothing to see? Except when mud-slinging. The PM’s hack-counter-attack -Tuesday, a departure from his earlier set piece, a histrionic baring of his soul, climaxing in a tearing up scene as the ham actor soliloquises grandiloquently about how the women in his life mean everything to him. But then he loses the plot.

In a flash, the PM switches from treacle to brimstone. He rounds on Sky News’ political editor, Andrew Clennell. How dare he suggest that Morrison can’t control his motely crew! – Clennell had better wise up or he’ll tell what Clennell did to a woman in a ladies’ loo. The mind boggles. But it’s all a bluff

That’s his implication, a lie, for which the PM stages a faux apology later.

Will water-(closet)-gate, prove to be Scott Morrison’s Waterloo? A royal flush of pundits think so.

Is he threatening me or something? Clennell, later on his own show, reflects, in a rhetorical question. The Murdoch journo helpfully notes that Morrison can tell him to “Be careful” about a fake incident that he says took place in a Sky water closet – but, even after two years – he knows nothing about a rape which is allegedly occurred only fifty metres down the hall from his office.

“Captain Schultz” Morrison is infamous for running such a tight-lipped, ship of state that not even his AFP’s Reece Kershaw nor his chief dogsbody, political hack, Phil Gaetjens, know where it’s going. Just don’t ask. Especially when Phil tells a senate committee it’s been two weeks since he hit pause on his “inquiry” into who knew what, where, when and why about the body in the office.

Gaetjens’ drops Morrison right in it. The PM’s been telling the House that Phil’s got the inquiry steaming along. Ongoing. All shipshape and Bristol fashion, rather like his government. But it’s more like the Evergreen Marine, run aground; lodged sideways hard up against the banks of the Suez Canal.

True, former NT plod, now AFP Commissioner, a boyish, Reece Kershaw, tries a quick re-float and turn around. It’s a spectacular retreat. In record-breaking time, he executes a top copper reverse pike.

Commissioner Kershaw disavows all knowledge of ever phoning Gaetjens to stop him poking around, asking nosy questions, in case the AFP’s, much-vaunted but almost certainly apocryphal investigations into the alleged rape of Ms Higgins are compromised. It’s another cover up of a cover up.

Compromised? Least a wary nation take fright at the latest shenanigans, there’s a dead cat on every table or desk. There’s such frigging in the rigging that the air is blue with talk of it, be it a Portnoy on a desk or staffers at it like rabbits while the Dorothy Dixers drone on destroying Question Time.

It’s a remarkable tale in itself filled, as it is with date rape and the disappearing acts of the mysterious Lehrmann, an alleged rapist who has yet to be questioned by police. Once he was a rising star. His meteoric rise without trace included a spell under George “bookshelves” Brandis, the former Attorney-General whom the nation was given to make Christian Porter look good. Fat chance.

Last seen “checking himself” into a North Shore psychiatric ward in Sydney, Lehrmann has vanished off the face of the earth or at least that earthy Liberal dunghill that the PM loves to call his Canberra bubble.

Will Morrison survive? The Liberals and their corporate masters will. Think of the cockroach, a creature which can survive without its head. Or is the PM undone already by his ill-judged mudslinging and his naked desperation to destroy the reputation of Samantha Maiden, a woman journalist, whose only fault is to do her job investigating two notorious allegations of rape? Can a PM promise vaccination and fail so demonstrably, so lamentably to deliver? Now women have woken up to him is it all over for Morrison?

Let us not be distracted by speculation. What emerges most clearly from the latest reports of group madness, bonkers bonking, rent boys, Portnoys and sundry wankers on desks from our federal government in the midst of its women’s taskforce theatre is the textbook persecution of a young woman who came forward with an allegation of rape. The persecution of Brittany Higgins, directly and indirectly through the media and from the floor of the House of Representatives, the assassination of her character and the systematic, orchestrated attack on her credibility is a monstrous injustice that shames us all.

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“Not a tin ear but a wall of concrete.”

A vast sea of black-clad women of all ages and some men seeking justice for women, swells around Parliament House, Canberra, as former Liberal staffer, Brittany Higgins, in suffragette white, tells us “the system is broken”, Monday, while inside, a tone deaf PM, snubs them. He won’t meet them. Doesn’t want have a bar of their petition by Survivors and Allies to demand justice for gendered violence in workplaces including Parliament, although it’s addressed to him.

Labor’s Anthony Albanese uses Question (evasion) Time to tell Morrison he’s “not got a tin ear but a wall of concrete.” Saying “sorry” to the Stolen Generations of Indigenous children was beyond John Winston Howard who discouraged his MPs from attending Sorry Day marches, a Liberal insider reminds Paul Bongiorno, but Morrison is more violent.

Women should be happy they’re not “met with bullets, he says, in Freudian slip, as he lists all the things “his government” is doing to “fix” male violence, (although he uses the popular euphemism, violence against women, a neutered term which bestows victimhood on women while obscuring the men who perpetrate the violence). Of course, the very next day, he’s protesting that he’s been wilfully misinterpreted. He’s always the innocent party. Or bystander.

Oddly by Wednesday there is still no Hansard transcript online. Perhaps The Fixer’s taken it down for steam-cleaning.

As always, Morrison’s a model of enlightened equability and charm. There’s nothing remotely truculent about his own rebuff. His habit of turning his back on Opposition speakers. Nor his pointed refusal to accept a petition bearing ninety four thousand women’s signatures. Labor’s Tanya Plibersek and The Greens Larissa Waters happily accept it.

Tireless advocate for women and iconic feminist, Minister for Women, Marise Payne won’t meet the women of the March for Justice. The petition? She helpfully suggests that they email it. As you would a rape allegation.

It need not be thus. Never before has a PM been given so many chances to lead and repelled them all. He rallies the troops in the party room with another inspirational Kokoda riff. “We’re on a narrow path. We need to have look out for each other and focus on what matters.” He’s been pumped since he rode in a tank in Queensland last October. He did leave failed LNP candidate, Deb Frecklington, behind but we can’t all get in the cockpit at the same time can we?

And as Morrison says, the rise of women should not come at the expense of men.

On International Women’s Day 2019, Morrison upstages a sensational speech by Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer,

“That’s not in our values. That is an absolutely Liberal value, that you don’t push some people down to lift some people up. And that is true about gender equality too. We want to see women rise. But we don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse.”

Such gnomic moments, doubtless, bring joy to The Big Swinging Dicks who like the PM are happy to talk about gender equality as long as they don’t have to do anything to promote it, but he does get a bit of cheek from Christian Porter’s number one fanboy, Murdoch chorister, Professor Peter Van Onselen, who tells his PM that he’s talking nonsense.

“Actually I’m sorry but if men have taken a finite number of roles not on merit but on patronage then there will be losers in what are sometimes zero sum situations.”

Former Deputy Labor leader and current Shadow Minister for Education and Training, Tanya Plibersek tweets a neater rejoinder,

Gender equality is good for both women and men. It gives all of us more freedom and choice at work, at home, and in our relationships. Feminism is a fight for equality between men and women, what’s so complicated about that?

At the moment Morrison himself could do no worse Unless of course he reprises Things That Batter, Alexander Downer’s witticism. While promoting the Liberal slogan “The Things That Matter”, in a reference to abusive men, Downer quipped that the party’s domestic violence policy would accordingly be named “The Things That Batter.”

15 March may enter history as Morrison’s Ides of March, the day when Caesar Morrison stabbed himself in the rotunda.

Even Murdoch rags talk of an Hawaii 2.0. Instead of leadership, Morrison rejigs tricky issues, reframes them into inanity, slogans – or an absurd word salad. If women want to complain, well, has he got news for them? Monday, he waves a list; a bull-necked coercive controller calling attention to his own selfless generosity. And its billion dollar price-tag.

His office gets out a calculator. Tots up what’s been spent, since 2014, on just one bit of part of one issue. Violence.

No-one’s bluffed. Take his Economic Security Statement for Women which has scrupulously erased any reference to discrimination and the way it fosters inequality which leads to lower pay for women. As Kristine Ziwica notes,

“… we are dealing with a government that does not recognise discrimination as a factor in women’s inequality or the gender pay gap. It’s all about women’s “choices”. In effect, women are to blame, and if they can just be helped to make better “choices”, all will be right with the world.” Undervaluing women’s labour is part of the same mindset. Jane Hume tells women to “work just a little a bit harder” if you want to get into the boys’ club that is our parliament.

“For women that don’t get there, the trick is to work that little bit harder. Don’t get bitter. Get better. Work harder. Nothing that is worth getting doesn’t come without hard work.”

Never; not for a nanosecond, will Morrison concede the truth; under his neoliberal bosses’ government – women have done more work for less pay under worse conditions than at any other time in the modern era. And it’s getting worse. In part, the pandemic has paused the economy but the prime cause is his government’s economic mismanagement.

It’s a colossal fail which has taken us from the pinnacle to the poorhouse in just seven years, writes Alan Austin who also notes the paradox that the more outrageous the government’s lies about its economic performance, the more the public is inclined to believe them. He points to unemployment, for example,

Australia’s jobless rate today is a miserable 6.35%. That ranks 81st in the world and a dismal 17th in the OECD. During the last Global Financial Crisis under Labor, Australia ranked third in the OECD.

Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison’s inept mismanagement has also caused catastrophic decline in wealth per adult, wages growth, productivity, retail trade, infrastructure investment, the value of the dollar and economic freedom.

An inexorable downward spiral continues despite some positive circumstances.

The states defeated the pandemic. Vaccines are now available. Demand for Australia’s exports remains strong. Commodity prices are soaring. The trade surplus is at an all-time high. Corporate profits are booming. The Parliament permits this Government to splurge unlimited billions borrowed from future generations.

Economic mismanagement drives inequality, particularly in the context of Porter’s IR “reforms” which threaten workers’ conditions and further suppress wage growth at a time when it is widely understood that wage stagnation is a key force in stalling the Australian economy. Porter’s reforms also entrench casual work, insecure poorly-paid jobs which are more likely to be taken up by women – 67.2 per cent of part-time workers are now women.

Even on spending, the PM is a hypocrite. In Budget 2020, the Morrison government cuts over a million dollars from its anti-domestic violence school programme in a year with more male and family violence than refuge workers have ever seen before. Fifty-five women are killed. One in four women experience violence from an intimate partner. Men’s violence is more severe or more frequent, report half of all women with previous experience of abuse.

Morrison’s list doesn’t amount to a hill of beans at the best of times. It’s not how much – it’s how well his government invests its vast wealth in its biggest human resource – its women- (there are only 994 men to every 1000 women in Australia.) But more women are suffering in more ways than ever before.

Whatever’s on his list, it’s not working. It’s an indictment of his government’s failure to begin to engage with male violence. All-female police stations are up for discussion on The Drum. Of course. Talk about parking the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff. There’s a pathological fear of investigating structural causes of violence because they lead uncomfortably and directly towards the casual misogyny, discrimination and toxic masculinity that is integral to many conservative parties including our own Liberal Party culture.

It’s a potent brew, fuelled by privilege, entitlement and elite private schooling which reaches its quintessence amongst the Nationals whose party bigwigs just couldn’t reach a decision when Catherine Marriott lodged a sexual harassment and/or sexual misconduct complaint against Barnaby Joyce in 2018.

Worse, Morrison has form; a long history of gaslighting, as Kristine Ziwica notes.

You can’t trust anything he says, especially when it comes to reciting statistics which, he reckons, somehow show that women have never had it so good. Or they don’t know how lucky they are. All the evidence points to a crisis, an ugly new intensification in the subjection of women as John Stuart Mill termed it, or as Eva Cox writes

“Women, particularly feminists, have spent the last four decades seeking equality with men, but have failed to change inequitable male-driven values. We started well in the 1970s and into the 1980s but as neoliberalism took over our progress stopped. We had gained laws for equality in some areas but without the necessary value and attitude changes, so outcomes were very limited.”

Dr Cox notes a paradigm shift – or a change in world view, which has caused us to treat each other as economic units, not sentient living beings. She laments the ways this has turned us away from our understanding of our needs and wants as a society and into a competitive marketplace instead. In the process, personal financial gain is elevated while at the same time most social needs are either devalued or demonised – as in this government’s war on the poor.

Feminist equity changes were replaced by macho self-interest criteria.

“We are all here today, not because we want to be here, because we have to be here,” Ms Higgins says, on Capital Hill although she and her partner, lobbyist, David Sharaz have been briefed against by the PM’s office; hounded out of town.

Ms Higgins’ testimony is part of a series of speakers including Australian of the Year, the amazing Grace Tame, who address an extraordinary March4Justice, a nationwide movement of over a hundred thousand women to call out those accountable for women’s inequality and safety in a nation where there are two million survivors of sexual violence.

It’s an unprecedented mass demonstration of women triggered less by reports of an alleged rape at Parliament House and an alleged rape in 1988 by Attorney General, Christian Porter than by the workplace culture exposed – and by the ways in which the rape victims are being denied justice, a theme repeated across a nation in which ninety nine per cent of rapists will not be prosecuted for their crime.

Between 2010 and 2018, rates of sexual assault victimisation recorded by police for Australians aged 15 and over rose by more than 30% (from 66.8 to 90.2 per 100,000) (based on ABS 2019).

The Women’s March 4 Justice upstages any post-mortem of the Liberal Party’s near total extinction in Saturday’s state election, a rout which leaves Nationals’ leader, Mia Davies, contemplating a coalition with the two or three Liberal MPs left. Five thousand, mainly women march in Perth, Sunday.

Labor wins big in WA; a win for all pollsters who got it right in “an historic landslide” and “bloodbath”, as Nine News’ hacks bung on the metaphor. It’s a win helped, in no small way, by Zak Kirkup, the first WA Opposition Leader to lose his own seat since 1933; the first ever to hoist the white flag before the battle; the Gideon Pillow of Australian politics.

One of history’s less successful leaders, Confederate General, Gideon Pillow ordered his men to entrench on the wrong side of fortifications at Camargo, a village below the Rio Grande in 1845 in the Mexican American War. While digging a parapet on the side protecting the depot from the town, Pillow dug the accompanying ditch on the other.

But we can’t blame his training. He had none. It’s the same for our nation’s politicians, unless you count debating, or Law. But they more than make for it by choosing the right parents and schools. Our archetypal anti-hero Pillow, (1806-1878) is appointed by his former law partner and mate, President James K. Polk. Their friendship firms in 1838, when Pillow defends Polk’s brother on a murder rap. Seven years’ later, an expansionist and manifest-destiny-man Polk makes Pillow a Major-General in the Mexican-American War; as they dress up a land grab. But what a war it was.

For Mexico it’s the Intervención Estadounidense en México – the U.S. intervention in Mexico and it comes after the US simply annexed Texas, which Mexico considered Mexican territory.

Poor sanitation helped turn Camargo into a bog of filth and disease, a festering hell-hole under a blistering sun. Soldiers succumbed to influenza, smallpox, measles, malaria, and scurvy. At least ten per cent died of dysentery.

Seven years later, Pillow hides behind a tree rather than lead his men into battle at Stone’s River, a few days’ rout, which ends in 3 January 1863. A year earlier, he abandons Fort Donelson 11-16 Feb 1862, a handball tactic, where he’s given command only to pass the parcel to Brig. Gen. Simon B Buckner who surrenders to Ulysses S Grant.

Kirkup, who, also, bears a unique name, courtesy of his Yamatji grandfather, traditional owners of lands and coastal waters in Northern WA is to be commended on deploying Pillow tactics. It’s rare to see a leader concede defeat two weeks before a state election is held. A brave, if not foolhardy tactic. Saves a lot of fuss and bother later.

Obliterated; reduced, possibly, to a party of two, WA Liberal MPs will still cut a dash on a tandem as they bicycle around Cottesloe and back to take High Tea at Dr David Honey’s, one of the two, or at best three, Liberal MPs left with a seat. Dave’s always up for cuppa and with six children, doubtless, has ample room at his pad for a party meeting. Items on the agenda will include a review of his sublimely titled “Spring on the Swan” campaign soirees with fine wine and food held at Mimi and Willy Packer’s Mosman Park mansion on The Swan. Willy Packer is a name to be reckoned with out West.

Out East, things is crook in Tallarook and there’s still no work at Bourke. Footsore and forsaken job prospectors fossick on the national mullock-heap for cast-offs and scraps the lucky country yields up ahead of the abyss, the maw already yawning beneath their feet. In two weeks, Job Keeper will cut. It can’t go on forever, they say. But of course it can. There’s $60 billion in credit due to an embarrassing Treasury oversight – that no-one in government ever talks about.

While 3.24 million of us suffer privation under the poverty line, and two million survivors of sexual violence suffer the Morrison government saga of Reynolds and Porter, victims of trial by media, whom the rule of law exists to protect in the latest travesty of A Land Girt by Sleaze, a muffled titter erupts when a third man goes down in Morrison’s Cabinet as Health (and Aged Care) Minister, Greg Hunt is rushed to St Vincent’s Private Hospital, Sydney Tuesday, with what The Australian hypes into ” an infection scare”, later diagnosed as cellulitis of the upper thigh.

“They’re dropping like flies,” gasp Twitter’s sewer rats, agog as Morrison’s ministers ape David Coleman whose leave now equals an elephant’s gestation, on to the sick list. “Lying Cow” Linda Reynolds, off with a dodgy ticker, pays damages to settle out of court a defamation suit brought by former staffer, Brittany Higgins, who alleges that she told Reynolds that she was raped in the Minister’s office in 2019, only to be made to feel as if she were a problem.

The very Christian Porter, an alleged rapist, whose accuser, Kate Thornton, tragically took her own life is on leave to repair his mental health and get his crack legal team to file a defamation suit against Louise Milligan and the ABC. The team makes a shrewd choice of federal court despite Porter’s scorn for those who would go forum shopping for best chance of most favourable legal judgement.

Opting for the federal court is a bit of a trend recently with high stakes litigants who believe they will fare better without the prospect of a jury trial.

Given that his immense powers include appointing judges to the federal court, there’s a bit of a hitch for The Fixer back at the Prime Minister’s Office – but it’s quickly resolved by announcing that his assistant minister, Amanda Stoker, who called out the Queensland Premier for having her knee on the throat of Australian tourism is just the person to take over the court side of Porter’s responsibilities.

The fine legal line Porter treads in launching a case in a court which is created by government, a court in which he holds the authority to shape a judge’s career or indeed impede it should she wish to proceed to the High Court, as is the case with Justice Jayne Jagot the judge set to hear his case.

Jagot had her sights on the High Court last year and the backing of many around the Sydney Courts reports Kishor Napier-Raman in Crikey.

Incredibly, NSW Police resolved not to read an email from the Prime Minister’s office, which we learn this week, contained no attached dossier. Nor did Police have the wit to read the dossier hard copy provided by Labor Senate leader, Penny Wong in which the victim of the alleged rape, Kate Thornton documented her suffering and provided names and contact details of those whom she knew could help support her allegations.

While Porter’s crack legal team is pursuing a strategy which will give him every possible legal advantage, there remains the case of the Health Minister’s ill-health, a crisis he may battle valiantly but which may prove to put the skids under his career as the Covid vaccination roll-out begins to look alarmingly tardy and a bit of a shambles.

Luckily, it’s only the nation’s health that’s at stake and now that rumours that the Astra Zeneca vaccine – the one destined for we plebeians – not the Pfizer which the ruling elite have obtained, causes clots has been quashed, we can all sign up merrily online as instructed. But is Hunt really up to the jab? Early reports were ominous.

“Potentially serious” puffs NCA Newswire, Murdoch’s own AAP-lite, which keeps costs down and journos out of work, still spinning Hunt’s illness on his release, Saturday, while Sky warns that Hunt could battle his rash for weeks.

Sky’s the limit; as eager to take the lead in the Foxification of events as it is to sling mud and rotten slops in its public pillory.

Kevin Rudd reckons Fox will radicalise our politics because Murdoch’s following the same game plan that worked so well in the US. Give it ten years, he says.

We should heed Rudd who pops up genially midweek to give a National Press Club Address on The Case for Courage, a refreshing reminder that we still have leaders who are both intelligent and articulate. It’s just that we are seduced by the Murdoch media monopoly and its satellites, Stokes and Costello into voting in the utter duds.

Silver tongued Hunt, a Melbourne University Debating Society (MUDS) life member is a scion of the late Alan Hunt AO, MLA, a Hamer era planning Minister, who, in 1986, almost toppled Jihadi Jeff, Victoria’s militant neoliberal extremist. Kennett mob slashed public service jobs as it privatised transport, energy and roads and aimed to privatise 3000 hospital beds, 485 of which were tendered off by the time it lost office. As luck and dynastic right would have it, Hunt is fixed up in St Vinnies, Private and Public the best Sydney Hospital, money can buy. Chyron writers can’t resist the pun.

“Sick Hunt in hospital” runs the Sunrise chyron combining a character assessment along with their health report. Oddly, the Oz ignores other pathogens ravaging our body politic; a canker afflicting the nation, the wen in the commonwealth that other monstrous oxymoron, the Morrison government, which continues to flout the rule of law.

Must our plucky Health Minister battle a mystery bug along with his serial incompetence and chronic logorrhea, (a pathological loquacity), both of which also afflict his motormouth PM, Scott “Word Salad”, Morrison? If the bumpy course the course of the vaccine rollout is anything to go by, Hunt may do well to heed his boss’s kind offer to take over his job.

The Australian, the Liberal Party Pravda, stresses the mystery ailment is unrelated to Greg Minor’s vaccination aka the jabberer’s jab. The plot thickens. Could Greg be feeling a bit sick given the prospect of further questions about the now notorious Sydney Intervarsity debating competition of 1988, also attended by its-all-a-blur Christian Porter?

A nation, sick with worry, rejoices. There’ll be line-dancing down Main Street Mornington, led, doubtless, by Julie Bishop’s man-bag, David Panton, a former twenty-four hour chemist, who once made a mozza by supplying the peninsula with pills and potions. Hunt will be OK with an overnight stay and “fluids and antibiotics”, combined, one trusts, by an agile, innovative and resourceful hospital pharmacy in the form of one mouldy orange, lobbed into his gob.

Never before has the sick list, the staple of sports reporters, been so avidly peddled by our merchants of neoliberal national spin, Kerry Stokes, Peter Costello and The Dirty Digger Murdoch, the power-mad catspaw of multinational capitalism and its investor class, claque of climate-change deniers and backers of big pharma.

Little attention, if any, is given to the pathological sickness infecting our own body politic in which the government of the day can turn its back on half its population and deny women’s call for justice and equality. Already, there are signs that the Morrison government has no option but to sack its Attorney General and its Minister of Defence.

The March 4 Justice movement will not be placated by a paternalistic sermon on all the money the government has spent making women safe. Women of Australia are less safe than they have ever been before and the gains toward equality made by feminism in the last four decades that Eva Cox documents are in danger of being unwound by Morrison’s tin ear, his innate obduracy and Big Swinging Dickery – underpaved by his government’s fanatical devotion to neoliberalism, with its fetish for privatisation and its coercive commodification of social relationships.

Not so flash either is world health – neoliberalism is after all an international contagion – in its latest excrescence, intellectual property rights are being used to shore up a lethal inequality or the way our nation attaches itself like a limpet mine to the hull of big pharma and the sadistic cruelty and selfishness of wealthy states that is guaranteed to see poor nations suffer.

In “commandeering Covid vaccines, there will be about 40-50 million more cases of infections and perhaps 2 to 3 million additional deaths,” estimate David Legge and Sun Kim, both of the People’s Health Movement, Michael West reports.

Too many of these unnecessary deaths will be health workers.

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“I’m the Prime Minister.” Really, Mr Morrison?

*CONTENT WARNING: This article discusses rape


“I’m the Prime Minister…” Scott Morrison

Despite its multi-gabled slate roof and ornate, white bargeboards,“rustic gothic” harbourside mansion, Kirribilli, is not our White House, however much Turnbull’s usurper, The Whited Sepulchre, Scott Morrison and his court love make-believe; however much he kids himself that he has the powers of a US president. Or aspires to a Trump-like posturing as some type of populist sage; a pretence that leads him to such ponderous banality as, “Aged care is complex … Life is complex.”

Never have we had a PM whose political career is so unfettered by belief, ideal or principle. Untroubled by deep thought. Ideas. Doyen of the Canberra Press Gallery and black-belt in litotes, Michelle Grattan calls out his near obsession with control.

For Morrison, it’s always all about himself and his grip on power. That’s why he backs ministers who, in any other government, would have been made to pack their Samsonite bags long ago. He’s investing in their loyalty, a quasi-medieval system of patronage rampant in our politics. The result is a court of incompetent crooks.

A brief roll-call is in order, given the twentieth anniversary of lying rodent John Howard’s regime. “Babies overboard!” Forget the Menzies bullshit, Howard’s main legacy was to make us feel comfortable about casual racism. And mendacity.

True, Howard did also go on to fiddle the till; squander the resources’ boom, which began in 2003, on tax cuts – middle class welfare – instead of investing in aged care, for example. Private investment would take up the slack. It was a goldmine for private equity firms, new foreign investors, superannuation and property real estate investment trusts, some of which became big donors to the Liberal Party.

How good is aged care now? It’s a disaster. We’ve failed our elders. How badly? It’s top secret. In a stroke of genius, The Howard government’s Aged Care Act 1997 made top secret all data relating to the safety and well-being of residents in aged care. Kudos, John. The cat is only now out of the bag and the figures are damning. Almost as damning as the number of Morrison’s ministerial scandals.

Speaking of figures, take a bow, Barnaby’s “Flash bit of kit”, Bridget McKenzie, for keeping shtum about $102 million the PMO must explain, in its hands-on rorting of federal funding to 684 clubs for party-political electoral advantage. Amazingly, it added projects, just hours after the election was called, 11 April 2019.

Angus Taylor, where do we begin? Or end. Watergate, grass-gate and the absurdist farce of the forgery of Clover Moore’s air-travel record. Unable to account for what went on in your office? Join the club.

Richard Colbeck, rocks up to a parliamentary inquiry, clueless about how many aged care residents have been infected by COVID-19, or the 800 who’ve died from it. Demoted. Punished by having to work alongside Greg Hunt.

Say this for Dick, on Monday, he’s the only one who seems even dimly aware of the key issues. He got the portfolio in the first place only because Morrison wanted one Tasmanian senator in (the outer) cabinet.

Neither Dick “clueless” Colbeck nor Morrison’s prayer-mate, Stuart, “Gold Rolex“, Robert -a fellow happy-clapper whose online evangelist wife, Chantelle, ran up a $37,975 bill on Stu’s residential internet allowance – have quit over major stuff-ups in their portfolios of aged care and the “robodebt” scandal.

It’s unconfirmed, but word has it that Robert may even be given Defence.

True, these two cases, alone, cost us over a billion dollars which would be welcomed by the 3.24 million Australians below the poverty line, but Scotty’s OK with that. What matters, boys, is I’ve got your back, you can hear him saying, his way of reminding MPs they owe him a favour. He’ll cut them loose if he has to.

Now we’re waving au revoir to the lovely Linda Reynolds who did everything she could to support Brittany Higgins, before shanghaiing Ms Higgins, in June 2019, into service in the halcyon sanctuary of Michaelia Cash’s office, where the young staffer was immured in a small office, in Perth all day, a sure-fire remedy for PTSD.

Sadly, Reynolds doesn’t know who wrote two references for her alleged rapist. Don’t ask. Is she responsible for the steam cleaning of a sofa in her office?

You’ll have to ask Finance, whose former minister, the climate-denying Belgian Shepherd Matthias Cormann who was readily persuaded to jet OS on a fool’s errand for top dog at the OECD.

Alas, Linda is returned to her sick-bed whence she is unlikely to return – at least not to her Defence post. And not until 1 April. Tragically, this means she’ll miss the ritual of having her department take questions on notice at senate estimates.

Also on sick leave is Christian Porter, who is the subject of rape allegations which he strenuously denies a key phrase assiduously repeated ad infinitum. And it’s a police matter. Porter’s off work, recovering bits of his memory that put the lie to his claim that he knew his deceased former debating pal Jane Doe only briefly in 1988. Seems they did renew their acquaintance, twice, subsequently, at least.

Porter’s looking after his mental health. Close ranks, chaps. Were he to subject himself to an inquiry, our society would collapse. Anyone could accuse anyone of anything and the onus of proof would be reversed.

Or so he claims. Is he thinking of Robo-debt; a stand over scam, for which he, as chief architect must take full responsibility? No doubt, the thought of the two thousand Australians who died after receipt of Robo-demands keeps him awake at night. Of course, not all of these committed suicide but it must surely vex his conscience.

Fellow barfly, and Big Swinging Dick, (BSD) acting Immigration Minister, Alan Tudge, also owes Morrison. Both Tudge and Porter were keen to close down an ABC Four Corners investigation, which revealed that both MPs flouted Fizza Turnbull’s bonk ban; to say nothing of Public Bar displays of passion. All dismissed by Morrison because, their alleged actions occurred during the watch of the previous prime minister.

But he’s good at shooting the messenger. Subsequently, Rachelle Millar, who tells ABC Four Corners, that she had an affair with Tudge, and who details Porter’s open dalliances at Public Bar, finds herself without a job because of her media appearance.

In his defence, Fizza Turnbull, does point out, a little after the fact, that he did call Porter on his conduct. Porter strenuously denied public snogging, hard drinking, sleaze-bagging or any other such impropriety. It’s not what Four Corners’ Inside The Canberra Bubble, broadcast last November, shows.

But just when Porter thinks it’s time to have a crack at PM, Niki Sava suggests he confides in “sources close to him” that he may leave politics after this term. The recent loss of his father, his second marriage break up and the proposed redrawing of the electoral boundaries of Pearce, his seat in WA which may either fold into MP for Cowan, Anne Aly’s – or become more marginal may cause him to choose another career.

As Attorney General, a position of public trust, his situation is untenable. His “it just didn’t happen presser” Wednesday is a train-wreck. He sounds more like the gun schoolboy debater he once was – than the AG he is supposed to be. His main slippery slope fallacy that an inquiry, in his case, would enable a flood of false accusations is a wilfully cynical and cheap misrepresentation of the type of inquiry he would face.

Above all, he has failed to meet the expectation that he be a model litigant. Perhaps Twiggy Forrest could fix him up with something. Along with Rio Tinto CEO, Sam Walsh, Twiggy was one of Porter’s referees for Federal Liberal pre-selection.

Are we seeing a tragic and dangerous case of arrested development, the middle-aged party animal frat boy?

Why keep the duds? Morrison sets great stock on buying colleagues’ support by standing by them in public, says insider Niki Savva, although “buying” is not her term. He has to. There’s his pathological lying. His weasel words. His (we owe you nothing) have- a-go-get-a-go? His charisma bypass. His Fixer. Who could trust him?

Especially on the rule of law, a concept he doesn’t grasp but which he’ll soon render meaningless by abuse.

With the aid of Hale alumnus, The very Christian Porter, whose big achievement so far is to abolish the family court, despite a wealth of experts warning of the great harm this would do women – who vastly outnumber men as victims of what is still misnamed “domestic violence” – Morrison leads a mob notorious for flouting the rule of law whenever it suits its dodgy cause. Take its guilty-until-you-prove-yourself-innocent Robo-debt extortion racket. Or the sheer malice aforethought or sadistic bastardry in the secret trial of witness K who is prevented from even knowing the charges against him. Teach him to blow the whistle on our bugging of East Timor in 2003.

Morrison’s above the rule of law government, acting through its paragon of innocence and virtue – if not Australian citizenship test grade family values – Christian, “I’ll smut my way through law school” Porter has ruined the career of Bernard Collaery who committed the crime of stepping up to be Witness K’s lawyer.

Whilst there’s so much more below the waterline of the Morrison government’s glistening fatberg of illegality and venality, cameras turn, this week, to Kirribilli, Sydney’s bullshit castle. The harsh sun of the first day of autumn reveals glimpses of a glittering waterfront backdrop, while chief of the Liberal tribe acts out his Walter Mitty power-trip. Morrison’s increasingly agitated, discombobulated, to rephrase Oscar Wilde,

“To lose one minister, Mr. Morrison, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”

Who believes the PM’s even read the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety? Or that he didn’t read the letter and thirty page dossier, anonymously mailed to him, containing names, addresses and other evidence to support the late Jane Doe’s allegation that she was anally raped at sixteen by aspiring Prime Minister, Attorney- General Christian Porter, whose pal, ABC’s Andrew Probyn pities for the burden of his ambition. Former Costello press secretary and then Howard advisor, Murdoch’s Niki Savva, accuses the PM of using the police as a shield. His response she says, has been appalling. The Murdoch worm is turning.

But then, what can we expect of a post-modern, post-truth, Trumpian, neoliberal anti-hero? A white knight who has to consult the little woman before he can grasp that rape is a crime? Or think of his daughters? Australian of the Year, Grace Tame nails Morrison’s sophistry after her powerful Press Club address,

“It shouldn’t take having children to have a conscience. And, actually, on top of that, having children doesn’t guarantee a conscience.” Others simply dismiss the talk with Jen as another Morrison rhetorical fiction.

Fittingly, Kirribilli’s walls are a fashionable taupe, a dirty off white, a Camelot of rendered stone. But the heritage-listed pile reeks privilege and power, which a squattocratic, Scott Morrison, a Sutherland copper’s son, our uppity, current Prime Minister wilfully confuses with legitimate authority. And cynically exploits to his government’s advantage. Expect more pressers from the bunker. Morrison in decline apes his mentor Trump.

Morrison invokes a Rule Of Law, which he just makes up. It’s embarrassingly inadequate, almost juvenile. Our civil society would collapse into barbarism and mob rule if there were to be a properly constituted judicial inquiry into allegations against his Attorney General, he huffs. Yet the paramount component of the rule of law is that it operates to protect the most vulnerable and underprivileged in our community.

Morrison’s promptly refuted by a slew of legal experts including UNSW’s Professor Fleur Johns who points out that the rule of law is “associated with making power vulnerable to question, especially power derived from office. It is being invoked for precisely the opposite – the harbouring and insulation of power”.

Geoffrey Watson SC in The New Daily, warns that it’s wise to be suspicious when any MP invokes The Rule of Law and concludes by chiding the malignant narcissist in Porter for his solipsism,

“I was especially surprised at the Attorney-General’s claim that if he stood aside the rule of law would be destroyed. Sorry to be the one to tell you Mr Porter, but the rule of law was functioning pretty well before you ever came along, and I am confident that it will be able to survive your departure.”

Canberra University’s Professor Kim Rubenstein quotes Legal philosopher, Lon Fuller, who holds that the rule of law refers to

“legal power over subjects [as] distinguished from mere power over subjects”. Mob rule or brute force, when used by those in power heralds the end of the democracy.

He suggests that Morrison’s “mob rule” is better characterised as democratic will and expectation.

But Scotty’s a hot mess. There would be anarchy, he wails. It’s a Big Lie he repeats, ad nauseam, with the help of his claque in Murdoch’s media monopoly, billionaire Kerry Stokes, and Peter Costello’s Nine. The Big Lie is a tactic commended by Joseph Goebbels, with one proviso.

You have to squash dissent. Nip it in the bud. Disinformation will only take you so far.

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

Squash dissent by any means at hand. Even if you have to break the law. The first law officer knows this. That’s why Attorney-General, one of our power elite’s self-styled Big Swinging Dicks BSDs, Christian Porter, got the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC) to “suss out” which do-gooders are likely to break the law and revoke their charitable status. Stop activists like Father Bob, masquerading as charities.

Porter gives himself away. Experts note that Porter’s proposed Integrity Commission is a ruse designed to trick the public into thinking the Morrison government is tackling corruption when in fact the proposed commission is designed to protect parliamentarians and public servants from investigation and exposure.

It’s sly; cynically hypocritical and, surely, a breach of public trust.

Since 2017, notes Elizabeth Minter, Porter was in breach of Commonwealth legislation for three years by neglecting to table crucial reports documenting his use of secretive national security orders. An administrative oversight, says the Attorney General, who only rectifies his failure after Nick Xenophon exposes it on The ABC’s Q&A. Porter blames his breaking the law on an “administrative oversight”.

Much fawning attention is lavished upon to the costume and especially the caps and the RM Williams Macquarie Street Cowboy rigs that Morrison favours. He’s a brilliant quick change artist, a legacy doubtless of the child actor, The Vicks Love Rub star in him. And he’s in constant quest of reinventing himself as a populist hero.

Morrison is a (piece of) work in progress. But setting, as he shrewdly knows, can upstage even the worst ham and he’s in need of a bit of support because Monday’s the day he’ll play the autocrat, supremely indifferent if not deaf to the entreaties of ABC upstarts such as the brilliant Anne Connolly, who calls him out:

“This report was delivered last Friday. You gave us half an hour to attend a press conference. You tabled the report when we were here. How can we ask questions to know what’s relevant in the report without knowing what’s in it?”

“I’m the Prime Minister.”

Kirribilli is not just bullshit castle, it’s the temple of Morrison’s Jen, his Pythian oracle, who clarifies things to do with women for him. Above all, it’s Vesta to The Girls, his daughters Abbey and Lily, his maids of compassion and Jen’s special friend, Lynelle Stewart, whose QAnon freak husband, Tim, is Scott’s bestie from way back. It’s also a challenging destination for a presser. It’s difficult for the hacks and flacks of the media to get across Sydney traffic, especially when summonsed at short notice.

After announcing the report would be launched mid-week, the PM cunningly brings that forward. To Monday. You get thirty minutes’ notice. Get your skates on.

Not only is it inaccessible and imposing, part of Kirribilli will always be off limits, upstaging proceedings, as our shapeshifting PM shrewdly knows. How good is home advantage?

Morrison and Hunt are always up for a stunt, especially when it means evading scrutiny on another bloody Royal Commission or an inquiry. Morrison’s a master of the dark arts of evasion. But how good is acting? He loves to improvise; indulge his passion for cringeworthy amateur theatrics; get in touch with his inner, provincial thespian.

“This is personal’. Morrison croaks as he squints into the early afternoon sun, his best histrionic voice aquiver. Will he tear up?

Flanked by Hunt and Colbeck, his latest Aged Care sales duo, Morrison postures, frets and soliloquises incoherently about his father John’s final days in five star luxury. Hunt takes up the same theme. See. The system works fine (for wealthy old white men).

It doesn’t matter that he hasn’t read the report. Neither has the media. He’s seen to that.

He’s given the hacks and flacks no time at all to read the eight volumes and 148 recommendations of the Final Report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, one teal volume of which Scott Morrison holds aloft for the benefit of his official photographer, or to help bolster his outrageous lie that the RC is all his own initiative.

A woman dares to question His Authority? Called publicly to account by ABC’s Anne Connolly, whose awards include a Gold Walkley (Cash for Comment) the 2020 Graham Perkin, Australian journalist of the year, Morrison tries to pull rank. Connolly’s reporting helped get us a Royal Commission into aged care quality and safety, a report which castigates federal government for its lack of leadership. Morrison spits the dummy.

“I’m the Prime Minister. This is my Minister. Our Cabinet will decide our response to this Royal Commission, OK? So we’ve released it. I think I’ve answered your question, thank you.”

It’s a put-down. A gag, not an answer. But it’s a risky triple-bluff. Patently absurd. Fobbing off an expert, the notorious buck-passer, Scott, “I don’t hold the hose, mate,” Morrison can’t even pretend that the buck stops with him. If only he had the authority.

Worse, the week’s Essential Poll shows nearly half of those sampled (49%) believe the Prime Minister avoids responsibility. It’s a theme Labor is now embracing to some effect.

Two out of three believe the Morrison government puts politics ahead of women who make rape and sexual assault allegations. It reflects the catastrophic failure shown by the PM to discipline Defence Minister Linda Reynolds over her failure to support Brittany Higgins when she reports she’s been raped by another, more senior Liberal staffer. Her shitstorm peaks this week when Reynolds calls Higgins’ a lying cow. But it’s all cool, says Morrison, with trademark sophistry. It was said in private and Reynolds wasn’t talking about the rape allegations. Her remark” involved subsequent commentary”. It’s a desperate (unheld) hosing down.

Behold! The lying cow, as Sissy Jupe, daughter of a circus performer who goes to live with Gradgrind, sage of calculating rational self-interest, learns in Hard Times, turns out to be a recumbent bovine quadruped after all.

Lawyers have to intervene before Reynolds apologises to workers in her open plan office – a public space – in which several clearly hear her call Ms Higgins a liar. Higgins receives no such courtesy because she dares speak out about how she was treated; how she was made to feel she was a problem to be disposed of after she was raped by a staffer who is yet to be questioned. Why? How things have changed since Morrison’s impassioned 2019 advocacy of believing the woman’s story. But that was an attempt to smear Bill Shorten.

For her pains, Brittany Higgins, is now on the receiving end of Gradgrind Morrison’s self-interested backgrounding against her partner, lobbyist David Sharaz. It has also cost Sharaz his job. Last seen, the couple were preparing to move out of Canberra, a transition which may well coincide with International Women’s Day, 8 March.

Oddly, Morrison flouts his own sage counsel.

“One of the things that often happens with [rape] is they’re not believed and their stories are not believed and it’s important that their stories are believed and they know that if they come forward their stories will be believed,” he says in a barb aimed at Shorten at the start of the 2019 election campaign

“Women in those circumstances should have a greater sense of confidence that if they tell their stories they will be believed.”

Women don’t make it up. Why should they? False allegations don’t get you anywhere.

“While men successfully convinced each other and us that women cry rape with ease and glee,” Susan Brownmiller writes, “the reality of rape is that victimised women have always been reluctant to report the crime and seek legal justice – because of the shame of public exposure, because of that complex double standard that makes a female feel culpable, even responsible, for any act of sexual aggression committed against her … their accounts are received with a harsh cynicism that forms the first line of male defence.”

While Morrison is in damage control his delegation of responsibility suffers. France could follow Italy’s lead in blocking supplies of coronavirus vaccine, reports Jess Malcom in The Weekend Australian but do we even need it? Turns out we didn’t factor it in? Greg Hunt’s got it all under control. Yet when pushed Monday, Morrison’s over eager to pull rank.

“I’m the Prime Minister.” What a crack up. Our mining, Murdoch and business lobby puppet, has a hissy fit. Did the PM pull rank on Craig Kelly before he defected to the cross bench? Throw his weight around? Last April, he cut ABC’s Andrew Probyn off mid-question. “Andrew, you don’t run the press conference.”

No-one’s really shocked by Morrison’s ego. Or his bullying. Queensland and Victoria know it well. But every day brings signs the PM is losing his grip and with it, his self-control. “Portergate” threatens to undo him. While in one breath, he’s leader of the pack, in the next, he’s not top dog at all. The week begins badly.

“I am not the police force,” he says. “That is a matter for the police. I am not the commissioner of police.”

Last Sunday, keyboards were busy into the night at the ministerial wing of Parliament House, Canberra, erasing Wikipedia details of Christian Porter’s presence in Sydney 1988, the date of an alleged brutal rape of a sixteen year-old Jane Doe, who later, tragically took her own life. When questioned, Porter says he didn’t even know that there were Wikipedia entries. The scrubbing of internet references parallels that performed for the Liberal staffer whom Brittany Higgins accuses of raping her.

It matters little what Porter says he knows. The fact is that some Fixer is prepared to go to great lengths to engage professionals to remove inculpatory internet evidence; any evidence which may assist those accused of evading justice; hinder the chance that the victims’ allegations can be corroborated.

In the meantime, of course, the PM goes swimming at Bronte Beach, despite promising the nation that he’d spend the weekend reading the eight volume report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care.

Wednesday, The Australian says “the political crisis” is “engulfing the Morrison government.” Mangling metaphors, Australian Financial Review political editor Phillip Coorey says the government is

“reeling from the allegations … the events of this week have highlighted just how quickly the government’s fortunes can run off the rails.”

Phil’s a fabulous fence-sitter. No splinters in his bum. The government’s problems are largely of its own making. The week’s events have found out a government and a Prime Minister who have spectacularly failed to exercise due diligence or duty of care.

Instead, whether it be paying lip-service to reforming its responsibilities in aged care or its handling of allegations of rape by young women working in Parliament House, its response has been to make the problem go away; abuse its power rather than exercise its legitimate authority.

A democratic government in a civil society doesn’t gag its press when faced with difficult questions. The reporter is just doing her job. A young woman who says she is raped in the Defence Minister’s office deserves respect and support. Instead, she is called a “lying cow” and she and her partner are run out of town.

The Prime Minister is too quick to pull rank or handball his responsibility to the police. Or rely on his fixers behind the scenes. He does himself and his government no favours by allowing his ministers to evade responsibility. His behaviour is increasingly despotic and his invocation of a bogus conception of the rule of law is making him a laughing-stock amongst the legal profession, while exposing a disturbing level of desperation.

Morrison is out of his depth. He needs to stand down two ministers and ensure that all rape and sexual assault allegations are investigated by an appropriately constituted independent inquiry. If he can’t lead from the front he needs to get out of the job. If you really were an effective Prime Minister, Mr Morrison you wouldn’t have to tell us.

I’m the Prime Minister. Really? All the evidence suggests otherwise.

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