Our prime minister has returned from Scotland with his tail between his legs and his character shot to pieces. If his arrogant behaviour and shouty mouth on the international stage annoyed you, we are as one.
After copping a mauling from President Macron of France and a slap over the wrist from President Biden, the Australian Prime Minister then did the unthinkable. After being called a liar by Macron (it is scarce for one head of state to call another a liar), he decided to leak an American national security document against an international leader. It was tactically and typically Morrison.
By this, I mean that it is typical of the man to create another lie to divert attention from the one he is defending. He said he wouldn’t accept the President’s sledging of the Australian people, which the President never uttered. His defence was to embrace nationalism:
“Australia’s integrity, and the slurs that had been placed on Australia – not me, I’ve got broad shoulders, I can deal with that – but those slurs, I’m not going to cop sledging of Australia. I’m not going to cop that on behalf of other Australians.”
The mistake had been made. President Macron, in fact, went out of his way to praise the Australian people, and his beef was with the Prime Minister. He arrived in Scotland willing to tell lies about Australia’s commitment to climate change on a global level but found himself telling them about submarines.
French President Emmanuel Macron accused Morrison of lying. While in Rome for the G20, reporters had asked the French President if he thought Scott Morrison had lied to him about the submarine deal’s future, Macron was asked by reporters in Rome. “I don’t think, I know,” he had replied.
By the time Morrison got to Glasgow, his demeanour was as low as a man who told lies about which sporting clubs he followed.
Macron called him a liar on a stage that Morrison wasn’t used to performing on. He played his part as the bearer of bad news then exited stage left with disastrous reviews of his performance.
Yet again, in typical Morrison fashion, he had quickly changed from a weak leader, climate denier, to don the cloak of nationalism and become the defender of our pride, whereas, in truth, he is in the world’s view a leader not to be trusted.
Finding the truth and reporting it should be more important than creating a narrative where controversy matters more.
That Morrison is a peddler of half-truths and lies is beyond dispute. When he apologises, Scott Morrison usually precedes it with an avalanche of indulgent words of self-praise intended to compliment him and his government. He told Channel 9 news that:
“Australia made the decision not to go ahead with the contract for submarine that was not going to do the job that Australia needed to do, and I’ll never make any apologies for that decision.”
Then referring to former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull – one of his COP26 critics – he added.
“As you know, I always treat all former Prime Ministers with respect, and I’m going to continue to do that.”
Which, of course, brings back images of Morrison with hand on Turnbull’s shoulder saying, “My leader” while stabbing him in the back to replace him.
In the recipe of good leadership there are many ingredients. Popularity is but one. Character is another. It however ranks far below getting things done for the common good.
Character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of politics. But unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibres from which it is woven.
His answers are so pathetic and simultaneously self-congratulatory about a fall in our emissions. He neglects to mention that we have met our targets because there have been fewer cars on the road, businesses closed, and no planes in the air.
He reluctantly went to the COP26 Glasgow conference to achieve two things: to set down Australia’s position on our efforts to combat climate change. On that front, we now know that our mediocre results, since the climate conference in Paris (2015), prove that Morrison is more interested in retaining power than preserving the planet’s life. The other reason was to try to appease Macron and allay any misgivings. Instead, it packed a suitcase full of policy decisions to Glasgow perfectly entrapped in wedge politics and internal government political problems.
Instead of this flat-earth thinking, a leader with any character would slap down members of his cabinet who roamed the road of lying with all the force of a heavy roller. At the same time, he would restrict himself from doing the same thing and, just as significantly, refrain from insulting every international leader above his station.
In January 2021, journalist Dennis Atkins tweeted:
Morrison’s been unmasked. His refusal to openly condemn Trump’s behaviour & legacy is the deliberate act of a weak, spineless & character free Prime Minister. At a pivotal time, Morrison retreated. He didn’t want to tell the truth (because of) politics.
It is no wonder we have diplomatic problems with China; his diplomacy stinks. This again was another Morrison diversion against the appalling governance of his government and the daily crisis that confronted him.
Of the conference itself, one can only conclude that it was mostly a flop, except that it looks as though business and state governments will be left to pick up the baton that our government found too hot to handle.
I remain of the view that something so catastrophic will occur that will force us to act. Something incomprehensible to us now, unforeseeable, dark and sinister. Instead of being proactive, we tend to wait for disaster to receive us. Then and only then do we react.
My thought for the day
Have we reached the point in politics where TRUTH is something that politicians have persuaded us to believe, “Like alternative facts” rather than TRUTH based on factual evidence, arguments and assertions.
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