In the mid 1970s, Australian ‘glam rock’ band Skyhooks released an album titled ‘Ego is not a Dirty Word’. The single of the same title reached number 2 on the Australian ‘Top 40’ in mid 1976. Little Scott Morrison, born in 1968, would probably have heard it on ‘high rotation’ across the airwaves of a Sydney AM radio station (because commercial FM radio was 4 years in the future). If he was fortunate enough he might have had enough money to of to the local Record Bar and purchase a copy of the single. If he was really wealthy (for an 8 year old) he might have bought the album, as downloading the music was something that wasn’t an option until the next century.
‘Ego is not a Dirty Word’ provided commentary on the egos of some famous identifies including Richard Nixon, suggesting if he had kept is ego in check he might not have been one of the few US Presidents to have resigned under a cloud. Like Nixon, Morrison’s political end may have been completely different if he had kept his ego in check.
Since 2007, Morrison has been the Member of Parliament of the seat of Cook, based in southern Sydney. Prior to then he had at different times been the CEO of the government tourism offices in both Australian and New Zealand. Both the Australian and New Zealand Governments of the day asked Morrison to leave prior to the completion of his contracted period. In the case of the Australian Government, the request was made by a Coalition Government. It’s also history that Morrison was pre-selected by the Liberal Party after an internal war that involved the existing Member of Parliament who apparently didn’t have any plans to retire from politics in the lead up to the 2007 election.
Morrison’s rise through the ranks to his eventual appointment as Leader of the Party and Prime Minister is well known, as is his disdain for refugees, those that claim social security benefits and those who actually work for the government. As a part of his claim to be a ‘strong welfare cop ‘strong welfare cop the beat’ he was instrumental in introducing the system now known as Robodebt, where income matching was completed by machines and unusual cases were not checked by a person before the system raised fraudulent debt notices that have been found to be illegal. Someone who had their ego in check would have checked the legality of such a scheme prior to introduction. Instead Morrison stood by and allowed Home Affairs to extort money from Australians.
Like most schemes designed to extort money, Robodebt was eventually found out for what it was – a scam. Unlike most schemes designed to extort money, this one was implemented and managed by the Coalition Government who seem to have cowered the Public Service into submission. In The Monthly’s emailed newletter last week, writer Daniel James suggests that Morrison certainly has no contrition for his leading roles in the establishment and promotion of the extortion scheme
Speaking to an almost empty lower house shortly after Question Time on Monday, Morrison said: “This campaign of political lynching has once again included the weaponisation of quasi-legal process to launder the government’s political vindictiveness. They need to move on.”
As James notes
The reference to the royal commission as a “quasi-legal” process is straight out of the Trump playbook – an attempt to reduce the most powerful form of public-interest inquiry we have in this country to that of nothing more than a political pitchfork rally.
Thousands of Australians were wrongly accused of debt, with a significant number of the real victims (those that were extorted by the Coalition Government) suffering mental health problems and the families of others that couldn’t see a way out of their dilemma took their own lives. And one of the architects of the scheme is still collecting his $200,000 per annum salary as a parliamentarian while claiming to be the victim of a political hit job. Ego may not be a dirty word, but contrition and seeking forgiveness for poor decisions in the past takes more than ego, it needs emotional intelligence, something that Morrison seems to lack completely.
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