We have been given the impression by certain members of the media recently that Tony Abbott is being hailed as some sort of world leader in the aftermath of MH17. Try as I did to find any reference to him in any of the major news dailies around the world, I couldn’t. I found several negative references concerning his abandonment of the carbon tax and his attempts to deregulate university fees, but nothing that linked his name to MH17. That, however, has not stopped people like Gerard Henderson and Michael Stutchbury praising Abbott’s performance on ABC’s Insiders.
Notwithstanding their efforts, the Prime Minister appears to have had his moment in the sun, and one gets the impression now, that his ongoing efforts to bring us the latest updates on gaining access to the crash scene, are nothing more than grandstanding. The latest poll taken after the MH17 tragedy suggests he has been given a few brownie points for little more that what would be expected of any national leader just doing his job. So, is he so naive as to think his grandstanding on the tragedy of MH17 will absolve him of past unpopular decisions and restore his credibility with the voters?
His overall approval rating shows that we have seen through his pitiful attempt at galvanising a nation’s grief. It came coincidentally while Joe Hockey was undermining his efforts by stealing the limelight with a, ‘look at me, look at me’ appearance at a book launch. That, to me, suggests something is dysfunctional about the relationship between the two men.
Close on the heels of that laughable effort, a group of Catholic and Anglican Church leaders has accused Immigration Minister, Scott Morrison of ‘state sanction child abuse’ and called upon him to step down from his position as guardian for all unaccompanied minors. One might add, not before time. Of all Abbott’s ministers, Morrison’s performance is the most lamentable.
How easy was it for him in opposition? He could mount attack after attack, be strong on rhetoric, low on detail and appear so confident and assertive. Free from the constraints of running a department he could confidently face the media every day, set up a mobile billboard to advertise boat arrivals, mercilessly hunt his prey like a tiger in a Sumatran jungle and torment the then various Labor ministers for being too soft. How things have changed since the baton of responsibility passed to him. Now he has become the hunted and under the pressure of ministerial responsibility his performance has been a shambles.
Masked by excessive secrecy and the dubious claim that the boats had stopped, the department has been dogged by reports of inhumane treatment of detainees, disregard for human rights, riots resulting in a violent murder, lack of basic sanitary supplies, abuse of minors, mental illness, attempted suicide, intimidation of departmental staff and now a cover-up. How, in the name of ministerial responsibility, is he still there?
Scott Morrison has been forced into allowing 157 asylum seekers to be brought to the Australian mainland which goes against everything he has worked toward since taking on the portfolio. He boldly claimed that they were economic migrants because they had come from the safe country of India. When challenged on the accuracy of that claim by Sarah Ferguson on the 7.30 report Wednesday 30th July, he then said it was his understanding that they were economic migrants. Which means that he doesn’t really know for sure what they are. But, not knowing doesn’t seem to stop him from making unsubstantiated claims about them. I cannot recall an immigration minister more savagely uncompromising and as vindictive as Morrison. Does he think that looking more like a dictatorial commandant than a minister is good for his image? His continued presence in that role is offensive to a nation historically proud of its compassion and sense of responsibility to those fleeing persecution.
The revelations by Psychiatrist Dr Peter Young, a former director of Mental Health Services at International Health and Medical Services (IHMS), the detention centre service provider, that pressure was applied to alter his reports to something more palatable, paints a shameful picture which, if true, should in itself, bring an end to Scott Morrison’s ministerial appointment.
Could it get any worse? By any measure it shows the whole government to be dysfunctional, small minded, narrowly focussed and out of sync with broader community expectations. Is it, therefore, any wonder that they are taking a clobbering in the polls? Do they really believe their ideology is sustainable in a post modern world? They probably do.
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