Scott Morrison has an arrogant certainty about him. Whether this comes from his self-perceived divine ordination, his devotion to ideology, an inflated view of his own merit, or a fear of appearing weak, it is an increasingly dangerous trait.
He just won’t listen.
ScoMo perceives advice as criticism. If he didn’t think of it, and announce it first, then it’s not worth doing.
Like procuring and providing free rapid antigen tests to the community when you decide to “push through” with no restrictions and send everyone back to work and school as we approach the peak of a pandemic we have worked so hard to slow for two years.
Transport Workers Union national secretary Michael Kaine told ABC News Breakfast this morning that “there is no plan” to address supply and staff shortages in the sector.
“We wrote to Scott Morrison in September with a follow-up in October last year, saying it was critical, amongst other things, that road transport supply chains, were flooded with rapid antigen tests because we could see in the context of the Delta outbreak that if we intended to reopen, we needed to ensure that workers were testing negative and we were maximising the number of healthy people in supply chains or we would have a problem.
That was dismissed by the Morrison government. They don’t listen to the voices of workers… His approach here is to send back into the work force those people that we have deemed for the last two years close contacts, are most likely to be carrying the virus without knowing it. That means that we could actually be making matters worse.”
Similarly, there is still no plan on how to staff schools on short notice when teachers inevitably ring in sick.
The pattern was the same when former fire chiefs implored the Morrison government to act on climate change and better prepare the nation for extreme fire seasons ahead. The government would not meet the experts to hear the advice, let alone implement it.
When disaster struck, the excuses flowed. It was the Greens fault for stopping hazard reduction burns. It was just those “raving inner-city lunatics” and “woke capital-city greenies” who thought climate change had anything to do with it. It was arsonists setting the fires. And apparrently we had enough people to hold hoses so Scotty could take a well-earned morale-boosting rest.
Advice that Robodebt was illegal was also ignored, presumably because they thought poor people wouldn’t have the resources to challenge it.
Having subsequently been forced to repay $1.8 billion to over 400,000 people, the government is now appealing a FOI direction to release documents regarding how the scheme came about, claiming there is “strong public interest” in preserving the secrecy of “business case” documents because “ministers would not receive full and frank information if there was concern any deliberations would be made public”.
The Sanctity of the Cabinet?
Senior ministers between 2015 and 2016 included the former social services ministers, Scott Morrison and Christian Porter, who were members of cabinet, and the former human services ministers, Marise Payne and Alan Tudge, who were not.
Instead of listening to experts about the parlous state of the Great Barrier Reef, the government bribed delegates with resort holidays to get them to keep it off the World Heritage Endangered list. Conflict of interest was ignored as money was given to kill a few crown of thorn starfish and attention focused on plastics. Anything but climate change. Land clearing and coastal development continue apace.
The idea of formalising a mechanism to listen to Indigenous Australians sent the government into a hissy fit. A third Chamber! A usurping of power! Racist!
When several Liberal Party women spoke out about the bullying and intimidation they endured during the leadership spill that installed Scott Morrison, he said he would investigate internally. A week later, he informed us that South Australian Liberal senator Lucy Gichuhi had told him she was not bullied by anyone in Canberra and no names of any perpetrators had been provided to him.
Morrison said politics was a very “torrid” business and his inquiries to date had not yielded evidence of “gender-specific actions” in relation to what some people would characterise as “very intense lobbying which is fairly normal in the political process, albeit not edifying”.
Having been in parliament for almost fifteen years, it’s hard to believe that Morrison hadn’t observed any “gender-specific actions” for himself since the place is a hotbed of sexual harassment, abuse and coercion. Apparently, the only woman he listens to is Jen.
The flooding of the media by the Djokovic case has tangentially drawn attention to Australia’s draconian border enforcement and the plight of the refugees who have been held hostage for nine years.
When Morrison was told about the declining health and the neglect and abuse of children in detention, he denied it and accused advocates of promoting self-harm. When told that refugees are suffering torture, he claimed our strong borders make that necessary. Which makes his newfound concern about the mental health issues caused by state border closures sound very hollow.
It really doesn’t matter what issue is facing the nation, risk assessment and expert advice are ignored in favour of tame consultants, ministerial decree, contracts without tender, grants without due process, and appointments without merit. We have panels and departments and commissions and reviews to make recommendations – all routinely ignored. To have such unerring confidence that you know better is foolhardy.
Australia is paying a high price for Morrison’s hubris.
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