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History tells us that it’s hard to believe him

Leaders can only be defined by what they do and what they say. Their character is measured by their contribution to the good of society and the contradictions of our human nature. Our emotion and our logic.

How do we balance the two? Character governs our moral choices, our professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of politics.

So, in watching the interview of Waleed Aly and Prime Minister Scott Morrison I desperately wanted to eliminate any perception of bias on my part. An impossible task you might say because in this case that is exactly what we are doing, judging.

Often our opinions are simply based on our own values rather than our understanding and the difficulty is separating the two. Some judge with a mixture of logic and emotion others with one or the other.

Another factor in making any judgement is experience. When you are not far from 80 and have 60 years or so of following politics behind you certain elements come together allowing one’s experience and knowledge to form judgements.

The protagonists: Waleed Aly

The Australian tweeted that Gerard Henderson writes that:

“It appears Waleed Aly believes his views are more significant than those of the PM”

When I read it the first thing that occurred to me was maybe they are. I know many people whose knowledge of Climate Change for example are far superior to that of the Prime Ministers.

No one has an ownership of knowledge, or wisdom, for that matter.

My interpretation of Henderson’s words was that Aly had no right to question Morrison simply because he was the Prime Minister and he should have more respect.

Was Aly supposed to concede that politicians are the citadels of all knowledge?

Aly is an author, journalist, newspaper columnist, radio and television presenter, lawyer, academic, guitarist, songwriter and thinker.

Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister of Australia has a BSc (Honour’s) from Sydney University.

Background

Aly on the television programme “The Project “gave a passionate response (now viewed 14 million times) to the New Zealand massacres in which, without mentioning the Australian Prime Minister’s name, nonetheless implicated him in the criticism of those who have shown anti-Muslim traits for many years. Central to Aly’s criticism was the proposition that Scott Morrison had, at a shadow cabinet meeting in 2010 “urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns” about Muslims and appeal to the public perception of their “inability to integrate”

This followed his questioning in the same month after forty-eight asylum seekers died in the Christmas Island boat disaster. In February 2011, Morrison publicly questioned the decision of the Gillard Labor government to pay for the relatives of the victims to travel to funerals in Sydney, arguing that the same privilege was not extended to Australian citizens.

After fellow Liberal and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey disagreed with Morrison’s statements, Morrison said that the timing of his comments was insensitive, but did not back away from the comments themselves.

The interview

After a few days passed with the tension rising the Prime Minister agreed to a 30-minute interview with Aly. He had earlier threatened to sue Aly and the 10 Network.

Now he desperately wanted to be believed.

The Prime Minister in the interview demonstrated that he has learnt nothing from the voice of public opinion that for years has been screaming. “Enough is enough.” Enough lying. Enough lying by omission enough of the lack of transparency, of truth, of non-answers, avoiding the question.

His demeanour was at times condescending, talking down to Aly as though he was giving a schoolboy a lesson in behaviour. He was often prickly even defiant. To avoid answering questions he substituted answers with antidotes.

This he did continuously forcing Aly to often interrupt to bring him back to the question. Aly’s style is unobtrusive yet persistent.

The evidence

Aly got the ball rolling by asking Morrison if the Liberal Party had a problem with Islamophobia’ he quoted a list of examples for the Prime Minister to consider. He didn’t wouldn’t, couldn’t, answer the question instead playing the part of a raconteur giving a light-hearted after dinner speech.

Six times in 13 minutes he avoided the question and defended his colleagues. It was the same old political defence. The one the public has said enough too.

Having had enough of this form of questioning Morrison hit back saying:

“Do we want to get bogged down in this? Or do we want to move on and make things better?”

Aly returned fire. “Talking about the past is important because the only way you can move forward and reset at a moment like this, is to acknowledge things that have happened in the past that are a problem and need fixing.”

Aly for all his boyish nicety was giving as much as he got and became particularly irate when Morrison pointing at Aly’s notes suggested he was a bit emotional and that his reaction to the 50 lives lost was a bit over the top.

Morrison was deliberately trying to undermine his incredibly well composed, heartfelt and powerful monologue on The Project on Friday night.

Comment

Now I consider that beginning with Tampa and the first moment Philip Ruddock called people genuinely seeking asylum, “illegals,” that there are ample examples, including himself, of LNP MPs using race to demonise people that there could only be one answer to the question.

All of Morrison’s storytelling (“my record of working with the Muslim community in Sydney in particular speaks volumes for my track record”) couldn’t change anything so strong is the evidence of them debunking the character of Muslims. We have had 10 years of it. It’s on the record. Abbott, Dutton and Morrison.

As an aside yesterday’s Essential poll found that (42%) agreed with the statement “politicians from Australia’s major parties have deliberately stirred up anti-Islamic sentiment as a way of getting votes.”

“Do we want to get bogged down in this? Or do we want to move on and make things better?”

The interview rolled on with Aly on the same theme. Did Morrison suggest that anti-Muslim sentiment should be exploited?

It degenerated into a bizarre exchange of “he said she said” that could only go nowhere. Aly’s demeanour was typically calm and measured Morrison was becoming increasingly exasperated.

Both did their share of interrupting the other.

Much of Morrison’s defence was taken up with his monologues of the awesome work he had done with the Muslim community and the friends he had made.

No, he couldn’t answer for other colleague’s but not one was guilty of racist derogatory remarks. It would seem that they were all as pure as snow and people like me and the 42% were all just left-wing nut jobs.

Toward the end the Prime Minister began to lecture Aly.

When it came to the question of; “would he be putting One Nation last on his How To Vote card,” he refused to answer.

Aly countered by saying that it was One Nation that has previously stated Islam is a “disease that needs to be vaccinated.”

You would think that saying just that was a good enough reason, but Morrison wanted to keep his options open and when Aly persisted he became belligerent.

Aly asked the question several more times, asking; “why is this is difficult question?” But no answer was forthcoming.

The final question was about Asylum Seekers. Is it a problem that we talk about asylum seekers as rapists, murderers and paedophiles?

Morrison replied by asking: “What if there are rapists and murderers? … Do we ignore that?”

Aly responded by saying; “Frontfooting that description of these people, when there are so few of them in that category, that creates a prejudice.”

But Morrison insisted we must be honest with people. There are real risks, he said.

Aly tried but could not get a figure.

The point being that the government was subliminally or auto suggesting that all asylum seekers could be rapists, murderers and paedophiles.

After 30 minutes with no add breaks the Prime Minister like so many other times never really answered the question even though he knew the answer he wanted the public to imagine the worst.

So, in the end I am left to evaluate it all with little to go by other than my experience.

My experience has told me that unquestionably it certainly cannot be denied that the government has been consistent with their endless Islamophobic rants and demonising of asylum seekers. It has been going on for a decade.

As for whether Morrison in 2010 who; “urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns” about Muslims,” I truly cannot say. The evidence is mixed.

Three respected journalists say they were briefed to that effect. A few shadow cabinet ministers say he didn’t. One, Geoff Hunt says he didn’t, but he wasn’t even there. Yet another said he did. He is on the record.

The Prime Minister says that Aly’s editorial contained “a disgraceful smear and an appalling lie.”

So, I’m left with only my experience to guide me. It tells me that despite his grand stories of making friends with Muslims, his evangelical Christianity and his self-righteousness he must have used those words or similar.

“Don’t prejudge me,” the Prime Minister said. Well I am afraid many like me already have.

My thought for the day

When you tell a lie you deny the other person the truth.

PS: The tone of our political debate, despite 50 lives being lost, still hasn’t risen from the sewer. It won’t until this government has gone. If that is bias then so be it.

Postscript

After TV presenter Waleed Aly reminded us of Scott Morrison’s reported suggestion of making anti-Muslim sentiments a political weapon, Prime Minister Morrison threatened to sue Waleed Aly.

New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern instead invited Waleed to New Zealand for an interview. Morrison has backed down on his threat to sue. Waleed went to New Zealand to meet the Prime Minister.

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27 comments

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  1. Andy56

    Yep wanting to set up concentration camps for refugees and other ” illegals” certainly is consitant with other stories. I mean , they are stories coming to us thick and fast, cant all be wrong.

  2. John lord

    Thanks Andy. That’s the way I see it. It
    is difficult to dismiss the the mass of evidence.

  3. Wayne Turner

    Well said John. Morrison strawmaned so many of Aly’s questions,and Morrison came across as a dodgy car salesman.

    This following quote,sums up how the coalition encourages others to be racists/bigots:-

    “Everyone should have the right to be a bigot” – Then AG George Brandis of the Federal Liberal Party.

  4. Barry Thompson.

    John-wasn’t Julie Bishop reported as saying at the conclusion of that meeting, that they should not go down that path?
    If so, perhaps the media should follow that up with her.

  5. whatever

    Remember the Sugarbabies? The Govt. is making vague complaints against Facebook and Google….what they hope is that the Christchurch event can be explained away as due to ‘pornography and video nasties’ on the Internet.

  6. Kronomex

    It’s not hard to believe Scummo now, it’s virtually impossbile to believe anything that emanates from his cake hole, and by implication the rest of the LNP.

  7. Florence Howarth

    History tells it is impossible to believe him.

  8. wam

    A great read, john.

    But to this old troll the three books of the god of abraham are written by men for men.(women get a mention as a pliiar, a mother and wives. Although marg mowezka puts my casual observations to rights, I haven’t met anyone who has read her.)

    So in my head the christian PM believes god will forgive the man who murders women and children, the muslim interviewer believes god will reward men who kill women and children.
    (the practical jew interpretation of god abrogates forgiveness to the victims.

    The pollies and journalists alike, hide behind freedom of religion to avoid questions on their personal values on which they make decisions? Until this changes religions will still control society.

    Personally, as a religiousophobe:
    Christian and Muslim women, who teach their children that god will reward, with forgiveness and heavenly freedom the men who murder women and children, are very scary people.
    Indeed last month, in the UK a woman pleaded guilty of genital mutilation of her 3 year old, the father was found not guilty.
    Brisbane mother is accused of sending daughters to Somalia for mutilation.

    ps you really should see rashamon to understand humanity of truth.

  9. Luke Daglish

    The Minder’s Arthur Daley would never give Morrison a job on his car lot, Morrison would rip him off.

  10. wam

    after a session in the pool, I found I was a rasha man and not a rashomon and should have emphasised that women and men both suffer the indoctrinated but only women who stray from the stereotype are reviled by christian, muslrm and atheists.
    Remember the throwaway line of Yassmin?
    What a keruffle???
    We trolls had enormous support from the conservatives. indeed she was treated with such ridiculous ferocity you’d think she had used a bit of sand paper but again, unlike the boys, she will not be allowed to play the game again.

  11. Keitha Granville

    The very fact that it doesn’t occur to the PM (I refuse to call him Scomo, it has a friendly appearance) that by simply saying “I was wrong, I withdraw those remarks and apologise”, his personal approval would be boosted immediately, the level of respect would rise from the gutter to the kerb – but then that would require an intellect and sense of decency that he has clearly demonstrated he does not possess.

    Waleed Aly was at all times respectful and forthright, direct and appropriate.

    The PM was shown to be what he is, unfit for the position.

  12. Grumpy Geezer

    There was an excellent article in the February edition of The Monthly on Morrison and Pentecostalism (available on-line to subscribers).

    It helps explain how a Jesus-shopping, happy-clapping prosperity gospeller like FauxMo can demonise and mistreat others with a clear conscience.

    It’s chilling stuff, made more so by the fact that this deluded nutter is our PM.

  13. RomeoCharlie29

    I watched about ten minutes, or maybe it was five, and realised that it was just going to be the same old Scummo. I can no longer listen to him. He has nothing to say to me. He is so patently insincere I don’t understand how any people can believe him. And then we have the very unfortunate Teena McQueen defending him on QandA. Thanks Keitha for the image of his reputation rising from the gutter to the kerb. Either way still lower than a snake’s belly.

  14. Henry Rodrigues

    Scummo really lives up to his name. He should be baptised, officially, After all, for christians of his dubious calibre, the belief that some religious ritual grant them authenticity, is all they crave.

  15. helvityni

    I wish Waleed Aly were our PM.
    Penny Wong would be another possibility…

  16. paul walter

    Helvi, they are precisely the sort of people the system would NEVER cede the levers of power to.

  17. helvityni

    paul, I know, I know, but one can always dream….

  18. John Lord

    Paul. He would make a good replacement for Barrie Cassidy.

  19. Michael Taylor

    Would he lower himself to a right-wing gabfest, John?

  20. paul walter

    No. Nobody ever gets close to the real levers.

  21. John Lavery

    Romeo Charlie, go easy on Teena, she is the best thing that Labor has going for them at the moment. I, for one, am looking forward to more appearances of the redoubtable Ms. McQueen!

  22. Patagonian

    One word comes to mind when I think of Snotty’s performance during that interview (and I use the term ‘interview very loosely) – obfuscation.

  23. Patagonian

    Kronomex, it’s getting harder and harder to tell from which hole it is emanating.

  24. Kaye Lee

    A few days ago, ProMo told us he could not make that call because it was up to the state executive. Now he wants to tell us that he was just waiting to hear Pauline’s response and, as it has been inadequate, he has exerted the power he said he didn’t have to “recommend”/direct the Liberal Party (not the Nats or the LNP) to put ON below Labor on their how to vote junk mail.

    He says he took time to, “just like John Howard”, make a considered response. What is patently obvious is the only thing ProMo considers is what the spin doctors tell him to do and say.

    It was a non-announcement allowing the Coalition in Queensland and regional areas to court the racists and gun lovers as they see fit.

  25. Alcibiades

    Scott NoMoralsNone = gormless lying slug.

  26. Colin Stuart-Campbell

    Wam,
    I hardly think that Waleed believes ‘god will reward men who kill women and children’. Where was there anything he said that could be interpreted as such?
    As a circumcised male I cannot believe the hypocrisy surrounding this practice. Boys have had this routinely done for hundreds of years but the controversy surrounding females getting this done is huge (though equally barbaric). It has always been a Jewish custom to get boys snipped, why are you not screaming about this too?

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