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Houston, we have a problem

By 2353NM

This blog site traditionally has a look back at what we commented on in the past year as our last article come December. This year, we’re going to break the cycle and look at what Prime Minister Morrison should be considering over the next month or so instead of asking ‘how good is the cricket?’. That’s not saying for a second that we published nothing of worth this year because if you go to the top right of your screen and click on the ‘Archive’ link, you will not only see the articles for 2019, but the 860 or so articles published by The Political Sword since 2008.

The mythology is that when American astronauts have a problem in space, they alert Mission Control in Houston Texas with the phrase ‘Houston — we have a problem’. Going into the festive season this year, Prime Minister Morrison has a few problems where perhaps a shout out to ‘Houston’ might be in order.

Morrison won the ‘unwinnable’ election in May. Subsequently, all the polling organisations went into damage control while they looked at their methodology. Most made some admission that they had errors in their process and the world moved on. One benefit is that the current polling numbers are not front-page news every week or fortnight as there is a general understanding now that statistics and probability are only a guide based on a set of assumptions.

Morrison’s election ‘victory lap’ included a trip to meet President Trump in Washington in September. Trump gave Morrison the honour of a State Dinner. The Wall Street Journal wrote that Brian Houston, the founder of the ‘Pentecostal’ Hillsong Church, was placed on the guest list by Morrison’s people and removed by the Americans as:

In 2015, Mr Houston was censured by the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sex Abuse for failing to alert authorities to paedophile father Frank Houston’s sexual abuse of children in his church.

Australia was still talking about it at the end of November, with The Guardian reporting

It has been dismissed as “gossip” by the prime minister, but in the two months since the White House state dinner, the government has gone to extraordinary lengths to try to avoid answering the simple question: Did Scott Morrison ask the Trump administration to invite the Hillsong founder, Pastor Brian Houston, to the dinner?

If the answer is no, just say it and move on. Assuming the answer is yes (a pretty good bet since it hasn’t been denied), it’s interesting that the Americans can see the reputational risks that Morrison and his minders can’t.

Morrison has also spent a considerable amount of political capital defending Energy Minister Angus Taylor. Apart from being implicated in a scheme when the government paid $80 million for water rights without receiving any water, meeting with the then Environment Minister to discuss why no action should be taken when 30 hectares of protected grasslands in the Monaro region of New South Wales was poisoned by a company in which Taylor has a beneficial interest and claiming an increase in carbon emissions over the past three years is good news, Taylor is also under investigation by the Parliament for an ongoing argument with Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore. Taylor wrote to the Lord Mayor in his Energy Minister role suggesting $14 million spent on international travel was inconsistent with the Mayor’s public position on emissions reduction, as well as leaking the letter to the media. It’s a pity the real figure was a somewhat more palatable $15893.29 (and $5308.88 on domestic travel). Taylor claims the fault wasn’t his; regardless Australia is still talking about it coming into December (a month later).

However, when One Nation votes against his ‘signature piece Union-busting’ legislation as they did in the last week of November, Morrison really has a problem. Hanson is quoted as suggesting

the bill [was] a “sledgehammer against the unions” – and compared it to the government’s response to allegations of illegality from the country’s major banks.

“The Prime Minister says ‘oh well, it’s not up to us, the government, to deal with the banks, it’s up to the boards to do it’,” she said.

“But they’re coming out with a sledgehammer against the unions and doing what they’re doing, so I think there is a double standard there.”

Rather than wrapping up the year on a high, as the ALP are still working out what went wrong, Morrison has maxed out the ‘political capital’ credit card this festive season. Some in the Liberal Party are concerned about the future as discussed in the publicly released results of their election review. It warns

the Coalition’s future chances of forming government will remain “worryingly narrow” unless it improves its standing in Victoria and parts of NSW.

The review warns there is “no room for any complacency” within the party following the 2019 election campaign, recommending a “comprehensive impartial candidate vetting process” for candidates to avoid a similar situation where 10 Liberals were disendorsed during the campaign.

If Morrison is considering whether he should call out ‘Houston – we have a problem’, would the cry for help be meant for Mission Control (AKA Liberal Party head office) or Brian Houston? Will his minders be working overtime this festive season? Recent history tells us the knives won’t stay in the cutlery drawer if they don’t. Pass the popcorn; 2020 could be interesting to watch.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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  1. pierre wilkinson

    just two by-elections…
    might I suggest Gladys Liu and our dear own Josh Frydenburg?
    although how long can Angus hang on?
    surely there are other contenders besides Michaelia?

  2. RomeoCharlie29

    It’s interesting isn’t it that Turnbull had a one seat majority and was knifed, Morrison has a two seat majority and is lionised for his miraculous win, all because the polls suggested something different. I believe the results actually show that Labor got more votes than the LibNats but, of course that didn’t translate to seats won, the big problem being Queensland. Labor should pay no attention to any election assessment offered by any of the writers associated with the Murdoch rags, almost without exception their analysis is bullshit. Labor took a brave suite of policies to the election, all of which should remain policy. Next election we (hopefully) won’t have that lying sack of shit Palmer polluting the impressionable minds of the gullible sheep. And, as the gloss rapidly comes off the miracle win, we might expect the scales to have fallen from the eyes of those who allowed themselves to be lied to and played by the happy clapper in chief and his demonstrably incompetent cabal.

  3. New England Cocky

    I am disappointed that AIMN has yet to closely study the MDB water crisis and especially the “MDB water theft” in NW NSW that allowed a bumper cotton crop to be grown in a no pump year. The Minister for Water, David Littleproud,has family connections that almost ensure the presented unsupervised and uncontrolled water theft will be maintained rather than mitigated. This is simply destroying the southern basin family agricultural enterprises.

    The solution is very simple and I am reliably advised used in SW Queensland. Install a mobile telephone switch on every MDB pump that transmits to a central base station the start, duration and stopping of pumping activity. Then provide sufficient star and resources for compliance inspectors to verify water allocations are not over-pumped and bring criminal charges against any miscreants.

  4. John Lord

    2019 will remain in my memory as the year of the lie and that truth was unable to defeat it. I am hoping however that with the help of The AIM Network 2020 will see truth fight back and regain its proper place.

  5. Barry Thompson.

    Great comment RC29.

  6. whatever

    This bunch of clowns just released a mini-budget a few weeks before Christmas. Have we ever seen such desperation and panic?

    A lot of people who voted for Scotty will soon know the horror of “Social Security Integrity” as the recession (in everything except mining) wipes out any hint of a holiday retail recovery and the layoffs begin.

  7. Andrea Weymouth

    As the economy tanks and the rainforests burn where the bloody hell is Scotosis? Having a ‘well-earned’ family holiday away from the smoke in Hawaii. Reported in the Financial Review but oddly missing from the Murdoch news. How good is leadership?

  8. Kaye Lee


    I wrote an article about the water theft and Littleproud’s ex-wife’s family connection to John Norman who is, as far as I am aware, still to face prosecution for rorting the healthy headwaters grants scheme.

    He wasn’t happy. It was one of several stories we have pulled rather than face legal threats.

    This article from the ABC explains some of it.

    Could I recommend the Four Corners program Pumped.

  9. Roswell

    I’m not a very talkative person when I go to the shopping centre. I go about my business quietly, do what I have to do, and come home.

    If someone starts a chat I’ll oblige them with conversation.

    Today was a bit different. Everyone was in a chatty mood and I managed to hear a few other conversations while standing in a queue.

    Climate change, because of the bushfires is front and centre and people want to talk about it. They aren’t happy with the government’s attitude to it and they definitely aren’t happy with Morrison’s alleged leadership during this crisis.

  10. Kaye Lee


    Which makes Albanese’s timing for his shout out to coal all the more inexplicable. I despair that Labor are unable to take over the narrative.

  11. whatever

    I am guessing that Gerry Harvey gave Frydenberg and Cormann a kick in the pants and told them to start saying some positive-sounding things about the economy.

  12. Michael Taylor

    Scott Morrison might have high tailed it to Hawaii, but at least we know that Tony Abbott will be in the next fire truck off to fight the fires.

    He could even wear the same outfit he wore during all those photo ops a few years ago.

  13. John Lord

    Donald Trump has won the Huffington Post lie of the year for the third time. A record. What odds for 4 in a row.

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