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Judgment Day – A quick guide for voters

By Steve Davies

Australian Federal Election May 2022

Judgment Day – A quick guide for voters

About this guide

Now that the noisy political campaigning is officially over we all have time to think and reflect. Over the past few weeks we have all been bombarded by candidates and the media alike. The next few days gives us all time to think and reflect.

For many people this election is far more important than most. It is the election that will determine our future, the shape of our society and, indeed, our very existence. The impact of Covid-19, climate change the state of the real economy and so much more tells us that.

The purpose of this guide is not to preach to you about how you should vote. Its purpose is to provide you with a thoughtful and proven lens, a set of glasses, through which to judge the behaviours, actions, policies and beliefs of current politicians and political parties.

Such a guide is necessary since this election will determine the future of ourselves and generations to come. All at a time when the world as we know it has been upended.

The need for this guide is also crucial due to the behaviours, actions (not forgetting failures to act), policies and beliefs of the Morrison Government. That course was set by the Abbott Government in 2013 and, despite attempts at moderation, persisted with the Turnbull Government.

Courtesy of serendipity my good friends at Reclaim the News released a movie on 18 May 2022 that perfectly shows the serial nature of the destructive behaviours, actions, policies and beliefs of the Morrison Government.

Before continuing, please spend four and a half minutes viewing:



You’ve viewed the movie, now for a little more context.

While any organisation, including governments, can become dysfunctional Australia certainly cannot afford to continue with a government that has serially displayed its toxicity and, worse still, thinks it is normal.

Which leads us to the question of what drives the toxic behaviours of the Morrison Government?

The answer? Moral disengagement.

Moral disengagement – Background

This quick guide is based on the lifelong work of Professor Albert Bandura (1925-2021).

Professor Bandura is regarded as the fourth most influential psychologist of the twentieth century. He was awarded The President’s National Medal of Science (President Obama).

He is known as the originator of social learning theory. His (2015) book, Moral Disengagement: How People Do Harm and Live with Themselves, provides us with a powerful lens through which to judge the behaviours of the Morrison Government and, for that matter, any organisation.

There is a dire need for such a lens in these deeply troubled time as it helps us cut through government and media propaganda and spin. Not to mention its use of behavioural insights data to nudge and manipulate us.

Professor Bandura’s work on moral disengagement is crucial to understanding how otherwise good people do bad things in organisations. Of how organisations become toxic and destructive.

The prevalence and persistence of moral disengagement within organisations tells us how normalised it has become institutionally. In turn, that tells us how unhealthy that organisation is.

Depending on the size, status and role of an organisation it also gives us an indication of spread of moral disengagement. So, for example, where moral disengagement is normalised within a government it will spread to public service agencies.

That is exactly what has been taking place across the Australian Government. Think robodebt, the persecution of whistleblowers, abuse of legal power and more.

Let me share a useful analogy with you. The behaviours characteristic of moral disengagement spread like a virus. Where those behaviours take hold, they shape and corrupt everything. They are normalised. That’s what the Morrison Government has done.

Moral disengagement – Your guide

The most practical way to think of moral disengagement is the process by which organisations and individuals suspend morality and behave in ways that cause harm to people and society.

People, government, like us to think that that is something that only happens in dictatorships. That is not the case.

Where moral disengagement is normalised and institutionalised the result is toxicity and dysfunction that harms people and the society we live in.

That’s exactly what we have been seeing and experiencing with the Morrison Government. Too many good people within government have shut up about this issue.

The video produced by my good friends at very clearly shows the extent of the problem.

If you didn’t view it earlier, please do so now.



Each and every instance shared in that video ticks every box in terms of moral disengagement. Looked at collectively and the only conclusion is that we are in dire straits. To think that the Morrison Government is going to somehow heal itself makes no sense.

Below are listed the element of moral disengagement. Look at any behaviours, practices, actions, inactions or policies of the Morrison Government and see what you think.

Beneath each of the mechanism I have provided some short pointers to assist you.

Discuss what you think with friends, family members, colleagues and contacts.

Do the same with any incoming government. We all need to be vigilant to fix this mess.

Thank you for taking the time to read all of this. Now it’s over to the mechanism of moral disengagement and your judgments:

Moral, social and economic justification

It’s the right thing to do. It will help them. It’s cost effective

Euphemistic language

Burying harms being done to people in the clinical, dehumanising and legalistic language of bureaucracy rather taking responsibility.

Advantageous comparison

Describing harmful acts or processes as the lesser of two evils

Displacement of responsibility

I’m just following orders.

Diffusion of responsibility

It’s ‘just’ the process. Everyone must follow it.

Disregard, distortion and denial of harm.

Disregard of harms caused. Victimisation of persons who expose harms and wrongdoing.

People who raise issues others do not want openly discussed are ruthless attacked. Think of the Grace Tames of this world along with, for example, whistleblowers such as Richard Boyle, David McBride, Bernard Collaery and Citizen K. In fact, think of anyone who speaks out.


Denying the humanness of a person or group. Enables victimisation.


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  1. Alasdair

    You’ve sold me. I’ve always wanted to live under a kleptocracy/kakistocracy, so I’m going to vote for…

    Oh drat – I’ve already voted!

  2. New England Cocky

    I learned in the school yard that the only way to defeat bullies was to stand toe to toe and beat the living daylights out of them. We get this rare chance on Saturday 21 May 2022, although many Australians have already voted even though the Liarbal Nazional$ COALition misgovernment is doing every shady trick possible to reduce the availability of polling so that they may enjoy a further three years with their snouts deep in the trough of public funding and political graft.


  3. wam

    What a read showing this reactive government preying on the basic instincts of fear of ‘THEY’, respect for authority and I am alright, jack. Aboriginal Australians are not treated as individuals in but as a group falling into the category of ‘they’ at all levels of society. Non-Aboriginal Australians may also be ‘they’ed if they are not white or identify by wearing distinctive clothing. But, we european Australians or, what a horrible word, Caucasians are given status as individuals. After living in darwin since the 60s, I have seen urban Aborigines, having had to deny their Aboriginality to join society, still get racially abused. After the referendum they re-affirmed their Aboriginality, still copped racism and got accused of greed. All the time homeless Aborigines were seen drinking, gambling at cards and yelling, Their alcohol fuelled violence was in full view, whilst their non-Aboriginal drunkards were unseen. So all Aborigines are violent alcoholics. Anti-drinking laws have meant Aboriginal alcoholics are breaking into licensed premises to get the alcohol so desperately needed(such a thought gets me as much criticism from clp friends, who are not ignorant of the disease alcoholism but scoff at the need of medical involvement, as my words on the bandit here) The Aboriginal, Asian and African Australians get treated at the lowest level first and have to show cause why that experience is wrong. Non-Aboriginal Australians of immigrant european ancestry are treated at the highest level first and treated poorly if the experience warrants such treatment. Just like schools, where the well dressed are liked till they prove themselves shits but poor kids have to be clever? The jacks are happy as long as there are a group lower than them. Humans are satisfied under those conditions. We are naturally cruel and have to be taught, as children, to respect nature and not to kill. Notice kids stomping on insect, spraying cockroaches and spiders, throwing or shooting at birds, slashing mother in law fish before throwing them back. I was horrified when I saw milgram’s experiment on video. This government’s behaviour is full of harm for people they rationalise deserve it. But their cruelty wont lose any votes. My children’s friends none were shown a sunrise/set nor the wonder of clouds and were knowledgeable about lions, tigers and elephants ignorant of flora and fauna of home. They had never seen a ‘jewel’ colours reflected from spider’s eyes. Elections may be won or lost on cruelty regardless of truth or lies, if it occurs within days of the election. The lying rodent’s children overboard was a winner because Australians thought the refugees were capable of that crime.. Has albo’s stumbles been enough to overcome scummo’s lies? Has labor’s campaign been enough to overcome the basic fears? I think yes and will be commiserating (she is a geelong supporter) and celebrating, at a friend’s 80th on Sunday. ps Auto correct only three red lines european australians and australian aborigines. Aborigines are only given a grammatical capital. Unlike many, at least one here, I think that Aborigines deserve to have a proper noun in the same way as europeans oops another red line???

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