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Let’s remember Morrison holidaying as the state burned

By Andrew Wicks

Scott Morrison might well undermine it, but let’s remember the apocalyptic summer he left us to navigate and later lied about.

Ahead of the 60 Minutes puff piece that will apparently save his job, we got a taste of what to expect, as Scott Morrison has hit the internet playing a ukulele.



The subtext is obvious. Man plays tiny Hawaiian guitar, undermining one of the most notorious scandals during his tenure, when he famously buggered off to Maui on holiday, while exasperated fire officials have reconciled to hold a crisis meeting with themselves as the Prime Minister lied about it.

But, I’m reminded of another song. David Bowie’s album The Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars opens with the end. The first song, Five Years, articulates the hopelessness the average person feels when they realise doomsday will occur in their lifetime.

The song came to mind as the state caught fire. As the sky turned black, we struggled to comprehend what we were seeing. We’re equal parts furious, guilty, and clueless. Yet, at the top, we’re steered by official delusion, as the man who held the power was powerless, as he famously, couldn’t hold a hose.

At the height of the haze, I crossed paths with an angry older man on the phone, voice wafting through the bushfire smoke, yelling at whoever was on the other end, saying that this wasn’t acceptable, and how he shouldn’t have to put up with it.

It’s fair to say that we’ve taken climate change seriously but from a place of comfort. Some tethered themselves to Queensland bitumen, others have constructed a platform to yell from. The scientists told us it was serious, and our politicians told us it wasn’t. The media sat on the fence. We knew we had to do something, so we got together to elect Scott Morrison, a man who brought a lump of coal into parliament.

But I’d wager it took fire as big as Sydney itself to truly understand. Suddenly, the sun was pink, respirators appeared on the street and our previously safe suburbs were on fire lists.

In Bowie’s world, the knowledge arrives via an oddity from elsewhere, the eponymous Ziggy Stardust. In ours, you could argue that Greta Thunberg is our Ziggy, a soothsaying otherworldly interloper, offering truth and fielding criticism.

News guy wept and told us,
Earth was really dying
Cried so much his face was wet,
Then I knew he was not lying.

As far as apocalypses go, the average Sydneysider navigated it with the power of denial. I found myself at a roundabout, stuck behind a person who decided a catastrophic fire day was the best time to take his Sea-doo out for a spin.

On the radio, two identical glossy voices vibrantly spoke about being unable to buy a mask, before cueing up Sade, before giving props to the ‘smooth operators’ who would make a ‘motza’ selling them to those who missed out. When I got home, I was greeted by the genial wave of the elderly babu next door, who was blithely hosing down his property, as the pink sun angrily shook its fist through the blackening pall above.

I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlour,
Drinking milkshakes cold and long.
Smiling and waving and looking so fine,
Don’t think you knew you were in this song.

As far as I can see, we’re split into two camps. The angrily worried, and furiously inactive. You could probably place me, and every other journalist, writer and whoever, in the latter column. This piece serves no purpose. It’s telling us what we already know. We know that 11 times the safe range is not normal. We know that politicians should have listened. We know that we’ve placed greed over money and we know that Scott Morrison is lying to us.

But to those who want to boot Morrison out for dereliction of duty, we should note that his opponent toured the Queensland fossil fuel belt in order to keep his job in three years’ time. I don’t know what that change looks like, which is the problem. Fossil fuels are indelibly linked to the kings and the kingmakers of this land, and true change results in either the tearing down of democracy, or a significant wounding of it. We’re relying on those in power to bow to the polluters, before removing their heads. We’re relying on a significant part of the country to suddenly change their minds. We’re leaning on people to make the correct choice, one that directly impacts their own personal experience.

We’ve got five years, my brain hurts a lot. Five years, that’s all we’ve got.

While some minds have figured the tipping point to be 2050, or sooner, it’s fair to say that we’ve had enough warnings. We may not be at the hopeless crossroads Bowie found himself at, but we’re not far off. I fear that we’ll readily squander the freedom of this window by our angry inaction and indeed, the hope of a better day in the near future, one where those in power who ignored us before will suddenly listen and do something.

I fear we’ll only truly have this conversation when it is too late, and the only thing left to do, as Bowie noted, indulge ourselves and turn to the binary of common violence.

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.


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  1. New England Cocky

    Where did all the money donated for bushfire victims go??

  2. Michael Taylor

    Warning: have bucket handy if you intend listening to the video.

    I tell ya, it’s bad. How bad? Real bad.

  3. Michael Taylor

    Where did it go, NEC?

    Exactly where it was intended to go: Nowhere. ☹️

  4. Mr Shevill Mathers

    We need things fixed long before 2050, like 2025 at the rate climate is changing. How bad do adverse weather events have to be before those in charge realise it is already too late, based on the slow speed of any action from the people in charge. Morrison thinks he can flick a switch at 5-seconds to midnight 2049 and all will be OK next day-this is the impression I get from the Morrison LNP.

  5. Phil Pryor

    Why have we been punished, penalised, pissed on, by having a Hawaii Harlot, a lazy loudmouthed lout, a backstabbing bastard, a double crossing crooked crud, a fellatio friendly Merde Dog manifestation of a Monstrous Maggot, foisted upon us?? Why indeed. Is brainless profiteering such a drive that our planet needs to be threatened, doomed? Conservative corporate control is the new, huge plantation of bloodsuckery and exploitation.

  6. Regional Elder

    Scotty from Marketing seeks to become our very own Renaissance Man from the Land of OZ

    As he so keenly seeks to show us, he is able to :

    Pluck a ukulele
    Stop boats of desperate asylum seekers and then imprison them for 9 years
    Wash a captive woman’s hair in a hair saloon, and film it for wide distribution Introduce a religious discrimination legislation that will systematically disadvantage transgender people

    Be a keen passenger companion to a racing car driver on a racing circuit Generate new avenues for spreading misinformation and lying lying to the electorate
    Cook curries in a very public way
    Oversee a new jingoistic approach to international relationship with other nations : eg. China & France

    Masquerade as a lovable ‘ Daggy Dad ‘ to his daughters
    Alienate independent, talented women in different life spheres : Christine Holgate, Julia Banks, Grace Tame
    Unilaterally change the national anthem by replacing one key word with another Be an enthusiastic supporter of a Sydney rugby team

    Actively encourage the spread of the COVID pandemic, & justify it on the basis of ‘protecting the economy ‘
    Win a ‘ miracle election’ but not acknowledge the vast support from Rupert Murdoch and Clive Palmer Reduce the number of parliamentary sittings days, replacing them with announcements from his good self
    Bully some victims of bushfires into shaking hands with him.

    Become a master of political word salads, speeches filled with platitudes.
    Build on John Howard’s plan to make Sydney the political capital of Australia, not Canberra.
    Repeatedly call out the Premier of W.A. as ‘ economically irresponsible’, a state of few Covid deaths.
    Privilege and promote parliamentarians who share his own religious affiliations.

    Wow, ……. and that is only a beginning.

    Time to go …… ScoMo !

  7. Michael Taylor

    Some trivia: George Harrison composed “Something” on a ukulele (said Paul McCartney at his Melbourne concert a few years ago).

  8. Neilw

    Sometimes I find it hard to grasp – is Scomo taking the piss, or is this a PR stunt? Is he trolling or not very self-aware?

  9. B Sullivan

    “It’s fair to say that we’ve taken climate change seriously”

    No it isn’t. Given the historical facts that is a ludicrous statement. Climate change has occurred precisely because it was not taken seriously.

    In 1975 when the ABC Radio National’s Science Show began we were warned about Global Warming resulting from carbon emissions from fossil fuels. This was in the wake of the Global Oil Crisis when the public was really paying attention having been rudely awakened to the limitations of the Earth’s capacity to cope with human’s needs, wants and indulgences.

    In Australia environmentalism was regarded as a fad until John Howard declared it was no longer the case in 1996. Five years earlier, James Burke’s documentary ‘After the Warming’ predicted that inaction on climate change would extend into the 21st century.

    Kevin Rudd didn’t really take it seriously even though he claimed to recognise it for the threat it is. Julia Gillard will never be remembered for her passionate defense of the need for a tax on carbon. To her and her party it was just an embarrassing compromise to the Greens. Abbott was actually elevated to PM because he derided climate change, and Malcolm Turnbull was held in great esteem for displaying his particular talent of not getting things done.

    Bob Brown was nationwide derided for his anti-climate change caravan through the electorates most responsible for returning the Morrison Government. When the amazingly accurately predicted holocaust swept through Australia, destroying a fifth of the Nation’s wildlife, environmentalists were still being criticized for their insensitivity in linking the bushfires to global warming.

    If it’s fair to say we’ve taken climate change seriously why has it been allowed to happen?

  10. Andrew J. Smith

    Will be interesting in how media deal with LNP, Morrison and his brand? Disappear Morrison and focus upon competent Ministers? Disappear all the appalling choices made by Morrison e.g. Hawaii etc.?

    Or simply another full frontal media barrage bagging anything Labor, environment, Greens, unions, China etc., letting LNP off the hook, again…..

  11. GL


    The main sleaze media without a doubt will go with, “Or simply another full frontal media barrage bagging anything Labor, environment, Greens, unions, China etc., letting LNP off the hook, again…..” They might have some weak shots at the LNP all in the name of pretending to the unwashed masses about how “non-biased” they are.

    Anyway, I’m off to listen Mike Olfield’s album Amarok or Incantations before sleepy bo-boes time. Have a good night all.

  12. Socrates.

    We were interesd to see what/ if he had learned from the to paying attention to the actual sitution rather than the politics and learned at last toprepare forward.


    But he HAD learned to pin the blame on others, take credit for the work done by others and to lie more seamlessly concerninghim and his governments foul-ups.

    I waited, but not in hope, that the arrogance and nastiness would have subsided for a little humility and gratitude, but the arrogance just grew, exposing the ignorance that drove the arrogance and vice versa.

    Rather, I also waited to see if he realised that every mess he got himself into, that it wasn’t his own cleverness that helped him get by, but the hundreds of slithering sleek arse-crawlers in media and press that again and again rescued him and his useless government and kept him there as a message to Ausralians that the dictatorship STAYED amd stayed BECAUSE it sapped the morale of anyone who beleived that a civilised nation could do better than the pitiful effort over the last three years and the last decade.

  13. Josephus

    The Antarctic has lost about 30 per cent of its ice. Rising sea levels … yet estate agents have no scruples advertising huge vulgar mansion along our shores! And yet fools buy them!

  14. Jon Chesterson

    Excellent article and love the profound and sobering parody of Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie)

    Let’s not forget Nero too!

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