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Number 5 for 2022: Why is Scott Morrison remaining in the Parliament?

Today we begin the countdown to our Top 5 most viewed articles in 2022. Number 5 goes to John Lord for this piece from June (and we’re still asking that question):

Why is Scott Morrison remaining in the Parliament?

The answer to my headline will be revealed a little later, or it may not, depending on how you digest what l am suggesting.

Tony Abbott stayed on after being rolled by Turnbull. Rudd did so when Gillard successfully challenged. Both were motivated by the possibility of regaining power. Abbott didn’t and became a hindrance to Turnbull, but Rudd did and became Prime Minister for a second time.

So, what could be Morrison’s motivation for staying on? Perhaps his ego is telling him to be patient for another opportunity. Maybe he believes God’s will is for him to fulfil his destiny. Maybe there is another reason. Maybe it’s for the money (though I’m not suggesting it is).

In May, the Australian Associated Press fact-check reported that Morrison’s yearly salary was $549,250.

But that was while he was prime minister. But:

As of 2019, the annual base salary of a member of the federal Parliament in Australia is $211,250 per annum. Parliament House, which is what Morrison will receive as long as he stays in Parliament (provided he doesn’t become a shadow minister).

That’s plus expenses which can be very lucrative. (Writing for Yahoo Finance, Eliza Bavin puts it at $300,000 PA.)

“Now, let’s discuss the parliamentary pension for when Morrison finally decided to exit.

When Tony Abbot departed in 2019, the Sydney Morning Herald reported he would receive 6.5 per cent of the base parliamentary salary (now $211,250) for time spent as an MP and 6.5 per cent of the PM salary (now $549,250) multiplied by the years spent in each job respectively. This figure is then multiplied by 75 per cent of that total, giving a slightly smaller number.

If we do some similar maths for Morrison for the time spent as a Minister, Prime Minister and regular MP, the total comes to about $200,000 annually.”

It’s not a lousy superannuation package; whatever way you look at it, think about all the perks that go with it. Free travel, an office with a personal secretary. Labor has promised to have a Royal Commission with terms of reference up and running before Christmas.

But could there be another reason for him staying on? Yes, there could be, and its name is Robodebt.

The terms of reference could include the following:

  1. To establish who was responsible for establishing Robodebt scheme.
  2. To establish what advice and what process or processes informed the design and implementation of the Robodebt scheme.
  3. To investigate the handling of complaints about the Robodebt scheme – including in relation to the scheme’s legality – by Services Australia, the Department of Human Services, other relevant Commonwealth agencies and Ministers.
  4. To determine how much the implementation, suspension and wind-back of the Robodebt scheme cost taxpayers.
  5. To investigate the harm caused to law-abiding Australians by the Robodebt scheme.
  6. To investigate the use of third-party debt collectors under the Robodebt scheme.

The Australian (firewalled) described Robodebt as:

“… the worst example of maladministration and callous indifference since the Coalition took office, but the PM won’t be held to account.”

In fact, it’s much worse than that; it is possibly the most callous scheme ever devised by a political party in Australian political history. And further to that, Scott Morrison’s fingerprints are all over it. It has been alleged (repeat, alleged) that Morrison told the department to continue even after being told that the scheme was illegal.

Image from Graham Perrett MP (Facebook)

When the unlawful scheme was conceived, Mr Morrison was social services minister and continued the welfare debt recovery program as prime minister and even underpinned a return to surplus on a projected windfall.

And if that were the case, then it would be better in Morrison’s defence to give legal evidence as an MP and former Prime Minister than as a private citizen. There would be protection in doing so in the event that some pro bono work is required at a later date.

The former Government unfailingly did all it could to cover up and obstruct enquiries into the origins of Robodebt and has consistently refused to take responsibility for the damage it caused, including the real possibility that many people committed suicide.

Eventually, after Labor helped instigate a class action, the Government caved in, and a $1.8 billion settlement was made to repay the scheme’s victims. The offer saved Morrison, Roberts and Porter from appearing in the witness box. However, now that we have a Royal Commission. People will have to front up and tell the truth.

Who was responsible for establishing the scheme? Why did the Commonwealth “unlawfully claim nearly $2 billion in debts from 433,000 people?”

This highly:

“… illegal and immoral Robodebt scheme caused serious harm to many Australian families – who have reported that this contributed to stress, anxiety, financial destitution and even suicide.”

In April of this year, the then Opposition Leader Anthony told the ABC that Robodebt was a “human tragedy.”

“Against all evidence, and all the outcry, the government insisted on using algorithms instead of people to pursue debt-recovery against Australians who, in many cases, had no debt to pay,” Mr Albanese said.

“It caused untold misery.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded, telling the ABC that:

“The problem has been addressed” when asked if the Coalition planned to hold inquiries into the program.

“There have been numerous inquiries into this and there’s been court matters which we’ve fully cooperated in and almost $750 million in response to that,” Mr Morrison said.

“And the changes in the scheme have been in place.

“So the problem has been addressed, but any such inquiry, I imagine, would have to start with the process of income assessment, averaging of income, which was introduced by the Labor Party.”

Why did the Government undertake Robodebt when there were significant questions about its legality? We now know that this was Scott Morrison’s scheme; he was the Social Services Minister at the time of the 2016 election when he proudly boasted it would pump billions into the budget bottom line.

John Howard told Tony Abbott that he would be opening a can of worms with his Pink Batts and Julia Gillard Royal Commissions, and it has turned out that way. There is an immediate call for them at the mere whiff of a scandal, but this is profoundly different. It has the stench of Morrison written all over it.

Robodebt has unnecessarily inflicted unwanted anguish and mental stress on those susceptible to it. We may never know the number of suicides caused by the receipt of automatically generated debt letters, but we need to know the truth. So, the case for a judicial inquiry into this debacle is irresistible. It would be able to examine not only the issue of what was known about the unlawfulness of the scheme but the “human cost” of it, plus the Government’s “use of private debt collectors” to pursue victims.

Do you shape the truth for the sake of a good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down people’s view of you? Alternatively, do you simply use the contrivance of omission and create another lie. I can only conclude that there is always pain in truth, but there is no harm in it.

My thought for the day

Time doesn’t diminish the crime.

 

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13 comments

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  1. Clakka

    Hear, hear.

    And the jabbering slitherer is still hiding under the cover of the parliament and the taxpayer’s hard earned.

  2. GL

    “So, what could be Morrison’s motivation for staying on? Perhaps his ego is telling him to be patient for another opportunity. Maybe he believes God’s will is for him to fulfil his destiny.”

    Pretty much sums up what Scummo is all about. That, and the fact that he’s not about to be offered any high paying lobbying…I mean work…any time soon if he leaves the safety of the pig trough.

  3. Terence Mills

    It has been reported that the Liberal Party have asked Morrison not to resign from parliament as that would bring about a by-election which they would surely lose.

    So he may very well hang on until the next election and then lose pre-selection with a new candidate hoping to retain the seat of Cook for the Liberals.

    He should go now and get on with his life ; by hanging on he is an albatross around the neck of the Liberal party – but that’s their problem, we did our job by getting him off our necks !

  4. Claudio Pompili

    Hear hear…absolutely on form for Morriscum…it’s all about the money

  5. Florence Howarth

    Maybe he is hanging on until they find him a job to get rid of him. He might have more to fear from ACT from Higgins’s rape cover-up allegations.

  6. Harry Lime

    Morrison,the unquenchable stench,the unflushable turd,the mind blowing liar and narcissist.Why shouldn’t he stick around? He’s the most qualified of the LNP detritus to be leader.Maybe he’s waiting for the eagle to shit.Let us pray for the eagle to be accurate.Gutless to a fault.

  7. Douglas Pritchard

    He is “our” distraction tool. When things get a bit dodgy in places that do matter, we can always bring Scummo on stage.
    And the pantomime which we call democracy can still engage with the audience.

  8. King1394

    I am hoping that while they examine the robodebt thoroughly, time might also be given to investigating the difficulties people face in getting in touch with Centrelink. The process of phone contact has one negotiating a series of robots which will cut you off from calling for the day if you make an error on your way through the system. There is also a limited set of answers to the robotic request, “Tell me in a few words what you are calling about today”. If there is a noisy background, if you stumble over your words, or if your description of your problem does not accord with the robot’s list of acceptable problems , then it’s goodbye. I have have spent entire mornings on the phone to Centrelink, as I am a Nominee for two people, and it is a very frustrating experience. I suspect many people who received a ROBODEBT letter went through this as they tried to find out what to do.

  9. Pete Petrass

    Morriscum may well be entirely correct in saying that it was Labor that introduced income averaging……………………….but what he is NOT saying is that Labor had real people checking the numbers rather than leaving it up to computer algorithms and NOBODY checking. That is a significant difference and the REAL cause of all the misery.

  10. Phil Pryor

    That repulsive, filthy, inadequate, lying, cheating, selfagitating, podpolishing political pervert Morrison lingers on, the galactic fart…

  11. Andy56

    King1394, yes centrelink is the arse end of software development. Its totally useless because the back office is understaffed. The software is only a triage. Badly written and stupid. If they got rid of compliance chasing and concentrated on helping, their efficiency levels would go through the roof. I dont believe labor is willing to dismantle the garbage, only soften the blows. Proof? They let you earn and extra $4500 per year on the pension. In other words you can work one day a week before cutting your pension 50c in the dollar. Generous like milk from a male tit. Better than the dole’s treatment, but stingy non the less. Efficiency can be gained by sending all income to the tax office and then sorted at the end of the financial year.
    As for scott, he should pay out of his own pocket for the robodebt fiasco. It was a wilful and deliberate attack on the down and out. His only defence was ” if we knew, we wouldnt be here” . What statesman like morality he shows, bastard. Morally, even the pentecostal church should be held to account for not bringing him to heal. The money church would prefer to hide things under the table. Brandis says we should pray for persecuted christians. I say people like morrison brings christianity into disrepute. It gives licence for persecution. A self fullfiling profecy i would say.

  12. Kathryn

    The reason the totally corrupt, absolutely inept, smirking, megalomaniac and nauseating bible-thumping hypocrite, Morrison, is hanging around like a fart in an elevator is because history has shown that this political psychopath is completely incapable of holding down any type of job out in the REAL WORLD that requires intelligence, foresight and hard work! Morrison has a long, shameful history of being sacked or mysteriously “let go” from every job he failed to keep before he stomped on the carcases of his own colleagues to crawl to the top of the worst, most depraved regime in our history!

    The fact that the backstabber Morrison even betrayed his OWN LNP colleagues, Michael Towke and Malcolm Turnbull, gives a clear picture of the level of Morrison’s disloyal treachery and depraved born-to-rule arrogance and ruthless ambition. Morrison, the worst PM in our history, is STILL managing to hang on by his bloodstained fingernails in spite of the fact that he is absolutely despised even by his own colleagues. A perfect example of this is when the ex-NSW LNP Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, so aptly described Morrison as “a horrible horrible person who can NEVER be trusted!”. The fact that Morrison undemocratically tried to surreptitiously take control of at least FIVE PORTFOLIOS proves that this narcissist didn’t mind stooping to an unspeakable level of fascism in order to rule over us like some pathetic third world dictator! Boy, did we dodge a bullet when he lost the last federal election in a catastrophic defeat by the ALP!

    Everything Morrison has done, his callous inhumanity, his stratospheric arrogance should have been a RED FLAG WARNING to the Murdoch-manipulated Cook electorate who keep voting for this diabolical sociopath over and over again! Quite honestly, Morrison should be charged and jailed instead of becoming a sad, isolated and pathetic creature loitering on the backbenches of Parliament House!

    What really is unfair is that IN SPITE of the fact that the bone-idle Sloth Morrison’s only “achievements” were that he so quickly managed to divide our nation, embarrassed Australia on the world stage, is internationally condemned as a notorious pathological liar and hasn’t got one single redeeming feature, this conniving, misogynistic and xenophobic political psychopath is going out on a MASSIVE taxpayer-funded six-figure political pension!

  13. wam

    why is little billy still in parliament? Surely it is because Maribyrnong, like Cook, elected a representative not a leader.
    ps
    Lord, can a computer deliver anything but the truth?
    pps
    Kathryn scummo is 2007 entrant and the massive payouts are from 2004 intake. My understanding his retirement cash is based on average earnings and will slightly diminish for each year he hangs on.

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