As a teacher, I’m aware that most kids tell the truth most of the time. It occasionally stuns students when I believe them without demanding proof. “How do you know he’s not lying,” someone will occasionally ask. The answer, even though I never tell them, is quite simple. Liars invariably give themselves away with a little smirk which says more clearly than words, “That stupid teacher bought it when I said that I was late because I was helping Mr Smedley pack up the chairs.”
Of course, if you ask the student to go and get a note from Mr Smedley, he or she will, for the first time ever, need to get on with their work and it’s really, really insulting that you should question their honesty.
I don’t know why this occurs to me as I write about Mr Morrison’s dazzling performance at the National Press Club. And, yes, I was smirking as I wrote that.
While much has been written about the PM’s inability to find more than two modes of expression – Shouty McShoutface and the Jerk with the Smirk – I haven’t seen anybody suggest that his behaviour is exactly like that of an adolescent. Smug, when they think they’ve got away with something, and angry when they haven’t. For those of you who’ve never dealt with a teenager, you may be surprised to find that one of their favourite tactics when they’re caught doing something wrong is outrage: “You only caught me because you hate me and you didn’t catch George yesterday, so everything is really your fault and you should apologise!!!”
From yesterday’s performance, which Peta Credlin gave “full marks, we learnt a number of things:
- The Federal Government doesn’t have the power to do things unless the states ask for help because – apparently – they can’t declare a national emergency unless asked to by the states.
- Some of the states didn’t ask for help, so why not go to Hawaii?
- Climate change is real so we should just buy more sunscreen and prepare for hotter times.
- We need to cut down lots and lots of trees because they’ll just burn so maybe the Commonwealth should have more power to make this happen.
- We need more gas so maybe the Commonwealth should have more power
- This government is taking the Auditor-General’s report very seriously, but no rules were broken and guidelines aren’t rules.
- While the Minister should have the final power to make decisions, it was different when Ros Kelly and any Labor Minister made a decision because they need to follow all guidelines.
- Even though Senator McKenzie was responsible for the grants, Mr Morrison was able to reject categorically that the colour-coding was about targeting marginally electorates, because he told us: “That’s not why I did it!” which suggests that he was involved in the decision-making process.
- All of the grants were about female change rooms because Mr Morrison doesn’t want girls changing in the car or behind the sheds.
- He was late because he was helping Mr Smedley pack up the chairs.
Of course, you’ve probably noticed a recent tactic by our Prime Minister of telling the journalist, “I reject the premise of your question.” Like so many other things with this government, this seems to be acceptable without any sort of scrutiny. While Labor keeps getting asked how much their emissions reduction targets will cost, nobody ever asks the PM how much will it cost to “beat” our targets.
Perhaps, the next interviewer could try something like this:
“Mr Morrison, are you concerned with the lack of urgency with which the Attorney-General is developing his ICAC legislation?”
“Sorry, I reject the premise of your question.”
“Which premise is that?”
“The premise that there’s no urgency. We won’t be rushed into making a poor decision and there’s no need to panic.”
“So you’re saying you’ll take your time and get it right? Well, I reject your definition of urgency.”
“Sorry, but I reject your rejection of our definition of urgency.”
“On what grounds.”
“On the grounds that we are giving this our urgent attention.”
“So what happens with things that aren’t urgent, if the urgent ones miss deadlines.”
“Like I made clear earlier, we won’t be panicked into making poor decisions.”
“Well, I reject the premise of your assumption that you made that clear.”
“Look, the Australian people aren’t interested in a semantic argument. They want us to get this right.”
“I reject your assumption inherent in your premise, because I think that you did promise to have legislation ready by the end of last year and your rejection of my premise suggests that your promise…”
“I am sure that the Australia people are more concerned with things like the strong economy that we’ve created.”
“And which offshore tax haven is that in?”
Speaking of urgency, how long do you think it’ll take for that report on whether Bridget McKenzie breached ministerial standards to reach the PM’s desk? It’s been a week and nothing yet. I mean, it’s not like they need to wait for DNA samples to come back from the lab.
But I guess it’s hard to convince someone to take one for the team when everyone else is playing for themselves.
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