When Scott Morrison starts a press conference by justifying what he or his government are doing but halfway through says that now is not the time to politicise things, I have to wonder why none of the journalists point out that his two minutes of spin have done exactly that. Subtext: “This is all someone else’s fault but now is not the time to be laying blame! So there’s nothing more to say, and I’d like to be a quiet Australian and not respond to any difficult questions.”
Now, I know that all politicians try to spin things.
Not all the time, of course. Sometimes events are just too big or too tragic and so we have rare moments of bipartisanship where everybody just understands what needs to be done.
I’d like to think the current bushfires are such a time.
However, our parody of a Prime Minister just can’t help himself. From insisting that we were just fine and we didn’t need overseas help to his most recent statement that Australia has always had bushfires, everything is about trying to ensure that nobody tries to find some flaw in his government. He takes every opportunity to imply that this is really an issue for the states and any help the Federal government gives is a bonus. When he said that: “Our response has been to respond to our state and territory governments where they’ve sort additional support” I was sure that some focus group had suggested that they didn’t feel that the government was responsive enough. But hey, if they seek additional support, we’ll give it! That’s leadership, Scomo style!
While social media is showing a fair bit of extra hostility to the slow responses of our Prime Marketer, I wonder if his attempts at politicising this are as transparent to the “quiet Australians”.
His address from the command centre had “Authorised S.Morrison, Liberal Party” at the end. While party political ads need authorisation, surely an address from the PM doesn’t. Or does Morrison see himself as Liberal leader first, PM second… Actually, there’s probably a few things before PM like family holidays and talking to Brian about miracles.
While I’m cynical about all politicians using disasters as photo opportunities, I acknowledge that for people who are facing extreme events, a handshake or a brief chat from someone in power may actually help them to feel that people have noticed and that they care. Another photo of Morrison looking at someone pointing at a map, won’t do anything for anyone.
His message that we’ve always had bushfires was a clear attempt to suggest that this is nothing out of the ordinary, but I can’t help wonder if we’ve ever had so many fires burning out of control in so many different areas…
Ah, next I’ll be blaming coal or suggesting that speeding contributes to the road toll when we all know that it’s only to raise revenue that governments issue speeding fines. Nothing wrong with doing double the limit outside a kindergarten I say!
I’ve always thought it was the role of the media to educate. The media should be our collective memory reminding us what precedents are being broken and what traditionally has happened. It should be pointing out that misleading Parliament was always a serious matter and that ministerial responsibility meant that the buck stopped with the minister. It doesn’t mean: “I’ve found the person who stuffed up by producing an inaccurate report, leaking it and hidiing the fact that they were the leaker… and no, I’m not going to sack them because we all make mistakes.”
Yet we find the media has the attention span of a two-year-old on a sugar high. Why else would it be presenting Newspoll to us as though it’s completely accurate and we should just forget about the fact that it got the 2019 election so wildly wrong? Why else would it allow Morrison to go from saying that there was no need to pay volunteers one week, to announcing that not only would they be making funds available to some volunteers, but that the government had been working on it for some time? Why else would they not remind Morrison of his quote after the school climate strikes?
“I want children growing up in Australia to feel positive about their future, and I think it is important we give them that confidence that they will not only have a wonderful country and pristine environment to live in, that they will also have an economy to live in as well. I don’t want our children to have anxieties about these issues.”
Why else would they keep telling us about the puppets and not the shadow play which is where the action really is?
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