During Scott Morrison’s brief tenure as managing director of Tourism Australia, he waged a running battle with the board whose members complained that he did not heed advice, withheld important research data about the controversial “So Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign, was aggressive and intimidating, and ran the government agency as if it were a one-man show.
Now we are seeing the same style brought to his Prime Ministership.
Astonishingly, he decided to announce a major potential pivot in Middle East policy, shifting our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, without taking the idea to cabinet or seeking advice from the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Defence, or Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Similarly, the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, found out about the appointment of Tony Abbott as Special Envoy from the media. Needless to say, the Indigenous community had not been consulted either and reacted with anger at having Abbott thrust upon them.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, the CSIRO, and James Cook University learned about the half a billion dollars in reef research funds only after it was given to an obscure NFP with six employees without tender and with no application from them. Scott Morrison has claimed responsibility for the decision to hand the funds over in one big hit.
Despite all the work that had been done to reach consensus on the National Energy Guarantee, bringing politicians and industry and regulators together, Scott has decided to abandon any action to reduce emissions just when we are presented with the IPCC report showing how urgent the problem has become.
Rod Sims, who has just had his appointment as head of the ACCC renewed, read about Morrison’s threat to forcibly break up big power companies that refuse to stop electricity price gouging in the newspaper.
Morrison said the changes were “based on the expert reports” provided by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, however a major ACCC report on electricity prices in July did not recommend divestment powers. Mr Sims told Senate estimates on Thursday that the government did not consult him on the new powers to be handed to his agency and that the ACCC considered the proposal to be “extreme”.
Every day, we hear new announcements about the drought, the latest being another $5 billion fund. Interestingly, Scott made the announcement flanked by the leader and deputy leader of the Nats, the Agriculture Minister, the head of the National Farmers Federation, and national drought coordinator Major General Stephen Day. Scott’s other captain’s pick for Special Envoy for the Drought was notably absent as was his ‘unusual’ choice for Environment Minister.