Some people will be surprised that I’m suggesting that we owe our PM an apology, but anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a fair man. And anyone who doesn’t think that I’m a fair man obviously doesn’t know me…
Yes, there are certain things that our PM has done recently that I’ve criticised:
- Tweeting about how good the summer would be thanks to the cricket, while the bushfires were raging
- Going on holiday in the midst of a crisis
- Coming back
- Having his office lie about his whereabouts
- Shaking people’s hand against their will
- Suggesting that the firies didn’t need any compensation, changing his mind, then telling us that they’d been working on it for a while
- Making the compensation harder to get than a subsidy to start a coal mine
- Telling people that Kangaroo Island still had two thirds not burnt so it was open for business.
- Saying that it was good that nobody on Kangaroo Island had died only to be corrected by someone who pointed out that two people had
- Implying that bushfires were all the fault of arsonists.
- Calling arsonists “Un-Australian”. (What nationality promotes arson. Is it an English thing? A Canadian thing? A Greek custom? An Italian habit?)
But I’ve taken a step back over recent days and had a good long think about our PM.
When in New Zealand, he left his job as director of the Office of Tourism and Sport with a year to run on his contract for reasons unspecified. He was sacked from Tourism Australia, and not just because of the appalling “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign.
After failing to gain preselection, losing to Michael Towke 82 votes to 8, he managed to become the candidate, after Towke was disendorsed by the NSW executive of the Liberal Party after allegations of branch stacking against Towke. These allegations were later proven to be false and “The Daily Telegraph” settled a defamation case for an undisclosed amount.
Once in Parliament, Morrison quickly became noticed. One of the highlights of his career was when he complained about the Gillard government paying for relatives of the Christmas Island boat tragedy to attend the funerals. This early demonstration of his empathetic nature was something that made him a natural for advancement in the Abbott Ministry.
As Immigration Minister in the Abbott government, he introduced weekly briefings where he would tell the media nothing about boat arrivals or turnbacks because such things were a matter of “security”. When the media said that there was no point in having a weekly meeting where all that was said was that nothing could be said, Morrison quickly agreed and stopped the meetings altogether.
When the Australian Human Rights Commission issued a report in 2014 which asserted that Morrison failed in his responsibility to act in the best interests of children in detention, the Liberals suggested that the report was poorly timed because they were in power and it should have been critical of Labor who couldn’t retaliate by appointing Tim Wilson to the Human Rights Commission.
Morrison moved from Immigration to Social Services where he found that his strategy of locking up people and refusing to comment was a little trickier to implement. He announced that he didn’t want to take a combative approach to the portfolio, so if people would just agree with him that would make it a lot easier.
It was as Treasurer that Scott could really shine. Treasurers use lots of words like “fiscal”, “macroeconomic policy”, “market efficiency”, “superannuation” and various other phrases that even when understood, tend to make the listener drift off into a semi-hypnotic state where they conclude: “This guy is so boring, he really must know something about how to handle money.” (Ok, I did note the use of the male pronoun. I was going to change it to something more generic, but then I realised that Australia doesn’t have female Treasurers…)
Morrison had a natural advantage in that he was boring even before he was made Treasurer. Once he was made leader after Dutton’s aborted coup, Morrison managed to keep people in their semi-hypnotic state throughout the election campaign by talking about such things as curries and a fair go. Somehow he managed to have various people think that they were back in the fifties and it was a bonza country, but he was just a little bit alternative because he embraced these curry things, while Jen could whip up a mean salad.
All of which brings me to the apology…
Given his total and absolute inability to demonstrate empathy or competence in any job he’d ever held, and his ascent has only been through bastardry and nastiness, why on earth would we expect any better once he became our PM. Really, it’s our fault for electing him to a position far beyond his capabilities. He’s possibly doing the best that he can.
And so, on behalf of the Australian people, I’d just like to say, “Sorry, Scottie. We’ve expected far too much of you.”
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