Scott Morrison has worked very hard on selling himself as an ordinary bloke who wears baseball caps and board shorts and thongs, a daggy dad who loves his footy and cooking curries, a good Christian family man.
At least, that’s the marketing.
But time and again, the veneer cracks and we see the real Scott Morrison – a power-hungry, political animal, devoid of empathy.
It began with his preselection and the man who beat him 82 to 8 votes, Michael Towke. Two senior Liberals who wanted Morrison instead, abetted by Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph, then embarked on a crusade of defamatory character assassination which saw Mr Towke’s political career destroyed and his mother end up in hospital from the stress caused by baseless headlines suggesting Towke was a liar who was facing jail time.
None of it was true. The Telegraph settled out of court and apologised but the damage was done. Scotty was on the way.
In December 2010, as opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate.
That same month, forty-eight asylum seekers died in the Christmas Island boat disaster. Morrison criticised the Gillard government for “wasting taxpayers’ money” on paying for relatives to attend the funerals of their family members.
Immediately after winning the 2013 election, Morrison stepped up the dehumanisation strategy, instructing departmental and detention centre staff to publicly refer to asylum seekers as ‘‘illegal’’ arrivals and as ‘‘detainees’’, rather than as clients. This language suggests criminality. People held on Manus and Nauru were to be called “transferees”, like they were some sort of package in transit.
When Morrison moved on to Minister for Social Services, he remodelled himself with a fluffier image. This was a deliberate move, a stepping stone along the road.
Whatever the image he was trying to portray, it was during Morrison’s tenure that Robodebt was conceived.
In his 2019 campaign launch, Morrison derided Labor for their “incompetent administration” of programs like “School halls. Pink batts. Cash-for clunkers.”
The scale of devastation from robodebt dwarfs any and all such failures.
On the eve of the May 2015 budget, Morrison embarked on a media blitz, doing six interviews in the morning to sell his $3.5 billion radical overhaul of the childcare subsidies system – a move that was seen as calculated to steal Treasurer Joe Hockey’s thunder.
Morrison, when asked the obvious question, insisted he did not want Mr Hockey’s job, and he wasn’t angling to be prime minister.
“I’ll be the prop forward taking it up and he can be the one who will score the try and that’s what he’ll be doing on Budget day.’’
Kind of like when he put his arm around Malcolm Turnbull and smirked, “I am ambitious for this guy.”
Treasurer was the next stepping stone, doling out the public coffers to garner support for his ultimate goal – Smirker-in-chief. Then hugely underspending on the NDIS so he could brag about a surplus.
Morrison had no regard for his colleagues as he stepped all over them to get to the top.
He didn’t care about migrants trying to settle in a new country, or asylum seekers fleeing war and oppression.
He didn’t care about welfare recipients pushed to the brink when confronted with debts they didn’t owe and couldn’t pay.
He didn’t care about the many women who said they had been bullied and intimidated during the leadership coup.
He didn’t care about the bushfires ravaging Australia while he was sitting poolside in Hawaii sipping a coldie.
He doesn’t care about Indigenous Australians’ fight for a Voice.
He doesn’t care about the people waiting for NDIS or home care packages.
And he had to imagine his own daughters being assaulted to “clarify” for him what he should feel about a staffer being raped in his workplace.
It was no surprise to hear that Morrison’s government paid $190,000 of taxpayer money to an empathy consultant on how best to show drought-stricken farmers they care about them.
Scotty doesn’t do empathy unless the focus groups suggest he should pretend to care and someone else explains to him what that looks like.
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