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The face of arrogance

By Ad astra

Although he’s been PM only since August of last year, it feels as if he’s been in the top job for much longer. His accidental election in the wake of the ill-planned Dutton grab for prime ministership has not inhibited him one jot. He’s been out there in press conference after press conference, in major speech after major speech, pushing the Morrison line with all the aplomb of a snake oil salesman. His purpose is clear. In what is clearly now a pre-election phase, he has set about reinforcing his credentials, and that of the ‘Morrison Government’ as brilliant managers of the economy and stunningly successful protectors of the Australian people against all manner of threats, a frightening cluster that he is only too ready to enumerate.

He excelled himself at his 11 February National Press club address, where he assured his audience that he would protect Australians from illegal boat arrivals (he’d imprison them in offshore detention); terrorists, here and overseas, (he’s disrupted 14 terrorist plots, and he’d deport any who managed to breach our shores); criminal gangs (he’s cancelled the visas of 4150 criminals); hostile states such an North Korea; natural disasters (he’s got a plan for every contingency); perpetrators of domestic violence (which he abhors); cyber threats and online bullies (which his cyber pundits have under constant surveillance). He admitted he was ‘pumped as’ at the prospect of being Australia’s ‘White Knight in Shining Armor’. Every threat is as important as the others he told a reporter. He didn’t mention the threat of teenage boys kicking sand in beachgoers’ faces, but he surly would have a remedy for that.

And how can we be sure he’d keep his word? Simple – he’s done it all before, so he’ll keep on doing it: his past actions are ‘proof of the pudding’.

Only a few days previously he was touting his economic credentials. He knows how to run a strong economy, because he’s done it before. And what’s more everything depends on a strong economy – essential services, protection of Australians, and prosperity for ‘Mums and Dads’, for small businesses, and for large ones too, of course. He’s got it all sorted.

Expect Morrison’s pitch for the election to be two positives: a strong economy, and protection for us all. You won’t be surprised that he’s got a couple of negatives – and Bill Shorten’s name is scrawled all over them. Shorten and Labor will weaken the economy, and of course protection for you and me. Boat arrivals will resume and ‘illegals’ will flood the country. That’s why he’s re-opening Christmas Island at a cost of billions! Shorten and Labor will increase taxes on everything ($200 billion he says), take money off retirees, rob the battlers, cripple small businesses and Mum and Dad investors, crucify the housing market, and now that we have the Banking Royal Commission report, Shorten will decimate that fine band of mortgage brokers who battle to give us the best deal with our housing loans!

How does Morrison know? ”Bill told us so!” You’ve heard his crazy policies around negative gearing and franking credits. Labor doesn’t know how to manage money or run an economy. Never has. Never mind that Labor rescued us from the ravages of the GFC. That was a fluke due to Howard’s prudent money management.

As 2353NM put it so eloquently in A show about nothing, Morrison has the consummate skill of saying nothing much, but doesn’t he do it eloquently. His narrative is redolent with the buzz words of contemporary pollie-speak.

How have we descended to this? How have we been burdened with such ineptitude?

Background counts. Do you know Morrison’s background? Let me give you a glimpse, courtesy of a comprehensive account by Michael Sainsbury in the February 11 issue of Crikey.

In his early days, back in 1995, Morrison worked for the Property Council of Australia (PCA) for six years as a lobbyist and propagandist, where he learned the art of spin. Then he graduated to the Tourism Task Force, a lobby group like the PCA, and for the next 12 years he filled various roles in tourism oscillating between government-run tourism bodies. With typical ruthlessness, Morrison deserted his Task Force post to join rival group Tourism Council of Australia (TCA) to become the general manager. At that time, Bruce Baird, former transport minister in the Nick Greiner and John Fahey Liberal governments, managed the TCA. As Sainsbury records:

Morrison left the TCA in 1998 at the same time Baird entered federal parliament. By December 1999, the TCA was technically insolvent, despite a questionable “start-up” loan of $2.3 million by the Howard government. It was eventually tipped into administration in December 2001 and disbanded. “The damage was done by Bruce and Scott,” a former staffer noted.

Morrison also made an unsuccessful attempt at private practice, and then became an employee of the Liberal Party of Australia. With a BSc in applied economic geography from UNSW he fancied himself as a ’marketeer’, but left others to do the marketing while he networked. He had a period with KPMG in 2000, tried to start up a tourism practice, followed by a failed period as the strategic director for the campaign of New South Wales Liberal leader Peter Debnam during his failed 2007 election bid. Morrison often left or was ejected from positions before his contracts were finished.

That’s enough for you to understand how Morrison has become what he is – a man steeped in marketing, master of spin, self-assured, supremely confident in the merit and power of his oratory. There is nothing self-effacing about him. He knows everything. He never admits to any gaps in his knowledge or political skills.

His oratory is overlaid with arrogance, aggression, and as Paddy Manning put it in The Monthly, belligerence.

He backs his judgement, even when ill informed, as he did over his intention to move the Australian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

But even when confronted with his errors, he insists he is correct. His behaviour during the ‘Medivac’ issue starkly illustrates what sort of a man we have at the helm. Are you as terrified as I am?

Do you want an arrogant, belligerent, shouty man as your prime minister? If not, you know the remedy.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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  1. Christopher J. Ward

    And you think BS Bill will be any different? The two last PMs of whom we could be proud were Julia Gillard and Paul Keating. Furthermore, they both deserved respect. The same feelings will not recur in my lifetime!

  2. Terence Mills

    Morrison and Dutton keep insisting that any medivac asylum seekers brought to Australia will be returned to detention on Manus Island .

    This is a red-herring as the detention centre on Manus has been closed . The Supreme Court of Papua New Guinea, despite an onslaught by lawyers funded by Australia, determined that :

    (6) Both the Australian and Papua New Guinea governments shall forthwith take all steps necessary to cease and prevent the continued unconstitutional and illegal detention of the asylum seekers or transferees at the relocation centre on Manus Island and the continued breach of the asylum seekers or transferees Constitutional and human rights.

    That was in April 2016. So, according to the demands of the court there is no longer any lawful excuse to hold people on Manus and the MoU originally signed by Rudd is redundant.

    On 9 February Christopher Pyne said this :

    “And quite frankly, there are now … There’s nobody in Manus Island … Manus Island doesn’t actually operate any more as a detention centre. It’s been closed down. Those people are in the community. There’s nobody in detention on Nauru. They are all part of the community and there are no children left on Nauru and the last few have got a process to come to Australia.”

    Accordingly, PNG no longer have any reason to accept medivac patients back on Manus or elsewhere in PNG and if they do and detain these people they are breaking their own law. It begs the question as to why we have granted Paladin a $423 million contract to provide security services on Manus Island when there is no detention centre and nobody in detention.

    We urgently need an enquiry into this Paladin contract as it is looking very much like a corrupt payment to dodgy politicians in PNG to turn a blind eye to detention on Manus which is, by their own Supreme Court, illegal.

  3. New England Cocky

    An underwhelming cv for a poor excuse of a Sunday morning Christian who gravitated to the bottom of the Liarbral Party.

  4. helvityni

    “But even when confronted with his errors, he insists he is correct. His behaviour during the ‘Medivac’ issue starkly illustrates what sort of a man we have at the helm. Are you as terrified as I am?”

    Spot on Ad Astra, just watched him on 7.30, more of his inane silliness, and no interruptions coming from Leigh Sales…Sad…

  5. whatever

    Time to give Salaryman Scotty a seat near the window.
    Consider your obligations to your ancestors, Salaryman.

  6. Graeme Henchel

    First we had a shameless thug
    who liked to wear blue ties
    A wrecker using slogans
    and simple sledgehammer lies

    His time was an abject failure
    Like the dog who caught the car
    His skill was in the chase
    with nothing else in his repertoire

    Then we had the smooth lawyer
    urbane, witty and smart
    He promised conversation and
    sophistry was his art
    Behind his back were fingers crossed
    While the other hand touched his heart

    He tenure though was tortured
    by Faustian deals with foes
    Attempts to reason with the right
    served to magnify his woes
    In the end his weakness
    Ensured he was deposed

    Now it is the admans go
    With stunts and thought balloons
    Lies and spin shouted out a la
    Foghorn Leghorn of looney tunes

    Shouty’s rise was no surprise
    When a potato was the choice
    A man with no convictions
    just a smirk and vociferous voice
    But he won’t die wondering
    Every trick he’s sure to play
    Dogwhistling and Scare campaigns
    Right through till judgement day

    What a trio of dodgy duds
    We all have so endured
    Their only lasting legacy
    A massive defeat assured.

  7. Yvonne Robertson

    Old Scotty put the nail in his own coffin this afternoon by announcing a scaled down renewal and name change of Tony Abbott’s Direct Action waste of money, laughing all the way to the bank, failure. It is a gift for Labor – Tony’s still in charge and the Liberals still think the Earth is flat.

    Oh – and I think that the idea of Scott as the ‘accidental’ PM is naive. He was in it up to his armpits and I knew it when he threw his arm around Malcolm and declared his loyalty at the presser. Shifty and Shouty.

  8. Zathras

    Motormouth Morrison’s interview technique is to simply keep talking non-stop to avoid interruptions and challenging remarks and tries to move the discussion onto his preferred ground – a typical high-pressure salesman approach.

    He spews out endless remarks, accusations and supposed statistics but overall it’s all pretty meaningless.

    In the words of Tony Abbott when referring to Kevin Rudd – “Doesn’t this guy ever shut up?”

    To go even further back in history, we have got a government that’s “mean and tricky.”

  9. paul walter

    Yes, the values and outlook of a salesman. Whatever it takes.

  10. Kronomex


    The LNP knows it’s going to be removed in a big way at the election so they’re going all out with things like, “F*ck it! Let’s load as many of us and our mates into pig trough positions before May!” And that’s just for starters.

  11. Kaye Lee

    Kelly is such a fool. He quotes Doathea McKellar’s poem as proof that climate change isn’t exacerbating extreme weather events. Who needs measurements or modeling when you’ve got poems on which to base your science and responses.

  12. Ad Astra


    Thank you for your thoughtful contributions to this piece.

    I did enjoy your verse, Graeme Henchel. So apt.

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