When we entered 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was ‘livin’ the dream’. He had narrowly won the 2019 election and after a few months of pushing the tautological fiction that the Australian budget was already in surplus next year, he was kicking back in Hawaii with ‘Jen and the girls’ having a grand old time.
The problem was that Australia was being burnt to a crisp and the acting Prime Minister was invisible, allowing the Prime Minister’s office to attempt to convince us that Morrison was in the country and in charge. Until the The New Daily blew the whistle on the scam (and deservedly winning a 2020 Walkley for the report) Morrison must have thought we were all mug punters to fall for the story.
Morrison did return to the county and morphed into care and concern mode. The bushfires had at that stage been blazing for months, well before he left the country. His care and concern was being shown by visiting various staging areas and small towns — including forcing himself on people who had recently lost literally everything they had, including at times their friends or family to the fires — for a photo opportunity with his compliant media pack. He must have thought that the mug punters would accept his ‘thoughts and prayers’ because there wasn’t much coming their way in real assistance from the Coalition government.
After a period of time when Morrison was being justifiably pilloried for the lack of financial and physical support for the fire effort, he promised $2 billion, creating the National Bushfire Recovery Agency who have details on their website of where the money has been spent.
In November 2020, the Morrison Government settled out of court for the illegal (and unethical and immoral) Robodebt class action. It cost $1.2 billion in taxpayer funds. The money doesn’t consider the additional needs of the people who have ongoing mental health issues or even more tragically bring back to life the over 2,000 people who committed suicide due to the tyranny of the system. Robodebt was conceived at the time Morrison was the Social Security Minister, initiated when Morrison was the Treasurer and the pay-out authorised while Morrison was the Prime Minister. The payout also avoids the gory detail of how and why of Robodebt’s creation, implementation and management being publicly discussed in an open court.
Compare the two amounts, one was paid out by taxpayers to help Australians recover after a widespread event caused in part by the Coalition’s inability to accept science and commence the process of minimising climate change, the other was a taxpayer funded payout to preserve Morrison and his government’s reputation. Even if he believes we are mug punters, does he think that we should accept that?
We haven’t even got to the elephants in the 2020 room yet — COVID-19 and the maybe temporary demise of US President Donald Trump. A few days ago we took a close look at both of these topics, suffice to say here that Australia’s relative fortune in dealing with the pandemic is more to do with most State Premiers (as well as the two Chief Ministers) effectively implementing controls on movement and travel until they had confidence that their contract tracing and health systems were up to scratch. Premier Berejiklian was late to the party as there seemed to be little planning around the Ruby Princess but in the end that state’s contact tracing and health systems held up to the challenge. Premier Andrews also was forced to enact draconian measures on Victorians later on due to failures of economics (casualisation of employment) and the Federal aged care system, but his model to contain the virus is now being hailed around the world.
But COVID wasn’t going to stop Morrison. When Morrison announced that restrictions would be enforced to limit the spread of COVID-19 on 13 March, the planned implementation date was the following Monday. Everything was ok he said, despite the imminent banning of crowds over 500 people he was going to see the Sharks NRL team play their first game for the year over the weekend. Maybe someone told him that he was the mug punter here, as he subsequently backflipped.
By August, Morrison was engaged in political warfare using the sensible precautions of some states against them. It was interesting to watch as the jurisdictions with ALP Governments seemed to be incurring far more flak than Liberal states. Between August and the end of 2020, the Northern Territory, ACT and Queensland ALP government all had to go to elections, so they were singled out for special mentions in regard to case numbers and border closures. Despite Morrison’s obvious partisan support of the various Coalition parties in those states, all ALP Governments were returned. As noted by Macrobusiness
When the pandemic began, the power vacuum created by the Morrison wrecking ball had to be filled by somebody and state premiers did it, as they should.
When the Morrison wrecking ball repeatedly arced towards reopening borders as the pandemic raged worldwide, states shut theirs making it impossible.
When the Morrison wrecking ball gyrated wildly from lockdowns in some states to suppression in others as if there were no state borders, state premiers did what they had to protect constituents.
When the Morrison wrecking ball swerved behind a mad billionaire’s attempt to crush borders and democracy, state leaders blew it aside.
When the Morrison wrecking ball crashed into stimulus mid-depression, state leaders forced him to keep writing the cheques we can so very obviously afford.
When the Morrison wrecking ball smashed the virus into aged care centres (yes, that is s federal responsibility) across the east coast, driving a much higher death count, states picked up the tab in their health systems.
Maybe we have worked out who the real mug punter was in the past couple of months. As we discussed a few days ago
Then we have the politics. Wherever it exists, we are assailed by the unedifying spectacle of partisan, adversarial behaviour where virtually everything the opponents do or propose is wrong, inadequate, incompetent, ‘too little, too late’, or simply foolish. We are pleasantly surprised when agreement is achieved, or a compliment thrown across the political divide.
On the global front, intrigue, dishonesty, blackmail, manipulation, gaslighting, mafia-like behaviour, even assassination, are the tools of trade. ‘Throwing someone under the bus’ is a slightly less offensive trademark, but just as aggressive.
Immediate past Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (who you could argue had an axe to grind here because Morrison helped to knife him in the back), suggests that Morrison was ‘dazzled and duchessed’ by Trump on a number of issues including climate change. In short, Turnbull is claiming Morrison is a mug punter. Now that Trump’s corrosive influence has been nullified, can Morrison sniff the breeze, realise he backed the wrong horse and understand there is need for a policy pivot, as he won’t last long if he doesn’t?
Mug punters are usually classified as people that frequently wager more than they can afford, Initially they may revel in the satisfaction of beating the odds, usually the odds catch up and the punter loses the lot. Morrison was, in a previous life, the head of both the New Zealand and Australian Tourism Commissions. He was ‘let go’ prior to the expiry of his contract in both countries. They reckon things happen in threes.
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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