Most Australians experienced the passing of 2022 as a year of extraordinary relief. The pandemic that was COVID-19 with all its mutations became a little more controllable, and life began its slow trek back to some normality. Sport began its play; music sought our ears; business began its re-emergence; work became a relief, and laughter came in from the hilarity of its hiding place.
But the residue of this virus’s dread soon engaged with the devastation of fire and floods. For the first five months of the year 2022, we became lost in an election campaign and a decline in our living standards. An unjust war in Europe started by a tyrannical human interceded to make matters worse. The cost of energy sent power companies into a frenzied pursuit of profit.
Leaders seemed to lose interest in the monster that might destroy us: climate change. All these things combined left the average citizen dreading what hazard might strike us next.
But in Australia, no matter how we turned our heads, the face of a corrupt Prime Minister looked us in the eye. His name was Scott Morrison.
Then by mid-year in Australia, we had rid ourselves of the greatest threat to our democracy the country had politically ever experienced. So bad was the corruption of Morrison and his government that, as part of his election campaign, Albanese, the incoming Prime Minister, promised to restore our democracy and political culture. Morrison was rotten to the core. Christianity had never had a worse advocate.
Among those things he promised to resurrect was the behaviour of our politicians, righting the wrongs of established institutional practice and restoring our decency and respect both internally and internationally. Equality, generally and opportunistically, reviving our institutions and conventions was also on the to-do list.
For three terms of conservative governance we had lived on the precipice of what disaster they might bring upon us today. Rather than simply dismissing these Luddite years as mirages, we should examine them and, together with political historians, record the damage they forced upon us.
During this period, we suffered the indignity of three incompetent Prime Ministers. Abbott was a liar and a Luddite. A backbench of climate change deniers constrained Turnbull, but he was also a hypocrite. Morrison was a worse liar than Abbott, a religious fruitcake and, worst of all, incompetent.
Australia suffered terribly under the leadership of these three men. We bobbed up and down for nine long years, like a cork, in a sea of negativity. We had achieved nothing in nine years.
Then on May 21 2022, it all changed. A modest cool-headed man of patience, honesty, discipline and strategic thinking managed to inflict a stunning victory over a man of religious conviction and dishonesty. So devastating was his win that it is hard to envisage this once broad church of moderates winning back the government in the next decade.
On the day that polls are put aside for the reality of the political system, “the Liberal Party recorded its lowest seat share since 1946.” The Treasurer lost his seat, defeated by a teal independent. Other Teals were successful but ended up with little power.
The Nationals retained their share but lost ground in many seats. Now with the resignation of Andrew Gee they are down another. The Greens made some gains in Brisbane, but Labor was able to form its first majority government at the federal level since 2007.
Research by The Australian National University’s Australian Election Study would later conclude that Scott Morrison was the most diminutive prominent party leader “since its study began in 1987.”
Arguably, the worst government to ever be given the privilege of governing this fine country had been kicked out of office by the people in the most dramatic fashion.
Morrison is now a politically broken man looking every inch like the defeated commander but unable to surrender his self-respect. Had the voters known his many character defects earlier, he may have lasted less time than he did. Having gotten over the experience of giving evidence at the Robodebt Royal Commission, his corruptive practices will see him face other enquiries in 2023.
His appearance before the Royal Commission displayed everything within his character that made him the pathetic man he is. He was rebuked for his exclamations, poor grasp of basic arithmetic, not listening, making long pauses, giving digressive answers, emphasising unnecessary detail, unfairly characterising the character of his questioner and being unfamiliar with parliamentary privilege.
People looking for excuses would point to newsrooms where the war in Europe, the pandemic, the deportation of tennis player Novak Djokovic the flooding in New South Wales and escalating geopolitical tensions with China had taken over newsrooms. Still, I never witnessed the motor mouth close his nefarious trap.
So far, proof of Albanese’s effectiveness can be seen through the prism of Morrison’s inadequate government and seeing hope in our future by being prepared to change and be confident in doing so. By supporting the government’s endeavours and considering the possibilities in front of the nation.
We may find a way into a better future by looking at our past
Labor, post-election, was as quick as I have seen any incoming government to tell the electorate that it was fair dinkum about restoring traditional good governance. One that was transparent and said the truth and one you could trust.
1 The government began parliamentary negotiations on its new emissions reduction target for 2030. The target passed in August.
2 Announced Australia’s first federal anti-corruption commission. What a workload it will have.
4 Then, it delivered an October Budget that forecasted a 56% increase in energy prices by the end of 2023. Labor spent the balance of 2022 working up a regulatory intervention that would secure some price relief for consumers and businesses.
5 Then came a broad reset of diplomatic relationships with the United States and France, which also sought early personal connections with regional partners, including Japan, India, Indonesia and Pacific leaders.
6 Within a short period of being elected, the new Prime Minister and Foreign Minister were on their way to Tokyo for a meeting with the Quad leaders of the United States, Japan and India.
Later the foreign affairs minister, Penny Wong and Prime Minister Albanese began work on a reset of the China relationship and a face-to-face meeting with Xi Jinping in Bali in November.
Then there was a follow-up meeting with Wong and her counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing on December 21, ending a four-year diplomatic stand-off. It was, in simple terms, a triumph for diplomacy.
7 A review of the workings of the Reserve Bank is underway. The outcomes could have repercussions that will last for decades.
8 The international community will welcome Kevin Rudd’s appointment as ambassador to the US. He has a formidable mind and is well-connected.
9 On Friday last, the attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, announced that a new merits-review body would replace the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Because the current tribunal had been so “irreversibly damaged” by the political appointments of the previous government that many were receiving $500m, PA was a scandal in itself.
And so, 2022 ended – a year of political skulduggery, scandal and change. There is much to be done and much to be thought about. What is made of our future lies ahead? We have looked at the past decade and rejected it. By ridding the country of the Morrison Government, Labor has shown us there is light at the end of the tunnel. Or should it be on the hill?
The list continues into 2023. Next time: “And what does the future hold for the opposition?”
My thought for the day
Life is about doing things, not having things (but it’s probably too late now).
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