Scott Morrison has been Prime Minister since 24 August 2018. That is now more than three years, during which time the country has struggled to understand his motives, and really to accept him. He has also presumably taken off his training wheels, but he has been unable to grow in the job of Prime Minister.
He seems to lack the small decencies; he doesn’t relate to us, we expect the hidden catch in everything he says or does. He has, if possible, brought out the worst in his Government colleagues, by turning a blind eye to misbehaviour which would have ended careers only a few short years ago.
He can’t show empathy, because he doesn’t feel it. His message is never about comfort, in these most difficult of times, because he has taken on the persona of a callous number-cruncher, without the numeracy. His efforts to ‘lead’ have been very weak, because we are wary of someone who never stops political messaging. That means we do not trust his motives.
Most of his policy initiatives are lifted directly from the IPA playbook, and as likely as not they have caused unnecessary and predictable damage to those less fortunate than himself. And that is actually most of us. They usually involve a sneaky privatisation of some necessary social service, conducted under the cover of regulations, and thus avoiding the scrutiny of Parliament.
Or they are just dumb, not thought through, bristling with unintended consequences. He is touted as a master politician, from within the Liberal tent, but anyone with an ounce of common sense has woken up to him; we recognise the empty announcements, the bullying bluster, the refusal to face scrutiny, the frequent absences from his day job, the obsessive secrecy and concluded that he is really only there to serve himself.
He governs by following the polls, but he often misunderstands, or completely misses, the country’s mood. That is because he governs for a small elite, and he gleans his information from News Corp. He seems to have done no reading, with history a particularly glaring weakness. He also chronically misrepresents his achievements, and stonewalls when questioned.
When one of his captain’s picks comes undone, he is then forced to scramble for a solution, which he delivers as if it was his intention from the outset. He often inserts conditions, which are demeaning and patronising. He knows there is a base level of support which is necessary, but he keeps his eye on the neoliberal critics, who value the economy above human life.
Frydenberg has been a more than willing accomplice, proving that no matter how clever you are, if you lack life experience and wisdom, you are doomed to perform poorly when you start dealing with real people. These real people need accommodation, sustenance, security, even comfort.
For the man who oversaw the ‘sports rorts’ affair, the car parks scandal, the dodgy water deals and the Leppington Triangle sale he is peculiarly mean when extending essential assistance to those Australians who have been impoverished by the pandemic. Never fear though, he will not ask for the return of the ill-gotten riches he handed out to his mates who milked JobKeeper.
His time in office has seen many scandals. He has dodged, or diverted responsibility for all of them, and because he does not accept responsibility, he has never apologised for any of his entitled behaviour. He often inserts conditions, for many government assistance packages, as if the recipients (us), are all a little bit shifty, and prone to take advantage. He behaves as if it is his money.
He exhibits a disturbing lack of respect for accountability and transparency, and he treats the press with contempt. He regularly breaks political protocols and conventions, with the question arising as to whether he simply does not know the rules, or he believes he is above them.
We have all watched his television appearances, where he avoids scrutiny through bad tempered responses to legitimate questions, or blatant refusals to answer, or even, when there is no escape, the hasty exit.
There is no shortage of examples of his failures. The first real test he faced was the worst bushfire season in the country’s history. He went to Hawaii on a holiday. Then he tried to hide the fact that he was out of the country. He tried to justify the holiday by comparing himself to a suburban dad, spending time with his kids, except that Mr Morrison is the Prime Minister, his kids live in mansions supplied to the family by our taxes, and he earns over $500,000 a year. He is constitutionally obliged to oversee the general wellbeing of the country. Leaving Australia during the bushfires was appalling and lazy behaviour.
He has of course failed the country in his handling of the pandemic. He was always quietly pushing for an early opening up of the states, while mouthing platitudes about following medical advice. He stood idly by as his Cabinet colleagues attacked Daniel Andrews during the Victorian outbreak, because Andrews was actually protecting our safety, by enforcing a lockdown.
He undermined the vaccine rollout, by buying too little vaccine, too late. He bet the house on only one vaccine supplier. He destroyed public confidence in the AstraZeneca vaccine, with another unnecessary announcement about an extremely rare side-effect; the public has broadly rejected its use ever since, causing more delays in the rollout, and consequential deaths and illness. What a waste of taxpayer money, with unused AstraZeneca passing its use by date, and CSL with under utilised manufacturing capacity.
Even when he had stocks, he failed to provide vaccines to those in need. If he had ever had a real job, he would have made sure the vulnerable and disadvantaged got the vaccines where, and when they needed them. But the rarified air of Canberra seems too thin for everyday logistical operations.
The last two weeks have provided more highlights in this politician’s sorry list of achievements. Remember when he chose to re-locate the Australian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? He managed to upset the entire Muslim world, and most of our allies, before he reversed the decision. An excellent example of the need to consult, and to reflect, before acting.
He has followed that inglorious foreign policy frolic by alienating China, when he demanded an investigation of the origins of the Covid-19 virus. Donald Trump was pleased, I am sure, but we continue to feel the effects of this neophyte’s meddling.
His next step was to treat the French very shabbily, by deceiving them and breaking a contract, without warning. He had only recently affirmed the contract, just before he broke it. He is now speaking of the French as if they are being difficult, and should have known better.
He can tell as many lies in his private life as he likes, but in this instance he was speaking on behalf of 25 million of us. Some of us value our reputation for honest dealing, although since he rose to the top job it is crumbling away.
His old boss, Malcolm Turnbull, believes he has left us in a worse national security position than we were already in. We now have no submarines on order. The first boat might be delivered in 2040, but there is as yet no contract because we do not have a price, and we do not even know what the design will be. There is also talk that we will need to establish a nuclear industry here, so that we can re-fuel the future subs. We are talking about twenty years into the future, and who knows what the world will look like then.
The latest insult from this rabble of a government is to announce the withdrawal of financial support once we reach his vaccination targets. Forget the millions of Australians unable to find work in an economy which has changed radically since 2019. He seems intent on sending a warning message to State Premiers, who he insists are desperate to impose lockdowns. By turning off the financial assistance, he is willing to sacrifice the well-being of countless Australians.
This will go down to the wire. He will at first be all hairy chested about protecting the budget, but if his re-election is compromised, he will rush to back track. His next battle will be for the climate. Hitching the horse to burying carbon in the backyard is not going to achieve anything. And do not forget, Craig Kelly and George Christensen are his creatures.
On the subject of his re-election, and having relived the absolute shambles of his watch in this article, I personally would not vote to elect him to the position of dog-catcher. But that is just me.