Is Morrison losing his electoral sheen?


Scott Morrison is struggling every day with how quickly the Australian electorate has changed its opinion of him. That is because we have gotten to know him. Although the good folk at Hillsong Church probably find him perfectly acceptable as a modern leader, most of us live in the 21st century.

When he claimed that God had handed him victory in the 2019 election, most of us sort of suspected that Bill Shorten had a say in who won and who lost, and it wasn’t God. Hearing him say that he would burn for us was obvious hogwash, but we overlooked it. He was obviously caught in the moment. He had pulled off a remarkable win.

Morrison has immense confidence in his ability to again lead his troops to victory, and the quality of his team is so sketchy that he will probably carry most of the burden of campaigning in 2022. That does not augur well for the Coalition, because the electorate is tired of Morrison, and they see his ministers as ciphers, parrotting Morrison’s talking points.

The last two weeks of parliament were revealing, and it was all bad. Morrison showed his true colours. He has form as an anti-Muslim, he is beholden to the Australian Christian Lobby, and he is at best a homophobe. He is no strategist when it comes to parliamentary procedure, as he was easily outwitted by Albanese on the Religious Discrimination Bill.

He is afraid of a real Integrity Commission, because he knows that probably half of his front bench would be investigated. He raises the defence that Labor does not support his bill, so Labor must be to blame for it sitting unloved on a shelf, for three years.

So he went to where his instincts tell him to go. Can we describe his orchestrated attacks on Anthony Albanese as being vintage 1950s? To watch Morrison and Dutton frothing at the mouth as they accuse him of treachery, was obviously the stuff of panic. If a couple of negative polls are able to loose these sorts of attacks, it can only get worse. How can we respect a Prime Minister, and a Defence Minister, when they are so easily spooked?

The Treasurer is still reasonably popular. Not for his economic policies, nor his membership of the Reagan-Thatcher fan club, but because he seems a little bit less crazy than the rest of them. How surprising to see young Josh launching his own attack on Albanese, for not having served in an economic portfolio. As many have pointed out, neither had Robert Menzies, John Gorton, Malcolm Fraser, Tony Abbott, or Malcolm Turnbull.

Of course members of parliament are flighty creatures, when they see their gilded lifestyle threatened. So Frydenberg and Dutton were seen to be jockeying for position, should their leader stumble. This has had a galvanising effect on Morrison. He decided to out-crazy both of them. Washing an apprentice hairdresser’s hair, welding so badly we all feared for his eyesight, engaging in shameless cosplay daily was part of the action. Where is the dignity of the office? The gravitas of a leader?

Morrison’s relentless messaging is tiring. His politicisation of absolutely every incident in Australia invites an attack on Albanese, or the Labor Party. Thank God he doesn’t comment on the weather-he would probably blame Labor. It is as if he only has two gears; one is where he goes missing, waiting for situations to drift until they become crises; two he is like the Energiser bunny, chasing down every opportunity to bag the opposition.

Although the quality of his team has, if anything, been reduced by the retirement of several senior members last time around, the remainder are stepping up into positions which are too big for their abilities.

It does start at the top, though. Morrison not really cutting it, falling back on tired routines of abuse, and dismissive press conferences. Recently he made an announcement on Antarctic funding, and offered to take questions. When asked about “other issues’ he replied that he wanted to stay on the Antarctic funding issue. He treats the press as if they are his servants, and he fails to realise the press are asking questions on our behalf.

The ‘team’ is falling apart. In an attempt to abandon transgender kids to their fate, he had five backbenchers cross the floor. They were trying to differentiate themselves from the rednecks who hold sway in the coalition. They are being challenged in their inner urban seats by canny independents.

The other stress point on the coalition is directed by the likes of Barnaby Joyce, George Christensen, Craig Kelly and Matt Canavan. These men all seem to share a significant rebellious spirit, which could be said to channel some of the excesses of Trump supporters in the U.S.

Morrison has supreme self confidence, until he is caught in the headlights. His success in handling the pandemic has turned to failure. We all know why Greg Hunt is getting out. His performance in the last six months has hit new depths, since we found out he didn’t buy any vaccine until it was too late. But he was great at announcing new drugs going onto the PBS.

Boris Johnson, Morrison’s great mate, has decided to throw caution to the winds, re. Covid-19. He has even stopped the U.K. Government paying for testing. They are currently bearing 100 deaths daily. Watch Morrison do the same in the next few days. To add to his and Dominic Perrottet’s catastrophic decision to ‘open up’ the country. When the next variant hits, who will we blame?

His attacks on Labor vilify about 35% of the population. Has it never occurred to him and the team that he is meant to govern for all of us? No, because we are stuck in a retro anti-left mindset, which divides the country. By accusing Albanese of being pro-China, he is accusing Labor voters of being traitors.

We know Morrison’s flaws, but what is worse, we have lost patience because he leads a government of such astounding incompetence that we cannot bear to watch the next instalment.

Can Morrison be saved?


February was the time for the big re-set. National Press Club address, assorted ministers as support, Murdoch journalists at the ready. He was welcomed by Laura Tingle. That was probably his last moment of tranquility. She opened proceedings by asking him if he would like to take the opportunity to apologise for his and his government’s performance. She included the bushfires, and the trip to Hawaii. A tough start.

Then after a typical speech where he invoked the curious amnesiac defence, he re-wrote recent Australian history; the bushfires, the pandemic, the vaccine strollout, the opening up of the borders, the lack of RATs, were all roaring successes. If anything ruined his perfect memories, it was his delay in using the military to deliver the vaccines. But Australians were resilient. Even his being surprised by the Omicron strain was just the nature of the virus. Anyone could have been caught wrong-footed.

Except he had had the advantage of watching its devastating advance through the northern hemisphere. He opened up in a massive gamble which has caused more deaths than the previous two years, and rising. His greatest strength, of having ‘handled’ the pandemic has turned into a failure. He can’t shift blame on the aged care crisis, because the electorate has finally understood it is a federal responsibility.

Peter van Onselen then got up and blew his efforts at rehabilitation out of the water. Peter is a conservative journalist, and he can be relied on to usually normalise most of the government’s shoddy performance, but this time he had different intentions. He demolished Morrison, personally, by quoting a couple of texts to him, on national TV. A reset, perhaps, but in the wrong direction.

Gladys Berejiklian had called him a “horrible, horrible person”. An unnamed Liberal cabinet minister had labelled him a “psycho”. The journalist did not identify the source. This was the stuff usually discussed in a closed room of huddled advisers. It was riveting TV, with Morrison unable to attack back, or to deny the substance. He couldn’t even reject the premise of the question. The journalist had become the story, with Morrison the collateral damage.

By the end of the week, most of the cabinet had handed in their denials of being ‘the leaker’. Canberra was lit up by the drama. The culprit has not been hunted down yet, but he was about to be up-staged by the one and only Barnaby Joyce.

By the end of the week, Barnaby Joyce was warned that one of his own texts, sent via a third party, to Brittany Higgins, was about to be leaked. As he invariably does, Barnaby took the bull by the horns, and confessed to his own disloyal text, and enjoyed a small victory of beating ‘the Barnaby leaker’. He had called Morrison a “liar and a hypocrite” amongst other things. To a third party, of all people, from an MP, and ex Deputy Prime Minister. How secure was that text chain?

The National Press Club was booked, the next week, to host an appearance by two of the most popular young women in Australia – Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins. The problem for Morrison is that not only are these women joined by a common goal, of making women safe, but they also openly jeer at his lack of action to protect women, both in the parliament, and in society at large.

Of course he has been clueless in many of his interactions with them, but they are a generation prepared to throw away the etiquette book, and to demand change. Attacking them is risky, because they have captured the public imagination.

Their addresses were different, but shared a theme that the Morrison Government had talked the talk, but had not followed through with actions.

In the meantime, Peter Dutton and Josh Frydenberg have begun counting numbers, and attacking Anthony Albanese, because they feel the panic. Opinion polls have been disastrous. It is as if a dam has burst. Can Morrison retain the government’s leadership as we head into another election?

Dutton has engaged in scurrilous attacks accusing Albanese of being a communist China sympathiser, and casting Labor as weak on national security. This from a defence minister who appears way too nervous and frisky to handle any real dispute with China, and who scares all of us with his intemperate language.

Frydenberg continues to hysterically lambaste Albanese with the curious attack line that he has never had a Treasury portfolio. As many have pointed out, neither had Robert Menzies, John Gorton, Malcolm Fraser, Tony Abbott, or Malcolm Turnbull. It is presumed that Mr Albanese can count, which is a skill Frydenberg continues to search for.

The question is who do we think we can bear for the next three months of escalating personal attacks on the Opposition Leader? Scomo, Dutts or Joshie? May the lord save us all.

Bring out your dead


We are a polite lot in Australia. We do not like to rock the boat. The recent Omicron death toll here has effectively doubled the number of deaths we suffered in 2020 & 2021. We continue to listen to Scott Morrison and his team of incompetents, when they can be forced to appear in public; rolling out their excuses, and their selective, but non-specific comparisons with overseas countries. We live on an island, we care how WE are doing. We are now doing very badly, and it is still summer here. Imagine what winter will be like.

We have learned to decipher the weasel words, and to find the callous, and orchestrated, indifference behind them. When people die, and you could have prevented the deaths, then you might have a case to answer. It is more than a political problem – it is a question of humanity.

Of course Richard Colbeck’s decision to go to the cricket, for THREE DAYS, while Omicron was marching unimpeded through Aged Care facilities, is breathtaking, and insensitive. But he is merely a pawn. Last year he was already hopeless, and then they put Greg Hunt in to ‘oversee’ his work in the sector.

That was merely a cosmetic change, however, and an unsuccessful one, because if anything the sector struggled more, and learned absolutely nothing from mistakes of the past. This time around Morrison has defended him, by saying he has listened, and he would take it on the chin, and move on. That is not a response, it is empty and meaningless.

How do the aged care residents who have died move on? How do their grieving families move on? As Prime Minister, did Morrison not know his Minister for Sport was off to the cricket? Did Greg Hunt, his immediate boss, not know? Surely the team discussed his appearance before a Senate committee, to discuss his department’s response to the Omicron wave. If not, why not? Of 55 recent senate hearings into aged care, Colbeck has attended 2.

Morrison has never understood that he is responsible for every problem, he is expected to fix every problem, because he has the resources and the people to fix them. We gave the Prime Minister great powers for that reason. With great power come great responsibilities.

Of course Morrison does not have the personality or the sense of destiny to take control. He dithers, he deflects, he searches desperately for ways to elude responsibility. He has now become so predictable in his public appearances that we listen for the “we” instead of the “I” when it comes to accepting the Commonwealth’s major task, which can be condensed into three words: Keep Australians safe.

Attending the cricket is trivial however, when we look at the way the Prime Minister hi-jacked the pandemic response and opened up the country before it was ready. The incompetence and the hypocrisy of a fundamentalist Christian telling us all to throw off the shackles, and take back our lives is stunning. A man whose every aspect of life is controlled by his religion, telling us to live free, so the economy would kick back into life, and get him re-elected.

It was a gamble. Now he cries that Omicron was a surprise. No it wasn’t. It was decimating Europe and the U.S. and we were insulated from its damage. Until he opened the borders, we were safe, but grumbling. Now we are in mourning.

Morrison has proved himself to be a spectacularly poor planner. In the early days of the pandemic, he sometimes over-delivered. Much of his response was ‘reputation-repair’ after the Hawaii debacle, but it worked. Deaths were kept to a minimum, health advice was followed, and we felt that our government was putting people ahead of the economy.

Of course the lessons he learned in the first year and a half have been forgotten. Economists have almost universally supported leaving the Jobseeker payment where it was, because the poor spend their cash immediately. Not on paying down the mortgage, not buying a speed-boat. No, they buy food, and they pay their bills. But Morrison knew better. He reduced it back to starvation levels, and threw out the safeguards.

Morrison and Hunt told us to look at numbers in hospitals, not case numbers. Then, because they thought it was like a cold, they reduced support for testing. They did not buy Rapid Antigen Tests, although they were the only way for us to test ourselves. And so the inevitable happened. The sick were heading off to work, for two reasons.

First, they did not know if they were infected, or infectious, and second, the payments had either stopped, or been reduced, so people had no choice but to present for work. As more became ill, the supply chains collapsed. As the booster shots were certified and deemed essential, we didn’t have enough, in the right places.

The vulnerable groups remained the same that they had been in the first waves. Indigenous communities, those covered by the NDIS, the regions, the economically disadvantaged were all exposed, again. They continue to bear the burden of infections, hospitalisations, lack of testing, lack of boosters.

Amidst the rising infection rates, Morrison and Frydenberg were taking the time to boast about the economy. Stunning. Take a walk along any shopping strip, and see the shuttered shops. Take a look at supermarkets, look at the empty shelves. Ironically, as Morrison lifted restrictions, many self-imposed them. Someone had to do it, because the government went missing.

Morrison’s triumphal progress to another term is looking pretty sick, because he became tangled up in stupid plans to “push through”. This was part of his re-branding as a freedom fighter. And we are paying the price.

Their characterisation of the deaths in Aged Care this year has sunk to levels of infamy not seen in Australia before. They now regularly insert the false narrative that most (60%) of the elderly Australians dying of neglect in Aged Care facilities were ‘at death’s door already, so no harm done’ is the implication.

No, their deaths are not able to be dismissed. That is why we call the facilities “nursing homes”. Not dying homes. People who have lived lives, paid taxes, brought up children, built this country, so the spivs in the Morrison Government can write off their deaths as incidental.

1519 people have died in Australia with or from the coronavirus so far this year. I can’t put a date on that figure, because it is going up at around 80 – 100 each day. The Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer expects more variants, a flu season, and winter to present many more deaths in 2022.

Now would be a good time to quote our retiring Minister for Health: Greg Hunt, “Aged-care facilities have been required to implement infection control training and it is encouraging that despite the increase in cases, there has not been the same level of increase in illness or loss of life, with most facilities indicating that the cases have been more mild at this stage.”

It might be time to retire the lot of them, and see if there is a way to prosecute those who failed us.