Scott Morrison has gutted the LNP


Even typing those words has an unreal feeling. Will he come back? Will his poisonous personality rear up out of the darkness? Will he make a miraculous comeback? Or will he pull the pin on his parliamentary career, and move to the U.S. where some believe he belongs?

Some might find such trepidation, caused by one very unimpressive individual to be over-wrought, but it is no exaggeration to describe him as a catastrophe dodged.

The single worst prime minister in our history, aided and abetted by the most aimless, and spineless collection of chancers and rent-seekers ever gathered. And yet he went close to setting up a government which was almost impossible to remove.

The power of the Murdoch press pack is still very much in evidence in Australia, but the rise of the independent media, and the very powerful effect of the twittersphere, undermined what looked like a forever government.

Anthony Albanese’s day 1 failure to name the unemployment figure also gave rise to fears that Labor’s run would be sabotaged. The performance of the ABC and its political commentators was woeful, probably fuelled by the constant threats of funding cuts, and the intimidation by the ministry.

But failures in disaster management, naked vote-buying which favoured, as always, LNP electorates; the performance of electoral liabilities like Matt Canavan and George Christensen was a reminder of how low our democracy had fallen.

On any measure now the opposition will be made up of the remnants of the shattered Liberal Party, and also by those in the National Party who escaped annihilation by the skin of their teeth, but are too obtuse to know that their time must be nearly up.

Peter Dutton is so spectacularly unsuitable as a leader of anything, that it immediately forces one to cast around for something, anyone, to present an alternative government. Of course looking at Dutton’s performance since rising to the leadership could fill one with despair.

Instead of looking contrite and accepting the crushing verdict of the voters, his first words as opposition leader were to suggest that he would be ‘on hand’ to clean up Labor’s “inevitable mess” in 2025.

No sense of looking for redemption. No shame regarding his own failures, from his first days as a minister. No embarrassment regarding Australia’s fall from grace within the international community. No regrets about the fate of refugees, stranded and victimised by a series of bullies, as Morrison allowed his cabinet to participate in some group cruelty.

Appointing Angus Taylor as the Treasury shadow serves to highlight the lack of able members to choose from. His known difficulty with numbers, a la Clover Moore, and also emissions reduction, and his vulnerability on matters of integrity regarding water related matters, means that possibly the most important role in opposition is being filled by someone who will struggle, especially against such a polished performer as Jim Chalmers.

There was never any acknowledgement that the election was fought on climate action, fixing corruption and a demand for honest government. Every action the LNP took, from the botched pre-selections in New South Wales, to the last minute weaponisation of prejudice against trans-gender kids, to the memories of Robodebt, added up to a tone-deaf government which people did not just want gone, but one that many actually feared.

The only possible excuse for the conscious bastardry shown by the LNP through nine long years is that they were all struck with a group hysteria, in which they lost their minds, and their moral compasses, in the naked arrogance of never-ending power.

That is why so many in the community, with little or no interest in politics, finally woke up to the nasty excesses, the blame shifting and the outright theft, and mis-use of taxpayers’ funds.

How can we be expected to accept members of parliament with the obvious character flaws of some of the casualties of ‘the reckoning’? For such it was.

We woke up that the leader was from a religious cult, who only recently admitted, through a ‘sermon’ he gave at Margaret Court’s very own church, that he doesn’t believe in government, and thus does not believe in democracy.

His playbook was spectacularly unsuited to Australian conditions. We are not a nation of religious bigots. We are not a nation of patriarchal misogynists. We are a nation which has always honoured the principles of fairness and justice before the law.

We have always believed that our representatives must act in a manner befitting their high status, and the rewards which accrue to politicians.

Morrison and his ‘vandals’ trashed the conventions, laying bare the lack of regulation and accountability, which had never been so nakedly exposed as it was by the behaviour of the LNP government.

If you are confronted by visions of Barnaby Joyce, apparently the worse for wear railing about whatever the issue of the day was, then Australia’s voters decided to disempower this collection of misfits, and to give the other team a go.

Anthony Albanese is not much of a speaker, and he can stumble on a simple answer, but he appears to be decent, caring, and competent. These qualities are in short supply, and especially on the opposition front bench.

Simon Birmingham is what I would call an old fashioned Liberal. He appears to be decent, caring, and competent. I expect that in the not too distant future, the LNP rump, following a couple of disastrous polls on Dutton and Ley, will decide the neo-liberal far right experiment has failed, and will attempt to reset the coalition.

Sadly the coalition parties have been stripped of talent, and so we could see a Labor government for years to come. That poses a series of future problems. A good government needs a good opposition. Morrison has pretty much made that impossible.

Cynicism wins out over hope


A young social worker recently told me that her clients were showing deep cynicism toward “the government”. This includes any government, of any stripe, because where they once had hope that life could become more pleasant, or at least less punitive, now they realise that all governments are without compassion, or even understanding.

Of course she deals mainly with people who are involved with either welfare support, or child protection issues, maybe housing problems. Read that for ‘the poor’. Those who rely on the government to improve their lives, or to make it at least liveable.

The election of a Labor government has made no difference to this cohort, They still live on around $40 a day, their housing is hopelessly inadequate, if they have a roof over their heads; their prospects of finding decent work are often out of reach, their health is worse than anyone else’s.

The list is long, but if you choose to turn a blind eye to others’ suffering, it doesn’t matter. You have an opinion that you deserve that bottle of French bubbly, that quick holiday to the snow. You might not have thought too deeply about it, but your brunches on Sunday morning will continue, because you can afford it.

We as a society have become hardened by the endless rhetoric of so-called leaders, who have increasingly embraced the dog eat dog philosophy of the late 19th century. You know it, because you have heard it all, many times. “You get a go if you have a go.” “Life is a race.” “Tax cuts for the rich” because the last government promised them.

We don’t say it out loud, but most of us agree that the poor are being punished for their poor life choices. Of course we also know about the inequality built into the system, and the skills and intelligence lottery, the parents raffle, but best to blame the poor for their conditions. “She shouldn’t have married him” shouldn’t be worthy of a life sentence of abuse, or children going hungry.

We have developed a particularly selfish middle class in this country. Perhaps it is the loaded education system, where we pay a subsidy to educate the children of the rich, and those aspiring to be rich, while starving the public schools of resources. That way you get a never-ending supply of what used to be called “factory fodder”.

That is why we have a splintered workforce, roughly divided into two. The ones with a degree or a trade, and a job at a good salary, comfortable working conditions, and that smug sense of achievement which comes from stepping up into your expected role, with all the trimmings, and not much in the way of struggle.

The others are those who don’t get sick pay, or regular work, or comfortable conditions. Often they deliver your uber eats, should they arrive in one piece. These are the people who inhabit your fever dreams, with rotating bodies in beds in slum like conditions, usually non-white, but jolly good workers picking up the jobs no-one else wants.

If you want to experience these divisions first hand, go to the races in Melbourne, during Cup week. There you will see the greedy and the entitled, feasting on fine wine and throwing away more good food than ten food-banks collect in a week.

See them lurch to the bookies to place bets which could cover the rent for an entire family for a week. See them vomit, or fighting among themselves, at the end of the day; but it is never from shame, but over-indulgence.

I was going to talk about the poisonous leadership of this country, and the corrosive effect it has had on generations of Australians, but these Australians know better than to live these empty lives of consumerism.

Possibly their grandparents bored them with tales of how we used to take care of each other. Yes there were social divisions, but not like these divisions.

Now we accept the difficulties in finding enough food, decent housing, health care as the unavoidable consequence of living in a mercantile world. We conveniently blame ‘the economy’, the wheels within wheels which dictate social inequality. Which is nice, but untrue.

We choose the society we live in. We allow governments to ignore sections of the community, because it doesn’t affect us. But as human civilisation faces possible extinction, might it be time to reflect on our own greed and profligate ways?

Taking care of the others is called for, and should civilisation crash and burn, I would like to know I at least thought about, and acted on behalf of, those who need our help. As the waves crash over Brighton Yacht Club …

‘The three amigos’ finally bite the dust


Donald Trump

Donald Trump came into politics as an active player in 2016. He transformed every aspect of American life, and if that nation was headed toward disaster before, it is now there.

Trump’s chaotic and dishonest take on governance has infected the body politic, and the country is virtually ungovernable. Trump has not only allowed the rise of the next generation of nihilistic Republican leaders, he has legitimised stupidity, misogyny and religious extremism.

The country is now a legitimate candidate for third world status. It has a legislature which makes it nearly impossible to actually pass legislation. It has a Supreme Court, dutifully stacked by Trump with religious far-right conservatives, which is working towards throwing the country back toward becoming a theocracy. Gilead beckons.

They are now taking a literalist approach to its constitution, an outdated document which enshrines the views of an all-white, patriarchal cabal of slave owners and men of their time, with all their entrenched prejudices and unintended consequences being re-invigorated.

If this document continues to be read as if it was “sacred writ” then it can never be amended. Critics and those who question it are in peril of being named, and punished, as heretics; such is its power over the imaginations of the current Republicans.

The Supreme Court has recently reversed Roe v Wade, effectively criminalising abortion in many states. It has also further undermined American efforts to reduce greenhouse emissions, which, owing to their status as a huge emitter, puts the planet’s health at risk of irremediable damage.

The court has plans to roll back many other measures meant to protect rights as diverse as same sex marriage, voting rights, equal opportunity. The list goes on, and may well prove to be the unravelling of American democracy.

So Trump, although out of power, and possibly facing criminal charges for his role in the January 6 uprising, continues to wreck his country’s future viability. He has divided the country with his deranged lies.

Scott Morrison

An unknown man who rose to power, almost unnoticed. A man who took the party of Menzies and made it his own. He almost captured Australia, and if he had not lost the 2022 election, the country was on track to rush down the American path.

He relished the company of Trump, and embodied many of the worst aspects of American populism. His entire political playbook was apparently lifted from the Republicans.

Although adjusted for Australian conditions, he believed in small government, low taxes for the rich, removal of regulations, punishment for those on welfare, disdain for the working poor, cronyism and jobs for ‘mates’. His stacking of the AAT must rival Trump’s work on the Supreme Court. He ignored women, and subsequently lost their votes

Morrison had no policies. He was a shallow religious zealot, with no creativity, no vision, and no care for Australia. He embodied the world-view of his religion, with all the vacuousness of its ‘prosperity gospel’. His disregard for the environment, and especially the climate crisis convinced many that he believed in the end of the world, so why bother? The apocalypse was nigh.

The overwhelming feeling in Australia has been one of relief. We had no antidote for his smirking insolence, his lazy contempt for accountability, and he is now known as a serial liar, and a man who used the government’s budget for his own political purposes.

Many Christians struggled with his government’s cruel policies, towards whistleblowers, refugees, women, indigenous people, the aged and the disabled, even welfare recipients.

He trashed our international reputation wherever he went. An enduring image remains of Morrison standing alone at Glasgow for the COP26 meeting, studying his phone as the other world leaders stood in companionable groups.

His cabinet was filled with nonentities and toadies. Not one minister ever fought the good fight, over policy or principle. Many perfected the same teflon-coated approach to truth that Morrison practised so well.

It has been illuminating to see their shallow responses to a real government, with a real leader, with real policies. Not one has shown the capacity to provide a credible opposition, because lazy Morrison did all their ‘work’ for them.

The Albanese Government will spend years undoing the damage caused by the Morrison reign. Hopefully the Australian voter now knows how to spot a charlatan, and will take evasive action should another one pop up for election.

Boris Johnson

It is always amazing to read the press in countries which have reasonable defamation laws. Just this week we have seen Boris described as the “greased piglet”, the “Convict” and the “liar”.

He has shown himself as being as utterly shameless as his confederates in the ‘three amigos’. A self-interested liar, a chancer, a person who shamelessly hawked his government to wealthy donors.

His private life should have been a warning as to how he would perform in the ‘big chair’, but as the British have been heard to say, “I like Boris, he makes me laugh”. He doesn’t even know how many children he has fathered.

He had a set of rules for the plebs, and one for himself and his Conservative confreres. He took Britain back to the inequality of the 1960s, but not the glamour. Sadly this might be one reason why he failed so miserably during the Covid-19 pandemic. He ignored medical advice.

He made Great Britain into ‘little Britain’, by taking the country out of Europe. He fed the fantasy that Britain could return to past glories, while failing to realise that history has passed on, leaving plucky little countries like the U.K. alone, and searching for relevance.

His desperate use of the tactics of the discarded Morrison government’s refugee policy is the last gasp in a desperate search for a political solution to a moral question. Sending refugees to Rwanda sounds like an idea from a toddler, and a confused one at that.

Study the moral position of these three men. Populists, cynics, snobs, liars, opportunists, misogynists. In these most difficult of times, perhaps there is hope in the fact that the people are throwing out such obvious phonies, and voting for a bit of moral rectitude and honesty.

Imposing journalistic standards of truth-telling onto media moguls like Rupert Murdoch and his ilk, who seem to wallow in the strife they unleash on the societies which they pretend to uphold, would be a good start in improving the outlook for all of us. 

The three amigos have finally bitten the dust, and we can only hope that Russia, Brazil, Hungary, Poland and all the other nations still led by moral pygmies follow suit. We need good leaders to negotiate the next few difficult years in this planet’s existence.