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.