Tag Archives: Australian democracy

Morrison is a dangerous fanatic


Scott Morrison is dangerous because he is driven by a fantastically flawed personality, mixed with a deranged political ideology, with the added bonus of crazy end-of-times religious lunacy.

In Australia we presume the good faith of our political leaders. It has held to be true for over a century, but Morrison has picked up certain traits from his role models overseas, which are foreign to us.

The predominant trait I speak of is shamelessness, and an ability to instantly forget anything politically adverse; to instantly move on, in the naïve belief that we have no memories.

We have always looked at the authoritarian leaders of other countries as a strange breed, which would struggle in the Australian environment.

We characterise the victims of such leaders as strangely passive, helpless in the face of ruthless ambition, and though we pity their fate, we know it could never happen here.

We have deluded ourselves into believing that we are a nation of freedom-loving, individualistic larrikins, unable to be cowed into submission.

The perfect storm is here, and we should be on our guard. We should have noticed the changes to the political environment brought on by the never-ending pandemic, where in Australia we arguably gave up many of our rights, in the cause of public health.

There was a pay-off, which included a very low death rate, and pandemic financial support. Many of us thought that Morrison had grown into the role of leader. Of course Genghis Khan would have looked good when compared to some of the overseas leaders in power back in 2020. Trump, Bolsonaro and Johnson were so hopeless that they made even Morrison look good.

It is impossible to detect a precise moment when Morrison abandoned Australians, and any semblance of answering to ‘the people’. He lives in a parallel universe, where he is, in his own mind, on a mission from his god, to lead Australia until the ‘end times’.

We can all see the results. The death toll throughout the chaos of the Omicron variant was suddenly unimportant. Morrison and his faceless minions in cabinet pushed the fiction that hospitalisations were more important than deaths, which is like something out of George Orwell’s 1984. Reminder to all: When death occurs, the health system is irrelevant. Untimely deaths are the absolute failure of public health.

We then had the farce of debating whether people who died did so from Covid-19, or with it. Ageing white men are familiar with the analogy – it relates to prostate cancer. The only problem is that Covid-19 is a novel, preventable way to die, and semantics merely indicates an empathy failure. This government minimises it, or parses the cause of death.

That was a pivotal moment in Australia, when we discovered that the Morrison Government had decided the pursuit of economic recovery was more important than the public’s health.

Shamefully, the premiers followed suit. They enabled his sociopathic path out of the pandemic. Morrison threw the dice, betting that the election would be held before the results of his negligence became evident. The mainstream media was complicit.

Many Australians believed them when they said it was now no more dangerous than the seasonal flu. Well, look around you. Over a half million active cases. If you read figures better than words, that is 500,000 + active cases, with a death count of over 6,000 and rising.

Recent elections in Hungary have shown us how a persistent and underhanded campaign can undermine democracy. Viktor Orban has allies in almost complete control of the media. He has a security apparatus which is reminiscent of Putin’s in Russia.

In Australia we have the shameful and sycophantic Murdoch Media, 7 West Media, and 9 Entertainment Media. Social media such as twitter, and the ‘ratbag independent media’ are the only outlets which dare to criticise Morrison and his government.

There is a groundswell of raw visceral loathing for Scott Morrison, but no-one dares to write him off yet. That is because he was able to pull off the 2019 ‘miracle win’.

This time around, his numbers are even worse than in 2019, many of his troops are accused of vile behaviour, many from his own party are either deserting the ship, or are voicing their resentment against his “egotism and bullying nature”.

He has just announced another round of appointments, to mates of the government, for six years, no less, to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), a sore point from 2019. But can it be seen as hubris, to do it so boldly, again, on the eve of an election campaign his party is expected to lose?

It seems every day we are privy to more shameful and embarrassing failures of public administration by this government. The latest is an expose which refers to three parliamentarians having been investigated, by the Australian Federal Police, for meeting in the Parliament House Prayer Room, with sex-workers, for sexual purposes.

The questions raised by this episode includes the time, the place, the age of the sex-workers, their safety, the slackness of the security, the national security aspects, the possibility of blackmail, the moral dimension of using taxpayers’ funds, or at best the tax-payers’ funds used to pay them for having sex at work.

This appears to have occurred in our national showpiece, the new(ish) and grandiose Parliament House. If true, it points to the moral bankruptcy of the current government, and the steady decline of standards since Mr Morrison became Prime Minister.

Mr Morrison is expected to call the election inside a week. Expect lots of rorting, no accountability, and no peace.

Why Dutton will go down as Labor’s secret weapon


Peter Dutton has finally become the leader of something. It is a disorganised rabble, but I am sure he is thrilled. Opposition Leader, and he is already talking about swooping in and fixing Labor’s “inevitable mess” in 2025. This is truly delusional, and uncoupled from reality.

It is as if the last nine years never happened. Labor has been in government for a couple of weeks, and they better fix whatever has gone wrong, and quickly. Memo to the Libs: Be ashamed at where a once great party has ended up, with life-long Liberals voting “anything but Liberals”.

They will pile on to the “burn Morrison at the stake” moment, but Morrison led a party of men, and women, who had abrogated their sacred duty to serve the people of Australia.

Instead they indulged in class politics, climate vandalism, social regression, barely concealed racism, transphobic vilification, anti-intellectualism, and conspicuous corruption. The environment is reeling, the word “green” had become a term of abuse, the disabled and the poor have been routinely pursued through the courts.

The tragedy for Australia is that Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is led by a person who has built his entire reputation on just such a public persona.

Everything Morrison, Joyce, Dutton and Frydenberg did for the last period of government has been either shoddy, dishonest, socially regressive, elitist and or reactionary. I cannot think of one (positive) achievement they could boast of. There are plenty of negatives, but as they say, the vibe has changed.

They tortured the refugees until it became politically embarrassing to keep them locked up, and they were secretly released, with no supports in place.

The Biloela family have finally been repatriated home, and we can blame Morrison, Dutton and Alex Hawke in equal parts for their misery. All duck-shovers and gas lighters. Memo: the reason everyone loathed your time in office was because of such tactics.

Peter Dutton has had a variable time this year. His win in a defamation case, against Shane Bazzi, an unemployed refugee advocate, was set aside by appeal. Bazzi had called Dutton a “rape apologist”.

Mr Bazzi was responding to a statement Mr Dutton had made in 2019. His tweet linked to a Guardian article where Dutton made the claim that rape victims on Nauru were fabricating their claims.

Mr Bazzi used Twitter to make his comment. I suspect that many Twitter readers agreed with his comment, but that is not a defence. It depends on what you feel the word “apologist” means.

And then there is the flawed Australian Defamation Law, where the judge decides what the reader probably imputed from your statement. So you are not judged on what you said, but on what someone else decided you meant to say.

Even Christian Porter wanted to change that aspect of the law, before commencing on his own doomed legal adventures. What can you expect from a government which refused to cease the incarceration of children as young as ten, and which allowed a whistleblower’s lawyer to be tried secretly, because he acted on behalf of the man who blew the whistle on Australia’s security services, for acting unlawfully.

Although it is clear no-one in the coalition has ever heard of Franz Kafka, it should be government policy to only employ people who have read “The Trial.”

“Some people are trying it on,” he said. “Let’s be serious about this. There are people who have claimed that they’ve been raped and came to Australia to seek an abortion because they couldn’t get an abortion on Nauru.

They arrived in Australia and then decided they were not going to have an abortion. They have the baby here and the moment they step off the plane their lawyers lodge papers in the federal court, which injuncts us from sending them back.”

The same day the tweet was posted, Mr Dutton had said he was unaware of the “she said, he said” details of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations.

Ms Higgins was claiming she had been raped. Her alleged assailant was not claiming to have been raped, and so there was no moral equivalence.

Those words are ‘police-speak’; formulaic, dismissive and designed to cast equal weight onto the male-female narrative scales. So you would have to be pre-literate to miss the misogynistic framing of that disclaimer. His language speaks to a generation of men who are not interested in fairness, or change.

Peter Dutton was a Minister in Scott Morrison’s Government. Shane Bazzi is unemployed, and his defamation defence was crowd funded. He advocates for refugees. In an ironic sense, Shane Bazzi’s family has itself been ‘defamed’ by Dutton, as he is descended from the Lebanese migrants who arrived in the 1970s. Dutton has pronounced them as irretrievably criminal, and he has the computations to ‘prove’ it.

The problem with Dutton’s public pronouncements is that so many of them are just wrong, or without evidence, or just another way of drawing attention to himself. Many of them are offensive, and many set up ‘straw men’ for the public to fear and loathe.

Paedophiles and pacifists are two groups he targets, and the Chinese Communists are an old standby. “Lefties and greenies’, possibly transgender folk, it is not too hard to fall foul of this man.

He voted against same sex marriage, and he did walk out of the Stolen Generations apology, so he has many unpopular and reactionary opinions, publicly stated, which he will need to reverse, if he is to reinvent himself.

Some can be interpreted as ‘dog whistling’, such as when he demonises refugees, or Muslims, even African gangs. On a more absurd note, he did want to assist white South African farmers in fleeing their own country, because of perceived racial prejudice against them. You cannot make that stuff up.

Dutton, now that he is the leader, will presumably want to project a friendlier face, but his appearances so far suggest that he is incapable, or merely unwilling, to work for Australia, rather than fighting to tear down a Labor government, which has had exactly zero time to settle in.

I think he will find inner Sydney and Melbourne harder to convince of his bona fides. He didn’t exactly cover himself in glory when his first thought, upon taking over Defence, was to cancel funding for “woke morning teas”, where defence force members dress in rainbow colours to signal the department is welcoming towards LGBT members, and possible recruits.

Peter Dutton has recently floated the idea of taxpayers bearing the cost of politicians’ defamation cases, seeing it as a ‘workplace entitlement’. We must remember he is the minister who gave a half billion dollars to Paladin, a company with a shed on a beach for an office. Dutton has got a long row to hoe, if anyone is ever going to like him, let alone vote for him. His wife said recently, “He is not a monster.” Let’s go with that thought.

The state of our democracy


In general, there is still overwhelming support for representative democracy but with a focus on making the representative system of government more representative of the people they serve, and accountable and responsive to their constituents underpinned by integrity politics which are “cleaner”, “collaborative” and “evidence-based”.

Mark Evans, Director, Democracy 2025


Terrifying, really. If those qualities are important to us, why do we accept less from our governments? We like to comfort ourselves with tales of how bad Abbott was, and then how ‘adult’ Turnbull was, and then, as if to excuse ourselves for voting for him, how awful and deceptive Morrison is. But we need to lose that version of history, because, notwithstanding how many of our fellow citizens voted for, or used to vote for, the Liberal Party, the Liberals continue to win elections, notwithstanding their insoluble problems.


The first hurdle is their pack mentality when it comes to belief systems. If you want to belong, you must believe in neo-liberalism. There is no longer any room for dissent in Menzies’ party. You believe fully, no reservations, or you are out. No problem, although the neo-libs policies are anti-democratic, bloody minded, inhumane and innately illogical. One can only wonder how they can form a government, whilst believing in diminishing the role of government.


Neo-liberalism is an odd system, which was resurrected after the Second World War, and it is essentially a quest to return to dog eat dog capitalism. Worse, it wishes to return to the economics of the 17th and 18th Centuries, and is a fevered response to the values of social democracy, and the economic theories of Keynes. So it is reactionary, in the worst way.

They also call it market capitalism, because it hides the regressive nature of the system, but they cannot hide the central tenet that economic performance is measured by the performance of the market, hence Trump’s fatuous bragging when the Dow Jones was flying, even as hundreds of thousands of Americans either lost their jobs, or died, during the pandemic.


Forget measuring economic or governmental performance on human happiness, or levels of education, or even self-determination. They stress the importance of individual freedom, which under neo-liberalism presumably includes the right to die from hunger or neglect.


The Liberals’ second ‘disability’ is to be shackled to the National Party. Now we all understand the wonders of modern Australian agriculture, but the National Party is no longer representative of farmers; it seems to have hitched its wagon to miners. It is, however, crucial to the Liberals gaining, and holding onto, power. Without the Nationals the Liberals are a small, urban, middle class party, with delusions of grandeur. Having lost the collective conscience of their ‘soft’ or ‘wet’ members, they have coalesced around a rump of born again Christians, and economic fundamentalists.


The Labor Party has traditionally been the party of the working class, and the party of reform. Extended periods in the political wilderness has de-fanged the Labor Party, which now has a political philosophy of presenting a ‘small target’. Sadly, being a small target projects a message that the party stands for nothing.


The reason for this is that it relies on factions to elect its leaders. These leaders of factions are just that – leaders of splinter groups, unsuited to the macro levels of leadership required by actual governments. As the case of Bill Shorten illustrates, good policies must be sensible, defensible, and saleable. Morrison tore them apart and shredded them in 2019, characterised as economy-wrecking and frightening. Shorten lacked the wit to counter Morrison’s energy and sloganeering. Since Kevin Rudd, the party has not had an effective salesman type representing it, and so it has been out-manoeuvred, and out-sold.


Morrison has always been a marketing man, and he is blessed with an ability to live so ‘in the moment’ that he is able to present himself differently, according to the moment, and the need. In the bush he will appear in immaculate moleskins and a high-vis vest, in the city electorates as a ‘plain aspirational man with worthy values’.


He sees no contradictions in his ‘dressing up’ efforts, and the electorate will tire of it before he will. He is essentially a one man Government, because he has so commanded, and diminished his Cabinet, that there is no-one who stands out. He has no challengers. They are all less energetic than he is, and so they owe him everything. He campaigns for them all, and he stands to gain all, should the voters remain apathetic.


Although we seem to want representative, accountable, fair government, we wouldn’t know it if we fell over it. Like all electorates, we get the governments we deserve, because we are too lazy to listen, too disengaged to take note of what is said, and because the essential elements of our institutions continue to be eaten away by the corrosive nature of neo-liberalism.


Who would knowingly vote for a Government which promotes wanton cruelty to welfare recipients, continues to sell our public service functions to multinational contractors, picks fights with emerging superpowers, treats our money as their own, refuses to regulate the behaviour of our representatives, embarrasses us on international obligations, and is prepared to let the planet burn for the sake of political preferment? With their Trumpian idea of limiting the vote, they are putting lead in the Labor Party’s saddle bags. So, who, in his or her right mind, would vote for a repressive, authoritarian government, which has failed for more than eight years?

Below is a graph showing our faith in democracy since 1996, with a huge drop around the time Tony Abbott’s short time in power began to take shape. So Australians are not entirely stupid, but we certainly ignore hard evidence.

Some Coalition members want voter suppression here


Many of us in Australia are now mightily impressed with the state of our nation, especially when we compare it with our rich and powerful ally, the USA.

We have managed to somehow avoid the utter chaos and devastation, which they have endured now, for close to a year, during a once in a century pandemic. Our Government(s) made plenty of mistakes in handling the pandemic, but nothing on the scale of the criminal negligence President Trump and his Republican Party allies were guilty of.

But there are gathering signs that we have a particularly malicious set of parliamentarians, and their fellow travellers, who are keen to import some really bad American ideas.

The reason the American system has faltered recently is that the traditions and the myths of their origin story have been hi-jacked, and politicised, and the myths have won out, over common sense.

Some examples include the notion of personal liberty outweighing the public good, the flawed view that public health systems are socialist, the idea that education is not a human right, but something to be purchased.

Other caustic ideas include the notion that regulations on the private sector are always bad, that global warming is rubbish, that welfare paid is money wasted, that citizens should have the right to bear arms, that any relationship, or family, based on anything other than the classic nuclear family is immoral, that reducing taxes on the rich does anything other than increase inequality, and that poverty is a sign that a vengeful god is punishing the poor, because they deserve to be punished.

There are many other areas to examine, but I want to highlight the matter of voter suppression, which is definitely on the radar for our very own Trumpist government.

Voter suppression is a first step to authoritarianism

Voter suppression is an ancient, and honoured tradition in America, and it continues today. Since 1870, when the Fifteenth Amendment was passed, all men (later broadened to include women) were guaranteed the right to vote. This included men of all races, and specifically former slaves. Southern states, still smarting from their loss in the Civil War, set about limiting black access to the vote.

These methods included a poll tax, which charged a fee to lodge a vote. Poor whites could gain an exemption from paying the fee, but not poor blacks.

Literacy tests were also routinely applied, with many more black Americans being excluded than white Americans. This often related to the education available to black Americans, which was in most cases inferior, if it was even available. But in other cases, the tests applied were selective, with African-Americans often receiving more difficult tests. These measures were gradually phased out during the 1960s, but not before they had disenfranchised generations of otherwise entitled voters.

More recently the Republican Party has refined its methods, to suit the times. In Florida, for example, until recently convicted felons were ineligible to vote. Many with similar names to felons were wrongly purged from the electoral rolls.

That law was reversed in 2018, but the Republican State Government managed to circumvent the intention of the statute, known as Amendment 4, by making restoration of the right to vote almost impossible. Do not forget the election of George W Bush in 2000 was decided by less than a thousand votes, while convicted felons, and those with similar names, were purged from the electoral rolls. Convicted felons were, by a huge margin, more likely to be black, and to vote Democrat.

Although the election last year was not decided by a tiny number of votes, Florida voted for Trump. As many as 1.4 million voters were eligible to be restored to the rolls, but only 300,000 were allowed to register. That is 1.1 million voters disenfranchised. That would make a difference to the result.

That couldn’t happen here

Of course that could never happen here, could it? We have no voter fraud here, so there could be no reason to change the voting rules. Well, yes it could, As Caitlin Fitzsimmons recently reported in the Herald Sun, of all newspapers, the (Australian) federal government’s joint standing committee on electoral matters recently included a recommendation to require ID to vote, and another recommendation to require ID to enrol or change address.

Liberal members of the committee made similar recommendations in their reports on the 2013 and 2016 elections as well. They quoted several submissions in support, from the Institute of Public Affairs, and others. Labor and the Greens opposed the recommendations, but were outvoted.

There is a cynical reason for such a simple rule. The more disadvantaged you are, the more difficult it is to conform to what look like petty requirements. And the ID of choice for the majority of Australians is the driver’s licence. Petty for you, and me, but not if you have insecure housing, or are forced to live on the starvation line, or if you are fleeing domestic violence. And many disadvantaged people do not own, or drive, a car. That means they do not necessarily own a licence, and yet they may need to buy a licence, in order simply to vote.

The Liberals think that the disadvantaged are more inclined to vote for Labor, so any measure which makes voting or registering to vote more difficult, is a good thing. There is a reason why most Australians despise the IPA and its ilk. They appear to be staffed by weird and strangely cruel people, who desperately want to be characters in Atlas Shrugged. Strange, but true.