Tag Archives: Morrison Government

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.

Australia’s lost decade on everything, including climate


Scott Morrison has had a tough few years. First there was The Great Bush-fire Debacle. He went on holiday in Hawaii. Nothing wrong with that, you might say. Except that he tried to hide the fact that he was away. When he was sprung, he made all sorts of excuses, but in his own special way he made a statement that we will always remember: “Mate, I don’t hold a hose.” That was exceptional in many ways. It showed his narrow, superficial mind, with all its smugness, and complete lack of self-awareness. During a catastrophic bushfire, everybody holds a hose.


The country then discovered that, just before the election, and possibly even after the election was called, he had been using our money to try and buy coalition seats, and also lots of marginal seats they wanted to win. Scott Morrison was caught in the headlights of the sports rorts affair, and in an act of utterly callous self preservation, he threw his Sports Minister, Briget McKenzie, under the proverbial bus. Considering his narrow win in the 2019 election, how many seats were retained, or won, because of the calculated misuse of taxpayers’ funds?


The global pandemic struck next. He talked a lot about following the scientific advice, but his resistance to lockdowns, and his reluctance to provide financial support proved very unpopular. Like a dog after a bone, he sniffed the electoral wind, calculated he was on a losing trajectory, and promptly changed direction. He then pinched Boris Johnson’s JobKeeper idea, at Labor’s suggestion.


None of us knew then that the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, would do such a lousy job on the program’s design. Ripped off by thousands of companies, many of which paid bonuses to their already overpaid executives. Some even used those taxpayers’ funds to pay dividends to shareholders. That is some form of middle class welfare! Frydenberg now says it would be unfair to ask for the money back. There is only one word necessary to explain this Government’s moral bankruptcy – Robodebt.


Robodebt, where the might of the Federal Government was turned against often helpless, certainly powerless, welfare recipients. Ten year old debts, calculated using a dodgy averaging algorithm, and subsequently found to have been unlawful. The Government denied wrong-doing, as Evangelical far-right governments always do.


In June 2021, Justice Bernard Murphy approved a settlement worth at least A$1.8 billion, payable to those who had been harassed and vilified by their government, calling it “a shameful chapter” and “massive failure in public administration” of Australia’s social security scheme. Wikipedia.


The Ministers who have had their hands on the program include Christian Porter, Scott Morrison, Alan Tudge, Stuart Robert, Marise Payne. There are very few geniuses in that little group. And so far, not a word of apology.


Of course after the horrors of the pandemic, there was great optimism about the arrival of the vaccines. Produced in record time, they did not appear in Australia, for several months. Outbreaks in Sydney, and then Melbourne, took hold. Hundreds of deaths followed, and Scott Morrison then made another of his astounding pronouncements: “It is not a race.” He repeated it, ad nauseum, many times over.


But it was a race, and Morrison and his hapless Health Minister, Greg Hunt, tried hard to cover up their sheer incompetence. But even Blind Freddie knows you don’t just buy one vaccine, when there is a worldwide shortage. And you don’t announce at a late night press conference, that the only vaccine you have on hand, is suspect. Morrison actually destroyed the AstraZeneca vaccine’s credibility, because he panicked. Lately he has been trumpeting how well he handled the vaccine rollout. Really.


Morrison is now on his way to attend the Glasgow climate summit, on our behalf, representing us on a world stage. He will smugly claim that he has an agreement in his back pocket, of net zero by 2050. The only problem is that up to a quarter of the Nationals do not agree, and he cannot legislate the target, because he will lose the vote in Parliament. So he is going with nothing in his pocket, except an unenforceable promise, redeemable in 29 years, by which time the whole Parliament will probably be retired, or dead.


He and the Coalition have been sabotaging our response to climate change since 2009. Morrison expects us to believe that he has done a complete U-turn, in a month, and to now put our faith in him. Sorry, not a believer, Scott. Up to a quarter of the junior Coalition partners, the National Party, does not agree, and have had to be bribed to stay silent. He has not lead anyone, anywhere. He was dictated to by the likes of Barnaby Joyce, Matt Canavan, the former Sports Minister Briget Mckenzie (she who went under the bus), and George Christensen.

We must also remember the sterling efforts of the Minister for Meaningless Climate Statements, Angus Taylor. Angus delivered his sales pitch with passionate fervour, but as we all know, Carbon Capture and Storage does not work, and most of us think bribing the Nationals is actually worse than a carbon tax, because it is using our tax money to support the coal and gas industries. We want to reduce our emissions, not increase them, Angus. Angus is going to Glasgow also, but he is going to spruik for the fossil fuel industry. They might as well take Tony Abbott along with them.


So the sum total of the Government’s achievements on climate change is essentially in the eye of the Prime Minister – Government by press announcements, which are believed in by no-one, and which are as flimsy as feathers. You have to admire Morrison’s sublime disconnect from reality, and his faith in his own ability to gaslight world leaders, like he tries to gaslight us. Welcome back, Scotty from Marketing, and you, Angus. Top job on all your efforts. How embarrassing. People around the world might think he represents how we think and feel about the planet’s health.

Inequality leads to starving our children


Australia has had a chequered past, when it comes to looking after our most vulnerable. The history of our treatment of the First Australians is dark, and shameful. But in what could be an exercise in ‘black humour’, we now have a non-discriminatory policy towards all who are poor.

This means that we have Government policies which, either consciously or not, treat those who are of Aboriginal descent, the aged, those who are disabled, those who are addicted, those who suffer from mental illness, those who are homeless, and those who are either unemployed, or underemployed, as second class citizens. Now that is equal-opportunity discrimination. Consider the millions of Australians who fall into any of these categories.

The most recent example has been the vaccine rollout. Who missed out, from the beginning? All of the above. Aboriginal people are still lagging in the area of vaccine coverage, even after being identified as especially vulnerable. Catching up now, but an after-thought. The disabled? Forgotten, until now.

We are at close to 90% of first doses, and yet this Government has not bothered to include regional and remote communities. I live in a regional town, only 70 kms from Melbourne, and last Wednesday, October 13, we had a visit from a vaccine bus. The first visit, mind you. I don’t have the figures on car ownership where I live, but plenty of people did not, because they could not, travel to Kilmore for their first shots.

Many of the older residents were hesitant to get the jab, because the ‘communicator in chief’, aka Mr Morrison, an alleged marketer, stuffed up the rollout, by not buying enough supplies, and by then bad-mouthing the ‘product’ he was supposedly trying to sell to the public. No wonder he kept getting the sack from his previous jobs.

We will never know how many deaths were caused by his, and his Government’s, sheer incompetence, but we all know they got their shots first. We know that the recent lockdowns were caused by Government inaction on vaccines, because now that we have mostly caught up, state governments feel they can open up again. Cause and effect can be an elegant equation.

Let us move on, to hunger

As part of the Morrison Government’s response to the economic effects of Covid-19, we saw them respond, reluctantly and late, by providing economic support to those who needed help. They even doubled the unemployment benefit. This action saw millions of Australians able to pay their bills, able to find accommodation, even able to feed their children, and themselves.

Their additional spending helped to power the temporary economic revival. The majority of our economists applauded the targeted assistance. Of course they were unaware that the poor were not the only recipients of Government largesse. Billions of dollars also flowed to hundreds of ineligible companies, which, opportunistically and cynically, paid executive bonuses, and even dividends to shareholders with their ill-gotten gains.

But then, as expected, the Morrison Government’s bastardry and adolescent hubris kicked in. They sent the poor back to where they belong, poverty-stricken and abandoned. They sent Australian children into a situation where

“An estimated 1.2 million children in Australia went hungry in the past year, while one in six adults also faced severe food insecurity, a new report says.

Foodbank’s annual Hunger Report, released on Wednesday as part of Anti-Poverty Week, suggests the number of people going hungry in Australia has increased since the coronavirus welfare supplement and jobkeeper payments were withdrawn.” This report was cited by Luke Henrique-Gomes, in the Guardian Australia.

There are many solutions to reining in spending, especially if the Government you elected is stupid and venal, as this one is. But causing our children to starve is unforgiveable. This result is a direct consequence of neoliberal thought. Someone tell me where markets will fix food insecurity, when we export over half of what we grow. This Government needs to be replaced, at the ballot box, as soon as possible.

You can see how conflicted and useless they are. They cannot even agree on mitigating climate change. In the area of providing adequate nutrition for our future, aka our children, you would think they were at least able to see the harm they are doing. Starving children is very un-Australian. They should be ashamed of themselves.

Vote these idiots out, first chance you get. They are dangerous to us all.

The Pandemic Diaries-will he or won’t he?


October 12, 2021

The country is on a knife edge. We are all wondering if Scott Morrison will go to Glasgow, or will he not? He is presumably going through a long, dark night of the soul, deciding whether to represent Australia at this, the most important international conference, which just might light the way forward on Global Heating.

Does he hold a microphone? Should he put Australia’s future first, or should he stay behind and try and stitch up an election win, while the rest of the world is trying to save the planet? Australia, or Scott? Glasgow, or Sydney?

All his ‘close friends’ will be there, although Mr Macron will prove hard to pin down to a meeting.

Has Scott got the guts to attend? Or will his ‘leadership’ fail to deliver a credible pathway to emissions reduction? Will 2030 be the new normal target date? Will Scott continue with his nonsensical “technology not taxes” refrain?

There are several other issues bubbling away. New South Wales has just re-opened. Many say it is overdue, while many believe it was too early. Time will tell, but no matter which way the number of cases goes, Morrison will claim it as a victory for common sense.

Hospitals across the country are struggling. He believes that is a state responsibility, except that during a global pandemic it becomes everyone’s problem. And it is our money!

Victims of domestic violence have run out of funding. Again.

Parliament House in Canberra is still unsafe for women to work within.

We are failing to deliver on the challenges of loss of biodiversity. The Minister signed up to the latest UNESCO agreement, but 30% of the country is not included. How will that work? Should we say goodbye to the koala?

Luckily she saved the Great Barrier Reef. Sorry, she had its status upgraded from “in danger.” That didn’t actually help, because Matt Canavan and George Christensen are still reluctant to roll up their hi-vis sleeves, and help.

The country is drowning in malfeasance and public corruption. Three years later, they don’t want a real National Integrity Commission, because it might be too strict. Strict? They just want to be above the law.

Mr Morrison believes that Gladys Berejiklian’s resignation sent an alarming message. He saw it as unfair and an example of a kangaroo court, or of trial by media. Many saw it as “if you are a person of interest, we will investigate your behaviour.”

There was no trial, no verdict, no compulsion to resign. She resigned as a person of interest, which means she may have a case to answer. Not for being unlucky in love, but because she looked the other way when her boyfriend appeared to break the law. She had a positive duty to report the activity.

The Governments of Australia continue to lock up children who are ten years old. Our Attorneys General are paralysed by hand-wringing incompetence. They feel the need to publicly punish these children, somehow, which shines a ghastly light on the legal profession. If these are the brightest and the best the Law Schools have to offer, we might need to change the paradigm.

Barnaby Joyce wants to run another pork-barrel raffle. He thinks if it is fine in Sydney, why not in the regions?

Watching Barnaby speak about farmers and miners, and obtaining a price before you order a meal, rounding up his cattle, shutting down social media companies, though he was not too fussed by the lack of a price for submarines. A daily word salad from our Deputy Prime Minister.

Angus Taylor has claimed that the Business Council of Australia wants a carbon tax. He also wants to sequester carbon, which has been proved to be a dud technology, both expensive and useless. Even Twiggy Forrest agrees that it doesn’t work, but forge onward, Angus.

Matt Canavan and George Christensen continue their revolt against the science, and their own Government, which has tried to pivot away from its knuckle dragging climate ways.

On Scott Morrison’s tricky moral and social dilemmas, can he take Jenny with him? What if he meets up with Greta Thunberg, or some other difficult female? Greta is now 18, so she is becoming even more of a threat to the mental health of the world’s leaders, who are mostly middle aged and white.

So, plenty happening. Tune in for more news from Tiny-town next week.

Too little, too late, for everything


When a politician rises to the top of his profession we expect that he or she has always wanted the job, and that he or she has meticulously planned every step along the way. I would argue that Morrison is aware of his limitations, but he rose to the top despite not having a plan. He believes in his own luck, because he really believes that God has a stake in the game. Why not throw your hat in the ring, if you believe in divine providence?

Scott Morrison seems never to have planned for anything. He wasn’t ready for the Prime Ministership. He just put his hand up when it became clear that Malcolm Turnbull lacked the political skills to protect his position, and that Peter Dutton was unacceptable, not only to the Liberals who were voting for a new leader, but for the Australian electorate at large. So his run was fortuitous, and landed him the top job, with no preparation, and no relatable skills with which to sell himself to us.

Some of the antipathy toward Dutton has dissipated. That will be attributable to his change of portfolios, and also to the nature of the Ministry of Defence. His role at Home Affairs was too powerful to trust him with, and Defence is the sort of portfolio where most of us are happy to see someone who can focus, and stay relatively quiet, and in the case of Dutton, stay out of our private lives and communications. It is after all, the portfolio which directs our armed forces, and most citizens are content to allow our defence chiefs to potter about, and to not smash the china (pun intended). So unless the U.S. wants another war, we’re close to being safe. Australia does not elect to go to war by itself.

The bushfires of 2019-2020 were our first exposure to Morrison, and he showed us what he was like from the outset. It was all about him, and what he would deliver to those who needed help. The Defence Force was his to deploy, the payment of volunteer fire fighters was his decision, the excuses were picked up from the side of the road (definitely NOT climate change related; arsonists lit most of the fires; the fuel load was high, which could be conveniently used to divert blame to the states.

With responsibility comes reward. It was not a huge leap for him to choose a holiday in Hawaii. He felt he deserved it, and as befits a small time thinker, he would take the reward before he had earned it. He then tried to hide it, which provided further proof that he was not up to the job.

Morrison on holiday

He must have felt that he could leave the country to its own devices, and that no-one would enquire as to his whereabouts. Leaders of modern nations have responsibilities, and obligations, to a wide range of stakeholders. Citizens, Ministers, other Governments, both inside Australia and internationally, need to know that there is somebody in charge. In emergencies they need to be ‘on the ground’.

It is beyond understanding that he would absent himself from his duties during an existential crisis for the whole of the East Coast. Secondly he put his staff members in an unenviable position, in that they were expected to join in on the deception. This attitude of protecting their boss at the expense of the rest of the nation, has fuelled distrust of the Prime Minister’s Office ever since.

We now wonder why he visited his family in Sydney for Fathers’ Day, when so many others of us had been stopped from seeing our families. We have all heard tales of children being kept apart from their parents, of cancer patients not permitted to access treatment if they live on the wrong side of the border, even of dying parents left to die alone. That did not bother Morrison. He has risen further than he expected, and the privileges of rank are there to be used. He earned them. I am sure he reminds himself often that it is his due.

The explanation lies in the particular nature of this accidental Prime Minister, and his choices and work history. He has always managed to be appointed to plum jobs because of his connections. Those jobs have been mainly middle to upper management, as a sort of Regional Manager. He appears to last a couple of years, and to then move on, leaving behind conflict and, as often as not, there are legal or accountability issues. Reports into his corporate behaviour seem to go missing, and there is always a patron willing to put him forward for the next gig.

He fell into parliament, after a smear campaign against his pre-selection opponent. That campaign was later proved to be false, but the damage was done. An amusing sideshow has been the career of Craig Kelly. Destined for the electoral scrap-heap, he was saved by a direct intervention by Morrison. Morrison over-rode the Liberal Party’s decision to dis-endorse Kelly at the 2019 election. He saved him, only to lose him to the cross bench, and then, more odiously, to Clive Palmer.

His record over the pandemic has been similarly mercurial. Pro-lockdown, anti-lockdown, pro-income support, anti-income support. Won’t build quarantine stations, yes he will. Will buy vaccines, but he wants the cheap ones. Totally transparent, as when he told us all to not accept the AstraZeneca vaccine, and then in favour of it, to almost every age. It is definitely not a race, it is a race. Now it is a race which can be won by starting slowly, but then powering home. In other words, he is making it up. The worst part is that he changes his mind according to reactions to his last pronouncement, rather than for the country’s good.

Our decent Prime Ministers have a larger calling. Their remit appears to have been to work for the good of Australia, whereas Scott Morrison’s motivation appears to be getting his pay, taking his holidays when he is ready, see the family when he wants to, and win the next election.

Scott Morrison needs to reflect on why he seems to be so unpopular, and why his every action is endlessly dissected. It is because he doesn’t hide his disdain for the common people, and the people are discovering that fact. He also appears to be fairly keen on Scott Morrison.

How can we trust Morrison’s word, or his motives, on anything?


Scott Morrison has now been Prime Minister for over three years. That means he has spent more time in the job than Turnbull, Whitlam, Rudd, or Abbott did. In those three years he has built a reputation as a man whose word cannot be trusted, and as a man who has given both his Ministers, and his back-benchers, a free pass, no matter what they are caught out doing, or saying. All they need to do is to vote with the Government.

Some say a one seat majority can do that to a Government, but the scandals and the behavioural issues during Morrison’s ascendancy have plumbed new depths. Morrison himself has been implicated in many of them, but even when his hands have been demonstrably ‘clean’, the behaviour he walks past has only served to highlight his elastic ethics, and a seemingly wilful blindness regarding community expectations.

If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be amusing to track the disappointment of those who confuse the crude hucksterism of the Hillsong Church with Christianity. Practising Christians need to stop bleating about his disavowal of Christian principles, and wake up to the fact that the so-called “new churches” are just another dodgy import from the U.S., like the gym equipment advertised on afternoon television.

Many of us have expected this most overtly ‘Christian’ of our leaders, to call Enough!, as new rorts supersede older rorts, as racist dog-whistling continues apace, and Ministers asking for ‘favours’ from other Ministers continues to undermine the very character of our democracy.

Mr Taylor, for example, has had little luck lowering carbon emissions, possibly because he is so busy asking for favours from his colleagues. Sometimes he receives favours even when he has not asked for them, as in the case of the water buyback scheme. It is a most accommodating Ministry.

The changing landscape of newspapers in particular, and the broader media generally, has shaken up the quality of reporting, and the idea of holding power to account, has been almost universally degraded. In the case of the Murdoch media, standards are so low that one might as well watch a game show, as expect objectivity.

Consider the rabid response to the ABC’s Four Corners episode this week. A report, using sourced opinion from Fox News insiders, criticised what is known throughout the thinking universe, as Fox News’ correct calling of Arizona for Biden, and then the shameful sacking of a loyal employee for doing his job, demonstrates their passion for objective news. You cannot then publish over forty articles attacking the show, and to then deny a campaign of vilification.

Years after the bushfires of 2019-2020 the bushfire relief is still being parcelled out, mainly to coalition seats. Some of the victims of the bushfires are still waiting to have their land cleared, but bad luck if you live in a Labor seat. Car parks, sport grounds, buying land, or water, from donors, stacking the AAT with drones, keeping Christian Porter in the Ministry, accepting George Christensen’s and Andrew Laming’s support-they all speak of incompetence and a lack of moral fibre.

After the utter shambles of Robodebt, the Morrison Government has the hide to start it up again. This time they are sending out debt notices to people who were overpaid during the pandemic last year. Many of the debts are very small, but when you try living on less than $300 per week, repaying debt with the threat of legal action is not only dispiriting, it is cruel.

It also exposes the awful double standards of this rabble of a Government. Firstly they pursue the poor for unproven debts. Their next step is to be found to have acted illegally, and ordered to repay all the debts recovered. As a kind of grace note, they then terrorise the same demographic (the poor), to repay any over-payments, caused by their own indifferent drafting, and hopeless messaging, regarding those pandemic payments.

Treasurer Frydenberg is seen by some as a future Prime Minister. This must be seen as a distinct possibility, because John Howard, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison have all succeeded to the job, and we all know the level of their capabilities. So it is clear that ability is not a pre-requisite for success. It makes Bill Hayden’s comments on drover’s dogs winning elections somehow relevant.

Frydenberg managed to waste $25 billion of taxpayers’ money on JobKeeper last year. He overlooked inserting a claw-back provision, which is a standard measure by which the ATO claws back money over-paid to corporations.

Close to $9 billion was paid to firms whose turnover not only failed to decline as forecast, but actually increased. So the young, inexperienced Treasurer of Australia has lost $25 billion of our money, and doesn’t have a way of getting it back. His leader, Scott Morrison, thinks asking for its return would be to engage in the politics of envy.

Do you trust him to open up the country, safely?

So, would you put him in charge of opening up the country, in the midst of the Delta variant, which is now running rampant through Sydney? Firstly he wanted the country opened up, then he wanted to follow medical advice and close it down; then he wanted to ‘hurry up’ the medical advice, then he wanted to lock down, then he wanted the states to accept full responsibility for everything, then he wanted to give us hope as we waited for the dawn. Lately he has been cherry-picking medical experts, searching for the opinion du jour, which might suit his latest shift.

The vaccination of all Australians was not a race, then it was still not a race, but it was more important to finish well than to start well. Amidst all the tap-dancing around the truth, and the weird word choices he makes, ask yourself why he chose AstraZeneca as opposed to Pfizer. And if he is so concerned about costs, why pay PWC $11 million to not deliver them? Did the Government have a claw-back provision if it was unable, or unwilling, to provide vaccines on time?

I have seen some estimates of the relative costs of the two, with AstraZeneca costing around $6 a dose, while Pfizer can command $22 a dose. Could it be that our leader chose the cheap one, with the attendant problems with vaccinating the country? The problems are immense. No talk of reaching milestones will remove the necessity of vaccinating special needs groups, and workers in crucial industries.

Groups like the aged and the disabled need vaccination, but their carers and nurses do, too. Aboriginal communities need to be vaccinated, because many have underlying health issues. Children are noticeably being infected by this variant, so can he include them when calculating vaccination rates?

Considering his Government’s almost total lack of competence, I would not put him in charge of getting the morning tea. I certainly trust Daniel Andrews way more than I do the twits in Canberra.

It’s the vaccine rollout, stupid


Bill Clinton certainly had a feel for what ‘worked’ in getting himself elected, and then re-elected. He knew that the electorate had one major concern, and all the other matters were just background noise. Cue Scott Morrison and his Government. The vaccine rollout, period. Fix that, and you are home. No more lockdowns, no more businesses going broke, no more daily press conferences, obsessively watching numbers of infections.

How hard could it be?

Step 1. Buy the product. It had never been done before, but the scientists really came through. A handful of vaccines, produced in record time. Years ahead of expectations. Most of the testing was already done, and Australia is a wealthy nation, and the people were up for spending whatever it cost. There was even talk of sharing it around, with our nearest neighbours in the Pacific and New Guinea, and even Indonesia should be assisted.

But then Australia acted like a classic beginner. Firstly, we relied on a Government which classically outsources every function of governing that it can. We engaged with one supplier, AstraZeneca. Then we rejected, or passed on, a limited offer from Pfizer. Next we backed the University of Queensland effort, which proved unsuccessful.

When the first shipment arrived from Pfizer we had the cringe-worthy spectacle of the Federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt, stating “the eagle has landed”, in relation to 142,000 doses. Much was made of the work being done in the background, but it was obvious from the beginning that the less-fancied AstraZenaca would be the workhorse of the rollout.

The original target was that all Australians would be vaccinated by October. Then the target moved to the end of 2021, then we abandoned all targets. Last week the Prime Minister spoke of horizons, which can mean what you want them to mean. As can his messaging, which he changes regularly, in response to the news cycle.

CSL was then licensed to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine, but the AstraZeneca vaccine had some teething problems. It was found that it caused an extremely rare blood clotting disorder. At this date only two persons in Australia have died as a result of the disorder, so the benefits of using the vaccine far outweighed the risk.

For a Government often accused of excessive secrecy, it is not clear why they highlighted the risk of the rare disorder, with late night televised announcements causing an instant spike in vaccine hesitancy. The Pfizer quickly became the vaccine of choice, and we were then told that the bulk of the Pfizer vaccine would not arrive until October.

The next step in this incredible journey was when the Government advised us that the vaccine could only be safely used by those over 60. The very next night Scott Morrison seemed to advise that anyone under 60 could go and speak to their GP, and get the jab if they were prepared to take the risk.

In another twist to this sorry tale, we appear to hold more AstraZeneca vaccine than we can use, and very limited Pfizer. So we have all our eggs in the one basket, at least until October. Three long months from now.

Somewhere along this tortuous timeline the Prime Minister, who seems to have a fetish for uniforms, appointed a Lieutenant-General, John Frewen, to handle the logistics of the rollout. If we were serious about logistics, we would recruit the CEO of a transport company. He seems to be a handy fall-guy, should the rollout continue to founder.

In a desperate scramble to remedy this sorry mess we have apparently secured some alternative supplies, but they do not arrive until sometime soon, we hope. So that explains the much repeated refrain, “this is not a race”. If it was, we have already lost.

Step 2. Distribution of the vaccine. For good reasons the Government divided the population into categories, or phases, of urgency. Aged Care residents were placed into Phase 1a, as were workers in the industry. Four months into the rollout only one third of the workers have been vaccinated. General Frewen discovered yesterday that, with the benefit of hindsight, they should have been vaccinated at their work-places.

There is no need for hindsight. Blind Freddie could tell the General that if you have a team of nurses visiting a nursing home, it is beyond simple to vaccinate the workers at the same time. Like they have been doing for years, with the flu vaccine.

But the Government, in its wisdom, decided it was too risky to expose the workers to the after-effects of the shot, on the same day they vaccinated the elderly residents. But it was not at all risky to allow unvaccinated staff to provide care, to the same vulnerable residents.

Anyway, most of the workers missed out. Now we have to rely on them taking time off work, to go and have their Phase 1a first shot, and then we needed legislation to cover them for lost wages. We will probably then need them to find their own second doses, with the ensuing running around.

I am not making this up. The next step in the failed rollout is to have the Treasurer ask the business community for help. Like they do with their annual flu vaccinations. It took the treasurer 18 months to discover that businesses routinely facilitate such health measures, for reasons of business efficiency. It means your staff don’t have to take time off work to get the shot, and the business doesn’t have to fund their time off if they catch the flu.

Sometimes the tried and trusted way is the best. The main problem with this rollout is the shortage of supply. So the General spoke of conducting scenario testing, which I presume means war-gaming. Instead, why not try picking up the telephone and buying some more vaccines, from wherever you can. The people of Sydney will thank you, and so will the rest of us. It might even save us from engaging with the Premiers every morning, on the TV.

Barnaby’s second coming


A short recap

In February 2018 Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was scheduled to go to the U.S., and he flagged that Mr Joyce would be acting Prime Minister in his absence. Unfortunately Mr Joyce was at that time embroiled in two personal crises, the first of which was the very public end of his marriage, caused by his affair with a staff member.

Of course these things do happen, but it is usually put down to a momentary loss of judgement, or at worst an existential panic about getting older. Mr Joyce behaved appallingly throughout, with not one single grace note to relieve the awfulness.

Firstly he humiliated his wife, and presumably his four daughters. No hiding away, to protect his family, from the public, or the press. No attempt to mend the fences he had demolished. Instead he explained that Canberra is a lonely place in the midst of winter. Cold comfort for his existing family, and presumably cold comfort for his new partner. No declarations of irresistible emotion, he even questioned the timing of the pregnancy, idly wondering if he was indeed the baby’s father.

Next came that television interview, for which he was paid $150,000. There was talk that it was against the rules for Parliamentarians to accept remuneration for appearing in the media, but that appeared to be overlooked, in all the mayhem.

Joyce and Ms Campion announced that lawyers were to establish a trust fund for their son, Sebastian, to set aside the $150,000 to pay for future expenses, like school fees. So the fruits of a questionable interview, with a questionable payment, were to be tax free, as well. Not only did he out himself as an unabashed adulterer, and a shameless opportunist, but he was free-loading on the tax system as well. Mr Hockey’s lifters and leaners, indeed.

His other problem was that he had been formally complained about, as a sexual harasser. The woman in question made the complaint anonymously, but the National Party leaked her name, and then in an act of stunning hypocrisy, decided that they could not uphold the allegation, for ‘lack of evidence’. Catherine Marriott travelled to Sydney twice, at her own expense, to lodge the complaint and to provide evidence.

In recent days a West Australian Labor Party MP has described how she was warned about keeping clear of Barnaby Joyce seven years ago “because he had a history of groping women”. Is there any wonder that women who have to deal with him have strong reservations? The complaint from Catherine Marriott remains unresolved.

Obviously in 2018 there was an uncomfortable confluence of events, and within a week Mr Joyce had resigned from the leadership of the National Party, and consequently lost his position as Deputy Prime Minister. He claimed that he left to ‘clear the air’.

Mr Joyce has a history of failure in Government. In 2018 Mr Joyce was found to be a dual New Zealand and Australian citizen. Under S44 of the Australian Constitution, he was obliged to resign from Parliament, and to re-contest his seat. He won the by-election, against low profile candidates, but nevertheless he improved his margin.

It would be reasonable to expect that Mr Joyce might have had the nous to check his eligibility. But no, he had several more struggles to contend with. At around this time he was found to be living, at no expense, in a friend’s apartment in Armidale. He declared the ‘gift’ of free rental, but again he was pilloried by the Press. He responded that he needed the assistance, because he was living on a reduced wage, of over $211,000 per annum. Admittedly he was supporting six children, and two households, but to most Australians he was earning a satisfactory type of wage.

Weighing it all up

He has been called the world’s worst ever Agricultural Minister. Amongst other debacles he ‘oversaw’ the Watergate purchase, of an entitlement to occasional floodwaters, for double the asking price. The seller was a company formerly connected to a cabinet colleague; it is now run by a Liberal Party donor. Mr Joyce denied any responsibility, notwithstanding the inconvenient truth, that he was the responsible Minister.

He has been condemned for moving the pesticides regulator from Canberra to his own electorate, at huge expense, and with no discernable upside. He has apparently saved Australia from an environmental hazard, by threatening to euthanase Johnny Depp’s small dogs. Primarily for this reason, he was presented with the 2015 Froggatt Award. Irony is not dead – the award is for protecting native animals and flora from invasive species.

In 2019 he completed his term as Special Drought Envoy, where he managed to spend $675,000 and ‘produced’ a report, sent by text messages, which the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, was too busy to read. David Littleproud wrote to Parliament at the time, stating that no report had been produced.

These are just some examples of how genuinely he has been found wanting in his role as a Parliamentarian, and as a Cabinet Minister. Think of an issue, and he will have likely taken the renegade position, and as likely as not, reversed his stance at some point.

He has now made an unexpected return to the position, to all the pomp and ceremony he is not really fit for, with not a dark thought appearing to cross Mr Morrison’s brow. There are said to be other allegations in the pipeline, especially within various Rural Women’s Associations.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has recently been discovered to be renting out a four-bedroom house with a pool in Tamworth for $625 a week. He failed to declare the rental income to Parliament for months, until contacted by news.com.au. He just struggles with the everyday duties and tasks.

It is plain that he sees himself as a born leader, and his recent successful tilt at the leadership of the National Party, after the ignominy of the past years, has not dampened his ardour for a life at the top. It must be said that if this man can win a leadership ballot, then it is a crook political party, and it is now led by a donkey.

Morrison Government uses kids as pawns


This week we have seen the Government tie itself in knots, as it tries to find a balance between torturing children, and on the other hand, not torturing them. The situation has become so grave that the Government has called on one of its own, a former paediatrician no less, to say that being a little bit cruel to small children and their parents is possibly all right, as long as it serves the greater good, and does not raise the expectations of the “thousands of other families” in a similar situation.

At least that is what I took from Katie Allen’s interview with Fran Kelly on the radio this morning. She was very careful not to overstep the mark, but she was at least a moderating voice, when compared to the macho posturing of most of the Ministry. She did concede that her electorate cares about this family, and so her exposure here might be clever reading of the wind’s direction.

She further believes that the eight weeks sanctuary, provided under duress by the Minister, is somehow heaven sent. That is the time required for four-year-old Tharunicaa to recover. But what to do with them after the eight weeks? Dr Allen did not know. And neither does the Government. Perhaps when Scott finishes embarrassing us all and returns to home shores he will provide us with a win-win solution.

This dilemma is entirely an own goal from the Government. Did they think that we had all gone to sleep, that we did not remember the tale of the ‘Biloela Family’? This standoff could have been easily defused years ago, but Morrison, or Dutton, the ghostly Coleman or even Tudge (all Immigration Ministers) could all have had a go at doing the right thing, and choosing not to use a couple of helpless children as pawns in a tasteless form of messaging to the dreaded people smugglers. It is also a handy ‘wedge’ for the hapless ALP.

Mr Littleproud distinguished himself by referring to those who disagreed with the Government’s hard line position. In his opinion they were little more than a ‘mob’. Mr Littleproud represents a very different electorate. Not the quiet tree-lined streets of Melbourne’s Higgins, but the safest Nationals seat in the country, Maranoa in Queensland. He has a 22% margin to gamble with, so he can afford to be a little abrasive. Or can he? This non-decision is superficially popular, but miserable and mean. Save the family for eight weeks, and then send them away, to who knows what …

Of course the right wing is up in arms. The parents were not genuine refugees, and so they should not have had the children. Were the children examples of “anchor babies” so feared by former Minister, Peter Dutton? He used the term to describe these very children. It seems his influence is long lasting, and as ever, corrosive.

What does Mr Hawke offer in the way of guidance? On Tuesday the government announced the rest of the family would be moved to Perth, where they will be held in community detention while legal matters are ongoing. Presumably they will be shipped out of the country if their last legal bids fail.

The situation for the Murugappan family is that they have so far lost eight court cases, and that there are two more pending. These cases will decide the fate of the family.

The Department of Home Affairs relies heavily on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s country information report on Sri Lanka to decide whether to give permanent protection to Tamil asylum seekers.

The current (2019) report says: Sri Lankans face a low risk of torture on a day-to-day basis. In the case of individuals detained by the authorities, DFAT assesses the risk of torture to be moderate. Where it occurs, some mistreatment may amount to torture. DFAT assesses that Sri Lankans face a low risk of torture overall.

So there is a good chance they will be mistreated, with occasional lapses into outright torture. This will probably NOT be on a day to day basis, however. Will Australia intervene if the “mistreatment” extends to the children, or will we lose interest, because they are outside our narrow view?

The British Government, through the Upper Tribunal, has now stopped relying on this report, because of its shoddy research and unfounded conclusions. So Australia continues to use a discredited report, to justify its ‘sort of sunny’ judgement on Sri Lankan conditions for Tamil refugees, which even the U.K. Government believes is unreliable.

What century do these people live in? The adults arrived in 2012 and 2013, met and married in Australia, and have had two children here. Their local community in Biloela, a country town in Queensland, supports their staying, as do many Australian voters. The Government, and the Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, maintain the line that allowing this family to stay in Australia will immediately unleash the people smugglers to lay siege to Australia’s borders.

How far can we go in degrading people who arrived by boat? Some unkind souls might even think that the lack of timely medical treatment is indicative of a studied attitude of indifference, even malevolence, to the family, and indeed all the other unlawful maritime arrivals (UMAs) in our ‘care’.

Just another case of the Government playing to the lowest common denominator in Australians’ minds. Fear of the unknown, and a too easy acceptance of what was a patently fabricated lie, which suggests if you feel, or show compassion to asylum-seekers, you not only accept drownings at sea, but you encourage them. Please save us from these people.

The rise and fall of a caring Australia


If we use Western history as a sort of roadmap to ending human misery, we see that there is a basic, minimum set of pre-conditions which might contribute to a full, non-miserable life. We can easily guess what they are, even if we have never really suffered.

We have seen them gradually introduced, over centuries. They generally have an element of serving the public good, which ends up serving us all. Think of the introduction of sewerage systems, and where our lives would be without them. Or famine – feeding the hungry when food runs out. Even the Romans did that.

They would include these basic human rights, which we in Australia are supposedly guaranteed: they are freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of religion, and freedom of movement. These freedoms are fine, but they are somewhat peripheral to the aim of escaping misery.

The list of desirable conditions for a reasonably livable life could presumably also cater to the body, and to the spirit. Our five existing rights are nice, but they are sort of like truffles on a turnip; ‘a little bit fancy’, but marginal to the ‘main game’; they deal more with intellectual and political freedom than the essentials of life. Food, shelter, meaningful work, freedom from fear, freedom from persecution, freedom from arbitrary laws are some that I think are essential.

Jimmy Carter said it very well, “We have already found a high degree of personal liberty, and we are now struggling to enhance equality of opportunity. Our commitment to human rights must be absolute, our laws fair, our natural beauty preserved; the powerful must not persecute the weak, and human dignity must be enhanced.” Jimmy Carter’s Inaugural Address, January 20, 1977.

When we look at the current government, and that of Abbott and Turnbull, there is a discernible retreat from the goal of removing misery from Australians’ lives, and those unlucky enough to be second class in our ‘egalitarian paradise’.

In 2020, research by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) found of the three million people living in poverty in Australia, 731,000 are children and a total of 1.2 million are under the age of 24.

Without wishing to draw too much attention to our politicians and their waist-lines, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg look like they have never missed a feed in their entire, cossetted lives. Is that why they have so casually pushed a further 155,000 people into poverty – including 20,000 children, with their recent cuts to Jobseeker? Those figures are from the Australia Institute. I cannot understand how the Morrison Government can live with itself, when it consciously causes so much misery, in plain sight.

Homelessness is another curse in this wealthy country. On any given night 116,000 individuals will be without a bed to call their own. Of course the main reason for this curse is poverty. The Federal Minister for Housing, Michael Sukkar, has a spectacularly anti-social voting record in Parliament. He has consistently voted against any form of social improvement measures; he wants to increase subsidised medicine costs, remove penalty rates, increase cashless welfare cards, limit access to welfare, and he even voted against increasing housing affordability. He is the proud owner of a home in Melbourne, and one extra, in Canberra.

As Jimmy Carter said, “the powerful must not persecute the weak”. He (Sukkar) gets paid $291 extra, for every night he spends at work (in Canberra), and we wonder why these people are so out of touch. In his maiden speech, he said, “I want to help make Australia strong, prosperous and generous.” Show us how, Michael. And when it comes to equality of opportunity, research proves, time and time again, that hungry and stressed children fall behind their peers in learning.

When we have Government Ministers with such narrow, elitist, socially regressive attitudes we are travelling in the wrong direction. See here for more on homelessness Homeless? – No help from this Government

It is a truism that people get the government they deserve. The Morrison Government is run on PR principles, colour and movement, lots of empty announcements, scare up a war with China if all else fails, but remember that they are attempting to take us back to a class-riven society, of haves and have-nots, of preferential treatment for the wealthy, and a return to misery for the masses. I must say I never expected an Australian government to remind me of the bad old days, so much as this one does.