A move within the Abbott cabinet to establish a homeland security super-ministry drawing together several major departments and functions looks to have been scuttled because senior figures viewed it as an attempt by backers of Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to elevate him to future leader status.
The Age 1.10.2014 MARK KENNY AND JAMES MASSOLA
MORRISON: That you, Tony? Morrison here. Best on ground. Your star performer. Rising star. Team captain before too long. And on dancing with the stars. On hundred dollar bills soon.
ABBOTT: Scotty. Maaaate. [aside. God give me strength. The clowns I have to deal with. Some think they’re God Almighty. Or comedians. Or both.]
MORRISON: Are you free to talk, mate? Not got you at a bad time? Need a quick dicky. A quick word.
ABBOTT: Never a good time, Scotty. Not since opposition. Remember the days? Bag the shit out of Gillard all day and all night you could. Never had to do anything else. Apart from sloganeer. And have Alan Jones blow smoke up my arse.
Ahhh … the slogans. You know tell I love them still. Axe the tax. Turn back the boats. Turn back the boats. Still good. Wake up at night. Find myself shouting it. And punching the bedroom wall.
And we did it. You did it. Always time for you Morrison, old cock. Time for you, Scotty. Time for you. Time for you. Time for you. You.
MORRISON: God Almighty! What the hell is that echo?
ABBOTT: Peta on conference phone. Credlin. The Boss. Oh and ASIO, ASIS and the FBI. Of course. Peta’s gotta to be working for them all I reckon. Smart girl that one. And the best arse in parliament.
CREDLIN: [aside: hold it right there, Abbott. Keep your hands in the open. Where I can see them.]
Scott Morrison! How the f**k are you. Back already? You lucky bastard! Didn’t step on a landmine, then. Kept out of bar doorways. No grenade in the kisser? Clap missed you, too I guess. How was your trip?
ABBOTT: Near the doorway? Clear of doorways? Clap?
CREDLIN: Doors of bars in Shinaoukville. Rival owners on scooters. Ride up. Toss in grenades. Ride off. Nobble the opposition. Disrupts trade. Smart tactic, though. Go well in Canberra. Not on Shorten, though. Be wasted. The bastard would fall on it like a giant wet weetbix. Smother the blast. Spoil the fun.
MORRISON: Place is f****d. Filthy. Stinks. Trash everywhere. Sewer stinks. Sex industry worse. Prostitutes everywhere. Ugly older men and young girls. Sleazy Europeans fondle teenage girls on their laps. Crawling with sex tourists and touts for child prostitutes. Children come up, begging or trying to get hold of groceries, snatching food out of your bag. Homeless kids live on the street. Crawling with children everywhere. Cambodian population mostly school kids. It’s what it looks like. Bird flu epidemic. Corrupt. Most corrupt country in the world. Or among them. Rampant corruption among judges, prosecutors and court officials. Slavery and child sexual abuse. Dangerous. You can get away with murder. And torture. You can die from just drinking the water. No-one in his right mind would want to go there. Live there. [laughs] Perfect place for asylum seekers.
CREDLIN: Spare us the travelogue, Scott. We didn’t send you over to dip your wick. Cut to the chase. Did you get us a deal or not? Where the bloody hell are you?
MORRISON: The Deal? Yes. Got good news and bad news, PM.
ABBOTT: Let me guess. The telegram that said your mother had died? Turned out to be your mother- In- law? You drop 40 million at the casino. Turns out to be someone else’s money? And your boss gives you a pay rise?
CREDLIN: Keep it brief guys. Tony, you and I have a briefing soon. No time to listen to a couple of galahs rabbiting on.
MORRISON: Briefing? Course you do, Peta. What on? How to tell Obama’s arse from his elbow? Hope he’s in on it. Someone needs to tell him! Seriously. Where the border between Syria and Iraq is? Jesus! Better let the Syrians and Iraqis into that. Or how we wasted all those years and all those billions training up an Iraqi army who can’t fight its way out of brown paper bag. Whose battle plan is to drop their weapons and run away? We’d all love to know the answer to that.
ABBOTT: Enough of that, smartarse. Deep briefing from top brass on keeping our boots off the ground.
CREDLIN: While we fight the mother of all battles. Aleppo. Baghdad. Armageddon.
MORRISON: Not another oil war in the Middle East. You know they are unwinnable. Got your head up your arse again, Tony. First we arm and train ISIL against Syria. Now we turn them into Anti-Christ. Wouldn’t it be easier and cheaper just to take more Timor oil? I know some good lawyers.
ABBOTT: [changing subject] How’d the bubbly go? You really know how to seal a deal, Morrison. But if you want Moet, by Christ, we’ll give you Moet. But we do expect you to turn up on time. And not to spill their drinks.
CREDLIN: Yes. We heard you turned up half an hour late. Crashed a tray of Cambodian glasses and then pretended to toast the deal for the camera. Poor bastards didn’t even have empty glasses to raise for the photo-opp.
MORRISON: It’s not all bad. Good news is the Cambodians agreed to take a few. From Nauru. Now that we’ve redefined our refugee obligations. So that we don’t have any part in looking after their welfare.
CREDLIN: In legal terms, the deal represents an abrogation of Australia’s responsibility to refugees who have been found to legitimately need our protection. Moving refugees somewhere else does not absolve Australia of its legal obligations. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, describes it as “a worrying departure from international norms”.
ABBOTT: [ignoring Credlin] A few hundred? Morrison, you are a legend. A few hundred, you say?
MORRISON: Not that many.
ABBOTT: A hundred now. Five hundred next year?
MORRISON: No. Two or three at this stage. They will see how they go.
CREDLIN: See how you go, you mean! You gave them 40 mill? The 40 million we gave you to sweeten the deal. $40 million over four years. No strings attached. No questions asked. And they are taking just two asylum seekers?
MORRISON: Two or three. It was news to me too. They call it a pilot programme. But just wait. There’s a bit you haven’t heard yet. They keep the bastards in Phnom Penh a year. After that they are relocated.
ABBOTT: Jesus. Your Cambodian officials will all be down the casino now. Just imagine it. $40 million. Pissed up against the wall. Then it’s return to sender? God almighty!
MORRISON: No. They send them home.
CREDLIN: And where would that be?
MORRISON: Where they bloody came from. And don’t you worry about the 40 million being spent by officials. Any spend’s a good spend. It’s bound to trickle down. Create opportunities.
ABBOTT: So what’s the bad news Scott?
MORRISON: We still have to pay them.
CREDLIN: Pay them?
MORRISON: Yes. Everything you do in Cambodia costs money. Haven’t worked out how much yet. Under wraps. Christ, they know how to haggle. Basically, Australia agrees to pay the board and lodging. And …
MORRISON: Agrees to let Cambodia set the fee.
CREDLIN: Which is likely to be how much?
ABBOTT: Mary, mother of God! Tell me again. Why did we send you Morrison? What in God’s name possessed us?
MORRISON: I’m the Immigration Minister. I am the star of Sovereign Borders. Soon I will be the head of Homeland Security.
MORRISON: And I’m way out in front in the opinion polls. You’re in negative territory. Going backwards. I can do what I like. Get away with anything. The country thinks your government is shite. Your budget stinks. Your terror diversion isn’t working. Your Royal Commission is a waste of money. You couldn’t lie straight in bed. No wonder Australians don’t trust you. But they know where they are with me. Gotta go now, Peta and Tony. Mission accomplished. Leave you two to sort out the invoices.