The Abbott-Turnbull government’s new, improved, ScoMo the soft and fluffy laundry product with added stain remover is attractively packaged, thank you ABC, and Annabel Crabb but, somehow, no-one is buying.
Could it be the price? Can he ever put Operation Sovereign Borders behind him? So far ScoMo’s even more of a liability than Joe Hockey.
Having buggered his credibility on Manus and Nauru Scott’s pitch is: ‘trust me, I’m not bringing in any changes to the GST’. But we need to find a way to get our tax rates lower’. He spouts word-perfect IPA drivel about how our tax system with its bracket creep is crippling our productivity. The crafty bastard needs a GST to pay for tax cuts.
ScoMo changes job as often as he changes his pitch. Yet one thing stands like stone. Morrison, former Tourism Oz professional bag-blower loves to withhold information. It’s part of his stand-up routine where he calls for a national conversation on taxation in which he says nothing and nothing we say matters.
Of course in saying nothing, Morrison says a lot. To paraphrase, ScoMo takes the line: ‘Bugger the Westminster doctrine of ministerial responsibility. Let me satisfy my pathological need to withhold from you what I owe you.’ Like the truth.
‘Things are not as they appear, they are as I tell you’. Commodity prices are crashing, export earnings are at an all-time low, many of our bigger businesses do not pay any tax and holler to pay even less, but we do not have a revenue problem; we have an expenditure problem. Because of Labor.
You don’t have to be a Freudian to sense the man’s not well. Just as well he’s not in charge of anything important.
Morrison, a flop in his previous jobs has been booted upstairs. Now he poses as our latest cute and fluffy Treasure- bunny, a stuffed toy in the window of Business As Usual the department store run by Adani, the IPA and Co.
Treasury does all the work. The minister takes all the credit and dodges all responsibility while focusing on the main task ahead. Sell a new version of himself.
Cue Annabel Crabb’s soft-soapie touchy-feely recent episode of Kitchen Cabinet. This is a ScoMo mark III commercial, a vehicle for reminiscing fondly how he and Jules were given the bum’s rush in Sri Lanka but how he just loves its curries. Annabel can’t shut the man up, he’s so pumped with his own promo. Put a V in the programme guide for Vomit bag warning alert.
‘Crabbers’ helps all she can but in the end KC is a tacky failure. We are meant to see a wholesome, home loving, sweet and decent human being. But behind the rimless glasses lurks the monster of Manus Island, the man who had a go at Gillian Triggs for daring to question the detention of children. All we get is the feeling of being conned. And worse. Morrison will do anything to present the right image but the ScoMo promo demeans us all.
In 2010, Morrison took pains to condemn Labor when relatives of asylum seekers killed in a boat tragedy off Christmas Island were flown to attend their loved ones’ funerals in Sydney. Tax-payers should not be paying for this, he thundered. Later he would spend millions on turn-back boats.
As Minister of Immigration, Morrison ordered officers to intercepted terrified refugees, confiscate and destroy their boats before decanting men, women and children into dinky custom-built orange fibreglass craft with just enough fuel to get back into the hands of their tormentors and then consigned them to the high seas. Stop them drowning.
Morrison washed his hands of his ministerial responsibility to protect those seeking refuge and not wilfully endanger them. To say nothing of refoulement, another clause of the Geneva convention on refugees his government contests. As our Lord High Monkey Pod God and Suppository of Wisdom and fellow anal retentive Tony Abbott puts it :”Look, I think Australians are pretty sick of being lectured to,’ about what we do in our own prison camps.
It doesn’t have to. Anyone can see it’s wrong. The family of Reza Barati, the 23 year old Iranian bashed to death February 18 2014 on Manus by guards want answers. Others attempt suicide by ingesting laundry products and anything else toxic they can get their hands on. Every second day someone attempts self-harm.
Hamid Kehazaei, 24, dies of septicaemia from a cut three weeks because there’s so much paper work in the way of getting him to a Brisbane hospital. A 23 year old Somali refugee who is pregnant after being raped on Nauru suffers monumental obstructionism instead of timely access to a termination procedure and other relevant medical help.
Like Dutton, the Minister says he can’t comment on individual cases. Criticisms, Morrison tells us are ‘not based on any primary knowledge of the event or the circumstances’. Dutton follows this dismissive line in his response to the preventable death of Fazel Chegeni in October 2015 or the Christmas Island riot which was direct result of his policy of mixing violent criminals, minor offenders and asylum seekers. Withholding is a gift which keeps on giving.
Nothing to see here. Australia is not responsible. Direct enquiries to PNG and Nauru whose sovereign territories we have built our detention centres in. But don’t go there and whinge about having a right to know what’s going on in Australia’s name. Don’t give us stories of death threats and being followed or any of that weird stuff. Or we’ll get Dutton to make fun of you. Give praise instead they are not drowning at sea. Penned up, desperate to end their lives instead. Hallelujah!
Oddly, none of this bubbles up through the KC froth. But Morrison is not to be held to account for his past portfolios, he’s been granted immunity by dint of his elevation to Treasurer-Poo Bah and Lord High Everything Else. He stopped the boats. Amen. Rudd just halted them. Besides Liberal treasurers don’t do questions. They rant about Labor’s wasteful failure while blithely creating a debt and deficit mess of their own.
To be fair to the treasurer, even if he did reinvent himself again there are just too many questions to answer, not even counting those from previous jobs he’s walked away from. Here’s a few for starters.
- Where’s the eighty billion of school and hospital funding your government took from the states?
- What is your government doing about the forty per cent of companies in Australia who were revealed recently to be paying no income tax at all?
- Can you really expect to sell a GST rise that will hit poor and needy people hardest when nearly half of the top end of town get away – ahem – Scott free?
- And how is a 15 per cent GST, which takes money out of circulation and your promise to cut spending such a wise idea when heading into recession?
- Why is the government ignoring record private debt?
As John Kelly points out average Australians are strapped for cash. Currently private debt, comprising business borrowings, home mortgages, other loans and credit cards accounts for $2.5 trillion (AUD), or 156% ratio to GDP.
Unlike public debt, private sector debt could bring everything to a grinding halt. Why is our treasurer pretending it doesn’t exist; doesn’t matter?
Why is it OK to take money from women’s refuges? In an innovative calculation Malcolm Malaprop’s outrageous explanation, reported on his ABC Sunday night, is that costs are down because we are ‘having a deeper conversation’ about domestic violence now? We are? Tell that to the women desperate to find shelter. 423 people are turned away from homeless shelters every night. And you cut funding.
Domestic violence? Try men’s violence towards women. So much for all the awareness raising, Mr Turnbull we’ve been hearing about from you. Just repay the money. $38 million would be a start. It’s a pittance when you put it alongside your tax evaders. Take Shell, for example, which you’ve allowed to pay no company tax although it has pumped $60 billion from us over the past three years.
Clearly the Treasurer is withholding a wool sack filled to bursting of information. Either that or he hasn’t got the foggiest idea of what he’s doing and is desperately trying to stall until he can run the budget the IPA prepared in their kitchen at home earlier. He can hope that a tax cut bribe for some of us will fool us into buying a GST hike for everyone which will have double the real cost on lower income earners than on the well-heeled. ScoMo’s saying nothing.
Instead he offers a replay of his calming mantra: We don’t have a revenue problem, we have an expenditure problem.
Don’t rule out something colourful; some more high camp performance art. Tax accountants may be decorated for their courage in collecting more from the poor while the rich get rewarded for evasion?
Will ScoMo match the sheer Dadaist brilliance of his ‘on water’ denial of ministerial responsibility? Will we suddenly be at war with the demonised, desperate poor who like our asylum seekers have done everything to deserve our compassion and absolutely nothing to incur our bizarrely inappropriate show of brute force and hostility?
Suddenly? Aren’t we there already?