“Politics is not a reality television show,” scowls ScoMo, in a cameo piece to camera, Thursday, in the “most hysterical presser in our nation’s political history” according to Shadow Attorney-General, Mark Dreyfus.
Labor doesn’t help with its smart-arse stunt news conference late Thursday proposing to support the Coalition’s botched and dodgy encryption legislation unamended given that the government has packed up and gone home. Appearing on ABC, the duo repeat the observation that the government has simply walked off the job.
Walked off. They can’t help repeat it. It’s a political point-scoring stunt but most media report a Labor cave-in.
The Morrison government’s final parliamentary fortnight is its first taste of a hung parliament and by Thursday, it is clear to even ScoMo’s few remaining supporters that everywhere are signs of collapse if not ruinous defeat.
Almost. ScoMo’s big on coal. So, too, is his Chief of staff John Kundel, former deputy CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia. Hence the lacquered lump of coal supplied to former Treasurer. If Morrison could wave his pet rock around parliament last February, in the middle of a drought, who knows how he may reach out to Adani?
His ministers possibly do. Some, may themselves, find employment with Adani after the May Federal Election.
Yet not even the latest re-announcement, by Adani, that Adani’s mine construction, albeit in a convenient, user-friendly, shorter, cleaner shovel, Adani-lite format “is imminent” again and will go ahead as a self-funded enterprise (with Indian government subsidies in Gujarat, paid for by imposing higher tariffs on the ever-grateful, local poor; subsidies which may help get Adani an Indian bank loan) is enough to fire up the troops.
Even George Christensen is diplomatic; sublimating his own joy in the interest of unity and nation-building.
“I say to the reckless law-breaking extreme greens and your Labor mates – accept defeat because it’s all go as far as Adani is concerned.”
Non-Adani readers will note that Adani is not all go. Adani still has a number of hurdles to clear, including getting approval from local indigenous land owners, a land use agreement and a Queensland government water licence.
Green Career reports, moreover, that environmental group Coast and Country has high resolution satellite and drone imagery showing “illegal” dewatering bores at the site of Adani’s controversial Carmichael coal mine project in north Queensland near Doongmabulla Springs.
“A nationally significant wetland of ‘exceptional ecological value’ and home to 11 endangered or vulnerable species, the springs have cultural significance to local indigenous groups and have been described by ecologists as one of the world’s last remaining pristine oases.”
Environmental Defenders’ Office, QLD, reports that Adani’s environmental conditions require approval of a Groundwater Dependent Ecosystems Management Plan (GDEMP), which must include research to identify the source of water for the Doongmabulla Springs before the commencement of ‘Project Stage 2’. ‘Project Stage 2’ is defined to include ‘site clearance’, ‘new access roads’ and ‘commencing dewatering operations’.
All coal-fired up, nevertheless, is the euphoniously-named Melissa Price, our Federal Environment Minister, formerly of WA mining, who, bravely, insists that we will meet our carbon emissions targets at a “canter”.
Price will trot out her case at The UN climate conference in Katowice, Poland, a nation with a right wing government which, she can tell Craig Kelly, has been able to make a 180 degree turn to embrace renewables.
Yet 91 international leading reason-crazed, haplessly empirical scientists differ. As The Saturday Paper’s legal eagle, writer Richard Ackland reminds us, the UN’s Emissions Gap Report 2018 concludes:
“There has been no improvement in Australia’s climate policy since 2017 and emission levels for 2030 are projected to be well above the [Nationally Determined Contribution] target. The latest projection published by the government shows that emissions would remain at high levels rather than reducing in line with the 2030 target.”
The Coalition’s energy policy is also a dud, its “religious freedoms” (read further discrimination) nutters who rule its energy policy are aggrieved and the government is perilously close to a de facto vote of no confidence given some MPs’ determination to help kids off Nauru; a political crisis tailor-made for its tactical evasion and delay. The Australian embassy in Israel remains in Tel Aviv. But of course, there’s a committee looking into that.
Ever thinking outside the box, ScoMo’s proposes to deal with the protection of religious freedom, in schools by a conscience vote. He’s even got up his own private member’s bill. Religious freedom, does not, however, appear at risk in Australia. Although he was quick to declare it as his number one issue, it seems little more than just a sop to the party’s right wing and others disappointed to be in a minority on marriage equality. Bugger.
A panel reported to Turnbull in May. Will the Ruddock Committee’s report be made public before Christmas?
No rush. As Bernard Keane notes, Morrison has already broken his promise to end the possibility of religious schools discriminating against LGBTQI students. It was, Keane, reminds us, to be done by October.
Yet can it ever be accomplished, given the mission is inherently flawed, as Keane kindly points out.
“Think about that for a moment — religious organisations say they’re perfectly happy not to expel a gay or transgender student, but want the freedom to teach those students that homosexuality is evil, or that transgender people are somehow unnatural.”
Happily for investors, power prices are set to rise, carried upward by a surge in the price of gas, as much as 40 per cent higher by January next year than the 2018 average, The Australian reports, while despite all the bluster about forced divestiture, the “big stick” is now being whittled down in the face of industry (and Labor) opposition. A toothpick? The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy says it’s now so small as to be invisible. Just how business likes it.
Or is Trevor St Baker, Liberal patron, no longer keenly interested in buying up plant Frydenberg forces off Alinta?
Also shrinking is our GDP. Wednesday’s Bureau of Statistics release shows only 2.77% annual growth in gross domestic product (GDP) to 30 September 2018. That puts us 106th among the world’s 183 economies; our lowest ever ranking. Our real household disposable incomes are lower than in 2010. Australia is lagging the world on almost all economic indicators, reports Alan Austin.
Happily, mainstream media will uncritically accept anything the government tells them, including the whopper that we will be in surplus in 2019 and the mantra of economic management, now coalition canon law.
‘Because of the Coalition’s strong economic management we will deliver next April the first budget surplus in more than a decade,’ Frydenberg fibs. You do a bit of that when you are the work experience boy. And make the tea.
In fact, Austin calculates the budget deficit to be around $14.5 billion, 30 June 2019. Josh Frydenberg can, of course predict a surplus in May, as he promises, but in April, he will say it may arrive in 2020. It may not. Who can fathom the effect of Trump’s trade and tariff wars? Certainly no surplus will be delivered in April.
Prudently, Morrison’s government ignores a mouthy Malcolm Turnbull’s advice to call an election at once, (the former PM is more famous for his wearing a leather jacket on Q&A than any other act of political judgement). Instead it will meet for nine days in 2019. It can’t evade the inevitable. As Kerryn Phelps tells Sky,
“I am sad that we didn’t get this through today … because I believe it would have gone through on the numbers … But you know if we have to wait until February, at least I believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Facing defeat on the floor of the house, ScoMo pulls out all the stops. “I will do everything in my power to ensure that these suggested changes, that would undermine our border protection laws, never see the light of day.”
Or as they say on Big Brother, Australia’s Next Top Model or even My Kitchen Rules, it’s “game on moll”.
Undermine? It’s a wicked, wilful misrepresentation of a proposed act of humanity. How can this PM call himself a Christian? Where is his compassion? Why must children suffer? Following his mentor, Trump, Morrison effortlessly, crosses from florid embellishment through delusion to grotesque and wilful disinformation.
“They’ll hear the people smuggler who sails up to them and says, ‘Guess what, the Australians have changed the legislation, you won’t have to stay on Nauru or Manus, all you have to do is get some doctor in Australia to sign it off and it’s all good mate, it’s all good’,” Morrison mimics a mythical demon people-smuggler who speaks Strine .
In the senate, Labor, the cross-bench and The Greens amend the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018 to allow medical evacuation of refugees stranded on Manus and Nauru.
How can this encourage people smugglers? The government’s already removing kids from Nauru, it boasts, only skipping how it’s squandered over half a million dollars in the last two years contesting medical decisions in court.
But Morrison has a lot on his plate. Now he must stall the medical evacuation bill – at all costs. He calls a presser.
Not a reality TV show. Show-Mo’s ironic spoiler alert frames this week’s episode of the Coalition’s long running low-rating hyper-reality politics show. Stage right, in “the other place”, lunatic right odd couple Hanson and Bernardi, who bask in their government attention in the senate, team up in a slow bicycle race which sees a wobbly Morrison minority government delay Labor’s attack on not only border but national security.
Morrison’s border security takes us back to the future. In 2001 the Liberals’ St John Howard won a fabulous victory with his babies overboard episode. The following year, Howard went on to deceive parliament and the Australian people over whether we were fit and ready to join the US’ illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003, a war crime which over eight years claimed the lives of half a million Iraqis. He falsely claimed he had legal advice.
His “legal advice”, based on the opinions of two junior public servants, Bill Campbell and Chris Moraitis appears to have been obtained by silk shopping; avoiding other more prominent senior authorities, such as Professor James Crawford SC, Professor of International Law at Cambridge University who had on previous occasions advised the Australian government and appeared for it in international law proceedings.
Crawford was one of sixteen distinguished international experts who held that any invasion of Iraq was illegal.
Lord Goldsmith, UK Attorney General held that any military action required the explicit authorisation of the security council, yet lying rodent, Howard claimed his experts’ advice was consistent with Goldsmith.
More lies emerge. A secret study surfaces which proves that the former PM misled the nation over when the invasion was planned. University of New South Wales Professor Clinton Fernandes, who first secured the study, says it details how ADF personnel were quietly dispatched to US CENTCOM headquarters in Florida in 2002 to begin planning the Iraq war, a year before John Howard announced Australia’s involvement.
Central to our politics for over a hundred years is the convention that foreign policy is the prerogative of the PM alone and a PM confident of cabinet and house of reps support can act without the need to consult parliament.
The history of our border folly cannot be so easily evaded. As megalomaniac Morrison took the helm – and at times commandeered part of the navy – the Abbott government militarised “border control”; creating Operation Sovereign Borders, throwing all fiscal constraint overboard, to create a paramount, paramilitary Border Force.
Precise figures are few, given the vast tentacles of Warlord Morrison’s private armed force but Save the Children’s Lisa Button and Shane Evans, estimate the cost between 2013-16 alone at nearly ten billion dollars.
Decoration is not cheap. ABF staff medals have for the last few years cost more than for the entire Defence Force.
And the ABF has its fingers in many pies. Operation Sovereign Borders and Australia’s immigration-related functions span many different departments, from fisheries and foreign affairs to the department of prime minister and cabinet, the Australian Crime Commission and the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
Does it work? Barely a year later, Border Force takes over the Australian Immigration and Border Protection Department, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, the Australian Quarantine Service, and Operation Sovereign Borders – despite none of these agencies having worked together before.
Leaked reports of chaos, corruption and disaster, are managed by a cloak of secrecy and the evasion if not erasure of accountability given these were “on water matters” or matters of “national security”.
Also ignored are reports this week of poor morale and a “rampant” culture of bullying and harassment in the ABF which can only be enhanced by the announcement of staff cut-backs over Christmas, the ABF’s busiest period.
We will never control our borders. Off-shore detention is double-speak for the torture of hapless boat people to whom we are legally and morally obliged to offer refuge if not compassion. But the show must go on.
Morrison’s shtick is pure reality TV for all his faux denial. So much of our politics is. ScoMo knows it full well, tsk-tsks Guardian Australia’s Political Editor, Katharine Murphy, who suggests “their hothouse intrigues … petty sagas, and self-indulgences” as “some ways our current cast of MPs have helped morph our politics into reality TV”.
But not all on their own. For Murpharoo, who along with most of our media is inextricably part of the transformation, politics is “the grimmest reality television in the franchise, full of attention-seekers and desperados, looking for a plot twist to propel the battered enterprise into the next season”.
The Australian helps stir the plot by eagerly denouncing Labor’s heinous duplicity, especially their class treason. Labor MPs are shape-stealing, social-climbers parking their Blundstones under Pratt family tables.
Amazingly, they are simultaneously union-catspaws whose moral turpitude seals an all-round unfitness for office.
This includes having evil factions, something alien to the virtuous broad church of the Liberals. The Oz Saturday “reveals” “Labor’s Left faction will push to fast-track refugee medical transfers to Australia through a change to the party platform at next weekend’s ALP national conference as Scott Morrison sets up an election showdown on border security.”
Australian’s great and powerful fiend, the US, also shapes our politics with its postmodern, post-truth universe, currently featuring none other than the “useful idiot” Donald John Trump. Trump inspires many a local politician.
Rusted on is the small, rapidly self-extinguishing Federal One Nation micro-party, united under President for Life Pauline but an even bigger fan, a fully paid up Trumpista in thought, deed and wardrobe is Scott John Morrison.
Yes. Our colossus even shares the same middle name. Of course there are the baseball caps, lapel pins but note also his unctuous toadying to The Donald, whom he praises as a “very practical” leader … “who’s not going to waste a day” in office. ScoMo even boasts to The New York Times’ Maureen Dowd that he and the US president have a special bond. They both share an instinct to help those forgotten by the forces of globalisation.
And on bushfires. Trump berates Californians for not raking up leaves while Morrison castigates the Queensland government for its recent belated attempt to put the brakes on land clearing. An inquiry will be held. Bugger the environment. Leaving trees in the ground is just inviting wildfires.
Hamming it up shamelessly, former child TV actor and Vicks’ Love Rub commercial kid, former Boat-Stopper Morrison is once again the nation’s fearless protector of the week in his performance Thursday,
“I will do whatever I can, whatever I can. I’ll fight them using whatever tool or tactic I have available to me.”
ScoMo’s full of fighting talk. After nearly six years, does his government really thinks it can finally wedge Labor as soft on borders, or make voters fear being swamped by refugees? It last worked seventeen years ago.
Yet what he opts for is a slow bicycle race in the senate, a series of filibusters and delaying tactics with the support of the pliant Pauline Hanson and the awful Corey Bernardi who remain perpetually bewildered by modernity. Or anything beyond expedience, xenophobia and self-promotion.
Meanwhile, the Morrison government’s dangerously ill-conceived and poorly written data encryption laws, its latest in at least a dozen “national security” laws which propel the nation ever closer to becoming a police state are rushed through parliament, yet again, on the pretext of a dire, top-secret national emergency.
Will we notice as we slumber deep in re-runs of Bad Santa and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation?
But credit where it’s due. In the credits to this week’s show, “I just get on with the job” Scottie has his nose to the grindstone, his back to the wall and his finger in the dyke. It’s a fair-dinkum show-stopper.
A tsunami of compassion looms as Labor’s anti-Christ, Bill Shorten, “a clear and present threat to Australia’s safety” perfidiously proposes a bill to Medi-vac sick children off Nauru, a move which would see us overrun with boat people by Christmas. Not only that but he dickers with the government’s fatally flawed anti-encryption law before abandoning all attempt at amendment. Perhaps he’s read the member for Sturt’s tweets.
Labor has chosen to allow terrorists and paedophiles to continue their evil work in order to engage in point scoring. – mouth that roars, Defence Minister, Christopher Pyne tweets during 2018’s last Parliament’s valedictories.
In reality, Labor is just as keen on turning Australia into a police state, a process it aids and abets, Thursday in a theatrical news conference stunt held, it points out, in best political point-score, after the government has given up and gone home by agreeing to support The Coalition’s flawed data encryption law which does nothing to make the nation safe from criminals, terrorists and paedophiles but which does vastly extend state surveillance.
A nation is inspired by Scott Morrison’s conscience vote to allow MPs to discriminate against school-children on the basis of gender or sexual orientation. Surely this is peak practicality with its sleeves rolled up; the pinnacle of “getting on and doing”, a phrase the shouty, Quiet Achiever, ScoMo has lifted from an old BHP commercial.
All of which the multi-tasking PM manages to fit around his leaks and manic, midnight, media drops to Murdoch newspapers and his regular visits to 2GB radio in which he talks himself up and the opposition down.
By Friday, ScoMo’s won a huge victory. Huge. He’s had to drag Bill Shorten kicking and screaming into line on data encryption. Labor’s attempt to destabilise the government over refugees has “failed”. He tells Channel 9’s Today programme the “cocky” Labor party claimed “all sorts of bills and all sorts of motions … were going to pass but none of it happened”.
“So all the doomsday scenarios that were put about by the Labor party to undermine confidence, they were all proven to be false and Labor failed on every occasion and the government prevailed.”
Yes, yes, we know, you’re an inspiration to the nation, ScoMo and politics is not a reality TV show.