Month: February 2020

Trashing our democracy.

eric in shock

“They are trashing our democracy in the way they are dealing with this disgusting political cover-up,” Penny Wong [says] on Wednesday. “… This is all about protection of the prime minister, who is up to his neck in the sports rorts scandal. Well, I’ve got some news for the government: it’s too late. It’s too late for a cover-up when you’ve already been caught.”

Is it consternation or apoplectic rage? The shocked disbelief on Senator Erich Abetz’s typically saturnine features, Thursday, at a senate select committee on Administration of Sports Grants, or sports rorts sums up a disastrous fortnight for the Morrison-Gaetjens duumvirate that rules Australia when it’s not blaming the states, the COVID-19 Coronavirus, The Greens “creeping environmentalism” or Labor for its own failures.

“I seek to clarify, you did find that no ineligible project or application was funded?” leads the Tassie Liberal Party Czar who proceeds, in faux legalese, to verbal Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) boss, Brian Boyd, Friday 14 February, a joust sure to enter the lists of epic political failure as Eric’s Valentine’s Day self-massacre.

Seek to clarify? It’s a clumsily disingenuous attempt which even Samantha Maiden sees as Abetz’ bid to lob a Dorothy Dixer which will let him repeat the lie that all projects were eligible. It’s the PM’s favourite talking point.  Albo reckons Scotty’s misled parliament by repeating this disinformation sixteen times in the house.

Government by spin spawns MPs who believe their own propaganda. Originally billed in a blizzard of press snow drops as “a reset” and a chance for our jelly-back PM to re-assert himself, the parliamentary fortnight ends in a debacle.  Abetz is gob-smacked when he collides with reality at the sports rorts senate inquiry.

David Speers exposes ScoMo’s sophistry in ABC Insiders. The AG says, “no applications assessed as ineligible” received money. Morrison spins this into, “every single one of the projects that was approved was eligible”.

Morrison conveniently conflates application with project. It’s lie which Abetz discovers to his chagrin.

“No, Senator, that’s not what we found,” Boyd replies. “… around 43% of those which were awarded funding, by the time the funding agreement was signed were ineligible.”

Abetz, clearly, hasn’t bothered to read the report, a practice not uncommon amongst Coalition Senators. In 2015 Chair into the Forgotten Children report, Ian MacDonald, declared he hadn’t read Gillian Triggs report. Nor did he know what the Human Rights Commission was. April 2016, Triggs observed in The Saturday Paper that politicians were “usually seriously ill-informed” and had “lost any sense of the rule of law”.

For Samantha Maiden it’s a spectacular political own goal, “inadvertently demolishing the PM’s central sports rorts defence and revealing a stunning 43 per cent of projects that secured funding were ineligible.” Abetz’ stunt is nearly as inept as Mick-Mack’s dying duck in a thunderstorm performance on ABC Insiders Sunday.

Many projects were ticked off by Sport Australia as meeting the criteria, but 270 clubs over-eager to receive funds disqualified themselves by starting building works before the final paperwork was completed. Grants were restricted solely to clubs who were yet to begin works. A few others disqualified themselves by completing work before receiving funds or amending their applications or missing the application deadline.

In brief, Sport Australia got hundreds of applications from clubs. Some were eligible. Others were not.

In addition to the 100m scandal which has cost (then) Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie her place in the ministry, details of a $150m rort obtained, by Labor, through FOI, emerge this week.

Poorly entitled, the “female facilities and water safety stream program”, when it clearly was aimed at women, it was announced by the Coalition less than two months before the election. Funded in the 2019 budget for providing women’s change rooms and swimming pool upgrades, it was supposed to go to regional and remote communities.

In reality, only $10 million went to rural projects in four electorates held by National Party MPs. The bulk of the money – nearly $110 of the total four year fund was spent on projects in urban Liberal-held electorates

Pearce and Corangamite, two key marginal seats were given almost 40% of the total funding pool.

Women’s change rooms pose a particular problem. Scott Morrison and deputy Mick-Mack seem obsessed with evoking images of women changing behind trees and in cars. Why this fixation? No-one in his staff of fifty-odd boffins can stop the PM and his deputy? The scenario is insensitive, if not totally inappropriate.

And dishonest. Grants were rushed along or even stream-lined to protect women’s modesty, or so they seem to leer;

“because we didn’t want to see girls changing in cars or out the back of the sheds rather than having their own changing facilities”. The verb “see” puts the male gaze where it should not be. Try “make” or “have”.

The alacrity with which the claim is made suggests it may have been part of a focus group but when repeated, ad nauseam, the image evoked betrays a pre-occupation; almost a type of voyeurism on behalf of the PM and his Deputy – an attitude to women which not just women find repugnant.  The claim is also based on a lie.

Sports rorts were not a flood of money to respect women’s needs to have their own change rooms. The PM dwells endlessly on women’s change rooms, in the hope that this issue will distract us from his vote-buying.

In fact, as Christopher Knaus and Sarah Martin report for The Guardian the Coalition rejected Sport Australia recommendations. At least twelve proposed grants for women’s change rooms at local sport grounds were overturned by the minister, including one where women and girls are currently changing in tents.

Making stuff up, includes inventing new reasons to avoid any kind of scrutiny. Or gaslighting the nation that its approval of 290 ineligible sports grants, through Bridget McKenzie’s office is all OK. Phil Gaetjens says so.

Morrison’s former Minister for sport is not allowed to be a good sport. Rather than accept the National Audit Office umpire’s decision, her PM has a vested interest in arguing the toss. Now clear links emerge between McKenzie’s office and his office, Canute-like, he foolishly tries to countermand the ANAO.

Morrison’s own dodgy inquiry adds injury to injustice as he hand-balls to his pal, Phil Gaetjens, the task of being his alternative fact-finder in a secret inquiry. New sophistry, casuistry and specious argument don’t help.

Morrison and Gaetjens demean the PM’s office and the nation. Worst is “fixer” Phil Gaetjens’ straw man that McKenzie is exonerated by ignorance. She didn’t even see the colour-coded spreadsheet designed to guide her department fund projects, not on merit, but in areas where they might buy Coalition MPs a few more votes.

“Her Chief of Staff also told the Department of the Prime Minster and Cabinet that the Adviser had categorically stated she had not shown the spreadsheet to the Minister.”

Gaetjens’ claim is absurd.  The former Morrison and former Costello chief of staff hopes to hoodwink us into thinking that the sports minister handles every piece of correspondence personally or that her former ministerial responsibility somehow excluded colour-coded spreadsheets which her staffers may have used.

Ministers “have large staffs of advisers, liaison officers and media people to handle their paperwork … the whole point is that, if you’re going to rort something, you make sure the minister doesn’t have direct oversight of it. Staff (who, conveniently, can’t be called before Senate committees) do it.” Writes Bernard Keane.

New lies abound. These include the lie that an inquiry into ministerial misconduct (a code of conduct said to embrace integrity, fairness and accountability) is automatically elevated into the status of a cabinet document and is thus protected by the pixie-dust of cabinet confidentiality – unless, as in Abbott’s case you leak the lot to damage then opposition leader Kevin Rudd over the pink batts affair, where four young installers lost their lives in a highly successful 1.1 million home insulation initiative which the Murdoch press mercilessly pilloried.

Morrison’s cover-up is a bit of shadow puppet theatre in which McKenzie gets sent back to the back bench for her gun club misdemeanour as part of his regime’s constant stream of disinformation, lies and secrecy.

Minister for Sports Rorts, Bridget McKenzie is found guilty of a breach of ministerial standards, but Morrison, unlike Trump, cannot prevent public servants from testifying at the senate inquiry. In his best SNAFU tradition, his Gaetjens’ fix serves only to highlight tell-tale signs that the $100m pork-barrel was run out of his office.

Clearly, Morrison should stand aside himself. But then, so, too should gorgeous Gussie Taylor Minister for Energy and Emissions reduction who has never satisfactorily explained his role in the uttering of forged documents, published in The Daily Telegraph to discredit Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore after Moore declared a climate emergency in 2019. An AFP investigation would up on 6 February

“The AFP assessment of this matter identified there is no evidence to indicate the minister for energy and emissions reduction was involved in falsifying information,” an AFP spokesman says.

“The low level of harm and the apology made by the [minister] to the Lord Mayor of Sydney, along with the significant level of resources required to investigate were also factored into the decision not to pursue this matter.”

Taylor has also failed to offer convincing explanations of his role in water buybacks to the total of eighty million dollars, which has yet to materialise. Then there’s his intervention in the clearing of protected native grasses on behalf of a constituent or so he claims but one which benefited a company in which his family holds a financial interest.

But with a quick application of lipstick, the Coalition government pig is transformed by a fabulous free trade deal with Indonesia. A Gamelan orchestra of Aussie spin-doctors begins gonging on endlessly. We hear them spin the usual inanities; how near, how big, how good is our is our trading neighbour? In the meantime, the highly protectionist Indonesians view Australia through narrowed eyes.

Gamelan derives from the Indonesian word to hammer, a perfect verb for the Coalition’s frantic attempts to ear-bash us into submission with talking-points, inane slogans and saturation media drops. Yet MPs insist their self-interested, self-deceiving indoctrination and propaganda campaign is a “national conversation”.

And how good is Jokowi, a human rights abuser who gets to travel to Canberra like some travelling saint of free trade? How good is an Indonesian free trade deal years in the making which is now re-announced? You’d swear the government were looking for a diversion. Megawati’s puppet, Joko Widodo fits the bill.

In 2015, on the day of his inauguration, Jokowi, as he is known, sat in the front row, party chairperson, Megawati Soekarnoputri, harangued him from the lectern. He owed the presidency to her, she said. He was to do as he’s told. Perhaps there’s a message in Jokowi’s visit for our National Party leader.

The free trade deal which is neither free nor about trade, has that nifty investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause to it which will help transnational companies sue our government should our laws imperil any of their profiteering. Sheer democratic genius.

The deal will also promote a flood of compliant temporary visa workers in 400 occupations who will be able to call Australia home, a move sure to cheer “chefs, nurses, plumbers, carpenters, bricklayers, tilers and many more workers who are already struggling to find enough work,” ACTU President Sharan O’Neil observes.

It’ll help put downward pressure on wages to use a favourite government slogan which is just what the economy and working families don’t need but employers and other wage thieves will be tickled pink.

Amnesty International Australia and Indonesian human rights lawyer Veronica Koman urges the Australian government to raise the human rights situation in West Papua during bilateral talks this week.

Koman’s has many concerns about the Indonesian government’s human rights abuses:

A joint military and police operation in Nduga regency of Papua province has taken place since early December 2018. As a result, according to a regency official, as many as 45,000 people, half of the regency’s population, are displaced in neighbouring areas.

The Humanitarian Volunteer Team, a local grassroots community, has been collecting data on the operation’s casualties and reported that as of 2 February 2020, 243 civilians have died due to violence by the security forces and hunger and illness from the displacement. 

Fifty-six indigenous West Papuans and one Jakarta-based Indonesian were arrested merely for expressing their opinion during mass protests against racism and for the independence referendum in August and September 2019 and during commemoration of West Papua’s national day on 1 December 2019, Konan notes.

They are currently awaiting trial and face life imprisonment. Yet on 10 February the Indonesian leader gives a speech in our House of Representatives in which he urges

“We must continue to advocate the values of democracy, human rights, stop intolerance, stop xenophobia, stop radicalism and stop terrorism.”  In a sign of the Morrisonian times, journalists could not ask questions.

Nor does anyone in Canberra talk about Pork’n ‘Ride. Car parks in the air. Michael West’s Jommy Tee, writes of a $500m Commuter Car Park Fund (CCPF) set up ostensibly to provide car parking at rail stations which turns out to be a brazen vote-buying gambit. Thirteen lucky winners are announced in the pre-election pork-fest. It’s big; $149 million worth of projects. All are Liberal-held seats with six in marginal NSW and QLD electorates.

Yet state governments and councils cannot say where exactly any of these mysterious new spaces will be.

A miracle of modern micro-targeting is at work. As Jommy Tee explains, micro-targeting is as simple as it is cynical.  Ask a member or candidate to spot a public need. Develop a petition around that issue. Use the data collected (names and addresses of constituents). Mine that data accordingly, fund the project, and then promote the outcome to the petitioners. Generate publicity. NB: Labor seats along the tracks get nothing.

But Banks gets $15m, Dickson $11m , Petrie $4m, Robertson $35m. Everyone is told the value of the pork on their fork. But the parks just don’t seem to exist. Funds just go to swell local party campaign coffers.

The Age calls out Pork ‘N ‘Rides in Victoria. It’s got the ring of a Ponzi scheme to it – except that taxpayers pay.

“So sparse were details of exactly how these six parking lots would grow, neither the state government nor in large part local councils could say where the expansion would occur”.

Nor do experts ever suggest that busting urban congestion is ever achieved with car parking or road space alone. It’s about the quality of the public transport service; its quality and interconnectivity.

The rorty story is a gift that keeps on giving. Thursday, the ANAO makes it clear at the senate committee on the Administration of Sports Grants that the PM’s Office worked closely with the sports minister’s office over six months, between October 2018 and April 2019. Yet it’s Bridget McKenzie who is made the scapegoat.

Porkie pies fly in all directions once the pork-barrel is busted. Like his mentor Trump, Morrison just makes stuff up to cover his hide. Here are two of examples of his insidious disinformation.

“all we did was provide information based on the representations made to us, as every prime minister has always done”.  It’s a lie. 290 projects, 43 per cent of all approved, were ineligible under program guidelines.

“the auditor-general found that there were no ineligible projects that were funded”.

Another lie which just re-hashes his notorious – “every project which was funded was eligible.”

Aloha Scotty, our fair weather PM, and his beleaguered crew’s legitimacy and credibility cop a hiding as reports of rorting and pork-barrelling confirm vote-buying is the Coalition’s sole campaign strategy.

Adding instability, is the Nationals’ failed DIY arsehole transplant, to apply former Minister for Digital Transformation, Michael Keenan’s parting shot at his “absolute arsehole” leader, Scott Morrison.

In other words, Barnaby Joyce’s abortive coup deals Mick-Mack’s leadership a mortal blow while three resignations and a spill put the skids under the Nats while Scotty’s numbers are looking crook. And it’s only February, two weeks into the parliamentary year, as brief as that may be under a Morrison government.

“In three times in less than two years I’ve been endorsed” says McCormack, who gets votes because he’s not Barnaby. Yet Mick-Mack claims that Joyce and Canavan have said they will support him.

Do you believe them? “Speersy” asks. “I always believe country people when they look me in the eye and say something and you’ve got to take people on their word.”

“The fact is, I’m the leader and I’m going to lead the Nationals to the next election,” Mick-Mack says scotching all hope of his announcing his retirement in order to devote himself to his Elvis impersonations.

“I haven’t thought it, I haven’t said it, [stepping down] and I’m not quite sure why it was written in that way, he deftly ticks off the media whom everyone knows should only write what is first authorised by politicians.

It’s a direction of state known all too well to our ABC which learns from Justice Wendy Abraham of the Federal Court, Monday, that its legal challenge is dismissed. The ABC must now pay costs. An appeal is being considered. ABC careerist who worked his way up to news director, Gaven Morris ruminates

The decision is “really disappointing” and a blow to press freedom and the public’s right to know.

ABC Managing Director David Anderson goes to the heart of the matter in this part of his statement.

“When the AFP executed its search warrant here at the ABC last June 5th, its raid was seen – internationally – for exactly what it was: an attempt to intimidate journalists for doing their jobs.

Not just the journalists named on the search warrant, but all journalists.”

Back in Mick-Mack land, our deputy PM is on thin ice. For Wagga’s Elvis, “There’s a whole lotta shakin goin on.” Like Turnbull, he believes he can count on ScoMo.

“I have the prime minister’s full support.” But so did Bridget McCormack – and look at her now. Besides, the country can’t even count on the PM’s full attention when it’s on fire. Good luck with that, Mick-Mack.

Clive Palmer could make the same claim here now it’s clear from even the limited reporting by The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) on 3 February.

Despite publishing too little, too late, of political campaign donations, it’s clear from the AEC just how much Morrison owes him. Via his flagship company Mineralogy, Palmer spent at least $83,681,442, much of which went to fund targeted social media publication of anti-Labor lies.

His propaganda was alarmist and untrue: Bill Shorten’s economic policy would make “four million older Australians homeless and destitute”.

Palmer helped defeat Labor through harvesting preferences for the Coalition. He says he decided to polarise the electorate to ensure a Coalition win. Palmer says his shift to attacking Shorten and Labor immediately “improved the government’s position” and that they won a majority on the back of his preferences.

“Ninety per cent of those preferences flowed to the Liberal party and they’ve won by about 2% so our vote has got them across the line.”

The authoritative Australian Election Study (AES) reports,

“Measured by first preference votes, there was a swing against both the Liberal-National Coalition (-0.6%) and Labor (-1.4%) in the election. The Coalition managed to secure a greater number of seats than in 2016, despite the lower primary vote. The Coalition won the election through preferences flowing from the minor parties;” specifically, UAP and One Nation, which won 6.5 per cent of the primary vote between them.

Is it a flying pig? A pork barrel bigger than our parliament itself? Or pig ignorance? Protecting government from being accountable, this week, is Pauline’s party of two performing its traditional back-flip with pike.

“What I’m concerned about is setting a precedent here in this chamber where a senator can be thrown out of the chamber by the majority,” blathers Hanson. What the senate motion seeks to do is beyond her ken. It’s an attempt to get the Coalition to release Phil Gaetjens’ report – if any such report exists.

“Senator Cormann is an elected member of this chamber,” La Hanson declares, in a desperate lunge at high-sounding principle; only to lapse into pious piffle. “He has a right to his place in this chamber. It is not up to us to take away that right that was given to him by the Australian people when they voted for him.”

No-one is taking away Cormann’s rights. One Nation’s two votes torpedo the Senate motion. A corrupt government escapes accountability for its brazen bribing of electors in marginal electorates or sports rorts.

Worse it gaslights the nation. We are to believe that the Auditor-General’s ten month report is inferior to something quickly whipped up by the PM’s former chief of staff, Phil Gaetjens; a secret report which somehow exonerates dishonesty and duplicity. And which earns Gaetjens a promotion. The Liberal Party apparatchik is Morrison’s captain’s pick to be the most politicised, least qualified Secretary of the Treasury in history.

At the end of his first two weeks, Scotty may shout a lot about how his government is honouring the promises it took to the people. But surely that’s irrelevant when you buy the election. Surely also, given its record of deception and ineptitude, any credibility the nation may have extended toward this government is now completely shot to pieces.

Above all, at every opportunity on parliament’s return, this Coalition of secrets and lies which rorted and bought its “miracle election” shuns all accountability.

Now as it suppresses and intimidates the press, Christian Porter announces legislation to further silence dissent. At each turn, this government is trashing our democracy.

Humiliated, Morrison flogs his adaptation and resilience con

mick mack talks to O'brien

 

“We have just seen the stability of the Coalition on full view, for all to see – government members running against each other for a position of deputy speaker … and for the prime minister to stand up and to pretend somehow this is a win.”

A Prime Minister rises to his feet to claim his humiliation, if not his rout, is a victory for parliament and for the voter? The death of shame infects our politics. Hypocrisy is no longer a thing. Shame is now just something only the other side should feel, while telling the truth when it doesn’t suit you is seen as a type of madness.

It wasn’t always thus. During the reign of Elizabeth I, the Earl of Oxford farted while bowing low before the Queen, records John Aubrey . So utterly mortified was Oxford, that he fled the country for seven years.

On his return, Elizabeth welcomed him but could not resist the quip “My lord, I had forgot the fart!”

Labor’s Anthony Albanese, may be a raving woke, latte-sipping, inner-city greenie to the Coalition’s pixilated right wing. This includes some Nationals who rebel, this week, against lame-duck leader, Michael McCormack. It adds a riot of colour and movement to the orchestrated litany of lies and chaos that is the Morrison government.

Yet, unlike the government, not only does Albo have a sense of humour, he can summon a dry wit,

“I congratulate the prime minister on his capacity to make anything into a marketing proposal.”

Barnaby Joyce, having botched his leadership spill, has stirred up enough trouble to get a few of his backers to attack his nemesis, the hapless Michael McCormack. Mick-Mack and his puppet-master Morrison are blindsided by an unprecedented public display of wilful insubordination by some Nats and cross-bench MPs who help Labor to elect Llew O’Brien over ScoMo’s tame deputy of choice, Damian Drum.

It’s a useful, if unwelcome diversion, to Morrison’s plight. The PM performs some shabby sleight of hand where he hopes to trick the nation into accepting that Phil Gaetjens’ quickie report on Bridget McKenzie’s Sports Rorts trumps the lengthy, forensic, investigation carried out according to due process by Auditor-General, Grant Hehir.

Or the AFP gives up on Gus Taylor, or someone from his department, uttering a forged document designed solely to discredit Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore by leaking it to The Daily Telegraph. It couldn’t have been Taylor’s staffer, Josh Manuatu, formerly of Eric Abetz’ staff, who is now promoted Director Canberra’s Liberals.

Only a “low level of harm” AFP decides, deploying its Star Chamber function. Anyway, the minister apologised. Take too many resources. Case closed. Unlike the journalist Annika Smethurst, whose investigation is, ominously, still ongoing.

The duelling reports as News.Com.au misrepresents them (implying they are equal) evoke Trump’s Counsellor to the President, Kellyanne Conway 2017 defence of Sean Spicer’s absurdly inflated estimate of attendance at the President’s inauguration.

“I have alternative facts.”

Let the AG find that McKenzie flouted guidelines and broke the law with her abuse of her authority as sports minister in allocating funding solely according to colour-coded criteria for political advantage, the PM can whistle up an alternative secret report and find McKenzie guilty only of a minor breach of ministerial standards.

Similarly, Attorney-General The Christian Porter argues that the AG is wrong but refuses to publish his own argument. Now, McKenzie stands aside, clearly convinced all she has done wrong is give funds to a gun club of which she was a member. Her penance will be brief. Soon, she’ll be back in cabinet. But what of Mick-Mack?

Will our deputy PM survive? Barnaby is emboldened by O’Brien’s contempt for Mick-Mack’s authority. It’s all going to plan for BJ’s next assault on the top job.

Mick-Mack leads a double life as a casual Elvis Presley impersonator. Will Elvis now be forced to leave the building? Or will he just have to quit his day job impersonating a party political leader? McCormack may squawk a lot at the despatch box. Puff his feathers. Flap his wings. But he’s kidding no-one. Least of all himself.

A former editor of Wagga’s Daily Advertiser, who was sacked in 2002, prompting him to set up the now defunct online MSS Media, Mick-Mack will never truly be Boss Cocky of the regional rednecks, pork-barrel populists and climate-denying, mining lobby shills and agribusiness spivs who masquerade as a National Party.

Yet unlike Barnaby Joyce, McCormack poses no threat whatsoever to Scott Morrison, apart from when the Nationals’, neoliberal puppet leader falls off his perch as he did when Joel Fitzgibbon said that the Nationals should stop banging on about how tough it is for farmers. And “do something about it.”  For years, the Nats have been lickspittles to Agribusiness and have eagerly helped Liberals get stuck into welfare and unions. Opposing raising minimum wage, penalty rates or increasing NewStart.

Is it the tail that wags the Coalition dog once again?  The noisy Nationals’ are the coalition’s uppity rump, zealously promoting the myth, even at its inception in 1920, that we are an agricultural nation awash with pioneer spirit, despite the fact that most of us live in suburbia and work in health and social services.

The Nationals’ tail also wags the electoral dog; the party gets seven times the number of seats for fewer than half the number of votes won by The Greens, thanks to our atavistic, gerrymandered, electoral system, based on location; a scheme that assumes where you come from is more important than who represents you.

But help is always at hand whenever the poor, innocent, vulnerable handmaids and manservants of capital are attacked. Fran Kelly, a stalwart ABC RN Coalition advocate, naturally blames Albo, Tuesday, for the chaos in Coalition ranks. How very dare he vote for O’Brien, knowing the trouble it would cause? Isn’t that politics? What is she implying? Why can’t he be more like Tony Abbott, that icon of positivity, in opposition?

On cue, MSM are a forum for those who blame the climate megafires on The Greens’ “creeping environmentalism” as Matt Canavan calls it, in a flurry of news conferences Tuesday morning. His scapegoating is boosted by the PM’s bogus call for more fuel reduction firms – a cynical deflection which Victorian Fire Chief, Steve Warrington dismisses as “an emotional (and combustible) load of rubbish.”

Fran’s antsy about Labor’s backing Nat rat Llew (Who?) O’Brien who wins deputy-speaker over Coalition patsy Victorian MP Damian Drum, a Mick-Mack man. O’Brien quit the Nats after Joyce’s spill was unsuccessful. It is hardly the Abbott Opposition’s relentless pursuit of speaker Peter Slipper via James Ashby and Mal Brough.

Writer and lawyer, Richard Ackland, terms this “one of the grubbiest assaults on a government in recent memory.” The Coalition has no moral high ground to take over the O’Brien stunt. But it will try. And try. With a bit of help from its Murdoch pals.

Labor’s National Party Deputy Speaker tactic is an act of open defiance of Mick-Mack, the spectacularly inept Nationals’ leader. And his leader, the PM. For those who support O’Brien, it’s an act of open insurrection. Nats’ rats include Barnaby Joyce, Llew himself – and Ken O’Dowd, who, as Nats Whip, is responsible for party discipline.

Ken blots his copybook by openly confessing that he voted for O’Brien. Will Mick-Mack take the hint?

It’s a proxy war over the government’s direction, trumpets Nine Newspapers, as if the Morrison omnishambles has a direction – unless running from truth, science and brazen, bare-faced rorting – or “fraud, theft and massive corruption” – as lawyer, Michael Bradley, calls it out in Crikey -mutates like Orwellian Newspeak into policy direction.

The MSM narrative, being obligingly framed for Morrison, is that the Nats want more coal-mines whereas the Libs want fewer, a lie which conveniently overlooks a slag-heap of coked-on Liberal coal-holers from the PM down.

Scotty’s spin doctors have the Coalition “planning to set a 2050 strategy this year” to go beyond its (laughably inadequate) existing reduction targets. It’s billed as some sort of breakthrough in its climate denialism. Incredible initiative. Especially since each state has already set a target of net zero emissions by 2050. But hang out the flags.

There’s dancing in the street this week. Not just vague promise of a plan to set a 2050 strategy sends us wild with delirious joy. Unless you’re in Far North Queensland or NSW or other parts of our wide brown land’s east coast where the heaviest rains in twenty years bring flash floods forecast years earlier in the BOM’s warning on the freakish consequences of global heating on Pacific weather patterns.

Weekend storms devastate eastern NSW; causing flooding, power outages and commuter chaos. 391.6mm of rain falls over Sydney in four days, reports the BOM the most since 414.2mm fell from 2 to 5 February 1990.

Will our PM for all seasons, Morrison scramble a squad of ADF Super Soppers to mop up the deluge? Build more dams? Fund a totally redundant four million dollar Collinsville coal-mine study? Nope. This week Coach Morrison’s wholly focussed on practicality. He gives us all a pep talk from the sidelines. Bugger reducing greenhouse gas emissions, resilience and adaptation are what we need to survive climate catastrophe.

Better, he channels “don’t you worry about that,” Joh Bjelke Petersen and Liberals’ St John Howard who led our nation toward being “relaxed and comfortable” as he helped big business and banking do us over; squandering the mining boom on buying votes and allowing miners to be lightly taxed.

Howard’s toxic legacy lives on in many battles Australians face today; the casualisation of the workforce, underemployment and low wages growth produced by his industrial-relations policies, culminating in WorkChoices, Crispin Hull pointed out in the Sydney Morning Herald, three years ago. But it’s back to the future with Morrison.

Waffle-gab world champion, Morrison claims Australians want to have a ‘level of comfort’ and have confidence about our level of resilience. “We need to have a good stocktake of that …” whatever that means. In other words, while he disconnects the petrol gauge and closes gas stations, it’s up to us to check that we have enough fuel in our tanks.

“It’s remarkable, notes Dr Jennifer Wilson, “that the least resilient, most non-adaptive Federal Government in living memory should now urge its citizens, in the face of horrific bushfires, to prove our resilience and adaptability by learning to put up with weather conditions that are hostile to human life.

Remarkable? It’s an outrageously cynical con. Morrison has no intention of reducing emissions or alter one iota of any other aspect of our ecocide. Rather it is every one of us who must adapt and show resilience so that he and his minders may profit.

There is shameless, hypocrisy here, too. Witness how the Coalition slashed funding to the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) in 2017.

Crippling this vital adaptation research body three years ago has left Australia “not well positioned” to deal with fires, the “silent killer” of drought and other global heating impacts, its director, Jean Palutikof, explains.

Morrison, as Treasurer, took the axe to funding which gutted the research community. This means that our “capacity to take action on climate change is smaller than it was decade ago”.

The Guardian’s Paul Karp reports that the NCCARF, a Griffith University research facility, began under Howard and was funded in the 2008 budget by the Rudd government. It continued under the Abbott government with $9m over three years in the 2014 budget. The environment department reports that the body has produced 144 adaptation research projects since 2008 with a total of $56.3m in federal funding.

Yet in 2017, Morrison reduced its funds to $600,000. On this pittance, it had to continue its existing online platforms that inform decision makers seeking to adapt to changes in climate. But there would be no ongoing federal funding from 2018.

“I worry if it starts to rain and bushfires cease to be an immediate risk some money will be pumped in and then we’ll forget about it. The government will call it adaptation and resilience but people will be left in the same vulnerable state they were when these bushfires hit,” explains The Australia Institute’s (TAI) deputy Director, Ebony Bennett.

Bennett adds that the government’s new embrace of adaptation and resilience is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff approach.

“To reduce the amount of gas and coal mined and burned in Australia is the [better] response … to prevent hotter and drier summers in future.”

Labor’s climate spokesman, Mark Butler, says: “The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments have cut funding for significant adaptation work at CSIRO, completely de-funded the NCCARF and produced a national disaster risk reduction framework that failed to take climate change seriously.”

“The 2017 review of climate change policies completely excluded climate adaptation.”

The government holds a press conference in Canberra announcing extra bushfire payments to families, where Morrison Gish Gallops, a favoured evasive tactic named after US Creationist Duane Gish. Gish would spew as many half-truths and untruths as he could fit in his answer time so that questioners became overwhelmed.

You have no time to respond to each point, let alone refute its inaccuracy or challenge its relevance. Here’s Morrison’s original Gish Gallop, then, we’ll break it down exposing its monstrous lies.

At a press conference in Canberra announcing extra bushfire payments to families, Morrison says the hazards of “longer, hotter, drier summers” had “always been acknowledged by the government”.

He says that adaptation measures including hazard reduction, building dams and learning from Indigenous burning practices are “a part of that important response”.

“Our policy is to reduce emissions, to build resilience and to focus on adaptation,” he said. “All of these are the necessary responses to what’s happening with our climate. They are not either or, they are not one instead of the other.”

Here’s a bit of decoding. It’s a service which could be provided in the ribbon that runs across the bottom of TV broadcasts. It should be part of every journalist’s toolkit.

 

  • Morrison claims the hazards of “longer, hotter, drier summers” had “always been acknowledged by the government” which is OK if it were not on record as denying or minimising those hazards. He follows this lie by proposing facile solutions which are then followed with a medley of buzz-words and platitudes.
  • “Adaptation measures including hazard reduction”, except for all the expert advice showing that hazard reduction has no effect on megafires. Indeed, the current bushfire crisis has reached catastrophic severity in former logging areas.
  • … building dams and learning from Indigenous burning practices are “a part of that important response”. Here ScoMo yokes two entirely separate proposals.

The Australia Institute’s Maryanne Slattery has tirelessly exposed the errors behind advocating dams. It doesn’t make it rain. First, there’s already been a spate of dam-building. Twenty or thirty at least, but the government won’t talk about those – event though tax-payer funds helped build them. Why? They go to irrigation; not towns.

Second for each dam built, an adjacent dam or aquifer must compete for groundwater.

Above all, dams which are built are drained by agribusiness giants such as Big Cotton. The additional water reserves are not the issue. It’s all about the fairness of that water’s allocation. It’s pointless building more dams so that billionaire companies can continue to plant water-intensive almonds or rice or cotton, what is needed is policy that works to fairly share the water with the community and with the environment.

 

  • “Our policy is to reduce emissions, to build resilience and to focus on adaptation,” Morrison burbles.

 

Again he’s diminishing the vital task of emission reduction by linking it in the same breath to buzz-words that are in fact excuses for not addressing causes but which in effect transfer responsibility to victims.

This, as Dr Wilson notes, fits neoliberalism’s central tenet that individuals work out their own solutions with as little help as possible from governments. Above all governments can boost resilience by cutting welfare. This toxic nonsense has already corrupted our welfare, age pension and disability services – boosted by the need to take from the suffering, the poor and the vulnerable so that the government can create a surplus.

  • “All of these are the necessary responses to what’s happening with our climate.” Morrison deploys the shabby trick of imputing false equivalence. They are not either or, they are not one instead of the other.”

But they are. Let’s get back to basics. Putting a price on emission such as the Gillard government successfully achieved resulted in a drop in greenhouse gas emissions.

Since Tony Abbott decided to play political games at the expense of our planet’s survival; since his cabinet’s group hug on the axing of the carbon tax – a tax which his Chief of Staff admits was just a rhetorical device, a lie to help build confusion and opposition, emissions have risen.

So let’s see the party games in Canberra for what they are – a diversion – albeit a significant attack on both Morrison’s authority and that of his decoy deputy, McCormack. Mick-Mack may go soon but whoever replaces him will do even less to help us understand and respond to global heating and the climate wars.

Let’s also reject the false MSM dichotomy – Nats bad vs Liberal moderates or changes of policy; there are many Liberal die-hard climate denialists, including Scotty himself. We must not be softened up to believe that Morrison’s government has the slightest intention of doing anything significant to mitigate global heating.

Above all, a critical reading of Morrison’s adaptation and resilience buzzwords is vital. Jennifer Wilson writes brilliantly about how this shifts all the responsibility on to the individual citizen while Scotty and his corporate state continue business as usual; laughing (and smirking) all the way to the bank.

Finally we must not let Morrison get away with the Gish Gallop, a cynical tactic to defeat any form of accountability and to evade questions which might expose his government’s duplicity, dissembling or disastrous wilful ignorance.  Call him out on it. Blog it. Tweet. as Bret Walker notes here, it’s your right. Social media and non MSM are vital.

“I don’t care if it’s the first or only time they publish … they should have the same protection [as journalists]. The idea that people’s right to know should be filtered first by government and then an intermediary class of journalist I find really offensive … I’ll be damned if I’m going to give a monopoly to [officially approved] journalists. I don’t want the government to be giving badges to people, here are our licensed critics – that’s nonsense.” Brett Walker

Scotty: a hollow man hollowing out our democracy.

scotty from marketing

 

“There are many “rules”, and none of them support making grant decisions based upon the location of recipients in targeted and marginal seats for party-political advantage. This is because the primary rule, as recognised by the High Court, is that Members of Parliament and Ministers are obliged to act at all times, in fulfilling their official duties, in the public interest.”

Anne Twomey, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Sydney.

 

“There’s always a bit of heaven in a disaster area,” Hugh Wavy-Gravy Romney told Woodstock fans in 1969.

Expert in turning crisis into catastrophe, Aloha Scotty from marketing, an artisanal wool-puller, hand-crafts the most disastrous start to a parliamentary year in Australia’s political history. It’s quite an achievement. A catalogue of political failure.

Highlights include Scotty’s pissing off to Waikiki to keep the family happy while Australia burned in its worst bushfire crisis yet – something he says he can safely leave to the states –  to his “Fuck Off Morrison” failed charm offensive on return.

Scotty’s empathy by-pass, his dud political judgement and leadership deficit disorder are all compounded by his government’s ignoring requests to support aerial fire-fighting which were made in 2017, a contempt echoed in Scotty’s eagerness to spurn expert advice on return, all dividends on his hefty investment in climate denialism multiplied by his breath-taking inability to even recognise, let alone respond to a crisis.

A wen of incompetence and corruption, the Morrison government begins 2020 mired in sports and sundry other rorts scandals. MPs spend as if there’s no tomorrow; dole out sports and other grants solely to buy marginal political seats. Buy-back, not fight-back is the PM’s brazen strategy.

Yet a strange elation stirs the nation. Cheers, cat-calls and shouts of unbridled joy erupt across our mega-fire-burnt land for Nationals’ favourite son, Barnaby Joyce, a fearless defender of the Weatherboard Nine” and oppressed peoples in regional Australia everywhere. Joyce will step up to the top job, if his party asks him. Or not.

Raised in a world of privilege and entitlement, the Riverview old-boy and family-trust silvertail, Joyce is lightning-quick to announce his bid to recover his rightful role as Nationals’ leader for life. Its saviour. Perhaps he’s channelling Chris Kenny’s lickspittle piffle that Joyce is the “spiritual head” of the National Party.

Others buy Abbott’s “greatest retail politician” tag, which is just as preposterous, given Joyce and his party clearly alienated many voters in his electorate, especially women, when 2012 WA Rural Woman of the Year and Broome Councillor, Catherine Marriott’s sexual harassment accusations against Joyce were leaked to the press. Joyce has always denied all accusations. On ABC Radio this Tuesday he dismisses them as slander.

The Nationals NSW Branch was unable to make a finding “due to insufficient evidence” after a long delay. It’s not a problem that holds Jim Molan back. “I’m not relying on evidence for climate change” he tells Q&A, Monday.

Whilst Joyce may pose as a man of the people, it’s just retail politician bullshit. In reality he’s voted against issues such as increased support for childcare, marriage equality, a Royal Commission into violence against people with a disability, increasing funding for legal aid, increasing housing affordability.

He’s voted strongly against increasing the age pension and increasing trade union powers at work. He does not support public transport and he opposes public protest. Increasing the Newstart allowance? He abstains.

In fact, Joyce has a track record of being hostile to the battler. Yet he cosies up to big business. He has many close links with the mining lobby including prominent former Nationals leader, John Anderson. BJ’s a member of the pro-coal Monash Group along with Eric Abetz, Craig Kelly and George Christensen. Despite his populist rhetoric, Joyce is a well-heeled, big fan of big mining, who has spruiked for Santos on radio.

In December 2018, Joyce announced that he was selling up over 1000ha of marginal NSW farmland covered by a coal-seam gas exploration ­licence that he vowed to sell more than five years ago because of conflict-of-interest allegations. He has yet to allay those concerns. He told The Australian he was selling the land, with an asking price of $878,000, to free up cash for his divorce settlement with wife Natalie.

Joyce claims that he didn’t realise the blocks in the Pilliga region between Coonabarabran and Narrabri were subject to a petroleum exploration licence (PEL) when he bought them, despite his friendship with former Nationals leader, John Anderson. Anderson became chairman of Eastern Star Gas in 2007. Eastern Star co-owned explorations rights to a nearby area – PEL 428 – before the company was taken over by Santos.

Rohann Boehm, co-founder of Anyone But Nats a group which campaigned against Joyce last election, adds

“For the last 10 years the Nats have been very, very clearly in favour of coal seam gas. The Nats have been absolutely going really hard on supporting new mines and new gas fields, and the community has been universally against those proposals.”

Joyce is a mate of Gina Rinehart’s. She’s presented him with two cheques, one for $50,000 in 2013, which he kept; one for $40,000 in 2017, which he returned. Should Adani, Rinehart’s G V K Hancock joint venture partner proceed, her firm will benefit from the rail which will allow her company to mine the Galilee Basin, an act of ecocide.

He’ll run on his record, Joyce declares of his bid to depose McCormack. Not his backing of Santos or Rinehart. Not just his silver-tongued oratory and debonair charm. Joyce points to “… huge changes (he’s) delivered.”

What changes? Well, the Inland rail boondoggle, Regional Investment Corporation pork-barrel, country of origin labelling, (after extensive lobbying as part of a CHOICE campaign initiative of CHOICE). Water rorts.

It’s a record that speaks for itself – and often has to – which brings us to BJ’s Drought Envoy gig where he racked up a record $675,000 in expenses  – plus two staffers at $200,000 but spent less than three weeks on the (dry) ground. Joyce submitted no final report but says he sent an “awful lot of texts” to his PM, which, Scotty says, will be kept top secret along with Phil Gaetjens’ report exonerating Bridget McKenzie.

Also speaking volumes are several “prominent women” who beg the National Party not to reinstate Joyce because he has too many skeletons in his closet. Scandal could return to haunt the Nationals? Seriously?

Founder of Australian Women in Agriculture, Alana Johnson, says “the rehabilitation of the former deputy prime minister would send the wrong signal to regional communities, and particularly women.”

But Barney’s got himself a flash new RM Williams kit. It’s two years now since his former wife, Natalie, tipped his entire wardrobe out on the lawn and mowed down the louche Lothario’s best moleskins, shirts, brass-button blazers, fancy belts and men’s chinchilla-cognac boots with the ride-on mower.

It was Natalie’s considered response to news that Barnaby was expecting a baby with former staffer Vikki Campion.

Barney tells his pals at The Australian that he’ll stand for the leadership, if there’s a spill, Tuesday. Akubra-wearers throw their hats skyward while others punch the air, or knuckle each other, in sheer delight.  Bernard Keane is left spluttering,

“On a day that was supposed to have been given over to the political class paying respects to the victims of the bushfire catastrophe, a significant section of the Nationals decided that a climate denialist and target of serious accusations of sexual harassment should be elevated to the second highest political office and restored to cabinet.”

Less generous critics see a PM grandstanding on grief, buying time before the hyper-partisan shouting and finger-pointing resumes. His government has a lot to answer for. But it’s not that type of government. To answer entails accepting responsibility.

Late Monday, Joyce’s former chief of staff, Matt Canavan whose brother John is MD of miner Winfield, announces he’s resigning from cabinet to back Barnaby’s bid to be leader. The plot thickens. But after Tuesday’s party room meeting, dynamic Michael McCormack retains the leadership by eleven votes to ten – not that these figures will be made public because the open and transparent Nationals never release spill figures.

It’s a stunning result for McCormack who now can refute critics who accuse him of being only half a leader with empirical evidence that he has fifty-two per cent of his parliamentary party solidly behind him.

If Canavan stays. Senator Canavan says he has referred himself to his PM over a possible conflict of interest having failed to disclose a membership. It slipped his mind that as a regional supporter of the North Queensland Cowboys, he’s entitled to a membership of its leagues club. Incredibly, only last November the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) gave a loan to the same club.

By what stretch of even the northern imagination is a football club a NAIF infrastructure project? Surely there are other grants for sport? Commercial sponsors? The club was granted a $20m loan for a community, training and high performance centre next to its Townsville stadium, on top of a $15m grant extended in March 2019.

The latest baroque twist in the tale of Barnaby’s comeback dovetails beautifully with the labyrinthine plot of the Morrison government’s sports rorts scandal. After Bridget McKenzie steps down as Agriculture Minister and Deputy PM, suddenly the Coalition is awash, if not drowning, in a slurry of slush fund scandals.

It’s clear that given the betting odds of a loss last election, the Coalition threw money around like confetti – and now at least four funds are implicated; exposed. Increasingly, Morrison’s win looks less miraculous and more like vote-buying, augmented by Clive Palmer’s anti-Labor $90 million negative advertising campaign. $165 million in donations to the Liberals in the year prior to the election, helped a tad also.

In the spotlight now is Building Better Regions (by buying votes) Fund, (BBR) another “regional infrastructure grants program” – nudge, nudge. Say no more. In a spooky coincidence, this pork barrel is run by Mr 52 per cent, Deputy PM Michael McCormack. Amazingly, Macca’s BBR awarded 94 per cent of its grants to electorates held or targeted by the Coalition in the months leading up to the federal election.

How good are colour-coded spread-sheets? But let’s get sports rorts, NAIF pork-barrel and BBR into perspective. May 17, one day before the 2019 federal election, the Morrison Government gave over $15 million to a major political donor. The funding had been set aside to alleviate grinding Aboriginal poverty.

The grant is made through the Indigenous Advancement Strategy (IAS), the Morrison government’s controversial main Aboriginal affairs funding pool. Just three months prior, its recipient– Wesfarmers, one of the wealthiest corporation in Australia – announced a record half-yearly profit of $4.5 billion.

The nation’s largest private employer in 2018, with over 222,000 staff including, it claimed, over 5,200 Indigenous staff. An IAS “funding stream” the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet calls the ‘Employment Parity Initiative’, means governments grant large corporations funds to employ Indigenous people.

Does it work? An Australian National Audit Office report shows the IAS lacks any effective framework to evaluate outcomes. Yet it’s spent $5 billion over five years, Chris Graham reports in New Matilda. A great hue and cry is raised over $100m of sports rorts but where’s the outcry over rorting $5 bn sensitively ear-marked for “Indigenous Advancement” and supposedly intended for our Indigenous peoples’ benefit?

Senator Pat Dodson says the IAS has ‘basically folded up Aboriginal controlled organizations’ and set out competitive tenders for people to fight for funding amongst private business and non-government organisations. It is the result of Tony Abbott’s scandalous 2014 budget captain’s call which collapsed over 150 programs into five funding streams, without consultation and cut $500 million from indigenous spending.

Could Macca be in the gun? And if Bridget McKenzie has to resign, why not Angus Taylor? And Matt Canavan?

Phil Gaetjens bones Bridget McKenzie. It’s announced Sunday.

Incredibly, Scotty’s mate – and former Chief of Staff – Gaetjens’ secret report finds no wrongdoing in the way grants were distributed, overruling Auditor-General, Grant Hehir, who finds McKenzie handed out $100m in sports grants before last year’s election without apparent legal authority, favouring marginal seats.

“Triply outrageous” fumes The Monthly’s Paddy Manning. How can partisan piss-ant Phil Gaetjens, OK a $100 million Community Sports Infrastructure grants program in a report that will remain secret?

Doubly outrageous, is PM and Deputy PM McCormack’s Trumpist love song of duplicity duet: McKenzie exercised her ministerial discretion over the scheme? Nothing wrong with that. Liberal Phil Gaetjens says so.

Grant Hehir, clearly condemns it? Scotty’s alternative expert – Attorney-General Christian Porter simply says the Auditor-General is wrong. As Groucho says, “These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.”

However, constitutional expert, Anne Twomey, cites a series of clear legal constraints to the exercise of ministerial discretion, all of which McKenzie has ignored.

It is triply outrageous for Scotty to preach high ministerial standards and keep Energy and Emissions grifter Angus Taylor in cabinet. It seems to upset even the Nats.

Peter Van Onselen tweets. “Nationals MP to me: if McCormack is prepared to let the PM throw Bridget under a bus for something his office was part of, yet protect Angus Taylor, it’s time our party stops being a lap dog to the Libs.”

You came to Casablanca for the waters? Taylor forgot to let on about his ties with a Cayman Islands company that benefited hugely from the Commonwealth in a miraculous waterless, water buyback scam.

Also slipping Gussie’s memory is Taylor’s duty to disclose his interest in Jam Land a company that stood to benefit from removal of restrictions on grass clearing that he was lobbying for.

Add the hilarious Keystone Cops ruse where Gus Taylor could be subject of an AFP Flying Pig Squad investigation into who gave the forged documents to The Daily Telegraph in a bid to put Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s weights up. Is there one rule for McKenzie, but no rules at all for Taylor?

Since its inception in 1979, the AFP has never made any investigation that embarrassed a sitting government.

Piss-ant Phil, a Liberal staffer, becomes Australia’s most politicised head of Treasury, overnight, for services rendered. We’re teetering on the edge of recession so a party hack at Treasury’s helm could be just the ticket.

Josh Frydenberg take a bow. It hasn’t been easy, but his government has now taken Australia’s federal net and gross debt to record levels.  The Coalition has added 52% of all debt accumulated by the nation since 1854.

The “Flash Bit of Kit” as suave, sophisticated icon of urbanity and wit, Barney, a hard pooch to keep on the porch, once publicly praised McKenzie in a late night sitting – has proved a flash in the pan.

Dashed are the hopes of those awaiting the gun-toting, straight-shooting Senator for Elwood to also do some plain speaking. She could name staffers in Scotty’s office who appear to have been closely involved in the Sports Rorts Scandal and whether or not the sports pork-barrel was part of Scotty’s miracle election-winning strategy.

At the National Press Club, Wednesday, Morrison’s government by rort turns up in force to help Scotty from marketing make his pitch. Old wine in new bottles. A babble of righteous indignation and self-entitled arrogance. Why can’t Coalition MPs fund gun-clubs and phantom women’s rugby clubs in marginal seats?

Pork-barrelling is all about buying votes. Perfectly legal. MPs know where the money should go; why should Sport Australia put its oar in? Does it matter to the modern neoliberal? Ian McAuley offers this explanation.

“If you believe that nothing of value comes from the public sector, it doesn’t matter how public money is spent. A grant to a gun club, a new railway, Medicare… it’s all waste, and may as well be spent in order to maximise the government’s chances in the next election.”

It’s part of political economy theory dubbed “public choice,” a theory that arose in the US in the late twentieth century but which, he notes, took off in our universities in the 1980s. Or is it superseded in the post-fact era?

The Auditor General got it wrong, Attorney-General Christian Porter snorts. But no-one’s allowed to look at his reasons. If he has any. No laws were broken; every application had merit, Morrison bullshits.

In fact, the Senator for Elwood presented Sport Australia with a list of 236 projects for funding. Only 73 of these met the original merit-based criteria in Round Two according to independent analysis.

But hark! It’s a RESET, chorus spin doctors and media minions. Flashback to Wednesday’s rally at the Canberra Press Club and witness the miracle of a Morrison government reset which looks and sounds exactly like the old set. Cheerleader Scotty from Fossil fuel and Climate Science Denial Marketing suddenly appears, swinging his pom-poms, punching up and doing the high V.

The crowd goes wild. How good’s Scotty’s “2020 Opening Address”? Stacking the gathering with his professional Liberal claque helps. So, too the blizzard of press drops from his office. Climate Action Now (CAN) is Scotty 2020’s brand-new Orwellian slogan. But only the slogan is new. Morrison has no intention of curbing emissions or easing back on cooking the globe. He’s full of bullshit about mitigation and adaption. And gas. It’s more dangerous than coal when it leaks methane during mining.

“… there is no credible energy transition plan, for an economy like Australia in particular, that does not involve the greater use of gas as an important transition fuel … ” Morrison bullshits.

But look over there! How good is Scotty’s calling out of ADF reserves? True, one MRH-90 helicopter did cause Canberra’s most serious bushfire since 2003, by setting fire to grass in the Namadgi National Park while landing with lights on to help visibility in smoky conditions. But it’s our first bushfire lit by a copter landing light. Another first!

There are other firsts to follow. Morrison’s government will fast-track new law to make it easier for him to call out troops to disaster areas or help quell anti-mining demonstrations or extinction rebellion protests. It’s hard, unglamorous work but police states don’t just happen by themselves, you know.

During question evasion time at the end of Scotty’s embarrassing failure to come up with any vision while embracing all the old lies, Morrison’s bullshit is briefly slowed by The Guardian’s Sarah Martin who asks if it is wrong to misappropriate public funds.

Does he think it wrong, “as a matter of principle”, Martin asks, for public funds to be spent on party political pork-barrelling? Morrison gaslights. “That is not what the government has done,” he lies.

It’s precisely what Scotty’s government has been doing. It doesn’t think it’s wrong. Morrison’s government continues to abuse its elected authority; betray the public’s trust that it will act in the public interest.

“I am asking as a matter of principle, if you accept that,” Martin asks.

“It is — of course. That is like, do I believe the sun should rise tomorrow? Yes I do, and it will,” he smirks.

Climate action? Scotty’s climate science denial and his government’s inept handling of our bushfire crisis won Australia First Fossil of the Day from the Climate Action network of 1300 nations, COP25 in December. Nothing has changed. Nor will it. Ministerial responsibility? We’ll refer Angus Taylor to an AFP that will take forever to do nothing. Bridget McKenzie? An icon of integrity for upholding ministerial standards by resigning.

This is not a Prime Minister who merely lacks credibility. Nor one who just breeds cynicism, distrust and denialism, although he excels at all of these. This is a hollow man; an utterly vacuous man with neither policy, practicality, real plan nor moral compass, a smirking, spinning, vortex of self-righteous egotism.

Sarah Martin raises a matter of principle. It’s clear that the Prime Minister has no idea what she’s talking about. For Morrison and his MPs the notion holds no meaning.