Last year, and until the federal election this year, the Liberal National Coalition believed it was heading toward electoral oblivion, and some of the Government’s behaviour looked at best to be dodgy. They made sure they would reap the benefits of the last six years in power, I’m sure there was much shredding of documents, and many of them deserted the ship, entitlements intact.
As an example of their cynicism, and their outright perfidy, they stacked the Administrative Appeals Tribunal with time servers and Liberal mates, creating chaos for the incoming Labor Government. Of course the Labor Party lost, so all the rush was for nothing. They could have stacked it at will, drip fed over the next three years.
It is not possible to pinpoint why so many left, but it is reasonable to assume that the misery and the ignominy of opposition was not an attractive prospect; added to that, when one considers the quality of the company one would be forced to keep, in the meetings and the corridors even, who wouldn’t run for the exit?
The prospect of sitting in the opposition party room must have loomed as torture, like endlessly re-visiting gruesome family Christmases, with your worst relatives, and being forced to kiss Uncle Fester and Aunt Morticia, every week, until you feel like you have died and gone to hell.
So winning government again must have seemed like a surprise Christmas, or even a miracle, if you are inclined to believe in flying teapots, and fairies. No opposition hardships, and at least Tony Abbott was gone, although there are still plenty of his elderly altar-boys and girls still getting a run. The photograph of the team captures the “how did we get out of that one” spirit, and for a moment one can almost identify with them, happy and hopeful, perhaps still wanting to ‘do good’ for the community.
Fast forward to now, and Morrison is still being treated as a modern political master. He believes it too. He won the ‘unwinnable’ election. He lied and obfuscated, he misrepresented Labor’s policies, he hid his front bench, he played the ‘daggy dad’ way better than poor, awkward Bill Shorten, and he even pretended to show us his spiritual side, with a photo opportunity inside a church. He continues his ‘dissing’ attitude to legitimate questions, because he has no plan, except to stay in power.
We should recall, however, that the ‘mandate’ he insists on calling the narrow win, saw the Coalition increase their Parliamentary numbers by one seat, and the Opposition lost one seat. It makes one wonder why he wears the never-fading smirk. That sort of majority can disappear in a heartbeat, and it does not constitute a mandate.
The longer we are exposed to his hand-picked rabble the shallower the talent pool looks. Peter Dutton is still the most powerful politician in the country, a de facto Prime Minister, calling the shots and seemingly immovable, bolstered by his posse of backbench trolls, who allow Morrison to continue as PM just as long as he continues along his Trump-lite path. In any other Government Dutton’s combination of personal toxicity, insensitivity, inflammatory language, and a spectacularly simplistic world view would trigger his urgent removal from office, but in this company he is a star. Consider this little gem: He recently described the two children of the Sri Lankan couple fighting deportation, as “anchor babies”, notwithstanding the fact that Australia does not confer citizenship on the children of refugee mothers. The term is considered racist in the US, and has been used by Donald Trump, when trying to demonise immigrants.
But enough. Picking the poor performers only serves to take us down the rabbit hole of despair. Let us look forward. When trying to understand this, or indeed any Government, it is simplest to just look at what it wants to achieve in this term.
It is desperate to repeal the Medevac laws, because it does not want to send sick detainees to the mainland for treatment. It thinks they will feign sickness, and overwhelm the Australian hospital system. If the ‘overwhelming’ does not occur, there is a catastrophe B – there will be a flood of new refugees rushing to Australia, because we have hung a sign up, stating we are ‘open for business’. These new refugees will arrive, be locked up for years, tortured mentally and physically, and then they will attempt to hoodwink Mr Dutton, by over-using the Medicare system, and or having an anchor baby or two.
The next priority is to make it all right to be a Christian, and if you want to be, you can also be a Christian ‘refusenik’. A Christian refusenik is someone who refuses to bake wedding cakes for gay couples, whereas a Christian is merely one who believes in Jesus. Both categories will be catered for.
The third priority appears to be plastic. They want to ban it, especially from oceans. They are fine with global warming, because it does not exist, although they believe in the science(?), but they draw the line at plastic. They also think that children should be at school, and that any protesting should happen on Saturdays. There has been talk of banning the use of cars to travel to the protests, and also the eating of meat, because in the hands of children these products cause global warm…
Most legislative programmes are restricted to actual legislation, however there is one other priority, which involves actively NOT legislating. This is to NOT increase the Newstart allowance. Now it sits at about $40 per day, and all parliamentarians are paid seven times that amount, every day they attend work. Yes, each and every day they go to work they receive seven times the daily Newstart allowance. This steadfast position is being held to, despite much community angst, because this Government believes that you only get a go, if you have a go. There does seem to be an undercurrent of dislike towards those who are not self-sufficient, but time will confirm, or not, that feeling.
I cannot think of anything else this Government wants to do for this term. They will bang on remorselessly about national security, Dutton will fixate on paedophiles, and Morrison will try to alleviate the anxiety of children, by ignoring climate change. Lots to look forward to.
Mark Buckley is a Melbourne based writer interested in politics and ethics.He blogs at www.askbucko.com