MUNGO MacCALLUM. The Peak Crazy of Morrison and Dutton.

Jun 25, 2019

It took just a month after the election for the miraculous Morrison mob to dial back up to peak crazy.  

And unsurprisingly the paranoid megalomania was enunciated by the elected dictator, Peter Dutton.

His omnipotence has been challenged by the insurrectionists of the Federal Court, in particular the subversive Judge Mordecai Bromberg (a sinister name if there ever was one – bet he’s a boat person himself, or at least the descendant)

Bromberg clarified the effect of the medivac legislation of last year, declaring that evacuations from the detention centres did not need personal appearances of the doctors involved – relevant files would be sufficient.

This was no more than accepted medical practice, as any doctor could have confirmed and many in fact did. But in Dutton’s twisted worldview it amounted to deliberate treason. Some doctors were gaming the system, he ranted, bringing people of bad character to our pristine shores simply because they could.

And the boat people themselves, illegal by definition (at least his) were complicit, inventing stories of rape in order to escape. Dutton provided no evidence,, no examples. But he knew.

And Bromberg’s treacherous decision would open the floodgates, unleashing flotillas of eager people smugglers keen to drown their clients, presumably before they could be raped on their way to evacuation to the mainland. Anarchy, chaos, the end of Australia as we know it. Whyalla wipe out, $100 legs of lamb, sledgehammers and wrecking balls on the economy, robbing pensioners and death taxes.

The trouble is, as sane observers have noted, that this is precisely what Dutton predicted when the medivac legislation was first passed. The teeming hordes would arrive — Christmas Island had to be reopened at the privilege price of $185 million to accommodate them. Welcome to the party – except no one came, and Christmas Island was quietly closed again after the photo-shoot.

And of course every asylum seeker on Nauru and Manus would be automatically medivacced by the corrupt medicos determined to destroy national security.—except that they weren’t. Just 22 have arrived, with eight on the list – rather less than those who were been brought to Australia under the old system, and a tiny handful compared to  those who regularly come by plane and are apparently regarded as model citizens while awaiting processing.

But such tedious and oft-repeated facts do not worry Dutton – he knows the Bromberg decision is incredibly dangerous. Why, ten of those knocked back before last week’s looming catastrophe may well be able to appeal. He can count them on every grimy claw of his withered talons.

And these, presumably, are the ones he warned who would clog up the hospital queues, preventing real Australian with sprains and head colds from receiving the treatment they deserve. The crest of the immense wave which will overwhelm our fragile commonwealth.

Of course, even under the lethal legislation, Dutton retains an irrevocable veto over evacuations. He tells us it does not apply to bad character, and we have to believe him – he apparently waved through a couple of well-documented mass murdering war criminals who had been transhipped from the United States. But it certainly applies to national security, and given that Dutton considers that just about everything he does not like, it should hardly be an onerous task to invoke it.

But in Dutton’s febrile imagination the risk is much wider. Why, there are some 71 million of the dispossessed around the world seeking shelter. And all of them will flock to the lure of ScoMo’s promise of Australia, drawn by the irresistible lure of tax cuts for those earning $180,000 a year in 2025. Trust him – he knows.

Okay, all of this is too silly to contemplate without derisive mirth. But that is what the Morrison government regards as policy. And such is the demoralisation of the Labor Party that some in its ranks are counselling surrender – rational opposition is just too hard.

And so it is with the rainbow gold tax cuts themselves. Trying to explain that while an immediate financial stimulus which would be spent by the lower paid, and therefore would nudge the moribund economy into a semblance of life makes some sort of sense, but that pie in the sky for the rich who don’t need it anyway is just a foolish fantasy is, once again, too hard, too risky.

Better to capitulate to the government’s bluff, throw in the towel and get on with something else, like battling John Setka and his forces. Now Dutton would approve of that – indeed, he would be happy to plait the hangman’s rope himself if there are enough television cameras available.

However, such abject surrender would be a mistake, leading to the well-merited accusation that Labor had abandoned its principles, standing for nothing. Certainly the election loss was devastating, and post mortems must be performed. But the party is down, not out.

It was clobbered in Queensland and Western Australia, but did reasonably well everywhere else, and is only a handful of seats away from returning to government. Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg and their supporters can hardly claim a mandate for a narrow win, especially one with such a thin agenda to deliver to parliament.

Labor’s policy to insist that tax cuts promised for two more elections in the future be at least delayed until it can be established that they are affordable makes perfect sense – indeed, could be described as bleeding obvious. And medivac was, and is, both compassionate and sensible policy.

Labor’s campaign was obviously too ambitious, too-far reaching, and not sufficiently explained. And some parts of it will have to be reconsidered, and some junked altogether. But the idea that it should simply join Morrison and Dutton in peak crazy is not just pusillanimous, but suicidal.

Labor is, undeniably, in opposition, and that means it has to oppose, not everything, but some of the more absurd ambit claims the government just wants waved through under the spurious idea that Morrison has a mandate to do whatever he wants – or, worse still, whatever Dutton wants.

It may be uncomfortable and inconvenient; it will undoubtedly produce squeals of outrage from the Murdoch media, the Institute of Public Affairs, and the rest of the mad right. But it is the basic foundation from which Albanese can begin to rebuild his demoralised followers. If not, who or what can they follow?

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