MUNGO MACCALLUM. The mob has found him out.

It was almost a throwaway line. In the course of his friendly chat welcoming David Speers to the ABC, Scott Morrison mused that his climate change policy was “evolving.” And since, as usual he had nothing substantial to say in his ramblings, the commentators, speculators and fortune tellers seized on the remark, investing it with genuine significance.

Was our leader finally ready to face reality? Would he confront the knuckle draggers, flat earthers and self interested fossil fuellers and do something serious? We waited in hope and anticipation. But of course, yet again we were disappointed.

When ScoMo said things were evolving, he meant exactly that. And like any disciple of Charles Darwin, he knows that evolution is a long, slow process – it is not noticeable over a couple of parliamentary terms, or even a human lifetime.

The mutation that triggers evolutionary change maybe a sudden one, but almost all mutations do not survive, and the few that do take many generations to be embedded. to supersede the less fit species that they replace. The dinosaurs lasted some 250 million years without any discernible progress – indeed, they were brought to environmental extinction before they could overcome their inertia, a thought for Morrison as he contemplates the herd of cold-blooded reptiles in his party room.

So roll on evolution, but for the foreseeable future it will be business as usual, as Morrison was quick to confirm when asked about the interview.

This does not mean he will be totally inactive – the political climate change has at least forced him into that. But it will be little more than tweaking, smoke and mirrors, distraction and spin..

The prime minster now insists that his government fully accepts that climate change is happening. But it is patently evident that many of his backbcnchers and a large chunk of his ministers accept nothing of the kind, and there is lingering suspicion that Morrison strongly sympathises with them – that he is even denying his denialism.

So he is eager to offer money to a range of victims, from multi-billion agribusinesses to singed koalas which looks like a safe bet – although there are risks even in that, given the rushed process. After all, he definitely does not want a repeat of Kevin Rudd’s pink batt insulation scandals.

And the rest of it is little more than the usual waffle. When the inevitable inquiries report, there will be much talk of resilience and adaptation – palliative care as the patient goes steadily downhill.

We will look at more prevention, which will mean in practice more ruthless land clearing, and no doubt tougher penalties for arsonists and looters. and there are strong indications that our minister for stuff-ups, Angus Taylor, is planning to revive the idea of carbon capture to make coal slightly less polluting, with the added benefit of encouraging the big polluters, the fossil fuel magnates, to ramp up their production.

We may also talk up hydrogen, and hydro power and burning waste to fuel electricity generation. But not much for the things that are actually working, mainly wind and solar.

However, there has be at least a semblance of a response to the near universal view that Australia is not only lagging behind the civilised world but bludging on it – not doing its bit with the ludicrous excuse that because we can’t solve the problem on our own, it is better to do nothing – to go full emissions ahead until everyone else does the job, and then and only then will we sign on.

As the rest of the world watches bemused as the bushfires blaze on, and offers us comfort and succour, our government continues to play down the issue – nothing to see here except, of course, our unique environment, so drop over and we’ll slip another shrimp on the barbie just as soon as lighting barbies is permitted.

But the backlash is not just coming from overseas, pesky foreigners who should mind their own bloody business – the country is our toy, and we can break or burn it if we want to, by jolly jingo. It was all going alomg nicely, until NewsPoll arrived last week spread a bucket of vote retardant across the coalition in general and Morrison in particular.

The two party vote of 51 to 49 in Labor’s favour can be dismissed – that was the default position for many months before the last election and Bill Shorten still lost, as we will never forget reminding the bed-wetters. But the drop of eight points in ScoMo’s personal approval rating can hardly be ignored. This is not a statistical aberration or a blip within the poll’s margin of error; it is a dive, a plummet, back to the worst numbers of Bill Shorten, whose unfailing unpopularity presaged his defeat.

Morrison’s numerous apologists assure us that it will be washed away when – if – the fires are actually extinguished, but there is a far grimmer possibility, which is that the Murdoch columnist Graham Richardson’s constant refrain is coming true: the mob has found him out, that our leader has final been exposed as a double-dyed phony, superficially mouthing profundities but deep down hopelessly shallow.

This is the way it looks from where I sit; I have watched all the 30 prime ministers since Menzies and I have never seen one so inadequate. Billy McMahon may have been more risible, but even he had a version of economics and policy and usually tried to implement a coherent free enterprise agenda. Morrison offers nothing but daggy dad clichés, mendacity and evasion.

There is no point in accusing him of insincerity – he has nothing to be either sincere or insincere about. As always, Shakespeare said it best:

“…a walkng shadow/ That struts and frets his hour upon the stage/ And then is heard no more. It is a tale/ Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/ Signifying nothing.”

The anti-hero Macbeth was despairing of life in general, but he knew a doomed and despised leader when he saw one. Actually that would not be so bad – “nothing” could be seen as an unfortunate pause, common in the long tale of the struggle for survival of the fittest.

ScoMo is a throwback, a reversion to the primeval ooze from which intelligent life eventually emerged. Darwin would discard him. And perhaps, just perhaps, the mob is considering that this may not be the worst option.


Mungo MacCallum is a veteran political journalist and commentator. His books include Run Johnny Run, Poll Dancing, and Punch and Judy.

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20 Responses to MUNGO MACCALLUM. The mob has found him out.

  1. Avatar John Doyle says:

    Morrison is very aptly described here It sounds wonderful but there was worse just recently; Abbott. Actually destructive. Morrison is at least not intending to be so destructive, just inept.

  2. Avatar Charles Lowe says:

    16 feedback contributions, Mungo! Magnifique!

    You say: “I have watched all the 30 prime ministers since Menzies and I have never seen one so inadequate. Billy McMahon may have been more risible, but even he had a version of economics and policy and usually tried to implement a coherent free enterprise agenda. Morrison offers nothing but daggy dad clichés, mendacity and evasion.”

    Mungo – he won the Prime Ministership and he won the last election. His political intelligence – on the record – is amazing.

    Morrison’s whole approach is to win the next election. To do that he needs massive corporate donations and motivated, dedicated (evangelical?) Party devotees to ‘man’ the booths. He also has the world beating election-winning advice of Crosby-Textor.

    Morrison couldn’t give a shit about policy. He views policy as an instrument enabling his opponents to beat him around the head. Morrison is addicted to the administration – the ‘doing’. Fuck the reasons, fuck the context, fuck the actual needs – just get “it” done.

    And the ‘it’ is what will maximise corporate donations.

    Mungo – you’re becoming too gentle in your dotage! Bring out your Excalibur, your Madame Guillotine. Off with the Coalition’s (hydra) heads. May there be copious blood on your hands, arms, legs, torso and face!!

  3. Avatar Philip Ludington says:

    Vintage stuff Mr. MacCallum – you have captured the phoney essence and fake morality of the guy perfectly – just the sort of attributes you would expect to find in someone from the world of advertising. I wonder if he will have Senator McKenzie dole out the money for bushfire relief using the same criteria (ie mates first, second and third) as was applied to the sports grants?

  4. Avatar Tony Simons says:

    Terrific article. Along with McMahon we should include Silly Billy Snedden and Dollie Downer as comparable failed leaders of the Liberal Party.

  5. Avatar jack Kirkshill says:

    So Scotty from marketing (what a wonderful tag – who thought that one up?) displaying his usual in depth knowledge; understanding and commitment. He should go back to selling used cars – He’d be good at that!! We trust him at the same level!

  6. Missed menzies experienced the rest, mcmahon my local member as mum said handshake with a fish, but hopefully this guy, scoloser, has been found out as the fake he is, bring on dutton v albo true reflection. Luv mungo.

  7. Avatar James O'Neill says:

    Wonderful Mungo. Enjoyed every word. The complete fool masquerading as PM must surely go soon. But who will replace him? The bald despot from Brisbane? And that would be an improvement? The lucky country no more.

  8. Avatar Sandra Hey says:

    As I watched this very ” hyped up” ABC advertising the great David Speer’s, Scott Morrison interview, I felt rather sick in my stomach. All I could see was “Murdoch” imprinted on Speer’s forehead. Scott Morrison was a very happy chappy, he now has a real mate in the ABC the interview was dismissal and second rate in my opinion. Morrison had the upper hand taking total control leaving Speer’s looking like a novice.

    • Avatar Michael D. Breen says:

      Totally agree Sandra. I thought it was a Disney grade act of fawning, right down to the sharp suit etc. We need to be able to rely on journalists to ask serious questions on our behalf. Speers might just as well been an employee of Scotty from marketing. If Speers looked like a novice that it a matter which can be improved. If though he is unable to act differently in the ABC we have serious problems.

  9. Avatar Max Bourke AM says:

    Mungo on the other hand if you do want to keep your metaphor going a little longer think about this or rather Scotty from Marketing should. While Lamarckism, the idea the characteristics from the environemnt could effect change that became hereditary was discredited for a long while there is now good evidence that some of the so-called junk materials in genes are acting in a Lamarckian way and that environmental factors may be heritable, so perhaps this wave of anger might effect the DNA of the LNP??? Wishful thinking?

  10. Avatar Allan Kessing says:

    There were 3 scams… sorry, schemes… no, stet SmoKo mentioned to deal with bush fires – apart from hazard reduction (a non issue) he was also spruiking “more dams, land clearing and grazing & logging of national parks” to get rid of those pesky trees.
    (Gladys is no doubt peeved that her plans to privatise State forests will now be on the back burner – pun not intended.)
    Hazard reduction is spouted purely as a wedge designed to damage both “Labor” and those evil, soy cardonay latte sipping greenies.
    Far ore dangerous and infinitely more damaging are the rest of his wet dream.
    The gNats are keen to have more dams in a denuded landscape – as the Rootbeeter said recently “you’ve never seen a footpath burn!” – and won’t rest until the last marsupial has succumbed.

  11. Avatar C Mccarthy says:

    Yes Mungo, Australia and Morrison regime #climatebludgers

  12. Avatar Jim KABLE says:

    Beautifully described ー thanks Mungo. Could someone make sure this appears on on-water-matters secrecy PM Morrison’s desk – label it “ForYourEyesOnly!” (And of the four words – three are four-letter words – and How Good is That!)

  13. Avatar Geoff Andrews says:

    Gawd, I loves ya, Mungo.
    You not only hit the spot; you removed it.

  14. Avatar Andrew Davies says:

    I was astonished at how Morrison’s non promise to “evolve” climate policy was taken seriously by anyone. Given the man’s extraordinary CV of non-performance, we should set our expectations extremely low.

    However, I take issue with the dinosaur’s lack of “any discernible progress”. The dinosaurs were a model of adaptation and evolution and radiated into a vast number of species with all sorts of novel traits, including feathers. Far from being long gone, they live on in the form of birds.

    • Avatar Michael Rogers says:

      You are absolutely correct about the ‘dinosaurs’, but the 19th century concept of them has long been part of the culture and ‘culture’ persists despite advances in scientific knowledge.

      • Avatar Allan Kessing says:

        Agree about the unjust casting of nasturtiums.
        The same happened with Neanderthals, despite their larger brains, orders of magnitude longer domination of Europe despite little contretemps like Ice Ages and the latest news that they could not only swim but DIVE, to select live clam shells of a specific type as the better tools than dead ones picked off the strand.
        Science & Progress tends to advance one funeral at a time – sooner rather than later the Tarzanists will be gone and Elaine Morgan’s brilliance will be realised.

  15. Avatar Lorraine Osborn says:

    Good take on ScottyfromMarketing. Ben Chifley was PM when I was born and a folk hero in my family. The current pretender to the throne is not only the most odious in my lifetime but the most evil and pernicious. He is a treasonous fool and is happily permanently damaging our country.

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