Morrison: sorry – not sorry…
30 November 2022
You’ve got to hand it to the Labor Party – when they get their paws on power, they waste no time ‘playing politics’.
While the Coalition embraces a sort of ‘tread softly’ approach to attacking Labor or fighting (any?) sensitive cultural battles, Albanese and his team appear to relish the opportunity for a bit of political payback to polish their credentials in the eyes of their revenge-seeking online support base.
In this case, their target is the Member for Cook, Scott Morrison, who is the first former Prime Minister to face a censure motion. It was passed today, 86 votes to 50, with Liberal MP Bridget Archer voting with Labor.
The censure motion (which is code for political finger wagging) revolves around Morrison’s decision not to disclose the appointments he made during the pandemic ‘to the House of Representatives, the Australian people, and the Cabinet which undermined responsible government and eroded public trust in Australia’s democracy’.
Leader of the House, Tony Burke, said: ‘The member for Cook did not tell ministers themselves that he had sworn into their portfolios. His Cabinet was not told. The department secretaries were not told. The Parliament was not told, and through the Parliament, the Australian people were not told. The member for Cook, in doing this, did not just fall below the standards expected, he undermined them, rejected them, he attacked them, and he abused them.’
It was a case of ‘sorry, not sorry’ for Morrison, who added: ‘I do not apologise for taking action […] in a national crisis in order to save lives and to save livelihoods.’
Morrison has described the motion as political intimidation.
Was the ‘secret ministerial scandal’ Morrison’s brightest moment? No. Frankly his ‘there is no such thing as vaccine mandates’ comment was more offensive than the secretive appointments he made for himself.
Then again, it fell a long way short of the litany of bad behaviour exhibited by politicians – particularly Labor politicians – during the pandemic, including actions justified by the wishy-washy excuse of ‘emergency’.
If Australia’s faith in democracy was undermined by anyone, it would have to be those political leaders that dared to shoot at protesters, deliberately locked people out of the economy, and reduced the average Australian to a ‘red cross’ or ‘green tick’ for the best part of two years.
Liberal Leader Peter Dutton, who needs to take advice on whether enshrining racial supremacy into the Constitution is ‘a good idea’, did not need to cast the net for a second opinion before labelling Albanese’s move an ‘opportunistic swipe’, ‘a stunt’, and ‘clearly payback’.
According to a spokesperson for the Coalition, Dutton went so far as to say, ‘This is Anthony Albanese at his political brawler best and we will not be a part of it.’
Except that to have a brawl, someone else needs to fight back.
The Sydney Morning Herald said that Morrison was ‘undoubtedly on trial’, but the court of public opinion only works if the population is listening. Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – for the former Prime Minister, the general population is more interested in the cost of living crisis than the petty mud-slinging of privileged parliamentarians.
When it comes to what actually happened, Morrison has already admitted that his decision to rapidly expand his potential power (making sure he had a back-up plan in case his Cabinet dropped dead from Covid) was, in hindsight, unnecessary. ‘Bizarre’ might have been a better choice of words, given he did this long after plenty of politicians had recovered from their light flu.
The only shocking thing is that Morrison isn’t being investigated for undermining public faith in the vaccine.
‘I acknowledge that the non-disclosure of arrangements has caused unintentional offence and extend an apology to those who were offended.’
Offended? To quote Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, ‘You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.’
‘My government stood up and faced the abyss of uncertainty that our country looked into and the coercion of a regional bully and saw Australia through the storm. I have no intention now of submitting to the political intimidation of this government, using its numbers in this place to impose its retribution on a political opponent.’
Morrison screwed up, just like his world-leader peers, and was conned into believing that he was facing some kind of ‘end times’ with him playing the role of ‘saviour’. Instead, Morrison turned out to be a middling politician, herded like a common farm animal into extremely damaging and politically cataclysmic choices that have permanently cracked open the door for Chinese-style authoritarianism in Australia.
If Morrison is going to stand up and apologise for anything, it should be his cowardice and naivety when faced with a challenge that his political ancestors would have sorted out in their lunch break – such is the decline of political skill in the West.