Although he’s been PM only since August of last year, it feels as if he’s been in the top job for much longer. His accidental election in the wake of the ill-planned Dutton grab for prime ministership has not inhibited him one jot. He’s been out there in press conference after press conference, in major speech after major speech, pushing the Morrison line with all the aplomb of a snake oil salesman. His purpose is clear. In what is clearly now a pre-election phase, he has set about reinforcing his credentials, and that of the ‘Morrison Government’ as brilliant managers of the economy and stunningly successful protectors of the Australian people against all manner of threats, a frightening cluster that he is only too ready to enumerate.
He excelled himself at his 11 February National Press club address, where he assured his audience that he would protect Australians from illegal boat arrivals (he’d imprison them in offshore detention); terrorists, here and overseas, (he’s disrupted 14 terrorist plots, and he’d deport any who managed to breach our shores); criminal gangs (he’s cancelled the visas of 4150 criminals); hostile states such an North Korea; natural disasters (he’s got a plan for every contingency); perpetrators of domestic violence (which he abhors); cyber threats and online bullies (which his cyber pundits have under constant surveillance). He admitted he was ‘pumped as’ at the prospect of being Australia’s ‘White Knight in Shining Armor’
. Every threat is as important as the others he told a reporter. He didn’t mention the threat of teenage boys kicking sand in beachgoers’ faces, but he surly would have a remedy for that.
And how can we be sure he’d keep his word? Simple – he’s done it all before, so he’ll keep on doing it: his past actions are ‘proof of the pudding’.
Only a few days previously he was touting his economic credentials. He knows how to run a strong economy, because he’s done it before. And what’s more everything depends on a strong economy – essential services, protection of Australians, and prosperity for ‘Mums and Dads’, for small businesses, and for large ones too, of course. He’s got it all sorted.
Expect Morrison’s pitch for the election to be two positives: a strong economy, and protection for us all. You won’t be surprised that he’s got a couple of negatives – and Bill Shorten’s name is scrawled all over them. Shorten and Labor will weaken the economy, and of course protection for you and me. Boat arrivals will resume and ‘illegals’ will flood the country. That’s why he’s re-opening Christmas Island at a cost of billions! Shorten and Labor will increase taxes on everything ($200 billion he says), take money off retirees, rob the battlers, cripple small businesses and Mum and Dad investors, crucify the housing market, and now that we have the Banking Royal Commission report, Shorten will decimate that fine band of mortgage brokers who battle to give us the best deal with our housing loans!
How does Morrison know? ”Bill told us so!”
You’ve heard his crazy policies around negative gearing and franking credits. Labor doesn’t know how to manage money or run an economy. Never has. Never mind that Labor rescued us from the ravages of the GFC. That was a fluke due to Howard’s prudent money management.
As 2353NM put it so eloquently in A show about nothing
, Morrison has the consummate skill of saying nothing much, but doesn’t he do it eloquently. His narrative is redolent with the buzz words of contemporary pollie-speak.
How have we descended to this? How have we been burdened with such ineptitude?
Background counts. Do you know Morrison’s background? Let me give you a glimpse, courtesy of a comprehensive account by Michael Sainsbury in the February 11 issue of Crikey.
In his early days, back in 1995, Morrison worked for the Property Council of Australia (PCA) for six years as a lobbyist and propagandist, where he learned the art of spin. Then he graduated to the Tourism Task Force, a lobby group like the PCA, and for the next 12 years he filled various roles in tourism oscillating between government-run tourism bodies. With typical ruthlessness, Morrison deserted his Task Force post to join rival group Tourism Council of Australia (TCA) to become the general manager. At that time, Bruce Baird, former transport minister in the Nick Greiner and John Fahey Liberal governments, managed the TCA. As Sainsbury records:
Morrison left the TCA in 1998 at the same time Baird entered federal parliament. By December 1999, the TCA was technically insolvent, despite a questionable “start-up” loan of $2.3 million by the Howard government. It was eventually tipped into administration in December 2001 and disbanded. “The damage was done by Bruce and Scott,” a former staffer noted.
Morrison also made an unsuccessful attempt at private practice, and then became an employee of the Liberal Party of Australia. With a BSc in applied economic geography from UNSW he fancied himself as a ’marketeer’, but left others to do the marketing while he networked. He had a period with KPMG in 2000, tried to start up a tourism practice, followed by a failed period as the strategic director for the campaign of New South Wales Liberal leader Peter Debnam during his failed 2007 election bid. Morrison often left or was ejected from positions before his contracts were finished.
That’s enough for you to understand how Morrison has become what he is – a man steeped in marketing, master of spin, self-assured, supremely confident in the merit and power of his oratory. There is nothing self-effacing about him. He knows everything. He never admits to any gaps in his knowledge or political skills.
His oratory is overlaid with arrogance, aggression, and as Paddy Manning put it in The Monthly
He backs his judgement, even when ill informed, as he did over his intention to move the Australian Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
But even when confronted with his errors, he insists he is correct. His behaviour during the ‘Medivac’ issue starkly illustrates what sort of a man we have at the helm. Are you as terrified as I am?
Do you want an arrogant, belligerent, shouty man as your prime minister? If not, you know the remedy.