Our Prime Minister appears to have slept through all the stuff about the separation of church and state when he was in civics class, but there were murmurings from the rest of Australia this week when it emerged Scott Morrison had used a taxpayer-funded VIP jet to attend a Pentecostal conference on the Gold Coast.
Since then he’s confessed to getting up to a bit of ‘laying on of hands’ when he’s out and about hassling victims of natural disasters and attending football matches, apparently on a mission from God, as well as the Institute of Public Affairs.
While there have been no shortage of God-botherers in the Lodge (or refusing the option of living in the Lodge because it’s too humble), never before has there been a Prime Minister so forward about his faith, or so hypocritical when it comes to the awkward details, such as the stuff about being nice to the poor and disabled, protecting God’s creation and evicting money changers from the temple. These days you pretty much need to be a banker (or on good terms with one), to get into ScoMo’s particular temple.
In other ecclesiastical news from the PM, social media is in thrall to Beelzebub, while his own unlikely election is notched up to the Almighty.
Miracles aside, former PM Kevin Rudd used his recent address to the National Press Club to point out that US citizen Rupert Murdoch, (who he described as a ‘cancer’ on Australian democracy, with no sign so far of a lawsuit to the contrary), has ‘viciously campaigned for the LNP’ in the last 19 out of 19 state and federal elections. ‘That’s not a statistical blip,’ he said. ‘That’s what we call a trend, that’s what we call a law.’
Women and climate
This week the PM met with former staffer Brittany Higgins for the first time since she became a national figure for blowing the whistle on rape inside Parliament House, leading to the emergence of many similarly awful stories and a lack of meaningful action from the government.
Little appears to have changed since the meeting, apart from vague assurances of reform from Scott Morrison.
Queensland MP Andrew Laming has been disendorsed by his state party, but remains a protected species in federal parliament while the Morrison Government survives on a one-seat knife edge. This is despite Laming getting up to things that would have led to the ignominious departure of any similarly behaving backbencher in the past.
Although this government appears to be equally immune to shame, reason and climate science, this is going to be increasingly awkward as US President Joe Biden attempts, against all odds and most expectations, to lead his country and the world back from the abyss.
Who are we going to trade our carbon-heavy products with if the USA, UK and EU punish us for our lack of climate action? China? Not looking promising, with a trade war threatening to turn into a real one if things get any worse. India? The sub-continent is reeling from an avoidable COVID catastrophe, caused in part by another leader who enjoys muddying the political and the religious. India is now also offended by Australia’s response to this crisis, which has so far consisted of minimal aid and a border firmly shut, even to Australians in India wishing to return.
The death of trickledown
Another miracle this week was the announcement from Joe Biden that trickle-down economics will never work, and never has, which perhaps was part of the inspiration for Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to suggest he’s planning to prioritise workers over dealing with debt and deficit in the forthcoming budget. But ‘workers’ might still be Liberal idiom for tradies and people in high vis with hard hats.
Meanwhile the National Disability Insurance Scheme is under threat from a new government taskforce established to stop so much money going to disabled people. Also, in an announcement that would have made Chairman Mao proud, the LNP have channelled their inner comrades and said that no matter what the free market has to say about the wisdom of using more fossil fuels for energy in the age of renewables, they will build a gas-fired power generator with taxpayer dollars if the industry doesn’t.
This comes on the back of more announcements of unneeded coal expansion in NSW, particularly in the long-suffering Hunter Valley, and more federal money for unconventional gas in the Northern Territory, two pieces of news helpfully timed to distract the electorate from the massive Shenhua coal mine proposal being brought to a permanent halt on the Liverpool Plains, and Clive Palmer’s latest coal mine also being blocked by the Queensland State Government; the first time this has ever happened.
Finally, news emerged this week that the process for choosing the Australian of the Year was under urgent review, with extra bankers and lawyers to be added to the selection panel (better reflecting the demographic of the current government, if not the country at large) and other changes also flagged, apparently from the Prime Minister’s own department. Of course it’s just a coincidence that the current winner of this award, sexual assault survivor Grace Tame, is using her position to make the men in power squirm at every opportunity.
Stay tuned for the next Morrison miracle.
Originally from Canberra, David Lowe is an award-winning film-maker, writer and photographer with particular interests in the environment and technology. He’s known for his work with Cloudcatcher Media as a campaigner against unconventional gas and coal.
David has also written about Australian history. Many years ago, he did work experience in Parliament House with Mungo MacCallum. David has lived off-grid in the Northern Rivers since 2008.