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Byron Shire
August 1, 2021

We made them do it

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Andrew P Street

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice…

There was a moment during Simon Birmingham’s interview on the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday which really laid bare the impressive gall of the federal government.

The senator from SA is almost unique in the Morrison government’s frontbench in that he hasn’t presided over at least one astonishing personal or political scandal, giving the welcome impression that he’s a high performer in a government otherwise consumed by defamation cases, allegations of sexual abuse, misuse of public money, or whatever category Robodebt falls under.

So when this paragon of basic competence was asked how he might justify the recently revealed pork-barrelling exercise that was the coalition’s pre-election promises of commuter carparks, he dismissed the question with ‘The Australian people had their chance and voted the government back in, and we’re determined to get on and deliver those election promises that we made in relation to local infrastructure’. Ah, sorry: so it’s all the public’s fault. Sorry for disturbing you, senator!

Now, it might seem a stretch to suggest that the voting public approve mightily of a $660 million pork-barrelling exercise, much less consider it quality government at work. And rightly so, because the claim is not remotely true.

The voters of Australia barely got the government over the line in 2019, and at that point couldn’t possibly be aware that the infrastructure spending being promised in their electorates was, for the most part, never going to happen.

In fact, of the 47 commuter carparks promised in 2019, two have been completed and eight were cancelled. Another 11 of the carparks haven’t even had preliminary assessments as to whether they comply with eligibility, over two years down the track, because no proposal for their construction has even been submitted.

(Mind you, it’s also worth remembering that it was while taking responsibility for a still-nonexistent commuter carpark in Campbelltown that Angus Taylor memorably forgot to change his Facebook profile to that of a pretend constituent before praising him with ‘Fantastic. Great move. Well done Angus’. )

So Birmingham was sidestepping the truth with his comment. What is true, however, is that if the people of Australia return the Morrison government then it won’t be because they don’t know what they’re going to do, but because they do.

Look at the legacy of Scott Morrison’s government right now, and what it’s achieved over during its tenure.

This is a government that ignored its own departmental advice in order to keep Robodebt alive, despite it being clear that there were significant problems with the way debts were being calculated and the inevitability of a massive settlement that cost the public a further $1.2 billion.

This is a government that is now six months into an internal inquiry to find out what it knew about the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins – a process which really shouldn’t take more than an afternoon, given everything that is already on record – and has been spending that time backgrounding against her and her partner to compliant journalists instead.

This is a government who angrily denied the pre-election suggestion of Medicare cuts as Labor lies, and then quietly instituted cuts to Medicare.

And of course, there’s the ongoing debacle that is the mishandling of the response to COVID-19.

Not only is Australia holding its breath that the Greater Sydney outbreak will be contained, with the lockdown still open-ended at the time of writing, owing to the utter inadequacy of the federal government’s vaccine rollout (memorably defended by the PM with ‘it’s not a race’), but the inadequate quarantine response has led to the knee-jerk slashing of new arrivals without consultation with airlines who are now weighing up whether it’s economically worth flying passenger aircraft into Australia at all.

And meanwhile thousands of people, including hundreds of unaccompanied children, still desperately want to return home 16 months into our border closures.

Re-electing the Morrison government means pork barrelling marginals with imaginary carparks is not merely fine, but the epitome of good government. It means saying that dodging responsibility on public health and climate action is not merely expected but encouraged. And it means that bullying women and committing sexual assault should be brushed under the carpet with no repercussions for anyone other than the victim.

So Birmingham might have been wrong about the last election, but he’d be right about the next one.


Andrew P Street. Photo Daniel Boud.

Andrew P Street is a journalist, columnist, author, editor and broadcaster.

For more information, visit www.patreon.com/andrewpstreet.


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17 COMMENTS

  1. Andrew P Street has omitted to mention a very important point.
    The car park funding was organised by the PM’s office, while the government was in care taking mode, as the Morrison government had already called for an election. That action was NOT known to the general public and so Birmingham’s comment that the public knew and voted for the spending on carparks is total lies and deceit. The funds were spent illegally by this government in fact…

  2. The reality is that it doesn’t matter who of the major parties is in Government,they are almost identical,two washing powders,just a different name!

  3. Why is The MorrisonMalfeasance Government even still there . Why hasn’t Morrison been prosecuted for the harm that he inflicted upon innocent Australians. The Governor General should have dismissed The MorrisonMalfeasance Government over the RoboRobberyDebt scandal, the largest state sponsored fraud program in our country’s history, a program that deliberately inflicted harm and financial hardship upon over 400,000 innocent Australian citizens, harm that led to some of those innocent Australian citizens to commit suicide. Morrison is directly responsible for giving birth to the RoboRobberyDebt scandal and should be prosecuted for his crimes.

  4. I’m politically neutral and henceforth offer no advice on illegal governments the world over but instead offer praise to those who stand and eventually fall to the so-called ‘leaders’ who reach new ‘heights’ of incompetency with uncommon regularity. Great effort, I stand on the sideline (atm) and tip my hat to the brave and faithful. 👍

  5. Robo-Death-Debt, the “Crime of the Century” was actually $1.8 billion of taxpayers money wasted, “That we know of at the moment” not $1.2 billion, but whats half a billion dollars when it comes to the Billions and billions LNP rortings scandals, it’s not like it’s really possible to keep up with the daily allegations that are never investigated, zero accountability, zero integrity, zero transparency. What is the rorting scandal ratio for this week, has anyone seen Scam or his he still hiding out in his bunker?
    So what do you intend to do about it Australia?
    The only thing on this planet that can stop this out of control Morrison Govt is the Australian Labor party. Don’t blow it like last election. If you have to vote Greens or “Independent” for some reason, preference Labor second. This failure is what inflicted Abbott, then Turnbull, then this Scamvangelical fundamentalist faction of “Rorting” on steroids “Pastor’s” Morrison’s “Laying on of his Hand’s” yeah “inside your pockets”. The ATM of corporate controlled, Murdoch media protection racket, rortings, scandals and unaccountability. Make no mistake another term of this Trump like Morrison and you may as well have voted for Putin?

  6. Now now Joachim!! Selective memory
    again you forgot to mention the pink batts
    debacle & and school halls remember
    Joachim? Where people actually lost
    Lives … million dollar school halls
    including the mullumbimby public
    Schools hall .. over a million dollars
    Labor – Greens signing off on these
    100s of them could have been built
    For a 3rd of the cost .. hey it matters little
    Taxpayer will pay for that, Billions wasted
    You remember that Joachim your a taxpayer aren’t you? As for the Robo Debt yes a mistake by the current government no doubt
    Very unfortunate … hurt lots of people..

    • School Halls, Barrow old son, nice that you bring that up, it was part of Kevin07 / Labor Government stimulus policy that kept Australia out of GFC Recession, Barrow. Under your man ‘Honest John’ public schools were crying out for capital works like building school halls but your man ‘Honest John’ delivered them ZERO in his time as PM and instead fed the Private Schools all the dosh they wanted for pools, gyms, sports fields…no luxury was too much for Private Schools. That’s what you get with the Liberals. So cometh the hour cometh the man, cometh The Kevin07 and The GFC and finally it was GO for School Halls, all part of dealing with The GFC, Barrow, you forgot all about The GFC, didn’t happen did it, Barrow. Value for money, is always open to interpretation but in an economic emergency one needs to act fast and many school kiddies and teachers that got their school halls were overjoyed, school halls that will keep delivering for years to come, Barrow, that is VALUE for money, Barrow.
      The Home Insulation Scheme, was a worthy scheme but sadly unscrupulous operators that cared nothing for employee safety put a black mark on the scheme.

      • All so true Joachim and there are many many households still benefitting from the lower power bills thanks to the insulation they received from the government. Not to mention the environmental benefits – I know these won’t impress Barrow!

        There is absolutely no comparison between the money expended during the GFC – with the best of economic and ideological motivation and overall effect – and the cynical, shameless, pork barrelling of this lot.

        While the Labor Government should have been less naive about the integrity of the private sector there was no naivety underpinning robo debt. It’s unprincipled and unjust nature should have been apparent from the start. The Government certainly stuck doggedly to its implementation long after they had untold examples of its flaws and devastating, unconscionable consequences. It took a group powerful enough to litigate to bring it to a close.

        What a sad indictment on the very people charged with ensuring the rule of law.

        Justice Brenda Murphy: “ The proceeding has exposed a shameful chapter in the administration of the commonwealth social security system and a massive failure of public administration.”

        • If we had justice in this country then President ScamMO would already be in jail for his crimes against the citizens of Australia. RoboDebt was Morrison’s ‘gift’ to those in our society that need help the most. Morrison deliberately inflicted financial hardship upon over 400,000 innocent Australians, who owed the Government $0.00. Morrison and his RoboDebt is the single biggest state sponsored fraud in Australia’s history that deliberately inflicted hardship that resulted in innocent Australians committing self harm and suicides. I live in hope that with a change in government that a Federal ICAC will be born and that a Royal Commission will be held into Morrison and his RoboDebt that will lead to Morrison’s prosecution and jailing for his ‘crimes against the citizens of Australia’.

  7. Tweed you may be a bit confused mate
    Another term for the Trump like Morrison
    You may as well vote for Putin ?
    Putin and Russia are communists
    Big difference Tweed , communism
    Rules with a iron fist .. one example
    Starlin murdered millions starved
    Them to death .. my Grandfather
    Was at the Mercy of this dictatorship
    Sent to Siberia for 17 years for what ?
    Nothing ?? Separated from his wife and only
    Child… 75 million in America did not vote
    For communism.. and nor did 26 million
    In Australia at the last election..
    Rest assured Tweed if Labor & the Greens
    Get in well this maybe just a little bit of what
    You are implying… Albo is sympathetic
    to Socialism and to add some traction to this claim is his relationship with the ex labor party
    Leader in the UK who is 100% a socialist
    and his Anti Jewish views were well known
    and there was Albo photo opportunity
    With this Socialist no Problem.. !!
    and as for the Greens Leader Tweed ?
    Well self proclaimed socialist &
    Educated as one .. !!
    Morrison & Trump Stalinist ?
    Please …..

    • I suspect you are another of those fearful people who can’t tell the difference between socialism, communism or fascism. However, also suspect that you claim your Medicare rebates, drive on public roads, and have or know children who go to public schools. All of which are benefits of democratic socialism to some degree. Educate yourself.

  8. I do believe it is you ,Barrow who is confused.
    Putin is no more communist than Morrison or you, ….Putin, like Trump and Morrison are power hungry fascists. Stalin , as you state yourself, was a dictator which is the very opposite of the political spectrum.
    Communism is wonderful political ideal where everyone benifits equally from the production of the country.
    Unfortunately this ideal has only ever been achieved in small groups, such as the numerous examples of longstanding communities in this area, or at times of dire danger, such as floods or fires , when petty considerations of self interest temporarily dissappear .
    I do hope your promise that ‘Albo’, the Greens and Labor are likely to implement socially beneficial government, and if they will hold the racist, warmongering scum in Israel to account for their crimes against humanity, then I for one will cheer them on.
    Cheering Madly, G”)

    • Actually, original First Nation society was a very pure form of communism. That worked for only about 50000 years!

      I look back now at what was achieved in the 1970s: Free higher education, Medicare, & many other social advances.
      If Medicare was not introduced then, we would still have a US style medical system, where the poor get limited healthcare
      (as now happens in the US.)
      In my opinion, education should be government funded from 3 years old until the first higher education certificate or
      diploma is obtained. There would need to be a bond for people who leave Australia so our education monies is are retained
      for graduates in Australia (With some exemptions for people gaining experience)
      When I went to TAFE many years ago, there were low fees, that I could afford on my traineeship wages. I could not afford to
      go to University. My sisters, 5 & 12 years younger both obtained degrees, & one a doctorate. Why can we not afford to keep up
      this system to allow ALL Australians access to a good, free education.
      I feel the debt that our young incur is a factor in why they are not able to buy a house.(Besides other issues pushing up prices).

      I feel it is time that as Australians, we worked towards a more equitable society. When I was young, thewre seemed to be very little
      classism. It is time we returned to a single ´Class´ where everyone has a fair go!

  9. Yes. We have Robo Rodeo Debt again due to the ‘pork ‘n bean brigade’ of knowing nothing
    about something obvious. Fascism’s been running this country, Barrow. Wake up!

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