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Byron Shire
May 24, 2024

The man who broke democracy 

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The man who broke democracy

Right now ex-Prime Minister Scott Morrison is the most hated man in the Liberal party. He has broken the trust of his nation. He has deceived his own party. He has given satirists, bored with the well-meaning and benign Albo, a small renaissance into the narcissism of old. He’s memed himself into the history books. 

But has he done more? Has his betrayal of the people served a higher purpose?

As a cynical destroyer has he unwittingly become a friend to democracy? Has he shown why we need urgent systemic change? Has he triggered the call to action this country has been waiting for?

You can talk about the need for change until you are blue in the face, and by that I don’t just mean Liberal blue. I mean unconscious on the floor of our fading democracy blue. I mean the blue of that stuff that appears in the toilet once you’ve flushed away the evidence. Morrison is our unflushable turd. You can vote him out, but he still floats to the surface. How is it that, until now, nothing he’s done sticks?

You can talk about government corruption, talk about the need for true accountability, and while it’s heard, and people nod in agreement that accountability in government is a good idea – nothing happens. The promised ICAC is a remote echo from 1000 days ago, and with pandemics, floods and fires and cost of living increases the call has faded to a whimper. We forget that without transparency, we quite literally have nothing. 

Perhaps it’s this failure of the public to hold onto the call for accountability that emboldens people like Scott Morrison? It is his hall pass to power. He clearly saw a system he could manipulate and that’s exactly what he did. Didn’t a little pig (Lord Acton) once say ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’? Men like Morrison have thrived on capturing absolute power. He has displayed vicious opportunism when our country and its people were at their most vulnerable. That’s when a seasoned player makes their move; when we’re all distracted.

So now we know. We know the harm he perpetrated when no one was watching. It’s the ultimate betrayal of his office. It’s the ultimate betrayal of us – the people he was elected to represent.

The ‘revelations’ of Morrison’s multiple ministries has come as a shock, not just to the nation but to his own party. What does that tell us about our current system? Something that many of us already knew – it’s broken. It’s a system that rewards the wealthy with more wealth, and punishes the rest of us with poverty and struggle. It’s a system that lights a pathway for the privileged, with secret handshakes, donor dinners, and policy crafted to appease and seduce hungry lobbyists. 

Well, now we can see why we need an ICAC. We can see that many of those in power cannot be trusted to hold office without clear lines of accountability. Scott Morrison promised us a Federal ICAC that he clearly never intended to deliver. 

Why would he? He is the man who most needs to stand before it. I’m surprised though, that in line with his greedy grab, he didn’t initiate it and then appoint himself Chief Commissioner. But then you don’t need to be a Supreme Court judge when you’re already God. 

Let’s capitalise on this moment. Let’s use this to create an ICAC with retrospective powers. And because he LOVES to be he centre of attention. He can go first. 

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  1. Gough Whitlam did the same thing 50 years ago, it’s not illegal.
    If the government is corrupt, then the ICAC would be corrupt. The Governor-General is suppose to be the ICAC, that’s why we have a Governor-General.

    • The largely ceremonial role of the GG seems, to me, very different to the proposed ICAC’s powers and purposes. To say the GG ‘is suppose to be the ICAC, that’s why we have a Governor-General’ makes no sense to me. The GG does not have the power to compel witnesses to hearings, to conduct surveillance, to obtain search warrants, to enter property to inspect documents, to force officials to produce documents and so on. The GGs do not root out corruption, they cut ribbons and give awards in their most helpful mode, but in the case of Whitlam’s dismissal the GG arguably subverted democracy, not Whitlam. Also, isn’t the ‘Independent’ in ‘I’CAC directed at exactly its independence from the government conduct it could investigate? You wonder out loud why Echo moderators don’t approve so many of your comments – how about making a more constructive contribution?

      • First of all, I speak for a lot of like minded people that fell exclused from the Echo.
        To answer your question, the Governor-General has crown authority, is the President of the cabinet and the Prime Ministers office. The GG absolutely has the power to investigate anything and send it to the judicial bunch…or just plain fire the lot of them. This stopped happening due to Gough Whittle and his constitutional crisis. Then the roll fell to the Privy Council as the ultimate court of appeal, so Bob Hawk got rid of that with the Australia Act 1986.

        Instead of attacking the messenger, go read our founding documents, including the English Bill of Rights. Then what has happened may start making sense to you.

        • There’s no ‘President of the cabinet and the Prime Ministers office’, the GG does not actually have the absolute power to investigate ‘anything’ and fire ‘the lot of them’ – like all ‘the judicial bunch’ and politicians? The Bill of Rights 1688, which you mention, fettered the right of the Crown and led to the UK Parliament, it’s not a reason why the GG has the sort of powers you claim for the position. I also don’t see how the abolition of appeals to the Privy Council supports your assertion that the present day Australian GG is supposed to play the same role as a proposed ICAC, which is what you said. Surely that limits the role the UK plays in the Australian system, not expands it?

          • You had to qualify it with ‘present day Australian GG’ didn’t you. The GG role is constitutionally mandated, if you can’t find a referendum that changed it, then no change is lawful or valid.
            There is no cabinet or PM office, that’s just what the Executive Committee likes to call it’s self.
            As far as the powers, you are confusing ‘can’ with ‘does’. Like the PM can take all ministerial positions being lawful, there’s lots of things a GG can do that they don’t. The Status of Westminster 1931 stopped the UK parliament and the Queen having any direct effect in Australia. When they said they limited GG powers, they said it was ok because we could just appeal to the Privy council instead, then they got rid of that, and consequently removed the Magna Carta, Bill of Rights, and lots more from having effect here, but those were part of our founding documents, limits on the government, and the government can pass an act to get rid of them? Don’t think so, but that’s what they tell you.

    • Christian, what utter nonsense.

      On ‘The Great Man’, I see it is a case of more of what you, “remember” – that never happened, again.
      On the GG, he is the Queen’s representative, NOT ICAC and not some fantasy President that you just dreamed up.

      • I’m remembering from the official government record, that the government made me study, in high school, in the 90s.
        They also taught us why we have a GG. The GG does have the president role. You misunderstand what Presidents in Republics systems actually can and can’t do. They are not dictators. Even Xi does not have the power that your tv says he does. For example, the GG is the Commander and Chief of the ADF and can take control of it, but can’t declare war, but can end one. The GG can’t use the military against the civilian population but can use it against the civilian governments, there are lots of caveats to it, but he can. Mean while there is no PM or cabinet in the constitution. That’s just how the executive council chooses to organise things, but PM is not actually a thing and no govt has to assign one. Our system is very different to what people think it is. You should study it some time. Our overlapping legal systems are even whackier.

        • So you were taught that The Great Man kept it secret that he ( and the Lance, the Deputy PM ) secretly appointed multi ministry caps – more patent Bull.

          • I was taught there are very few things the Federal Executive Council members legally have to tell the public, or the rest of the parliament, about. You sound like my neighbour when I mention the reality of Winston Churchill. Even stuff from his official biography triggers her. Deifying and Demonising individuals blinds people to reality, past and present .

    • Firstly, sorry, but I believe your blanket proposition is wrong – there is no Constitutional prohibition against retrospective legislation being passed by a State or Federal parliaments. It is unusual to pass retrospective legislation yes and it doesn’t happen a lot, but when retrospective legislation has been enacted where the retrospective effect has been clear and unambiguous and later challenged before the High Court, such laws have been generally been held to be Constitutionally valid – refer Kidman (1915) and Polyukhovich (1991). The power is not unlimited and there are international conventions in relation to civil and political rights that may bear on the Parliamentary power that should be observed, so Parliaments don’t have carte blanche to pass such laws, particularly in relation to certain matters (e.g., certain criminal offences but even then, not all criminal matters), but it can be done. Secondly, the article at no point ever uses the word “illegal”. The issue is far more nuanced than a mere question of legality, which has, in any case, been resolved by the Solicitor-General. Whitlam did it yes – but announced it and when Ministers were appointed to his Cabinet, the initial appointments ended. And, surprise of surprises. It was also done by …… Albanese in the first weeks of his current government – but all done with total transparency. Albanese was clear about what he was doing and why. Morrison, as he has always done, whether as PM or in his previous failed attempts in “business” roles, sought absolute power for its own sake and did so furtively. In his own Trump’esque way, he showed nothing but contempt for process. He could have adhered to process and he might well have been commended for leadership, but one thing Morrison has never shown himself to be is a leader. A “boss” perhaps, but never a “leader”.

      • I never said there was. It’s a maxim of common law. Authority derived from the Constitution are (suppose to be) bound by, inter alia, the established maxims. It is after all a common law contract.
        Many here have claimed illegality, I was front running other commentators.
        The High Court does dodgy rulings? You mean like ruling Parens Patriae extends to all children? No crap. But you would still have standing and grounds for a hearing on any retrospective legislation.
        International conventions are not law. Neither are the conventions of the parliament such as having a PM.
        ‘he showed nothing but contempt for process’ like Lidia Thorpe does?
        I would not use ‘boss’ nor ‘leader’. ‘Puppet’ is the one I go with.

  2. Regarding our woeful look-at-me squid ring ex leader – blind Freddy could sit and hear and know
    ScoMo deliberately misled the Australian parliament. Where is the overall Liberal stance on this
    hideous non-justice?

    • You can’t make legislation retrospective, if that’s what she’s talking about. If you mean have it investigate crimes that occurred before it existed, that’s default in law. You would have to add a limit to stop a body from being able to do that automatically, but why would you if you weren’t a member of a former government. Has Albo and his mates been members of a former government?

      • “You can’t make legislation retrospective”, you say.
        Well of course, yes you can.
        And it been done before in 1980, to get stuck into “Bottom of the Harbour” tax avoiders.

        • If that were legally true, it could be taken to the high court and over turned. They tried to do it with tree clearing in QLD. No law can be retrospective in a Westminster System.

          • Did you know the government can take all Australian Dollars from anyone, without reason?
            Ask yourself, ‘If I own this $20 note, why is it illegal for me to destroy it?’, because you don’t own it, the RBA does. Your bank cards are owned by the bank, and your driver licence is owned by NSW govt. They can demand you hand back or destroy their property. So some people in 1980 were told to hand back some of the RBA’s debt notes, what does that have to do with the criminal law an ICAC would deal with?

  3. Poor old ex-PM Scotty.

    He was the centre of attention and action for nigh on 4 years wearing his PM cap…and all those other ‘caps’ that we later found out.
    From that 2019 election win, he was the ‘Messiah from the Shire’,
    To 2020, the beginnings of his ‘MinistryGate’, taking on Health Minister duties,
    To 2021, the ‘ScoMocracy’ highpoint, all those ministerial caps that he collected for himself sitting on his noggin,
    To 2022 election, the ‘ScoMolition’ ( Scotty the one man band Coalition government ) delivers another election miracle, the Demolition result of the Liberal Party.

    Poor old Scotty.

  4. THE GG ain’t the ICAC – if it was we would have an answer & the whole damn mess & muck would
    again be in relevant hands. Send ScoMo to Mars I say. There is no rocket science here.

    • The GG is the governments overseer with broad ranging powers. Why do GGs never do anything? Because they get to pick one of their mates to fill the roll. That’s what the calls for elected GGs by the Republican movement is all about. Do schools in NSW just not cover civics of something?

  5. Same old nonsense from politically-illiterate ‘messenger’ Herr Sternberg, really not worth responding to but hey Chris, you should check your facts (in respect to the GG’s role etc) before you go off half-cocked, as one of our best MPs said recently ‘google it mate’. You’re right with one thing: the great Gough Whitlam and his deputy Lance Barnard did indeed hold an unusually large number of ministries in that government’s first two weeks in power (till the election result and cabinet were finalised), but unlike Morrison, this fact was made perfectly clear and public, so they were upfront and honest to the parliament, not sneaky and furtive. The ‘duumvirate’, as it was known, enacted so many long overdue reforms that didn’t require legislation in order to fulfil campaign promises, such as pulling out all Aussie soldiers from the disastrous Vietnam War, ending conscription, barring racially discriminatory sport teams from Australia etc. We really do need a federal ICAC right now, and not an anachronistic GG head of state, to end the rot of taxpayer-funded rorting, jobs for mates, squandering billions while persecuting welfare recipients etc etc. Waddyareckon?

    • Integrity is confusing to extremists. I hated Morrison from his first day as Minister of Human Services. It was obvious Trump was a plant before he was elected. And I don’t believe in magical sky ghosts. I’d stand up for your right to speak Luis even though I prefer you shut up. I don’t have ‘Situational Ethics’ and I’m non-partisan. I get just as annoyed with Sky News as you do, just for different reasons. Your right wing counter parts get just as infuriated with me as you lefties do as I call out their shenanigans in other venues.

      If one of your guys did what Morrison did, you would be saying “There was a pandemic on, he had to have the power to act fast if things got out of control”. So yes, I look down on your all, I do have the moral high ground, so repent from your evil ways, you sinners!

  6. Morrison and Hurley have conspired in secret against the Commonwealth. If the Morrison Govt had been re-elected, we still wouldn’t know about any of this. “That book would definitely not have been released”! Who knows how many secret cabinet positions Morrison would have usurped in “His” latest Govt. Morrison has connived, schemed, manipulated and lied against his own party. Thats right Morrison and Hurley conspired against the LNP coalition, your party LNP voters? You really should be far more angry than the rest of us that have seen through this lying Scamvangelical branch stacking charlatan and his Hellscam faction from day one.
    You LNP voters make it far to easy for charlatans like Morrison to screw you and boy did he screw you and boy didn’t we all tell you so, for a decade or more? Just where is that point between gullibility and corruption begin and end, with you LNP people, Christian?

    • As I’ve said before, the hardest choice at voting time for me is which goes at the bottom, Liberal then Labor, or Labor then Liberal, last time Greens snuck into bottom place. You think anyone that disagrees with you must be liberal. On other platforms I’m told I’m a Labor voter. I’m not trapped in your prison with you.

      You’re upset because you just learnt a tiny bit of the stuff you don’t know about the system you live in. The average person doesn’t have a clue how things really are and really work, I may have mentioned that a million times. And none of you care to learn “cause it doesn’t effect me”, until it drops into your perceptual range, then you chimp out. That’s why a lot of things I say seem crazy to you all, I’m working from a different frame of reference. If you don’t want to learn, then you have to take my word for it.

      • Christian – “I’m working from a different frame of reference.”
        You 100% spot on, you “remember” stuff that never ever happened.
        We’ve learnt not to take your word for anything.

        • Nor looking up anything I inform you of. I’ll point you to Youtube ‘Rules for Rulers’, to give you a clue as to ‘different frame of reference’. I don’t know of an equivalent cartoon for Australian Law.
          You had better learn how things really work young lady or you will spend your life powerless wondering why certain individuals seem ‘blessed’ and asking yourself ‘Why do things work out for them?’ and then thinking it’s ‘Inequity’. While you do that, I’m taking my daughter it play in Daddy’s happy car. The front of a Porche 911 looks like a smiley face, and she likes the sound the engine makes.

  7. Luis knows her politics. Follow up with Turnbull & all ‘systems’ problems will show who’s who at the ‘spilling gate’. Not Gogh, Christian.
    You are well off mark.

    • Problem is I was talk about Law and she starts talking Politics. How many people here don’t know the difference?

  8. Calm it, Comrades!!! I’m stirred due to the duding ‘s.o.b.’ The dumb ass we allowed to control us. How’d he do it? It wasn’t all that smart.
    HE IMPERSONATED HIMSELF – that’s how. Gough still has the correct shoes re guts & knowhow.

    • He could do it because he is a front for the people who actually run things. Politicians are the rodeo clowns meant to get you emotional and keep your attention. If you calm down and step back for a while, you may notice none of it would actually makes sense in physical reality. It’s just a Punch and Judy show children.

  9. Christian – I’d send you a doorstop if I had one. Understand the law of the land gets reinvented daily. The gingerbread man? He’s $$$ loaded.

    • Send the door instead. Legal does not mean Lawful, Legislation is Regulation, not Law. Only a Ginger, can call another Ginger, Ginger. And he is loaded, because he plays the tune that’s allowed. Good sing, not true sing, quite often double sing. I bought a dart board too.

  10. Oh dear! I organized a large bunch of bananas & got coconuts instead. The door ran away with the philosopher’s stone. Now it’s nap
    time again.

  11. Another body to stop corruption won’t stop corruption.
    Only ending all political donations will stop the corruption of democracy.

    What Dan Andrews did with his enhanced power during the Pandemic is despicable.
    Corruption seeps in regardless of creed.


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