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.