Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

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Asylum seekers and the paradoxical thinking of the Prime Minister

Manus Island detention centre was started under John Howard in 2001 but the real story began in 2013 with the Abbott Government’s “stop the boats” campaign. Scott Morrison as Minister for Immigration and Border Protection was the architect of Operation Sovereign Borders, the sole aim of which was to set an example of such nastiness that anyone contemplating coming by boat to Australia would give up.

Just how nasty that was is detailed by Kurdish journalist and poet Behrouz Boochani in No Friend but the Mountains (1). After being saved from a sinking asylum seeker vessel from Indonesia Boochani was handed to the Australian Navy who sent him to Christmas Island for a month and then to Manus, indefinitely. Boochani, with a postgraduate degree in political science, political geography and geopolitics, reflected deeply on the hellish experience on Manus. Having no paper or access to post he surreptitiously texted his book to a friend Ohmid Tofigian in Australia who translated it from Farsi to English.

The bulk of the book is about the horrendous conditions on Manus, which are indeed devised to make life as difficult as possible, and especially to mind-fuck the prisoners. The heat and humidity alone were insufferable but as Boochani put it, the guards’ only duty “is to shit all over the sanity of prisoners.” They followed prisoners around, taking notes or pretending to. Many of the Australian guards came from high security private sector prisons for serious criminals, and the asylum seekers were treated accordingly, men, women and children alike. They told local Papu “officers” that the prisoners were criminals, but while the Papu obeyed orders from the Australians, they surreptitiously treated the prisoners with kindness. Prisoners had to queue for hours for meals, for handouts such as razors, telephones, medical assistance (which was nearly always “drink more water” or “take paracetamol” whatever the complaint).

Often the water issued was left in the sun, so hot it was not thirst quenching. At meal times the first in the queue got large servings, and any handouts of cake and fruit, but those at the end got the left-overs. Rules and times were changed arbitrarily seemingly to create confusion. Prisoners were given code names, Boochani’s was MEG45, to depersonalize them; games such as cards were forbidden and destroyed if found. The toilets quickly became so blocked prisoners couldn’t use them, so sewage accumulated outside smelling “so vile that one feels ashamed of being part of the human race” as Boochani graphically put it. Early in his confinement in a container the writing on the walls told Boochani that a family had been confined here prior to him. They had a little girl, who wrote on the wall: “Oh God, do something, take us to a nice place. Kiss Kiss.”

Out of all this mistrust, torture and confusion a system evolved that Boochani called The Kyriarchy System the aim of which was to demoralize, and to create ever more hostility between guards and prisoners, until as predicted by observers, prisoners were driven to extremes; they rioted, resulting in savage beatings and the death of Reza Barati, the Gentle Giant as Boochani calls him.

In 2014 the Immigration Minister arrived, who at that time was Scott Morrison, “taking quick steps not looking at his surroundings. The Minister points his finger like a dictator at a few individuals. He delivers his words with intentional force. He says: ‘You have no chance at all, either you go back to your countries or you will remain on Manus forever.’ He leaves in a hurry.” (p. 313).

So how does Scott Morrison, the man mainly responsible for creating this hell, reconcile this with his Christian faith? When first sworn into Parliament in 2008 Morrison said:

“For me, faith is personal, but the implications are social—as personal and social responsibility are at the heart of the Christian message. In recent times it has become fashionable to negatively stereotype those who … to suggest that such faith has no place in the political debate of this country. This presents a significant challenge for those of us, like my colleague, who seek to follow the example of William Wilberforce or Desmond Tutu, to name just two. These leaders stood for the immutable truths and principles of the Christian faith. So what values do I derive from my faith? My answer comes from Jeremiah, chapter 9:24:.. I am the Lord who exercises loving-kindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, declares the Lord. From my faith I derive the values of loving-kindness, justice and righteousness, to act with compassion and kindness, acknowledging our common humanity and to consider the welfare of others; to fight for a fair go for everyone to fulfil their human potential and to remove whatever unjust obstacles stand in their way” (2).

The Christian faith that he professes is not that of William Wilberforce or of Desmond Tutu, but Pentecostalism, which started life by Afro-American pastor William Seymour at the Azusa Street Mission in Los Angeles in 1906. There are different varieties of Pentecostals but the majority believe that the Bible is literally true, that the devil exists, that Adam and Eve proved that God created two genders only, so that transgendered people are an aberration, in some sense less than human, likewise homosexuals. Believers need to be “born again” in order to be amongst the “saved”. Many regard speaking in tongues, or glossolalia, as a means of directly conversing with God, and faith healing as a manifestation of God’s power, sickness a consequence of the Fall of Man. A fundamental belief is that Christ will return at any time. Those who are saved will go to Heaven, while those who are not saved will be condemned to hell. Pentecostal thinking is black and white, based on certainty. Pentecostals think in binary terms: people are either saved or not saved, they go either to heaven or to hell, they are either male or female. There are few if any grey areas. They know they are right; how could they not be if they have been saved by God? “Prosperity theology” in Pentecostal thinking sees financial success as the mark of God’s blessing, their reward for being who they are and for believing what they do. Socially, devout Pentecostals live an austere life in which alcohol plays little or no part. (3)

But to what extent does Morrison espouse Pentecostal beliefs such literal belief in the Bible, the immanence of the second coming, loathing of LBGTI people and the rest? Fact is, we don’t know. His statement in his maiden speech to Parliament is typical of him: it says little apart from a broad affirmation of his religious beliefs. As he put it, “the Bible is not a policy handbook”, which sounds rather like a get-out clause. When Jane Cadzow asked how his professed Christianity fitted with his treatment of asylum seekers, he replied: “How I reconcile that with my faith is, frankly, a matter for me.” (4) Well it is not just matter for him if it affects public policy making. So the question is: Does his faith affect public policy?

Sean Kelly, in tracing Morrison’s public statements and answers to journalists’ questions, points out a constant factor: he says nothing beyond barest facts, to the point of giving journalists “the finger” (5). Kelly quotes a typical example:

Journalist: But in terms of making a judgement, if those asylum seekers do come to Australia doesn’t that mean that your turn back the boats policy is kind of …
Morrison: Well, you have made a whole bunch of presumptions there which I’m not about to speculate on.
Journalist: Well, maybe you can clear them up for us?
Morrison: Well, you’re the one making the presumptions not me.

This sort of pugnacious dodging means we really don’t know what he believes in or where he stands on many issues. He contradicts himself time after time, but “he can seemingly convince himself of things aggressively”, which is to say that he believes what he is currently saying is true. Kelly continues:

If accurate, this might make sense of Morrison’s blunt assertions that he has not said things he has said and that he has played no role at all in events in which others believe he was central….(6)

For example, Morrison asserts he had no role in the political assassination of Michael Towke, who beat Morrison in the pre-selection for the seat of Cooke by 82-8. However Towke was then subjected to a smear campaign that lost him the nomination – and Morrison replaced him. Likewise Morrison claims he had no role in the toppling of Abbott for Turnbull, nor in the toppling of Turnbull himself. Yet his rise from newcomer to PM has been spectacular.

Kelly attributes much of this contradiction to Morrison’s background in marketing: he was the former Managing Director of Tourism Australia, and was responsible for the embarrassingly failed “So, where the bloody hell are you?” campaign. From this background came his total support for advertising gambling – or anything else come to that – on the “best billboard in Australia”: the sails of the Sydney Opera House. It also gels with his style of announcing policy. Like Trump, he doesn’t argue a case, he aggressively and loudly asserts it. When his spin does not cut through, he raises a distracting issue: like an aggressive rebuttal to a questioner or what a terrible person Bill Shorten is. Part of his spin – and also to distinguish himself from his predecessor – Morrison dresses himself up as a stereotypical Aussie family man, crazy about footie, a barbie and a beer, the last not being very Pentecostal of him.

If we cannot therefore work out what he believes in from what he says, is there any evidence that his policy positions are in fact affected by Pentecostal beliefs? Given that Pentecostalism is espoused by only 1 per cent of Australians, to the extent that his thinking is Influenced furthers him from representing the values and thinking of a large majority of Australians.

He seems to be applying prosperity theology when he says, using a typical Pentecostal binary divide, that there are the taxed, who do the right thing and make money through their own efforts, and the taxed-nots, who do not deserve social welfare for they have not done their bit in growing the economy. Another feature which may derive from broad Pentecostalism is that he is deaf to the views of other people when they are contrary to his own. A Pentecostal knows he is right – in what he thinks at the time anyway.

In the Wentworth by-election several issues arose that people saw as major priorities. One was getting children and their families off Nauru and returned to Australia for medical care, another was taking action against climate change, yet another discrimination against LBGTI students in religious schools. Prior to the election he agreed at least to allow the New Zealand solution for children and their families provided they could never return to Australia. He also agreed that discrimination against LBGTI children would not be allowed.

However when Labor reluctantly agreed to his version of the New Zealand solution he stuck to his original view: no deal. However, the government surreptitiously started bringing children from Nauru to Australia, not “showboating” as he put it, as if he is reluctant to advertise the fact that he is bowing to public opinion. On the other hand his Government is continuing to fight an appeal to the Federal Court by a group of doctors about the medical condition of children on Nauru. And legislation about discriminating against LBGTI children now seems to be off the agenda.

As for climate change, Morrison’s reaction to the IPCC Report: “Let’s not forget Australia accounts for just over 1% of global emissions.

There are a lot bigger players than us out there. … Emissions per capita in Australia are at their lowest level in a decade.” Official figures show however that emissions increased 1.3% in the year to March 2018 and that Australia is very unlikely to meet the Paris agreement target and certainly not “meet it in a canter” as he said on ABC’s Insiders programme. He is even proposing a new coal fired power station, against the expressed wishes of the business community, the world scientific community and some 79 per cent of the Australian population. The opinions of the Wentworth electorate, let alone the large majority of Australians, are to him post-election but a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal.

At the final polling of the leadership of the Liberal Party, when Turnbull didn’t stand, Morrison was depicted within the Party as centre right and therefore the better alternative to the hard right Peter Dutton. (7) Centre right Morrison certainly isn’t. He is against such things as same sex marriage, legalising homosexuality, discriminating against gays in religious schools, action against climate change, the welfare state; and for cutting taxes for the top end of town, deregulating (except when it comes to electricity prices): hard neoliberalism in short. (8)

Finally, let us return to the compelling issue of reconciling Morrison’s belief in loving kindness to the way he authorised treatment of asylum seekers and how he treated them when he did meet them. As Boochani records, he was aggressive, pointing his finger at individuals, depriving them of any hope when he said, “return to your countries or you will remain on Manus forever.”

Morrison told the Daily Mail that he went to refugee camps around the world when he was immigration minister, and said he was fully aware of the impact his decisions have had. “You’ll find yourself on your knees, you’ll find yourself in tears, you’ll find yourself wrestling with this tough stuff.” (9)

That is not the impression he gave Behrouz Boochani when Morrison visited Manus, the conditions on which he himself had largely created. Rather it seems as Sean Kelly put it: (10)

This refusal to pick a side and stick with it, and the insistence that it is possible to believe two contradictory things at once, is everywhere in Morrison’s career.

Refs …

1 Boochani, Behrouz, No Friend but the Mountains, Picador, 2018.

2 Taken from Hansard: https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id:%22chamber/hansardr/2008-02-14/0045%22

3 These points are abstracted from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentecostalism and from Corinna Elaine, https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/prime-minister-morrison-and-the-pentecostal-agenda,11878

4 Quoted in Sean Kelly, “Leave no Trace: The story of Scott Morrison. The Monthly November 2018, pp. 22-33.

5 Kelly, Op. cit. pp. 30 and 32.

6 Op. cit.

7 David Speers On Mutiny, Melbourne University Press

8 I expand on this at https://tasmaniantimes.com/2018/04/the-paradox-of-christianity-right-or-left-wing/

9 Daily Mail, 9 November, 2018.

10 Kelly, Op. cit. p. 30

John Biggs is a Hobart writer and a frequent contributor to Tasmanian Times.

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18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Christopher Eastman-Nagle

    November 17, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    Personalising politics is an infantile disorder, because politics is overwhelmingly about economic and social forces. Personalising and demonising individuals merely indicates a paucity of real analysis. Instability and the bizarre and obtuse ideological posturing that comes with it is a function of tectonic shifts and destabilisation of the world order that has been extant since 1945.

    And it isn’t just the free market wallahs who are into it …

    A fair measure of floundering and blindsiding is therefore going to be emblematic of the times, no matter who is in charge. Get used to it, because it could be a couple of hundred years before things settle down again.

    Secondly, it is not a good idea to uncritically accept the narrative of a desperado who is clearly playing to the deeply entrenched prejudices of his, not so much gullible supporting constituency, as one that will grasp at any straw to bolster its under siege beliefs and declining legitimacy.

    I would no more believe that everything is all sweetness and light on the asylum islands than I would that they were SS style concentration camps. The atmosphere is bound to be a toxic mixture of anger, frustration and despair. And having to manage that is hardly going to be a bed of roses for anyone .. which is why not allowing ideological heartbleeders anywhere near the place is absolutely necessary.

    I think I can safely speak for a clear majority of my fellow citizens that we will throw out any government that lets the snake heads back into business. We expect that any government we vote for will protect our borders and the orderly migration and refugee intake that underpins the legitimacy and stability of our dear little multicultural experiment. And we are not going to allow idiots who congenitally cannot tell the difference between compassion and indulgence to screw it up for us in the way they have done elsewhere, about which they are in total denial, because multicultural failure is everyone else’s fault except theirs.

    And not to put too fine a point on it, if you survey the status of multiculturalism around our region, none of it is traveling well, except in Singapore, where no one is allowed to be nasty and everyone has to be nice .. or else. Even the Buddhists are getting tough, as the wretched Muslims of Myanmar are finding out. So if we have any sense at all, we will treat our experiment as the huge risk it really is, by resolutely protecting the borders that keep it safe, manageable and hopeful for our children and grandchildren.

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and it is about time some people took stock of that and applied its bitter lessons to their own recalcitrant moral intransigence.

  2. peter henning

    November 17, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    It is clear that Scott Morrison is unfit to hold public office in a multicultural society like Australia. It is also clear that he is profoundly ill-equipped and incapable of providing leadership in a nation where inequality is increasing. It is also clear that he has no grasp of the important issues which confront Australia, whether on the domestic front or in Australia’s relationships with other nations in our region, or in the wider world.

    Morrison has demonstrated, conclusively, that he cannot be trusted to treat vulnerable people with humanity. He has shown, in all his portfolios, a contempt for egalitarianism, a contempt for equality of opportunity, a liking for the distribution of public funds to serve outmoded and backward-looking interests, and a strong commitment to enshrining lack of transparency in government.

    Morrison is no leader. Everything he seeks to do is comprehensively against the national interest and driven by a base political motive of power without purpose, and opportunistic exploitation of the socially divisive. He has no vision for Australia beyond repeating past mistakes.

  3. Rob Halton

    November 17, 2018 at 3:37 am

    Time to get the facts into perspective. Morrison remains as our best chance of a PM who is prepared to continue to lead as he has done since his short stint in office so far.

    He may be subject to the powers of the gang of six MPs who will likely holds the balance of power coming into the next Federal election, and that would be a challenge for Morrison but he would not baulk, and I believe he would still show good leadership intent!

    Majority governments are falling apart, PMs are not lasting their terms either. I’m damned if I know who could do better than Morrison. We would not want Dutton as PM as that would have been the living end of the Coalition.
    The other choice was Bishop who was seen to have too close links to China!

    I would think that most of us would realise by now that having too close arrangements with China as a non democratic rapidly emerging super power in our region is not a good sign for either respectful cooperation, or in the national interest for Australia.

    Morrison has the task ahead of resetting our ties with China as we are all aware. This weekend’s APEC summit in Port Moresby will be a major test for Morrison who will be confronting China head on over maintaining Australian interests in the Pacific region by standing up against Chinese interests coming too close to our shores.

    Morrison already has to try to appease two major Muslim countries in our region, Indonesia and Malaysia, and whether or not to move our Australian embassy in Israel.

    It’s an interesting configuration of demands by those two countries to maintain cooperation at all levels, and Australia will need it to maintain our sovereignity, my god we will!

    Mr Biggs and others, if you have better answers then please provide your alternative views based on the national interest which is at stake, and actually overrides much of the content of your article! Without secure borders Australia will no longer be our home!

    Please provide what sort of government is your choice to lead the nation after the next election, given that the national interest and a balance of trade and reasonable cooperation in our region with our neigbours will most likely be forefront!

    Morrison’s diplomatic skills will be put to the test at the APEC summit which could well set the future scene for Australia for maintaining its sovereignty within a rapidly changing and unpredictable political systems emerging within our region.

    • John Biggs

      November 17, 2018 at 9:07 am

      I strongly disagree that Morrison is “our best chance”. He has already shown himself incompetent in so many ways. He is Trump-Lite in the way he thinks, shooting from the lip without thinking things through, and when others disagree he digs in.

      A current example is the stupid suggestion of moving the Embassy. That was done for the wrong reasons and didn’t work to get the Jewish vote in Wentworth. Then, when he is personally told by Widodo and Mahathir that they think this a very bad idea as far as they are concerned, he shouts “Australian foreign policy will not be dictated by outsiders!”

      That wasn’t what was happening at all. Of course you have to consider the ramifications of your decisions before making them .. otherwise it is a Trump-like Australia First, and bugger other countries. That is very dangerous. As it is he has now jeopardised a free trade deal, something that’s good as far as I’m concerned, but obviously that is not what Morrison and his Party want.

      Morrison’s problem is that he doesn’t have a strong conceptual foundation for his policies. He bellows on-the-spot decisions without taking advice, and without think things through. He is using his (poor, as it turns out) marketing skills to run a complex country. This is not a good fit.

      I think the reason he behaves like this is because he has that inner certainty that comes with extreme evangelical thinking; he is RIGHT and anyone who disagrees is treated with belligerence. The fact that he can imprison people, including children, under harsh conditions that he himself created .. and then fall on his knees and pray and weep for his victims, bespeaks an irrational, and I would add, contemptible person.

      And you Rob, think he is the best person to lead Australia? I take it you mean best in the Coalition, but surely not. Bishop would be a far more trustworthy person, but the boys on the right soon packed her off. Otherwise I can see no-one in the Coalition fit to be PM, so you are right there.

      The next government? Labor, or preferably a powersharing with Labor would be far better for Australia. True, Shorten would not be my ideal choice for PM, but try others on the Labor side: Penny Wong, Tania Plibersek, Albanese at a pinch, and Mark Butler.

      In fact Labor has a very strong team, and if you threw in Andrew Wilkie and some others on the cross benches we’d do pretty well .. streets ahead of the current school of piranhas in the Coalition which has selfishly prefered to cannibalise itself than govern the country.

    • Tim Thorne

      November 17, 2018 at 2:50 pm

      Rob, if you want Morrison to be leader beyond the next election, you’d better tell Erich. He is the one who decides, and Morrison is a rare example of Erich getting the numbers wrong. Somebody obviously ratted. Let us not forget that there was a prediction from Erich’s side of the party when Morrison won that “there will be hell to pay” and that the hard right would take revenge. If they can roll Turnbull they can certainly roll ScoMo, who doesn’t even have his own faction.

      If by some miracle the Coalition wins next year, Morrison would hold on as a Turnbull-like figurehead, pushing policies he doesn’t believe in while Erich and Co. call the tune. Of course he would be much better at that than Turnbull was, as he seems to have very few policies himself.

      The other thing you might need to do is to head off to the Shire and doorknock for him, as there could well be a big swing against the Libs in Cook.

      As to alternatives, I have no desire to suggest anyone because I have no influence on such matters, but as I said in my earlier comment, my money would be on Sukkar for the medium term, at least.

  4. Chris

    November 15, 2018 at 6:36 am

    “Morrison is learning fast as a new PM.”

    Leopards change their spots. Does he support Tourism, or has Tourism given him TWO bags to crawl into?

  5. Tim Thorne

    November 14, 2018 at 9:06 am

    Morrison won’t last. Dutton mIght well have missed his chance. Abbott is already history. Sukkar is the one to watch. Never underestimate the control exercised by Uncle Otto’s nephew.

  6. Keith Antonysen

    November 14, 2018 at 7:39 am

    Morrison was meant to be a chameleon. He was excessively cruel to refugees when Minister for Immigration and the Australian public was barred from knowing anything about it. He is now meant to be taken as a PM with the interests of the whole electorate, except that those caught by structural changes in the economy are held in contempt by Morrison.

    As Wentworth displayed, he was accident prone.

    He has promoted the view that Australia should move its Embassy in Israel, but after meeting with Indonesia’s leader you can bet that thought bubble will go down the drain.

    The CEO of Woodside, Peter Coleman, has stated .. “The head of oil and gas giant Woodside Petroleum has stepped up demands for more decisive political action on climate change, warning the ‘risk of inaction is too great’.”

    The LNP continues to be in disarray with the change in leadership. There are still mutterings of a leadership change.

  7. peter henning

    November 13, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    The ‘beltin’ road from Tasmania to China has been running for years, paved with un-milled logs and woodchips paid for by Tasmanian taxpayers in millions of dollars, as well as wanton and irreparable destruction year after year, for decades.

    It’s a well-laid belt .. an open transfer from Tasmania to China, and other places like Japan and Malaysia as well, for virtually nothing.

    The Tasmanian forestry industry even has a new name for it all, enshrined in the Tasmanian psyche like an Easter Island advertisement for lunacy. It’s called ‘Sustainable’.

    As for Morrison, hopefully he is already regarded as an irrelevance by the majority of Australians.

    Evidence increasingly suggests that ‘all the way’ with repeating the mistakes of the past, such as ‘clean and green’ coal, absurd industrial forestry mining etc, while deliberately ignoring what has been happening for decades, has just about run its race.

    It is possible to hope that Trump and his acolytes in Australia are on the way out. The Wentworth result and the US midterm results are some cause for hope. If it goes the other way, a rerun of the 1930s becomes more likely.

  8. Rob Halton

    November 13, 2018 at 1:37 am

    Absolute rubbish. Morrison is by far the best bet to lead our nation to the next election.

    There will be a huge emphasis by Morrison to keep China off our shore as far as possible, hence his recent push into PNG with our military providing funding for construction of a major port on Manus island before the Chinese grab the lot to extend their claws into the South Pacific and beyond.

    The way I see it, by not being blinded by the usual TT stunt masters, is to bring forward national security issues to the top of the list of must do, and do now, by combating closer moves by China to Australia.

    While you fellows play with your climate change antics and the soft politics, I will be supporting Morrison’s moves to prevent China’s Belt and Road policy from taking on Australia completely!

    Reasonable alliances with the US are essential, and that must continue irrespective of the presidency! There is little to fear with Trump as he is only there at the whim of US voters.

    • max

      November 13, 2018 at 8:05 pm

      Rob, your faith in Morrison is to be commended, but I wish you would be forthcoming and divulge some reason for this unswerving faith in the Liberal Party.

      Military wise, Australia could delay the Chinese army for less than a second, and to think otherwise is an impossible dream.

      Morrison has already upset Indonesia by acting like a buffoon in making a captain’s call on moving the Israel Embassy. Let’s hope he doesn’t drag us into a war with China like his party did in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

      We have won no friends by being one of the Willing, and America has always been late in coming to the aid of allies.

      • Peter Bright

        November 13, 2018 at 8:44 pm

        Max, here’s one brief definition of ‘astroturfing’ from the Web:

        “The practice of creating the appearance of grassroots support for a person, as by hiring bloggers to promote that person.”

    • Wining Pom

      November 14, 2018 at 11:59 am

      ‘There is little to fear with Trump as he is only there at the whim of US voters.’

      I just can’t work out the logic there.

      Bush Jr was voted in, twice, and he gave us Iraq.

      But I feel that your most worrying statement is ‘to bring forward national security issues to the top of the list of must do ..’

      Goodness. Now you’re siding with Trump and all the fascists.

  9. peter henning

    November 12, 2018 at 5:48 pm

    Morrison told the New York Times he admired Trump, and that story has been repeated in the mainstream media, so it’s not as if there is any particular reason to doubt its veracity.
    I do agree that it is almost impossible to believe anything that Morrison says in relation to his ‘humanity’ and self-professed ‘compassion’, when all evidence of his decision-making in any portfolio he has held blatantly contradicts his rhetoric.
    But when it comes to the question of him saying that he admires Trump, I think you’d need a bit of evidence to say that he wasn’t telling the truth on that occasion.
    As for Trump making some ‘slip ups’, I can only suggest that there is now so much material in the public domain about Trump and his lack of fitness for any public position, let alone POTUS, that your terminology is bizarre.
    I guess you haven’t read the article in the November Monthly about Morrison which John Biggs refers to, or if you have, you simply reject what it had to say.
    ‘Leave No Traces’ is worth reading, but what I think is interesting about the article is what is left unspoken. There are plenty of examples, but let one suffice.
    When the Ruddock Report ‘religious freedom’ recommendation upheld the right of the publicly funded private school system to ban LGBT children and teachers, Morrison immediately supported it, but then gradually backed down and finally opposed it, not on any grounds of empathy or understanding or humanity but purely on the basis of political self-interest.
    Morrison is quite capable of closing down Nauru and Manus if he sees that serves him politically, but he is quite capable of keeping them going indefinitely, ad infinitum as well, irrespective of the damage.
    The problem we now have is that the Howard justification of ‘non-core promises’ has evolved exponentially into ‘fakery’ as the norm, into downright lies, deliberate and malicious deception and promotion of social division.
    Australians voted against Howard in 2007 in the hope that some decency could return, but were disappointed. They overwhelmingly supported Turnbull replacing Abbott, but again they were disappointed.
    But Morrison’s credentials have always been tarnished, and his aptitude to follow Trump’s wanton disregard for due process was not insignificant in the Wentworth vote. His election by the Liberal’s federal caucus demonstrates a hollowness and a vacuous intensity at their core.

  10. Tim Thorne

    November 12, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    John, you refer to the “stop the boats” policy.

    What must be pointed out, regardless of questions of compassion or politics, is that that policy has failed in its stated aim of saving lives.

    Just as many people, if not more, are drowning in their attempts at seeking asylum as there were before this policy was introduced. “Stopping the boats” has changed the geography of the problem, but not solved it. We must remember that 0.01 per cent of the world’s refugees have attempted to come to Australia, thus putting this issue in perspective.

  11. Chris

    November 12, 2018 at 6:25 am

    “Morrison is our only hope of trust in a leader as there are no others at present within political reach who could do better.”
    I ask you – Quack.

  12. Rob Halton

    November 11, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Morrison is learning fast as a new PM. He is the only hope for the Australian public. So far, I see progress faster than Turnbull could deliver.

    Morrison is our only hope of trust in a leader as there are no others at present within political reach who could do better.

    I am not so sure Morrison is exactly an admirer of Trump. Trump makes some incredible slip ups, but Morrison does not give me that impression at all.

  13. peter henning

    November 11, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    Morrison is an admirer of Trump. He sees Trump as a role model. He loves the Trump way of making political decisions on the run, appearing to be decisive, without consulting anyone, without any thought about the consequences.

    Morrison got to where he is now by being given the green light by his two predecessors .. the man who won power in 2013 by promising policies which were the exact opposite to his intentions, Tony Abbott, and by the master manager of chameleonism, Malcolm Turnbull, who even now retains the image of a moderate, having only supported the hard right agenda for the whole time he was prime minister.

    That’s the main training background for Morrison .. a milieu of cynicism, contemptuous of transparency and any notions of empathy for the disadvantaged.

    Morrison’s lump of coal, his mad musical vaudeville in parliament, his imitation of Trump’s embassy switch to Jerusalem – ‘we make our own foreign policy’ he lied – his transfer of NDIS funds to farmers – ‘I am praying for rain’ – his decisions as treasurer to increase socio-economic inequality, his ‘fair dinkum’ buffoonery, are strong testimony to a profound rot at the heart of the Australian political system.

    These are examples, maybe, of what Jared Diamond would say tend to suggest a desperate last stand, where the ruling class can only offer more extreme manifestations of its failing agenda. Thus we have John Howard being given centre stage in Wentworth and now in Victoria, like some guru for an Easter Island replay, talking about Labor and Greens as ‘extremists’.

    But, just by a quirk of timing, the US midterms are producing exactly the opposite result to what Morrison was betting on and hoping for, and what Bush’s deputy sheriff would want to know. There is a turning of the tide against Trump, a turning which will inevitably hit the credibility of Australian politicians who thought they could ride on his bandwagon of policies and methods.

    The problem Australia faces is that the ALP has consistently demonstrated a lack of moral fibre.

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