Politics

We May Have Escaped Prime Minister Dutton, But Scott Morrison Is Also Pretty Shit

A reminder about what Prime Minister Scott Morrison actually stands for.

Today, Australia dodged a bullet: we narrowly avoided having Peter Dutton as our Prime Minister. But while many people are expressing relief, it’s worth a quick reminder that the guy who will be our next PM — Scott Morrison — is also pretty shit.

A big part of the reason everyone hates Peter Dutton, for instance, is the despicable role he’s played in Australia’s offshore detention regime. What can be easy to forget though, is that he didn’t always play this role — he took over as Minister for Immigration and Border Protection in 2014, from none other than ScoMo himself.

Then there’s Morrison’s role just last year as a vocal opponent of marriage equality, and his work this year, as Treasurer, in arguing for tax cuts for big business. In many ways, Morrison is basically just the middle space in a Venn diagram consisting of Peter Dutton and Malcolm Turnbull: the worst bits of both, with not a lot else to offer.

So before we heave that sigh of relief, it’s worth a quick look back at what, exactly, our new Prime Minister stands for. Here’s a look at some of the key points.

Operation Sovereign Borders: Scott Morrison Is The Guy Behind “Stop The Boats”

First things first, cast your mind back to ScoMo’s days as Minister for Immigration, back when Tony Abbott was Prime Minister in the distant past of 2013. That’s the year a policy called “Operation Sovereign Borders”, better known by the name “stop the boats”, came into effect.

Scott Morrison was the Minister for Immigration who presided over the start of that policy, which saw the military turning back boats of asylum seekers trying to reach Australia. He was also the Minister for Immigration as that boat turn-back policy started to slip into secrecy, announcing that he would stop holding weekly media briefings and instead only update the country on what was happening to asylum seekers on an “as-needs basis”.

Scott Morrison is the guy who effectively blamed asylum seeker Reza Barati for his own death in a riot on Manus Island, giving incorrect information to the media that suggested the riots that killed Barati were entirely caused by asylum seekers rather than angry PNG locals and prison guards.

He’s the guy who delayed the processing of refugees’ security clearances and visas, which tore families apart and kept people in limbo for years. He’s the guy who said it was unreasonable for taxpayers to have to pay to fly asylum seekers to the funerals of their family members killed in an accident.

Fuck, Scott Morrison is the guy who responded to reports of children self-harming on Nauru by suggesting that Save the Children workers were making false claims, and even coaching children to self harm, in order to undermine the government. Independent reports later found there was no truth to that statement.

Remember That Whole “Religious Freedom” Debate During The Postal Survey?

Scott Morrison was also a big campaigner for the “No” side in the postal survey on marriage equality. He was one of the guys spouting crap about the need to protect “religious freedom”, which he basically defined as the right for religious people to keep saying dangerously homophobic things with impunity.

For example, ScoMo was the guy who praised rugby star Israel Folau’s “strong character” when Folau made a bunch of extraordinarily homophobic comments about gay people going to hell. “Good for him for standing up for his faith,” were Morrison’s thoughts on that at the time. “I think he’s shown a lot of strength of character in just standing up for what he believes in and I think that’s what this country is all about”.

He also said back in 2016 that as a homophobe, he’s basically faced the same kind of bigotry and discrimination faced by LGBTIQ+ people, because of course he did.

Not To Mention Company Tax Cuts, And The Clusterfuck That Was #Budget2018

Since 2015, Morrison has been Australia’s Treasurer, aka the guy behind the federal budget. He’s the guy behind such disastrous polices as the PaTH internship program, that one where the government paid businesses to take on young people as interns, while the interns themselves were paid below minimum wage, sometimes as low as $4 an hour.

In this year’s budget, Morrison helped lower the HECS threshold, slash penalty rates, and tried really fucking hard to give a tax cut to businesses earning more than $50 million a year. His policies overwhelmingly fucked over young people — take a look here if you need a refresher. Scott Morrison’s also the guy who cut ABC funding by $84 million, putting the public broadcaster under enormous strain. ScoMo also fiercely resisted the banking royal commission, then refused to apologise even after said commission uncovered a fair amount of corruption behind the scenes.

In fact, on economic issues in general, Morrison has a history of saying pretty cooked things. In 2015 he suggested getting a job is “a prescription” for young people with mental health issues, i.e. that getting a job can basically cure depression. In 2016, he blamed young people for Australia’s economic woes, saying that “a generation has grown up in an environment where receiving payments from the government is not seen as the reserve of the disadvantaged, but a common and expected component of their income over their entire life cycle.” Which was not true, actually — we fact-checked this at the time.

Oh Yeah, And The Environment

Much like the rest of the Liberal Party, Morrison also has an appalling record on environmental issues. In 2017 he was accused of essentially bullying the states into allowing fracking, by threatening to cut the amount of money the states received from the GST if they didn’t.

There’s not a lot else to say on his environmental policy, because let’s face it, he’s a Liberal. The Coalition government is still in a mess over the National Energy Guarantee, and Morrison recently defended the controversial $444 million grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a tiny non-profit that was totally surprised to be given the funds.

What Kind Of Prime Minister Does Australia Actually Want?

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the downsides of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. It’s hopefully enough to jog your memory, though, about why Morrison isn’t necessarily any better than Dutton, as welcome as Dutton getting brutally owned was.

We have, of course, focused on the negatives here — as Morrison and his fans will no doubt point out, he has done some things well. We’re guessing that for many Australians, though, quite a few things on this list may just be dealbreakers, the kind of things we don’t want our Prime Minister to ever represent or stand for.

This leadership spill robbed us of our say in who leads us, but it doesn’t mean we just have to sit back and accept Scott Morrison as the best available option. We can and should demand better, and that begins with holding Scott Morrison to account.