Dr Martin Hirst has lost his sense of humour when it comes to the Morrison Government. Instead, he argues, we need to be angry, not silently sniggering up our sleeves.
THE JOKES come thick and fast from ScoMo. This week, we’ve had the undignified crack that he’s going to name the taxpayer-funded RAAF jet that flies him around “Shark One” at great expense.
[First published on Independent Australia on 14 September 2019]
That’s our plane, not Morrison’s, but his complete lack of shame and his forced cornpoke humour are two of his better qualities.
Thankfully, Twitter chastised him over this idiocy.
Despite the PM’s attempt at portraying the blokey-jokey good guy, it’s getting harder to see the funny side of Australian politics. I’m not cracking a smile, I’m seething with rage.
I have come to the terrible but sober conclusion that we can no longer laugh off the Morrison horror show. The clowns are actually ideological axe murderers in pancake makeup and funny shoes.
Are you asleep, or are you Chris Uhlmann?
Seriously, if you’re not disturbed and angry by the direction the Morrison Government is taking Australia today, you are either asleep or you’re Chris Uhlmann writing in the Nine stable “news” rags.
Uhlmann applauds ‘the sound of silence out of Canberra’ and claims that the ‘silent majority’ of Morrison’s so-called “quiet Australians” would also be quietly getting on with their quiet, boring lives.
‘Normal people would rather get on with the task of, hopefully, making an uneventful path from sunrise to sunset. For many that isn’t easy and their simple wish of the Government is it not make the task any harder.’
The whole idea of a “silent majority” is a discredited Nixonian talking point from the late 1960s and has no basis in sociology, political science or people’s lived experience. For Uhlmann, it is a convenient meme on which to hang his barely-literate gaslighting of the electorate. For Trump and Morrison – and enablers like Uhlmann – the idea of a silent majority supporting their populist rhetoric is a convenient political myth.
Personally, I’d rather engage with outrage on Twitter than spend any money, time or effort arguing with Chris Uhlmann and, it seems, so would plenty of others.
Why I’m not laughing anymore
I have had several swings of mood since the May Election. You may recall that in early July I wrote about the deep grief I was feeling at the time and how I was almost immobilised with depression.
Since then, I’ve cheered up and been amused by the stuff-ups, the malapropisms and goofy, daggy dad schtick that we’ve been enduring from Morrison. The Government’s lack of policies and ham-fisted management of just about everything actually gave me a false sense of hope that things really wouldn’t get any worse.
Two weeks ago, as we approached Morrison’s first full year in the PM’s office, the scales fell from my eyes and it became apparent that these jokers were deadly serious. The lack of clear policy and the absence of a mandate following the close Election result are not an obstacle to achieving the Government’s ideological mission.
It is the mission itself that motivates Morrison, his cabinet colleagues and his power-hungry backbenchers like “Freedom Boy” Tim Wilson. The mission is to remake Australia as a nation without compassion, empathy and opposition to Morrison and Dutton’s authoritarian instincts. It’s a change that started under Abbott, was briefly disrupted by Turnbull’s obsequious vacuity, but is now back in full battle dress.
The mission goal is an impoverished, embittered, divided Australia; a country where “having a go to get a go” means wealthy Liberal and National Party donors standing by the back door waiting for handouts, kickbacks and sinecures paid for by the reduction of everyone else to the status of serfs. It’s as if Morrison and company (that’s how they view the Government) are wanting to return Australia to the status of a penal colony.
The gulags on Manus and Nauru and the locking up of refugees in a PNG gaol are one obvious symbol of this. Sending the Tamil family from Biloela, Priya and Nadesalingam Murugappan and their two Australian-born children to exile on Christmas Island under heavy, expensive and ridiculous armed guard is another potent sign of where we are headed.
Dutton has all but confirmed this with his casual use of the awful Trumpian term “anchor babies” to describe the Murugappan children. It’s a racist lie coming out of Trump’s mouth and it’s racist when Dutton drops it into our language. Unfortunately, most of our political journalists are so shallow and compromised they started normalising it within hours.
However, it is not yet possible for Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison to send Australian citizens into exile so easily. Instead, we are facing imprisonment in our own homes — a permanent lockdown of our rights as citizens and constant surveillance of our lives, both public and private.
I don’t need to give chapter and verse on all of the outrages. If you’re reading Independent Australia, you are very much aware of them.
Let’s just summarise the issues in these headlines:
‘Utter lies: the truth on boat arrivals and border protection’
‘Ensuring Integrity bill takes union busting to a whole new level’
‘Peter Dutton: crushing people because he can’
‘Littleproud fiddles while Australia burns’
‘Australia’s financial report card: Worst performance in the developed world’
A fundamental break with our egalitarian history
I don’t want to sound overly melodramatic, but I think we can now see the outline of our future if Scott Morrison wins the current rounds of the culture war against the rest of us.
Our civil society is being hollowed out and replaced with a 24/7 panopticon in which our rights are gradually and forcefully taken from us.
Everyone who works for a living or who is currently on any kind of welfare payment is under threat here. The attacks on workers’ rights don’t begin and end with attempts to clamp down on union action. The Government’s refusal to lift the poverty-level rate for Newstart and other benefits and plans to drug test unemployed people are further ways that Morrison and company want to impose workhouse levels of discipline on working people.
As for action on climate change, we are facing an existential crisis; the planet is dying, the eastern coast of Australia is going up in flames and once-flowing rivers are so dry that the Government has a crazy scheme to relocate fish in the outback. At the same time, the Morrison Government is refusing to take climate change seriously.
The less said about the disgraceful performance of this Government the better. At least a handful of ministers should be resigning over this deliberate lack of action. Start with David Littleproud and Angus Taylor.
I could go on, but I’m out of time, space and words to play with.
Australia was once known for its open and egalitarian ethos — it is being stolen from us. The time for laughing is over. We can no longer “grin and bear it”, it’s time to fight back.
You can start by joining the global climate strike on 20 September. It’s not just for kids — it’s our planet, too.