A question of characters | Saturday newspaper
Anthony Albanese is convinced that the tide is rising on the Morrison government. Scott Morrison feels it too, but, like King Canute, he’s desperately trying to prove he’s still in control.
The struggling prime minister is overwhelmed by almost unprecedented disunity and contempt for his authority within his ruling coalition. No one can miss the spectacle of Liberal and National Senators supporting a Pauline Hanson anti-vaccine mandate bill and refusing to take defeat as the last word. Indeed, this revolt has spread to the lower house, with two Queensland nationals, George Christensen and Llew O’Brien, threatening to “wreak havoc” in this fifteen sessions unless the government obtains deadlines. States “to end vaccination mandates”.
In the government hall on Tuesday, Morrison pleaded with dissidents in his ranks to stop ruining the government’s reelection chances. His warning was aimed not only at the anti-vaccination squad, but also at those who threatened to vote against the religious discrimination bill if it is found to reduce the protection and rights of queer Australians which have been overwhelmingly endorsed. during the postal vote on marriage equality in 2017.
The moderate Liberals voiced their concerns in the village hall. Two – Warren Entsch and Trent Zimmerman – made them public. Entsch is so excited by the prospect that his 19-year commitment to the cause of minority rights, sexual and otherwise, will be undermined that he will cross the floor to vote against the bill if it fails the scrutiny of the inquiries. parliamentarians.
Labor has so far stayed out of the fight. Albanese says he is committed to religious freedom and has consulted with religious leaders of all faiths. He regrets that Morrison did not seek bipartisan cooperation as these leaders preferred. Labor MPs, especially from western Sydney, suspect Morrison of seeking an opening to call them anti-religion. Midweek, Albanese took political insurance saying he was always ready to sit down with the PM but that Morrison “is someone who doesn’t bring people together and doesn’t try to do it, and didn’t try to live up to that point “.
The prime minister has warned his troops that the last fortnight of the year is crucial for their prospects in next year’s election, which is only a matter of months away. According to the official briefing, he said: “You authorize the election of a Labor government, or you secure our re-election. It is up to us to decide if we allow this to happen.
With rumbling through the ranks about his own less than convincing performance, Morrison called for continued support for his leadership and thanked the village hall for their discipline and support. He said that was the reason for their success so far and that he was the key to it going forward. Otherwise, he said, they would allow Labor to “sneak into government”. This view was reinforced by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who complimented Anthony Albanese by acknowledging that he is “not fooled” and that he is “where he wants to be in this place. moment”.
Of course, Morrison’s call for support is a blatant admission that he is lacking. But while some liberals share their desperation with reporters over his chances of winning the election, the new rules he introduced after ousting his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, make his replacement nearly impossible. A special two-thirds majority of the ballroom votes is required.
The point is, however, that if just over half of the party hall wants to get rid of a chef, he’s gone. They can change the rules and proceed with the deed. Although Defense Minister Peter Dutton has publicly dragged his coat in recent print and television interviews, few in the village hall are convinced at this point that his change would improve the government’s outlook.
These prospects are already bleak if for no other reason than in the last election the Coalition won only 77 of the 151 seats in the House of Representatives. His slim majority was further reduced with the defection of Craig Kelly from the bench of lacrosse and from the United Australia Party of Clive Palmer. Redistributions of electoral boundaries since 2019 have theoretically given Labor a seat in Victoria and removed a Liberal seat in Western Australia.
Put simply, Morrison can’t afford to lose seats and will have to reclaim a few somewhere – New South Wales and Tasmania were considered his best bets.
On the latter, two scorching Senate speeches this week from Jacqui Lambie may well have hurt the Liberals’ prospects. His anger was sparked by the government’s double-talk about vaccinations and its refusal to allow debate on an anti-corruption commission bill. She said it was “shameful” that Morrison had failed to establish a promised integrity commission. At a scared room, she shouted that he had said he had pledged “to do it – another lie”.
Lambie gained national media attention with his excoriation. She said the Coalition had gone from one Prime Minister to another “and it is the worst on record”. Pointing to the government benches, she said Morrison was “incompetent, he’s not a leader and I like to watch him and you fall apart.”
Lambie claimed a role in making sure the Liberals “ended up in Tasmania”. She said their two seats there “are gone” and looks forward to pitching her own network candidates Jacqui Lambie to Bass and Braddon and “conveying those preferences where they deserve to go, not to liars. policies ”.
Lambie’s unwavering references to Morrison’s lack of character and veracity are yet further proof that this is now a major political drawback for him. She told the Nine Network that on the issue of vaccination, he should stop playing both sides because it is dangerous to do so. She thought it was not helpful that Australia did not have a strong leader and instead had one who wanted to try to “please everyone”.
Yet another opinion poll, the Resolve Political Monitor in The Sydney Morning Herald and Age, showed a downward trend for Morrison’s personal performance. The prime minister’s net performance score fell from 4% to minus 9% last month. One of Morrison’s problems is the fact that his clumsy attempt to appease rebels reluctant on vaccination mandates last week failed miserably in Parliament this week.
But worse for him, it drew the popular and powerful prime ministers of Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia into the argument. Daniel Andrews of Victoria has made rare appearances on the Seven and Nine networks’ breakfast shows to hit back at the Prime Minister for his calls on states to “get out of people’s lives” with their vaccination mandates. Andrews said the lockdown in Victoria this year was because there were no vaccines. He asked, rhetorically, “Who forgot to order the vaccines?” It was not state governments.
Morrison’s crack in Queensland for demanding that people be vaccinated for coffee had his Queensland dissident MPs in mind, but he only succeeded in irritating Prime Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk. She told the state parliament that she was extremely disappointed that “our country’s prime minister is now seeking to undermine Queensland’s strong immunization program”.
Mark McGowan of Western Australia denounced Morrison’s “very dangerous views” on vaccination policies and said he was chasing votes from extremists.
Morrison saw a Labor plot in prime ministers’ counterattacks, informing some reporters that Albanese was asking prime ministers to do their dirty work. But a senior Queensland government official scoffed at the paranoia, asking if Morrison really expected states to sit down and adjust to his distortions.
The federal Labor Party has not left everything to the prime ministers either. From the first question hour this week, they’ve targeted Morrison’s character and integrity and on Monday, it played into their agenda. He was stung by a question from Gilmore MP Fiona Phillips, whose electorate encompasses the bushfire-ravaged south coast of New South Wales. Morrison claimed he told Albanese in a text that he was going on leave to Hawaii with his family, except he didn’t and it took him three spurious efforts to somehow l ‘admit.
The next day he claimed he did not know what Labor was talking about when they questioned his denials of calling former Labor Senator Sam Dastyari “Shanghai Sam”. The opposition cited 17 times when it did. The idea that none of this really matters – because Australians cynically believe all politicians are lying – fails to capture what has been established here. John Howard might ask who Australians trusted when it came to interest rates, even after being caught lying about ‘children overboard’, but what has been firmly established about Morrison, c is that he is lying about what he himself has said many times. It demeans its motto and the polls reflect it.
Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers pulled this together with force in parliament. He said: “If this Prime Minister doesn’t tell the truth about a trip to Hawaii … or the agreement on the submarines, or the electric vehicles or the vaccines, neither can he be trusted to do so. economic recovery. Chalmers said families in Central Australia cannot trust the economic recovery on a “prime minister who just cannot be believed.”
There is evidence that Morrison’s narrow electoral victory the last time around was based on the electorate’s judgment that Bill Shorten did not have the character to hand over to the Australian government. It could still make a difference, except there’s one change: this time around, everything points to it counting against Morrison.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on November 27, 2021 under the title “A Question of Characters.”
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