LET it be said that the Prime Minister is now an impressive ringleader of exaggerated emergency. Authoritative in his delivery, nervously robust – if anything, thriving rudely – and masterful in the art of pretending to know. I say this with a degree of admiring seriousness. Scott Morrison is a brilliant retail politician, a lectern virtuoso whose Aussie savoir-faire now exceeds that of even Bob Hawke who – truth be told – never managed a crisis of even middling historical consequence. A good measure of how solidly the Prime Minister is connecting with the electorate is Kevin Rudd’s Twitter page. He is now virtually the only person in the country obsessively mocking and excoriating “Scotty from marketing” (as he still delights in calling him). The mega-rich gentleman tweeter really thought chroniclers of early 21st century Australia would rate him as Henry Parkes, Nugget Coombs and Tony Barber all rolled into one lovable hand-balling package. In the ornithology of greatness, alas, the GFC is a tanned sparrow at a time when only genuine Black Swans Matter. Policy and personality-wise, I doubt Anthony Albanese would have overseen this pandemic any differently. He is – or, given the chance, would likely become – equally capable as the Commonwealth’s ground announcer.
Faint praise aside, his declaration that Trenchant Quarantinos needn’t concern themselves with work because a new payment was theirs for the taking is one of the most arrogant and shocking made by a Prime Minister. The fact that he was ‘only’ referring to a 14-day stretch in self-isolation is irrelevant. It is not for Mr Morrison or any other members of the country’s remuneration-hogging Nomenklatura to say whether or not you “need” to work. Does anybody seriously believe that senate backbenchers or MPs for Woop-Woop are essential – that they need to ‘work’? Why are they being paid? Scott Morrison is a Liberal – yet his worst traits are paternalistic contempt for everyman’s freedom and loyalty to politico-bureaucratic Brahmans. For everyone else, mere rations do not satisfy the human need to strive, climb, contribute, connect and provide. You might overlook the condescension of a leader seeing himself as Bumpy Johnson doling out stolen turkeys in the ghetto but only once or twice. He and his “National Cabinet” confrères have been pompously separating the Essential from the Non-Essential for months. They’re not the only ones. It has become a coronavirus dogma that ‘the economy’ is a luxury we can no longer afford. Inversions of rationality and reality don’t come much weirder than that.