Is Morrison mental?

Alan Kohler argues that today’s political failure is the result of decades of neoliberalism that has systematically hollowed out government processes and talent. True enough.

But we shouldn’t let systemic explanations for the disastrous performance of the Morrison Government lead to us overlooking its peculiar contributions to national failure.

After all, although untested, Labor has made many more constructive policy proposals along the way as Morrison has tried to screw it up, including closing borders, JobKeeper, better quarantine and moving more assiduously on vaccines.

Therefore, we can’t overlook the possibility that Morrison and/or his minders are uniquely mentally incompetent:

Scott Morrison has abandoned a proposal to allow children to drive forklifts after it was rejected by states and territories and criticised as a dangerous “brain fart” by unions.

…But the plan was unanimously rejected by the states and territories, the ACT chief minister, Andrew Barr, said in a statement.

Morrison said on Wednesday that “there are changes that we need to make around the age of forklift drivers, to get quite specific,” to help reduce regulations and increase labour supply.

On Thursday, Morrison said that national cabinet had “agreed to proceed no further with the issue of 16-year-old forklift drivers”.

“We had a good discussion about that today and it is not something we believe, collectively … we should be pursuing at this time,” he said.

What is extraordinary is that this notion saw the light of day. When it was announced in PM&C, was there really nobody to pipe up and shoot it down? Doubtless, they thought it was creative and helped mobilise a community spirit to fight the war on Morrison’s plague. But, really, for a vicious regime that has despoiled common decency at every turn, it was always going to come across as the complete opposite, avaricious and atavistic.

This comes on the heels of PM Morrison announcing a major push to recruit foreign slaves for Australian jobs, on the same day that the US effectively banned travel Downunder.

Then there is the PM’s mounting failure on aged care where he has direct responsibility. On this occasion he has sat on his hands despite industry and union demands that he undertake radical action:

Aged care providers and unions have united to call on the Prime Minister to deploy the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to provide emergency support and assistance to overwhelmed aged care workers at nursing homes across the country. Providers and unions also want the federal government to fund additional direct payments for staff to secure the workforce.

The escalating crisis in aged care has left services around the country reeling, putting care for older Australians at risk due to chronic staffing shortages.  Older people are at risk of missing out on essential care because of this.  Lockdowns are restricting many residents to their rooms as services work to keep them safe.

With severe staff shortages happening across all sectors, services for older Australians must be prioritised. There are services that older people depend on that are not being delivered simply because there is not enough staff.

Perhaps send in the kids.

The cognitive dissonance also still extends to RATs:

Long before the government’s failure to source rapid antigen tests, so cruelly exposed over the past six weeks, it was boasting about them.

Greg Hunt called a media conference last September to proudly announce that the Therapeutic Goods Administration “at my request” had approved home testing using RATs from November.

The United States had approved home testing in December 2020; the UK in January 2021. As has been usual throughout the pandemic, the TGA has dragged its feet on approvals. At the time its head, John Skerritt, said that was because the government had prevented it from approving tests any earlier: “We can’t formally make an approval decision until we get a signal from the government. It’s a decision for the government.”

At the same time as Morrison and Hunt were delaying home testing, they were refusing to consider sourcing the tests. We now know the Australian Medical Association urged the government to develop a plan to source RATs but was rebuffed.

So the government refused for nearly a year to allow home testing, then refused to try to procure home tests. Typically, it has refused to accept responsibility — Morrison has blamed the states, and the Omicron variant, for the near-absence of RATs from the community. Yesterday he said, in yet another epically long and pointless monologue at a media conference, that he understood people’s unhappiness at enduring “a frustrating and difficult and highly concerning summer”. Nothing to do with him, though.

And what could be crazier than threatening your core constituency with mayhem and death?

Millions of Australians could be left empty-handed when the government’s free rapid test scheme launches on Monday, with pharmacies citing severe supply and cost pressures.

More than 90% of pharmacies could be forced to limit the kits as wholesale prices soar above the slated government rebate, according to industry insiders.

The joint federal and state government Rapid Antigen Testing Concessional Access Program will see millions of pensioners, veterans and low income earners become eligible for up to 10 free tests between now and April.

Pharmacies will be reimbursed $10 for each kit under the plan rubber-stamped at national cabinet last week.

But increased demand has seen wholesale prices jump above the rebate, meaning retailers would be out of pocket and forced to sell the tests at market value.

Are all of these debacles just bumbling and lies? Or is there something deeper going on?

One form of personality disorder that might explain such behaviour is “dissociative” or “multiple personality disorder”. It is often mistaken for psychopathy when, in truth, it is a fragmented series of discrete personalities formed from a single, shattered identity.

A dissociative exists in a series of separate fantasy worlds. When inhabiting any given one, the conviction of that reality is complete. Even if it completely contradicts another.

For instance, one personality might conclude that conservative pandemic management is a great plus. The next day another personality within the same person can conclude the complete opposite with equal conviction. So and so forth.

The hallmark of this or some other mental incompetence is the inability to look after one’s own interests. To wit:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison would have wished he was fielding questions about the historically low 4.2 per cent unemployment rate, instead of being hounded about the government’s management of COVID-19.

The jobless rate has not fallen this low since the mining investment boom during the John Howard and Kevin Rudd prime ministerships more than 13 years ago, and rarely at all in the past half century.

Now, just as the pandemic challenges Australia’s supply chains, workforce and health system, the labour market has been shown to be in rude health in December, on the eve of the omicron outbreak.

On the occasions I have spent time in Parliament House in recent years, I have been shocked by its snake pit ambiance. It is a palpable feeling that you are literally about to be stabbed in the back. Re-integrating with civil society takes a long shower and trip to shrink to reconfirm your sanity.

Baffled by the relentlessly poor decisions, denial, unreason, and fantasia emanating from PM Morrison, the nation must consider the possibility that he and/or his retinue have turned the parliament into a raving loony bin.

Houses and Holes
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  1. Goldstandard1MEMBER

    Yes, and evil. I mean I know a few mental ppl who are nice so at least they are harmless. Morrison has all the attributes to do a lot of damage and portray to those around him that it’s ok. “The devil’s greatest accomplishment was convincing ppl he didn’t exist”… he created the Hillsong happy clappers as a cloak it seems.

  2. C.M.BurnsMEMBER

    I wasn’t expecting this on a Friday AM ! Is it to early to grab popcorn and find a seat in the bleachers waiting for our resident LNP cheersquad to arrive ?

    • MerkwürdigliebeMEMBER

      Popcorn, let me tell you about popcorn……

      I got this in an email circa half hour ago

      Closer to home, the latest Morgan poll shows 56-44 in favour of the ALP.

      In this stew, certain players in the ALP reckon it has a better than even chance of winning the following seats:

      Qld: Flynn, Longman, Herbert and Brisbane but not Dickson.

      NSW: Reid, Robertson and Lindsay but probably loosing Gilmore.

      Vic: Chisholm, Latrobe and the new seat of Hawke.

      Tas: Braddon and possibly Bass.

      WA: Swan, Pearce, Hasluck in addition to the abolition of the Liberal seat of Canning.

      SA: Boothby.

      That is a gain of around 15 seats. This or something like it would be quite a drubbing and would give the ALP a comfortable House majority.

      …..and the popcorn is that that the tide is going out on the Torynuffs.

      ScoMo is going to have to face the punters again soon and tell them they should queue for their 4th booster. The economic and budget costs of the Omicron wave are still being calculated.

      The only question I have is ‘Is the ALP up to it?’ for surely they will not be worse than the rabble about to get a political taste of Little Big Horn

      • Arthur Schopenhauer

        The inner-middle Independents are looking good too. North Sydney, Higgins and Goldstein in particular.

      • Fighting Fires to exhaustion is what will help Constance win Gilmore…. & without forcing a handshake on anyone after the work was done….

      • kierans777MEMBER

        It’s interesting that who ever the author of that email doesn’t consider Deakin in play. It’s a bellweather seat. If there was a concerted effort from the ALP they could win it. Don’t underestimate how dangerous allowing Michael Sukkar to be in Parliament is.

        It seems like the Shady Sukkar campaign is the only one trying to kick Sukkar out.

      • …..and the popcorn is that that the tide is going out on the Torynuffs.

        I would say as with 2007, this is a good election to lose.

        Housing bubble to burst in next 3 years? I’d hate to have your fingerprints on it…

  3. TailorTrashMEMBER

    Well he can’t claim credit for that great unemployment number ……need to give the credit for that where it’s due …….Uncle Xi ….giving us the gift of the bug which stopped the “students “ ( workers )

    • Hang on TT, you have to give the Scrotum due credit for it was he who p!ssed off China enough to stop the wine , barley, lobster and coal imports from Australia,but the biggy was Xi ordered the Chinese students and tourists to stop coming to Oz well before the Wuflu got us.
      Credit where credit is due.

  4. ++ for the use of despoiled and fantasia. I would have given more marks had you included besmirched, impecunius or abstruse/recondite but a super start to the day.

  5. happy valleyMEMBER

    Look – the empathy training was a waste of money. But should the taxpayer stump up for a couple of sessions for Scotty with a psychiatrist to see whether they can figure out, apart from the happy clappiness, what makes Scotty what he is?

  6. Of course he’s mental. I prefer the term Dark Triad (psychopath, narcissist, machiavellian), although I admit he’s a bit rubbish at doing the third apex. But what does this say about the small-minded religious cabals that deliberately and flagrantly finagled him into parliament, then into the leadership? What’s their excuse? Yes, we are talking about you, John Howard.

    • The Devil looks after his own.
      Morrison is fulfilling the Rodents dearest wish , to destroy the public health system by letting the virus rip, and putting the boot into wages and conditions by flooding the country with cheap labour.

  7. happy valleyMEMBER

    “On Thursday, Morrison said that national cabinet had “agreed to proceed no further with the issue of 16-year-old forklift drivers”.”

    Thank goodness for National Cabinet because otherwise if Scotty had had his way, this use of child labour would have been the LNP’s latest ploy for wage destruction.

    • And, somehow, that will be Labor’s fault.

      I do wonder if he has consulted with Jenny and the girls. I mean – the girls must be close to be able to drive one of them forklifts, surely!

  8. Jevons ghostMEMBER

    Talking to an old bloke the other day. Apparently he knows the owner of one of the largest interstate trucking companies in the country. He told me that the owner was complaining that he couldn’t get enough drivers for his trucks. Apparently he was paying 30 dollars an hour. So I opined (said): “why not offer $50 an hour?” Blank stare.

    • Jevons ghostMEMBER

      Forgot to add: apparently the company CEO takes home about 3 million a year and apparently the company is highly profitable.

    • Republicans in the US argued tooth and nail against any federal increase to the minimum wage for 20 years. And then, due to covid, pretty much every large employer in the country started offering well above minimum wage “voluntarily”.

      Leave it to Australian CEOs and big business to be, yet again, 2-3 years behind the curve of what’s happening abroad and what will be inevitable here.

  9. Now John Birmingham’s missive today is stupendous. And I quote.

    This one is to share. With big thanks to everybody who kicked a few bucks into my begging bowl to help lift the paywall.
    Forklifts, baby!

    John Birmingham
    Jan 20




    Standing amid the wreckage of an Amazon warehouse in western Sydney yesterday, the Prime Minister defended his controversial policy of allowing toddlers to work as forklift drivers. Mister Morrison pushed back strongly against claims that a number of toddlers, adorably swaddled in Hi-Vis onesies for his policy announcement and photo op, had driven their forklifts directly into the giant High Bay shelving units behind him, and were in any way responsible for the collapse of those units or the warehouse itself a minute later.

    “Jen was looking after the kids,” he said, forcing his coprophagic rictus into the shape of a real human grin. Meanwhile rescuers worked frantically behind the PM to clear tons of wreckage covering the surviving toddlers, some of whom could be heard using small pieces of scrap metal to bang out endless repetitions of ‘Keepy Uppy’ from the delightful album, Bluey: The Album, from the delightful TV show. Bluey: The TV Show

    Cophragic rictus!? COME ON!

    For laffs, like DogMan

  10. The thing is, the whole LNP seems to have become an organism that attracts, and then selects for promotion people like that. Their staffers are like that and then the pre-selection process just seems to distill the worst type and put them forward. It’s just fckn staggering.

    • Well Jim, I think it’s really clear whose fault that is.

      *Checks notes* yep, the LNP process is, you guessed it, Labor’s fault.

      This time, though, it’s not Chifley’s fault! It’s the *checks notes* second Deakin PMinistership’s fault.

      And really, though, if you are conducting an RCA on why this is Labor’s fault from the early 20th Century, you need to look at the voters, the voters, Jimbo! Specifically, I traced all this back to my great great grand parents who voted Labor back then as the cause for ALL OF TEH ILLS besetting the Great Liberalist Nationalist Party of the Capital ($) of Australiaoneoneone111 and in fact it can be empirically proven by the Roberts, M method that it’s not at all – not at all, Jimbo – the Liberalist Nationalist Party’s fault itself.

      • Although in the Ringwood state seat, even the LNP have realised they have preselected an unelectable right wing Christian nutter (by-the-by she is also a Morman recruit organised by the Christian warriors around Sukkar and Bastian).

        • kierans777MEMBER

          What was interesting in the reporting of that is that the role of Sukkar was downplayed. Bastiaan was the fall guy.

          Don’t underestimate how dangerous Michael Sukkar is in Parliament.

  11. It kind of reminds me of when Trump asked if nuking hurricane Sandy would be a good idea. What a psycho. A moronic psycho. He runs the country. Apparently.

  12. Arthur Schopenhauer

    You are making a mistake placing all the blame on Morrison. If we look at the progression of Prime Ministers under the neoliberal era from Hawke-Keating to Morrison, each has been progressively worse.

    Every year since 1983, the public service and civic governance has become progressively worse too.

    It’s a failure of ideas and imagination in our political system. I would contend that if it wasn’t Morrison, it would be another equally inept narcissist, who places themselves before their duty. (How many in our parliament have an idea of what civic duty is?)

    It’s a systems problem. While such MB articles are fun, there is little in this blog that goes to why both parties put up such terrible candidates.

    Australia needs more systems thinking and less playing the the man. Those leaders are a symptom, not the cause.

    Edit: The theory of leadership by inept narcissists, no matter what color, will be formally tested later in the year when the current one is replaced with another. Why is modestly better, all any thinking person can hope for?

    • Look at their memberships. Both parties have membership numbers and diversity that has shrunk to the point of irrelevance. This means they have become playthings of certain interests without functional internal process to moderate the excessive demands of these interests and balance with community values. The interests that control the parties then preselect their fav people into safe seats to become ministers and deliver on their agenda.

      It is the death of political parties as active civic institutions that has lead to this situation. The liberal party has become the political wing of the BCA minerals council banks Gina Rupert etc

        • As a starting point:

          1. Donations allowed from registered voters only.

          2. Maximum donation – aggregate, to any and all candidates – per year capped at something “reasonable” for a typical punter to achieve. “Reasonable” obviously varies, but I propose the benchmark be set at the equivalent of four weeks full-time minimum wage work (about $3,500). I include cash and cash equivalents in this (gifts, dinners, holidays, etc, etc). There are greyer areas that need a bit more thought – eg: I’m undecided as to whether volunteer time should qualify as a “donation”. And things like the stuff with Independents Simon Holmes a Court is doing.

          3. All donations processed through a centralised system to ensure enforcement of rules #1 and #2, along with real-time reporting.

          4. Donations can remain anonymous (ie: name of donor not publicly available, obviously at some point it must be recorded to enforce the rules).

          5. Severe punishments for deliberately trying to circumvent rules #1 and #2 (regardless of what form it takes – eg: brown bags of cash, giving random people money to “donate”, whatever). Mandatory gaol time and a fine of no less than ten times the donation in question for both donor and (if knowingly involved – eg: they chose to receive it rather than give it back) recipient. Additionally, if the recipient is found to be conspiring with donors, loss of any pensions, etc, and a ban from ever standing again.

          The above would need to go alongside some campaign reform laws, at a minimum, during the lead-up to an election:

          1. Campaign messaging only allowed through the ABC, delivered via fixed timeslots for each party and candidate.

          2. No formal campaigning on any other forms of media (ie: “From”, “approved by”, “featuring”, etc, the candidate) – TV, print, radio, web, SMS, socials. The owner of the media channel is responsible for policing this and in the case of formal channels (ie: the party or candidate’s official web page, youtube channel, etc) is directly liable for any content made available.

          3. Similarly harsh punishments for anyone knowingly involved in violating these. Large fines. Immediate disqualification from standing, banned from ever standing again, etc, etc.

          The influence of money in politics is Serious F*cking Business and needs to be treated as such. Punishments should be harsh.
          I would not be entirely against the idea of expanding the formal definition of “treason” to include ‘receiving money for political favours’.

          • I should probably add another obvious idea: substantial rewards ($10s or $100s of thousands – life changing money) for whistleblowers should their information produce a conviction.