Where do we begin with Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s comments in response to a move by Cricket Australia to reconsider using the words “Australia Day” during competition next week?
The comments came following advice from CA’s First Nation’s Advisory Committee to change the languge for its January 26 Big Bash League fixtures.
“I think a bit more focus on cricket and a bit less focus on politics would be my message to Cricket Australia,” Morrison said on radio on Thursday in response to the move.
Later on, speaking with reporters, he went further.
“When those 12 ships turn up in Sydney all those years ago, it wasn’t a particularly flash day for the people on those vessels either.
“You can’t just airbrush things that have happened in the past. I think one of the great things about Australia… is we are pretty upfront and honest about our past.”
So “up front” is Australia that the Prime Minister tells Cricket Australia to stay out of it.
And it’s curious that Morrison felt compelled to get involved and take a position on Cricket Australia, given he’s been mostly silent on some pretty significant matters in recent weeks.
Just this week for example, he said it was not for him to “provide lectures to anybody” in response to the situation in the United States.
Morrison didn’t have many initial words for the man — former US president Donald Trump — behind the violent insurrection that saw Capitol Hill stormed on January 6. While he denounced the violence, he didn’t follow the lead of other world leaders in directly singling out Trump’s contribution. His strongest condemnation finally came earlier this week, when he described Trump’s comments that led to the violence as “incredibly disappointing”.
“I’ve echoed the comments of other leaders about those things. I think it was very disappointing that things were allowed to get to that stage,” he said in his first comments to reporters since taking a holiday.
“The things that were said, that it encouraged others to come to the Capitol and engage in that way, were incredibly disappointing, very disappointing, and the outcomes were terrible.”
It was one step up from his deputy Michael McCormack, who used the insurrection to share some “All lives Matter” comments during his media spree while in the acting role last week, and described Trump’s infammatory language and refusal to concede defeat as “unfortunate”
Meanwhile, Morrison hasn’t had many words for those within his own party. Like for his science-denying, reality-avoiding Liberal colleague, Craig Kelly, who is on a mission of misinformation to attract a following of die-hard loyalists.
Kelly is doing a good job and now has one of the most engaged Facebook pages of any Australian politician. He is prolific in his updates, clearly taking some Trumpian inspiration and he does so without having to worry about being called out by the Prime Minister.
Rather, Morrison’s reserved some of his strongest words of recent weeks for a move by CA that aims to show respect for all supporters of cricket.
As Linda Burney, Labor’s Indigenous Australians spokeswoman told Nine papers, he “should know better”.
“How can we expect to see real progress on issues such as Reconciliation and Closing the Gap when he makes such ignorant and unhelpful comments like this? Suffering is not a competition.”
Senator Lidia Thorpe said the PM: “has an opportunity to unite the country, not to divide it.”
Mel Jones, the CA director who chairs the Indigenous advisory panel that made the recommendation said they had expected some backlash and debate.
“There was no politics in regards to changing the date or anything along those lines. The conversation was purely about, ‘how do we help this day be as safe and respectful for everyone involved in cricket’,” she said.