Can Morrison stop engaging in distraction politics and get back to the job?

Can Scott Morrison stop engaging in distraction politics and get back to the job?

Scott Morrison

This week’s been another one packed to the brim in political news and pressing policy issues.

In case you need a recap, it included: some concerning predictions from the Reserve Bank, following Australia’s recession; a spiralling domestic violence crisis and figures from White Ribbon; a plea from UK’s PM Boris Johnson on climate change; the devastating destruction of a sacred birthing tree on Djab Wurrung land and an alarming inquiry into Indigenous youth incarceration.

And this is really just the tip of the iceberg.

Most would believe then, given this backdrop of events and circumstances, that the Australian Prime Minister would be run off his feet. Surely Scott Morrison’s focus lies squarely on these matters of critical importance?

But, think again! The Prime Minister’s got a tiring ploy of distraction politics in store for you instead.

It started with a witch hunt on Australia Post’s CEO Christine Holgate after a senate estimates session last week found she had purchased four luxury watches for senior employees.

Quick on the attack, an (apparently) incensed Morrison labelled Holgate’s actions “disgraceful” and instructed her to resign.

“So appalled and shocked was I by that behaviour… as any shareholder would in a company raise their outrage if they had seen that conduct by a chief executive,” he said last week.

“The chief executive … has been instructed to stand aside, if she doesn’t wish to do that, she can go,” he added.

Morrison’s tirade against Holgate was wholly unnecessary and without reasonable grounds. It was an attempt to divert attention from his own government’s failings and potential corruption scandals (including NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s ongoing saga).

The Prime Minister’s attempt to sacrifice Holgate for the slaughter didn’t work in the way he had hoped. Now accused of using Holgate as a scapegoat, her lawyer Bryan Belling has condemned Morrison for the ‘humiliating’ treatment of his client in parliament.

“It is now exactly seven days since Ms Holgate was the subject of a humiliating answer during Question Time,” he wrote, adding there were no legal grounds for her to be stood down.

Morrison is yet to comment on Holgate’s legal response, but seems to acknowledge that his fight is now on flimsy (potentially perilous) ground. A hasty turnaround from the “shocked” and “appalled” man of last week.

But if you thought the Prime Minister had learned his lesson, you’d be wrong. Yesterday, he made another attempt to divert public attention on an issue of little consequence: The Australian Rugby League’s decision to refrain from singing the national anthem before State of Origin.

So dismayed was our Prime Minister by this, that he made a quick phone call to ARL’s CEO David Sneddon bullying him into submission.

Barely two hours after the decision was made to can the anthem from the pre-match ceremony, ARLC chairman Peter V’landys had re-instated it.

While the ARL claims the original decision was never politically motivated, a protest last year which saw Indigenous players Cody Walker and Josh Addo-Carr refuse to sing Advance Australia Fair at the first game’s opening, likely played a part.

“It just brings back so many memories from what’s happened,” Walker said following his decision not to sing.

“And I think it’s something that everyone as a group and everyone in Australia needs to I suppose get together and work something out. But it sort of doesn’t represent myself and my family,” he said.

Efforts of greater inclusion and compassion in national sport? Not on Scott Morrison’s watch.

When there’s so much going on right now, when people are suffering and the economy’s in free-fall, some proactive leadership is sorely needed. Distraction politics, unnecessary power plays, and scapegoating? Not so much.

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