We are all products, to some degree, of where we come from and where we choose to go.
I am not naive to the fact that my upbringing in Canberra with progressive parents, friends and teachers for instance, led me onto the path I walk today. It’s ultimately why I’m uncompromising about the people I surround myself with and my belief that they share similar core values to my own.
This isn’t to say that I don’t have friends who have different opinions– of course I do. But, in my mind, their opinions are formed with good intentions, rationality and compassion. I believe most of us live life in much the same way. We value diversity of thought and experience, so long as it comes from a place of human decency.
It’s for this reason that the relationship between Tim Stewart and Scott Morrison is so alarming.
Tim Stewart, by all reports, is one of the Prime Minister’s closest and most cherished friends. His wife Lynnelle was a bridesmaid for Jenny Morrison and worked, up until recently, as her personal assistant. The couples have shared family holidays together and socialised at the PM’s official residence, Kirribilli House. Stewart and Morrison have chosen– for decades– each other’s lives to be a resounding part of.
It is impossible to conclude that through all this time being in each other’s pocket’s, Tim Stewart’s twisted beliefs and support of alt-right conspiracy group QAnon wouldn’t have become known to the PM.
Perhaps he dropped in references to satanic worshipping practices, or the “deep state” plot acting against former-president Donald Trump. Perhaps he condoned white Supremacist, anti-Semitic, anti-government material. Perhaps he encouraged the Prime Minister to take stock. We don’t know yet the full extent of Morrison’s understanding or possible complicity.
But even if we accept the least egregious proposition– that the PM would have been aware but not involved–what does that say? Are we comfortable with our national leader cozying up to a man who believes fundamentally in this damaging, destructive bile?
Indeed, Stewart’s opinions were deemed to be so harmful that his own sister, Karen reported him to a national security hotline.
Upon the release of ABC’s Four Corners expose into the pair’s relationship, Morrison said he found the allegations “deeply offensive”.
“I find it deeply offensive that there would be any suggestion that I would have any involvement or support for such a dangerous organisation. I clearly do not,” he said last week. “It is also disappointing that Four Corners, with their inquiries, would seek to cast this aspersion not just against me, but by members of my own family. I just think that is really poor form.”
I find it deeply offensive that Scott Morrison doesn’t acknowledge the gravity of this situation. Nor the possible implications it will have on Australia’s diplomatic relationships; with US President Joe Biden repeatedly announcing fierce crackdowns on any supporters of the movement. It’s hard to see how any progressive world leader will read these allegations and remain on sure footing with Morrison.
My take away? We choose friends, they don’t just happen. We make deliberate and conscious choices to have people in our lives and we do this knowing that their opinions might reflect upon our own. When we’re in a high stakes game like national leadership, our choice of friends and influencers becomes even more critical.
Morrison made his choice, and now we should be allowed to make ours: Are we comfortable with our Prime Minister being linked to an abhorrent cult like QAnon?