Thursday, 7 May 2020

Australian Prime Minister 'Scotty From Marketing' Morrison fails to universally impress

The Washington Post, 6 May 2020:

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Parliament House in Canberra on April 29. (Lukas Coch/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

Morrison’s sudden popularity and salvation from mediocrity is not of his own genius. And hardly deserved. And there are several reasons why…..

Despite bush fires being a common feature of the Australian summer, the Morrison government was unprepared. It had ignored expert advice — including from former fire chiefs and emergency responder leaders who warned for months that the coming bush fire season was not only likely to be catastrophic, but that they didn’t have the equipment, including water-bombing aircraft to fight it. The government also rejected scientific research that predicted the effects of climate change would make bush fires more ferocious than in the past and voted against an opposition attempt to declare a climate emergency.

And then the prime minister went on vacation.

As the biggest natural disaster in Australia’s living memory unfolded, Morrison went to Hawaii. And when it became public, the prime minister’s office tried to cover it up. When he finally returned home, two days earlier than planned, it was not because New South Wales had declared a state of emergency or that two volunteer firefighters had died, but because of the negative publicity. Morrison had taken an image hit…..

Now there is the covid-19 pandemic. While volunteers were still extinguishing fires on Jan. 25, Australia recorded its first case of the novel coronavirus. As the number of cases began to climb, health experts were apoplectic at the Morrison government’s refusal to initiate a federal lockdown or cancel sporting matches. Instead, Morrison spruiked his own plans to see his beloved Cronulla Sharks play in the opening weekend of the National Rugby League.

Even when the federal government finally did impose the first stage of restrictions on March 22, it didn’t deserve all the credit. The state’s premiers, in particular Victoria’s popular leader Daniel Andrews, threatened to go it alone if Morrison refused to act.

The initial stages of the emerging pandemic — like with the bush fires — are further proof that the Morrison government’s instincts are always political and not service-oriented or moral. A true leader should not need to be poked into action by health professionals, regional leaders or even a terrified public….”

Read the full article here.

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