Wednesday, 6 May 2020

Translating Australia's hard right prime minister in 2020

Scott Morrison makes sure his press conferences are transcribed for posterity at the Prime Minister Of Australia’s Media Centre in a manner which meets with his approval.

There is often some hours lag before a version of any particular press conference is posted online. Though sometimes, as occurred on 5 May, Morrison is not happy with how a press conference panned out and subsitutes a media statement instead.

Probably hoping that nobody will remember to report this:

The Prime Minister concedes #COVID19 infection rates will rise in Australia as restrictions ease to get the economy moving. “Of course, you will see numbers increase,” he says. “That is to be expected.” ⁦[National Affair Editor Hugh Rimington, @10NewsFirst, 5 May 2010]

Due to the time lag at Morrison's media centre, mainstream media usually fills the gap on their own online platforms.

These are the opening paragraphs of a news report on the press conference of Tuesday 5 May 2020.

SBS News, 5 May 2020:

Addressing the media on Tuesday after a historic national cabinet meeting that featured a brief appearance by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Mr Morrison reiterated that one million Australians had lost their job in a single month as a result of the pandemic.

"We now need to get one million Australians back to work, that is the curve we need to address," Mr Morrison said.

"As long as these restrictions are in place, they are costing our economy some $4 billion each week ... it certainly puts enormous pressure, as it should, on the timetable as we seek to move Australia back to that safe economy."…..

For some of the growing number of people who are irritated or angered by the Liar From The Shire’s carriage, demeanor, opinions, obfuscations, downright untruths or chronic refusal to answer journalist’s questions, this barebones news reporting sometimes suffices.

For others, real time social media descriptions of Morrison’s press conferences are preferred.

Here is one example…...

Ingrid M @iMusing, 5 May 2020, Thread commencing at approx. 2:29pm:

prime minister is up. He is focusing on the topic of “getting Australia back to work” today. Heavy breathing. Opening spiel is as usual self-congratulations.

a million out of work, says Morrison. He tips a nod to the Treasurer. Lies that “children are unable to go back to school”. He means many children are not *in classrooms*. The $4 billion a week cost of restrictions figure is going to do a lot heavy lifting here.

getting a million Australians back to work, more than a million Australians have had their claims for jobseeker processed. So given eligibility requirements and the number of pre-roni unemployed people, there are well over one million unemployed now.

Morrison has a slide show. Babbles out a list of sectors and jobs figures. Arts and recreation services, hospitality and food services, the agricultural sector, restaurants and cafes are closed. Note the absence of humans from this rhetoric.

oops, spoke too soon. The grower and the chef got a mention. Morrison says the job losses will be greater in Victoria because the restrictions are stronger so now we can begin to see where that $4 billion a week is. How unpolitical of him.

confidence. I love it when some economist explains the confidence variable to politicians. They never get it, as a predictive nor explanatory factor. Astrology for white dudes.

Christian Porter is up, as IT minister today. Workplace “safety” legislation is his brief, an area the Liberal Party is renowned for deliberately dismantling - see the double dissolution election Turnbull called using the ABCC bill.

babbles a bit about a dynamic and fluid environment whatever. The safe work Australia website is being re-built? Expanded. It will provide a “granular level of detail”. Porter has swallowed a buzzword list today.

I guess the queries function and info on the safework Australia website will be as efficient as jobkeeper application processes ie it will work for applicants whose application is consistent with Liberal Party ideology and political objectives and a clusterfuck for everyone else.

next up is covid committee chair and mining industry CEO Nev Power. Maybe no construction giant grifters whose greed kills workers were available to speak on workplace safety today.

unions are the main repository of workplace safety expertise btw but we have a business guy and couple of politicians from the party of business here instead.

the Morrison goldfish gulp and malapropic garbling is worse than usual today. Why is he so tense?

questions. Who is Greg? He starts with the fucking nonsense the Trump administration is spewing to try and cover for its monumental public health failures.

Morrison obliges by repeating the semiotic anti-Chinese racism terms a number of times.

schools. Morrison says “not opening schools fully is costing jobs and it does cost the economy”. So he has stopped lying about using schools for his political-economic objectives, at least.

Power adds lots of words and not much meaning on businesses adapting as restrictions are eased. Recall the vast majority of businesses - outside hospo - were not closed by official roni restrictions but by going to the wall (or into “hibernation”).

K Murphy asks about the trans Tasman travel bubble and contextualises with federalism - state and territory border closures. Morrison is very defensive. He is essentially telling premiers and chief ministers to open the borders. He *forgets* the trans-Tasman part of the question.

after being reminded, Morrison pretends to answer the trans-Tasman travel bubble question. But other than fetishising the alleged firstness (it isn’t) of the NZ PM being at National Cabinet, there is nothing specific to announce. “We are working co-operatively together” he says.

they have a stronger biosecurity regime and so do we? says Morrison. What does that mean?

Coorey. He is told this is about a covid safe economy (there’s the slogan for the near), Morrison tells him. The $4 billion a week gets another outing. Grattan. Gets a stream of self-congratulatory gibberish. We have tripled our ICU capacity. Okay.

Probyn: you have talked about pubs and restaurants.
Morrison: no I didn’t.
Probyn: well Neville was. When can the two Andrews, I mean the two Dans, legally have a drink together?
Morrison: they can now, just not in a pub. Andrew.

Nev and I, says Morrison quickly. Subtext: don’t wedge me, mate. Andrew.

PvO. His friend was stood down today.
PM indulges some bullshit federalism rhetoric. National cabinet has more to discuss about easing restrictions. Flattening the curve has come at a price.

Looks like no agreement on anything at all was reached in national cabinet today.

asked again about schools, Morrison says it wasn’t on the agenda today. He is happy to “encourage non-state schools by bringing forward funding”. The Premier of Victoria can make decisions about state schools, that’s his bailiwick.
Yes, Morrison said bailiwick.

asked whether he was against Barilaro contesting Eden-Monaro because Barilaro would have been a destabilising force if he won (the Sunday Savva thesis) Morrison says no and no.

okay I’ve had enough. Tl;dr: national cabinet was an unproductive and discordant session today, Morrison is therefore delivering a set piece with his biz CEO mate, which is essentially gaslighting workers and babbling bullshit.

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