Sunday, 21 November 2021

Prime Minister Scott Morrison appears to view the very real danger that Australia is heading towards political violence from extremist mobs as all just part of the game to keep him in power


The Monthly, 18 November 2021:

 Scott Morrison is, if nothing else, painfully predictable. As many (including myself) anticipated on Tuesday, the prime minister’s belated condemnation of the threatening mob outside the Victorian Parliament was always going to come with a “but” – a dog whistle to the protesters, an endorsement of their cause, a swipe at overbearing state governments. Today, following the disturbing news that a right-wing extremist had been charged over threats to kill the Victorian premier, and reports that neo-Nazis, seeking to radicalise other protesters, had infiltrated rallies against the state’s pandemic bill (not to mention anti-vaxxers’ rape and death threats forcing the shutdown of the WA premier’s office), Morrison did exactly as expected.

Asked this morning for his response to the violence being incited against politicians, the PM said that threats and intimidation had no place in Australia. But after a few cursory sentences about “civil society” and “respect” (just enough for many media outlets to report it as a rebuke), Morrison pivoted to justification and understanding. “There are many people who are feeling frustrated,” he said, arguing that it was time for governments to stop “telling Australians what to do”. “Australians have done an amazing job when it comes to leading us through this pandemic, but now it’s time for governments to step back. And for Australians to take their lives back,” he added ominously.

Morrison’s sympathy for the “frustrated” protesters has more than a minor whiff of Donald Trump’s “very fine people” comments after the deadly Charlottesville riots, not to mention the “I know how you feel” video during the also-deadly January 6 Capitol insurrection. While some media outlets declared that Morrison had “hit out” at the protesters, there’s little doubt that, as with Trump’s comments, the dog whistle was louder than the denunciation.

Eighty per cent of the PM’s answer, in fact, was focused on the protestors’ justified frustrations and state government overreach, with an added pushback against mandates and restrictions for the unvaccinated (policies to which, as Niki Savva notes, he owes the impressive vaccination rates he loves to crow about). People should be able to get a coffee in Brisbane, added Morrison, regardless of whether they’re vaccinated – a swipe at the Queensland government’s newly announced restrictions. (The state government has since labelled Morrison’s comments a “reckless” undermining of its vaccination efforts.) There’s little doubt that Morrison is trying to appease some of his own senators, who are still vowing to withhold their votes unless he pushes back against mandates. But he’s also indulging the “frustrated” protesters, with little concern for the dangerous levels of misinformation flying about......

Guy knows that the Victorian government needs some sort of bill to be able to manage the pandemic – which is very much ongoing – beyond December, and as supporting crossbencher MP Fiona Patten noted on RN Breakfast, the alternative (state of emergency legislation) “is far more draconian than the legislation we were trying to put through”. But once again, the facts don’t really matter to the PM – all that matters is that the very “frustrated” people know he’s in their corner, even if it means encouraging extremists and continuing to confuse those they are seeking to influence.

This is all getting very real and very dangerous, and many fear that we are on a dark path to the kinds of political violence increasingly being seen in the US and the UK. But to Scott Morrison, it is just another game.

Read the full article here.




7 News, 17 November 2021:

WA Premier Mark McGowan’s electoral office has been closed due to ongoing security risks.

In a doorstop interview on Wednesday, McGowan revealed that his Rockingham office had been the target of death threats and bomb threats ever since the state government announced mandatory vaccination for much of the state’s workforce.

A week after an armoured tank rolled up outside his electoral office, McGowan has confirmed that his staffers had even been subjected to rape threats.