For Scott Morrison, one protester's free expression is another's dangerous activity | Katharine Murphy

6/12/2020 11:23:00 PM

As the prime minister says, when it comes to coronavirus advice, consistency is important

Indigenous Australians, Black Lives Matter Movement

For Scott Morrison , one protester's free expression is another's dangerous activity | Katharine Murphy

As the prime minister says, when it comes to coronavirus advice, consistency is important

I know it is probably mad to yearn for consistency from political leaders, but indulge my winter madness for a few minutes while we review some recent events.Scott Morrison has apologised for any “hurt or harm” caused by the way the Coalition rolled out the controversial robodebt scheme, but the government services minister, Stuart Robert, has flagged regular debt collection will resume on the other side of the Covid-19 crisis.Scott Morrison has declared Black Lives Matter protests put “the whole track back to economic recovery at risk” and could delay easing of restrictions by a week while governments monitor signs of outbreaks.‘Pinpoint precision’ … detail from Cape Cod Morning (1950) by Edward Hopper.

On 8 May, Scott Morrison was keen to convey the news that Australia would be reopening in stages between that Friday and July. The prime minister acknowledged that tracking back to normal would likely spark new Covid-19 infections but he said, more than once, this wasn’t something that should slow the trajectory. “I would apologise for any hurt or harm in the way that the government has dealt with that issue,” he said. “Outbreaks are not a reason to slow things down,” Morrison said. Sutton said it was unlikely the infection had been acquired at the protest, but it was possible the person was infectious. “Outbreaks are going to happen, all premiers and chief ministers understand that. Guardian Australia reported this week the true value of all welfare debts unlawfully issued is expected to easily exceed $1bn.” Should the states hold their nerve if the resumption of normal activity brought new clusters of infections? “Yes,” Morrison replied. While there, the boys form an unlikely friendship with the Hoppers.

Just in case we missed it, the chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, also echoed the line. An ombudsman’s report in 2017 on the rollout of the automated debt recovery service also identified multiple failures that placed unreasonable burdens on welfare recipients and staff.” Echoing arguments from the US president, Donald Trump, Morrison also alleged the protests against deaths in custody were being “taken over by other much more politically driven leftwing agendas, which are seeking to take advantage of these opportunities to push their political causes”. “The important thing is not the size of the outbreak, the important thing is the response.” But at a point in time this week, Morrison’s story changed. Last week Gordon Legal senior partner, Peter Gordon, called on the government to apologise, and has given an undertaking not to use any expression of regret in the court proceedings. Apparently the risk of new clusters could be a factor in how fast things moved if the clusters emerged from a Black Lives Matter protest. It was important to be “honest about our history”, he said, but he neglected to mention the exploitation of South Pacific Islanders brought to work on Queensland plantations, or the well-documented cases of Indigenous people being used for free labour in the pastoral industry and as household servants – a practice that began during colonial times and persisted well into the 20th century. Asked by the Melbourne radio host Neil Mitchell whether governments would be easing things a bit more quickly if the rallies hadn’t happened this past weekend, Morrison was equally declarative. During question time on Thursday, the opposition spokesman on government services, Bill Shorten, invoked a case study of “cancer-suffering grandfather Raymond” who had to sell his house and move into his shed to afford medical treatment. “It’s a risky business, portraying the marriage of two artists, particularly when both the marriage and the art have already been picked over by biographers and art historians.

“Yes,” he said. “No doubt”. While expressing regret for any distress caused by the rollout of the scheme, Morrison said: “The business of raising and recovering debts on behalf of taxpayers is a difficult job and it deals with Australians in many very sensitive circumstances.” During an interview on 3AW, the Melbourne radio host Neil Mitchell said about deaths in custody: “There is a very sadly high level of Indigenous incarcerations – about 30% compared to 3% of the population – but black deaths in custody, I mean that’s a furphy isn’t it? “I mean since the royal commission as I saw it, there have been fewer Indigenous people per head of the prison population dying in custody than have white people. About an hour earlier on 2GB in Sydney, Morrison described the rallies as the “only legitimate block” to easing restrictions because a cluster of new infections might emerge. Now why is the opposite also true? Perhaps the best explanation is the simplest one. He said where there were lessons to be learned from the botched scheme, “they will be learned”. Perhaps Morrison indulged in a bit of rhetorical overreach on May 8. In my home state there has been, I understand, one death in custody since 2000. Dwyer Hickey’s novel competed with works by authors including Joseph O’Connor and James Meek to take the prize.

His bullish suggestion that governments would, or should, push on with easing of restrictions in the face of evidence this really wasn’t a great idea always seemed more like political flourish than reality, and academic in any case, given in our federation the premiers control the timing. “The government has paused all debt collection across all programs as we work our way through the Covid-19 crisis,” he said. But when you begin to catalogue contradictions, you’ll find they keep coming. Take the borders.” Topics. There have been at least five deaths since Guardian Australia updated its Deaths Inside project in August 2019, two of which have resulted in murder charges being laid. Morrison said this week he’s worried about a new cluster of infections as a consequence of the Black Lives Matter protests (remembering that 8 May Scott Morrison wasn’t worried about clusters in other contexts because that’s the price of life returning to normal). But the prime minister also wants the states to press ahead and reopen their borders, pronto.

So are we worried about the consequences of the recent mass gatherings, or not? Try and divine the logic here. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police – sparking fury that spilled over into mass protests in many US cities, including the capital, Washington DC – resonated strongly in Australia. Go on. I’ll wait. The problem is compounded because Morrison has also exhibited a flexible attitude to protests. Morrison said given the public health risks, local activists needed to desist from further gatherings. People will have heard the prime minister’s strong criticism of the mass gatherings last weekend, but that activism wasn’t the first outbreak of civic expression during the pandemic.

There were protests against the public health lockdowns on 12 May. Now it’s true the earlier assemblies were much smaller than the gatherings to protest Indigenous incarceration, and that fact obviously influences the public health risk assessment, but those anti-lockdown protests happened when the health restrictions were tougher. Topics. Yet the prime minister was sanguine. “It’s a free country. People will make their protests and their voices heard,” Morrison said at the time – noting it was up to authorities to ensure things remained within the bounds.

So we’ve washed up in a mildly surreal universe where clusters both are and aren’t a problem; where we are worried about clusters if they come from (some) protests but not if they come from repopulated workplaces or shopping centres thronging with people; and if you organise or participate in a protest about coronavirus being a “scam” or linked to vaccines or 5G technology, that’s kosher because it’s free expression, but if you organise or participate in a protest against Indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody, that’s engaging in unwelcome and highly risky and dangerous activity. And this from a prime minister who says consistency is important. The next logical question to ask is why the dissonance? I think the simplest way to think about this is Morrison drifts back and forth between a prime minister who wants to unite people and a prime minister who wants to divide people and pit them against one another for partisan advantage. Australia’s 30th prime minister is like a reverse cycle heating and cooling unit. He possesses both instincts, and deploys both situationally.

Morrison also tunes his messages up and down with different audiences. The negative commentary about the Black Lives Matter protests, and the Trump-lite lines on the protests being “taken over by other much more politically driven leftwing agendas” were delivered on 2GB – a bit of red meat for the base. When Mathias Cormann was wheeled out to deliver very similar messages several days earlier, presumably as a test run – to opine about the reckless self-indulgence of people rallying to pursue better outcomes for First Nations people – he was deployed to Sky News, the narrowcaster’s network of choice. Perhaps the government’s judgment is some coddling is in order. Morrison has stretched the tolerance of the base during the pandemic by working cooperatively with premiers who prioritised public health sufficiently to shut down non-essential services, which has imperilled businesses and cost jobs.

You can feel the incipient backlash bubbling up through the Coalition backbench, which is getting mouthier with the leadership about winding back fiscal support, and about returning conditions to normal. That activity is a reliable barometer of community sentiment in Coalition safe-seat land. Looking beyond an inclination to engage in confirmation bias exercises with the base, the other thing to understand is the most substantial economic downturn since the Great Depression will make people very focussed on their material circumstances. Morrison will be very aware that when people are worried about their livelihoods, people will be more inclined to be impatient with protests, viewing the behaviour as an abstraction or an indulgence. That fault line is something you can mine; it is angst that can be weaponised against your progressive opponents.

I suppose we’ve arrived at the point where I bring you the unwelcome news that politics-as-usual returned to the national stage this week. Morrison is back to minute calculations and tactics. But he also doesn’t want to shake off the prime minister he became during the coronavirus crisis: the unifier. This was particularly obvious on Friday, when he walked back a tone deaf and factually incorrect observation he’d made during Thursday’s 2GB rampage about slavery never existed in Australia. Morrison wanted people to know that he was a prime minister who cared about Indigenous disadvantage.

He put his back into expressions of regret. He gave every impression of being sorry. But Morrison was unable to say, in clear and frank terms, that slavery happened in this country. “Hideous practices” happened. You had to guess what these hideous practices might have been.

He had to talk around the issue to arrive at a generalised position of regret, because to do otherwise was to engage in “the history wars”. Just to be clear, no one had asked Morrison to engage in the history wars, the invitation was to tell the truth. Slavery happened. The end. Not that hard you would think.

In any case, the mark of the unifying prime minister is not what you say, or how you might like to see or project yourself, but what you do. First Nations people can see a prime minister who declines to criticise a protest promulgating unproven conspiracy theories in the middle of a pandemic but choses to criticise a protest highlighting the ongoing of subjugation of Indigenous people in their own country. First Nations people have heard many fine words throughout the white history of this continent. Words are cheap. What they need is action, and the person who can lead the action, with all the authority of the prime ministerial office, is Morrison.

Topics .

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The Guardian »

Sex trade and trafficking seem unimportant as always have been. Eating animals makes slavery less crude as the species who defies nature's law bends truth to gain supposedly pleasure from feeling power, sick mind that gets sicker by creating a sick world. So let's get this right. The Guardian was founded by racists but hey that was years ago so its ok then. Time to close it down then. You just to be fair.

A true, and truly hypocritical, politician. No honor among thieves and politicians. All lives matter Despite the US's grim CV%, public health experts conclude the benefits of BLM marches outweigh the CV risks. Why can't Australia (one of the world's lowest CV%) view the broader benefits? Are our health experts just peddling the Govt narrative? auspol

Talk about what is going on in HK right now! You as a media company are restricting the truth! Hey , notice how many Chinese bots agree with you. They are actually on your thread supporting you. Maybe start asking yourself some genuine questions Another compelling piece from murpharoo. I don't know how 'coordinated' the Cormann comments were though, I think the clear rifts in the Liberal Party are being laid bare - and Morrison felt the need to outflank. There is minimal veneer of friendship between them. auspol

Scott Morrison apologises for 'hurt or harm' caused by robodebt rolloutPrime minister regrets ‘any hardship’ but government services minister says debt collection will resume after Covid-19 Same as our Conservatives in Britain, complete clusterfux and cover-ups, while treating the public like idiots. They know exactly what they're doing and will just make some bs up when and if they get caught. good on him, not hiding instead taking responsibility

Scott Morrison: Black Lives Matter protesters should be charged if they defy advice and marchPrime minister says protests risk Australia’s economic recovery and delay easing of restrictions This ain't it Stop deaths in Chicago! Was he sponsored by Russia, too?

Fictional portrait of Jo and Edward Hopper wins Walter Scott prize£25,000 award for the year’s best historical novel goes to Christine Dwyer Hickey’s The Narrow Land, which depicts the artists’ marriage That's racist Bravo!

Scott Morrison: Black Lives Matter protesters should be charged if they defy advice and marchPrime minister says protests risk Australia’s economic recovery and delay easing of restrictions This ain't it Stop deaths in Chicago! Was he sponsored by Russia, too?

Outcry after PM says 'there was no slavery in Australia' amid Black Lives Matter protests Scott Morrison defends Captain Cook statue in UK Is this man thick or just uneducated? No. Sure those born as flora and fauna will be delighted. Beds are burning Constant racial baiting, bringing things from the past

Exclusive: Here’s Your First Look at Fenty’s Latest Collection“Release 6-20 looks to the spirit and optimism of youth to lead the way forward,” Fenty say

I know it is probably mad to yearn for consistency from political leaders, but indulge my winter madness for a few minutes while we review some recent events.Scott Morrison has apologised for any “hurt or harm” caused by the way the Coalition rolled out the controversial robodebt scheme, but the government services minister, Stuart Robert, has flagged regular debt collection will resume on the other side of the Covid-19 crisis.Scott Morrison has declared Black Lives Matter protests put “the whole track back to economic recovery at risk” and could delay easing of restrictions by a week while governments monitor signs of outbreaks.‘Pinpoint precision’ … detail from Cape Cod Morning (1950) by Edward Hopper.

On 8 May, Scott Morrison was keen to convey the news that Australia would be reopening in stages between that Friday and July. The prime minister acknowledged that tracking back to normal would likely spark new Covid-19 infections but he said, more than once, this wasn’t something that should slow the trajectory. “I would apologise for any hurt or harm in the way that the government has dealt with that issue,” he said. “Outbreaks are not a reason to slow things down,” Morrison said. Sutton said it was unlikely the infection had been acquired at the protest, but it was possible the person was infectious. “Outbreaks are going to happen, all premiers and chief ministers understand that. Guardian Australia reported this week the true value of all welfare debts unlawfully issued is expected to easily exceed $1bn.” Should the states hold their nerve if the resumption of normal activity brought new clusters of infections? “Yes,” Morrison replied. While there, the boys form an unlikely friendship with the Hoppers.

Just in case we missed it, the chief medical officer, Brendan Murphy, also echoed the line. An ombudsman’s report in 2017 on the rollout of the automated debt recovery service also identified multiple failures that placed unreasonable burdens on welfare recipients and staff.” Echoing arguments from the US president, Donald Trump, Morrison also alleged the protests against deaths in custody were being “taken over by other much more politically driven leftwing agendas, which are seeking to take advantage of these opportunities to push their political causes”. “The important thing is not the size of the outbreak, the important thing is the response.” But at a point in time this week, Morrison’s story changed. Last week Gordon Legal senior partner, Peter Gordon, called on the government to apologise, and has given an undertaking not to use any expression of regret in the court proceedings. Apparently the risk of new clusters could be a factor in how fast things moved if the clusters emerged from a Black Lives Matter protest. It was important to be “honest about our history”, he said, but he neglected to mention the exploitation of South Pacific Islanders brought to work on Queensland plantations, or the well-documented cases of Indigenous people being used for free labour in the pastoral industry and as household servants – a practice that began during colonial times and persisted well into the 20th century. Asked by the Melbourne radio host Neil Mitchell whether governments would be easing things a bit more quickly if the rallies hadn’t happened this past weekend, Morrison was equally declarative. During question time on Thursday, the opposition spokesman on government services, Bill Shorten, invoked a case study of “cancer-suffering grandfather Raymond” who had to sell his house and move into his shed to afford medical treatment. “It’s a risky business, portraying the marriage of two artists, particularly when both the marriage and the art have already been picked over by biographers and art historians.

“Yes,” he said. “No doubt”. While expressing regret for any distress caused by the rollout of the scheme, Morrison said: “The business of raising and recovering debts on behalf of taxpayers is a difficult job and it deals with Australians in many very sensitive circumstances.” During an interview on 3AW, the Melbourne radio host Neil Mitchell said about deaths in custody: “There is a very sadly high level of Indigenous incarcerations – about 30% compared to 3% of the population – but black deaths in custody, I mean that’s a furphy isn’t it? “I mean since the royal commission as I saw it, there have been fewer Indigenous people per head of the prison population dying in custody than have white people. About an hour earlier on 2GB in Sydney, Morrison described the rallies as the “only legitimate block” to easing restrictions because a cluster of new infections might emerge. Now why is the opposite also true? Perhaps the best explanation is the simplest one. He said where there were lessons to be learned from the botched scheme, “they will be learned”. Perhaps Morrison indulged in a bit of rhetorical overreach on May 8. In my home state there has been, I understand, one death in custody since 2000. Dwyer Hickey’s novel competed with works by authors including Joseph O’Connor and James Meek to take the prize.

His bullish suggestion that governments would, or should, push on with easing of restrictions in the face of evidence this really wasn’t a great idea always seemed more like political flourish than reality, and academic in any case, given in our federation the premiers control the timing. “The government has paused all debt collection across all programs as we work our way through the Covid-19 crisis,” he said. But when you begin to catalogue contradictions, you’ll find they keep coming. Take the borders.” Topics. There have been at least five deaths since Guardian Australia updated its Deaths Inside project in August 2019, two of which have resulted in murder charges being laid. Morrison said this week he’s worried about a new cluster of infections as a consequence of the Black Lives Matter protests (remembering that 8 May Scott Morrison wasn’t worried about clusters in other contexts because that’s the price of life returning to normal). But the prime minister also wants the states to press ahead and reopen their borders, pronto.

So are we worried about the consequences of the recent mass gatherings, or not? Try and divine the logic here. The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police – sparking fury that spilled over into mass protests in many US cities, including the capital, Washington DC – resonated strongly in Australia. Go on. I’ll wait. The problem is compounded because Morrison has also exhibited a flexible attitude to protests. Morrison said given the public health risks, local activists needed to desist from further gatherings. People will have heard the prime minister’s strong criticism of the mass gatherings last weekend, but that activism wasn’t the first outbreak of civic expression during the pandemic.

There were protests against the public health lockdowns on 12 May. Now it’s true the earlier assemblies were much smaller than the gatherings to protest Indigenous incarceration, and that fact obviously influences the public health risk assessment, but those anti-lockdown protests happened when the health restrictions were tougher. Topics. Yet the prime minister was sanguine. “It’s a free country. People will make their protests and their voices heard,” Morrison said at the time – noting it was up to authorities to ensure things remained within the bounds.

So we’ve washed up in a mildly surreal universe where clusters both are and aren’t a problem; where we are worried about clusters if they come from (some) protests but not if they come from repopulated workplaces or shopping centres thronging with people; and if you organise or participate in a protest about coronavirus being a “scam” or linked to vaccines or 5G technology, that’s kosher because it’s free expression, but if you organise or participate in a protest against Indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody, that’s engaging in unwelcome and highly risky and dangerous activity. And this from a prime minister who says consistency is important. The next logical question to ask is why the dissonance? I think the simplest way to think about this is Morrison drifts back and forth between a prime minister who wants to unite people and a prime minister who wants to divide people and pit them against one another for partisan advantage. Australia’s 30th prime minister is like a reverse cycle heating and cooling unit. He possesses both instincts, and deploys both situationally.

Morrison also tunes his messages up and down with different audiences. The negative commentary about the Black Lives Matter protests, and the Trump-lite lines on the protests being “taken over by other much more politically driven leftwing agendas” were delivered on 2GB – a bit of red meat for the base. When Mathias Cormann was wheeled out to deliver very similar messages several days earlier, presumably as a test run – to opine about the reckless self-indulgence of people rallying to pursue better outcomes for First Nations people – he was deployed to Sky News, the narrowcaster’s network of choice. Perhaps the government’s judgment is some coddling is in order. Morrison has stretched the tolerance of the base during the pandemic by working cooperatively with premiers who prioritised public health sufficiently to shut down non-essential services, which has imperilled businesses and cost jobs.

You can feel the incipient backlash bubbling up through the Coalition backbench, which is getting mouthier with the leadership about winding back fiscal support, and about returning conditions to normal. That activity is a reliable barometer of community sentiment in Coalition safe-seat land. Looking beyond an inclination to engage in confirmation bias exercises with the base, the other thing to understand is the most substantial economic downturn since the Great Depression will make people very focussed on their material circumstances. Morrison will be very aware that when people are worried about their livelihoods, people will be more inclined to be impatient with protests, viewing the behaviour as an abstraction or an indulgence. That fault line is something you can mine; it is angst that can be weaponised against your progressive opponents.

I suppose we’ve arrived at the point where I bring you the unwelcome news that politics-as-usual returned to the national stage this week. Morrison is back to minute calculations and tactics. But he also doesn’t want to shake off the prime minister he became during the coronavirus crisis: the unifier. This was particularly obvious on Friday, when he walked back a tone deaf and factually incorrect observation he’d made during Thursday’s 2GB rampage about slavery never existed in Australia. Morrison wanted people to know that he was a prime minister who cared about Indigenous disadvantage.

He put his back into expressions of regret. He gave every impression of being sorry. But Morrison was unable to say, in clear and frank terms, that slavery happened in this country. “Hideous practices” happened. You had to guess what these hideous practices might have been.

He had to talk around the issue to arrive at a generalised position of regret, because to do otherwise was to engage in “the history wars”. Just to be clear, no one had asked Morrison to engage in the history wars, the invitation was to tell the truth. Slavery happened. The end. Not that hard you would think.

In any case, the mark of the unifying prime minister is not what you say, or how you might like to see or project yourself, but what you do. First Nations people can see a prime minister who declines to criticise a protest promulgating unproven conspiracy theories in the middle of a pandemic but choses to criticise a protest highlighting the ongoing of subjugation of Indigenous people in their own country. First Nations people have heard many fine words throughout the white history of this continent. Words are cheap. What they need is action, and the person who can lead the action, with all the authority of the prime ministerial office, is Morrison.

Topics .