Features Australia

Whipping boy

11 January 2020

9:00 AM

11 January 2020

9:00 AM

Prime Minister Scott Morrison had a nerve taking a break at the end of last year and leaving the Left without a whipping boy for five whole days. Protesters were angry at his absence during a ‘climate emergency.’ Given the Greens first declared an ongoing climate emergency in 2016, this doesn’t augur well for eco-sanctioned rest and recreation.

To add insult to injury Mr Morrison vacationed in Hawaii, which is just shameful. Nothing says ‘Vote 1 Trump’ like a holiday in Honolulu. Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan did not hold back —he took his ‘climate emergency’ Christmas holiday in Antigua, a destination that was promoted by the Guardian this year and therefore an acceptable place from which to cast judgement on lesser mortals.

Mr Morrison returned home a day early and apologised, which prompted the commentariat to lecture him for his ‘total unwillingness to take responsibility for his failings.’ ‘Saying sorry always has been the hardest thing to do,’ wrote one irate columnist and indeed it is when your detractors have their fingers jammed in their ears and chant, ‘I can’t hear you.’

Other sins of the prime minister include pointing out that fires are a state responsibility. This was particularly insensitive because it is true. One Liberal state minister was so enraged that he went on national television to defend a band of feral hecklers who, complete with a goat on a rope, had made a show of refusing to shake the PM’s hand and were infuriated when he didn’t stick around to cop further abuse. You can understand their frustration. In the old days, the PM would have been put in the stocks so that the public could throw rotten vegetables at him all day. Again, Mr Morrison compounded the offence with an apology. As Oscar Wilde observed, nothing annoys your enemies so much as forgiving them.

The new sport of abusing Australia’s prime minister has developed into an international version of Big Bash cricket for celebrity climate warriors and the eco-elite. Bette Midler, who owns luxury homes in New York, Beverly Hills and Hawaii, was the heaviest hitter. She has previously tweeted that ‘our poor planet was being crucified on the cross of fecklessness, malevolence and greed, mostly by men,’ which no doubt includes Mr Morrison, but she is not irremediably prejudiced against males. Indeed, she is ‘in love’ with gay ‘gajillionaire’ designer Michael Kors who she met on the island of Capri. ‘It would be Capri’ she gushed in Vogue in 2018. ‘Doesn’t it make perfect sense? Just look at his ads! Everyone in them is either on their way there or just returning from a brief rendezvous—private jets, yachts, great clothes, and a little mischief.’

Ms Midler tweeted her pity for Australians — so far from Capri, so few private jets — ‘their country ablaze, and their rotten @ScottMorrisonMP saying, “This is not the time to talk about Climate Change. We have to grow our economy.” ‘What an idiot,’ she spluttered before ordering him to ‘Lead, you f… wit!!’

Vulgarity is no longer the last refuge of the inarticulate but the justifiable wrath of the divinely righteous Ms M and coterie. A journalist who was criticised because of the national broadcaster’s lack of balance told the viewer to ‘go f— yourself’. An Australian entertainer was applauded for making an uncouth gesture to the PM during the ABC’s New Year’s Eve coverage. The chairwoman had little to say other than retweeting an article that declared Australia was committing climate suicide.

Scorning ‘Scotty from Marketing’ has become as obligatory as intoning an acknowledgement of country. Failure to curse the prime minister is a news story.  ‘No reported criticism of the Prime Minister in today’s Australian,’ tweeted a horrified former Labor premier. ‘Have we ever seen such media outlet partisanship,’ reported the Guardian.

The PM’s apotheosis from Malcolm Turnbull’s true-believing treasurer into the second coming of Tony Abbott has not been without irony for those who still feel a twinge of bitterness at Mr Morrison’s part in Mr Abbott’s downfall. Unable to choose whom she liked the least, Julie Bishop had a swipe at both, gloating at Christmas drinks for the Liberal party’s rich-listers over Mr Abbott’s losing his seat and her audience’s part in his demise and chiding Mr Morrison for ‘testing the theory that the best way to manage a crisis is to be as far away from it as possible’. The Australian apocalypse has become a cautionary climate fable for Democratic presidential hopefuls. The real fake stars of reality TV clamoured to get in on the act. Kim Kardashian retweeted Bernie Sanders’ call for a global Green Deal while the World Socialist Web Site warned that only a planned socialist society can implement an international plan to reverse the ravages of climate change.

No celebrity tongue-lashing would be complete without a scourge from Saint Greta, who rattled off the bushfire death toll (animals ahead of people, naturally) and lamented that the fires had spewed out two-thirds of the nation’s national annual CO2 emissions. ‘And yet. All of this still has not resulted in any political action,’ she snarled.

Action, of course, has been taken, just not reported. Naturally, the PM was savaged for producing his own 50-second statement for social media on what the government has done just as he would have been had he authorised an official government statement. ‘Wow. A self-promotional commercial with cheesy elevator music? This is one of the most tone-deaf things I’ve ever seen a country’s leader put out during a crisis,’ pontificated Piers Morgan, who seems to have become as permanent and as agreeable a feature of the media landscape as the smoke hanging over our cities.

The miserable ghost of climate wars past — former PM Kevin Rudd —declared that the PM was unfit for office and he should know, having been deemed unfit for prime ministerial office by his own caucus. No less a personage than a one-time host of Australian Big Brother called on the PM to resign.

Yet even if Mr Morrison had entered into the zeitgeist and attacked himself for being a cretinous dolt it would not have been enough. What the climate faithful want is an act of public penance from the PM, an auto-da-fé for his heretical failure to denounce the denialists in his party, and a recitation of the climate catechism, a profession of faith in the horrors of global warming and their direct responsibility for the bushfires and, finally, a promise to reduce the country to sack cloth and ashes by closing the nation’s coal mines, ending the extraction of natural gas and meeting a target of 100 per cent renewable energy by last Christmas. After this he should throw himself onto a pyre and expire. Only then might he be forgiven.

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