Flat White

Speak loudly and wave around wet lettuce: Morrisonian national insecurity

13 March 2022

12:00 PM

13 March 2022

12:00 PM

The expression, ‘speak softly and carry a big stick, is attributed to former American President Theodore Roosevelt.

Imperfect as his policies were, Roosevelt was a true leader. On the other hand, although not attributed to him, the expression, ‘speak loudly and wave around wet lettuce’ is an apt description of Prime Minister Morrison – the antithesis of leadership.

In an ideal world, Australia would have a recall election or an impeachment mechanism because the role of Prime Minister seems beyond Mr Morrison, and governing beyond his colleagues who are incapable of performing the rudimentary tasks required of government.

At this government’s heart is that belief that governing is the act of issuing press releases and holding media conferences.

The tasks of making decisions, making trade-offs, achieving outcomes – they are assumed away; for the next sucker in the big chair to worry about and for the citizenry to pay the price for.

At a time when there is the first serious war Europe in over 70 years, when we keep hearing that our ‘strategic climate’ has changed (as a euphemism for a more assertive China), what does Mr Morrison and his government do? Deliver a speech promising to spend money and to have a meeting… Excellent. That will come in handy in the event of a kinetic conflict.

Let’s just set the scene. In the last nine years of Liberal government, billions of dollars have been poured down the toilet on an ill-conceived French submarine project designed as a South Australian jobs project with a slice of defence capability procurement on the side.

In talking the ‘big talk’ about spending 2 per cent of GDP on defence, these wasted billions will certainly be counted leaving Australia exposed. Leaving how much actual productive spending? Probably even less when adjusted for the useless Abrahams tanks purchased to fight a war in 1940s Europe.

Then, Mr Morrison holds a presser to announce the big, new, and shiny Aukus defence agreement with the UK and America. Except the agreement hasn’t been signed, for the love of God.

But in selecting defence partners, they first pick the French, who have a poor record to start with – having sold millions of dollars of planes to Israel they decided to stop supplying parts in the middle of a war!

Then this government bets the farm on a deal with America and the UK, the same parties who actually signed the Budapest Memorandum promising to defend Ukraine’s borders. Except in 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, and in 2022 when Russia launched a war.

Maybe Aukus is worth the ‘all in’ bet because it is unsigned rather than signed.

There have been incompetent, disgraceful, pathetic governments in Australia’s history. But this government has exposed Australia and jeopardised our future. From an economic perspective they have racked up $1 trillion debt, and from a national security perspective they have left us vulnerable. But there are car parks in Liberal electorates and sporting field toilets in National Party electorates. And this is what they want to run an election campaign on.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Morrison said this at his Lowy Institute speech:

‘Today, I can announce that the government has decided to establish a Future Submarine Base on the east coast of Australia to support basing and disposition of the future nuclear-powered submarines.

‘This is about additional national capacity, not relocating any existing or planned future capacity for Fleet Base West.


‘Following significant work by Defence reviewing 19 potential sites, three preferred locations on the east coast have been identified.


‘Our government has authorised Defence to immediately begin engaging with the New South Wales and Queensland governments, and relevant local governments and authorities, to further validate their work to date and to begin negotiations on what will be an enormous undertaking.’

His big announceable … to schedule some meetings…?

He announced that the Department of Defence will, ‘immediately begin engaging with the New South Wales and Queensland governments, and relevant local governments and authorities.’ Not that they had meetings. That they will have meetings.

What the…

Morrison and his crew should not be just voted out of office, they should be voted off the island to never return. Perhaps they can be exported to Russia or North Korea to give them some governing and defence procurement advice.

Stephen Spartacus regularly writes at Sparty’s Cast.

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