Earlier prime ministers have heralded false dawns promising First Nations people they would receive the recognition and respect so long denied them.Paul Bongiorno: Righting wrongs puts Voice referendum in the box seat
The shellacking the South Australian Liberal government suffered at the weekend shattered myths that have dominated the past three years and it spells big trouble for the Morrison government in Canberra.
All of a sudden there are other priorities rather than saving Australian lives and livelihoods. There’s not enough money for free rapid antigen tests for everyone but there’s a stash of $16 billion to buy votes ahead of the election. We got a couple of installments at the weekend. There are one billion dollars for the Great Barrier Reef and $50 million to save koalas, both programs announced in North Queensland by the Prime Minister on the deadliest days of the Omicron wave. Despite assertions, Omicron is less severe, it has a four-times higher death rate than the original Delta outbreak. Four hundred elderly Australians in aged care died in January alone, more than the 300 over the entire 12 months of 2021. Experts are warning with the return to school we are sure to see another surge in infections, which can only prolong supply chain disruptions and staffing shortages. And yet calls from doctors, businesses and the opposition for free rapid antigen tests for everyone as a surveillance check on the spread of the virus continue to be rejected.
Governments, like all living organisms, suffer from physical entropy. They have a limited life span and their end days are marked by a distinct decline in functionality. It’s not surprising as the Coalition is about to enter its ninth year in office, three prime ministers later and after the resignation of some of its most competent ministers over that period, the Morrison government is tired, and it is running scared. I do not make this claim lightly.
Scott Morrison’s three ring circus last week unveiling an awkwardly named pact with the United States and Britain, at the expense of France, isn’t looking quite like the winner he had hoped. The greatest collateral damage of AUKUS is to the Prime Minister’s personal credibility.
Scott Morrison is flailing about as he struggles to get back on the “narrow path” he keeps talking about to deliver him another election victory. Nowhere is this more obvious than the desperate damage control he embarked on earlier this week, when it was obvious he had misread the mood of the nation. Most particularly, what had escaped him was the deeper concerns of people in states free of Covid-19. It was a contrite Scott Morrison who on Tuesday blitzed the radio airwaves in Hobart, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane. He was on air to offer a new, conciliatory message. While we are all on a journey to a safer future, thanks to vaccination, he said, “we are starting from different places”. Rather than deny the bleeding obvious, as he seemed to the previous week, he was now stating it. He said: “There isn’t a common Covid position across the country”, just a common destination. On Perth radio he even praised West Australian Premier Mark McGowan for keeping his citizens safe and claimed an almost special relationship with him. This was despite the premier describing Morrison’s demands for border openings as “madness”. No doubt the prime minister has a keen eye to holding his 11 of 16 seats