Perhaps by the time you read this, Scott Morrison will have taken a drive out to Yarralumla. He’s had his Zelensky moment in Parliament, pissed away billions of dollars in budget bribes, and he won’t want to delay too long before the smoke clears and the mirrors crack. Against this, of course, you’ve got the natural inclinations of a bloke given to congenital sloth and dire cunctation. He might just leave it so late that, like a lazy student at the end of semester, he finds himself racing to cram his papers in through the slot at thirty seconds to midnight.
It feels like he’ll go today, because this is April Fool’s Day and it would serve us right for having entrusted this mendacious and slothful dodgewanker with the keys to the kingdom.
But whenever he goes, we can but hope and pray that he finally fucking goes. I have been meaning to write a column for a while now about this man’s innate unfitness for high office. It is not his policies, for he has none, nor his principals, for he seems devoid of such. He is simply not fit for the role he is supposed to play.
It irks me that there is no way I can be more concise than Concetta Fierravanti-Wells in this. Long an enemy of Morrison, the arch-conservative Senator shivved her Ceasar on budget night, calling him an autocrat and a bully, “who has no moral compass.”
Morrison, she said, “is not fit to be prime minister.”
She described his very public professions of deep religious faith as nothing more than brand marketing. She all but called him a straight up racist. And having put him down hard, she danced a little boot leather ballet on his kidneys, reminding everyone of the PM’s ties to the disgraced Hillsong pastor Brian Houston, and Houston Jr’s “flying top cover” for “his paedophile father.”
Quite the performance.
Fierravanti-Wells was, naturally, settling up with Morrison after being forced out of the Senate by the PM’s consigliere, Alex Hawke, as part of the never-ending blood swarm of sectarian vendettas and underground cage fights that the warlords of the NSW Liberal Party have instead of happy childhoods.
But was she wrong?
Morrison is famously a liar, credibly accused of such by sitting presidents and former prime ministers. All politicians lie of course, because we force them to. But most politicians lie carefully, constructing artful escape rooms of their words, always leaving an exit path no matter how tortuous.
Not so Scott Morrison.
This is a man for whom lying seems less second nature, or regrettable necessity than primal drive. Even when he doesn’t have to lie, or when lying would see him exposed before all as a deceiver, a hypocrite or an unhinged fantasist, the lies still pour forth in a torrent. The latest telling, if less than momentous example? His weird, inexplicable denial of having attended any Hillsong gathering in fifteen years, despite widespread national news coverage of his guest-of-honour gig at the megachurch’s annual conference in 2019.
This particular lie had a deliciously biblical flavour, occasioned as it was by the fall of Pastor Houston, and recalling as it did Saint Peter’s denial of Christ through weakness and fear.
Ol’ Pete redeemed himself, but redemption doesn’t seem likely for our Great Deceiver. Not because he couldn’t win the coming contest, but because even if he does, we already know he has nothing to offer but lies, apathy and incompetence.
He has shown us time and again who he is, that bloke who’s never going to come good, but who will never admit it, certainly not to us and probably not to himself. He’s botched every job he’s ever had, save for his dire efforts in capturing and punishing thousands of refugees fleeing foreign wars and tyrannies — and that ’succcess’, I would argue, was possible only because unbiased examination of his true record was made impossible by design.
When Morrison’s endeavours were immaterial to the wider good and the national interest, his manifest inadequacies remained the misfortune of those fated to work with him or for him. We have seen these last three years, however, that his personal failings can have wider existential consequences. Negligence and dysfunction so characterised his mishandling of fire, flood and plague that in one sense it seems a wonder he was so predictably awful at his job. Such an abysmal performance sustained over the years speaks to a constancy that is absent in his record – unless the constancy you seek is the salesman’s unremitting insistence that the stale shit sandwich he just sold you is a freshly baked brioche roll thickly spread with tasty truffle paste.
In living memory, I don’t believe the Prime Minister’s office has never been occupied by a man so unworthy of it. All of us are human, and thus imperfect. Every man and woman who has sat that office was flawed, and often deeply so. But in my life, I recall none so utterly bereft of a single virtue which might make their time in power at least partways redeemable.
I suspect Fierravanti-Wells has it right when she speaks of him as a man without a moral compass. Lying is simply something he does. But to be in the world without organising principal or defining morality is something that one is.
Lying is behaviour.
The nihilism that enables lying, however, is nature.
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