The Political Climate Being Conjured by Morrison Is Hardly the Way Forward  

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Morrison's Political Climate

Earlier this week, it came to light that Brisbane’s Citipointe Christian College had sent out an updated enrolment contract to parents specifying that the religious school reserved the right to expel their children on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

This abhorrent document outlined that the school believes “any form of sexual immorality is sinful”, and went so low as to then lump homosexual and bisexual acts in with bestiality, incest and paedophilia.

Unsurprisingly, the backlash over this Dark Ages regression led to the retraction of the contract.

Scott Morrison has since publicly denounced it. Yet, the school was following his lead on the issue. And while he’s further said he’ll revoke the law allowing LGBTQ kids to be turfed out of religious schools, he made the same promise in late 2018 and, obviously, has never followed through on it.

Anti-LGBTIQ sentiment is a key signature of Morrison’s term in office, which has led to an escalation in homophobic and transphobic actions like those of the college. And this is all being promoted under the guise of religious freedom from discrimination, or, more succinctly, the right to be a bigot.

This episode, however, is only the latest blemish to have occurred in the public sphere that’s been facilitated and actively encouraged by Morrison and Co. And if re-elected, the political climate under this the most corrupt of all governments the nation has seen is set to become much nastier.

How good is turfing out queer students?

If passed, Morrison’s pet project, the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 (the RD Bill), would enact laws that allow individuals to make statements that are currently outlawed due to their discriminatory nature, if these comments are in line with their faith doctrine.

The long-term debate and push for these laws – which might be better described as Christian liberties, rather than antidiscrimination measures – appear to have emboldened institutions like the Citipointe Christian College to conduct modern day witch hunts as it has.

But it goes further than that.

Section 38 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) makes it lawful for religious educational institutions to expel students based on their “sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital or relationship status or pregnancy”. It also permits the sacking of teachers on such grounds.

Following marriage equality legalisation, then PM Malcolm Turnbull established the Ruddock Religious Freedom Review, which recommended, in terms of this law, that schools have “a publicly available policy” outlining their position on expelling LGBTQ students.

This recommendation would likely result in documents such the one the Christian college sent out recently.

While the RD Bill’s explanatory memorandum sets out that proposed section 7 provides that a religious educational institution does not discriminate against someone if it subjects them to conduct that’s in line with their faith doctrine and is stated in a publicly available policy.

“By allowing this conduct,” the memo continues, “the Bill could limit an individual’s rights to equality and non-discrimination by preventing them accessing the provision of services and education or employment opportunities from that religious body on the basis of their religious belief or activity.”

So, the PM can denounce the Citipointe Christian College’s contract all that he wants, but the school was certainly following what the Liberal Nationals government considers to be the way forward for this nation.

How good is corrupt governance?

Of course, the right to be a religious bigot is not the only direction the present government is steering us in. Another key promise that Morrison made prior to the last election was to establish a federal integrity commission to keep watch over government corruption.

Yet, the government has shirked on following through on this as well.

In late 2020, close to two years following the pledge, then attorney general Christian Porter came to the table with his version of a federal ICAC, which was a toothless watchdog with its proceedings to be conducted in secrecy.

In the meantime, the nation has been subjected to a pork barrelling fiesta, as the Australian National Audit Office uncovered the sports rorts scandalthe commuter carpark clean up, as well as the Leppington Triangle swindle.

When the NSW ICAC was conducting its corruption inquiry into former premier Gladys Berejikilian, the prime minister implied in parliament that the body had abused its power, and he then asked the disgraced former Liberal leader to run for federal office.

Morrison also went on to accuse the opposition Labor Party of causing the delay in establishing a federal corruption oversight body, because it wouldn’t support the inadequate proposal that his government dumped on the table.

And in terms of open government, Morrison’s has done a stunning job at keeping it confidential.

Over the year 2020-21, the PM’s office failed to meet the legal deadline on freedom of information requests on the majority of occasions, while Home Affairs was on time for just 62 percent of requests.

How good is the lack of leadership?

The “I don’t hold a hose, mate” attitude has also been a hallmark of Morrison’s tenure. And this aspect to his leadership reveals a decaying of what the role of prime minister should, at least at face value, be.

The hose remark was made on 2GB Radio following the PM’s return from Hawaii after he abandoned his post as leader in the middle of the worst bushfire season the nation has ever seen. He coupled it with the statement “I don’t sit in the control room”, which is very telling for a head of government.

To re-elect Morrison means the nation signs over a black cheque to further fossil fuel expansion at a time when the children being educated in schools at present are going to cop some very severe weather events in the not-too-distant future.

Another three-year term will also ensure that the rising far-right will be further bolstered as the Liberal Nationals placate it with the occasional nod, and the PM can find it within himself to empathise with its threats of violence under its new freedom fighting banner.

And three more years of the Pentecostal PM will see the rights of women take a greater setback, as Morrison can’t easily find it within himself to empathise with the rape of a young female staffer, and nor can he take sex crime and sexual misconduct allegations against colleagues seriously.

Indeed, many Australians look back to Morrison’s 2019 miracle win and can no longer recognise the world we live in, and while they can’t charge the PM with creating the interim crises, they can certainly lay the blame before him over his exacerbation of these hardships.

So, let’s, as a nation, not take the chance of casting our minds back in disbelief to the present moment just before the 2025 election.

Photo credit: “Llegada de Scott Morrison, primer ministro de Australia” by G20 Argentina is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Paul Gregoire

Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He's the winner of the 2021 NSW Council for Civil Liberties Award For Excellence In Civil Liberties Journalism. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, Paul wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.

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