Just days after a scathing address to the senate in which outgoing Liberal Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells labelled Scott Morrison, a ‘ruthless… autocrat’ with ‘no moral compass’, NSW upper house member Catherine Cusack has asserted that The Prime Minister excluded Ballina, Byron Bay and Tweed Shire from federal disaster payments, because they were in a Labor constituency.
The decision was reversed in mid-March – two weeks after floods had ravaged the region.
Attempt to pork barrel flood funding
According to Ms Cusack says:
“To see the self-serving ruthless bullying that has increased inside the Liberal party spill over into public policy and the poorest most vulnerable Australians who lost everything in the floods are the targets of this outrageous abuse of morality and power is simply intolerable.”
She acknowledged that financial assistance was extended to all northern rivers victims, but only after their exclusion became too “embarrassing”. She added that the Prime Minister now “appears to be refusing to engage NSW Government on additional measures” that are so needed for flood victims.
To say this is bad PR for ‘Scotty from marketing’ is an understatement. His image has already been tarnished over his weak defence of the ‘slow’ Federal response to the early March flood crisis, as well as his continued climate change denial.
Since early March, Lismore, Byron, and Ballina in northern New South Wales have been flooded again in severe weather, which has seriously hampered and further delayed recovery efforts. Flood victims have been asked to leave temporary accommodation in Byron Bay in preparation for the upcoming Easter holidays, making the homeless problem in the region much much worse.
In short, the Northern Rivers is still a heartbreaking mess and accusations that the Prime Minister attempted to ‘‘pork barrel’ much needed funding is pretty damning.
Allegations of racial vilification
In recent days, Scott Morrison has also been steadfastly defending his innocence over allegations that he racially vilified Michael Towke and destroyed his political career for his own gain.
The former Liberal candidate lost a preselection battle against Scott Morrison in 2007 for the south Sydney seat of Cook and has now accused the Prime Minister of instructing party members not to vote for him because he was from a Lebanese family and also because there were rumours he was a Muslim.
The PM’s other fall from grace has occurred by association – his ‘close friendship’ with Hillsong Church Leader Brian Houston who is facing charges of concealing his father’s sexual abuse of young boys, and more recently has been accused of inappropriate sexual conduct.
It’s certainly fair to say that ‘the gloves are off’ within the Liberal Party. Considerable discontent has arisen within the Liberal Party in recent weeks over the Liberal federal executive’s decision to appoint a three-person committee, comprised of Scott Morrison NSW premier Dominic Perrottet and the former federal president of the party Chris McDiven empowered to appoint candidates in the potentially winnable seats of Warringah, Hughes, Parramatta and Eden-Monaro and Greenway.
Essentially it means that the Prime Minister will have a significant say in who makes up the parliamentary party in New South Wales.
This has infuriated many long-time members of the Liberal Party who say it is against the party’s constitution.
And while all of the sniping and back-stabbing could be written off as the ‘nature of politics,’ the similarities within many of the most recent allegations levelled at Scott Morrison are impossible to ignore.
A ‘hypocrite and a liar’
Let’s not forget that only several weeks ago leaked texts allegedly showed that Gladys Berejiklian had called Scott Morrison a “horrible person” who was untrustworthy. When asked about the texts, Berejiklian “could not recollect” the messages. A failure to “recollect” numerous conversations, actions, and circumstances was indeed a hallmark of her leadership during her tenure as the Premier of New South Wales.
Around the same time as the Berejiklian texts were making headlines, Barnaby Joyce also publicly apologised to Scott Morrison for a text he sent prior to returning to the Leadership of the National Party intending a message to former Liberal Party staffer Brittany Higgins, in which he called Scott Morrison “a hypocrite and a liar”.
Whether he wants to admit to it or not, it’s becoming crystal clear that Scott Morrison has lost the confidence of his own party, and possibly, along with it, the confidence of many Australians.
Of course, most of this is brushed off, and brushed aside, and Morrison’s focus right now remains firmly on the election that lies ahead of him.
But it’s increasingly frustrating for Australians who watch the ‘in-fighting’ from the sidelines.
Many consider it a complete waste of time, particularly when the government could instead be focusing on real issues of importance, including climate change, cost of living increases, rebuilding flood disaster zones as quickly as possible, solving the homeless crisis, putting an end to violence against women … etc.
As long as the mud-slinging continues, it also has the potential to make many people simply disengage from politics and political news which is not ideal at such a crucial pre-election time.
Australia desperately needs politicians who can rise above party politics, set a new standard of professionalism, and actually get stuff done.
We also need politicians who will think beyond an election cycle and endeavour to put the right people, the right resources and the right funds in the right places to rebuild the economy, and to maintain public confidence in the political system.