Nine days before he took out his “miracle” election win in May 2019, Scott Morrison was photographed sitting amongst a group of elderly people at a Port Macquarie forum, as he expressed his views on “quite Australians” and why they were likely to vote him back in as prime minister.
“There are millions of Australians out there, you know, between elections they are not reading the papers, or following the political news every day,” he told those gathered. “They are too busy living their lives and fulling their responsibilities to others.”
“But they turn up every three years at elections and they take a good, close look at what the options are,” he added.
This is how politicians, such as Morrison, like to see the political system work in this country. It’s highly undemocratic. It encourages “quiet Australians” to disregard the real issues that affect them and leave those matters to the political elite, as it quietly lines the pockets of the corporates.
Australia is a liberal democracy, which means the constituents elect politicians to represent their interests. These elected representatives are then supposed to consult with the people regarding issues, put policies in place to fulfil their wants, as well as ensure the upholding of their rights.
Yet, as the current PM has shown us over his current period in office, his ticking the box every three years model is now resulting in an ever-increasing undermining of citizens’ and residents’ rights, a tendency towards an amalgamation of the powers, and a selective rule of law based on social status.
A great victory for who?
During his victory speech on 18 May 2019, Morrison thanked the quiet Australians for putting him in a position that allowed him to repeatedly pass the buck, shirk responsibilities, and blatantly lie to the public with a smirk on his face for the past three years, whilst collecting a generous pay packet.
The Liberal leader went on to outline just who these politically disengaged people that voted him into power are: they work hard every day, have dreams and aspirations to start businesses or get jobs, and they provide the best for their kids, whilst saving for their retirement.
“These are the quiet Australians who have won a great victory tonight,” he said from the podium. “Tonight is about every single Australian who depends on their government to put them first.”
Yet, Morrison’s win was never about quiet Australians who depend on government.
The victory gained that night via the Liberal Nationals taking out the election was for the fossil fuel industry and the military industrial complex, as well as ensuring the increasing repression of civil liberties and human rights to prop up the profits of these entities.
Looking back over this last term of parliament it’s obvious, as the PM has prioritised an expansion of the gas industry straight after 20 percent of mainland forest burnt down due to climate-driven megafires and he cut a deal to invest billions in nuclear submarines that won’t appear for decades.
Burn for you. What am I going to do?
“I said that I was going to burn for you,” Morrison told the public in his victory speech, “and I am, every single day.”
But when he left the country to holiday in Hawaii in the middle of the greatest bushfire crisis this continent has ever seen, it felt more like we were burning for him.
The PM did cut his family holiday short, however, once it was discovered he’d exited the country without telling anyone. And when he got back, he then went on 2GB Radio to explain why he’d abandoned his post as leader of the country during its worst catastrophe in living memory.
“I don’t hold a hose, mate,” he said in relation to why he was hanging five on the beaches of Hawaii as “quiet Australians” were watching their livelihoods go up in smoke. Then he added, “And I don’t sit in a control room”, which is quite a daunting statement from the man leading the country.
The 2019-20 Black Summer bushfires were not only unprecedented in their ferocity, but also in their extended timespan. The first fires broke out in late July. So, by early November, when Morrison appeared before a Queensland Resources Council meeting, the disaster was well underway.
And it was at this luncheon, that he told the fossil fuel barons that not only was he going to crackdown on those pesky street protesters, but he was currently drafting laws to prevent secondary boycott protests, which involve not doing business with companies supporting fossil fuel projects.
Now, secondary boycotts are the form of protest that Morrison’s favoured quiet Australians prefer to take part in, because it allows them to actualise their political will, as they’re “too busy living their lives and fulfilling their responsibilities”, as the PM would put it, then to get out on the streets.
The death of the quiet Australians
The Vote Compass poll recently found climate change to be the number one election issue this year. It was a top issue last time around as well. And that was before the extended south eastern drought, was followed by the megafires, and now the recent devastation of the climate-compounded floods.
Indeed, there are many other issues that have arisen over the last three years that have served to show quiet Australians that Morrison and the Coalition aren’t there for them but are rather becoming fast obsolete.
There is the lack of accountability, the refusal to establish an anticorruption body, consistent pork barrelling, harassment, abuse and inequality towards women, refusal to acknowledge and engage with First Nations, spiralling foreign debt, human rights abuses against refugees and asylum seekers, increasing surveillance powers, an erosion of citizens’ rights, a deprioritising of health: reflected in COVID vaccine and rapid antigen test strollouts, the complete neglect of aged care, the growing push for war with China, and a absolute disregard for the wants of the people in general.
But back to the Coalition and the climate crisis. Liberal leader Morrison has committed the nation to net-zero emissions by 2050 based on a plan that utilises technology that doesn’t exist, but he hopes will be invented, while Nationals Senator Matt Canavan has just declared the net zero policy is dead.
The rise of Australians with voice
The multiple catastrophes of the last three years have seen the death of the “Australian dream” as it either burnt to the ground, was washed away or it became out of the affordable reach for all those who never had an earlier chance to grasp it.
The ever-increasing understanding that this country has to come to some form of reckoning with its colonial project, which is no longer something that can simply be dismissed as happening 200 years ago, but, in actuality, is alive and functioning in a much more sophisticated way.
Once quiet Australians are now raising their voices up against the Morrisons of the political class and calling out their lies, because there’s no promised land, instead what we’re being presented with is increasing extreme weather that will soon lead to mass death of people and planet.
And with these realisations, there’s a growing understanding that the two-party system – the choice between the Coalition or Labor – is in steady decline, and, in these darkest of hours, there are rising voices of change coming from minor parties, like the Greens, and independents, teal or otherwise.
So, it’s time for quiet Australians to become loud individuals who dare to vote for non-majors to bring about a progressive balance of power in the next parliament that can then take the first steps of change in policy and law and in the destruction of the once sole choice between Liberals or Labor.