International Failures and Morrison Attacks the West and the North

New Politics: Australian Politics

08-10-2021 • 31 mins

There’s continuing fallout from the broken French submarines deal, and a humiliated country will seek retribution in other ways. Australia didn’t learn the lessons given by China, where the Australian government pressured the WHO to investigate the origins of coronavirus and Defence Minister, Peter Dutton, decided to directly blame China for releasing the virus to the rest of the world. The result: China placed tariffs and sanctions on Australian exports and caused billions of dollars of damage to the local economy. The French government has instructed its diplomats to ‘go hard’ on Australia in the upcoming free trade negotiations with the European Union, and to go even harder when it comes to the imposition of carbon tariffs. Australia is going to be whipped at the upcoming COP26 climate change meetings, and it’s probably wise for Scott Morrison to not attend. It’s going to be a humiliation like no other. And if diplomacy on the international stage is not the Morrison government’s forte, it displays even less on the national stage. Instead of making soothing tones to try an appease difficult negotiations on GST reform and increased hospital funding, Scott Morrison’s natural reaction is to create division and seek opportunities. The ‘divide and rule’ philosophy worked very well for the Roman Empire – until it no longer worked and caused a long-term force in Europe to crumble. And it happened relatively quickly. This might a portent for the Morrison government: the pandemic has been a time for unity, whereas all they’ve provided is division and argument at every turn. It’s almost as though their willing on their own demise. Attacking the governments of Western Australia and Queensland is not a vote-winner for the federal government; in fact, it works in reverse. It’s easy for Western Australia and Queensland to whip up a frenzy against the federal government – and perhaps it only the residents of those states who can understand this phenomenon. And it’s a whole lot easier when the national leader is seen as the ‘Prime Minister of New South Wales’. The state and territory governments have requested more funding for hospitals – $8 billion each year until the end of 2023. But Morrison and Josh Frydenberg say ‘no’, even though they gave $21 billion in JobKeeper support to corporations who made profits and increased their bottom line during the pandemic. It’s always a question of priorities but this federal government always seems to choose the wrong ones. Another piece of advice for Morrison: stop attacking state governments. It might appeal to the base of the Liberal Party and the conspiracy theorists in the community that despise all governments (but might be partial to a Prime Minister who kicks into regimes he doesn’t like) but, overall, it’s a net vote losing act. And it might provide Morrison a massive loss at the next federal election.