Back in 2009, Australia suffered its worst bushfire disaster when, in Victoria, 173 people were killed, 414 injured, and over a million wild and domesticated animals were killed and nearly half a million hectares of land were razed. This disaster came to be known as the Black Saturday bushfires1. After the event, there was a Royal Commission, which stated that the leadership responsible for the operational control of the emergency services was inadequate. One of these leaders was the Chief Commissioner of Police, Christine Nixon, and the Royal Commission found that her approach to emergency coordination was inadequate. She herself acknowledged that she had made errors of judgement. The Royal Commission also suggested that the Minister for Police and Emergency Services should have declared a state of disaster, as the circumstances met the criteria for such a declaration2. However, the campaign against Christine Nixon was under way long before the Royal Commission presented its findings.
When it was revealed that Nixon went out to dinner with friends while in the middle of the fire emergency, former Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett spat the dummy, stating she “put herself first all day and then washed it down with a very good meal at the end. The community is becoming increasingly frustrated the Premier hasn’t removed this blot from our landscape.” Kennett apparently made no suggestion that Nixon endangered anyone’s life or property in going out to dinner, or that her underlings made the wrong decision in her absence. However, it got worse. In the Murdoch rag, the Daily Bellylaugh, Claire Harvey wrote “Here is a woman who can’t control her appetite [Nixon was overweight], according to the pundits [unnamed of course] in newsrooms and living rooms. That’s a moral question, apparently: if she cannot manage her own body, how can she manage anything else.”3 You never hear this about men. How often have you heard this about George Christensen who is obese and has a proclivity for being entertained in the bars of Manila? Certainly never in the Murdoch media.
Now we are in perhaps the most severe bushfire season ever and the emergency services are being overpowered, and over 2.3 million hectares have been blackened and while Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, did acknowledge that climate change is actually happening, he has now disappeared from view and left the idiotic deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack in charge. It is rumoured that Morrison is on holiday in Hawaii. This has incensed many on Twitter such that the hashtag #WhereTheBloodyHellAreYou is trending4. This is an allusion to the monumentally unsuccessful slogan developed for tourism in Australia while Morrison was the head of Tourism Australia, and before he was sacked by the then Liberal Minister for Tourism. For Morrison, a former director of the New South Wales Liberal Party, to be sacked by a Liberal minister, his transgressions must have been serious. They are suspected to have been related to deception in the awarding of contracts5.
While Morrison is fortunately not in control of the emergency services, apart from acquiescing to decreases in funding, it shows a singular lack of judgement that he should take an overseas holiday when such enormous parts of the country have gone up in smoke. This is especially so when, on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s QandA television program, Morrison criticised Nixon who he said “clearly made a bad judgement call and that happens to people from time to time, but this was a very serious issue and I think there are very serious concerns in the community about exercising judgement and it’s incumbent upon all of us in public life to make decisions following that in the best interests of the ongoing nature of the programme”7. This is a sly way of saying that Nixon should resign. If this is what Morrison thinks after Nixon was ‘caught’ having dinner with friends how come nothing has happened to Angus Taylor after the numerous occasions he has been caught doing things which would be unconscionable to most people? All that has happened to him is he is now perceived as a political liability by his party. One shouldn’t expect anything to happen to Angus; he is a bloke, after all.
Can you imagine what the Murdoch rags would have made of someone like Rudd or Gillard if they had gone on holiday overseas when disaster struck? There would be banner headlines screaming for their political demise. What do you think they will do with Morrison? Bugger all, I suspect. That is because, for the time being, Morrison is Murdoch’s puppet.