Everyone probably has heard of the Brereton enquiry into alleged war crimes by Australian troops in Afghanistan1. A few days ago, Lieutenant General Rick Burr, the Chief of Army, faced the media and when queried about whether he planned to resign because of this debacle, he declined to answer, and later, as the media continued firing questions at him, he cut short the press conference2.
Earlier in the day, Scott Morrison warned the Chief of the Defence Force, Angus Campbell, that he expects the top brass to be held accountable for alleged war crimes in Afghanistan, not just the rogue soldiers who were on the frontline. Morrison’s remarks follow calls by silly Sky News microphone bully Alan Jones that the Prime Minister should sack Campbell, and ignore the Brereton Report’s assertion that the top brass should not be blamed because they were kept in the dark by rogue soldiers. Morrison said “in each case, it’s important that not only is there accountability in the defence forces for individual alleged acts, but also in the chain of command about those who had responsibilities and accountabilities in that chain of command”2.
Morrison has carefully avoided any semblance of accountability in his entire political career. In part, this is because Morrison is a narcissist; everything he does is either to make himself feel superior, or to denigrate all those who would question his ability, whether they be colleagues, political opponents, journalists, bloggers or the twitterati. The prime example of his lack of accountability was that of the travesty that was ‘robodebt’.
Morrison has never accepted and will never accept responsibility for ‘robodebt’ of which he was the architect. Reality is never allowed to impinge on Morrison’s high opinion of himself, unwarranted as that opinion is. During the ‘robodebt’ debacle, over 500,000 debt notices were sent out, including to people with disabilities, carers, students, the aged, the unemployed, the mentally ill, and otherwise vulnerable. This was just asking for trouble and it arguably cost up to 2,000 people their lives by suicide, after they received their ‘robodebt’ notices. Yet Centrelink and its Minister, the horrendously scandal-prone Stuart Robert, “steadfastly continued to defend the indefensible, producing a tsunami of suffering and misery including suicides, depression and marriage breakdowns without a skerrick of compassion and made worse where those affected were current welfare recipients”3.
For Morrison to even utter the words ‘responsibility’ or ‘accountability’ is the absolute pinnacle of hypocrisy.