The Morrison nightmare

By August 18, 2021Australian Politics, Society

We are in the middle of the Morrison nightmare. While the pandemic apparently all began in China when a virus jumped species in late 2019; it arrived in Australia in January 2020. Assorted companies scrambled to develop an effective vaccine and in anticipation of their eventual production, many nations had at least signed memoranda of understanding with several companies, so they didn’t put all their eggs in one basket. As a consequence, nations like the UK had signed deals to purchase the AstraZeneca, BioNtech/Pfizer and Valneva vaccines in July 20201

In August 2020, the UK government also ordered 60 million doses of the Novavax vaccine and 30 million doses of the Janssen vaccine (owned by Johnson & Johnson)2. In November, 2020, the UK signed a deal with Moderna to provide 5 million doses3. As a consequence, the UK’s potential stockpile would be over 340 million doses, for a nation with a population of 68 million. Because they acted early, the UK was able to begin its vaccine rollout in early December (8th), initially with the BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine4

On the 10th of July [2020], there was a meeting between Pfizer and representatives of the Australian government regarding access to their vaccine. The government representatives insisted that Pfizer hand over all their Intellectual Property, and then started trying to knock down the price. In the end, the Australian government knocked back the offer of 40 million doses, which could have arrived in Australia in late January, 2021. Pfizer wanted to make Australia and Israel examples to the world, demonstrating how to roll out a vaccination program, and they simply wanted to know how many doses were required and when they were required. Israel, which began its vaccine rollout in mid-December (19th), had the BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine playing a major role5.

On the 19th of August, 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that “Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the Australian Government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca. Under the deal, every single Australian will be able to receive the University of Oxford COVID-19 [i.e. AstraZeneca] vaccine for free, should trials prove successful, safe and effective”. This overstatement by Morrison prompted AstraZeneca to come out on the same day to clarify that this was only a ‘letter of intent’ which had been signed by the two parties and that it “doesn’t go into any detail about costs or numbers or anything”6. So, this was just another line in bovine excrement spouted by Morrison

The slow rollout (or strollout as it has been called), of the vaccination program has been a running sore for the government, and is one of the reasons for the federal government’s plummeting approval ratings. This has led to Morrison scrabbling to attempt to speed things up. Perhaps the worst of these was his brain-fart in which he suggested that people under 60 should talk to their doctor and get the AstraZeneca vaccine. This went against advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) which stated that only people over 60 should get the AstraZeneca vaccine. This vaccine has been linked to several deaths in Australia from a rare clotting syndrome. Morrison announced this after a National Cabinet meeting, but it was not discussed at the meeting7

Morrison will do anything to make himself look better and if a few young people die in that cause, he seems unconcerned. This is the sign of a malignant narcissist. As Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Jeanette Young stated: “I do not want under-40s to get AstraZeneca. … Because they are at increased risk of getting … the rare clotting syndrome. We’ve seen up to 49 deaths in the UK from that syndrome. I don’t want an 18-year-old in Queensland dying from a clotting illness who, if they got Covid, probably wouldn’t die. We’ve had very few deaths due to Covid-19 in Australia in people under the age of 50, and wouldn’t it be terrible that our first 18-year-old in Queensland who dies related to this pandemic died because of the vaccine?”7

Morrison announced on the 9th of August, 2021 that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) had provided provisional approval of the Moderna vaccine which, like that from BioNtech/Pfizer, is an mRNA vaccine8. As noted above, the UK signed an agreement with Moderna to obtain 5 million doses in November of 2020. This vaccine was approved for use in the UK in early January, 2021, and the order was upped to 17 million doses9. The first doses of Moderna vaccine were administered in the UK in the middle of April10.

While it may be tempting to assume that the UK is able to exert pressure on manufacturers to deliver much earlier to them than to most nations, that would be a mistake, as many other nations were well ahead of Australia. For example: Singapore was the first country in Asia to approve the Moderna vaccine, and did so in early February, 202111; and Canada approved the Moderna vaccine for use in late December, 2020 and the first doses were expected to be delivered by Christmas, ahead of the original scheduled January date12

In another desperate attempt to try to shore up his popularity, Morrison has now announced that he has purchased 1 million doses of the BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine from Poland. However, he would not say what the cost was13.

So, Morrison’s crowing about the approval of the Moderna vaccine for use in Australia and the purchase of a million BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine doses from Poland are simply more signs of his failure. He is always late and lacks the ability to imagine what that tardiness could mean. Early on in the reaction to the pandemic, it was clear to many that there was no federal leadership14.

We could have had 40 million Pfizer doses early this year; as it is we are now scrabbling for others’ castoffs and endangering lives by suggesting that younger people get the AstraZeneca vaccine, which goes against ATAGI’s recommendations.

That lack of imagination and leadership, especially with regard to the purchase of enough doses vaccines early enough has led to this Morrison nightmare. This will likely cause the deaths of many unvaccinated people and may cause the deaths from the rare clotting syndrome of some younger people who have had their first AstraZeneca vaccination from the rare clotting syndrome. This is a nightmare which will apparently get worse before it gets better. I have loved ones in the eastern states, some of whom are under 40 and who have been compelled to get the AstraZeneca vaccine in the absence of sufficient BioNtech/Pfizer. This is my Morrison nightmare. If anything happens to my loved ones, I will become Morrison’s nightmare.




  • Jon says:

    The obvious importance and immediacy of vaccination and Morrison’s abject failure to recognise the urgency and deliver aside, data which is now emerging (see the links) suggests focus should already be shifting to what the fed and state governments will do post vaccination/”herd immunity” (80+%). More variants are expected to emerge and current vaccines may be ineffective, so a whole new mass vaccination program may be necessary. Will or should the community then be required to repeat the same lockdowns/restrictions, and if so what is the mechanism for those to end? Given Morrison won’t have a clue unless he has a divine pentecostal inspiration or Jenny tells him, and will be keen to avoid any action which might be controversial, I guess we’ll be left with Premiers making decisions for us. Thus far their responses have been less than encouraging, although that’s currently understandable.

    • admin says:

      The flu vaccine needs to be renewed every year, so it would be unsurprising if the same thing happened to coronavirus. Some of the viruses that cause diseases grouped under ‘the common cold’ are caused by coronaviruses. They keep changing from year to year. One of the viruses which causes the seasonal flu (H1N1), was determined to be the virus that caused the Spanish Flu in 1918-1920. Now we can get vaccinated every year for the same virus. Whether that sort of thing happens to Sars-Cov-2, remains to be seen.

      • Jon says:

        My point really wasn’t about vaccines, but the public narrative from CHOs, Premiers and occasionally a Morrison govt employee wrt the steps to “normality” (or to be more accurate, the lack of narrative, and the lack of discussion/debate). The recent data about the significantly reduced ability of current vaccines to stop people from contracting a (usually mild) case of the Delta strain has not been addressed at all. Instead we continue to get the inanely repetitive and relatively meaningless focus on test numbers and “cases”. Yes the statistics show a direct relationship between “cases” and hospitalisation/death but the notion that we can somehow stop the disease or wait it out is imo essentially nonsensical – fairy tale stuff.

        Admittedly we have a leadership vacuum but we should already be discussing how we as a society will proceed given vaccinated people can still acquire C19 and what our reaction will be if a new even less controllable variant emerges – as expected by some experts. There seems to be zero proactivity and a constant barrage of repetitive reactivity.

        I’m sure people already have an expectation based on the “we aren’t safe till we’re all safe” spin and the references to 80% vaccination rates. I’m equally sure that the more vulnerable, those who can’t be vaccinated, and parents of younger children all want to know what the “plan” is. My guess is there will be more of the same until such time it dawns on the “average” punter that covid-19 is here to stay.

        • admin says:

          Yep. The idiot Berejiklian is hammering vaccination as a solution but, as you say, it doesn’t stop you from getting the virus, or passing it on. We will have to live with it, but vaccination will hopefully stop us dying from it.

  • Russell says:

    Napoleon had some enemies in high ranks. One whom he detested did something to annoy the great emperor of short stature ( – that explains his main problem; short person complex. Hates everyone taller than him, being most people!) Anyway, Count Talleyrand was the one N hated. He said to him angrily, “Monsieur de Talleyrand, vous etes un tas de merde!”
    I think all of us might like to spit on Morrison’s smirking smug stupid dial, and add, “Mon-sewer Moron Sin, vous etes un enorme tas de merde”.
    I might add that this execrably immoral, untrustworthy swine Morrison is an oxygen thief from those poor people he has caused to finally be trapped in an ICU with Delta strain effects that prevent proper breathing. Morrison is an oxygen thief, a dickhead AND a total, complete waste of space that might be occupied by someone with lots of healthy synapses.

  • r says:

    That hypocrite Premier Bere -a joke -lian has never once admitted to fault, in all her useless daily blathering and accusing the public. That bovine thing created the vast mess and suffering of five plus million folk, by utterly failing in June to lock down. Had this useless duo, Gladrag and The Health-Hazzard (lazy, arrogant sod he is), locked the inner ring of suburbs right down as soon as they became aware of Delta spreading there, Sydney and the entire region beyond it would not be enduring this fiasco.
    Bere-joke-lian deserves to be horsewhipped……out of office at the next opportunity. She’s just a developers’ stooge, a puppet for stronger force inside her own sorry, corrupt Liberal Party. As for that mafioso Barilaro, what a dirty criminal to put up as a party leader!! Beyond belief that these types want the public’s respect and repeated voting for them. They are lowlife pollie scum the Libs of NSW are.

    • admin says:

      You won’t get any argument from me. When I think of what the Liberal Party was before Howard, it is astonishing how low it has sunk. Howard was the first PM after the end of the White Australia Policy to use the dog whistle and it has been standard practice for the Liberal Party ever since. They are beneath contempt.

  • Jon says:

    A single line from a commenter on Peter Hartcher’s overdue opinion piece yesterday summed up Morrison and his mates to a tee, although the record of the Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison “governments” in particular shows they have neither any real interest nor even basic competency in contract oversight:
    “Morrison et al CAN’T become anything other than what they are.”
    Integrity, honesty, competence and even cursory care about the country have been jettisoned for power. Elector complacency and right/left rusted-ons never helps but low personal standards, abysmal leadership and a commensurate lack of accountability means we have no choice but to set up yet another body to “keep the bastards honest “. That body will dance to the tune of the politicians who implement and fund it when it should be independently established and paid for out of the Future Fund.

    Sheriff Bart’s full comment:
    Forty years of neoliberal trickle down fantasy has left us ( our democracy ) in such a parlous state that ‘leadership’ is no longer in the manual, what is left is little more than ‘contract oversight’ that has us left with a bunch of feckless dilettantes more energized by the trough and lickspittling to corporate interests.
    Morrison et al CAN’T become anything other than what they are — shallow big business operatives set on the task of gutting our hard won social contract, it is THE only thing they are focused on.

    Hartcher’s article (which Arthur also commented on):

    The Morrison govt’s self-destruction is not the problem (and is hopefully imminent, although one should never underestimate the ability of certain backward states to completely fu – as Qld did last election). The real issue is the damage to democracy inflicted by the PM (Pentecostal Malingerer) and his cronies in politics, business and the media. Their shared lack of basic honesty, integrity and accountability is insidious. As ethicist Simon Longstaff said about the car park and similar federal and state rorts:
    “Whether deliberate, or not, our governments are grinding us down – corrupting the democratic spirit of the nation. The process has a name – the “normalisation of deviance” – by which the unthinkable becomes practically inevitable. It’s just that nobody notices the corruption spread – like gangrene slowly putrefying the body politic, one cell at a time. “

    • admin says:

      One can only hope that Hartcher is correct. ‘Dawdling to destruction’ perfectly encapsulates the Morrison government’s extraordinary incapability. Everything they touch, ends up as a shemozzle. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it.

  • Jon says:

    Another interesting article by Peter Hartcher in the SMH today about the deteriorating relationship between Premiers and Morrison. In case you missed it here’s the link and one of the better bits. The last sentence is telling: “Prime Minister for Morrison and no one else”. When even your own political colleagues accept the obvious you know things are “rotten in the state of Denmark”.

    Extract: Berejiklian is a Liberal team player who keeps her grievances about Morrison private. But, in private, she is scathing. The NSW Premier has told Liberal colleagues she’d have preferred that Peter Dutton had won the last federal leadership ballot – she’d rather be dealing with Dutton because Morrison is so unpleasant, she’s said. She’s described the PM as a “bully”.

    Berejiklian went so far as to tell a colleague that Morrison’s behaviour was “evil”. She and many of her colleagues are still angry at the fact that Morrison’s press office phoned political reporters in a background effort to discredit her, so-called “briefing against her”, over the vaccine rollout a few weeks ago. They accuse Morrison’s staff of doing the same during the bushfires of two years ago: “Usually he briefs against her for doing her job with some measure of competence,” said one of the Premier’s loyalists. “He doesn’t like the contrast – he makes himself look big by trying to make others look small.”

    Among Berejiklian’s inner circle, it’s considered a joke to call Morrison “the Prime Minister for NSW”. They consider Morrison to be the Prime Minister for Morrison and no one else.

    • admin says:

      Yep, it was a good read but it amazes me that it has taken Hartcher so long to realise this. The people I correspond with on social media had Morrison pegged from the time he rolled Turnbull. It is disturbing that some of the supposed top journalists are so bereft of ability. Maybe that is why so many of the top journalists these days are women and so many of the duds are blokes. The women have put up with this sort of crap forever and can spot it a mile away, whereas for many of the blokes it is like looking in a mirror and seems perfectly normal.

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