Damnation: a review of ‘Bulldozed’

By February 3, 2023Australian Politics, Media

Savva, N. 2022. Bulldozed: Scott Morrison’s fall and Anthony Albanese’s rise. Scribe, Melbourne, 391 p.1

Before I had finished Van Badham’s wonderful book on QAnon2, I had to kill a bit of time in a shopping centre (while my partner was buying clothes for the anklebiters) and I wandered into a bookshop and stumbled onto Niki Savva’s book, so I thought I’d give it a crack, as I was not really in the mood to get into the other books in my bedside stack. Maybe I will, soon.

Savva’s book is substantial, at 391 pages, and includes an unusual five-page acknowledgements at the end (more on that below). The book starts by saying that months out from the election, both then Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg and then Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton, knew that the Coalition government “were headed for disaster” under Prime Minister Scott Morrison, especially if the election became a “referendum on Morrison”. So it proved to be. Savva also explains their reluctance to ‘tear down a sitting Prime Minister’. No doubt they regret that timidity, especially after Morrison’s takeover of multiple ministries came to light. After this revelation “his former colleagues spat out all the M words: messianic, megalomaniacal, and plain mad”. This strikes me as extraordinarily revealing of the lack of perception by those in his party; so many people outside the Liberal Party knew Morrison’s ‘daggy dad’ persona was a cover for a deeply flawed character. Morrison was a prime example of the N word; narcissist, and a malignant one at that. Alternatively, this ministries revelation gave his colleagues an excuse to stick the boot into Morrison, which they did to a moderate degree, thereby giving them the requisite distance such that they could avoid blame for their predicament, which is the Liberal Party’s worst electoral position since it was established by Robert Menzies in 1944.

Savva goes all the way back to Morrison’s arrival in parliament after gaining preselection, during which, with the help of the Murdoch media, he smeared Michael Towke3, 4, which is something Savva doesn’t get into. However, this perhaps is indicative why Frydenberg wouldn’t challenge him, because he knew Morrison would be furious, would resist, and that “the show would have blown up to the point where it was unsalvageable”. This may be where the Liberal Party are now anyway, despite Frydenberg’s ‘loyalty’.

Savva, lists chapter and verse of the numerous things Morrison buggered up: vaccines; submarines; selection of Deves; lying; Hawaii; lying about Hawaii; lying about lying about Hawaii; not his job; Cobargo; Houston; lying about Houston; Religious Freedom Act fiasco; lying about the Religious Freedom Act; joining Palmer’s High Court case against Western Australia; attacking Victoria’s response to Covid-19; going then not going to the footy in a pandemic; calling Western Australians cave-dwellers; this is not a race; assuming credit due to others; Eden Monaro by-election; feigning concern ‘as a father’ about Brittany Higgins; women’s march bullet speech; bullying of Holgate; abusing Perrottet; buggering up the New South Wales preselection process; abuse of the Teals; abuse of Simon Holmes à Court; his ukelele; and his constant cosplay. While I have written about many of these cockups on this blog, based solely on what I could glean from the news, Savva has the contacts and goes into great detail about most of them and importantly uses those details, as well as interviews with Morrison’s colleagues, to paint a picture of a narcissist who is only ever concerned about his best interests. Not only that, but she shows that his colleagues knew he was such a hollow man, but did almost nothing to try to turn things around (namely, getting rid of him).

About two thirds of the way through the book, the narrative swings to Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party and their election campaign. There were minor cockups along the way, but nothing of the magnitude of Morrison’s numerous forays into stupidity. It was reading this bit of the book that the realisation dawned on me that the mainstream media is obsessed with trivialities and seems unconcerned about the content of policies beyond what politicians from both sides say about them. A prime example of this obsession with triviality was in the first day of the campaign when Albanese could not say what the Reserve Bank’s cash rate was (it was 0.1%) nor what the unemployment rate was (it was 4%). While Liberal advertisements made the most of this, in trying to portray Albanese as not up to the job (irony font), comment about this faux pas was in the mainstream media (not just the Murdoch budgie cage liners) for days afterwards. This obsession with trivia was brought to the media’s attention emphatically when an idiot journalist (from the Australian Financial Review) asked of Greens leader Adam Bandt, a gotcha question on the Wage Price Index, when Bandt was speaking the National Press Club. Bandt replied “Google it, mate” and then launched into a justified rant about how politics should be about a contest of ideas and not a simple, simplistic fact-checking exercise full of gotcha questions5. It amazes me that some of these vacuous journalists actually draw a salary. And the mainstream media wonder why their reputation is so poor.

Savva has a short Teal interlude mostly about the contest between former Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and the person who defeated him for the seat of Kooyong, paediatric neurologist Monique Ryan, along with Allegra Spender who defeated Dave Sharma in Wentworth. This was in the appropriately named chapter ‘Joshkeeper’. Then she gets into the people surrounding Albanese who had to face the cameras when Albanese came down with Covid-19 fairly early in the campaign. From reading this, you get the impression Savva is impressed by the team of Gallagher, Marles, Clare, Burke, Chalmers, Butler, Wong and Plibersek, among others. With these people, Albanese is acknowledged to have done well in his first 8 months as prime minister, if the mainstream media and opinion polls are anything to go by. Savva’s detailed knowledge of the processes and the personalities of the Labor Party also makes for interesting reading. In this move from the failing Morrison to the ascendant Albanese the one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is that Albanese is just so normal compared to the fruitcake that preceded him as prime minister. I hope, for the sake of the nation that it remains that way.

As I stated above, the acknowledgements section at the end of Savva’s book is unusual, in that it is not simply an acknowledgement of those who assisted her in her task in writing the book and in her life and professional career. The acknowledgements start off with something which is more of a coda, and is in part worth quoting verbatim: “I had spent more than three years writing about Morrison in my weekly newspaper columns, talking about him on TV and radio, trying to give people an insight into his character and to critique his prime ministership — which, it has to be said, was woeful. He was the worst prime minister I have covered, and I have been writing about all of them since Gough Whitlam. He simply wasn’t up to the job.” She is right on the money here. It is a shame (mostly for them) that the Liberal Party either didn’t realise, or were too gutless to do anything about it.

Savva acknowledges that the damage to the “body politic” by the rise of Morrison was substantial and that the possibility of him winning the 2022 election doesn’t bear thinking about. She also apologises for whatever part she played in his rise, but says she tried to make up for it after she “got to know him better”. Her fears that he would win the 2022 election were, as she said, unfounded and that the people (at least enough of them) had “worked him out” and that “the people got it absolutely right”. 

This is a fascinating book, full of detail based on interviews with just about everyone, it seems; all except Scott Morrison, who, true to his narcissistic form, refused to be interviewed. If the people got it absolutely right in 2022, it is a shame they didn’t get it absolutely right in 2019; after all, it was the same “worst prime minister”. It would have prevented a lot of damage to the “body politic”. But one has to look on the bright side; it may have put the criminally corrupt, anti-democratic, hypocritical Liberal Party into terminal decline; just like its predecessor, the United Australia Party.


  1. https://scribepublications.com.au/books-authors/books/bulldozed-9781922585981
  2. https://blotreport.com/2023/01/10/cult-a-review-of-qanon-and-on/
  3. https://www.sbs.com.au/language/arabic/en/article/liberals-smeared-my-reputation-during-2007-pre-selection-michael-towke-claims/wqzuvg3zo
  4. https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2022/04/09/exclusive-fresh-details-morrison-preselection-saga/164942640013665
  5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxO8aF8SEYM


  • Jon says:

    Was given a copy for Xmas. Wouldn’t have bought it, having had a gutful of Morrison and his numerous enablers – including the media – but it contained some interesting insights into electioneering. One of the more interesting insights was the parties’ perception – mostly poll driven I suspect – of how much trivial faux pas or campaign stumbles can affect voting. Can’t remember the exact misstep now but the case I’m thinking about wasn’t Albanese’s early stage fright, think it was a coalition bungle.

    My guess is that for the vast majority of voters it (thankfully) makes sfa difference at the polling station even if the phone polls showed some small spike or drop in voting intentions. Arguably, at the last election when people had made up their minds early that Morrison and his corrupt incompetent mates had to go, these trivia had almost zero effect, which is how it should be in a true democracy. As we know it doesn’t work that way, due to rusted-ons and a general lack of interest in politics from the public.

    The book wasn’t meant to be an anthology of the corrupt and incompetent acts of Morrison and his Ministers but Savva’s documentation glossed over the parts played in the govt’s downfall by incompetent Ministers like Richard Colbeck. Bridget McKenzie, Alan Tudge etc etc etc, and how those acts, along with the extreme levels of unaccountability and arrogance shown by Morrison and his bevvy of Ministerial pricks, are a REAL threat to democracy.

    7/10 from me.

    • admin says:

      About the faux pas, I think you are right, but I suspect it is the concentration of cockups that matter. If Albanese had stumbled every second day, I think he would have been in trouble. With Morrison, his word salads, his constant cosplay and his ‘not my job’ crap, I think eventually doomed him. What annoyed me was that it took soooooo bloody long for so many people to realise he was, as Savva says ‘not up to the job’. There were people online who knew he was a useless fruitcake even before he made PM. You’d hope that political journalists in the mainstream media would have twigged earlier, and Savva seems to admit that in apologising for any part she played in his rise. Maybe many of them are not up to the task either.
      I also suspect Savva didn’t include all the fwits in the coalition in her assessment, because there are so many of them, the book would have ended up being as thick as it is wide. In addition, she would have been under pressure to get the thing out in the same year as Morrison’s demise.

  • Jon says:

    I’m currently reading “Growing up Aboriginal In Australia”- Kindle version, a compendium of essays from a range of aborigines who grew up in a range of times. Not all great, but there’s a recurring theme about being caught between two cultures, neither of which either accepted or embraced them (generalising), and being regularly asked about their race or colour (often white). Very eye opening, at times humorous and uplifting, often gut wrenching. It should be a compulsory reading in Aussie schools and for conservative aholes like Andrew Bolt.

    Some quotes which really took my fancy:
    “After 230 years of this nation trying to make the black people white, I think it’s dawning on us that, just maybe, if we made the white people a little bit blacker instead the place would be in better shape.”

    “Why don’t you put a land claim in for the detention room? Tell them it’s a sacred site or some shit so we don’t have to go.’” (Fella talking about his high school experiences and what some of mates jokingly said).

    “My father was raised with Eugene the red-bellied black snake, an affectionate family pet that would curl up with my dad in front of the fire. Dad had no idea”.

    “This is similar to the reasons why I don’t leave the house on Invasion Day: I know somebody will identify me as Aboriginal and want to tell me something. I don’t owe you an explanation for my existence.”

  • Jon says:

    And this, which goes a long way to explaining what Bolt and his ilk don’t understand:
    “Dad called me to the kitchen the morning after my meltdown and I found him at our bench in front of two ceramic mugs and a carton of milk. ‘Come watch this.’ He gestured at me to look into the mugs: they were both filled halfway with black coffee. His callused hands picked up the milk and poured an inch of it into one of the cups, turning its contents a creamy brown.

    ‘Tell me what you’re looking at.’ I shrugged, but he urged me on. ‘They’re cups of coffee, right?’ ‘Well, yeah, I guess so …’ ‘No. No guessing. No doubt. They’re coffee. Both of them. It’s what they’ve always been and what they’ll always be.

    This one’ – he gestured to the lighter-coloured liquid – ‘is no less coffee than the other. It doesn’t matter how much milk you add: they’ll never not be coffee.’ ”

    Simple yet brilliant metaphor.

    • admin says:

      I am afraid I don’t understand the attitude of people like Bolt either. Years ago, I remember seeing a documentary about the Kokoda campaign during WW2, and they were interviewing blokes who had fought there some forty or fifty years before. One bloke they interviewed, came across a single Japanese soldier, and in a him or me scenario, he bayoneted the Japanese soldier. It was standard practice to go through the pockets of fallen enemy to see if there were any maps or any other stuff that was useful for intelligence gathering. All this Australian found was a photo of a woman with two small children. He was a mess just thinking about it and it had happened decades before. He never got over it. I even makes me emotional just thinking about it. People are all pretty much the same the world over. It is only bastards like Bolt who exacerbate what racism there is in society, and all that racism is a learned behaviour.

  • Russell says:

    Admin, you are so right when you mention how astounded you are at how the Liberal Potty failed time and again to admit to itself that putting a known serial failure and religious nutter into the PM’s job was bound to lead them to disaster. However, one must recall that these fools also put Tony Madmonk into the same high post, and we all saw how pathetic and incapable he turned out to be. The only thing that I can discern as to why Morrison lasted until his idiocy, arrogance and abysmal choices of a ministry did him in royally last May, is RELIGION. So many who now occupy the party at federal level are like Tony and Scomo – bound together by that common theme of being right-wing obsessed churchy types of the evangelical persuasion. And also, the vast majority of these ante-diluvian dumbos in the Liberal Party are men. Men with undoubtedly backward, chauvinistic and sexist attitudes to the women in their midst and even their own wives. It will be when the sway of extremist phoney religiosity is expunged from the LNP, that they will ever have a chance at being re-elected. And that task looks mighty huge, so we can rest assured we won’t be confronted for years to come, with venal, nasty and/or basically hopeless ministers such as Tudge, Sukkar, Colbeck, Taylor, Reynolds, McKenzie, Fletcher, and Stuart Robert. But best of all, we do and will be able to rejoice in the final good riddance of the arch-liar and scoundrel Morrison

    • admin says:

      I got the impression that Savva felt a bit that way; that she couldn’t believe that hey did nothing to dump Morrison when it was clear he was a sandwich short of a picnic. As I have written here in numerous articles on this blog, the religious have been in the process of taking over the Liberal Party, first in Victoria, then in WA, SA, Qld and federally, and I have written about the tactics the religious propose to use to get into power. It seems that those tactics are working with regard to getting into the Liberal Party, but it has not worked for the Liberal Party as it has gone backwards in opposition or been turfed out of power. There are not only penecostals (e.g. Hawke, Morrison, Robert) but there are also Catholics (e.g. Canavan, Hammond, Pasin), and a few others of assorted sects. These people are not so much concerned with their peculiar sect, they just want to retain the power and privilege of all god-botherers. They realise that they are facing an existential threat from the what looks like a terminal decline in religion, so they have all clubbed together. They occasionally have conferences and those see delegates from all sorts of cults and sects. They are worried.

  • Jon says:

    Goodbye and good riddance.

    Alan Tudge, a fine example of modern Australian conservatism, has resigned, unable to face the music over Robotdebt, the Miller affair, faux education culture wars etc . That he was re-elected shows that 42,000+ Victorians are either politically ignorant or have the the ethics and morals of alley cat (apologies to alley cats for the odious comparison). That Albanese paid him a tribute is a national disgrace and indicative of the Canberra bubble. What did Albanese admire about Tudge – his personal and [parliamentary ethics or his role in Robodebt?

    • admin says:

      If I can bring myself to do so, I’ll have to read Tudge’s ‘valedictory’ speech in parliament. I expect, like most self-serving conservative speeches, it will be a load of excrement.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.