It is my unfortunate duty to inform you, dear reader, that the so-called summer holidays are over and Australian politics will return to normal transmission in a matter of days.
That’s right, not only are actual kiddies returning to school, but so are the older ones who claim to be our elected representatives in the national parliament.
If you just groaned at the prospect of more politics in your life, thinking that it didn’t seem to end before Christmas, then you’d be right. You might also have an inkling of what Prime Minister Scott Morrison must be feeling as he prepares this weekend for what is likely to be the first of his many terrible, horrible, no good and very bad weeks in 2020.
As any self-respecting spin doctor would do, the PM spent this week trying to frame the series of actual and near catastrophes that he is going to have to juggle when federal parliament resumes next week.
Sadly, the main vehicle for that scene-setting attempt, a speech to the National Press Club, fell flatter than a pancake.
Journalists attending the address, as well as viewers at home, were left none the wiser as to what the nation’s leader would do to fix the problems of the day – such as cracking down on rorting politicians and doing more to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.
#LIVE: My first major speech of the year
Posted by Scott Morrison (ScoMo) on Tuesday, January 28, 2020
So he hasn’t made a particularly great start. Matters will get decidedly worse for Mr Morrison on Tuesday, when Parliament officially opens in Canberra – the capital city whose southern suburbs are currently threatened by an out-of-control bushfire – with a day dedicated to recognising the trauma visited on the nation during the Black Summer of 2019-20.
The PM will have to endure an entire day of speeches emphasising the scientific facts on climate change, drought and bushfires from Labor MPs, The Greens and, hopefully, at least some Coalition MPs.
These concerns are being increasingly reflected in the broader community and could lead to widespread anger if the PM proposes a royal commission rigged to deflect attention to controlled burn-offs, grazing in national parks or building more dams.
Of course the PM’s troubles won’t end when the bushfire speeches conclude on Tuesday. The Sports Rorts saga will have continued to simmer and, even if the former Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie has departed to the backbench by then, the matter will return to a full boil on Wednesday.
This is because questions remain on the role of the Prime Minister’s office and party operatives in the decisions that awarded grants to less deserving projects in key marginal electorates.
The political fallout within the National Party will also create difficulties for the PM. Senator McKenzie’s anticipated demise will likely see both of Barnaby Joyce’s proteges move into the Morrison government’s leadership group – David Littleproud as deputy leader of the Nationals and Matt Canavan as leader of the Nationals in the Senate.
This will cause friction as the Joyce proxies agitate for more influence over government policies and decisions.
This drama will not be avoided if Senator McKenzie manages to survive the #Sportsrorts saga. The minister’s adversaries, having worked out they don’t have the numbers in the Nationals party room to blast her out of the deputy leadership, will simply keep leaking against her until something sticks.
Meantime, Mr Morrison will have to keep the nation alert but not alarmed on the coronavirus outbreak. Oh, and in a similar state of mind on the tanking economy. Yet it’s difficult to be optimistic about the PM’s ability to do either given his mishandling of the bushfire crisis. It’s also difficult to feel much, if any, sympathy for the prime minister heading into such an arduous week.
Even voters who initially embraced our new bloke-ish PM would now be re-assessing whether the ScoMo persona was nothing more than a marketing ploy, constructed to hide a hollow man who has little of substance to offer in solving the nation’s challenges.
My family are so grateful for the opportunities we’ve been given here in Australia. Life often throws things at you that challenge your plans and aspirations. But every day I’m inspired more and more by Australians who are seizing opportunities and overcoming their challenges. As Prime Minister, I will keep backing you and your family in.Together, we can keep the promise of Australia to all Australians.
Posted by Scott Morrison (ScoMo) on Saturday, May 11, 2019
Yet sadly, for the nation, the Prime Minister’s problems are also our own. Mr Morrison would make a good first step in rebuilding the nation’s trust in the government if he saw that and responded accordingly.