And so Malcolm Turnbull tumbles, in much the same circumstances as describes his entire political career: token resistance then inevitable capitulation.
In his place we have Scott Morrison, ScoMo, a man as bland as a communion wafer and politically just as nutritional. I’d go so far as to say that just like a communion wafer, Morrison is representative of a regime that commits a raft of grievances on the human race but somehow gets away with it due to wealth, stature and longstanding tradition
Morrison’s own rise to the top job mirrors Turnbull’s conquest over Abbott to no small extent, that of being the most palatable of a suite of horrible options, the Sophie’s Choice of party leader. Morrison triumphed over Peter Dutton, a jackboot fascist with a distinct lack of basic humanity and Julie Bishop, the ever-looming vizier and virago finally throwing one of her outlandishly extravagant fascinators into the ring.
Morrison’s career can be described in much the same way. His stint as Immigration Minister was categorised by lies and secrecy and built on a foundation of human misery. Yet this has been forgotten due to the dictatorial human rights abuses of the man that succeeded him in the role, Peter Dutton. Morrison’s tenure as Treasurer would see him out of his depths and taking on water, much the way as the “illegal boats” he built his profile on. Under Morrison’s watch the national debt blew out exponentially in a display of voodoo economics so egregious that even Reagan would blush. Morrison’s saving grace though was that he wasn’t as publically odious as his predecessor, Joe Hockey.
On a federal level, at nearly every point, he was the lesser evil - but an evil nonetheless. This was not the case in his preselection. In 2007 the longstanding member for Cook, Bruce Baird (himself something of a political exile for not kissing the ring of Caesar, John Howard) retired from federal politics. This was a big deal. Cook, encapsulating the cashed up bogan Mecca of ‘The Shire’, was considered a safe Liberal seat. Whoever ran for Cook was a near certainty for federal representation.
Naturally there were a number of candidates. ScoMo of course was among them, looking for work after being sacked as managing director of Tourism Australia, after overseeing the poorly received and much lambasted “where the bloody hell are you?” campaign - the first of his dubious decisions in a position of the public trust. He is also indirectly responsible for the rise of Lara Bingle and (in this writer’s opinion) the fall of the Australian cricket team, Michael Clarke and Sam Worthington. Which isn’t a crime, but should be.
But back to the preselection. Among the other candidates were Paul Fletcher, now the member for Bradfield, and a man by the name of Michael Towke. Towke won the initial preselection ballot in a landslide - 82 votes to 8, eliminating ScoMo in the first round. By all rights he should be the representative for Cook. But he isn’t. We all know it’s ScoMo. So what happened?
Well Michael Towke is Lebanese. Despite his clear popularity in the Liberal Party there was a lot of concern among the upper levels of the Liberals that a man of such…ethnic origins couldn’t win the famously racist seat of Cook, the capital wasteland for the Cronulla Riots. And he couldn’t be removed, that would look racist. So the Liberals (senior figures, working from the shadows as ever, known but not named) worked in concert with their allies in News Ltd and ran a series of hit pieces on Towke in what amounted to a character assassination. He was accused of lies, deceit and even engaging in criminal conduct. Towke defended these allegations, as he had not actually engaged in any of the behaviours he was being accused of. But still the stories ran. Towke took News Ltd to court and sued them for defamation. News Ltd settled and agreed to retract the stories and pay compensation.
What they couldn’t compensate for was the damage done to Towke’s political career. While he was fighting to clear his name against false accusations, Scott Morrison - a long time high roller in the state Liberal Party - was parachuted into this safe seat and into federal politics.
This is nothing new to the Liberals. Backstabbing is in their nature. As Paul Keating would say “tories are mean little people” and, as ever, he’s not wrong. Scott Morrison is no exception to this rule. He is a duplicitous and conniving snake, he just likes to hide it behind his devotion to an evangelical cult and his support of an equally ethically challenged football club.
Menzies might have built the Liberal Party, but John Howard turned it into what it is today - a serpent’s nest of pimps and thieves, Machiavellian hucksters and ambulance chasers. Scott Morrison is the living embodiment of that born-to-rule, mine-not-yours, crush-your-enemies Liberal Party attitude. He’s just less obvious about it. And now he is their king. And ours.
Just because Scott Morrison has coasted through most of his life by being the lesser evil doesn’t make him any less evil. Bring on the election.