Who is the Prime Minister of the Victorian part of Australia?
AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

How’s everyone going? 

Hahahahahahahahaha just kidding… 

People broke this week. They broke last week, and the week before, and the week before that too. Lots and lots of people. I’m personally fortunate because I broke months ago. But these things can happen more than once (like waves of this virus, incidentally), so who knows?! 

Cool.  

People will break again on Sunday in Melbourne when nowhere near as many restrictions are lifted as people desperately want. It’s not good; it’s not normal. But it is what’s happening. That’s not a political statement, it’s just a fact. 

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I’m not thrilled about ruining the drama posed in the headline this early on but Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister of the Victorian part of Australia. Still, it’s worth exploring the question further, because the answer exuded from Scott Morrison is “definitely not Scott Morrison” and I’d like to know why.

Firstly, where is he? We’ve barely heard from him.

There’s a pandemic and Melbourne has been in lockdown for I don’t know how long anymore. 8 or 9…ish? Months?? On and off but mostly on. 

We’re all well aware that the Victorian Premier is in charge of what’s happening on the ground at the moment – for bad and good and bad and good – but I still think we could hear from someone else too. We’ve certainly got the time.

Even Donald Trump speaks directly to the virus-ravaged parts of his country more often than Scott Morrison does.

Without diving too deeply into the vexed issue of how regularly retailers should send out spam emails to suggestible exhausted brains during a pandemic, I’ve heard from JB Hi-Fi more regularly and with more feigned concern than Scott Morrison this lockdown. (JB Hi-FI has also offered me better and more numerous deals on headphones and fridges, but that’s beside the point.)  

Why doesn’t the PM talk to us more? Is he worried about the reception he’d receive here? Is it because he doesn’t really need seats in Victoria to win government anymore? Does he not want to be associated even tangentially with the Plague State? 

Is it the aged care thing? 

It’s the aged care thing, isn’t it? 

I wouldn’t want to be associated with that either. Especially not if it was my Federal Government’s responsibility to oversee the sector.

Doubly so if a royal commission was ordered into aged care in October 2018 by the Governor-General, driven by the overwhelming sentiment that it is a sector in crisis, ripe with callous profiteering, and horrendous inhumane treatment of some of the people least deserving of horrendous inhumane treatment.

The royal commission’s interim report is subtitled “Neglect”. That’s it. Neglect

I WONDER IF THE INTERIM FINDINGS WERE GOOD?!

I certainly wouldn’t want to be associated with the sector if 678 deaths out of the nation’s total 899 as of October 13 occurred in aged care settings. 

And I definitely wouldn’t want to be linked with anything at all right this moment because other politicians in Victoria and NSW are taking significant heat – both deserved and perhaps a little more than deserved. I’d just keep building cubby houses and asking the media to come hang for some softballs. 

I’d ride tanks in Queensland.

AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

I’m not a tank guy but this looks better than anything I’ve done since February. I’d go on a tank right now. I’d try to not leave the QLD Liberal Leader behind for the photo op though, but I’ve got a lot of scary radical ideas like that.

It’s not like the Prime Minister’s message isn’t getting through because state politics is simply more interesting and important right now, either. His message is getting through. It’s just that his message is that he’s at Bunnings.

I understand his job is not to watch over any single one part of this country other than perhaps NSW, but surely he could be a little bit more here? Where all the disease and tragedy and the bulk of the economic despair is? 

 Ahhhhhhhhh the aged care thing. I keep forgetting! Everyone does. Lockdown brain, maybe?!

Reporters seem to be forgetting about it too. Not these ones in Victoria, though, captured on a hot mic recording and originally posted onto Twitter by David Marler.

It’s admittedly not the beat of the reporters featured in this video – they are tasked with covering Victorian politics specifically – but it is definitely someone’s beat. People at these same news outlets, too. What are they doing right now?

Are they still covering the PM’s chickens? And, related, is the Prime Minister still naming chickens after other Prime Minister’s wives? How long does that take? I’ve never done that before, but surely it wouldn’t take more than a few weeks.

And perhaps more importantly why did that work at all? Why did we talk about Scomo’s chickens as anything other than a stunt? Perhaps Kevin Rudd is wrong? Perhaps the problem in this country isn’t the proliferation of hyper-conservative media under a dwindling number of owners? Perhaps it’s just the proliferation of too much stupid media. 

The last time I heard from Scott Morrison in regards to things that actually impact life in Victoria was when his government cut JobSeeker and JobKeeper on budget night. If that’s all he’s got to offer right now, it’s probably a good thing we don’t hear from him more often. 

I’m experiencing this pandemic through the prisms of lockdown, my exhausted but resilient five kilometres of local community, Melbourne’s worst TV show, the State of Disaster and the abject state of despair, an embarrassingly dangerous and useless popular media, my spam email, and not really having a Prime Minister that seems to want to help out anymore – lest some of the taint of the Leper State rubs off on him before the wider public of Australia. 

There’s some comfort in all of those things except the last. 

Scott Morrison’s absence in Victoria does not negate any of the blame for the hotel quarantine stuff-up by the Andrews Government. None of it. But would fewer people have died had the Morrison Federal Government not neglected a report that had the word “Neglect” on the front cover? Absolutely. Professor Brendan Murphy, Australia’s former chief medical officer and current secretary of the federal health department, admits that. How many people? Who knows. But surely it’s worth pursuing? Even reporters at the news outlets steadfastly not pursuing it admit that.

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By David Milner

 

 

 

 


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