Morrison’s Indian fail

I suspect I’m not the only one these days who finds themselves cycling through hope and despair at an increasingly rapid rate.

One minute contemplating in horror and disbelief that the Morrison government has actually threatened to imprison Australian citizens who somehow make it back here from India. The next minute finding myself heartened but strangely discomfited that even Matt Canavan and Andrew Bolt are repelled by the idea.

Scott Morrison has never been accused of trying to unite Australia but today he has achieved it, if only fleetingly. There seems general agreement that this is one of the most objectionable and morally bankrupt ideas that an Australian government – any Australian government – has had in years.

To give you a sense of just how bad it is, consider what it is up against: the decision to invade Turkey, the decision to invade Iraq, the decision to award Prince Philip a knighthood, the decision to oppose a banking royal commission, the decision to let everyone disembark from the Ruby Princess, the decision to appoint Tony Abbott the Minister for Women, and, most of all, the decision to actively undermine attempts to tackle climate change.

Detecting the increasingly malodorous smell emanating from the pile of excrement he had dumped on his own government, Scott Morrison immediately threw the emergency lever, claiming that the idea to jail Australians returning from India was made on health grounds.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne backed him up, declaring the idea was “entirely founded in the advice of the chief medical officer”.

That was news to the Chief Medical Officer, Paul Kelly, who quickly debunked that notion, explaining that while he had advised a pause on arrivals from India, his advice did not extend to penalties.

This kerfuffle will probably quickly subside unless some hapless traveller is actually hauled before the courts and prosecuted for the termerity of trying to (gasp) return home.

But it will add to the rapidly accumulating pile of bad calls, missteps and blunders that Morrison has made since the 2019 election, and especially since blithely skipping off to Hawaii in late 2019 as the east coast of the nation became engulfed in flames.

From bushifres to sexual assault, the treatment of Indigenous Australians, climate change, support for the unemployed and less well off, the economy and climate change, Scott Morrison has shown himself incapable of grasping even basic concepts. Even worse, he has displayed an extraordinary lack of empathy.

But none of this is fatal to his government. What might be is his increasing ability to get basic political calls so wrong.

What political judgement Scott Morrison has had appears to be deserting him. This is not to write him off just yet. But there are sounds of the tumbril being prepared.

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