BUT it is the same government that has sparked the activism …
As he rails against activism, Scott Morrison is turning a bit sinister, a bit threatening
The government the PM leads finds activism inconvenient, but it is the same government that has sparked the activism
Katharine Murphy Political editor @murpharoo
Last modified on Sat 2 Nov 2019
It takes some chutzpah to stand up with a straight face and deliver a speech foreshadowing a government crackdown on protest activity while in the same breath declaring that a new insidious form of progressivism is intent on denying the liberties of Australians.
But Scott Morrison has never lacked confidence.
In the florid prime ministerial tale unfurled on Friday at the Queensland Resources Council (and boy folks, it was a doozy), progressivism wanted to tell you what job you can have, what you can say, what you can think “and tax you more for the privilege of all of those instructions that are directed to you” – which made progressivism kind of busy, and a whole lot more organised and efficient than progressivism generally is.
Scott Morrison threatens crackdown on protesters who would ‘deny liberty’
We could, on Friday, have been treated to a measured prime ministerial reflection on the problems associated with cancellation culture. The Labor frontbencher Clare O’Neil showed this week that conversation can be attempted without everyone losing their minds. We could have had some words to bring the country together.
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But after a brief touchdown in the goat’s cheese circle, which was somehow intrinsically hostile to mining in ways that weren’t really unpacked (and perhaps that might have been risky, given Morrison was addressing a business lunch where goat’s cheese might, accidentally, have featured) – we arrived, unexpectedly it must be said, at the sneering apocalypse.
Morrison warned that a new breed of #RadicalActivism™ was on the march, “apocalyptic in tone, brooks no compromise, all or nothing, alternative views not permitted – a dogma that pits cities against regional Australia, one that cannot resist sneering at wealth creating and job creating industries, and the livelihoods particularly of regional Australians including here in Queensland”.
Apart from this being overhyped, high-velocity bollocks, it pays to remember right at this juncture that the actual purpose of Morrison’s address on Friday was to foreshadow a government crackdown against forms of activism and protests that the Coalition and the mining industry finds inconvenient.
So, just in case this unclear, let me spell it out: we were being treated to the spectacle of a prime minister teeing off against intolerance while in the same breath foreshadowing his own bout of government sanctioned intolerance – the type where police might be involved, and people might be bundled away in vans.
Yes, that happened. I saw it, because the prime minister’s speech was broadcast outside Queensland. It wasn’t always clear that Morrison knew the audience looking on at lunchtime on Friday might be broader than the residents of central Queensland, but it was broadcast nationally. To the south-east corner of the sunshine state, and Sydney, and Melbourne.
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Unremarked in this stirring presentation was the fact that climate-related activism is building right at the moment, both at the community level, from the schoolkids to the grandmas, and also at the shareholder level, in large part because the Coalition has invited it.
The government who finds this activism inconvenient is the same government who has sparked the activism, given its purpose and salience and traction, because of its own woeful record on climate change.
In some circles, that sort of behaviour – where you massively bugger things up, and someone has the temerity to call you on it, either individually, or institutionally – is known as an own goal.
But that kind of introspection, the kind where you reflect and arrive at an epiphany that you might just have brought this upon yourself, is of course unhelpful if you are a prime minister intent on making your reality – a made-up world where there are goodies, and baddies, and you and your mates are the goodies, and everyone else should just shut up, and if you don’t shut up, we just might make you.
Which is where funny – “look at that politician engaged in a massive, winking, narrowcasting, try-on on a Friday lunchtime” – turns just that bit sinister. Just that little bit over the top. Just that little bit threatening.
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Apart from the perversity of a government railing against a set of conditions it has, itself, created, there was also the curiosity about carbon risk, which was presented implicitly by Morrison as a fiction of progressivism, #RadicalActivism™ and the sneering apocalypse.
Instead of participants in the economy making clear eyed assessments about the medium and long term, winding down their exposure to carbon intensive businesses given the future that governments have signed up to, including the Morrison government, is one of carbon constraint – rational behaviour is presented as some kind of pernicious conspiracy against wealth creation.
As if wealth can only be created in one way, by one group of people.
This strange diktat will be news to the regulators – the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission – who are calmly out in the marketplace warning stakeholders on a regular basis to get their houses in order or risk being stranded in the inevitable transition, who present carbon risk as what it is: a threat to financial stability in Australia.
They’ll be astonished to learn they are the unwitting tools of the deep progressive state, co-opted by the noisy Australians. Shh, no one tell them.