A Tale of Two Strongmen Part 1

Scott “ScoMo” Morrison.

I am going to start this out by saying that this is an opinion piece, so don’t expect very much in terms of journalistic objectivity here. I personally think that these two are complete idiots, but I’m only going upon what we’ve had to judge them by so far. While both hold university degrees, Morrison’s degree in applied economic geography holds a little more clout than Justin’s degrees in literature and education.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
November 18, 2018
Photo by Adam Scotti (PMO)

It also seems extremely strange for me to be using the term “strongman” when it comes to this pair. There is simply nothing about either of them that even whispers “strongman”. Just over a year ago I was joining a chorus of other voices in asking these two idiots to do something to help get our people out of Afghanistan. I think we all know how that worked out.

Lee Humphrey

I got to know Lee Humphrey over the last couple of years, having seen him around the Twittersphere, and he is someone whose opinion I value when it comes to a number of things, and politics is one of those things. I started thinking about something yesterday in the wake of the epic meltdown that Scott Morrison appears to be having. There had been rumblings in Ottawa’s dark corners of this kind of thing going on here too, and after seeing what was transpiring in Australia I began to wonder myself.

I put out a post on Twitter posing this question and sent it out to Lee and the rest of the Twitterverse that I reach. It wasn’t long before Lee had sent me a reply that made sense and had been demonstrated before in the past.

What did Scott Morrison do?

In a move that was unbeknownst to anyone else with the sole exception of the Governor General, Morrison had himself appointed as a secret shadow minister in a number of portfolios, a highly questionable act with potential legal and ethical implications for those involved.

How ScoMo was able to do it.

He exploited a loophole in the Australian Constitution that technically allowed him to do what he did, in that the wording is rather vague, but sections 64 and 65 basically give the Governor General the power to do pretty much whatever they want in this particular instance.

64. Ministers of State

The Governor-General may appoint officers to administer such departments of State of the Commonwealth as the Governor-General in Council may establish.

Such officers shall hold office during the pleasure of the Governor-General. They shall be members of the Federal Executive Council, and shall be the Queen’s Ministers of State for the Commonwealth.

Ministers to sit in Parliament

After the first general election no Minister of State shall hold office for a longer period than three months unless he is or becomes a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

65. Number of Ministers

Until the Parliament otherwise provides, the Ministers of State shall not exceed seven in number, and shall hold such offices as the Parliament prescribes, or, in the absence of provision, as the Governor-General directs.

https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Senate/Powers_practice_n_procedures/Constitution/chapter2

Governor General David Hurley

As in Canada, Australia also has a Governor General acting as the representative of the British crown in the country. In Australia, this person is David Hurley, a retired ADF general and former Chief of the Defense Staff.

It is a largely ceremonial role, however, there are some instances where the GG is actually something of an essential part of deciding whether or not something gets done. For instance, a Prime Minister can visit the GG and ask that parliament be dissolved and that a snap election be called, at ANY time during their mandate. Under normal circumstances the GG usually just rubber stamps the writ and an election is called.

HOWEVER, the GG does also have it within their power to deny the Prime Minister’s request and order them to resume sitting and fix whatever it is that needs to be fixed in order for parliament to work. The Governor General is not there to serve at the beck and call exclusively for the Prime Minister’s use, especially under highly unusual circumstances such as these. If Hurley were performing his duties in the way that they were meant, he should have flat-out rejected the request and sent ScoMo on his way.

Hurley didn’t do this, however, and would in fact sign four different orders at Morrison’s behest on four separate occasions over the span of 14 months, which has raised some eyebrows. What was that all about? Did Morrison have something on Hurley, or was this more of a quid pro quo situation? David Hurley is a pretty big part of this scandal, yet he is remaining defiant amid calls for him to step down.

How it was done.

March 14, 2020 – Morrison is appointed Minister of State for the Department of Health.

The day before, news broke that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had tested positive for COVID.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-51866343

March 30, 2020 – Morrison is appointed Minister of State for the Department of Finance.

The day before, a safety net package of $1.1billion was announced by the Prime Minister to expand mental health and tele-health services, increase domestic violence services and provide more emergency food relief. 

https://www.australia.gov.au/news-and-updates/march-2020-news-archive

April 15, 2021 – Morrison is appointed Minister of State for Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

The day before, cabinet meetings were being held to get a troubled vaccine rollout back on track.

https://www.9news.com.au/national/prime-minister-scott-morrison-national-cabinet-returns-vaccine-rollout/e0294b9d-753a-4916-a359-59bff94960c0

May 6, 2021 – Morrison appoints himself Minister of State for Home Affairs and the Department of the Treasury.

The day before this, Australia and China were reported to be at odds over a proposed economic dialogue mechanism, leading to increased tensions between the countries.

https://www.reuters.com/world/china-suspend-economic-dialogue-mechanism-with-australia-2021-05-06/

Are we feeling the love?

None of the Ministers of these portfolios ever informed that the Prime Minister was actually acting in the capacity of a babysitter over them. Their decisions ultimately meant nothing and Morrison would have complete control over the ministries, all the while nobody would be the wiser. These former Ministers must feel like they just got a giant middle finger from their former boss, who didn’t seem to have the confidence in them to run their departments without his personal oversight.

A lonely ScoMo.

Back when he was still PM Morrison had the trappings of office available to him, which would have included various and sundry assistants as well as a Chief of Staff to help him run the show, though he sure seemed to want to do that by himself. Morrison’s Chief of Staff was Dr. John Kunkel, who has worked as an “economist, speech writer, policy analyst, adviser to government and industry executive” according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to being ScoMo’s Chief of Staff for the entirety of his term Kunkle worked in the private sector.

Dr. John Kunkle. Photo: LinkedIn

Now that he’s just another crappy backbencher, ScoMo’s budget has been slashed, so he’s probably in an office the size of the bathroom in the PM’s office, and has like one assistant named Tiffany or something. As for social media, he doesn’t have anyone to take care of that for him anymore, he now has to handle it himself like all the other backbench seat-fillers.

The rant that started it all.

I’m thinking that, aware the news was about to come out, Scott Morrison decided that the best thing to do would be to launch a preemptive mea culpa ahead of it. The only problem was that he no longer had the support system in place that he once did, so he was out of his element and in a hurry to get his side out before it hit the news. The result would be the half-assed, disjointed, and quite frankly pitiful attempt that was posted for all to see.

Scott Morrison – Failed Stalinesque Strongman.

Morrison didn’t have the political network or infrastructure that he ultimately would have needed to remain in power. Because of this, he was forced to centralize his power within himself alone, either that or he was foolish enough to believe that it could be accomplished without the need to resort to terror and intimidation like Soviet strongman Josef Stalin. If you are going to centralize the power in yourself, then you had better be prepared to take things to the next level.

For now, he continues to refuse to step down, apparently oblivious to the gravity of his actions though for how much longer remains to be seen. The net result will probably be the utter destruction of the Liberal Party of Australia and three terms for PM Albinetti if he doesn’t manage to botch it up.

In Part 2….

A look at what style of strongman has made a man referred to as Little Potato so successful, and the Gruesome Twosome that got him there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s