It may console some Australians to know that their Prime Minister is doing God’s work. Millions more are more likely to be confused or even flabbergasted. Yet thanks to a squeaky YouTube video, shot at a Pentecostal conference on the Gold Coast last week, Scott Morrison has given us a window to the soul that he otherwise kept closed.
During his years in parliament, Morrison took offense at any questioning of his faith. Even innocent requests are aggressively dismissed as sneering or disrespectful. Now, however, he has shared with his Pentecostal colleagues how he views his beliefs as a mission statement for his post as Prime Minister.
On some level, this shouldn’t be surprising; after all, we lead our lives according to our own values and beliefs. However, a prime minister is not a private person. He is elected to lead a nation with a secular constitution and in a representative democracy voters have a right to know on what basis such a leader is prepared to do the job.
It is clear, for example, that if Morrison had been the prime minister during the campaign for marriage equality, this would never have happened, just as it did not happen under Tony Abbott, who was often ridiculed as than “Catholic captain”. It took another Catholic for Malcolm Turnbull – advised by Peter Dutton, who does not claim strong religious affiliation – to break the deadlock with a national postal vote. Although Morrison claimed his Cook electorate would not support same-sex marriage, he returned a “yes” vote of 55%. Rather than represent this majority view, Morrison abstained from the vote and fled parliament before he ratified the nation’s overwhelming will.
In fact, it is interesting – in light of the discussion sparked by Morrison’s claim in the video that he has been “called to do the work of God” – to see how Dutton once defined the tension between politics and religion. In Niki Savva’s book Plots and prayers, documenting Turnbull’s disappearance and Morrison’s rise, she describes Dutton bemoaning the fact that moderate Liberals voted for Morrison rather than him in the 2018 coup.
Savva quotes Dutton as saying he was no more to the right than Howard or Costello. Tellingly, he said, “I’m not the evangelist here, I’m not proud of abortion, I voted for same-sex marriage and I wasn’t going to bring Tony Abbott back. But you are framed with these things.
Ironically, it was the hard-hearted image of Dutton, created when he took over the duties of the border protection portfolio from Scott Morrison, that has greatly poisoned the opinion of moderates towards him. He succeeded in ruthlessly implementing Morrison’s ‘turn the boats’ policy and continued to do everything to thwart refugee advocates and medics urging more humane treatment of those imprisoned in the Nauru and Nauru camps. Manus Island. This pursuit of Morrison’s vision likely kept him from beating Morrison in the vote.
Only 1 percent of the Australian population identifies as Pentecostal. Other mainstream churches question the denomination’s orthodoxy and its so-called “prosperity gospel,” which measures God’s blessings by material wealth and possession. The “option for the poor” is seen by large traditional churches as a key measure to “do the work of God” – which is particularly found in the Gospel of Matthew. It underpins the social justice teachings of the Catholic, Anglican and United Churches, for example. Its application does not fit well with a series of policies pursued by the Morrison government and exposes the Prime Minister to the accusation of hypocrisy.
In addition to the continued brutal treatment of refugees, the robo-debt saga is another indictment. This computerized debt collection from 400,000 welfare recipients led the government to shell out $ 2.1 billion in a settlement after numerous legal warnings and 2,000 deaths. The minister who inherited the Morrison project was the man he called “Brother Stuie” – his evangelical Christian colleague Stuart Robert.
Two weeks ago the InsidersRobert repeated the false claim that the “exact program” had been used previously for 25 years. He conveniently ignored that the coalition government reversed the burden of proof in 2016, drastically removed human oversight, and dramatically expanded the regime’s enforcement.
Morrison was shy about his appearance at the Australian Christian Churches Conference. The media were not alerted and the usual transcripts were not provided. His office said the prime minister had been invited to address the conference, “in the same way he attends many other speaker events, including for other religious groups.”
In this regard, it was an official Prime Minister’s job and for which he was able to use a VIP jet and the usual “security protocols”. Perhaps, as one prominent clergyman noted, Morrison was aware that he was dangerously close to crossing the line between church and state – and that he was better off than he was. be there officially as Prime Minister, as a worshiper who rules the country.
In the age of the ubiquitous smartphone, Morrison couldn’t have been naive enough to think his presence would go unrecorded. His audience, by his reaction, was clearly delighted by his improvised speech. According to Goalkeeper Australia, which revealed the story, the Vineyard Christian Church broadcast the Prime Minister’s speech and the vision was echoed by the Rationalist Society.
Anthony Albanese of the Labor Party was reluctant to comment on “the Prime Minister’s faith”, saying it was his business. But Albanese thought the separation of church and state was important. He told ABC radio that he believed that “the idea that God is on any political side is no more respectful than the idea that when someone’s sports team wins it is is because of divine intervention ”.
Obviously, Morrison, who has revealed that he is always looking for signs from God, believes divine intervention helped him achieve his “miracle victory” in 2019. If the latest Newspoll is any guide, he will need some help. ‘similar help next time. The 51-49’s favorite Labor lane is the same number the poll returned ahead of the last election. It is, and has been for months, a lineball result and leadership could make all the difference in such a tight competition.
On this point, Morrison would welcome Newspoll’s latest measure on “leadership traits.” Its results baffled the Labor Party and even some members of the Liberal Party baffled. The new figures claim the prime minister enjoys a higher level of support than any other over the past decade – and that he has recorded the biggest margin on an opposition leader since 2008.
Morrison, according to the survey, has more vision for Australia than Albanese and is more sympathetic, caring, decisive and trustworthy. The findings are despite its appalling mismanagement of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations and the less than convincing double standards applied to the allegations against Christian Porter and Andrew Laming.
Another pollster, Peter Lewis of Essential, has an explanation related to the pandemic. In Goalkeeper Australia he wrote that the initial response to the pandemic was a series of big announcements and significant increases in public spending. Lewis noted that there are few times a political leader can actually do anything decisive – and when it does, people love it. He wrote: “This is why the pandemic has worked so well for Morrison.”
Morrison is also lucky the prime ministers saved him from his instinct to be more Pollyanna in his approach, wanting to go soccer and keep everything open and functional. Other right-wing leaders, such as Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Narendra Modi, have not been so lucky with their denial optimism. Their nations have suffered disastrous and catastrophic consequences. In the United States and Britain, there followed an exceptional deployment of vaccines, which now serve to show how abandoned the Australian government has been in its planning and delivery. In India, there was no such luck.
On this point, the Essential poll found that the number of Australians blaming Morrison for the vaccine debacle is steadily increasing. The number is now 48%, up 6 points in just two weeks. This is a problem that Albanese and his health spokesperson, Mark Butler, have hammered relentlessly. In contrast, only 16 percent accept the government’s excuse of inevitable delays in vaccine production.
Certainly, if our vaccine distribution had been anything like what had been promised, we would have been in a better position to repatriate the 9,000 Australians stranded in Covid-ravaged India, not to mention the other 27,000 who desperately want to return home. .
It’s hard not to see the ‘drums of war’ we heard about this week and the announced $ 747 million defense facility upgrade for the Northern Territory as more than a distraction from government controversies. on vaccines and quarantine.
Peter Dutton’s warning that we cannot “ignore the conflict with China over Taiwan” is certainly a frightening prospect; but there is no escape from the here and now reality of the Covid pandemic. Or the old adage that “God helps those who help themselves”.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 1, 2021 under the headline “They will run for office and never get tired.”
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