editorial

editorial February 15, 2020

Respect and a little bit of fear

There is something in the Australian psyche that craves punishment. Perhaps it is in the fact that White Australia began as a penal colony. Perhaps there is a deeper thread of inferiority and submission in the British settlement. Whatever it is, the society we have is an orderly one – deeply so. We created the myth of the larrikin so we might feel less bad about our deference to power. He is a sort of court jester who makes the draconian more comfortable.

editorial February 8, 2020

Change of leader

Even Adam Bandt’s staunch critics, and there is no shortage of them, would be hard-pressed to describe the newly elected Greens leader as one to shy from a fight. He’s been called the party’s “attack dog”. Drawn ire for going after Senator Jim Molan’s war record. He’s battled alone in the lower house for years, since his 2010 election to the seat of Melbourne, increasing his margin in the inner-city seat with each passing election.

editorial February 1, 2020

Tricks and spin

Scott Morrison has been criticised for his failures of leadership. For being devoid of the nous required to steer the country through crisis. But there are one’s personal shortcomings, and the choices one makes. Morrison made a choice not to plan for the bushfires, nor for his three years in power.

editorial January 25, 2020

Empathy deficit

What Scott Morrison lacks most is not intelligence or good advice: it’s empathy. He cannot feel what the country is feeling, and so he plays cricket and takes his kids to Hawaii. This is what happens when politics divorces itself from policy, when you campaign to win rather than to govern. Without a real agenda, you are left with personality, and it is not enough. The country’s anxieties seem alien to Morrison, because they are not his own. He knows he will be okay. He cannot grasp the scale of the calamity we face, because he does not feel it or feel for the people it will most affect.

editorial December 21, 2019

The Canada Project

After the United States resettlement deal it is likely there will be 250 refugees in Papua New Guinea and on Nauru, still unsettled and held in stasis. Often it feels as if there is nothing that can be done. In this case, however, there is. A little-known part of Canada’s immigration system allows for refugees to be sponsored for resettlement. For about $20,000, a person can be considered as part of a special intake. There is a quota each year, which is about to be refreshed. Some 200 places are expected to be available in 2020. So, as the year comes to an end, The Saturday Paper is raising money to ensure the people held by Australia in offshore detention are included in this sponsorship process.

editorial November 2, 2019

The lie of resistance

In the ad, James McGrath says the Voice to Parliament is an attempt to “divide Australia … on the basis of race”. The Queensland senator maintains the lie that the Uluru Statement from the Heart proposes “a special chamber or a special voice”. He says: “We’re all equal, we’re all the same. This is just nuts.” The lie is not much different from the one Malcolm Turnbull told when he first rejected the proposal, or from the line Scott Morrison has run since.

editorial October 26, 2019

Moot caught

Perhaps a better question is why is the Energy minister writing to a lord mayor about her air travel? Is this the state of climate policy in Australia – a schoolboy snipe about planes, using grotesquely distorted figures? You might ask where he gets the time, except it is obvious: he isn’t doing anything else. His portfolio is a joke to him, and his days are empty of responsibility. The climate changes without Angus Taylor.

editorial October 19, 2019

Voyage to disaster

No one saw it coming, though the signs were there. They stacked up quietly, covered only on the business pages and the financial cable news shows with their meagre viewerships. Mortgage lenders filing for bankruptcy; house prices beginning to slip. Then, everything went quickly. And when Lehman Brothers collapsed on September 15, 2008 – bloated with debt – the firm dragged the sharemarket down with it.

editorial October 12, 2019

The untold joke

At best, larrikinism is a cover for the worst aspects of the Australian character. It excuses poor behaviour and indulges second-rate talent. It is a particular kind of unseriousness that avoids difficult questions and laughs at those who try to ask them.

editorial October 5, 2019

Failure to govern

It is a dangerous thing, a government that refuses to govern. So much of the apparatus of governing is dedicated to the appearance of action: doorstops, press conferences, site visits, overseas trips and speeches; committees and estimates hearings; inquiries and royal commissions. It is easy to see all of this general busyness and mistake it for the doing of something. With some political sleight of hand, though, it can easily come to naught.

editorial September 28, 2019

Bully mammoths

In America, they’re already apologising. A spokesperson for Fox News said comments broadcast by the network were “disgraceful”. Earlier, a guest had called Greta Thunberg a “mentally ill Swedish child who is being exploited by her parents and by the international left”. In Australia, it doesn’t matter. The Murdoch press ridicules Thunberg’s age and mental health. They express anger at her for telling the truth.