Scummo’s Magic Wand

https://www.flickr.com/photos/79786806@N07/18867263399/in/photolist-uKeE5P-bXnZgX-c8x1iQ-7WCx1y-csax53-XZte3w-99aukb-bXnHwk-4Uxpbf-cthZs3-ct86ds-6rACeD-ct85Py-cuDRmo-5fG2fn-4UwAff-ctbq4d-bsbESu-c8WqwS-c8UbPh-c9N7oU-c8WpQf-c8EN1N-cigRfy-cantu9-qpSAms-cankPb-c8x1ew-9eVzbx-canq3w-SUTZ4-7QEmGj-canmiU-8LoPeg-canmtj-acpGk1-rMGU5-hkeGRK-sn3HNT-ceL53E-canniC-c8x1q9-ceKKwq-csaQuu-canoUW-6zVBsr-8oKMJE-ceKpr3-c9N2qf-cti6Fo

pic: KENTAMA

What to say that hasn’t already been said?

The Liberals have just shredded themselves for nothing. The two parts of the party are still at war. I say ‘parts’ not ‘halves’, because the screaming righties, though loud, are a very small minority, that just happens to have a very loud PA system run by Murdoch and friends. They’re the Liberal equivalent of the Westboro Baptist Church, with whom they have much else in common.

They’re close to insignificant in the country at large, except perhaps in Queensland. I say ‘perhaps’, because no-one could call Warren Entsch a screaming rightie, yet he holds his FNQ seat comfortably. You see, you can be a moderate and hold a seat in Queensland.

The wreckers have been rewarded. Sort of. Dutton is still in the cabinet (after a light haircut), and Abbott is back, albeit on the periphery, getting ready to take Scummo’s olive branch and use it to beat some Aboriginal people into submission. Terminator Corman is still around. The “new generation” looks a hell of a lot like the old one.

Which has the moderates pissed, because they reckon Scummo should have punished the wreckers, especially the idiotically inept Dutton. Even more so, wrecker-in-chief Abbott.

SAME-SAME-DIFFERENT

Now it’s all same-same but different. Parliament has turned into one of those movies where we get the same story repeated, but from different viewpoints. The new PM is trying to appease his enemies and keep them in the tent, just like Turnbull did.

Turnbull is using proxies to attack, sending his hitherto invisible son Alex out to tell us that the fossil fuels industry, principally coal, has corrupted the Liberal party, and calling for a federal commission against corruption. And he’s forcing an immediate by-election which could destroy the government’s majority.

Oh, and don’t forget, he was the party’s biggest donor. Julie Bishop – one of the party’s best fundraisers – is sitting on her hands on the back bench, ready to aim her death stare at the back of Scummo’s neck every day in parliament. Without them, the party is bankrupt.

The remaining moderates are insisting that the Paris emissions target – something the wreckers insisted had to be abandoned – is reinstated. Which is setting off fresh explosions.

Like Turnbull before him, Scummo is an inept spruiker, devoid of conviction. Instead of “Jobson Growth”, he gave us the inane and near content-free “We’re on your side”, so often and unconvincingly that it raised the strong suspicion the lady was protesting too much. Will it be the Liberal campaign song? Will he paint it on the side of (coal-fired) Comcars?

Then he handed out Australian flag pins. Really? Wouldn’t it be more honest to have the cabinet wear jackets covered in sponsor logos?

HONEYMOON FROM HELL

Changing leaders normally boosts the ruling party. This time it made the opposition and its leader Bill Shorten look good instead. Preferred PM for the first time ever, with the Liberals and Scummo scoring so low they’re not just in the toilet, they’re halfway round the u-bend. The public are barracking for Turnbull and the losers.

There’s no joy from his own side either. The winners and their cheer squad are still not satisfied, because their man Dutton didn’t get up, and Scummo shows signs of – shock horror – compromising with the moderates. So the hapless accidental Prime Minister is bumbling about like a bee in a bottle, beset on all sides but unable to escape the relentless scrutiny.

This is supposed to be his honeymoon period, but it’s the honeymoon from hell. He doesn’t have a majority – and may not get one, he doesn’t have the cross-bench firmly onside, and both wings of his party are pissed at him. There are rats in the walls, legionnaires disease in the aircon, food poisoning in the kitchen, and disgruntled staff on the picket line. Worst of all, the tour company known as the Liberal Party is pretty well bankrupt. He’s stranded and can’t go anywhere.

LOOKING FOR A QUICK AND DIRTY WIN

That sinister shape, looming in the shadows? Beckoning seductively with promises of powerful Dark Magic? That’s Phillip Ruddock and his Religious Freedom Review. Turnbull just popped it into his back pocket and hoped everyone would forget about it. It was only ever intended as a little toy to distract the fundamentalists for a while, until they got over their shock and realised that the whole marriage thing was no big deal.

That was a misjudgement on Turnbull’s part. The long delay has allowed pressure to build, and the Holy Prime Minister Rollers are on high alert for any backsliding. Like the ‘people smuggler’ boat that magically appeared in the Daintree, bashing the gays could give the pack something to chew on, and buy Scummo some much needed time and credit.

Moderates don’t think he’ll risk the ructions, but, despite his apparent pragmatism, Scummo is a fundy himself, very keen to wave his magic wand and provide Erica Betz, Tony Abbott, etc., with some red meat – and a licence to discriminate against LGBTI could be just the thing.

It would be a handy way of proving that at heart he’s actually still one of them. That he’s not like a Turnbull. That he hasn’t sold out. That he’s “Doing something for The Base” (ironically, that’s ‘Al Qaeda’ in Arabic, btw).

It would give him a Monument and a Legacy – a Religious Freedom Bill – that he could sell quite easily to the general public.

So watch out, and be ready to take up the fight again. Scummo Fundamento needs to get runs on the board fast, and he might think we’re a cheap and easy way to do it. Let’s make sure he learns we are not.

 Morrison argued for religious freedom legislation during the same sex marriage debate

About the author

Veteran gay writer and speaker, Doug was one of the founders of the UKs pioneering GLBTI newspaper Gay News (1972) , and of the second, Gay Week, and is a former Features Editor of Him International. He presented news and current affairs on JOY 94.9 FM Melbourne for more than ten years. "Doug is revered, feared and reviled in equal quantities, at times dividing people with his journalistic wrath. Yet there is no doubt this grandpa-esque bear keeps everyone abreast of anything and everything LGBT across the globe." (Daniel Witthaus, "Beyond Priscilla", Clouds of Magellan, Melbourne, 2014)