Flat White

Morrison has picked the wrong battle (again)

14 January 2022

12:00 PM

14 January 2022

12:00 PM

There is an old adage that goes as follows: choose your battles wisely. It is one that guides not only people in positions of power, but even the most ordinary of men. It goes to the notion that one must choose to fight for what is right, for what matters, rather than just fighting every battle that presents itself. While it is something of a philosophical motto to live by, it can readily apply to those involved in conflicts on the political battlefield.

That includes Scott Morrison.

In the little more than three years that Morrison has been the Prime Minister of this nation, he has demonstrated that he is no more than another politician who will say one thing and do another, or, in his case, a politician who says something but does nothing. His lack of gall to stand up and push back against medical tyranny in Australia has been nothing short of a disgrace. Rather, he has embraced it and allowed the premiers to impose harsh restrictions, lockdowns, and vaccine mandates.

While ignoring these attacks on human rights and freedoms and allowing for a segregated society to come into being, Morrison manages to find something to kick up a fuss about that only serves to further this nation’s plight into perpetual authoritarian embarrassment.

Cue the Novak Djokovic saga.

Over the last week, the government has wasted both time and taxpayer money pursuing the deportation of the tennis world number one, making themselves look like fools in the process. After initially being granted a visa and an exemption to enter the country to play in the Australian Open, Djokovic flew over only to be held in detention at the border, and then in a hotel for a further four days after his visa was cancelled at the last minute by the federal government.

But, as a Federal Court judge would later find, Djokovic did nothing wrong. What occurred was pure politics. Tennis Australia had been told by the federal government that it was the responsibility of the Victorian state government, that being Dan Andrews and co, to assess vaccine exemptions. Responsibility was then lumped onto Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, who declared that individuals who had previously been infected with Covid were permitted to enter. Having been infected a few months prior, Djokovic fell into this category.

However, once the sports star announced he was on his way to Australia on social media, there was an uproar by the mob who believe that unvaccinated people are selfish, unclean, and should not be allowed to participate in society. Criticism was lobbed at the Victorian government, who then threw it over to the federal government to sort out.

Instead of choosing not to engage in the drama and leaving it to his Victorian counterparts to deal with, Scott Morrison decided this would be a fantastic opportunity to put his cowardice on full display and take on the burden of the Andrews government mistake. Soon enough, Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews had cancelled Djokovic’s visa.

Yet just days later, in the dying hours of Monday afternoon, Federal Court Judge Anthony Kelly served the government an ace and demonstrated common sense, ruling in Djokovic’s favour, overturning the cancellation of his visa, and ordering them to pay his costs. Yet again, the government had managed to make Australia the laughing-stock of the world leaving taxpayers to foot the bill for their antics.

The Prime Minister clearly chose the wrong battle.

Instead of wasting precious time and money fighting a tennis player in court and embarrassing the country, he should have put that energy into pushing back against a new wave of medical tyranny that is now sweeping the nation.

Last week, New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet, who previously claimed he did not want to see a two-tiered society, announced that the vaccine mandate program in the state would be extended to include booster shots. This means that all frontline workers, including those in healthcare and education, will yet again be forced to take a vaccine if they want to keep their jobs. This follows Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan’s decision to impose mandated boosters for workers. It seems unbecoming of Perrottet to implement this, but it was likely a decision pushed on him by Health Minister Brad Hazzard, who has become notorious for his fear-mongering, othering of the unvaccinated, and divisive language.

Not a few days later, Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley announced that workers in Victoria would also be subject to mandatory boosters. These include employees in healthcare, aged care, emergency services, correction facilities, hotel quarantine, food distribution, manufacturing, warehousing, transport, and disability workers. The Victorian government also provided a deadline for workers to have their booster shot, that being three months and two weeks from the date of their second dose.

These new mandates are predictable, yet problematic. Workers will be pressured to get another dose of a vaccine that failed to prevent infection and transmission – falling incredibly short of what they were told it would achieve. If they refuse, they will be forced out of work. It goes to show that you cannot comply your way out of tyranny.

This is the battle Scott Morrison should be investing time and effort into. He should be pushing back against the premiers and making it clear that boosters are not to be mandated. But he cannot even do so much as ensure they adhere to national plans set out and agreed upon in National Cabinet meetings. Western Australia is acting like it is an independent nation. The Northern Territory has begun a crusade against the unvaccinated, not even allowing them to leave their home to exercise (which is insane given this is all supposed to be about public health). Annastacia Palaszczuk is delaying the start to the school year in Queensland even though kids are at minimal risk for the virus (with even less risk, with Omicron being far less deadly).

The states are out of control, and Morrison is just sitting on his hands while the chaos ensues, allowing people’s jobs, livelihoods, rights, and freedoms to fall by the wayside while he uses their money to fight the wrong fight for all the wrong reasons.

Instead of cracking down on the insanity of the premiers and gaining the political credit he desperately needs for the upcoming federal election, he has chosen to cause shame and embarrassment. It has made his government even more unelectable, ensuring that the rest of the world looks at us like we are all insane. It would not be surprising if tourists decided to travel elsewhere given how backwards this country is.

The Djokovic saga has only highlighted what is wrong with this country, and what is wrong with this Prime Minister. He lacks the wisdom to pick the right battles to fight. He chooses cowardice over courage. And unless he makes a change immediately, he is doomed for consignment to the dustbin of history as one of the weakest and most ineffectual leaders this nation has ever seen.

Joel Agius is an independent writer. If you would like to read more of his work, you can do so at JJ’s Outlook.

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