Morrison Off More Tracks
Comments now emanating from the PM and Treasurer are alarming. They imply that the Coalition is following a line that is not dissimilar to that adopted by Turnbull and most of the ministers he appointed (some of which have in fact been re-appointed by Morrison). It would not be surprising if Turnbull himself has been consulted on some issues which have emerged since he lost his PM position (Morrison indicated last week that he had been speaking to Turnbull “pretty frequently”). True, some have responded well to Morrison’s more acceptable mannerisms than those attributed to Turnbull, but what counts is the substance of decision-making.
Today’s appearance of what is described as a secret recording by Turnbull (but is obviously deliberately leaked) made in New York suggests that he has in fact been in communication with Morrison and Morrison himself is reported at a press conference today as acknowledging (again) that he talks to Turnbull “quite regularly”. It is reported that yesterday he said he was confident the government would have won the next election under Turnbull, which Turnbull himself now claims also (see Turnbull on Rudd/Abbott).
Note that Turnbull uses this recording to attack Abbott as having been hanging “around embittered” after he ceased to be PM and yet Morrison claims that Turnbull is no longer in politics! Another way of interpreting Turnbull’s secret recording is that he is continuing to undermine the Liberal party.
Re the ABC, in my Commentary yesterday I suggested that Morrison is on the wrong track in commissioning a departmental review of “the facts” on ABC developments. Instead he should have indicated that public broadcasting will be reviewed and that, if retained in its present form, the ABC’s role (and budget) will be much reduced. With the imminent election in Wentworth, Morrison may have decided to try not to make the ABC an election issue. But he has exposed himself to questions about his decisions to date and they will appear before Wentworth.
Today, Andrew Bolt suggests that Morrison’s appointment of board member Ferguson as Acting Chair is wrong because she has a strong bias and, if he fails to appoint to the board position vacated by Milne a “real agent of change, the Liberals will “spend the next two terms of a Labor government with an even more emboldened ABC crusading against all they stand for” (see ABC). This conclusion is similar to the one I made in my Commentary.
The latest comment by Morrison is that the ABC should “get back to work”, which as one of the biasters pointed out, they have not left. He also threatened to give the board “more attention” if they don’t “do better”. But he does not appear to have explained why Ferguson was appointed chair.
Re the $443mn unsolicited grant to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, it is difficult to see why as (then) Treasurer Morrison has now accepted responsibility for approving the grant. His attempted justification for making the grant is pathetic and further reduces his credibility as PM (see Barrier Reef Grant), as well as adding to the Turnbullite image he seems to have developed.
There is little doubt that Morrison will now lose any confidence he may have had with the “conservatives” in the party.