Last August a salesman, an ex-tourism official to be exact, knocked on Australia’s door. Scott Morrison was here to sell himself as prime minister.
Now, just over a year and one election later, Scott Morrison the salesman hasn’t exactly refined his brand beyond “ScoMo” — a moniker more redolent of a retired footy player’s personalised number plate than something that tells us who he is.
To be fair, Morrison’s opportunities for greatness haven’t been abundant. Lacking the character-forming disaster or epic tragedy that would get him the kind of screen time and brand recognition the seventh Australian prime minister in 10 years needs, we have been left with a Scott-shaped hole that Peter Dutton keeps trying on for size.
The PM’s rush to be a platinum-grade iteration of the ordinary Australian bloke PM hasn’t actually helped him stand out from all the other middle-aged white guys having a go. But this morning, and the weeks to come, present Morrison with a chance to pitch us an upgraded product: ScoMo Version 2 (this time with updated compassion).
This morning Home Affairs lawyers have unexpectedly requested an adjournment in the case of Tharunicaa, the two-year-old Australian-born toddler of Priya and Nades. The Biloela family are currently the only asylum seekers on Christmas Island after a stymied deportation effort last week. The judge has now granted an adjournment until September 18.
Morrison faces epic foes in these two little girls, and the ex-PR man in him must know it. But their story won’t be buried over the next few weeks, as he may hope. Footage of the sisters screaming as they watched their mother hauled down a plane aisle by guards has been on high rotation for a week. Stories on the family have appeared internationally, including as far away as Poland and in The Washington Post.
When Morrison finally spoke out on Monday to say he wouldn’t intervene in this case, he clumsily dangled the idea that the family could somehow still return from Sri Lanka. It’s an idea that was shot down as unconscionable and unaffordable by multiple lawyers who say that the family are liable for the debt of their court actions and forced deportation.
If Morrison was still hoping to daggy dad his way out of this while simultaneously disappearing the family from sight, he must have spewed when he saw the images of Angela Fredreicks this week — a family friend who flew all the way from Biloela to Christmas Island at her own expense.
Fredericks, who is more ocker than a kangaroo in an Akubra, eventually convinced staff to let her into the detention centre. Channel Ten cameras caught her tearfully embracing the entire family. One guard hugged her! Even opposition leader Anthony Albanese, a late-comer to the family’s plight, got himself to Biloela quick bloody smart this week and was tweeting photos of himself holding hands with residents while Christmas Islanders spoke out.
Lorraine knows Nades and Priya. She knows their little girls. They call her grandma. As she said today, “They were our friends.”
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) September 4, 2019
With today’s adjournment, lawyers now have more time to prepare and the prime minister has more time to convince Australians why they should be terrified of this little family. Or not.
As a salesman, Scott Morrison should know Australia needs a Statesman not a Camry.
Is Morrison missing an opportunity here? Send your thoughts about what he should be doing by writing to [email protected]. Please include your full name for publication.