Scott Morrison is rarely seen without a baseball cap.
“I wear caps,” Morrison said in an interview with Studio 10 back in 2018. “That’s what I wear. If you find me at home, I’ll be wearing a cap. If you find me down at Shark Park or Cronulla Beach or Wanda, I’ll be wearing a cap.”
This bit of headwear is the quintessential part of his daggy dad schtick, an image he started carefully cultivating ahead of the last election (with plenty of help from compliant journalists).
No politician is immune from wanting to be loved. They all want to convince voters that deep down they’re just like them.
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Voters begrudgingly put up with political cosplay come election time. When the PM wears a hard hat or a high-vis vest for an announce-able, we know what’s going on.
But since his election win, ScoMo’s stunts have ramped up rather than down. He is rarely seen giving a presser without some form of fancy dress — from hard hats to the now ubiquitous Australian flag COVID-19 mask.
Once a jocular bit of political theatre, dress-ups are now a central part of government. The stunts are all we have left. It’s little wonder that The Betoota Advocate’s satirical moniker “Scotty from Marketing” has caught on so well.
A recent announcement on a tourism package was a case in point. Within hours, the package was being amended following a flurry of criticism from tourism operators and the regions. But who cares, ScoMo got to go in the cockpit and pretend to be a pilot! Woohoo!
It’s all style over substance.
Then there’s the vaccine rollout, which is tracking way behind schedule with doctors left in the dark. But at least the prime minister got some cool pics in a lab holding the vaccine doses.
And then, when the PM triumphantly got his jab, he had a special monogrammed Diamonds jersey just for the occasion.
Last week ScoMo took a break from gaffing his way through the sleaze and misogyny engulfing his government to pay a visit to flooded communities in Western Sydney. Of course, we quickly got photos of him sitting courageously in a helicopter. It’s the greatest flyover since Bush after Katrina.
The other week he was even making pasta! Because apprenticeships. JobMaker is drastically undersubscribed and only 609 people have gotten work, but hey, pasta.
Morrison is a man who loves to work hard. That’s why he regularly chucks on a hard hat.
He also loves a ride in a truck.
In fact, this year he’s given us more photos in trucks than meaningful announcements on how he’s going to clean up the toxic culture in Parliament.
But dealing with rape allegations is such a drag, right?
“I’m just glad the footy’s back on,” Morrison told Ray Hadley last week. “It helps everybody.”
As the mercury drops, Morrison can finally get away from the business of governing and spend more time with his beloved Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks.
He wants us to know he really, really loves the Sharks. Or at least, he started loving them after getting preselected in a Shire safe seat.
The again, he doesn’t seem to mind the Eels, either.
In fact, he’s a sucker for just about any sport (as long as it stays out of politics).
This is the ScoMo that Morrison wants us to see: the blue-collar suburban bloke (who just happens to have worked his whole life in offices); the daggy dad who just wants to build a chicken coop for his girls.
The family man who loves a bit of Jesus on a Sunday.
Above all, he’s just a regular bloke’s bloke.
But in the words of Morrison himself, “blokes don’t get it right all the time”.
And at a time when the Coalition is in crisis over its handling of sexual assault allegations and a rampant culture of misogyny, and as we navigate our way out of a catastrophic global pandemic, Morrison struts around like a bloke who’s got the moment badly wrong.
It is truly doubtful whether the PM knows or appreciates the difference between leadership and marketing, between selling and actually doing. Every policy announcement seems to be nothing but a chance to dress up for the cameras.
Maybe we’re horribly wrong about this. Maybe the voters love the pageantry.
But really, right now, isn’t it time to stop the stunts?