(Image: Tom Red/Private Media)

Scott Morrison has once again warned identity politics will be the downfall of society. Because, as he put it, “you are more than your gender, your race, your ethnicity, your religion, your language group, your age”.

His remarks, made to the United Israel Appeal NSW donor dinner in Sydney last night, were sandwiched between repeated references to his Pentecostal faith.

Yet despite his warning, the prime minister regularly uses identity politics to appeal to his conservative voter base, while using the issue of identity politics to pit different demographics of Australians against each other.

Here are a few examples.

Appealing to churchgoers: In a recent address to the Australian Christian Churches gathering on the Gold Coast, Morrison said he had “been called to do God’s work as prime minister”, and talked about “laying hands” on and praying for unsuspecting Australians who simply thought they were getting a hug or a handshake.

Leftie loons: Earlier this month, Morrison said Australia would not “achieve net zero [greenhouse gas emissions] in the cafes, dinner parties and wine bars of our inner cities”, in what was largely seen as an attempt to divide the voter base.

Anti-Muslim rhetoric: In 2011, Morrison urged his shadow cabinet colleagues to capitalise on anti-Muslim sentiment, criticising the cost of asylum-seeker funerals. In 2018 he said the greatest threat of religious extremism was the “dangerous ideology of extremist Islam”.

One of the boys: Also this month, Morrison donned a high-vis vest to perform a dance routine with billionaire Twiggy Forrest and West Australian miners to a backing track of Jimmy Barnes’ “Working Class Man”.

Transgender suicide rates: Morrison was criticised in 2019 for “inaccurate, dismissive and patronising” comments about the high rates of suicide among transgender teenagers.

Quiet Australians: Morrison has referred to his fellow “quiet Australians” — a Trumpist ploy to appeal to conservative voters — as ordinary people who want secure jobs, low taxes, a strong economy and to be “kept safe”, whether from boats of asylum seekers, “radical Islamic terrorists”, or bullies at their kids’ schools.

Defending his own: In 2019, Morrison was quick to come to the defence of Liberal backbencher Gladys Liu, calling out critics as pursuing a racist agenda following revelations she was a member of an organisation linked to China’s foreign interference operations.

“I think people should reflect very carefully in the way they have sought to attack Gladys over this matter and the broader smear that I think is implied in that over more than 1 million [Chinese-Australians].”

He was also quick to push the gender card for then-defence minister Linda Reynolds over her mishandling of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations.

“She’s looking forward to returning to her duties and getting on with her job … and I want to be able to say she’s doing a great job more often in the future.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey