Scott free

Scott Morrrison is the last person we should be taking advice from if we are to avoid ‘drifting into a valueless void’

It was somewhat fitting that Scott Morrison gave his valedictory speech on the same day the Workplace Gender Equality Agency released its damning new data on the gender pay gap. This, after all, was the PM who used a 2019 International Women’s Day event to tell women that he wanted to see them rise but not “on the basis of others doing worse” – comments mocked around the world. This was not the most tone-deaf thing he would say in his tenure. (Contenders for that title include his suggestion that women protesting should be grateful not to be “met with bullets” and his “as a father” comment, after hearing of the alleged rape of a young staffer. Hey, blokes don’t always get it right!) The former PM was a deceitful, divisive, dangerous leader, whom history will remember for the role he played in robodebt. But for many women, it was his inept, bullying response throughout 2021’s reckoning over sexism and sexual violence that set him apart. Greens senator Larissa Waters is not wrong in saying that “the women of Australia are cheering as Scott Morrison retires”.

What did we learn from Morrison’s final contribution to parliament? Nothing that we didn’t already know. He loves the Sharks, the Shire, Jen and the girls. He still doesn’t accept responsibility for anything that went wrong during his prime ministership, still views himself as the hero of the pandemic. But what was striking, if not surprising, was how quickly he pivoted from standard valedictory speech to religious tirade, using the end of his remarks to proselytise about the need to re-embrace faith to save Western civilisation, insisting that “unique” Judaeo-Christian values are “the very basis for our modern understanding of human rights”. “You don’t need to share my Christian faith to appreciate the virtue of human rights. I’m not suggesting you do,” Morrison added, before going on to suggest exactly that, claiming secular society risks “drifting into a valueless void”.

As Crikey’s Bernard Keane notes, it’s “a long-running culture war trope” that Western institutions are “the peculiar product of Christianity” when, in fact, they are the result of a long struggle for freedom of thought from it. And it’s obvious where Morrison is going with this; he’s about to embark on a US tour with his new book, Plans For Your Good: A Prime Minister’s Testimony of God’s Faithfulness.

But it’s nevertheless laughable to hear him warn against a “valueless void”, about the need to ensure “each human life is ­eternally valued”. This, from the man who made his name as a hardline immigration spokesperson, and who never missed a chance to use people’s desperation to score political points. Who presided over robodebt, a cruel and unlawful scheme that sought to punish the most vulnerable, allowing cabinet to be misled and refusing to take responsibility when he was caught. (The Saturday Paper’s Rick Morton has reshared the relevant findings of the royal commission.) Who was known for using bullying to get his way, from the way he first entered parliament to the way he became prime minister, lying and belittling, lashing out when caught out. This was a politician who saw division as an opportunity, who was more than willing to throw people under the bus in his bid for power.

Morrison chose to finish his valedictory speech by quoting a number of scripture references, saying he wouldn’t apologise for making people uncomfortable. But it’s clear his sermonising is only just getting started, as he embarks on his true calling (only partially obscured during his prime ministership) of lecturing people on the need to embrace his chosen way of life. Morrison is right in one respect: with everything going on in the world right now, we must hold onto “the core principle of respect for individual human dignity”. But it’s worth remembering all the ways in which Scott Morrison trampled all over that principle, even as our parliament is finally – blessedly – rid of him.

“Gender equality benefits everyone. It’s often talked about in the context of women. But we know there’s also a number of really big opportunities for men, including the uptake of parental leave and flexible work.”

Workplace Gender Equality Agency chief executive Mary Wooldridge discusses today’s damning gender pay gap data, which shows significant gaps at some of Australia’s largest companies. LNP senator Matt Canavan, meanwhile, reckons the “divisive” data will only push men towards toxic influencers like Andrew Tate.

“There will always be haters. Haters like to hate. Isn’t that what Taylor [Swift] says?”

NSW Police Commissioner Karen Webb dismisses criticism of her handling of the alleged murders of Jesse Baird and Luke Davies at the hands of a cop, after she failed to front the media until Monday and referred to the incident as a “crime of passion”. Mardi Gras organisers have asked police not to join in Saturday’s parade, with Liberal senator Simon Birmingham urging them to reconsider.

81%

The percentage of respondents to a YouGov poll who support a ceasefire in Gaza. The polling also found that 53 per cent said they support the Australian government “taking more action” to achieve one.

Support for tax reform to help first-home buyers

A majority of voters are in favour of stamp duty exemptions to help young people buy their first home, while 40 per cent support changes to negative gearing (26 per cent were opposed, the rest unsure). It comes as the Greens say they will vote against Labor’s “Help to buy” scheme, demanding negative gearing reform, more public housing and rent caps in exchange for their votes.

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