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The management consultants that ate Canberra
Since coming to power the federal Coalition has chipped away at the public service, increasingly outsourcing key functions of government to private companies. The trend has raised important questions about transparency, and the long-term sustainability of government services. Today, Rick Morton on how private management consultants took over the public service.
How Scott Morrison turned Australia into a climate pariah
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is facing pressure over his reluctance to attend this November’s climate change conference in Glasgow. But what’s really driving the PM’s unwillingness to participate in the most important international climate event in years? Today, Paul Bongiorno on the climate policy paralysis plaguing the Morrison government and what it means for Australia’s international reputation.
Morrison's French kiss off
Scott Morrison has hailed Australia’s military alliance and new submarine deal with the United Kingdom and United States as a landmark achievement. But it’s already led to a global diplomatic standoff. Today, Paul Bongiorno on the fallout from Australia’s nuclear submarine deal and why the President of France won’t return Scott Morrison’s phone calls.
The Liberal factions pushing out Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison has regularly praised NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian for her government’s so-called ‘gold standard’ approach to contact tracing, and unwillingness to enter lockdown. But behind the surface there are growing tensions between key Liberal party figures in NSW and the federal government. Today, Mike Seccombe on how factionalism and mishandled pandemic are weakening Scott Morrison’s influence in his home state.
I get locked down, and I'm locked down again... something, something, something whiskey drink
This week Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a new COVID-19 financial support package for Sydneysiders currently in lockdown. But the announcement was met with frustration from other states, particularly Victoria, who had been asking for help during their own lockdowns. Today, Rachel Withers on why it took an outbreak in his own backyard for Scott Morrison to act.
The “menacing” and “controlling” Scott Morrison
For most of the past year the Coalition government has faced sustained criticism over its treatment of women. Now a former Liberal MP has added fuel to the fire, lashing a culture of sexism and bullying in the Liberal party, and accusing a cabinet minister of sexual harassment. Today, Paul Bongiorno on the latest allegations levelled against the Morrison government and why there seems to be no consequences.
How a slip of the tongue changed the vaccine rollout
This week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, previously only available for people over 60, could now be accessed by anyone. The announcement led to significant pushback, particularly from the Queensland government, who are still advising younger Australians to avoid AstraZeneca. Today, Rachel Withers on what's behind the government decision making on vaccine eligibility.
You and Q’s army?
The QAnon conspiracy theory, focused on a belief in the existence of a Satanic child sexual abuse ring, has been collecting followers worldwide. Here in Australia one of its adherents happens to be a long-time friend of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Today, Richard Cooke on what drives people to QAnon, and the threat it poses in Australia.
The Biloela family speaks out
Speaking from a hospital in Perth, Priya Murugappan details her daughter’s sickness and her family’s struggle in detention. More than three years after they were taken from their home in Biloela, the Tamil family just want to be settled.
Australia’s biggest ever crime sting
This week, Scott Morrison announced Australia’s involvement in a massive organised crime sting coordinated by the FBI. But was the extraordinary press conference more about bad news and poor polling?
Scott Morrison dodges responsibility
For the past week the federal government has been locked in a tussle with Victoria over who is responsible for financially supporting those suffering the economic consequences of another lockdown. Today, columnist for The Saturday Paper Paul Bongiorno on the fresh political challenges facing the federal government.
The vaccine race Australia is losing
As Covid-19 case numbers in Victoria continue to rise, attention has turned to the slow pace of the vaccine rollout, and the question of whether or not more vaccinations could have stopped this outbreak. Today, Rick Morton on where the rollout went wrong and what the consequences have been.
Morrison doubles down on Fortress Australia
Travel restrictions have played a crucial role in keeping Australia relatively safe from the worst of the pandemic, but the federal government has been reluctant to announce their end date. Today, Paul Bongiorno on why Prime Minister Scott Morrison is so intent on keeping our borders closed.
The government vs. Grace Tame
The Morrison government has ordered an urgent review of the Australian of the Year award process. It denies the review is linked to Grace Tame’s appointment, but comes after criticism from the outspoken Australian of the Year.
A sermon from the Church of Morrison
At a recent appearance at the Australian Christian Churches conference Scott Morrison referred to social media as evil, and said he believed he was doing God’s work as Prime Minister. Those comments have ignited debate over the role of faith in political leadership. Today, Paul Bongiorno on the Prime Minister's Pentacostal faith and how it fits with some of his policy decisions.
How Australia is blocking global climate action
World leaders are preparing to meet for a historic global climate change summit, to try and limit the catastrophic impacts of global warming. But Australia has already been singled out as a roadblock to taking serious climate action. Today, Mike Seccombe on the global shift towards tackling climate change, and how Australia could hold everything back.
The real story behind Christine Holgate’s exit
Six months after the chief executive of Australia Post, Christine Holgate, was forced out of her job, she’s now broken her silence. Holgate claims that she was bullied, and has revealed the real reason she believes she was targeted. Today, Paul Bongiorno on what really happened at Australia Post.
Big government is back, but not in Australia
Both the United States and the UK have recently announced policies to increase their tax rates, and spend the revenue on new social policies, as part of their economic response to the pandemic. But Australia is bucking the trend. Today, Mike Seccombe on what Australia’s economic recovery plan is, and who stands to benefit.
Why is Australia’s vaccine rollout taking so long?
Australia’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout is already behind schedule, but while the headlines have focused on issues with supply and delivery, there are much deeper problems. Today, Mike Seccombe on the challenges to the federal government’s vaccination plan, and what’s at stake if we don’t get it right.
A Neanderthal on the crossbench
This week, Craig Kelly quit the Liberal Party to sit on the crossbench. It’s a huge risk for the Coalition - and any action on climate change.
Episode 400: Sitting week
The Brittany Higgins case has dominated the week in Canberra. This is the story of how the prime minister has responded to her alleged assault, and how he has tried to manage the coverage that followed.
The Coalition’s climate standoff
The Prime Minister is trying to calibrate his climate policy to better fit into a post-Trump world, but he faces a conservative revolt on his own backbench. On the other side, Australia faces trade sanctions if it doesn’t implement serious emissions reduction targets. Today, Paul Bongiorno on the Coalition’s climate standoff.
Inside Australia’s military fetish
While Australians grapple with shocking allegations of war crimes levelled against our armed forces, the federal government is moving ahead with a $500 million redevelopment of the Australian War Memorial. Today, Mark McKenna, on what our preoccupation with war tells us about who we are.
The miseducation of Craig Kelly
Scott Morrison’s attempt to restart the political year was blown off course after one of his backbenchers was criticised for promoting misinformation about Covid-19. Today, Paul Bongiorno on the problems rogue Liberal MPs are making for the Prime Minister, and why it took him so long to rein them in.
China is warning against a new Cold War. Will Australia listen?
Diplomatic and trade tensions between Australia and China are at an all time high, and China’s president has even warned against the risk of a new cold war. Today, Rick Morton on where Scott Morrison is getting his advice from when it comes to our relationship with China, and whether his strategy will work.
The Australian Open has divided the country. But could it save sport?
While thousands of Australians are still stranded overseas, 1,200 tennis players, officials and support staff have flown into Melbourne to take part in the Australian Open. Today, Ben Rothenberg on the debate over the decision to go ahead with the tournament, and what it could mean for the future of global sports.
How Trump changed Australian politics forever
As Joe Biden takes the reins in the US, the legacy of Donald Trump continues to cast a shadow across the world. Today, Richard Cooke on how the ideas and policies that came to define Trump have found a welcome home in Australia.
John Hewson on what’s wrong with politics
Scandal after scandal has battered the authority of the government and diminished the trust the public has in our democratic institutions. Today, former leader of the federal Liberal Party John Hewson on how rorts, mates and marketing took over politics, and how we can take it back.
Morrison gears up for a summer brawl
Just as parliament was wrapping up for the year, the government introduced radical and controversial proposed changes to workers' rights. The new legislation looks set to dominate the political agenda in the new year. Today, Paul Bongiorno on how the political battlelines are being drawn.
Laura Tingle on where Australia went wrong
New Zealand’s rapid response to Covid-19 and the political success of Jacinda Ardern has seen the world start to pay more attention to our neighbour’s political culture. Today, Laura Tingle on what Australia can learn from New Zealand.
Scott Morrison feeds the trolls
The growing diplomatic dispute between China and Australia took an ugly turn this week, after a Chinese government official posted an incendiary tweet. Today, Paul Bongiorno on the realities of dominant China, and whether Scott Morrison can navigate Australia through a period of growing tension.
The climate threat to Australia’s leaders
Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese are caught between a global shift towards more serious climate action and pro-coal members of their respective parties. Today, Karen Middleton on how Australia’s political leaders are grappling with climate policy.
What Scott Morrison can learn from Daniel Andrews
The pandemic has exposed big cracks in the way Australia’s economy and social services operate, particularly when it comes to insecure work and aged care. Today, Rick Morton on how the Victorian state government is trying to lead the national conversation on what needs to change.
The truth about robodebt and political responsibility
The federal government has settled the largest class action in Australian history, over the unlawful robodebt program. Today, Paul Bongiorno on who was responsible and whether anyone in the government will be held accountable for this policy.
How Biden is changing Australian climate policy
Joe Biden’s victory in the United States has already had ramifications for Australian politics, particularly on the issue of climate change. Today, Paul Bongiorno on the political shockwaves rolling across the Pacific.
Not by the Hehir of my political sin
Pressure has started to mount on the federal government following a string of scandals involving senior public officials. Today, Paul Bongiorno on the government’s attempts to use Covid-19 to deflect criticism.
Scott Morrison’s Labor obsession
As political battles over the government’s stimulus measures and proposed industrial relations reforms loom, Scott Morrison has been taking aim at the federal opposition. Today, Paul Bongiorno on how the prime minister is drawing influence from his political predecessors.
“The most important budget since World War II”
As the Treasurer prepares the upcoming federal budget he’s facing pressure to spend big and keep the economy afloat. But can a government historically preoccupied with cutting spending invest more in economic stimulus? Today, Paul Bongiorno on the challenge facing Josh Frydenberg, and the country.
Escape from Tony Abbott
Scott Morrison has spent the week untangling himself from Tony Abbott’s policies, on both climate change and the NBN. Today, Paul Bongiorno on new roadmaps and old problems.
The grey pyramid scheme (part two)
A Royal Commission has heard hundreds of aged care centres are facing financial collapse, as the crisis in the sector takes its toll. In the second half of this special two part series, Rick Morton investigates what happened to the aged care sector under the leadership of Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison.
The cliff and the climate
The federal Opposition is seeking to capitalise on the current economic downturn by arguing that the government’s policies are making things worse. Meanwhile, the prime minister is pinning his hopes on a gas-led recovery. Today, Paul Bongiorno on how Labor fired up, and the political battle over energy policy.
The politics of a coronavirus vaccine
A coronavirus vaccine is the best chance the world has of returning to some kind of normal, but the stalling of one of the most viable candidates last week was a reminder that nothing is guaranteed. Today, Karen Middleton on the Australian government’s plans and the likelihood of a vaccine in 2021.
Scott Morrison’s shattered cabinet
Scott Morrison is waging a war on two fronts this week. He’s locked in a battle with state governments to reopen borders, and he’s increasingly blaming the Victorian government for the severity of the state’s second wave. Today, Paul Bongiorno on the growing political divide across the country.
Here comes the recession
The Treasurer Josh Frydenberg started this week by launching an extraordinary attack on Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, and ended it by presiding over the biggest fall in economic activity in decades. Today, Paul Bongiorno on Australia’s economic predicament and who’s really to blame.
Snapback: Scott Morrison's pandemic optimism
For months the prime minister has been projecting a return to normality, but what kind of Australia is waiting for us on the other side of the pandemic? Today, Sean Kelly on the type of society Scott Morrison envisions, and what might lie ahead.
The minister for not caring
In a week where the minister for aged care was unable to answer questions about the crisis in his portfolio, and details emerged about a branch stacking scandal in his own party, the Prime Minister is finding himself under increasing pressure. Today, Paul Bongiorno on whether we should be expecting more from our politicians.
Look over there! A vaccine!
As a number of inquiries interrogate how prepared state and federal governments were for the coronavirus pandemic, the Prime Minister has evaded criticism by changing the topic to a potential coronavirus vaccine. Today, Paul Bongiorno on Scott Morrison’s attempt at distraction.
Scott Morrison, a man of inaction?
At the beginning of the pandemic Prime Minister Scott Morrison was keen to project himself as a unifying leader. But as the crisis has stretched on he’s adopted a much more reserved approach. Today, Paul Bongiorno on Morrison’s strategy of inaction and if it will work.
Morrison’s coronavirus backdowns
While most of the focus has been on Victoria, behind the scenes the federal government has been sending mixed-messages on economic policy and state border closures. Today, Paul Bongiorno on whether Scott Morrison is accurately reading the mood of the electorate during this phase of the crisis.
How Morrison is using coronavirus to destroy his critics
What drives Scott Morrison? And what can we learn about his ideology from the way he’s governing during this moment? Today, Richard Cooke on how the Prime Minister is using the pandemic to fulfil his political objectives.
Pandemic politics: Morrison vs. Andrews
Throughout the Covid pandemic traditional political hostilities have been dialled back, and governments have tried to project a sense of national unity. But that’s starting to fray. Today, Paul Bongiorno on the growing political stoush over the crisis in Victoria’s aged care system.
Who is Neville Power, the man leading Australia's coronavirus recovery?
The Prime Minister has revamped the National Covid Coordination Commission, the body he tasked with leading Australia’s pandemic recovery. But what do we really know about Neville Power, the man in charge? Today, Margaret Simons on Power’s background, and what the Commission is actually doing.
The broke and the brittle
As the government reveals the extent of the budget deficit, Scott Morrison has become increasingly short in answering questions.
Scott Morrison and the invisible woman
The decision to pull subsidies from childcare has caused alarm in the sector - especially because it is the only industry where this has happened.
The Prime Minister for NSW
As the pandemic worsens in Victoria, Scott Morrison has been careful to distance himself from bad news.
Setting up for the second wave
With Victoria one week into its second shutdown, and NSW on high alert, there are new fears about what a second wave could mean for Australia’s coronavirus recovery.
Morrison to the virus: ‘Ich bin ein Melburnian’
As Victoria enters a second lockdown, Scott Morrison has offered an apolitical response to the Labor state.
Morrison’s rule by ‘Henry VIII’ clauses
During Covid-19, the government has been increasingly using ‘Henry VIII’ clauses to bypass the parliament and make laws that are never voted on.
The Eden-Monaro Missile Crisis
The timing of Scott Morrison’s $270 billion defence announcement is being linked to votes in Eden-Monaro as much as it is to the country’s strategic future.
It’s not about statues or Chris Lilley...
Osman Faruqi on how politics in Australia deliberately recasts racism as a matter of symbols and gestures - and how the media helps.
The power of tradesmen
As Scott Morrison announces his HomeBuilder scheme, there are serious questions about who it serves and how powerful tradesmen have become as a political bloc.
Does Scott Morrison want an early election?
As Scott Morrison looks at a bleak five years economically, some in his own party think he’s gearing up for an early election.
Tear gas in the Rose Garden
As protests against police violence and inequality continue in the United States, Scott Morrison had a private phone call with Donald Trump.
Morrison’s economy (unplugged)
Scott Morrison is strongly against further economic stimulus. But as a $60 billion hole shows up in the JobKeeper program, questions are being asked about whether enough is being spent.
The Accord according to Morrison
Scott Morrison’s appeal for a new compact between workers and business has reminded some of Bob Hawke’s 1980s Accord.
The love story behind Australia’s biggest political donation
Scott Morrison received the biggest individual political donation in Australian history. Behind it was a love story – and a man who asked for nothing in return.
Barnaby Joyce’s failed coup
Barnaby Joyce lost his leadership tilt but has reopened a schism in the Coalition on climate policy.
The prime minister and the dung beetle
Don Watson on why Scott Morrison is not really a politician, and how meaning left politics.
A very Morrison Christmas
As fires continue on both sides of the continent, and the government succeeds in putting off commitments at the UN climate talks, Scott Morrison has gone on holidays.
Where there’s smoke, there’s climate change
As fires burn across the east coast and Sydney suffers catastrophic air pollution, the Coalition government is arguing to do less on climate change.
Jacqui Lambie’s secret deal
Jacqui Lambie says she has a deal with the government to repeal medevac. She won’t say what it is, and the government says it never existed.
Defending Angus Taylor (the lone wolf and the albatross)
Scott Morrison has put himself in a difficult position, calling the NSW police commissioner to check on an investigation into his own minister.
Robo-debt and China (a week in two acts)
The Morrison government has halted its robo-debt program, finally confronting issues with the troubled scheme. Separately, the government has affirmed its reliance on Chinese trade – irrespective of human rights concerns.
The next fight on Uluru
Summary: Scott Morrison’s co-design process rules out the key aspirations of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. But there are signs that a new political fight is about to begin.
The cabinet maker
Since becoming prime minister, Scott Morrison has stamped himself on the cabinet process. There will be more PowerPoints, and less debate about issues he sees as being routine.
Thoughts and prayers are not enough
Last week, a million hectares of eastern Australia was burnt in catastrophic bushfires. In the main, politicians refused to acknowledge the science that links these fires to climate change.
The burning truth
As fires burn through NSW and Queensland, a fundamental shift can be detected in Canberra: the politics of climate change have altered.
Sums in a notepad: mental health and work
The federal government spends twice as much on income support for people affected by mental illness as it does on treatment. Rick Morton on living inside these figures – and the “arithmetic of existence”.
Morrison’s darkest speech yet
Scott Morrison’s speech to the Queensland Resources Council has been called a defining moment in his leadership. Mike Seccombe on what it says about his “ordinary bloke” mask.
What’s happening in Queensland?
Lech Blaine grew up in country Queensland. After the 2019 federal election, he spent several weeks driving around the state, trying to understand what makes it different.
The sniff, the scent of victory
As Labor responds to an internal review of its election defeat, some in the party feel they have already lost the next election.
The surplus disease
The Morrison government is committed to a budget surplus above all else. But as Paul Keating points out, this commitment can be a kind of sickness.
To Howard with love
Paul Bongiorno on how the Liberal Party celebrates and how the National Party brawls.
That won’t feed one cow
As Scott Morrison attempts to control the message on handling the drought, there is bad news for his claims to strong economic management.
Peter Dutton’s war on dissent
From anti-protest legislation to funding cuts, this government has waged war on dissent. In recent weeks, its rhetoric has intensified.
Spies and Chinese money
Australia’s relationship with Chinese investment has been remade in the past six years. David Uren on how ASIO helped transform the Foreign Investment Review Board.
The luck and the chutzpah
As the Liberal Party slides further on climate change, the Labor Party fights an internal push to abandon its platform.
Who is Scott Morrison?
Scott Morrison shares a rhetorical lineage with Robert Menzies and a suburban one with John Howard. But what worked then might not work now.
Trump, Morrison, money and the drought
As Scott Morrison tried to shift Australia’s focus to the drought, and the cash rate fell below 1 per cent, Donald Trump’s paranoia followed the prime minister home.
Scott goes to Washington
Tomorrow, Scott Morrison will be received in Washington on a state visit. It highlights his special relationship with Donald Trump and his difficulty with Beijing.
What’s eating Philip Lowe
Philip Lowe is the governor of the Reserve Bank. He is a conventional person who’s been pushed by the economy to make unconventional choices.
Scott Morrison’s poverty fix
As Scott Morrison announces punitive welfare plans, Rick Morton asks what happens when you treat poverty as a moral problem.
Holding onto Gladys Liu
As some backbenchers express doubt that Gladys Liu can stay in parliament, Scott Morrison is digging in behind his MP.
Christian Porter’s integrity commission
As ICAC exposes apparent corruption in NSW, focus is drawn on the government’s integrity commission, which, among other things, could not make findings of corruption.
What Morrison didn’t expect in Biloela
How support for a Tamil family in Biloela blindsided the government and caused the prime minister to panic.
Scott Morrison’s middle class
Scott Morrison says the middle class doesn’t trust the public service. The problem is available research says the opposite.
Scott Morrison vs. the World
As he arrives for talks in Vietnam, Scott Morrison is struggling to match his attempts at diplomacy with his position on climate change.
Hastie and Morrison
As the Morrison government begins its inquiry into press freedom, there is concern about the bipartisanship of the committee hearing it. At the centre is Andrew Hastie.
Rodney Rude diplomacy
A visit from US ministers gives a clearer picture of what America wants. But as Trump’s trade war with China escalates, it also sets the stakes for Scott Morrison’s visit to Washington.
Game, Setka, match
As the Morrison government pushes for legislation to more easily deregister unions, there are questions over timing and the new laws’ real intent.
The case for raising Newstart
As the campaign to raise Newstart intensifies, details emerge of who is actually living on the payment and for how long.
Cooling in the Pacific
Climate change is now the defining issue for the Pacific. It is also one of the factors undermining Australia’s relationship with the region.
Labor strategy and ‘the secret agenda’
The Labor Party has come back to parliament with a plan to ignore Scott Morrison, making the most of an ill-disciplined backbench.
The march of the older voter
As older voters become a larger and more powerful voting bloc, they are also becoming more organised.
Despite hopes that were placed in Ken Wyatt as minister, Scott Morrison says there will be no constitutional enshrinement of an Indigenous Voice to parliament. Karen Middleton on the campaign to keep the Voice alive.
The ballad of Trump and ScoMo
With Scott Morrison emerging as a Donald Trump favourite, there are questions to ask about the meaning of their association.
Understanding Scott Morrison’s Pentecostalism
To understand Scott Morrison, it helps to understand his faith. Tanya Levin is a former Pentecostal who argues that the church informs every aspect of his politics.
The truth about small government
Scott Morrison’s signature achievement could be the tax cuts he legislated earlier this month – although not for the reasons he believes.
A Voice and a prayer
Scott Morrison began the week praying in front of 21,000 people. He closed it promising a referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Scott Morrison and the Laffer napkin
Scott Morrison’s tax cuts are based on an American theory of economics trialled in the 1970s, but the evidence since suggests it does not work.
As the government produces legislation to temporarily ban foreign fighters from returning to Australia, there is growing concern over whether existing citizenship legislation is unconstitutional.
Faith and taxes
As Scott Morrison’s tax cuts make their way through the parliament, there are fresh questions over religious freedoms.
As the government pushes to repeal the medivac legislation, lawyers and doctors contradict the arguments put against it.
Morrison’s inner circle
Scott Morrison’s inner circle is a group linked by faith and friendship – and now, the front bench. Their ties were confirmed during the leadership spill last year.
Condemned to interesting times
As Labor loses party discipline over tax cuts, the Coalition enters into an ugly post-mortem of its leadership change.
The insecurity machine
The election was shaped by the character of two men. Its outcome shows us how the country reacts to insecurity, and what that means for change.
Double bluffs and Cory Bernardi
As Labor and the Coalition explore a double bluff on tax cuts, Cory Bernardi wants back into the Liberal Party.
Turnbull’s stray dog
The election result has put faith back on the national agenda. But the issue is dogged by a review Malcolm Turnbull commissioned and never had the chance to answer.
The Morrison vacuum
As Scott Morrison searches for a path to legislate his tax cuts, concerns over press freedom continue to trouble his government.
Sacking Scott Morrison
Before entering parliament, Scott Morrison ran Tourism Australia. He was sacked by the minister, but the details of what happened have never been made public.
Rates, raids and meeting the Queen
Scott Morrison flies back from meeting the Queen to a flagging economy and concern over raids on the ABC and other reporters.
Morrison’s broad church
Scott Morrison’s cabinet is a careful balance between those who backed him during last year’s leadership spill, and those who backed Peter Dutton.
What Morrison did next
Two weeks after the election, Scott Morrison has identified 10 seats the Coalition wants to win.