• Kristin Perissinotto

Disaster is not a PR opportunity

Every politician can benefit from a disaster if they play their cards right. In a sick way, it's an opportunity to get some brownie points. We saw in throughout the pandemic all over the country, and notably in Queensland after the 2011 floods, when Anna Bligh managed to claw back lost votes with a great response to those affected. So it's not a surprise that in an election year, while a pandemic is ongoing, a war has broken out in Europe, and many parts of the nation are experiencing devastating floods, that elected officials from all parties are are out in droves.

But there is a difference between giving out sandbags to worried families and shamelessly using disaster as a tool for self-promotion. Scott Morrison and his frenemies are pretty fucking good at the latter. Peter Dutton, in a moment of possible delusion and forgetfulness about the fact that he's a senior minister in the fucking national cabinet, is hosting a crowdfunder to 'help' the flood-affected families in his electorate. The man whose face is on advertising materials all over the electorate (and I would know because I have the misfortune of living in it) on the taxpayer's dime has put a call out for US to give funds to people suffering from flood damage.

National Party Senator Bridget McKenzie, the woman who famously said "I would rather be on welfare here in Australia than anywhere else in the world," despite Australia ranking last in the OECD for unemployment services, is offering grants of up to $180 for flood-affected people. Twitter was quick to point out that McKenzie received $288 in meal allowances just today, and is on $360 000 annually.

This morning, in the moment many Queensland residents were bracing for high tide, watching in horror as flood waters moved closer to their front doors, swept through their homes, and washed their cars away; in the moment Ukrainian citizens were huddled in abandoned subway stations, separated from their families; in the moment young Russian men forced into war were captured and held, their parents completely unaware of their whereabouts, our media was flooded with a picture of Scott and renowned **** Piers fucking Morgan.

Scotty and Piers talked about important things like cancel culture (they don't like it!!) and the Ashes, and 'Ukraine' (no further info given), and UK PM Boris Johnson (they do like him a lot!!). While we don't know exactly when this meeting happened, given the topics of conversation, it was likely in the past fortnight or so. The PM has very helpfully told the media that the floods are a 'very serious situation,' which we can all take comfort in.

The PM has been nicknamed 'Scotty from Announcements,' due to his affinity for TELLING us what he's GOING to do. Repeatedly, he has made grand announcements and told the public about plans only to be tripped up when it comes to actually implementing them. A federal ICAC is just on example. the Coalition and Scott made an election promise in 2019 that they would introduce a national anti-corruption body, and now, three years later, and approaching the next election, that nothing has been done.

Scott Morrison jumps at the chance to front the press to give his 'sympathies' or 'thoughts' and 'prayers' for people facing adversity. In the infamous 60 Minutes special about him and (mostly) Jenny, he told us that the carpet beside his bed is worn down from all the praying for the Australian public, apparently paying no mind to the fact that as the PRIME MINISTER he actually has the power to make change. As the Prime Minister, he could have offered asylum and refuge to people facing persecution by the Taliban in Afghanistan. He could have granted visas to the Murugappan family and supported their permanent settlement in Biloela.

And while I'm always here for a targeted jab at conservative politicians, this attitude isn't just personal. It's in their fucking blood. Morrison's government has been sitting on an Emergency Response Fund totalling over $4 billion for three years. That's right, since before even that cursed fucking bat had what we now call COVID-19. Why haven't they broken it open to assist Australians? The very people they are elected to support? Well it's impossible for us mere citizens to know for sure. But what we do know is that that Fund has amassed a whopping $800 million in interest. Maybe that's not related though...

Disaster and tragedy is not a PR opportunity. Overseas war is not an opportunity for fearmongering. A women's march is not an opportunity to brag (?) about Australia's gun laws. This government has the resources and ability to help. It has the responsibility to help. Government is there to support its people, to offer services when we need them, and to provide for the community. This government just capitalises off us. Flood-affected people are not pawns. Displaced persons are not fuel for national security propaganda. The Prime Ministership is not a platform for celebrity. It's time to vote this government out.