• Kristin Perissinotto

Rules are rules! Unless you're above them

Scott Morrison has outdone himself today, with a Tweet so dripping with irony that you have to check three times that it wasn't posted from a parody account.

'Rules are rules' it read, referring to tennis star Novak Djokovic's prompt exile after not qualifying for a medical exemption for not being vaccinated. The PM has been facing a fresh wave of COVID-related criticism surrounding issues with COVID testing at official sites and with Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) accessibility.

Scott told the media that actually, he sources his own RAT tests just like everyone else! Except that he gets chauffeured around by a personal driver and sends his staffers into the chemist to purchase the test. Something that's not allowed in their contract. Rules are rules, unless you're the fucking Prime Minister who's a little busy to pop into the shops yourself.

'We can't just go around making everything free!' he exclaims - except for government workers and elected officials like himself. They can get tax-funded RAT tests from Parliament House. But he doesn't use those free tests for personal use! No, of course not! Rules are rules! Jenny gets those tests, so he wouldn't really know anything about that. Jenny just goes out on her silly little trips to the silly little shops and when he gets home, the silly little tests are there ready for him.

Rules are rules, except when you're the Prime Minister who just reeeeaaally wants to go home for Father's Day even though he's in lockdown. Never mind the other families who haven't been united in close to two years due to border restrictions, health concerns, cancelled flights, and visa problems. You can bet there are plenty of people who reeeeaaally wanted to see loved ones for significant holidays or just because, but could not. Because rules are rules.

JobKeeper was created to benefit people, not conglomerates. And Scott Morrison's Cabinet knew that a handful of massive businesses, both national and international, profited hugely from the payments - Treasurer Josh Frydenberg knew about businesses like Harvey Norman not being truly eligible for payments for months before said payments were eventually cancelled. Rules are rules, unless you're a fucking billionaire.

Women have a right to be safe in their workplace. Sexual assault is against the law. It's the responsibility of workplaces to protect their employees from harm, and ensure staff is safe at work. But Scott Morrison has been spineless in the face of harassment and assault allegations in his own workplace, and the introduction of significant reform to protect workers. Rules are rules, unless you're a powerful white man protecting other powerful white men from seeing consequences for their actions - their crimes.

While a huge number of Aussies are glad to see the unvaccinated Djokovic turned away, the PM's Tweet just reminds us that there are different rules for different people. Women, people of colour, people in the LGTBQIA+ community, people with disabilities, and marginalised groups know all too well that we don't live by the same rules as the 'ruling' class of powerful white men. It's just not as simple as 'rules are rules,' because we see those rules broken all the time.

What's the good of a rule against sexual violence if it's not followed by perpetrators? What's the good of COVID restrictions if billionaires, celebrities, and high-ranking politicians can break them? What's the good of tax laws if the filthy rich can evade, sometimes even keeping within legal bounds? 'Rules are rules' only if they are the same for every citizen. And until then, they aren't rules - they are a strategic tool applied when it's convenient for lawmakers or enforcers.