New PM, Same Old Mistakes
I’m sat in an empty American-style diner on Melbourne’s Chapel Street when I hear the news.
“We have a new PM,” she says, as casually as one would say it’s raining on Sunday, or we should pick up some milk on the way home. I look at her, the one with whom I have spent the morning in a pleasant haze free of connection from the outside world, for disengaging from the internet every so often is vital for the health of the mind; the 24-hour news cycle is a ravenous beast, insatiable, feeding on one’s fear and dejection. Who needs it?
“Who?” I ask, taking an inquisitive sip of her cherry soda. It’s rank stuff, but she enjoys it for a reason I don’t comprehend.
“Morrison,” she responds, her gaze not lifting from her phone.
“Morrison… hmmm. I don’t like him,” I say. “Weak nose.”
The food arrives and the thoughts of our new leader are quickly replaced by subpar burgers and unexceptional fries. It is 2pm, and the outside world continues as it did the day previous. Everything is the same bar an increase in tweets, which can be lumped into two categories: “rich white man from Sydney replaces rich white man from Sydney” and “new PM, kids still stuck on Nauru”.
I don’t care much for the petty, Love Island-themed drama of current Aussie politics, though I do keep a watchful eye on the goings on in Canberra as one would a raging bonfire surrounded by as-yet-unexploded gas canisters. You know it’s going to blow sooner or later, and the rational mind warns distance; yet the animal brain craves drama, and one is but a man. So you cave, watch the flame. But never get too close.
That evening I spend alone, opting to forgo planned social gatherings for calm, quiet, and spaghetti, which is also vital for the mind every so often. I crack a beer, bring the pot to boil and try to think of things that are not Scott Morrison. But my efforts are to no avail. Later, I scour Netflix and settle on an animated film about noodles and love. But my mind is not there. It is with Scott Morrison.
Accepting defeat, I shut the television and begin to roll a smoke. I turn on Spotify but cannot settle on a song. In my head is only Morrison. You win, old man. I take my first drag and Google image search he who has set up camp in my psyche.
Sat on the concrete steps outside my front door, I inhale my cigarette and examine him. I zoom in on his features, searching for a sign of his soul. Let’s not be dramatic: to go down the route of souless politician is tired, myopic and uncreative. This man must have a soul, surely, but what kind?
I imagine what the guy who devised the clever little slogan “stop the boats”, launched Operation Sovereign Borders and once listed “church” as his number one hobby might be doing at this very moment. The sun has long set and perhaps by now he is sipping champagne in a calm yet satisfied manner, careful not to let those around him see the joy that is slowly bubbling up inside of him. He can feel it begging to erupt, but must keep it in check. Keep it together Scotty, he thinks as he shakes hands and speaks to camera. Play it cool.
His first piss as official PM is when he allows himself a momentary bout of celebration. In the privacy of the pisser, he gives a self-satisfied, prolonged stare at his own reflection. You did it Scotty, he thinks. You are Prime Minister. You made it. He smiles, washes his hands, maybe even gives a little fist pump. And then it’s back to business.
I take a drag and wonder what I would do if I became Prime Minster. Fuck, with all that money and clout, the evening would surely lead to cocaine and MDMA, espresso martinis and music that bleeds into the veins and begins to pulse in time with the beats of the mind. I re-evaluate my original celebration and try to re-hash it, make it more ministerial. A nice meal at Parliament House perhaps? The best damn salmon I’ve ever tasted washed down with expensive wine. I don’t care what type, white, red, green, as long as it’s expensive, and as long as I’m seated in Malcolm’s chair. I refuse to eat until you bring me Malcolm’s chair. Ahhhh still warm.
I dab my lips with a napkin, a real nice one, and think about the changes I want to make. But I don’t have the power to change a fucking thing really, for I am the head honcho of a broken system, nothing more than a well-dressed mannequin with friends in the right places and a past hidden deep in the souls of buried men.
What are you thinking, Mozzy? I wonder. I go inside and check my phone once more. Damn, people are already roasting him on Facebook. Jesus, who’d want to be PM?
His next piss isn’t as pleasant. As he washes his hands, he looks at his reflection and stares deep into his tired eyes – eyes that are seeing the world for the first time as Prime Minister. The world looks the same, but the weight on his back is getting heavier; his collar is tightening. His heart begins to beat a bit faster than he’d like, but he cannot stay in the pisser forever. You can do it Scotty. He pumps himself up and walks out to more handshakes, more fake smiles and phony speeches.
That evening he sleeps not, for the weight of the nation is now crippling, and the trolls whose words he says do not affect him begin to seep into his already fragile ego. They’re right Scotty, you know they are. He tries to dismiss the thought. I am Prime Minister he thinks. He repeats the words in his head, slowly. Prime. Minister. Morrison. But it does not help, for in this bed, he’s just plain old Scott – the same Scott who believes those damn fags have no place getting married and those dirty kids on Nauru shouldn’t have gotten on those rickety boats. Serves ‘em right.
Our Scotty is the fifth Prime Minister in five years thanks to the heap of toddlers masquerading as men who jostle for momentary power in title alone. The tweets are right. The kids are still held captive in the out-of-sight, out-of-mind offshore camps, NSW is shriveling in drought, the reef is dying, the health system is as underfunded as ever, buying a house is a pipe dream to most unless Daddy is rich or you work weekends and eat baked beans every night ’til you’re 40, homelessness continues to rise and the Aussie public is sick of it, quite frankly, and rightfully so.
The Liberal party is in turmoil, too busy with its own internal squabbles to focus on the task of running this nation of 25 million. But none of that matters, because you did it Scotty. You’re the king of the playground. But for how long? And how much will that oh-so-fuzzy title keep you warm when the time of retribution comes for you, Jesus boy? The tears of the kids on Nauru are far away from the streets of Canberra, and you may not hear them now over the bickering of your party, but what will you say once you meet your god? You are PM, sure, but at what cost?
It’s not too late Scotty. There’s still time to use that precarious platform you find yourself standing on. In your 17-minute snoozefest of a first address as top dog, you urge the Australian public that you’re “on our side”. Go on then, prove it. Prove that you ain’t just another rich white dude from Sydney. Cause we’re all over it bud, and Bill Shorten is just rubbing his little elf hands in glee.
But you won’t do any of that, for you are nothing more than a sugar-free Peter Dutton. You are Dutton Zero (or Dutton Max), a frantic Liberal Party marketing ploy and a sad attempt to save face and garner up some sort of sense of “new direction” before the inevitable snap election that will take place in the coming months. The Liberal Party is done, and you, Mozzy, are captain of a sinking ship manned by a crew of conspiring two-facers who care not for the interests of anything that doesn’t stare back at them from a reflective surface.
But hey, congrats Scotty. Well earned, mate.