Deputy PM Michael McCormack’s week in the job has served up racial epithets, historical revisionism and outright lies…and it’s only Wednesday.

 

 

While Australia’s highest-ranking dad Scott Morrison is on holiday again which means that our current acting PM is…oooh, hold on, you know the guy, has a face…wears a shirt? It’s always a challenge to remember him because the leader of the Federal National Party is such a non-entity that it’d be amazing if many readers even knew his name, Matthew McCutcheon, let alone that is actually Michael McCormack.

It’s partially because he’s flanked by far more colourful characters in his party, like climate change denier and Philippine travel enthusiast George Christensen and McCornstalk’s mortal enemy, former Nationals leader and sexual harassment non-exoneratrix Barnaby Joyce.

And it’s largely because most of the time he’s a non-corporeal presence in the public discourse, as pale and insubstantial as a cloud and almost as compelling a speaker.

And thus there are some questions that should be asked about his being pulled off the bench to play-act as leader of the nation: does anyone ever tell him that he’s acting PM, or does he only find out when journalists ask him a question and he gives a staggeringly ill-considered answer in return?

Bring-Your-Uncomfortable-Looking-Replacement-To-Work-Week kicked off in typical McMongoose style when he was asked about his response to the recent deadly riot in Washington following exhortations from the president to overturn last November’s election result. And it was largely equivocal, musing that “It is unfortunate that we have seen the events at the Capitol Hill that we’ve seen in recent days, similar to those race riots that we saw around the country last year.” 

 


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If you missed that, the acting PM of Australia was saying that a) the Black Lives Matter marches and protests were “race riots”, and b) that violently storming the houses of Congress in an ill-thought-out attempt to a undermine a democratic election is equivalent to protesting the systemic murder of people of colour by police.

And then, when questioned about this on Tuesday on 2GB, Murbles doubled down by insisting that “Irrespective of what the agenda of that protest was, there was violence, there was destruction and…there are lives lost. should know those lives matter too. All lives matter.” 

And again, if anyone missed the racist dog whistle there, the last time McCognac’s party was supporting the phrase “all lives matter” it was when they were voting to support Pauline Hanson’s “It’s OK to be White” motion in the senate. So you know. There’s that. 

And then there was his whole “what even are facts, really?” position on his Coalition mates spreading unambiguously incorrect information on their social media about fake COVID-19 treatments and whether making children wear masks is child abuse.

“Facts are sometimes contentious and what you might think is right, somebody else might think is completely untrue,” he airily explained on Tuesday, adding that giving incorrect and potentially fatal medical information to one’s constituents is apparently “part of living in a democratic country.” 

That was accompanied by the idea that it was wrong for Twitter to do things like, say, deplatform white supremacists because the ANZACs were apparently giving their lives to protect freedom of speech.

 

Maybe he’s looked at the enduring and inexplicable popularity of Barnaby Joyce and decided that if he can’t out-gun him, he can out-dumb him. And if that means supporting childish lies over science, claiming the ANZACs were fighting for the promotion of fascism while dismissing anti-racist social justice movements, then hell: it’s worked for the party so far.

 

“In Australia, we have gone through two world wars so that people can speak freely,” Miffles McGringle told the ABC. And sure, remarkably few historians have argued that that the Allies took up arms against the Nazis in order to preserve the rights of Nazis to promote Nazism, but you know: facts, man. They’re so darn contentious

Anyway: that’s the litany of triumphs accrued by the acting PM in his first half-week in the job. But maybe he’s not horribly underprepared, or so terrified of being rolled that he’s too timid to call out his MPs for using their position to share dangerous falsehoods that undermine public health efforts. 

Maybe he’s looked at the enduring and inexplicable popularity of Barnaby Joyce and decided that if he can’t out-gun him, he can out-dumb him. And if that means supporting childish lies over science, claiming the ANZACs were fighting for the promotion of fascism while dismissing anti-racist social justice movements, then hell: it’s worked for the party so far.

 

 

 

 

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