According to Scott Morrison, he never criticised the EU. This directly contradicts a statement that he made two hours earlier, one that criticised the EU.
Back in March, Health Minister Greg Hunt rejected a potential delay in the vaccine rollout after Europe blocked one shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine. At the time, he said, “we are very clear that this does not affect the pace of the rollout”.
A month later, we know the opposite to be true. However, the mental gymnastics present goes right to the top.
At 8am, the Morrison government put out the following statement: “Of the 3.8 million AstraZeneca (AZ) Australia has pre-purchased from overseas supplies only 700,000 have been delivered to date. AZ has not been able to secure an export licence from Europe to send the remaining doses, and they know they would never be approved by the European Commission (EC).”
As journalist Samantha Maiden noted, “…the Morrison government has slammed the European Commission over its denial they didn’t block COVID vaccines to Australia as ‘semantics'”.
Wind the clock forward, however, and Scott Morrison has fronted the media and said that, “First of all, I want to stress that at no time did I make any comment about the actions of the European Union, nor did I indicate any of the background reasons for the lack of supply that we have received from those contracted doses. And so, any suggestion that I, in any way, made any criticism of the European Union would be completely incorrect.”
Fortunately, a pioneering reporter posed the following question to Scott Morrison:
Trust in the Government is critical for Australians to actually take up the vaccine. In recent weeks, we’ve seen blame-shifting with the states. We’re now bickering with the EC about supply issues and along with the issues with blood clotting, which still remains unclear to a lot of people. Are you concerned that the Government’s handling of this may contribute to vaccine hesitancy among the population? And what are you going to do about that?
Morrison responded thusly: “No, I’m not. And I think much of the conflation of the issues you’ve raised, I think, is more in appearance than in fact. I mean, all I’ve simply done today is set out very clearly that 3.1 million vaccines didn’t arrive in Australia. That’s just a simple fact. It’s not a dispute. It’s not a conflict. It’s not an argument. It’s not a clash. It’s just a simple fact.
“And I’m simply explaining to the Australian public that supply issues is (sic) what’s constraining and has constrained, particularly over the recent months, the overall rollout of the vaccine. Look, it happens before every single National Cabinet. You all write stories about how everybody is disagreeing with each other and we come to National Cabinet as always and I’ll stand before you on Friday and talk about the things that are agreed.”
In Morrison’s world, he didn’t say what he said. The states and the federal government are getting along harmoniously, and criticism of the rollout doesn’t actually exist. What is the above, if not textbook gaslighting?
Dr Jennifer Sweeton, a Stanford- and Harvard-trained trauma specialist, defined it as “a ‘sneaky, difficult-to-identify form of manipulation (and in severe cases, emotional abuse)’ that results in the gaslightee questioning his or her own perception, experiences, and even reality. In severe cases, this psychological warfare can result in the victim becoming dependent on the gaslighter for his or her own sense of reality.”