Why the sharp intake of breath, the tingling shock? In one of the world’s most secretive liberal democracies, the revelation that the previous Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison ran a shadow government overseen by personal quasi-despotic whim spanning several ministerial positions has caused chill and consternation. That’s not the way we do things – except when we do.
Such consternation, in a country that tolerates secret trials only revealed by accident, raids upon journalists and the headquarters of the national broadcaster, full-throated prosecutions of whistleblowers, the torture-tinged indefinite detention of refugees, and brazen immunities for intelligence officers engaged in alleged criminal activity.
Such consternation, in a country that mandates data retention by telecommunication companies for up to two years and disruptive warrants in violation of privacy, a country that gives government ministers, notably immigration ministers, God-like powers (in a secular sense, revolting) to determine the fate of individuals and, most unappealingly for believers in natural justice, rejects a bill of rights or a human rights charter. With these monstrous realities, Morrison’s conduct and his shady actions indicate an almost mild consistency.