In between periods of absence, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has popped up to share photos of homemade curry, kicked back on a British beachside as part of the G7 Summit — despite not actually needing to be there — and given confusing messaging around the vaccine rollout and eligibility.
The latest controversy is an ad campaign targeted at Sydneysiders showing a young woman fighting to breathe in hospital and telling people to book their vaccinations — despite the fact under-40s are not yet eligible for the preferred vaccine. It comes days after Morrison said the government was seeking to be “as sensitive” as it possibly could around young people’s vaccine access.
Morrison’s words rarely match his government’s actions — worse, they’re often untruthful and contradict other messaging, fuelling vaccine hesitancy and confusion.
AstraZeneca is good vs getting Pfizer
Scott Morrison has been slammed for an impromptu announcement encouraging young people to speak to their doctors about getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, despite the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s advice it is not the preferred vaccine for those aged under 60 due to the very rare risk of blood clots.
“It is a good vaccine. It’s a very, very, very positive vaccine, it’s a very effective vaccine,” Morrison said.
Yet he didn’t get it. Despite the fact that AstraZeneca was not yet linked to blood clots and is manufactured on Australian shores — a deal Morrison gloated about — he was one of the first Australians to receive the Pfizer vaccine on February 21.
Vaccine discussion vs making curry
As revealed by the ABC last night, former prime minister Kevin Rudd met with Pfizer’s heads to see if Australia could secure extra doses of the vaccine. He met with them on Wednesday, June 30, via Zoom following allegations from senior business figures that Morrison hadn’t spoken to the Pfizer bosses, leaving the job instead to junior bureaucrats who behaved in a “rude, dismissive and penny-pinching” manner.
The following Tuesday, Morrison shared photos on social media of him making curry at home. He had been absent from the public eye for four days at this point.
Just two days after that, Morrison reappeared to announce Pfizer supplies had been lifted to 1 million doses a week — leaving out any role Rudd played.
Keeping borders shut vs a Cornwall pub crawl
On June 10, Morrison stressed Australia’s borders would stay shut “as long as it’s in Australia’s interests” to protect both the health of Australians and the economy. He made the comments the day before he jetted off to the UK for the G7-summit (Australia is not a member of the G7) where he went on a pub crawl in Cornwall.
A “sensitive” approach vs a graphic campaign
In his first public appearance in six days, Morrison gave a press conference from Kirribilli last Thursday, July 8. In response to a journalist’s question about whether young people should be allowed to get the Pfizer vaccine given increasing hospitalisations of young people infected with COVID-19, Morrison said: “All Australians are being impacted by this one way or another, different ways. We’re seeking to be as sensitive to that as we possibly can.”
Just four days later, the Morrison government released an ad campaign showing a young woman gasping for breath in a hospital bed, warning about the dangers of COVID-19.
It’s been slammed by healthcare workers, who say professionals wouldn’t leave a patient in agony. Lieutenant-General John Frewen said the ad aimed to “help people understand the very dire consequences of COVID and bring a sense of urgency” to vaccination and stay-home orders.
Interestingly, the video has been ready for a while, but the government sat on the graphic ad until an outbreak was severe enough to warrant releasing it.
No percentage point vs scramble for a magic number
Just one month ago, Morrison said Australia wouldn’t strive for a percentage point of vaccinations for Australia to reopen.
“There’s no medical advice that I’ve received at any point in time, which gives a magical number of vaccinations that enable you to provide that level of assuredness to Australians about when that can occur,” Morrison said, pointing to high COVID-19 cases in the UK, where 70% of the population had been vaccinated.
Yet on July 2, he pushed for states and territories to agree on a magic number in national cabinet. The targets have yet to be released but are part of a four-phase plan to reopen Australia based on vaccination rates.
Trust in government typically grows during crises. Support for Morrison soared during the early days of the pandemic. However, while trust for other leads abroad stays strong, support for Morrison has been in freefall as he refuses to lead by example, resorting to continuous lies, falsehoods and misinformation campaigns.