It’s 16 December and I’d like to wish all our readers a Happy Abscondment Day. What’s this, you’re asking?
The creation of journalists Van Badham and Mike Carlton, Abscondment Day marks that day, Monday 16 December, that Prime Minister Scott Morrison took off for Hawai’i. Forgetting he was no longer a regular, dispensable suit in the lead-up to Christmas, Morrison figured it was time to bugger off early.
If you’re in a mood for Abscondment Day’s dark humour, it’s quite funny to think that for a few days, most of Australia didn’t notice the PM’s absence. Sure, the nation-wide average temperature record was broken two days in a row, and the country was facing unprecedented air pollution, threats to metropolitan drinking water, major highways cut off and regional towns being razed to the ground, all just a portent of what global warming has in store over the next two decades.
But our expectations of government in this country are so low that the nation’s leader wasn’t actually missed at a time of dire crisis.
That slowly began to change when Greens MP David Shoebridge noticed on the Monday that the Nationals leader, Matthew McCormack, was officially Acting Prime Minister. Journalist Samantha Maiden picked up the story and made enquiries with the prime minister’s office. They responded to her request for confirmation with a text, “Wrong.”
The revelation began to build steam, and by Thursday, even Lara Worthington (née Bingle) had chimed in.
That same day, fellow Aussie tourists posted a snap they’d taken after sharing a few “bevvies” with the prime minister in his boardshorts ono the beach. Shakas!
McCormack belatedly came to the defence of Morrison. Please keep in mind, McCormack said, that the PM hadn’t been on a family holiday for seven whole months since going to Fiji. With friends like those, Mr Morrison…
It was, perhaps, the beginning of the end for Prime Minister Morrison. At the time, ABC opined, “Australia’s marketing expert prime minister has just had his first major product recall.”
A fortnight later, in response to Morrison’s refusal to offer funds for volunteer fire-fighters because they “want” to be there, one firey screeched to a halt in front of a TV crew and shouted, “Are you from the media? Tell the prime minister to go and get f***ed from Nelligen. We really enjoy this shit.”
Channel 7 aired it on prime-time news. A GoFundMe for the RFS volunteer collected over $9,000 from people wanting to shout him a beer.
In light of 2020’s “bespoke arrangements” for quarantining Ruby Princess cruise-liner passengers, followed by the “no rush” vaccine stroll-out, that Hawai’ian holiday was a blip compared to what was to come.
But despite being overshadowed by the pandemic, we must learn the lessons of the 2019 summer. The next El Niño is just around the corner.
In the meantime, according to cultural burning expert Victor Steffensen, the worst response would be to simply ramp up white Australia’s old style of hazard burning with petroleum-based accelerants. As Steffensen told Q&A in 2020 on behalf of indigenous Australians, “Let us drive for a change.”
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