Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison

A marriage on the rocks?

MALCOLM Turnbull and Scott Morrison may sit side by side on those green front benches, but you don't have to look too closely to see there is little love lost between the most powerful men - for now at least - in Australian politics. Behind those strained smiles and wary glances is an obvious distrust and glaring signs that their relationship, if not on the rocks, is rather close to it.

From the sidelines, it seems the frenemies are engaged in some odd power and policy struggle, one that a Federal Government fumbling for solid ground ahead of an imminent election can very well do without.

As a relationship, theirs is sadly lacking. Aside from the obvious trust issues, their communication skills are woeful, and there is little compromise and clearly no regard for the other. There are no gentle looks of support, and you can bet your next tax cut they are going to bed angry.

Remember, if you will, that Morrison came to this relationship reluctantly, forced to swap bedfellows to keep his political dreams alive. Now, though, Mal's eye is a wandering, and how better to rid himself of the shackles of this marriage than to make Scott look foolish.

But while the Treasurer may not be the kind of guy who naturally elicits sympathy, feel free to throw him a bone here, because this has hardly been the year he envisaged when fist pumping Mal in the light of the Sydney fireworks.

Charged with drawing up a budget for this complicated household, Morrison has shouted lustily from the rooftops his ideas for revenue raising, only for Mal to talk him down as one does a drunk at a party.

The slide started with Morrison having to backtrack on bracket creep, superannuation and negative gearing, and when that foot-in-mouth grew to include GST increases and personal income tax cuts, the Treasurer, who incidentally was the man who gave the nod to the "So where the bloody hell are you?" campaign, would have been forgiven for asking the Prime Minister just that.

One of the biggest indications yet that this relationship has long lost that honeymoon glow was Malcolm's announcing that the budget would, in fact, be delivered on May 3, just an hour after Scott had told the nation it would definitely be held on May 10. Awkward.

This week, the chasm was shown to have widened when the Treasurer, speaking shortly after Mal had confirmed a new tax plan that would see states levy their own income taxes, said it was mere "speculation" and just "an idea that was being explored".

Perhaps in the new manner in which things are now done in relationships, Mal is just ghosting Morrison: not returning calls and texts, not tagging him on Facebook - removing himself from the relationship without telling.

Perhaps Mal is just swiping left.

Strange Politics is an opinion column.



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