Transcript of the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, at lunch, Monday, July 7.

Waiter: Good afternoon, sir.

Morrison: Is it?
That's your opinion and you're entitled to it, but I am making no
comment. It's a subjective judgement: it may be afternoon, and possibly a
good one - or not -  but I leave assessments of that nature to the
prime minister.

Waiter: Of course, minister. Anyway, thank you for joining us for lunch.

Morrison: Lunch?
Who said anything about lunch? I haven't mentioned lunch at all, not
yesterday, not today, and nor will I say anything about it tomorrow.
That's speculation on a matter I have not confirmed, and not at all

Waiter: Well, this is a
restaurant, sir. It is lunchtime. And as you can see, people at other
tables are already lunching or happily expecting to do so in the
immediate future, and I  had assumed that you had booked a table here to
do likewise.

Morrison: You
shouldn't assume anything. These are issues subject to the policy
framework that General Campbell and I have put in place and I have no
intention of canvassing them any further with you or anyone else. We do
not discuss At-Lunch operations. This is standard practice and it has
been for a long time. We are doing what we said we would do.

Waiter: Which is, minister? 

Morrison: Which is
to be cognisant of our international legal obligations and the relevant
conventions as they apply and to always act in accordance with those

Waiter: Perhaps it would help if I listed some of the specials we have today?

Morrison: Again you are making a presumption in your question. I refer you to my previous answers.

Waiter: There's a Sri Lankan seafood curry, served with ...

Morrison:  If
that's supposed to be some sort of moral blackmail then let me say that
the Australian people do not expect either me or the government to
succumb to it.

Waiter: Yes, sir.

Morrison: Anyway, where are you from? Are you here legally?

A LOT of those
lines come from transcripts of Morrison's media "conferences". He
actually talks like that.  Lunch, border protection: either way it is
babble, delivered with the smugness of a man who thinks he is being very

Habitually so. Remember that it was
Morrison, in a previous incarnation, who signed off on that disastrous
Lara Bingle "where the bloody hell are ya?" tourism campaign.

As he did then, he may have
out-clevered himself with this latest load of some 150 refugees afloat
on an Australian Customs vessel somewhere in the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka
won't have them back. The UN High Commission for Refugees has expressed
"profound concern". An editorial in The New York Times said
that Australia "is failing in its obligation under international accords
to protect refugees fleeing persecution." Most tricky of all, the High
Court has chucked a judicial spanner in the works, which could delay a
decision on the fate of these wretched people for some weeks.

Not to mention the sheer,
bloody-minded inhumanity of the whole ghastly business. It's thought
there are some 40 children "on-water", but the government remains
unmoved by their plight. No surprise there. Asked about reports of
mothers on Christmas Island attempting suicide, the Prime Minister made
that grisly retort about not capitulating to "moral blackmail". He has
no shame.

And not too many ideas, either. A
government addicted to secrecy and outright lies is now paying a heavy
price for its rotten May budget. This has been a shambles from the
get-go, for three reasons.

One, because it blatantly dumped a
truckload of Abbott's pre-election promises, on health, social welfare,
taxation and education. Two, because the budget was unfair to those on
the bottom of the social pyramid. Three, because no one at the top - not
Abbott, nor his money ministers Joe Hockey and Mathias Cormann - made
any attempt to lay the groundwork for explaining this supposed fiscal
crisis in a way the average Australian would accept. For a government
boasting of being the adults in charge, it has been spectacular

No wonder the thing is being
dismembered by the Senate. And not just the budget, but almost anything
the government bowls up. Clive Palmer floats around Parliament House
like some great bladder of noxious gas, jerking his Senate puppets into
line as the whim takes him. The government veers from wheedling to
threatening. Palmer will destroy himself one day, as these
self-promoting media windbags inevitably do when the scrutiny becomes
too much. But that day is a way off yet.   

WHEN THE carbon tax
is eventually gone, Australia will have no climate change policy.
There'll be smoke and mirrors, but nothing of substance. This is exactly
what the climate change deniers want, of course.

The rest of the world is not
impressed. Surprisingly, a senior British Conservative peer, Lord Deben,
smacked Abbott this week for dragging Australia backwards.

"We find it very upsetting
that Australia should be slapping us in the face and saying we
don't care about the climate," he said in a statement.  

"Australia is changing Britain's
climate as we are changing yours. It is not just a national matter. We
are all in this together and Mr Abbott is recklessly endangering our
future, as he is Australia's."

Well said, milord. A life peer,
Deben is hardly a bomb-throwing leftie. Formerly known as John Selwyn
Gummer, he was a cabinet minister and close ally of Margaret Thatcher,
and Conservative Party chairman for two years. It's true he was on the
daffy wing of the Tories, famous in Britain for publicly feeding his
4-year-old daughter a beefburger to prove there was no danger from Mad
Cow Disease.

But he is no fool. He is now the
head of the UK Committee on Climate Change and a force to be reckoned
with. What a joy it would be to see him go a couple of rounds with our
little flip-flop Environment Minister Greg Hunt. 

Twitter:  @MikeCarlton01