Former prime minister Scott Morrison received a mixed reaction from Australians on social media on Thursday night after poking fun at his secret ministerial appointments by indulging in a flurry of memes and photoshopped images.
Mr Morrison has been under heavy criticism this week amid revelations that he was quietly sworn in to five portfolios while prime minister, in most cases without the knowledge of the existing ministers.
One of those Coalition frontbenchers, Karen Andrews, told news.com.au she had “no idea” Mr Morrison had become a second minister in her home affairs portfolio, and said the former PM should “resign and leave parliament”.
“I have nothing to say to him. This is totally unacceptable. For a prime minister to behave in this manner undermines everything that a federal government, constitutionally, should stand for,” Ms Andrews said.
Mr Morrison subsequently apologised for “the offence that some of my colleagues, particularly, have felt about this”.
“But equally, as prime minister, only I could really understand the weight of responsibility that was on my shoulders. I took the decisions that I thought I needed to take,” he told reporters at a media conference in Sydney.
“I didn’t disclose (my appointments) to them because I didn’t think it was for the best operation of the government during a crisis for which I am responsible.”
Having offered that explanation and partial apology on Wednesday, Mr Morrison proceeded to revel in a flood of memes on social media.
“Scott Morrison has secretly become our vocalist,” Australian metalcore band Eaten Alive quipped in one such post, which featured an image of Mr Morrison’s head photoshopped onto the body of one of its members.
“That’s funny,” Mr Morrison responded.
Several local businesses got in on the fun as well.
“Scott Morrison just added Lead Climbing Arborist to his portfolio and started working for us without telling anyone! Great to have you on board ScoMo!” wrote the Melbourne business Jefford Tree Services on Thursday morning.
“I’ll let you know if I need any work done. What time do you need me for my first shift?” Mr Morrison replied.
“Meet our new Wheel Alignment Tech. We look forward to Scott Morrison starting,” said Southport Budget Tyres and Auto, whose photoshopped image showed the former PM carrying a tyre on his shoulder.
“A great opportunity for me to get the skills ready for Bathurst,” said Mr Morrison.
At one point he took the initiative himself, chiming in underneath a post from the Australian comedy group Sooshi Mango (who have interviewed him in the past).
“Great to join the team boys,” he said, sharing a photoshopped image replacing one of their heads with his own.
“It’s really me. I think the memes made are quite funny. I thought the boys might enjoy one home made,” Mr Morrison added.
It was that image he chose to share on his own page in a post at 8pm on Thursday evening.
“It’s been fun joining in on all the memes. But there are so many now I can’t keep up,” Mr Morrison told his followers.
“As Aussies, we can always have a chuckle at ourselves.”
Facebook, of course, allows you to attach an emotion to your posts. The former prime minister said he was feeling “amused”.
‘Good sport’ or ‘disrespectful’?
At the time of writing, Mr Morrison’s post had drawn more than a thousand comments.
Some Australians applauded him for approaching the controversy with good humour, while others accused him of trying to “laugh off” a serious matter.
Let’s start with a snapshot of the positive reactions.
“You’ve always been a good sport Scott. It’s the Sharkie in you!” said Kara Louise.
“I’d love to see how the armchair warriors and shock jocks would’ve gone running our nation through the pandemic. I’m thankful you were doing it. You did a great job.”
Chris Boyadjian said Mr Morrison was an “absolute legend” for playing along with the memes.
“If you can’t laugh at yourself then you don’t have a true sense of humour,” he argued.
“Well done for having a laugh about it,” Charmaine Brillanti told the former prime minister.
“Isn’t it nice to actually see a bit of our wonderful Aussie humour around? Been missing far too long.”
“You are a bloody good bloke ScoMo, and a damned good sport,” said Jason Cox.
“I am so pleased you were in control during the multiple crises we have had over the past few years. If it was the other crowd, we would be a basket case by now.”
“You’re a champion Scott. I have laughed at so many of your responses, they are GOLD,” said Marion Bellinger.
“You are so right, if we can’t laugh at ourselves, we have a sad, sorry life!”
“Good on you for being a good sport! At least we can all have a good laugh in these times of madness! Don’t let the lunatics get to you,” said Maia Fitzgerald.
“Good to see ScoMo handling this in the best way, with humour. Well done, no harm no foul, play on,” wrote Bob Jackson.
While they were outnumbered by Mr Morrison’s supporters, there were plenty of people criticising him in the comments section as well.
“Clearly you have no clue. This is pathetic and shows your clear disregard and disrespect for the Australian people. This is not funny,” Deb Mastello told him.
“Is this your tactic? Trying to laugh off the seriousness of what you have done? You repulsive little man,” said Graham Masters.
“You think the running of this country is a joke. Have some humility and say you made a mistake. We don’t need US-style gloating about how badly you behaved in office,” wrote James Jansson.
“So instead of taking responsibility for abusing your power as prime minister, you decide to make a joke about it. This simply shows a lack of accountability and arrogance in a serious situation,” said Carolina Perez.
“No. You don’t get to trivialise your total disregard for our democracy,” said Sue Worthington.
“Still want a better explanation for the ministerial grabs,” said Andrew Vasey.
“You’re better than that ScoMo. Explain properly to us why you did it, you never know, we might actually believe you!”
One sarcastic comment, written by Kerry Squire, actually drew a response from Mr Morrison.
“So amazing and coincidental. Nothing to do with your taxpayer-funded PR team I am sure,” Ms Squire said.
“Don’t have one,” Mr Morrison wrote back.
Originally published as Scott Morrison draws mixed reaction by poking fun at secret ministerial appointments
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