Stuart Robert and the evil of mediocrity

Even by Australian standards, Stuart Robert is a new low in our politics.  As the phrase goes, he just does not get it.  And his military background, misplaced loyalty, and limited intelligence, leave him prey to recycled tripe that in his warped mind leaves him free of any responsibility. 

Being ‘responsible’ is not a notion that looms large with a man raised as a minion to the armed services or as a soldier in the army of the God he prayed to in Parliament House with his friend and leader, Scott Morrison – another man of low intelligence with no idea of what it is to be ‘responsible.’

Robert’s performance yesterday before the Royal Commission was downright scary.  It was bad enough to call to mind the image of a bland mediocrity in another hemisphere in another time going to work each day with death in his briefcase.

Challenged by Commissioner Catherine Holmes about why he then continued to misrepresent the scheme publicly in media interviews when he knew it to be unlawful, Mr Robert said he was being a “dutiful cabinet minister” despite having “massive personal misgivings”.

“It doesn’t mean you have to misrepresent the figures though?” Commissioner Holmes asked.

“I had a massive personal misgiving, yes, but I am still a cabinet minister,” Mr Robert said.

“That’s what we do, ma’am.”

Pressed if this meant “misrepresent things to the Australian public”, Mr Robert said this happened often in the tax jurisdiction.

Mr Robert had previously been an assistant treasurer with responsibility for tax.

“Having come from tax, tax says black is white all the time. I’ve watched government do extraordinary things,” Mr Robert said.

That may not be moral insanity – but there is a vacuum where the conscience should sit.  A poor apology for a man allows a false sense of loyalty or duty – at least according to his evidence – to displace his humanity. 

This was a deformed version of the ‘superior orders’ response. 

And it recalls some observations about the ‘banality of evil’, and the conduct of a most mediocre man who looked ‘terribly and terrifyingly normal.’

Except for an extraordinary diligence in looking out for his personal advancement, he had no motives at all.  And this diligence in itself was in no way criminal; he certainly would never have murdered his superior in order to inherit his post.  He merely, to put the matter colloquially, never realised what he was doing…. It was sheer thoughtlessness….

The polite term for Robert is ‘galah’ – a galah who believes, or at least who is willing to assert, that in order to be a federal Minister of the Crown, you must be ready to take a hit for the team and tell the world a barefaced lie.

And he did not have to get this from his leader, the man he prayed with.  No, no, no – for them it was just business as usual.

Onward Christian Soldiers,

Marching as to war….

Robodebt – ministerial responsibility – Robert – Scott Morrison – Arendt.

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