When I heard that Scott Morrison was jetting off to the UK this month, I was jealous. I was also patiently waiting for the moment when he would bend the rules and create a Hawaii 2.0.
That moment came this week, when it emerged that while the Prime Minister was in Britain for the G7 summit (an organisation which Australia isn’t even a part of), he decided to embark on a Who Do You Think You Are-style quest to learn more about his convict past.
Despite ScoMo defending this trip as “pretty innocent”, as a British migrant his actions were hypocritical and, well, downright hurtful.
I was born in the UK and have lived between Europe and Australia for the last few years. In July of 2019, I returned to Australia to finish my degree and planned to head back to the UK in just six months’ time.
I said goodbye to my friends in Bristol casually, not even bothering to bid farewell to friends and family in London as I (naively) assumed I would be back to my second home before I knew it.
Then COVID hit. My May 2020 flight was cancelled and my British partner and I were (and still are) separated by 15,000 kms and Australia’s tough border restrictions.
With him not being a citizen and my fear of being locked out of Australia it means I haven’t seen my partner since the January 2020 bushfires were the worst of our worries.
While we’ve been sitting tight in and out of lockdowns, waiting for vaccines and protecting the vulnerable in our respective communities, to watch the Australian leader slap backs overseas and enjoy a crisp pint on an English summer’s day feels like a slap in the face.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 29.8% of Australians were born overseas. As a nation built on colonialism, even more would have family from overseas.
As other nations get jabbed quickly and return to a COVID-normal, Australians are being gaslit by our leader who has failed the vaccine roll out and is yet to give any hope of being reunited with our international friends and families.
Couple this latest international trip with being one of the first in line to smirk for the Pfizer jab photo opp and I can’t help but feel incredibly angry and jaded by our so-called leader.
I say this as my 95-year-old grandma in Scotland goes in and out of hospital and the years I could be spending with my partner slip out of my hands.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for politicians doing their job and acting in the best interest of the country and its people (N.B. all of its people, not just the old white guys). But if this trip has done anything, it’s rub salt in the wounds of migrants who are wondering if they’ll ever see their aging kin again.
As is the way with the current government, it’s one rule for them, another for the rest of us.
I don’t know about you but I want a leader who will give us some reassurance.
I want a leader who cares about the families who don’t all live in the same affluent suburb of Sydney. I want a leader who recognises the sacrifices that all of us have made in the past 18 months and can give us a roadmap out of this godforsaken nightmare. Not one who shirks responsibility, jumps queues and believes in the obviously failing hotel quarantine system while getting a whole house to spend 14 days in.
Because being the walking definition of ‘the meeting that could’ve been an email’ and traipsing around the English coast looking for convict relatives and a Cornish pasty just isn’t it.