Why ScoMo Just Did A Bizarre Borat Impression In Parliament
Scott Morrison just did a very bizarre impression of Sacha Baron Cohen's Kazakh journalist in parliament.
Wednesday was a historic day in the parliament. It was the first time in history that the word 'Borat' had been spoken in the parliament by a sitting Prime Minister, according to the official Hansard record.
"I know what Borat would think of the Labor Party's policies on emissions reductions -- 'very nice, very nice'," Morrison said, adopting the comical thick accent from comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's 2006 mockumentary.
How did we get to the point where the PM is quoting Borat? It came because of a question about climate change from the Labor opposition, during Wednesday's parliamentary question time in the House of Representatives.
Independent MP Kerryn Phelps, who won Malcolm Turnbull's former seat of Wentworth in a 2018 by-election, asked Morrison a question about climate policies and spending in Tuesday night's budget. The PM quickly pivoted to attacking Labor.
"They want carbon credits from Kazakhstan," he claimed.
"The Labor Party wants $36 billion to go to foreign carbon traders. Over in Kazakhstan, I'm sure they're pretty pleased about this... some may call this a carbon tax, I'm going to call it the Borat tax."
Under Labor's climate change policy, confirmed in recent days, Australian companies would be given a cap on the amount of pollution and emissions they can produce. If they go over that, they would have to purchase 'credits' from overseas or from other Australian companies who pollute less than they are allowed to.
This type of mechanism, called a 'cap and trade' system, is meant to create an incentive to reduce emissions (as excess credits can be sold to other companies) and a penalty for going over the cap (as more credits would have to be purchased at a cost).
The government has been criticising this Labor scheme as "carbon credits for Kazakhstan" -- perhaps mostly for the alliteration value because the central Asian nation has very little to do with the plan -- as they claim that it will simply see Australians pay higher prices for energy and see money directed to foreign countries.
As we outlined in some budget night analysis, the government wants to fight this election on tax, and can’t resist decrying everything Labor does as a “tax”. So far, they've called out the “retiree tax”, the “carbon tax”, and even the “lunchbox tax” -- the "Borat tax" wasn't exactly the next one we would have predicted, but here it is.
To the laughs of his colleagues, and audible groans from around the chamber from the opposition, Morrison then tried on Borat's "very nice" catchphrase.
On a related note, we understand this is the first time a sitting PM has quoted Borat in parliament, and just the sixth time that the Hansard has recorded the word 'Borat' in more than 100 years of federal parliament.
It left some people totally baffled.
The last mention was in 2018, from Labor's Ed Husic, who criticised Australia's national broadband network as providing slower internet speeds than the central Asian country.
"We've gotten to a point where our download speeds in Australia are slower than in Kazakhstan. We have Borat broadband in this country," he said.
"How did we get to the spot where Borat beats us on broadband?"
Before that, it was now-health minister Greg Hunt, in 2012, who said in a debate about -- yep -- carbon credits that:
"These carbon credits are going to come from China and Kazakhstan, among other places. I love Borat but I would not be buying 94 million tonnes of carbon credits from Borat and his friends."
With the next federal election due to be called by the end of this week, we might be hearing more of the PM's celebrity impressions on the campaign trail in coming weeks.