Has an Australian political party ever elected a man or woman so characterless to be its leader? So ignorant and open to corruption? So unaware of truth and transparency? (His lying has indeed become pathological.) So insensitive to those who cannot help themselves yet amenable to furthering the interests of those who can? So willing to endorse and foster inequality? So illiterate when it comes to science and technology? So oblivious to the needs of women that he needed the advice of his wife?
So against change. So inept at policy formation and its implementation. So prone to the language of absurdity. So self-righteous in attitude toward others. So aggressive and dismissive of those who seek fairness and equality. So out of touch with a modern pluralist society. A person so unsophisticated in deep worldly insight or discernment, yet profoundly devoted to his religion.
In other words, a person so uniquely devoid of all the requirements of leadership.
The answer to the above headline is that we have been blessed with quality people in leadership. People who have risen to the top in their particular fields even inspired the nation to fight above its weight in times of war.
Or, by example, led the world in sporting endeavour, in academia, science, medicine, entertainment, education, law and order, the arts and more, but very few when the category of politics is raised.
The only one to stand out in all categories to come near Scott Morrison is Tony Abbott. He was the most celebrated liar ever to soil the plush green carpets of the House of Representatives.
Having said all these things against the incumbent Prime Minister, perhaps I should explain myself. This article picks up some of the accusations made in my previous post and gives them further consideration. In the calmness of thought and without reverting to anger, I examine the Prime Minister’s lies, mistakes and character.
I was generally speaking about leadership and the fundamental qualities necessary to be successful at it. Morrison’s actions, together with his inability to speak the truth, have demonstrated the ineffectiveness of leadership that leaves the nation in terminal decline.
Scott Morrison is nothing more than a fast-talking politician whose record speaks of nefarious decision-making that is always on the borderline of immorality or corruption. There are some tenants of Christianity that are intentionally sacrosanct and cannot be broken. Morrison cherry-picks Biblical laws he thinks he can get away with and blames others for the rest.
But don’t take my word for it. Let’s look at the facts. During the COVID-19 crisis, the states have made most of the running. In May, Morrison put his four-step plan to the National Cabinet, and the states accepted it. The point of the goal was to reach 80% vaccinations and then do away with the need for lockdowns.
The plan was also to promote Morrison’s position as a national leader who could bring people together for the common good while having no authority over states and their borders.
There is a conventionally accepted view that the position of Prime Minister has an unspoken power. A power that has some clout when used judiciously. The states were given their authority when our founding fathers wrote our constitution giving sufficient power to the states to ensure they were no pushovers.
Regardless of the argument, be it economic reform, climate change, national disasters like bushfires, floods, pandemics or just good policy, he is consistently found wanting. He struggles even to convince women that he is concerned with accusations of sexual assault and harassment.
I must say that his early efforts in keeping the government on top of the pandemic were commendable, particularly the economy and could be compared favourably with Labor’s efforts during the Global Financial Crisis.
However, his efforts seem to have deteriorated to the point where the public is rapidly losing faith in his leadership. The latest Morgan Poll has Labor at 54% and the LNP at 46%
If delegation is a fundamental of leadership, then he doesn’t seem to know how to disperse it. Either that or his ministers are incompetent to the point of worthless.
Public opinion, in favour of the LNP only months before an election (my tip is February) is rapidly declining, and the government is in serious trouble.
These weaknesses have become dramatically clear. Challenges like those currently experienced by the Prime Minister bring out the best or worst of a leader’s character. That he isn’t the leader for the times that Australia needs is becoming patently clear.
He has no sense of urgency about anything. He is slow at responding to anything. There was lethargy in helping those who helped us in Afghanistan. An indifference to take a position on workplace vaccine mandates when the business community was seeking clarity. Despite a decade to do something about climate change, he still walks at a snail’s pace in making decisions. He still needs to confront his deputy leader, who vehemently opposes the government’s policy on climate change. Not that he has one himself.
I can see nothing in his character that shouts “Leader.”
It has been the winter of our discontent, and political historians will record that the bleakness has come chiefly from a lack of leadership.
We had no one with the leadership qualities necessary to paint a picture for a spring of hope. He hopes for a Christmas retail reopening gift to boost the economy after or if our kids are vaccinated. That is, if the parents are willing to expose their unvaccinated kids?
Katherine Murphy reports in The Guardian that our Claytons leader is so desperate to undo his past sins that he is opening vaccination appointments without even having the vaccinations. Now that’s leadership for you.
Unlike Howard, among others, Morrison doesn’t have a genuine feel for politics, that instinct compels a leader to think about consequences before actions. Yes, he should have known and had ample time to prepare for a rush of Afghanistan’s wanting to leave the country, just as he had ample time to purchase covid19 vaccinations instead of allowing the consequences of not doing so to overtake him.
Good leaders anticipate emerging issues and act accordingly.
Other decisions that showed little leadership included; a) the number of people we will take, and b) the unwillingness to grant them permanent status and c) crying “Stop the boats.”
“I want to be very clear about that. I want to send a very clear message to people smugglers in the region that nothing’s changed,” he said on Wednesday.”
Writing for the ABC, Michelle Gratton said:
“In this Afghanistan moment – which is one of reflection and regret for the failure of the allies’ aspirations for that nation – we show the world what sort of country we are. We should display a more generous character.”
There is a fight about to begin. It is about leadership and who will make the better leader after the winter of our discontent.
Niki Savva wrote last week in The Australian (paywalled) that:
“Anthony Albanese has to make Scott Morrison unacceptable and hope that by the election, there will be more voters not only happy he is not Shorten, but that he is not Morrison.”
Anthony Albanese will have to show that he can make the decisions of a genuine leader. Leadership that requires action, and not just be a do-nothing blame-shifter.
Now that Scott Morrison’s leadership has been found wanting, he will likely set out to try and prove that Anthony Albanese is every bit as corrupt as he is and tells as many lies as he does. Good luck with that.
And in the time that passes by until the election, he will have to ensure that the vaccines arrive on time without telling lies about anything while at the same time winning back people to the Liberal Party – all this while at the same time having his reputation trashed.
On top of that, he has to persuade those that the party has lost to accept that he can take us back to pre-COVID-19 normality when vaccinations reach 80%.
If not, the Prime Minister must ready himself for the political consequences of unvaccinated kids falling ill and an unknown number of Australians suffering long-term effects from the Delta variant of COVID-19.
Making such a decision takes authentic leadership.
In a piece for Pearls and Irritations titled “Morrison has the smell of political death about him,” Jack Waterford has a view similar to mine:
“I do not know whether prime minister Scott Morrison will be run over by a bus, be deposed by his colleagues, fail at the next election or survive, for the short term at least, by another miracle. But the smell of political death is about him, and it is not because of bad luck, circumstance or treachery. What will destroy him, I expect, are things already done, character traits already on display, idiosyncrasies that might once have seemed almost attractive but which now repel. The values he once proclaimed – not least of active Christian temperament – are ones he appears to have repudiated.”
That he isn’t the leader for the times that Australia needs is becoming patently clear.
My thought for the day
When a political leader deliberately withholds information that the voter needs to make an informed, balanced and reasoned assessment of how it is being governed. It is lying by omission. It is also tantamount to the manipulation of our democracy.
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