Boy, that escalated quickly
As the events in Canberra unfolded last week a feeling of déjà vu must have descended across the nation.
There is no question that the office of PM should be treated with more respect and in era’s past it would be the seniors of the party who would stop the hysteria of nervous back bencher’s by standing firm with the PM and quelling the dissenters,
Not today and instead we have the almost Abbott and Costello styled comedy skit of ‘Abbott doing to Turnbul, what Turnbull had done to Abbott, what Abbott had done to Turnbull, and Turnbull had done to Nelson.
And despite lecturing us about political virtue, the Opposition leader Bill Shorten has had his hands in the removal of Prime Ministers Rudd by Gillard, then Gillard by Rudd, prior to the 2013 election.
So every time you hear a pontificating Labor MP in the coming months talking about what a disgrace the removal of Turnbull was, well think hypocrite.
As Paul Keating once said, “always back self-interest” and when it comes to making a decision that might impact their futures, our politicians have shown that they will always put self-interest first.
This is not say that I was a fan of Malcolm Turnbull. I was far from it and when asked of an opinion of him as leader I always stated that he seemed to me a man who wanted to be PM, not through any ideological position to change the world, purely because he wanted to be PM.
He was intelligent, successful, confident and occasionally articulate, but the reality is that he never appealed to the public because he stood for nothing.
Heading into the office as PM he was a champion of popular media causes, global warming, same-sex marriage etc… Yet upon arrival at the Lodge he lost his nerve and then began crab walking away from these central themes.
Yes Australia signed the Paris accord, yet let’s be honest the Liberal party regularly tore itself up over energy policy, which is why we do not have one, and when it came to same-sex marriage, yes it was passed into law, but only after a ridiculous and divisive ‘non-binding’ public vote that dragged the debate out for months.
Now put aside whether you support these policies or not, that is not the issue, it is how they were handled by Turnbull. He had the choice as leader to double down and push these through the party room.
That is what a leader needs to do. Make clear their position and then bring the people with you. Not float ideas and hope that someone else will pick them up and jump on your bandwagon.
It is why you cannot lead by looking at opinion polls. You need to ignore the noise of polls, newspapers, ‘shock jocks’ and make the decisions from the best available advice and ultimately what drives you ideologically.
Once made, you hold firm, stare down your detractors and build public support. That is how you get things through a difficult parliament and build the reputation of someone who delivers, who stands firm, who gets the job done.
Margaret Thatcher earned her ‘Iron Lady’ descriptor through her actions, likewise John Howard never shirked a tough issue, banning guns and introducing a GST.
Bob Hawke in partnership with Paul Keating earned legendary status in reforming the nations economy by floating the dollar and demanding an accord between unions and business.
Reagan took tough decisions which drew enormous criticism, yet his conviction style and America first politics saw him win all bar one state in the 1984 elections.
These where brave leaders, willing to lose so that they could put into place policies they believed would be a win for the people.
For a little over a decade since John Howard’s departure we have seen nothing but politics driven by focus groups and polling, with ideas raised and dropped as soon as whiff of unpopularity is blown in.
Whether it be Rudd/Gillard/Rudd/Abbott or Turnbull, when they have faced two paths, they have always taken the one they believed to be the most populist.
It is why they have been so easy to remove, as if they stand for nothing, then what have you got to lose if you punt them.
As the 30th Prime Minister Scott Morrison grabbed the reigns we were not off to a great start, with the clichés piling up as he assured Australian’s that this was “a new generation” of leadership, that the government was “on our side,” that he believed in a “fair go,” and promised to make Australia “even greater.”
Given today’s NewsPoll showing a 56-44 lead to the ALP and a primary vote in the low 30s, it is going to take Mr Morrison a heck of a lot more than clichés to bring the LNP back into election calculations.
So my challenge for Mr Morrison is to do something we have not seen a leader do in this nation for over a decade. That is to create policies that you believe in, not because they will be popular, but because you believe they will improve the lives of the people your represent.
Once you have created them and come to share these with the public, leave the clichés at home and avoid complicating the language.
Deliver your message with passion and conviction and then do something almost foreign for our leaders and that is follow through on what you say and let your actions speak louder than your words (pardon the cliche).
Mr Morrison is it is now up to you. Keep following the same tired road and I can guarantee that we will see the 7th change of leader in a little over a decade in early 2019. Govern with conviction and you at the least give yourself a fighting chance!