Imagine for a moment a large but wounded buffalo limping across the African plains. Scores of predators can see that the once-feared 900kg bull is limping and lick their chops in anticipation.
Then, amazingly, one of the bull’s one-time lieutenants, gores his leader from brisket to rump before trotting away (apparently muttering “sorry, sorry, sorry) and leaves the crippled leader to drop behind the herd to face the lions, jackals, hyenas and vultures alone …
Such imagery, dramatic and speculative perhaps, may be appropriate as an analogy to the circumstances in which Australia’s Prime Minister now finds himself facing in the wake of a disastrous Canberra Press Club outing where damaging and demeaning allegations that cast Mr Morrison as a ‘hypocrite and liar’ were publicly revealed by a member of the press gallery. The resulting front-page outpouring of purported sensational exchanges between senior Liberal Party figures (including the former NSW Premier, Ms Gladys Berejiklian) was added to a few days later by further devastating evidence that the Nationals’ leader Barnaby Joyce had characterised Mr Morrison as a ‘hypocrite’ and ‘liar’ in a text destined for Ms Brittany Higgins in March 2021 when Mr Joyce was languishing on the backbench in parliament.
Mr Joyce subsequently regained his position as Nationals’ leader and became Deputy Prime Minister. However, the new revelations have been meat and drink for Mr Albanese and the ALP with a federal election likely in a matter of months.
The abundance of ‘political blood in the water’ has not only had the ALP leadership and strategy doing public jigs of delight but the professional political commentariat, especially those with apparently tenured positions in the heavyweight sectors of the media have been delighted to offer sober and sombre assessments of Mr Morrison’s likelihood of gruesome political death. It seems that Mr Joyce’s deep obvious disdain for the PM in early 2021 no longer exists in 2022. The Pauline conversion was complete when Mr Joyce’s offer to resign was rejected by Mr Morrison. The apparent grounds for this was that Mr Joyce’s text was simply a passing moment in a difficult patch and there has never been a Deputy Prime Minister as loyal and reliable as the current incumbent.
Most observers would agree that Mr Morrison’s performance as Prime Minister has not won many plaudits and huzzahs from the general public in recent months. His generally confident oratory has not engendered similar confidence in the public mind on a number of issues, especially in relation to the new phases of response to the COVID crisis. The rapid spread of the Omicron strain throughout the national population was not matched by early foresight into the necessity of rapid antigen tests and the heavy burdens being imposed on the contemporary aged care sector in the COVID crisis has been a major failure on the part of government in general.
To be fair, however, Australia has weathered the pandemic far better than in most of the countries around the globe. Overall the range of policy measures adopted by Australian governments of all stripes have been successful. When governments have exchanged science with wishful thinking and undeserved optimism we have seen setbacks.
There is no doubt that Mr Morrison has sought to implement what would seem to be reasonable policies in response to the problems we face. Clearly, though, there have been errors made along the way. Admitting policy errors when an election is looming is, of course, asking for trouble. Political honesty, though, is something that Australians in today’s difficult times would much prefer.
There is no room in the current political climate for havering, dissembling, misleading. … or, for that matter … lying to the Australian people.
We would be all better served if our politicians, from all quarters of the political spectrum, choose to speak truthfully and act honestly when it comes to administering the business of our nation.