Scott Morrison became the 30th Prime Minister of Australia after a leadership ballot on the 24th August 2018 bringing to a head nearly three years of factional in-fighting between the much smaller ultra-conservative wing with Right on their side, and a larger, less cohesive faction which has been derisively called the wets, but is most commonly referred to as small-l liberal.
Frustrated after unrelenting attacks on his authority from the Conservatives, culminating in rejection of the previously approved National Energy Guarantee scheme, Malcolm Turnbull called and easily won a leadership ballot. However in so doing he lost the support of some key Liberals who perceived the weakness of his position and hoped that by replacing him, it would end the bickering.
When he vainly sought help from Newscorp chief Rupert Murdoch to end the poor press the government was receiving, he was simply told that it would not be so bad if Labor gained office for a term or two. This may be true, but it was not the response he was hoping for. Scott Morrison was the winner of the second leadership ballot but will he be able to do any better?
He does fancy his chances of winning the next election, having cockily thrown down the gauntlet to Bill Shorten, that it will be a contest between the two of them. He has launched an electioneering charm offensive in the past three and a half months that has him well ahead of his adversary as preferred Prime Minister in the polls. With fighting words he appears to be rallying Coalition spirits.
Disillusioning however for moderates, is his shift away from the small-l Liberal policies he had previously supported, and unwillingness to accept any blame on the part of the federal Liberal Party for the recent Liberal loss of the Victorian State election. He also risks being seen as a weak leader who fails to adequately support outraged female Liberal parliamentarians who feel they have been bullied by their male colleagues. He does at present however enjoy solid Conservative backing for the decisions he has been making.
Scott Morrison’s loquacious and rather aggressive debating technique could be a negative for him. Naturally he likes to trump his own views over those of others, but if he can’t, he tends to stone-wall, and to parrot off paeans of self-congratulatory praise for the superiority of Liberal economic management, without acknowledging any part Malcolm Turnbull may have played. Scare tactics if too oft repeated, may be a put-off.
Dr Kerryn Phelps, the newly elected Independent Member for Malcolm Turnbull’s old seat of Wentworth has only just taken her place on the cross-benches of Federal Parliament but already she has introduced a needed Bill for bringing suffering refugee children and their families on Nauru back to Australia for treatment as deemed necessary by two agreeing doctors.
With her medical background and rational approach to important issues, first collecting relevant information, and then carefully evaluating each situation, she is striking a contrast to Scott Morrison’s habit of floating political policy changes before adequate consultation, and then failing to following them through.
It is refreshing to listen to her detailed and considered replies to media questions. She is humane and practical, a role model for other parliamentarians. No wonder she appealed to so many moderate voters in the Wentworth by-election on October 20, 2018. That is not to say that Liberal candidate David Sharma is not an excellent candidate as well, (as is the Labor candidate), who may win the next election, but until then she is setting a welcome standard of debate.