Mediocre Australian political leaders in a B-team era

Mediocre Australian political leaders in a B-team era, by Janet Albrechtsen.

It is hard to see signs that Scott Morrison is a reforming leader committed to addressing the longer-term challenges of a less-productive, less globally competitive Australia. …

This points to a deeper problem with Australian politics. Precedents matter. This cohort of government MPs, from the Prime Minister down, does not compare well to the best of their political predecessors because most came of age politically in an era when there was no John Howard, Peter Costello, Nick Minchin, Alexander Downer or Peter Reith to watch and learn from on their own side. Nor have they felt the heat from the likes of a Bob Hawke or Paul Keating, a Mick Young or a Peter Walsh.

Today, the same weakness, opting for easy politics over serious reform, infects Labor, the Greens and the Nationals. When so many in your own party, and among your adversaries, lack ­talent, it makes it easier for the mediocre to survive. …

Absent, too, are robust battles over ideas within parties, and ­between parties. When a young Howard entered parliament, he sat in a Liberal partyroom that debated the merits of protectionism over the abolition of tariffs, and the deregulation of the economy. When a young Costello or Reith took their seats, the same partyroom continued to have serious debates about tax and industrial relations reforms. Their final polices were never perfect but were sharpened from robust debate. …

This is a serious generational problem. Lack of talent begets more of the same because it will also drive good people away from politics.