As I mentioned in my last blog post I was going to look at reading Laura Tingle’s Quarterly Essay on Leadership next. I’ve now done that. It is quite an interesting read. It certainly makes me reflect on the absence of political leadership in our country. I look at both our major parties and I see no vision for what Australia can or should be. To me, Abbott was defined by what he was against, Turnbull never fought for his beliefs but yielded ground on everything and it isn’t really fair to judge Morrison yet, but I’m not hearing a narrative from him about what he believes Australia can (or should) be, so I will be listening out for that as we get closer to our election. What I’m yearning for is big ideas about where we should be going as a nation, new ways to handle complex issues like immigration and refugees and taking some steps on improving how we treat our first peoples.
I certainly agree with Tingle that we haven’t seen a Prime Minister guide and lead a discussion on a difficult and complex policy issue we face. We need a Prime Minister who makes it their role to reshape and recast how political discussions happen. To me it seems Howard was the last Prime Minister who embraced tough reform and sought to explain it to the electorate.
The essay also talks about Obama, Merkel Marcon and Trump and how they differ from what we’ve seen in Australia to date. She talks about how Merkel leads from ‘behind’, waiting to the last moment to communicate her position and decision, for Marcon is about creating a new grand narrative, giving people direction and vision. The interesting point she makes about Obama is did he use his oratory ability to persuade, lead or drive change in the electorate. The danger of Trump is that when he’s criticised he doubles down on his position and creates a twitter-storm. He appears unwilling to listen to advice.
I would encourage you to read the essay and think about the sort of leadership you want, then let that influence your political action, beginning with your vote.