Flat White

Scott Morrison stands for nothing – and his kitchen cabinet thinks it’s great

7 June 2021

6:04 PM

7 June 2021

6:04 PM

The Spec Oz has been warning about this. Now it’s official. Scott Morrison stands for nothing.

The Sun-Herald and Sunday Age reported yesterday:

One Liberal MP, who has known the prime minister for more than a decade, jokes that “at the heart of the Morrison government is a focus group”.

We have a weathervane for a prime minister? That’s nothing to laugh about. It doesn’t assist good government, it doesn’t assist the people of Australia — and, in the long term, it won’t assist Morrison. Yet the PM’s coterie thinks it’s brilliant. The article continues:

The former party director is an outcomes-focused arch-pragmatist, to use the jargon, and as the MP observes he is “driven by the research [internal polling] and if the research is good, he’s good. And at the moment he’s walking on sunshine”.

Meanwhile, Simon Benson comments on the drop in the PM’s approval ratings Newspoll today:

The problem is at what point does the current dissatisfaction lock in — that is his gamble.

It is too early to suggest that there is a trend developing for Morrison, who has ridden the pandemic wave with soaring approval ratings, but it is clear that the other side is planting the seeds for a core narrative that Morrison has become reactive to issues rather than being on top of things.

Take two of the key propositions and combine them into one: at the heart of the Morrison government is a focus group and Morrison has become reactive to issues rather than being on top of things.

That’s a dangerous message. To average voters, it suggests a prime minister looking after himself rather than the welfare of the country.

To the Liberal faithful who voted for a reforming centre-right government, it suggests that they’ve got nothing but a wobbly big blancmange.

Morrison can probably just get away this mix of sloth and cowardice and muddling through while coronavirus ranges — and against Anthony Albanese, let alone the Twits dream pick, Tanya Plibersek — but it’s not a recipe for sustainable, successful administration.

Instead, it’s likely that his government will look like Victorian or South Australian Labor as they plunged their states into disaster at the start of the nineties or the New South Wales ALP as they chewed through premiers before Barry O’Farrell cleared them off the board — a government that governed for one term too many and saw the party pay the price.

The PM might like to ask the focus groups how they remember those state leaders if he’s got an eye on his legacy.

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