A question of leadership

Yes.  Cats well know that last week, Prime Minister Turnbull was deposed.  The Prime Minister is gone.  Long live the Prime Minister.

And as with every such Prime Ministerial change, stories and analyses abound of who did what to whom and how and how hard.  Plenty of fingers are being pointed at who is to blame, yet remarkably, fingers don’t seem to be pointing to the person Spartacus considers deserves the greatest share of blame.

As an aside, Spartacus does not think this change in executive Government leadership is such a bad thing.  Try to effect such a change in leadership in China, North Korea or the CFMMEU.  But this aside aside, Spartacus would argue that the biggest chunk of blame for the messy events of the last week, and to a degree the past 11 years, should fall on Lord Saint John Winston Howard.

Now Spartacus does not think John Howard was a good Prime Minister.  Yes he was better than what was on offer from the Labor Party, but that is not the high a benchmark.  As Prime Minister, John Howard built the second floor extension to the Australian middle class welfare edifice.  And he did a major renovation of the downstairs while he was at it.  He was also aided and abetted in the task by Peter Costello who, amongst other things, painted the new baby bonus room.

But in addition to the giant and unnecessary growth in the size of the state directed and oversee by him (not a small failing by itself), Lord Saint John failed in what is generally considered the first priority of the leader of any large organisation; succession planning and succession management.

Consider the counter-factual of John Howard resigning and facilitating an orderly transition to Peter Costello.  And yes again, Costello was not great either, but he was better than what was otherwise on offer within the Labor Party (Rudd/Gillard) or the Liberal Party (Abbott/Turnbull).

Yes.  Costello would have likely lost the 2007 election, but chances were he would not have resigned from Parliament.  And given he would have taken the LNP to the election, Rudd would not have gotten the majority of seats he did.  Additionally, the LNP would not have flailed about with the B-team of Abbott, Hockey, Nelson and Turnbull.

This begs the question of why did Howard create the conditions for such damage to be done the party he claims to love?  One might suggest it was because he loved something else much much more than Country and Party …. himself.  Narcissus with bushy eye brows.

Postulating counter-factuals is easy.  Perhaps things would have played out differently.  But we will never know because Lord Saint John did not get out of the way.

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14 Responses to A question of leadership

  1. Neil

    Rudd was always going to win the 2007 election. And name me one party that does leadership change well? If Howard had done what you said people would have said he lied to the electorate. Most people like to see an elected PM see out his term.

    Don’t blame Howard, blame the Australian people who voted for Rudd. And guess what. 56% of the population want them back.

  2. pbw

    I don’t know whether the Family Tax Benefit(s) and the baby bonus made any impression on the decline in the total fertility rate (TFR) within families of multi-generational Oz domicile, but addressing the low TFR is something that even many Cats would think is a worthwhile thing for govts to think about.

    Unlike Spartacus, I don’t know where Federal money was spent and saved, but savings (as opposed to tax increases) seem to have occurred in the Howard-Costello period. Am I mistaken about that?

    Yes, the “succession” was only achieved by losing the election to Rudd, but Costello wasn’t interested in putting things back together either. Whatever his merits or otherwise as a Treasurer, he passed on the chance to fight through to the Prime Ministership, so how does Costello get to be in the A-team?

    There was a Rudd campaign ad that had John Howard “asleep on climate change.” And how. Deaf and blind was anyone who didn’t see by the early 2000s – at the latest – the threat that ‘climate change’ posed to the sanity of the body politic. And Howard seems not to have noticed; not to the extent, anyway, of dedicating a lot of resources to countering the propaganda. It was as though it was a fight too many, or even a fight not worth having.

    The fact that Howard, even quite recently, was singing Turnbull’s praises, does make you wonder.

  3. H B Bear

    This begs the question of why did Howard create the conditions for such damage to be done the party he claims to love?

    The reason Howard and Hyacinth Bucket did not allow a natural leader to emerge from the Lieboral pack was to ensure there was no-one else around to knock him off. TFoMCW was careful to ensure that nonw of Costello, Downer and even Waffles were seen a preferred leader was to ensure there was not a natural challenger in the pack. Hawke failed to do that with Keating and how did that work out for him?

    By the time the Lieborals realised TFoMCW was terminal it was too late. It would have helped if Sloppy Joe could land a couple of punches on KRudd on Koch-head’s show instead of giving him a rails run to the election.

    Could Costello have won in 2007? Given sufficient time I think he could of. Costello had been confined to financial matters as Treasurer, often as Dr No. He was arguably their best parliamentary performer and as revealed after he left parliament, able to speak persuasively of a much wider range of topics than we previously saw.

  4. Neil

    Could Costello have won in 2007? Given sufficient time I think he could of.

    OK say Howard handed over to Costello 12 months after winning the election giving Costello 2 years till the 2007 election. Well Howard would have been accused of lying because he did not state he intended to do something like that.

    It is not easy to change an elected PM

  5. Norman Church

    Ah, Howard hating.

    Making me feel all nostalgic.

  6. Just Interested

    Half right.

    The father of middle class welfare hanging around too long caused a problem, but so too did the KRudd implosion and the fall of the Labor Government to minority status.

    The decision to keep the experienced hands on for the last Gillard/Rudd term (just in case there was a ‘baton change’ midterm) and then reappoint the same people at the commencement of the current embarrassing government compounded things.

    At least now some of the younger ones will get experience in government, which they may find helpful when they form the next Opposition.

  7. Roger W

    Howard’s greatest failing was allowing Malcolm Turnbull into the Liberal Party.
    From the moment he entered Parliament Turnbull worked to undermine Costello, because he saw himself as the natural heir to Howard. Then he undermined Nelson. Then he managed to undermine himself (no small feat, you would think).
    Once Abbott took over, he worked even more ceaselessly to undermine the new Liberal leader, continuing until he became leader himself.
    Then he managed to undermine himself again!
    Malcolm has been the problem for just about all of this century. I’m not sure he won’t keep on trying to do what he does best, via outlets like Their ABC. After all, Hewson is still at it nearly 3 decades after his own failures.

  8. Senile Old Guy

    Malcolm has been the problem for just about all of this century. I’m not sure he won’t keep on trying to do what he does best, via outlets like Their ABC. After all, Hewson is still at it nearly 3 decades after his own failures.

    Turnbull and Hewson are both “progressives” in a conservative party. Both were lauded as leaders by the media but both failed dismally. Both were inarticulate when called on to articulate policy and principle. Both were aided by the interminably left wing ABC.

  9. Hugh

    Roger, perhaps Turnbull was just “born out of time”.
    In the good old days an astute PM would have put blinkers on him and made him a very effective Minister for Mining.

  10. Cynic of Ayr

    Ummm…. maybe.
    Trouble is, one cannot know for certain what would have happened if this or that had happened instead.
    Lotsa whimsical to-ing and fro-ing for no real gain.
    Slightly off topic, well… sorta…
    Waffle’s son – forget his name. The one who Waffles advised to invest heavily in renewables, just before Waffles brought in legislation to support renewables with more subsidies – said his father was defeated by idiots and fools.
    LOL to the nth degree!!!
    What sort of drongo admits that he was defeated by idiots, outsmarted by idiots, and couldn’t compete with idiots.

  11. stevem

    Yes, Howard has to bear some of the blame over middle class welfare. I tend to be a little forgiving on this. At the time he was running a substantial surplus and was giving money back hand over fist. There were plenty of tax cuts as well as welfare handouts. But what should a government do with large surpluses? There was a choice of keeping it all and generating a huge stockpile or building a smaller stockpile and returning money to taxpayers who were, for the time, paying too much.
    I have no problem with a government returning taxes and not collecting as much. I blame subsequent governments for failing to adjust to the times and taking the hard decisions to match their taxing and spending to the economic environment of the day.

    As to more recent leadership holders I see Dutton in more trouble. First was his child care centre ownership and now granting of discretionary au pair visas. It’s clear that somebody has been hoarding up their dirt files on him. Given that Dutton has been targeted but not Morrison and that the smear originated just as his leadership tilt began, it seems to me less likely that Labor was the source of the smear that our leader of the day, Turnbull.

  12. Iampeter

    I agree with the characterization of the Howard government but therein lies the problem that no amount of “succession planning” can ever address. The Howard gov IS the problem.
    When the Howard government built middle class welfare and built the environmentalist bureaucracy and the fact that conservatives didn’t stop this, throw him out of the movement and even continue to celebrate the Howard years as the last truly conservative government means conservatives are either cheerfully left wing or cheerfully politically illiterate. Whichever it is, you cannot be part of this movement AND be against the left as this movement is reaponsible for most of the leftist legislation for three decades.
    This is a show stopping problem for conservatism as a political movement.
    Until this is addressed, the best conservatives can do for those of us who are actually right wing, is be in opposition where they might slow rights-violating government down a bit but they are not fit for government.

  13. Eyrie

    “This begs the question of why did Howard create the conditions for such damage to be done the party he claims to love?”
    Because the pussy whipped little turd always did what Hyacinth told him to. I’d blame her for Turnbull too.

  14. Iampeter

    I also meant to add that the whole situation and lack of real criticism of Howard renders all the “booo Turnbull, he is a leftist” position from “conservatives” completely nonsensical. Turnbull was far less of a leftist than Howard or even Abbott.

    Basically conservatism is done. At this stage conservatives either concede they’re just religious/traditionalist leftists who don’t really understand politics or just continue to putter along completely incoherently as they currently are. Either way, any “booo leftists” position from this movement is laughable and can be dismissed on face value.

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