At the beginning of August, Prime Minister Albanese’s ‘preferred prime minister’ measure according to Newspoll was 61%
. While pretty well every new political leader enjoys some fair winds and sunshine at the beginning of their term of office, Albanese is doing better than most. He seems to be confounding the experts that suggested the ‘honeymoon’ with the Australian public was over a month earlier.
At the beginning of July, Albanese was in France mending Australia’s reputation with the French President
Asked if an apology from Albanese was necessary over the submarine fiasco, Macron said with a wry smile: “We will speak about the future, not the past. He is not responsible for what happened”.
He knew exactly what he was doing. As he did with “I don’t think, I know” [when asked if he thought former PM Morrison lied to him about the cancellation of the submarine order], Macron made the most of his moment in the sun.
On-August 11, the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide tabled an interim report. The report was immediately released by the responsible Minister, Veteran Affairs Minister Matt Keogh, who apologised on behalf of the Government for the backlog of claims. The Royal Commissioners were scathing of the Morrison Government’s response to previous reports highlighting the management of Veteran’s claims for compassion and support
“In our view, the lack of response and progress from June 2019 to mid-May 2022 amounted to a dereliction of the Australian government’s duty to veterans,” read the report, which was released on Thursday.
The government comes in for particular criticism over a 2019 report that outlined several recommendations for improving the processing of claims but was never either formally accepted or rejected.
On August 12, Australia’s Education Ministers met in Canberra. There are a significant number of problems in education, from lack of qualified teaching staff (and more concerningly, a lack of people who wish to become teachers
), a lack of funding equity between public and private schools
and a recent history of demeaning the practice and professionalism of teachers by the former Coalition Government
. Why is the August 12 meeting noteworthy? The Federal Education Minister Jason Clare invited teachers from across the nation to come to the meeting and provide their lived experiences. Asking people to share their lived experience certainly isn’t a novel idea, however asking for the opinions and advice of people at the coalface was never a highlight of the Coalition’s time in power.
It’s also noticeable the press conferences regarding the Royal Commission interim report and the education ministers’ meeting were hosted by the responsible Ministers — not a Prime Minister anxious for what could be good publicity.
Maybe that’s the difference between the Coalition and ALP Government. Albanese doesn’t appear to be seeking publicity for the sake of publicity. It appears that like the governments of Fraser and Hawke, the responsible minister is given the role of being — well — responsible for their portfolio. In short, Albanese is treating his ministers as adults who are perfectly capable of formulating and implementing government policy in a consultative and collaborative manner. By contrast, the Coalition Opposition can’t decide if Albanese’s upcoming job summit is a stunt (Opposition Leader Dutton’s opinion) or worth attending (Deputy Leader Littleproud’s opinion
The week before we found out that Morrison held at least five ministerial portfolios, most apparently without the knowledge of the ‘responsible’ minister
, as well as Prime Minister, Crikey’s
Bernard Keane observed
Morrison wouldn’t and couldn’t govern. Like Donald Trump or Boris Johnson, the actual day-to-day work of governing was beyond him. Sourcing vaccines, rolling them out effectively, protecting senior Australians in nursing homes, checking to make sure businesses that didn’t need support didn’t get it, developing a contact tracing app — all proved beyond the capacities of his government.
That was consistent with the wider performance of his government. Morrison had no agenda to implement and no capacity to implement it if he’d had one. What few policy initiatives he took — on industrial relations, or trying to destroy industry super — fell over. Notoriously, he was unable to address the most urgent policy issue outside the pandemic: energy and climate policy. His idea of governing was issuing media releases, calling press conference, and covering up embarrassments, of which there was a multitude.
It was a contrast to Malcolm Turnbull, who had an idea of active government driving innovation and encouraging Australia to embrace opportunities outside its traditional comfort areas of extractive industries, tourism and education. The contrast was symbolised by the ill-fated submarine project: Turnbull wanted them built by the French in Australia; Morrison dumped the entire agreement for a media release and a joint press conference with Biden and Johnson, leaving us with a yawning strategic gap.
Clearly Dutton is using the same tactics as Abbott did
— total opposition — which is what got us into this ‘wasted decade’ in the first place.
Despite the various ‘experts’ ruminations on when it was over, that’s probably why Albanese is still ‘enjoying a honeymoon’ three months after the election. There are promising signs the adults are in charge and have a long-term plan that doesn’t rely on marketing and coverups.
What do you think?