This short piece is not intended to be a serious treatise; instead it’s a light-hearted appraisal of federal politics. We have had our fill of commentaries on the ins and outs of the Canberra scene written by self-confident ‘experts’ who believe they understand the machinations of the political class. It can’t be all that complicated though; self-interest seems to explain most of the day-by-day behaviour of our politicians.
Instead, this is a search for our very own ‘Toad’, in our very own ‘Toad Hall’, federal parliament. Persist with me if you’re up for a disrespectful tilt at our politicians.
Why Toad, an inelegant creature with none of the refinements of a classy frog? What is it about this ugly fellow that attracted me?
I suspect it was the enigmatic personality of Toad in A A Milne’s dramatisation of Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 novel Wind in the Willows
(my favourite tale as a youngster), namely Toad of Toad Hall,
that caught my attention at I grew up in what was then the rather sooty coal-mining precinct of Silkstone-Booval in Ipswich in SE Queensland.
He appealed to me because he was so full of ideas. Some were bright, some ridiculous, but they were always presented with such assurance, such confidence, such flair. His advocacy of his ideas was consistently enthusiastic, passionate, always patently honest. Yet the impetuosity with which he presented them resulted in blunder after blunder, which he conceded in his characteristic self-deprecating manner: “stupid Toad”, “silly Toad”, “ignorant Toad”.
The question I put to you is: Who, is our very own Toad in our very own Toad Hall, our federal parliament?
Who there has a personality that matches Toad? Can you identify a politician who consistently comes along with ‘bright’ ideas, who presents them with unbridled enthusiasm, who falls flat on his or her face over and again, but, and this is a big ‘but’, is ready to admit mistakes?
Or does your mind revert to the plethora of politicians who never do so, always seek to blame others, always find others whom they deem responsible?
Our PM is a past master at sheeting home mistakes to others. When have you heard him genuinely, I mean genuinely, accept responsibility, concede an error of judgement, appear eager to put the record straight? No, it’s always someone else’s fault. His verbal diarrhoea is legendary. As is his inability to utter a genuine full-throated ‘Sorry’. There’s always a ‘Morrison’ way of avoiding it.
Unfair appraisal? Reflect on his demeanour during press conferences, where his characteristic smirk bespeaks confidence, over-confidence some would say. Others may use a less polite descriptor.
Our PM is no ‘Toad’.