Frank Bongiorno reviews 'The Pivot of Power: Australian prime ministers and political leadership 1949–2016' by Paul Strangio, Paul ‘t Hart, and James Walter

Has the Australian prime minister’s job become impossible? The authors of The Pivot of Power: Australian prime ministers and political leadership 1949–2016 ask this question at the very end of their book. They conclude on an almost utopian note, one rather out of keeping with the otherwise judicious tone maintained over 300 pages: ‘a new dawn will arrive’.

Sadly, the optimism of Paul Strangio, Paul ‘t Hart and James Walter on this point is founded on their historical observation of previous reinvigoration of the office, and not anything that has come to pass during the prime ministerships of Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott, or Malcolm Turnbull. Most of what the authors tell us in their account of the office since John Howard’s political demise belies their eventual optimism. But they do help us to see that the issue is not that we have suffered an unusually long run of duds; the problems are rather inherent in the evolution of the role of prime minister.

Read the rest of this article by purchasing a subscription to ABR Online, or subscribe to the print edition to receive access to ABR Online free of charge.

If you are already a subscriber, click here, or on the ‘Log In’ tab in the top right hand corner of the screen, and enter your username and password to log in. If you have logged in but are still seeing this message your subscription to ABR Online may have expired. Please contact us or click here to renew your subscription to ABR Online. More information about ABR Online can be found on our Frequently Asked Questions page.

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to comments@australianbookreview.com.au. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.