When Scott Morrison called the federal election in early April, he did so on an apologetic note: ‘I get it that people are tired of politics.’ This was a predictable gesture from the prime minister: his term has been marked by a series of controversies that have raised many questions about his capacity to lead on some of the country’s most pressing issues, though relatively few about his skill in internal party politics.
In this week’s episode of The ABR Podcast, Frank Bongiorno looks at the crisis of political leadership in Australia crystallised by Morrison’s government. To see the crisis clearly, Bongiorno highlights the way our contemporary political landscape has been shaped by the concentration of power in the hands of a professional class of party functionaries. As a result, the paths into politics through the major parties have narrowed and are now gatekept by factional operatives, casting doubt on the representativeness of our choice of representatives.
Frank Bongiorno is Professor of History at the Australian National University. His Dreamers and Schemers: A political history of Australia will be published by La Trobe University Press in November 2022.
This commentary is generously supported by the Judith Neilson Institute for Journalism and Ideas.