How many Prime Ministers are needed to make a cake. Read this and you just might have an answer,
Our Prime Ministers’ (plural) interests many of us and it's presented to the entire community through the various media – serious columns and blogs, on-line, the daily newspaper columns, television current affairs and radio commentary, social media ... much can be gleaned from the past decade 2010 with the change of Prime Ministers.
Australian Prime Ministers
Elected Kevin Rudd
Julia Gillard - overthrew Rudd
Election - a draw - Julia Gillard
The cross bench gave the Government to Labor
Kevin Rudd - overthrew Julia Gillard
Elected - Tony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull - overthrew Tony Abbott
Elected - Malcolm Turnbull
Scomo - Scott Morrison - overthrew Malcolm Turnbull
Elected - Scott Morrison
Only occasionally in this ten year period was the nature of victory through the electoral ballot box.
The first change without a general election
The Australian Labor Party's internal machinations saw Julia Gillard installed as Prime Minister in place of Kevin Rudd, Australia's first woman Prime Minister. The controversy was of their own making as the Australian people did not have any say whatever in whether the nation was ready for a woman Prime Minister (although New Zealand was well accustomed with Helen Clark over many years).
The sinister way the 'people's prime minister' (as Kevin Rudd was commonly referred to with his personal high popularity and his generous meeting the people frequented opportunities) was knifed in the back gave such a sense of unease that Julia Gillard legitimacy was always in doubt. Moreover in the 2011 Federal Election Julia Gillard was unable to hold enough seats in the Parliament to establish a Labor majority and in a scramble for the cross bench independents and minor parties support, the Australian Labor Party retained power.
But again this was highly suspect as the two independents who gave Julia Gillard the opportunity to retain the Prime Ministership were from electorates that had been and are now once again, in coalition hands. In the view of many across the nation, they betrayed their roots but in the machination of Australian politics both had once been members of Coalition parties. The overwhelming sense of the politic was that they were getting their own back – and big time.
The second change without a general election
The weight of all this discontent by the electorate and shown by the opinion poles over and over again, and by the politic of questionable decision making at the top, saw the second change, way late in the day, with the Australian Labor Party's internal machinations revert to Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister leaving Julia Gillard no where to go but out of politics.
Julia Gillard, by her own colleagues determinations, was seen to be unelectable in her own right as already evidenced by the 2011 general election and by her massive unpopularity and Kevin Rudd's unquestionable popularity. The media highlighted this over and over again by comparing Julia Gillard in such unfavourable light – by her determined streak, her attire, being unmarried, without children … the impression was that such a woman could only get to the top by skulduggery and this was evidenced in the 2010 coup over Kevin Rudd.
It has been stated by the political commentators that Kevin Rudd's return to the Prime Ministership saved at least 25 Labor held seats in the 2013 Federal Parliament. But it was all too late. So many of his colleagues had shown such poor political judgement in 2010 that it was they who could not be trusted with the reigns of treasury again. It was a forgone conclusion, the Australian electorate gave Tony Abbott the nod.
The third change without a general election
Tony Abbott took office and with uncharacteristic caution, so very different to his loud and boisterous gun-ho attitude as the Leader of the Opposition, where he belted Government decisions to the fence for six and leaving the clear impression the Labor Government was a laughing stock and needed to be turfed out on its ear.
What the Australian people got was a mild mannered father of three serious daughters, taking stock, making slow and steady strides, somehow not reaching the mark by failing to get cross bench support for key economic and social policies. But he oversaw the mining and carbon taxes ditched, his strong arm policy saw the non UN approved migration stopped (the refugee boats) and numerous administrative policies that were not 'sexy enough' for the media to grapple with as to their long term benefits.
The electorate expected a fast talking, hard hitting, powerfully decisive Prime Minister in Tony Abbott and he proved to be a good moderate Catholic boy with a treasurer Joe Hockey who was a Mr Good Fellow. Charm oozed from these two gentlemen.
The unthinkable happened. This time his own party, recognising that 'it wasn't happening' and swapped Abbott for Malcolm Turnbull - the super wealthy, distinguished, flamboyant, self assured, loved by Labour voters, almost off the Geiger Counter in anti-conservatism, and brilliantly articulate – and that folks was the story except that his conservative colleagues were not happy.
Malcolm Turnbull proved not to be a popular leader as only won by one seat in the following 2016 election - he lost plethora of seats to Labor (16). His leadership became so toxic the Liberals changed to Scott Morrison – a Pentecostal Christian in the evangelical mode – and Morrison then went on to win the 2019 election handsomely. Turnbull’s communication seemed stoic and dire. Scomo the exact opposite - warm, welcoming, answered questions, held the floor, street smart and a great smile ….
Few would argue that politicians and their advisers get spooked 'way too easily' by polls. Kevin Rudd was a victim. Julia Gillard was a victim. Tony Abbott was a victim. Each of us following the media / social media and find ourselves overwhelmed with 'a narrative'. It may not be the real story. It may not be a wholly truthful story. It may not be an accurate story. But once that story gets out and gets legs, to retrieve the situation becomes a nightmare.
Jesus was a victim of such a scenario. Those in the court yard calling for his head (crucified) was of such moment that the Roman Authority felt powerless. Right or wrong. Righteous or unrighteous. Guilty or not-guilty. These played no part.
This is why the Scriptures place such an emphasis on justice and mercy together. Justice and mercy in the family. Justice and mercy at grass roots. Justice and mercy in the work place. Justice and mercy in local Councils. Justice and mercy in the courts. Justice and mercy at every level of society. This is why our society places an emphasis on disability support, aged care and the like.
Without justice and mercy you get unending lies and distortions. It behoves chaos. Personally, corporately, nationally, internationally. I can only look at the current Victorian situation where no one can recall who gave green light to the Covid 19 Hotel virus drama. It was Mr Nobody.
The Scriptures show the Cross of Calvary as the perfect place for where justice and mercy overwhelmed the universe where justice was metered out for all sin, and mercy poured forth for mankind to a means for Salvation.
In my view this is the over arching message why dedicated prayer is sought for those who govern us, these people are the conduits of justice and mercy and when not exercised at any level...surely, we each have a part to play!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg. In September 2020 Summer Moore presented her commission portrait of Dr Mark Tronson holding the Gutenberg plaque. The above photo is the upper part from this portrait.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at: http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html