September 1, 2019

Editor’s Note

Editor’s Note September 2019

By Nick Feik

“Howard etched the groove and Morrison has settled comfortably into it,” writes Judith Brett. “He is, he tells us, just a normal guy, paying off an average-sized mortgage on a typical three-bedroom family home, with two young kids and a supportive loving wife, Jenny.” But nothing in politics is ever so simple.

“Men who reach the top in politics are never just normal guys.”

In the latest issue of The Monthly, Brett looks at the early days of the Morrison prime ministership. She sees common Liberal Party ideas, reminiscent of John Howard and even Robert Menzies: “Morrison’s Quiet Australians, Howard’s battlers and Menzies’ Forgotten People share a common heritage in the Liberal Party’s belief that individual effort is the basis of society rather than collective endeavour and institutions.” But she also sees the differences and the individual new twists.

“Compared with Howard’s elaborated view of the nation, Morrison’s nationalism seems more a matter of gesture than substance: ‘How good is Australia? How good are Australians?’ Exactly what is it that is so good about us?”

Brett’s scepticism is required, for reasons she lays out with characteristic insight.

“Morrison’s exuberant suburban public persona, with his baseball cap and high fives, gives us few clues as to how he will manage the complex demands of office. He is good at messaging and at emoting, but is he good at thinking?”

She notes that, unlike Howard, Morrison doesn’t really have a policy agenda – “and maybe it doesn’t matter”, if he’s able to provide good government when dealing with the policy challenges that are piling up on his watch.

Yet as a result of his unexpected electoral win, Morrison has enormous authority and the confidence that goes with it. Time will tell if they are justified.

Nick Feik

Nick Feik is the editor of The Monthly.

@nickfeik

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