OPINION: Political leaders at their best during COVID-19 crisis

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
Scott Morrison and Mark McGowan.
Camera IconScott Morrison and Mark McGowan. Credit: John Koh/The West Australian

Government has really taken on a new profile during this pandemic period.

Well, if you really think about it, I suppose the government or governance is there but minus the political element.

The state of emergency that exists has seen Canberra become somewhat of a hub of necessary discussion and information — the result of balanced opinion.

Well, that is what I have gleaned from machinations during the past couple of months.

I am probably being a bit harsh in regard to the political element, but despite this being the main driver of our Westminster system, at times, subsequent dialogue, has detracted from its effectiveness andreputation.

The spats and, sometimes, trivial debate that echoes across the parliamentary floor, and is rewritten and replayed in the media, combine to create many cringe-worthy events.

I know that is our democracy, but COVID-19 has presented us with a scenario that many people tell me they find very palatable.

The National Cabinet was first convened a couple of months ago, when it was established coronavirus was a national threat.

It uses the Council of Australian Governments model, made up of Prime Minister Scott Morrison, all State premiers and Territory chief ministers.

Remember, Australia is a federation (simply, a combination of separate governments that work together) — often a factor which has led to some unfair criticism of the PM in recent times.

Mr Morrison has to make decisions based on the opinion and desires of State and Territory leaders.

Unlike, the much-feted New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern, Mr Morrison’s decisions are made in an environment which comprises a series of balancing acts.

Last week a poll suggested that 90 per cent of people believed the Government had been doing a good job since the onset of the pandemic.

And this is, in many ways, because of strong leadership.

I recently saw a news report about the Prime Minister’s wife, Jenny Morrison.

It was packaged as a Mother’s Day story but was also an investigation into how Scott Morrison was personally dealing with his horror start to 2020.

When asked how she thought her husband was handling the status quo, Mrs Morrison said she was constantly amazed by his resilience.

And I think that has been a hallmark of many of our leaders during this time.

If a good leader shows he or she is holding it together when things are tough, I believe it resonates.

Premier Mark McGowan is a prime example.

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