Scott Morrison’s fall and Anthony Albanese’s rise
There is nothing like hindsight to aid a pile-on. And when a leader takes his party to a catastrophic loss, the former colleagues looking to sink the boot in form a long line. And when it later emerges the same leader was assuming their roles behind their backs, that line gets even longer.
In 2022, with the possible exception of Tasmania’s Bridget Archer, the Liberal and National Party MPs dutifully fell in behind leader Scott Morrison, the supposed architect of the surprising election win in 2019.
Mr Morrison’s “miracle” of three years earlier, however, was not repeated, with Labor winning a narrow majority and a host of cross benchers taking seats long regarded as Liberal certainties.
Nikki Savva, a respected journalist who has, in the past, worked for the Liberal Party, has interviewed a number of political players about the election and its aftermath. With a few exceptions, including the surprisingly gracious Western Australia Labor Premier Mark McGowan, the interviewees are scathing in their assessment of Mr Morrison.
Without the constraints of an election campaign forcing them to present a united face, Mr Morrison’s former colleagues go to town on their leader, who is described by veteran MP Russell Broadbent as “an arrogant a—hole”, and who, along with National Party leader Barnaby Joyce, was banned by candidates from a number of electorates in danger. The then Prime Minister had so badly tarnished the party brand that many MPs had how-to-vote signs and flyers that did not mention they were Liberals.
All the Morrison foibles get a mention: his treatment of female colleagues, the odd decision to impose the divisive Katherine Deves on the voters of Warringah, his ill-advised Hawaiian trip, and his pathological lying. However, the later revelations that Mr Morrison secretly assumed several cabinet roles particularly shocked the interviewees, particularly former Treasurer and Teal roadkill Josh Frydenburg.
Ms Savva’s book is not just an amusing collection of anecdotes from enraged former Liberal MPs. She managed to interview Anthony Albanese, the man who unseated Mr Morrison, as well as several of his Labor colleagues who give an insight into the disciplined campaign from a party determined to learn from the failures of the 2019 election under Bill Shorten.