Sat. May 18th, 2024

Yesterday’s National Press Club address proved once again why Laura Tingle is so revered by many Australians and I dare say despised by so many members of the Liberal Party in Canberra.

One of the nation’s top journalists and President of the National Press Club, Laura Tingle lit up twitter feeds when she asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison if he wanted to apologise to the Australian people for the mistakes he has made as Prime Minister.

The poignant and cutting question covered (quite directly) some of the Prime Ministers most dire political blunders since the beginning of his leadership: from holidaying in Hawaii during the bushfires, to the lack of supply for Rapid Antigen Tests to the failure to fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

I have a great deal of respect for Laura and always look forward to hearing her hold those in positions of power to account.

The Prime Minister once again however failed to answer this question with any humility whatsoever, instead stating that he didn’t “think Australians expect perfection”.

This was right before he thanked Tingle for the question then proceeded to ignore the entire premise of that question.

Morrison attempted to highlight positive reforms implemented to help Australians navigate the Covid-19 pandemic including JobKeeper (which whilst a good reform while it lasted failed to go far enough and ended far too soon).

However, this attempt at subterfuge did little to impress the Press Club President.

I dare say Tingle’s response upon being told Morrison had answered the question fully (when in fact he hadn’t) made the Prime Minister squirm in his seat.

I find arrogant men have a tendency not to like being held to account by strong women.

Now that is what I call real journalism.

Holding those in power to account and calling it out when that power is abused.

I’ve heard some people say that we should stop harassing Scott Morrison.

That we should let him get on with the job and that he is doing the best that he can.

That he deserves respect.

But the last time I checked respect is earned and should not be given purely because of the position someone holds.

Tingle’s questions were demonstrative of exactly what Morrison lacks: humility.

They also showed one of Morrison’s most prominent qualities: arrogance.

I am so glad that someone in the Press Club had the courage and professionalism to hold Morrison to account.

That is after all the point of the media in a democracy such as Australia.

Over the course of Scott Morrison’s Prime Ministership the media have been firmly cemented in two camps: those who hold the government to account and those who do not.

Those who do are deemed aggressive and irrational.

Those who don’t are firmly rewarded.

Gee that sounds familiar. But let’s leave that for another day.

I really want to say I feel this is indicative of the looming federal election.

But this kind of behaviour has been a constant from the moment Morrison snuck into the Prime Ministership.

Much like one of his predecessors Tony Abbott, Scott Morrison seems to have a distinctive inability to pivot his leadership style from that of an Opposition Leader to that of a Prime Minister.

The constant attack dog politics; aggression and repetitive slogans scream a sort of anguish that is demonstrative of someone who is desperately trying to sell a narrative that just doesn’t stack up in reality.

And yet it is almost time for another election.

So I’m going to second Laura Tingle’s question to the Prime Minister.

Do you want to say sorry Scott Morrison?

Because no, things don’t always “go exactly right” and no, Australians don’t “expect perfection”.

But we do expect reliable, responsible, and honest leaders.

We do expect (as Laura’s question demonstrated) our leaders to be there when it counts; to act on issues of importance and support those in need.

We expect leadership; humility and empathy.

And they aren’t the attributes I think of when I listen to Scott Morrison.

By Melissa Marsden

Melissa Gillian Marsden is a passionate advocate for social justice and a self-confessed political junkie. After being diagnosed with with a life long, life threatening medical condition six weeks after birth she knew from the beginning that fairness and equality are notoriously contested and complex issues. Read more on my 'About Me' page.