At a time when Australians desperately need competent, proactive government, we have platitudes about respecting the Omicron virus, mixed messages from state and federal officials, and a perception that policymakers are rewriting their pandemic rule book on the fly.
It doesn’t have to be like this. In part, it’s all a result of personal, political failures. Despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s desire to cast himself as a Teddy Roosevelt-style fixer, his lack of meaningful vision, image-focused approach to politics, and fixation on the short term has left Australians floundering through this latest chapter of the COVID crisis.
But much of the incompetence is deeper, and more structural in origin. As Bernard Keane argued in Crikey this week, a government of diminished capacity and a public service devoted to serving the interests of that government rather than providing frank and fearless advice has left us with leadership that just isn’t very good at getting stuff done.