Malcolm Turnbull is Australia’s Prime Minister, not CEO
You know that. I know that. Does he know that? He behaves sometimes like he’s forgotten.
Mr Turnbull’s approach since he took over the leadership of the good ship Australia has been interesting. It looks sometimes like he really believes that he can say: ‘Hey, let’s do this’ and the people around him will rush to get it done.
One example: if Mr Turnbull was CEO, he could say: ‘Henceforth, the states will raise their own taxes to pay for schools and hospitals’ and off everyone would go.
That’s how things work when you’re the boss in business. The CEO makes a decision, and those lower down the ladder scurry away to carry out your orders.
This isn’t business. It’s politics.
As prime minister, Mr Turnbull is required to ask the States to come along for the ride, but they don’t answer to him. They answer to voters. So he has to charm them. Cajole them. Convince them. Cut deals to get things done. None of which he did, or seemed to want to do.
Which brings us to yesterday’s special sitting.
Mr Turnbull has for weeks been telling the Senate to pass the ABCC legislation. It refused. Mr Turnbull now seems not to care all that much, because probably what he really wanted was to have an election.
Why not just call one? Because he wants a new Senate, too. He wants to sack everyone around him, in other words, and make them reapply for their old jobs.
That’s CEO style behaviour, and it may even have seemed like a winning strategy just a few months back, when Mr Turnbull had a solid lead in the polls. Mr Turnbull would be returned to the corner office, with a new, more pliable team.
But Australia isn’t a company. Australia is a country, the citizens of which aren’t powerless.
They can make the Senate worse for Turnbull, not better. They can in fact do whatever they please, right up to — and including — relieving themselves of the boss.
Consider it performance appraisal, except in politics, joyfully, it’s from the bottom up.