Australia has had 29 Prime Ministers – some excellent, a few worthy of special mention, many mediocre, some shockers.
I thought that I would rate them while enjoying a wee dram of superb single malt scotch whisky – Lagavulin from the Isle of Islay – as it expands my mind to a splendid level of generosity.
The result is that I rank Malcolm Turnbull at No 19, ahead of Abbott, Rudd and McMahon who shared the wooden spoon.
My reasoning is simple. He has the capacity to become a great PM, but he is a long way short of realising his potential.
Let me state the basis of my calculations.
I have left out Forde, McEwan and Fadden, each of whom served for only a matter of days. This leaves us 26 to chose from.
Listed in order of serving, my top rung consists of Barton, Deakin, Curtin, Chifley, Menzies, Hawke, Keating and Howard.
Ranked just below them are those who performed honourably – Fisher, Scullin and Gillard.
Mediocre were Watson, Bruce, Lyons, Holt, Gorton and Turnbull.
Shockers were Reid, Cook, Hughes, McMahon, Fraser, Rudd and Abbott.
And who was the best of all – Joseph Benedict Chifley.
As Treasurer, he kept Australia solvent and financially viable during the Second World War. This was a hell of a task as he established Australia as a self sufficient manufacturing nation, making most of our own munitions (a situation that has been slowly destroyed by the Prime Ministers who followed him).
As Prime Minister after the war he had to rebuild the nation, find jobs for returning servicemen and establish an affordable system of social security, as well as causing Australia’s first car, The Holden, to be built.
Above all, he was a humble man from a poor family, having earned his living as a train driver. For the whole of his life as an MP, Minister, and Prime Minister he shunned the Parliamentary Dining Room and Bar, to enjoy sandwiches and tea at his desk while working long hours.
When told of Ben Chifley’s death, his Parliamentary rival, Robert Menzies, broke down and wept.
Others did great things.
Barton and Deakin founded the nation and passed hugely important legislation that has served Australia well to this day.
Curtin saved Australia from invasion, while Menzies provided the nation with sixteen years of stability in which the office of Prime Minister was respected, unlike today.
Hawke and Keating organised an economic revolution and the Howard years were ones of prosperity.
The three who deserve honourable mention ruled Australia in difficult circumstances. Fisher was a reformer, Scullin laid the foundations for Australia to survive the Great Depression, while Gillard was our first female Prime Minister who showed us how a minority government could survive for three years despite copping huge personal abuse from Abbott and Rudd.
The rest will be forgotten by history and few will lament.
Right now, two key question confront us.
The first relates to Turnbull’s ability to improve his ranking.
I hope that he can, but at this moment it looks highly unlikely as he has the title of Prime Minister, but not the power that goes with the office.
His party is split ideologically between right and left and he spends his days trying to bring them together instead of governing boldly. There seems to be no plan for the future of our nation in which manufacturing is dying, our transport system is a costly shambles, the nation needs drought proofing and soon we will be hit by the joint impact of climate change and ageing. Above all, we have no idea how to modernise welfare by marrying it with productivity.
The second question relates to who succeeds Malcolm if he continues to fail. There appears to be no candidate who is acceptable to both factions of his Party.
In my view, this will lead to a succession of one term governments as Bill Shorten is not solidly entrenched as ALP leader and voters will keep punishing both sides until one produces a leader of quality.
I have been polling many of my political friends to find out who might eventually emerge as the leader the nation so desperately needs. The consensus seems to be Angus Taylor and Jim Chalmers.
What challenges will they face when they finally reach the top?
It will be to scrap every vestige of both capitalism and socialism which are both utterly unable to meet the needs of modern society which wants a level playing field in which human dignity and justice merge with creative productivity to build a nation which grows as the result of the narrowing of the gap between rich and poor.
Ben Chifley could have handled the challenge?
The door is wide open for his successor to step in.
Yours at large,
If you would like to buy my book on nation builder John Flynn, The Man on the Twenty Dollar Notes, please visit my website everaldcompton.com, click on the book title and complete the order form.
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12 thoughts on “Rating Malcolm”
When I think of a leader I think about herding cats. A leader to me is a person who can get the best out of the people they lead. I think of someone who has a vision for the whole and is a role model in upholding values and beliefs that are good for all. A leader too has to be able to deal with environments – social, cultural, economic and ideological. Some leaders had it easy and others faced unprecedented difficulties. I also think that it is a real problem when leaders are demagogues. Too much power in the hands of too few is something we all should fear. I prefer to look at the achievements of governments in making Australia a better place. Which governments have made Australia a fairer, juster, more compassionate and sustainable place. I have enjoyed reading the comments and thank you for encouraging thought.
Thank you Everald. An interesting run-down! However Iâve always been mystified by those who believe Malcom could be great. Of course heâs intelligent, suave, affable and rich. He won a case or two as a lawyer! Apart from that he knows how to charm and make money. Iâve met him about three times â all showed his mediocrity and inability to heed others. I also worked in the finance industry so know something of his reputation there and his goings on. Heâll never be great because:
Â· He loves himself too much
Â· Lacks balls
Â· Couldnât lead a chook raffle
Â· Cannot command an audience
Â· Has no convictions â other than about himself
Â· Surrounds himself with people who wonât fight him except for Barnaby
I could go on but his uninspiring record speaks for itself. Itâs interesting that the warm, fuzzy green-left rank him high. Perhaps another wee dram might tip your rating? Regards and hope you and Helen are batting better than the Aussie X1 – carlo
Carlo Bongarzoni Associates P/L
9 Russell Street
Clontarf NSW 2093
T/F 9948 8975; 0410 335 523
How true true Brian
Sent from my iPhone
Hi Everald, It is my view, – that the Proposition, – to rate Turnbull or any of of the previously elected Prime Ministers of Australia is Fundamentally Flawed, with respect to a in depth analysis identifying merit, successful management, or leadership credentials – The entire Democratic Parliamentary System at this present time, consistent with other World Governments, has long left behind the outrageously false and misrepresented notion of one man, one vote, and this is reflected in voter responses all over the world. The Political History of Australia, can never be altered or tampered with, as long as hard copy print remains in the World, and would be available somewhere, somehow. – Any Australian Individual, who is not 45 years old, identifies Political Success immediately, – as the capacity to own and subvert the press, locate the funding source for those vested interest who with wealth and influence purchase the priority attention of the representatives, and are quick to respond with data confirming, on the International Stage, that they have evidence of International Banking Cartels, affecting the integrity of the Representative, and fraudulently misrepresenting the precise and accurate will of the voting public. – Of course, to any Individual. who is older than 45 years, this is simply termed “CORRUPTION” – There is no such thing as the SCIENCE OF ECONOMICS, – this illusion vaporized and vanished with the Global Economic Collapse, when it was eventually revealed the national Economies were being underpinned by TAB Corp, type style practices, all condoned by the International Financial Organisations. – No reference to Growth, or profitability, is recorded here – only a presumption that any worth had the predictability of a likelihood, – that it would some how increase in value if you possessed that item. – In any Country that’s referenced in the World today, there would be NOT ONE political leader who has a handle on this. – Factually the response is quite bizarre, they appear to concern themselves with simply OBTAINING access to Global Finance, but still demonstrate no credentials of enterprise talent, – that would assure ANY growth on that capital as investment. I have always wished that someone would be able to clearly set out for me what precisely constitutes the “JOB DESCRIPTION” for a Parliamentarian,because at this time of writing,and by evidence apparent from “ALL” over the world, the revelation is that HR description for this profession is A Job description which has NO job description. – Every Parliamentary Democracy System has its own “Version” of Capitalism, no two are the same, – what would constitute appropriate practice in, say the U.S. . Malaysia or India, is purported to be illegal and against the best interests of Australia. And with that being said, that summarizes almost, most of the Backbone to the Australian Economy, the Opportunity to advance a profit inconsistent with Australian Regulation – Can anyone enlighten me where ANY ECONOMICAL principals or technologies are being applied in this – ? Process. – ECONOMIC MANAGEMENT is the most fraudulent, misused and misrepresented word in Australian Politics today, and NOT ONE OF THE MEDIA AFFILIATES expose this heresy, consequently the majority of ordinary Australians are – AGAIN THE LOSERS. – That being said, I am MORE than aware of Australia’s past Economic successes relating to the UNIMPROVED ? ? ? value of it’s Minerals Boom. I have checked my records but I am unable to find any historical notation citing that ANY particular PRIME MINISTER advocating “Quality Improvement of Our National and Natural Resources” – which is WHERE THE REAL MONEY IS !! presenting this case forward and prioritizing this Economic fact of Life, to meet a completion and conclusion. Quite frankly Everald, I have meet Cab Drivers and Bellhops from all over the World who would have MORE BUSINESS ACUMEN, than any of our Representatives in focus today. AS business professionals, their RESULTS on that stage are scientifically deplorable. My Political View, is that none of the historical Prime Ministers of Australia, who by their commitment or dedication to advance the Cause of Australia for all Australians, has ever happened or occurred yet, each representative has permitted themselves to be tarnished or defiled by some type of alternative prospects, and in so doing, has denied this Nation of Australia the unique and separate distinctive leadership Qualities, that IDENTIFY US as the most PERFECT SCIENTIFIC EXAMPLES OF THE HUMAN CONDITION, contrasted with any other Nation that exists on this Earth, planet or Cosmos ! – LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG on rhetoric, quantum short on integrity, honesty and accountability, would be their appropriate Job Description in my view. – Please suffer my indulgence here. – Dr Barry Marshal, born at Kalgoorlie WA in 1951, is an Australian Physician, was absolutely committed and convinced that H. pylori bacteria caused stomach ulcers – NO ONE BELIEVED HIM, AND THE ENTIRE WORLD OF MEDICINE LABELLED HIM LOONEY TUNES, – THIS Australian, in the face of ALL this criticism and opposition – drank the bacteria himself – developed ulcers within days – continued with his firmly held belief – treated himself with antibiotics – WENT ON TO WIN THE NOBEL PRIZE ! ! ! Out of ANY HISTORICAL PRIME MINISTER SELECTION, find me JUST ONE – who would accept to live UNDER THE LEGISLATION that they have so prudently provided for the majority to observe and live according to, and I will personally endorse your candidate for a nobel prize. In my view the Australian Political Industry( and it most certainly is a business unto itself) associated with all of the parasites that owe their survival to this vexatious monstrosity, would be the greatest HOAX ever attempted on such a scale, to have been suggested on the Australian People at large. My Alternative Proposition which I propose, has already been commented on by your ORGANISATIONS , and it relates the PROVISION OF A SORTITION DEMOCRATIC model of Government, – And if there is any confusion whatsoever, as to what is referenced here, Please do not hesitate to research the current developments that are happening right now in ICELAND, with Their Pirate Party, and the positively previously unheard of level of Global Interest that is being generated by their events. Thank You Everald for your Time.
LOVE your incisive analysis, Everald. Thank you very much. Such reveries of the human mind are priceless. You already know of my struggle to forge an entirely new template or prism by which to engage far more people in the political process—through the dynamic of “CHILD HONORING’.*
By which the needs of the vulnerable, small child are uppermost in the hearts and minds of our civic leaders and planners—and party politics are progressively drained of the intentions and actions of the human ego.Perhaps with the synergy of social media, and the net in general, Australia will yet become a haven for ‘people-growth’ at every stage of their lives, and give real statespeople the support they have to have, in order to do what we expect of them !
* PS The book by the same name is hard to find, but can be sourced overseas. Kind regards to you all, Kevin Kingswell.
I can only personally remember from 1950 when Menzies ruled. The ones after Sir Robert were uninspiriring to be kind and downright disastedous to be candid.
Whitlam was the most disasterous with Liobel Murphy as his AG and the introduction of the Family Law Bill. I think Whitlam was ths PM when the UN Lima Agreement AUS signed up to that agreed to terminate 25% of AUS manufacturing capability that turned out to be 40% and now is 50+%. Whitlam actually broke the country and acted illegally by trying to borrow money from the Arabs.
Howard had vision but was more of a dreamer than a practical visionary. He allowed Turnbull to stay in the cabinet, where he should have kicked him out of the party for his socialistic philosophy. However the Howard years were prosperous for the nation generally.
Bob Hawke bigest mistake was to sign the nation up to the UN’s Declaration of Human Rightz that has led to the current downfall of the Western nations in the world with onerous regulations to pull dowm the non Arab nations. The Arab nations just ignore the UNDHR.
Keating was an uninspiring egotist that achieved nothing notable.
The Rudd was probably mentally unstable consumed sith his own imagined mountain top destiny.
Ms Gillard was a lesson in women decieved . Giving hundreds of millions to various UN funds to continue their destruction of the Western. world and the building up of Islam. A lady quite familiar with domestic conflict but unversed in international politics and obsessed with womens equality.
Tony had some good intentions but was a trifle naive when dealing with professional con men like Malcolm.
The nation has subsequently conveyed its disatisfaction with past Federal performance and the colaberation on a two (coluding ) party system by voting in candidates outsude those two parties.
The future does not look bright with no visible saviours in the wings but times change quickly these days. The greatest hope at the moment is a grass roots lady with honesty and gumption who all the professional pollies hate with a passion. Her name is Pauline Hanson.
Tim, I quite agree with your assessment. Before last election many I spoke with were not going to vote Lib/Lab/Grn as they can see our once proud nation is failing. I hate how we bow down to USA following them somewhat blindly. I don’t agree with FTA’s we should not be selling our world first class produce cheap cheap cheap. Voters are looking for someone, as you say grass roots again. That someone to rise like a Pheonix from the ashes of the 3. I’d like to see more friendly relations with Russia (Pop. 68M) there is a big market for all things grown in Australia. Pauline ?… could be she looks good (for 62) most importantly she listens and is not out of touch like the others. It appears to me Libs are for the wealthy only, Grns would let everyone in to reap Centrelink dry. Lab only for the unions …buggy the rest of us !
Thanks for your viewpoint on our PMs Everald. Much of this makes sense, but I would like to see a more critical examination of the PMs… a good job for good journalism and historians. Throwing light on what makes a good PM would be a huge benefit to future leaders who are now mostly puddling around with their own self esteem getting in the road of effective thinking and action. I agree that Tony Abbott was hopeless, simple minded and out of touch with average Australians bluffing his way on repeated three word statements, effectively dumbing down goverment. I think Rudd had a lot of potential but failed in the personal/relational stakes. Julia Gillard had great strength of character and principle. But it is not entirely the fault of the PM if he or she is successful. I am reminded of the thinking and words of Dwight Eisenhower when he said to his military heads – “Make me a good general” and they did. Feel sorry for Malcolm Turnbull for three reasons: (i) he thinks (like Trump) effective government works well when driven by economic rationalism rather than high ethical principals, (ii) he is surrounded by the greatest bunch of non-talents ever to sit in a cabinet, dragging him down on principled thinking, and (iii) he says too much and does too little.
Keep up with the whisky and inspirational thinking.
I wasn’t around when Ben Chifley was PM but I find it difficult to believe that he would have been as successful as he was in the modern era.
Firstly, he didn’t have to handle the 24 hour news cycle, where every outlet are trying to come up with a scoop around a “gotcha” moment and politics today is much more adversarial and without knowing the man, I don’t know he would have handled that aspect.
Enjoyable article as always, but I must strongly disagree with you on rating Howard as an above average PM. True, the Howard years were ones of prosperity, but not as a result of his prime ministership but of the prevalent economic boom and mining riches. Howard responded by wasting the lot on tax cuts to get himself re-elected. I struggle to think of one single significant infrastructure investment decision in his time, instead, he put in train the privatisation drive and super-expensive higher education disaster from which today’s young generation is so suffering.
Sun 30 October 2016
I don’t know what went wrong. I can read your story on the computer screen.
Yet, when I print it, a big percentage of the letters in words is missing.
All the best.
Peter J Boge
Hello. For once I strongly disagree with you. I really rated Abbott and certainly away ahead of Turnbull . I can’t comment on a lot of the other PMs but if given a real go Aboot would have been a top one.
I have no time for Turnbull. He is such a waffled and no back bone
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