Opinion

No-go ScoMo

By James Bennett

If Prime Minister Scott Morrison were to be graded for his handling of the bushfires he'd be lucky to scrape an E+.

Even right-wingers and his staunch supporters must admit he's failed badly and should be embarrassed.

As PM it's his job to lead the nation during this type of crisis.

A reasonable person understands it's not his job to stand there with a hose, but his body language and leadership when meeting people who have lost their homes must be compassionate and compelling, respectively.

He should have postponed his Christmas holiday until things had settled down.

Everyone deserves a holiday, and he'll always cop flack for going on any sort of a holiday but the timing just beggars belief.

It could have helped his popularity to make an announcement that he was going to wait a couple of weeks before jetting off in the ‘ScoMo Express’ to Hawaii.

Soon after returning from the Pacific, his Twitter posts were appalling. They came across as if he was Superman, having flown straight from the Lodge to comfort bushfire victims.

At least he was tanned for the occasion.

This was followed by the heckling Mr Morrison received just after New Year.

It's understandable people were frustrated but it would have been better to see him at least attempt to defuse the situation. It was bizarre watching the leader of our country walk away in total silence, hands in pockets, with a smirk.

If he'd tried to talk reason to them and admitted he'd stuffed up, Mr Morrison would have saved face if they kept abusing him.

But things have worsened, and on Sunday it was revealed on the Today television program that Mr Morrison had announced 3000 army reservists would help fight the fires without first advising the NSW RFS Commissioner.

You'd think, as the man once head of Australian Tourism — which focuses on marketing — that he could handle the bushfire situation better.

One can draw comparisons of other world leaders during a crisis.

Fans of The Crown now know the Queen's biggest regret during her reign was her delayed visit to the Welsh village of Aberfan after the coal tip disaster that claimed 144 lives in 1966.

The world watched George W Bush's frozen statue look during the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States in 2001, and again a slow response after Hurricane Katrina smashed into New Orleans and nearby areas in 2005.

Scott Morrison tours a destroyed farm in Sarsfield last week. Picture: (AAP/James Ross) 

Based on social media posts, Australia wants the head of ‘Scotty From Marketing’ on the chopping block. People are saying he's not fit to be the prime minister. ``Lead you f###w#t!!!” as Bette Midler put it on Twitter.

However, is that what we really want?

Have we forgotten the past decade of five prime ministers? Are we going to start this decade with another leadership spill and a whole bunch of #auspol tags?

Worryingly, it's slim pickings for who the Liberals can choose as ScoMo's successor.

Julie Bishop is no longer there, the Coalition will be voted out if Peter Dutton or Angus Taylor are selected and the party's best option, Marise Payne, is a senator.

That leaves Josh Frydenberg and maybe Greg Hunt. Maybe.

As much anger as the public has expressed and even with mounting pressure from the media towards the PM, it's still hard to see anyone demanding a new leader.

The next federal election is three years away, so the government has no option but to ride the wave.

There is anger and bitterness towards Mr Morrison and the Liberal Party and those wounds might never heal in some conservative parts of the country.

Could Mr Morrison resign? Yes, but that would be just as disastrous.

In the case of leadership within politics, the best test is how things are handled when the going gets tough.

As Mr Morrison rides this dumping wave, he's also avoiding the circling sharks.

He failed when the going got tough; but the next text is how he recovers, and — luckily for him — he has three years to do it. We're watching.