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Canberra Today 20°/23° | Tuesday, December 7, 2021 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

We follow leaders, who follow not lead

“‘Followship’ also applies to the influencers. Influencing political action is a carrot-and-stick tool used by organisations such as the mining industry,” writes political columnist MICHAEL MOORE.

INTERESTING political insights from our neighbourly Ken Behrens are not uncommon. Chatting over a glass of red about the bereft state of political leadership, came the “Doctrine of Followship”. 

Michael Moore.

The reason for the failure of leadership in this country, the argument was put, is that our “so-called” leaders are really followers. Examples flooded from those, grateful for the end of lockdown, who were gathered around the table. 

The most blatant current issue is how Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been dragged kicking and screaming to recognise that he really must do something about climate change. 

The Conservatives in the UK, even before Prime Minister Boris Johnson, recognised the need to take serious action. The President of the US and Prince Charles had to cajole our Prime Minister into attending the COP26 Climate Change Meeting in Glasgow.

There is a reason that the hashtag #Scottyfrommarketing has become so popular. The Prime Minister has used all his marketing skills to smooth the way for him to travel internationally to attend the COP26. Actually, on the two days before, he is attending the G20 meeting in Rome. Most developed economies in the world understand the importance of protecting our planet and have worked to persuade our Prime Minister to follow their lead. 

So why have the Liberals and the Nationals been so reluctant to show genuine leadership in an area that has overwhelming support from so many Australians? 

Under the “Doctrine of Followship” it is not just “leaders” as “followers”, there is also the money trail to follow. How much has been donated to political parties by the fossil-fuel industry? 

Why do the Nationals so slavishly follow the demands of the mining sector, even when it flies in the face of agricultural issues? The Farmers’ Federation makes no bones about the devastating impact of climate change on soils, crops and livestock. 

And yet the “followship” of the Nationals remains reluctant to represent these views and take climate issues seriously. How many droughts, floods and fires are needed to persuade them?

Following the money is one thing. “Followship” also applies to the influencers. Influencing political action is a carrot-and-stick tool used by organisations such as the mining industry. Donations are a great support for political parties. But woe betide the “follower” who does not do the bidding of the mining industry. In 2010 mining industry representative, Mitch Hooke, orchestrated a campaign that defeated the proposed resources super profits tax and toppled Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. 

The message has been clear, when it comes to the mining industry, even  Liberal Prime Ministers need to follow the lead of the mining industry. 

On another issue. Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the famous statement that COVID-19 vaccination “is not a race”. How much of our time in lockdown across half of Australia has been based on the early reluctance of Australians to be vaccinated? 

Instead of showing leadership in encouraging the uptake of AstraZeneca, his government followed the media encouraging Australians to wait until the Pfizer vaccine was available.

The government simply followed the media exacerbating concerns about a tiny percentage of adverse incidents. 

Where was the leadership extolling the sensible reports and assessments by the government’s own Therapeutic Goods Administration? 

The weekly COVID-19 safety report for the first week of June, for example, indicated the likely number of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) cases in Australia associated with AstraZeneca minimal. There were just 2.6 cases per 100,000 vaccines in people under 50 years and 1.6 per cent per 100,000 for those who are 50 or over – a tiny percentage compared to the danger of the disease.

Speculating on genuine leadership from the Prime Minister on vaccination, what would have been the impact regarding sickness and death, the months of lockdown and the effect on businesses and the economy.

 What was really apparent, observing the national cabinet, was that leadership was coming from the states and territories while the Prime Minister was practising the “Doctrine of Followship”.

These are just two examples of the Ken Behrens’ concept of this “Doctrine of Followship”. 

There are many others. However, a key question was raised over the glass of red. How much is it our own fault in that we vote for “followers” rather than “leaders”?



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Michael Moore

Michael Moore

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One Response to We follow leaders, who follow not lead

Klaus Inveen says: November 3, 2021 at 11:24 am

We are forced to vote for “followers” because we can’t find any “leaders” in the political environment. So much for democracy.


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