Flat White

Wish him naught as we wave him goodbye

27 January 2017

7:16 AM

27 January 2017

7:16 AM

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David Morrison crawled away from his Australian of the Year role as he performed it, self-aggrandising, unapologetic and intellectually irrelevant.

Good riddance except credit where credit is due as he finally made some concession to those he should have been representing all along by acknowledging Legacy and the Salvos.

It was a pity he studiously ignored the demographic from which he emanated except to declare, “I am an Australian soldier — always”.

That proud, unforgiving audience holds an entirely different view.

Never mind the so-called glass ceiling which Morrison has so vigorously promoted, his glass jaw was always going to be his undoing and so it proved.

His legacy as AOTY is the role is forever diminished, destroyed by some perceptions.

His successor, Griffith University Gold Coast emeritus Professor Alexander McKay-Sims seems to be an entirely different person.

He has a hard task to restore the role’s national esteem.

It possibly helps his life work has been to improve lives rather than destroying them and their careers, as was the Morrison example.

As AOTY, Alexander McKay-Sims is likely to lead by example rather than ideological compulsion.

A perspicacious military observer once wrote, “Leadership is not just about compulsion.


“It is also about persuasion and example.

“It is most importantly about communications, explaining to subordinates what you expect of them, and listening to their needs.”

Morrison failed on all those criteria both as army chief and AOTY.

He was a haranguer rather than a listener, dictatorial not persuasive.

As army chief, he ruled by threat and punishment, particularly when he felt his authority and reputation were at risk.

His personal “leadership” style was, ‘do as I say or suffer my consequences’.

He trampled personal relationships, including some who had loyally supported him.

Think Cate McGregor, born on the same day.

Morrison’s self-interested ambition totally destroyed what had been a mutual, reciprocal friendship.

Unlike most of his AOTY predecessors, Morrison has been a media non-entity for several months despite desperate attempts to promote him.

His strange utterances, media aggression and ideological irrelevancy have been an embarrassment to a role which should be a national inspiration.

Morrison has not only failed to inspire, he has diminished the role and its reputation.

Hopefully, he will now sink without trace, though the AOTY role for him has been a long job application.

He will get little support from the defence community from whence he came.

When he could have, should have, he gave zero support to veterans who hoped he might have highlighted those issues that bedevil them.

That has not been his style until now when on ignominious departure he thinks there might be some personal advantage.

The Salvos have followed Australian soldiers wherever they have served, with non-judgmental compassion, understanding, a cuppa tea and a friendly ear.

Not to mention chewing gum, writing paper, envelopes and stamps.

Legacy has supported military widows and orphans since the aftermath of World War I, when returning diggers understood their mates who perished or those who would die early from the consequences of their service would leave an ongoing obligation they had to bear.

Morrison has never openly supported either of those ideals until now as he faces national and personal irrelevancy.

Guys, it’s time to give him and his ridiculous opinions the finger.

Hopefully, we will never endure his like again.

Ross Eastgate is a Queensland based commentator on political and military affairs.

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