Leading article Australia

ScoMo’s four feathers

19 February 2022

9:00 AM

19 February 2022

9:00 AM

As the two sides of politics marshal their forces and prepare to do battle in polling booths across the nation at some point in May, there is still time for the canny general to revise his strategy in order to maximise the chances of victory.

Back in the Victorian era, white feathers were handed out to those who were perceived to have a cowardly streak in them. Indeed, in the 1902 novel The Four Feathers by A.E.W. Mason, a young officer is handed white feathers by three of his friends and his fiancée due to his reluctance to go and fight in the Sudan.

The protagonist in that instance, Harry Feversham, was played by our own Heath Ledger in a 2002 film of the book, so we trust the Prime Minister won’t be too offended when we offer up our own four feathers to him as we approach the looming confrontation with the forces of Albo and the Greens, enemies every bit as determined and ruthless as the Mahdi and his rebel forces were when it came to attacking General Gordon.

Courage is a key component in leadership and in winning, and of course voters tend to respect those who show courage rather than cowardice in the face of adversity.


With only a matter of some fourteen weeks until the federal election is due (that is, unless Scott Morrison panics and opts for a half-Senate election in May, followed by a House of Reps election later in the year), there is still time for Mr Morrison to show courage by changing his strategy – and preferably his strategists.

The first white feather is for the Prime Minister’s pathetic refusal to remove the ban on nuclear energy in this country. As we argued on this page a year ago, if the government wanted a sure-fire weapon with which to wedge and annihilate Labor and the Greens, a commitment to revoking the nuclear moratorium in order to reduce carbon emissions and spur investment in nuclear technology and resources would have been unbeatable. But the Prime Minister took the coward’s route, promising to achieve net zero by 2050 relying on the unproven fantasy of green hydrogen. There is still time for the PM to rectify this, and to go to the election promising to embrace nuclear power in precisely the same way he abruptly chose to embrace nuclear submarines.

The second white feather is for the aforementioned rushed and ill thought-through commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Again, it is now clear this decision was driven by cowardice and little else. Mr Morrison and his advisers were spooked by the treacherous ‘modern’ Liberals and tricked into believing that a commitment to net zero was being demanded by powerful vested interests overseas – and that without it the ‘modern’ Liberals would most likely lose their seats. On both scores, the Prime Minister was betrayed. Heading to Glasgow to announce this astonishing U-turn, which broke his major election-winning commitment of 2019, the Prime Minister and his team were instead mocked and ridiculed by those abroad and returned to find the cashed-up climate and renewables lobbyists even more determined to unseat those same bedwetting Liberals (the same mob who then revealed their true colours last week by crossing the floor to vote with Labor). Meanwhile, as around the world a cold winter and multiple energy crises have seen everyone from the British to the Chinese re-embracing fossil fuels and the French re-embracing nuclear power, it is clear that the fraudulent boasts of the green/renewables investors are rapidly coming unstuck. Had Mr Morrison instead been brave and stood up to the likes of Dave Sharma and Trent Zimmerman by reminding them that he would never break his commitment to the quiet Australians who voted him in, and refused to participate in the nonsense of Cop26, he would have earned the respect and undying loyalty of the very people he needs to stay in power.

The third white feather is given to Mr Morrison for his pitiful cowardice in the face of Covid. Following his brave and correct decision to close the international borders back in 2020 (supposedly only for a couple of weeks in order to ‘flatten the curve’), the Prime Minister turned to water, firstly by setting up the National Cabinet, (thereby gravely undermining his own authority in order to dilute his accountability) and secondly by repeatedly refusing to use the authority of his position to condemn the excessive use of force and the draconian measures of the Labor premiers. This cowardice culminated in grovelling to the WA Premier and supporting his ludicrous border closures.

And the fourth white feather is for the truly disgraceful cowardice on the issue of mandatory vaccinations –proclaiming on the one hand that the Commonwealth wasn’t imposing them but refusing to lift a finger to rein in those states and businesses that are.

Harry Feversham found his courage when it came to the crunch and won back the heart of his fiancée.

Will the Prime Minister find his own courage before it’s too late – and take decisive action to win back the hearts of the quiet Australians?

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