Acting PM Michael McCormack failed at his one job

Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The brief for an acting prime minister at this time of year includes this simple priority: don't stuff up the boss's holiday.

While the nation takes a summer break, there is little public appetite for political controversies. It's why a studied silence descends on MPs from Christmas until late January, when many Australians tune out of the news cycle.

As Scott Morrison takes a week off, he might have hoped for his deputy to play matters with a straight bat while national attention was largely averted from politics.

If he did have such hopes, he could be forgiven for some exasperation about the performance of Nationals leader Michael McCormack this week.

In a way, the acting PM had one job. He failed to minimise unwanted focus on the Coalition, and compared the storming of the US Capitol with Black Lives Matter protests against racial injustice.

To what gain for the government? Mr McCormack has succeeded in heightening scrutiny of the Coalition, especially the behaviour and views of its backbenchers.

Challenged on his comparison of the insurrection to Black Lives Matter protests, he doubled down on Tuesday and took an abrasive tone saying Amnesty International had feigned indignation in protesting his comments.

Mr McCormack said "all lives matter", a highly-charged phrase used to attack racial justice campaigning, and one that's been favoured by the likes of One Nation.


There are any number of ways the acting Prime Minister could have acted to help console the nation following the shock of the attack on democracy in Washington, D.C. last week.

It would have been easy for Mr McCormack to leave people in no doubt what the Coalition government thought about those violent scenes.

Instead, he's stoked questions and confusion about its views.

This story Acting PM Michael McCormack had one job this week, and failed first appeared on The Canberra Times.


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