Here’s how the rest of the world covered our latest leadership spill. Picture: Kym Smith
Here’s how the rest of the world covered our latest leadership spill. Picture: Kym Smith

Leadership spill: The world is having a laugh at us

SIX prime ministers in less than a decade. We can't exactly blame the world for being bewildered, can we?

From China to the United States, everyone around the globe seems to be confused by how democracy works in Australia.

In 2015, the BBC dubbed Canberra "the coup capital of the democratic world" after Malcolm Turnbull stole the top job from Tony Abbott.

Two years and 343 days later, Mr Turnbull was in turn being rolled - outwardly by Peter Dutton, with Mr Abbott in the background, and ultimately Scott Morrison, off a failed attempt by Julie Bishop.

 

‘WTF, Australia?’ — rest of the world. Picture: AAP Image/Sam Mooy
‘WTF, Australia?’ — rest of the world. Picture: AAP Image/Sam Mooy

 

On Sunday, the London Times gave us the mother-country's editorial equivalent of spanking us and sending us to bed without supper.

"The protocol of Canberra politics seems to demand that leaders are roasted alive if they show signs of losing support in the heartlands," the article reads.

It notes the important relationship between Australia and Britain, then says: "Friends, however, have the duty to say, as many Australians are saying: 'Mate, your system is dysfunctional.'"

The newspaper blames this partly on our three-year electoral cycles, suggesting the lack of a "settling-in period" for new leaders breeds contempt when legislation isn't passed through fast enough.

It also suggests part of Malcolm Turnbull's ousting was because he was "considered arrogant" and "surrendered too much ground to the left".

 

Malcolm Turnbull is out. Scott Morrison is in. The world is bewildered. Picture: Sean Davey
Malcolm Turnbull is out. Scott Morrison is in. The world is bewildered. Picture: Sean Davey

 

Meanwhile, over in the United States, CNN's Ben Westcott likened Australian political leadership to a "merry-go-round".

"There's never been a more exciting time to be Australian," the report says, quoting Mr Turnbull after he rolled Tony Abbott in 2015. "But it wouldn't be surprising to find Australians longing for those days when their lives were a bit less exciting."

The article notes we're the envy of the world.

"Australia has now gone 27 years without a recession, a record of continuous growth of which dozens of other countries including the United States would be envious," it says.

"Despite that, its political culture can more often resemble that of a coup-prone banana republic."

Similar deal over at The New York Times: "Australians joke that leadership challenges are a national sport, and gambling websites were giving odds and accepting bets. As each candidate entered the field, the odds on bookmaking sites fluctuated."

The Associated Press ran an explainer which Fox News headlined as "How Australians dump their prime ministers".

"It's a new era of political instability that most Australians hate," the article said. "Voters expect that they will get to judge their leaders at the ballot box. Many feel hoodwinked when they go to elections expecting one national leader, then later have another imposed upon them."

 

From China to Britain, everyone had questions about how democracy works in Australia. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
From China to Britain, everyone had questions about how democracy works in Australia. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

 

Even Beijing got in on the action.

Earlier last week, as Peter Dutton was gearing up for a second challenge, China's state media issued a scathing editorial describing him as "a second-rate version of Trump".

The piece, which appeared in the hawkish Global Times newspaper, referenced Mr Dutton's controversial asylum seeker policies, his boycotting of a 2008 national apology to the Stolen Generations and his remarks about African crime gangs in Melbourne.

"This Dutton can be a regarded as a 'semi-Trump'," the editorial said.

It described him as "notorious", saying: "He believes that climate change is fabricated and mocked the island residents in the Pacific Ocean who are facing the loss of their homeland by climate change.

"He is also accused of being 'racist'.

"We can imagine the consequences he will bring to Australia if he is in charge of the country. This is the most embarrassing situation in Australian politics. If such a person is to take charge of Australia, what outcome can be expected now?"

Mr Morrison sought to reassure the public that the Liberal party has reunited for the people. "What Josh [Frydenberg] and I are here to tell you, as the new generation of Liberal leadership, is that we're on your side. That's what matters," he said in his first address as Prime Minister.

But a text message, tweeted by Buzzfeed journalist Alice Workman, begs to differ. "It is not over, fight continues, f**k Scott."

The international spotlight on Canberra may not be dimming just yet.