‘Doubling down’ under

Experts say former prime minister Scott Morrison’s recent ‘doubling down’ screams legacy and ego protection.

Scott Morrison has not apologised to the Australian public. Photo: ABC News.

This week it was revealed Mr Morrison had been appointed as a joint minister to five other ministries including health, finance, treasury, science, energy and resources.

The response from the former PM has been to double down and defend the decision.

ECU psychologist Dr Ross Hollett says a possible reason for ‘doubling down’ and rejecting any fault may be due to what he described as ‘ego protection’.

Dr Ross Hollett says doubling down is rife in politics. Photo: Supplied.

The term ‘doubling down’ originates from a blackjack card game and is defined as ‘engaging in risky behaviour, especially when one is already in a dangerous situation,’ according to the Oxford English Dictionary. 

Dr Hollett says: “Ego protection is a big reason. They’re maintaining some security over their position at least in the short term … which can obviously not really pay off in the long term and that is inevitably what happens.

“The consequences are probably worse than simply having admitted to it initially.

“It is something that we see time and time again and politicians are just ripe fuel for this sort of debate, so you wouldn’t have to look very far to find countless examples of it.”

Listen for more from Dr Ross Hollett.

Reflecting on Mr Morrison’s recent political moves, political analyst Martin Drum says transparency is essential in politics.

“When you are a minister, you are supposed to be accountable for that power and influence and that role you have and your ability to make decisions in that area, but if you don’t tell people you are appointed as minister you can’t be held to account.

“Every minister needs to be accountable to parliament and how can parliament ask questions about a minister when they don’t know who has actually been appointed to that role. The secrecy itself is what’s concerning,” says Martin Drum. 

Curtin professor and director John Phillimore says Scott Morrison wants to keep his reputation and legacy intact by refusing to admit his mistake. Photo: Huia Karaitiana.

Curtin professor and director John Phillimore says Scott Morrison is attempting to keep his reputation intact.

“It’s not illegal, it’s just wrong. There’s not much in it for him. He’s already a backbencher. He is on his way out. He’s trying to basically keep his reputation intact.”    

Listen to more from John Phillimore.

According to Mr Drum, the former Prime Minister’s ministerial appointment were “very irregular”.

“Scott Morrison has tried to frame the appointments as an emergency response to the pandemic but some of the ministerial portfolios he took on were not taken at the outs of the pandemic they were taken later.

“The other problem he’s got is that he’s tried to argue he didn’t exercise those powers but we know at least in one occasion he did so there’s a number of problems for this argument that he’s presented.”

Mr Drum says the doubling down in politics is part of a broader problem.

“We expect people in public life to take responsibility.”

Martin Drum

“He has apologised, in a way, for not telling some of his colleagues, but I think that he spent a lot of time justifying that. 

“People make mistakes in public life and I think they need to own up to them and take responsibility for them.”

Listen to more from Martin Drum.

Mr Phillimore says doubling down is not a trend for politicians, as it the “way politicians have always been”.

“Politicians don’t apologise that often and most people don’t like to admit they made a mistake.

Mr Phillimore says he believes Mr Morrison’s approach was ultimately his undoing.

“It’s one of the reasons I think he actually lost the election. He’s always seen as being pretty stubborn.”

Mr Phillimore says there is a time to apologise and few have been able to succeed.

“Former Queensland premier Peter Beattie made it an art form. He would make a big apology say he really made a mistake and he would really get more support as a result because he was so honest and came up front and said ‘oh I made a mistake’.”

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