The prime ministership remains the main prize in Australian politics, but it is a precarious one. Leadership turnover in recent years has seen more prime ministers rise and fall than at any time since the decade after federation. What explains this volatility?
The Pivot of Power is the second volume in a unique blend of collective biography and institutional history that shows the skills, limitations and passions of incumbents are only part of the story. The ways in which prime ministers thrive and fail are influenced by the resources at their command, the evolving nature of the parties they lead, the daunting public expectations they face under a relentless media gaze, and the challenges that history throws at them. Recent changes in these areas have had a destabilising effect and made the role of prime minister more onerous than ever.
After decades of strong national leadership, the office has rarely seemed quite so confounding as it does for its contemporary holders. The Pivot of Power explains how this has come about. And its rich account of prime-ministerial fortune since the mid-twentieth century yields historical lessons for overcoming the current malaise.