Scott Morrison recently overtook Julia Gillard to become Australia's 14th longest-serving Prime Minister. He has now served longer that Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd.
Lately, Morrison has been subject to leadership criticism over Australia's COVID response. Much has been mere politicking and quite unfair.
The ABC reported Labor MP Julian Hill as saying: "His incompetence. His failure. His refusal to take responsibility. His blame shifting. His shape shifting. It's always too little too late." Surely the Australian voting public isn't that dumb? Let's go right back to the beginning.
Australia was saved from COVID's first wave because Morrison recognised that we were facing a pandemic. While the UN dithered, Morrison closed our borders. Morrison banned flights from Wuhan.
Morrison's leadership stemmed the outbreak. The Ruby Princess only served to highlight that health is a state responsibility.
Lockdowns began. I loved the priorities of some on the left of politics. This one from Sydney Morning Herald columnist, Jenna Price, on March 27, 2020, was a beauty.
"There is another casualty of coronavirus, and that's sex. Now is a good time to love the one you're with, as Stephen Stills sang in 1970. Connecting in that close, physical way will be a lot harder for the Tinder generation, because we still don't get corona test results as quickly as we get the results for sexually transmitted infections. Bound to improve."
More understandable was the lament about income. Morrision showed a quick grasp of the situation, with various income and business support schemes - and the budget debt.
At this point it's worth noting that Morrison is no one-man-band. He is backed by a very calm and competent team. Stand-outs in the COVID crisis are Josh Frydenberg and Greg Hunt. With few deaths (except for Victoria), Australia seemed to be in a good position. Some overseas commentators described Australia as defeating the virus.
Meanwhile, fervent work was being undertaken to put us at the head of the queue with potential vaccine providers. As things turned out, that was probably a saying Morrison wished he hadn't uttered.
This was a time of great uncertainty. There were 160 candidates for a COVID vaccine. Few would make it into production.
Morrison put faith in AstraZeneca and the Queensland University vaccines. Backing the Queensland vaccine wasn't silly, because Australia led the field with vaccines for SARS-type viruses in the early 2000s.
Locking in a deal for AstraZeneca and the homegrown Queensland vaccines, as the ABC reported on August 18, 2020, was a wise decision because Morrison wanted vaccines to be made in Australia.
By September 6, Michelle Grattan on The Conversation was saying agreements with "the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca and the University of Queensland/CSL would provide more than 84.8 million vaccine doses, almost entirely manufactured in Melbourne." Part of this deal was for supplying vaccines to help Pacific countries.
AstraZeneca was approved for emergency use in Britain.
The QU vaccine failed in trials. Morrison had also negotiated options on Pfizer, Moderna and Novavax, with Novavax agreeing to supply 40 million vaccine doses and Pfizer/BioNTech to provide 10 million doses.
Their vaccines were yet to be proven safe and effective. None had been shown to work at that stage.
"In July, (2020) Pfizer got a $1.95 billion deal with the government's (Trump's) Operation Warp Speed ..." to develop a vaccine, The New York Times reported. The Presidential election was held on November 3. However, Pfizer chose to wait until November 9, just days after Trump's defeat, to release its new vaccine. Dirty politics?
I believe much of the vaccine criticism directed at Morrison is dirty politics, too. Annastacia Palaszczuk's undermining of AstraZeneca illustrates that point.
Pfizer emails about invitations in June/July 2020 obtained by the SMH last week are not a story. See above - Pfizer hadn't developed a saleable vaccine at that time.
It was unfortunate that Australia's volume orders were placed with Moderna and Novavax. They are only just being delivered now. If they had been developed quicker, we would have been head of the queue!
Morrison's recent actions to obtain more vaccines should be applauded. He has done all that could be expected of a leader.