Niki Savva is a senior correspondent in the Canberra Press Gallery. She has written for The Australian, Herald Sun, The Age and this is her second book. This week Niki Savva finds herself number two on Booktopia's Australian best selling list. The Road to Ruin's premise is that Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin destroyed their own government by way of their relationship. Very early on in the book she addresses the perception that Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin are having an affair, Savva writes -"this was not meant to imply an affair; it was meant to describe the depth of the dependence, the consuming obsession, and what Abbott was prepared to sacrifice for it". In other words, an inclusive relationship to the exclusion of all others - which ironically sounds more like a marriage than an affair to me.
Savva does make a convincing case that Credlin (the Chief of Staff) was a "bully" and she evidences this through statements by those that witness and/or those on the receiving end. Examples - "it was so loud, with Credlin telling her she was hopeless, useless or incompetent – the usual rant – that others in the office could hear". And again, "Peta had a narrative for everyone in the office, themed around general incompetence and her superior intellect, work ethic and political nous". Whilst the argument is presented that Credlin isn't and doesn't play fair in the sandpit - Abbott is painted as a Credlin appeaser with such quotes as "Government insiders fear he has become psychologically dependent on her, a view supported by the private comments of friends who worry he would feel bereft without her".
The Road to Ruin is not a political thriller, more of a political spiller and hot on the heels of other such political novels such as Aaron Patrick's Credlin & Co: How the Abbott Government Destroyed Itself (which presents the same unhealthy relationship but themed in more good cop/bad cop terms). And prior to those publications but still in the same woe of PM leadership narrative are Rudd, Gillard and Beyond by Troy Bramston and My Story by Julia Gillard - the distinction between the first and the last two being Rudd/Gillard's histories minuted read more like to a slow, painful, bitter divorce than the are they doing it or not?
Should we care enough to read more about these personality focused political books? After all, in the Australian Westminster System we do not vote for the PM - it is the party in power who decides whether the PM has the policy depth, political reach and collective leadership skills to do the job. Given that, perhaps the blame here belongs to those party's in power who give have ignore the essential selection criteria of excellent interpersonal, interrelationship and communications skills that be imperative to the position of leader and hired them despite the obvious lack. Not great human resource management. Actually, that's not the real low point in my view of those political party's recruitment; that view would be when the party's in power seem to justify the rehiring of the a person, despite the fact they previously sacked them?
But there is another reason why we should care and read more about the persons and their happenings in and around that Canberra white house on the hill? Yes because those persons, especially those playing up/out within that inclusive members sandpit are the same people making anti bullying policy, deciding what is consider a lawful marriage relationships, writing industrial relationship/human management laws amongst other things which are personal to you.
So, this winter if you feel like curling up with a book about relationships – this genre maybe for you.
And if you do find you want more of Niki Savva, she often appears on the ABC TV show Insiders and as well on political panels on Sky News. Given Peta Credlin has just announced she too will soon appear on political panels for Sky News – the words may not end with the last word in Savva book.