Australia needed a strong leader during the pandemic. Instead, we got 9 of them.

When something bad happens to our country, all eyes turn to the Prime Minister.

But COVID-19 has reminded us of the importance of having a leader a bit closer to home, one that is looking after just the four borders of our state or territory, not 25 million of us.

With a landmass of 7,617,930 square kilometres, a leader at the top of Australia can’t possibly, intricately know the needs and wants of the people living at the bottom.

With different climates, socio-economic breakdowns, limitations and cultures, this crisis has given us access to Daniel Andrews, Gladys Berejiklian, Annastacia Palaszczuk, Andrew Barr, Steven Marshall, Peter Gutwein, Michael Gunner and Mark McGowan in ways many of us have never appreciated before.

WATCH: The decisions these leaders have been making in recent weeks have been fraught with danger and sacrifice. Post continues after video. 

Video via ABC

We might not always agree with them. But during last night’s episode of ABC’s Q&A, with just three of the country’s premiers, we got a glimpse into just how hard they’ve been working.

Every single day, they front a press conference to update their people on cases, deaths, outbreaks and restrictions. They’re often doing late night TV or radio interviews, before appearing on our screens for the likes of Today or Sunrise while most of us are still in our pyjamas.

Perplexed we look on and think, did you even get to bed last night?

The answer is largely, no.

premiers australia
Three Australian premiers on Q&A. Image: ABC.

"When we first declared this health emergency in Queensland at the end of January, I don't think I slept for five weeks," Premier Palaszczuk told the ABC audience last night.

While Berejiklian gets attacked daily over the Ruby Princess saga and the deadly outbreak at Newmarch Aged Care in Sydney, Premier Andrews spends his days getting flack for his government's decision to keep schools closed in Victoria.

All topics that should rightly be debated and put under the spotlight.

But as The Project host Lisa Wilkinson pointed out: "Is there something a tad more elevated in the way all the state and territory leaders have conducted themselves throughout this crisis? Generally calm, focused, constructive, and passionate about their constituents?

Yes, our Prime Minister is implementing the big stuff, and is run off his feet and sleepless as well.

But when it comes to actual on-the-ground "flattening" of the curve and working out the nitty gritty of how states and territories will function through all of this, it's our premiers and chief ministers that have been doing the heavy lifting, taking the criticisms but rarely the praise.


Not once did Berejiklian, Andrews or Palaszczuk criticise each other in the hour-long, and at times fiery, program. They did what we needed them to do - remained defiant, confident and calm in the face of adversity, representing their state and making decisions to suit their people, not the Prime Minister.

Interestingly in these socially-distanced times, the term "COVID-crush" has been directed towards several of our premiers and territory leaders, and their constituents seem to be growing ever more fond of the fact that there's someone "looking out for them" on the national stage.

"Are other Victorians getting aggressively protective of our premier whenever Hamish tries to go him? YOU GET YOUR HANDS OFF OUR DAN'S HALO, HAMISH!" wrote one ABC viewer on Twitter.

"I love that Gladys is on the ball at all times," wrote another.

LISTEN: Mamamia Outloud talk covid crushes. Post continues after podcast. 

Largely, the conversation on social media last night was full of praise for the local leaders, despite their inevitable failings and mistakes. After all, leadership during a pandemic isn't going to be perfect.

What was evident during the ABC chat was that while we're all trying to work out the now - putting food on the table, making sure Tommy does his homeschooling, and trying to figure out how many people we're allowed to see on the weekend - our leaders already have one foot in the future.

"We need to have hopefully for the first time in a long time a mature debate where we argue things on their merits and we don't get led down these ideological paths which are usually about cheap politics," said Andrews.

Berejiklian hopes there's room once this is all over for the bipartisan, federal decision-making body in the National Cabinet to remain. It does after all seem to be working pretty effectively so far.

During the bushfire crisis over summer, Australia was craving a leader, which many found in NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.

Thankfully during the coronavirus crisis that's followed, it's not just one leader we've gained - it's nine.

The Prime Minister has largely stepped up to the plate this time, but the state premiers and chief ministers have as well.

They're reminding us why it's so important to have more than one "hero" in a crisis.

Feature image: Getty/Instagram.