Leadership has become the principal lingua franca of politics. Prime ministers now occupy the center of the nation’s political universe. But what are the causes and implications of the sharpening of prime ministerial power? Is untrammeled leadership consistent with democracy? And how is it related to the growing incumbency advantages enjoyed by governments? In this important appraisal of recent Australian political life, James Walter and Paul Strangio analyze the performances of five prime ministers (Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating and Howard) against the background of institutional changes to the political system that have been in train over the past three decades. The authors also look forward, to ask whether a new prime minister, such as Kevin Rudd, would reverse these trends, and to suggest ways to counter the detrimental vogue for leadership-centric politics.