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SSex Marriage, Taxation & Terrorism

Once again, Turnbull has shown that he should not be leader of the Liberal Party. His handling of the Coalition’s policy on same sex marriage failed to recognise that the plebiscite produced substantial opposition (38.4%) to legislation allowing marriage between people of the same sex and that a proportion of those who voted Yes would also have wanted any such legislation to include provisions protecting freedom to express opposition to such marriages for religious reasons alone. Other opponents not necessarily based on religion simply wanted “marriage” to remain as a relationship between a man and a woman and that, whether between relationships of the same gender or even between a man and a woman but not formally married, should be expressed as “partnerships” or in similar vein.

Future of Turnbull & Coalition

So much has been happening since my Commentary last Friday 1 December that it is difficult to sort out what is important and what is not. The surprise improvement in the Coaliton’s polling on 4 December from a negative 45/55 TPP to a negative 47/53 TPP, and in Turnbull’s net satisfaction rating from minus 29 points to minus 25 points, has led some commentators to see this as the start of a recovery for Mr Turnbull (see Crowe on Newspoll). Certainly, by announcing Cabinet approval of the establishment of a Royal Commission into the alleged misconduct of Australia’s banks and other financial services entitiesafter he had previously rejected it on several occasions, Turnbull bought off the threat by a National’s MPto move in Parliament for a public banking inquiry. He also claimed support for the Coalition from the favourable swing of about 12% in Barnaby Joyce’s winning by-election, although he played no part in Joyce’s campaign. And he has been helped by the withdrawal of the threatened resignation by Coalition MP George Christensen (initially kept secret to highlight the “crisis”), who reportedly claimed that Joyce’s win gave the National’s a “reinvigorated leader”.

Qld Election and COAG Meeting Negatives for Turnbull

Although as this is written more than 30% of votes still need to be counted, it now looks almost certain that Labor will be returned and may even have a majority of seats. As the ABC election expert Green says,even if Premier Palaszczuk “falls a seat short, she doesn't have to do any deals. She can leave it to the Parliament to vote her out, because it would be unlikely that all the crossbench would vote against them at once. "It is a fixed-term Parliament — the Government can't just resign and walk out of office and leave someone else to form government — they can't do that, so somebody will form government. "So it is very hard to see how anyone other than Annastacia Palaszczuk can form government in the new Parliament. "They have a certain 46, and they only need one more vote and at the moment we are giving them another two seats on a prediction." (see Labor to Win in Qld Election). Note the failure of One Nation while the Kapper party may get two seats.

Turnbull Which way Which way

Turnbull’s decision to postpone by a week the resumption of Parliament, and his “guidance” to MPs that it should then focus for a couple of weeks on debating the same sex marriage legislation, has not been favourably received. It is widely seen as being an attempt to be “dodge the music” and extend the time at which Parliament would not be considering policy issues. His subsequent speech to the Business Council, where the main message was that his government wants to” ease the burden on middle-income Australians and at the same time return the budget to surplus”, hasn’t been well received either. Turnbull’s explanation (sic) that he is only “actively working” on preventing the otherwise higher tax burden through bracket creep is unlikely to persuade voters that he should stay as leader.

Turnbull’s Playing For Time.

By suddenly announcing that the resumption of Parliament will be delayed until 4 December, Turnbull has postponed by a week the possibility of a defeat on the floor of the Lower House. At the same time, it was indicated that the finishing date for Parliament could now be Friday 15 December, or even later. The stated reason(s) for seeking the extra time are that it may be needed to debate the legislation on same sex marriage and resolve outstanding citizenship issues. Turnbull told The Australian that “ he was ‘very confident’ parliament would pass same-sex marriage legislation before Christmas”. “Parliament absolutely can and I’m very confident it will, and my priority and the government’s priority is to recognise the will of the people is that we should get this done, and that’s what we’re going to be doing everything we can to achieve it before Christmas,” the Prime Minister said. “I think the Opposition have got a similar commitment, so between us I’m very confident we can make it work. “There’ll obviously be a lot of debate, a lot of amendments discussed. That’s what parliament’s for, but ultimately we know we have got a very clear direction from our masters, the Australian people.”

Climate Change & Same Sex Agreements

Available here is an article from the New York Times dated 18 November reporting on the Climate Change Conference held in Bonn over the past fortnight. Such conferences are scheduled to be held every year to assess progress in meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement. The article says that next year “world leaders will meet for a formal dialogue”. Perhaps the most significant “outcome” from the conference is the acknowledgement that “the world’s nations are still failing to prevent drastic global warming in the decades ahead. ‘We need more action, more ambition, and we need it now,’ said Patricia Espinosa, the United Nations climate chief”. The two Open Graphics published in the NYT suggests that the current trajectories of carbon emissions by the EU and the US would need to be drastically lowered in order to have temperatures below 2C degrees by 2030. Graphics for China and India would show a much greater reduction required (of course such graphics are meaningless as there is no co-relationship between changes in emissions and temperatures).

Polling Shows Further Coalition Falls

The announcement of Alexander’s resignation as an MP for Bennelong (and a by-election on December 16), and indications that at least three Labor MPs may be dual citizens as defined under Section 44 of the Constitution, raises a question as to whether Parliament will be functioning for a period as an effective political entity. Of course, after a series of by-elections next year Parliament can again become a body containing all “genuine” Australians. But should it make decisions on policies in the meantime or hold a general election that would bring the dual citizenship issue to a head?