Abbott’s further fall in polling, coupled with the Liberal Coalition’s loss in Victoria, raises a serious question viz how can he recover with the Senate as it is?
Bolt suggests Abbott needs to be “very alarmed” (see below Victorian election 2014: Be alert PM, and very alarmed) and he draws particular attention to the problem the Victorian Liberals faced when “Shaw turned Parliament into an almost unworkable circus” and draws a parallel with the problem faced by Abbott “with Clive Palmer, Jacqui Lambie and the independents…” And “How voters hate that kind of carry-on”.
Abbott’s position in the Federal Parliament is made the more difficult by being blamed by sections of his own party for the adverse effects on Victorian polling from the seemingly harsh Federal budget. But rather than whingeing about the reduced funding caused by budget cuts, the Victorians should have thrown their full support behind the required ‘tough’ budget and accepted that, as part of a federation, they are sometimes required to lower state spending levels to accommodate reduced federal funding.
In Victoria’s case there was scope to remove some of the considerable existing barriers to improved efficiencies (prevented by unions) and reductions in spending levels would not then have prevented continued improvements in standards of state services. Instead, Victorians now face the prospect of a Labor government which promises increased support for public employees without the productivity increases which the Victorian Budget required. One of those will be an attempt to legislate the (union) “required” nurse/patient ratios.
Now, Victorian Liberals are reported to be trying to find a “grey haired mongrel to do the things that need to be done”. But would even a mongrel take on the job of trying to have a really liberal party in the State? Even after the detailed analysis I did in the late 1980s of the deterioration in comparative levels of state services under Labor (which seemed to be missing in this election), it was difficult to obtain support for the small government philosophy.
One report suggests that Abbott intends himself to take over the negotiation of budget proposals with the Senate. While that seems to confirm the need for a reshuffle, the Coalition’s position in the Senate is so weak that it is difficult to see that Abbott could succeed. Perhaps he will come away with a recognition of the need for a double dissolution.