The questioning of Turnbull’s performance continues apace with the Financial Review editorialising under the heading “PM must break free of populists” and Andrew Bolt arguing that “It takes Turnbull a year to do nothing” (relevant articles by James Brickwood and Andrew Bolt). Such critiques have not yet reached a crisis point but they (and others) are increasing and no substantive response emerges. The editorial provides an indication of the concerns being expressed – “his decisiveness proved rushed”, “he was plainly wrong” and “Turnbull needs to more vigorously set out the undeniable case for the legislative trigger for the double dissolution election”. Not surprisingly, Bolt goes even further with “is it also because Turnbull really is a Labor cuckoo in a Liberal nest”, “has done absolutely nothing of real value” and for how long can Liberal MP’s “afford to cling to Turnbull. How long can Australia”.
Related to that, we are told that the next election may be less than three years ahead. That is partly a consequence of the double dissolution with half the Senate now having only three years to function and the Constitution requiring that half to be subject to election before July 1 2019. The Australian’s election expert, Phillip Hudson, says “the most likely option is for Turnbull to call a March 2 election immediately after Australia Day in 2019”. But, even leaving aside the possibility of an earlier loss of confidence in the Reps, he also canvasses a possible election in about two years (see “Next Election in March 2019?”). Interestingly, Hudson reminds us that before the next election Turnbull will almost certainly have to twice send voters to the polls –for a plebiscite on same sex marriage and a referendum on indigenous recognition in the Constitution. My guess is that come health or high water Turnbull will seek to remain in office for as long as possible before calling an election for the Reps and will use those two polls as part of an attempt to justify that.
Meantime, we have the ongoing debate about how seriously we should treat extremist Islam. Jennifer Oriel draws attention in this article on Islamic Philosophy (my title) to one of the major problems being the refusal of religious leaders to recognise the seriousness of the threat. She rightly argues that, even after the recent killing of a Catholic priest in a French church and the discovery that several Catholic churches are on an Islamic hit list, the Pope effectively dodged the issue. In an analysis which is well worth reading she concludes that “if the West is to survive the 21st-century war with Islamist terror, we must adopt a zero-tolerance policy towards jihadists and their ideology”.