Newspoll & Next Six Weeks

Turnbull’s Failure to Lead Confirmed by Newspoll

The Turnbull government has succeeded in obtaining personal income tax cuts and Shorten has had to back-flip on his promise to repeal any tax cut for 20,000 businesses. What more did Turnbull need to put the Coalition ahead in Newspoll after 35 negative results and to improve its chances in the July 28 by-elections?

Yet Newspoll rose only one percentage point to 49/51 on a TPP basis and would lose the election if now held. As Kenny pointed out on Saturday, “the Coalition has been unwilling or unable to effectively attack the Opposition leader” (Inquirer, 1/7). Sure, Turnbull has improved his net satisfaction rate but, as The Australian’s political editor says today,

“on current numbers, the Coalition is still a long way from being able to win an election. At 49-51 and with the nominal loss of its already slim majority, the Coalition loses uncomfortably. And nothing seems to be shifting the dial of popular opinion. A point won one week is a point taken away in the weeks that follow. At best it is incrementalism… There was every hope that the Coalition would get to a game-changing 50-50 this week. Having legislated $144 billion in personal income tax cuts, the government rolled into the last sitting week of parliament before the winter break skating on an historical political victory and policy achievement.

Shorten then obliged Turnbull by blowing himself up with a captain’s call on repealing company tax cuts — an issue measurably less popular than personal income tax cuts. The result? A single point change in Newspoll. Company tax cuts are more popular than the government. One has to wonder what the government can possibly do to lift its fortunes if events of the past two weeks can’t.(see OZ on Newspoll).

The Next Six Weeks

The next six weeks when Parliament is “on leave” is a period that demands a major policy re-assessment by the Coalition. Opportunities exist to more clearly distinguish itself from Labor and that appears to require giving Abbott a second chance. Today he has indicated that he is available (see Abbott Available to Lead)

The first priority for the next six weeks is to announce a major revision in NEG and in Australia’s emissions reduction target for 2030. That would be consistent with the de facto decision of many countries to allow emissions to grow at a faster rate than their target or to follow the US’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement. A decision to follow that made by Trump would confirm our alliance and bring back into the Coalition’s fold the many who reject NEG. With Abbott as our leader, our US alliance would also move in the right direction.

The fold which is sceptical of NEG includes many in the National party and, while only a few Liberals appear to oppose NEG, that situation could change quite quickly if the new leader draws on advice from Australian scientists and others who are sceptics. A new head of Prime Minister and Cabinet would also help.

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