Today’s article by The Australian’s political editor Dennis Shanahan argues that Morrison still has a last chance and points out that “in late 1992 and early 1993, the Keating government hopelessly trailed John Hewson’s opposition. In February 1993, the Coalition led Labor 53.5 to 46.5 on a two-party-preferred basis in Newspoll.On election day, March 13, Labor pipped the Coalition 51.4 per cent to 48.6 per cent and Keating remained prime minister. The key to this dramatic turnaround was that voters became wary of Hewson and his radical tax plans” (see Last Chance – Can Morrison do a Keating?).
There are other last chancer wins, in politics and elsewhere.
In the UK, after Thatcher’s “resignation” John Major became PM and Leader of the Conservative party from 1990 to 1997. But with the Conservatives consistently behind in polls, and despite repeated calls for an immediate general election after he became Prime Minister, it wasn’t until April 1992 that he called an election. Major then took his campaign onto the streets, famously delivering many addresses from an upturned soapbox, and winning the election with the then highest popular vote ever recorded but a (much-reduced) majority of 21 seats, the fourth consecutive victory for the party. During his period in office Major sacked Chancellor of Exchequer Lamont and Major’s attempt to stave off critics calling for an election was famously headlined in May 1995 in The Independent as “John Major’s Last Chance Saloon”.
Morrison has a bigger polling gap than Keating and (probably) than Major. And he has had to cope with Turnbull attempting to undermine the Liberal party. But it now appears that Turnbull has lost much of his capacity to influence “moderates”. His closest colleague, Craig Laundy, is telling him to go quiet (see Laundy Tells Turnbull to Shut Up), and Morrison’s success in having climate sceptic Craig Kelly pre-selected for the next election scheduled in May (I incorrectly said March a couple of weeks ago), considerably reduce Turnbull’s role of influence. Like Lamont under Major there may now have been a de-facto sacking of Turnbull under Morrison.
Andrew Bolt argues that “don’t think he’s finished with the Liberals. This war is to the knife”, ie Turnbull is another last chancer. But he acknowledges that Turnbull is losing support from moderates such as Nick Greiner, who he (Turnbull) had nominated to be Federal President (see Bolt on Turnbull’s History).Reports elsewhere also suggest that moderates may have given up Turnbull.
I have argued that Morrison should make a statement which, in effect, says that Turnbull’s policies are not his (Morrison’s) policies. But he still has a good way to go with modifying his energy policy alone. His latest comment has been made about Queensland’s state owned power companies and the dividend “stripping” that state has been doing (see PM waves ‘Big Stick’ at Energy Giants). Morrison’s confinement of his comment to a state-owned power company might indicate that he has started to recognise that the difficulty of reducing electricity prices requires, as a start, modifying federal policies on emissions/renewables. Whatever, much still needs to be done to allow reduced prices.
A start could be made by linking a modification of Australia’s emissions/renewables targets to the failure of countries to stop emissions from rising, let alone reducing them. The Australian’s Environment Editor says that “a major report by the Global Carbon Project has found emissions were expected to rise by 2.7 per cent this year following a rise of 1.6 per cent last year after a three-year hiatus. The report, published in the journals Nature, Earth System Science Data and Environmental Research Letters, says emissions remain a long way from peaking, with coal use in China locked in for decades to come” (see Trend in Emissions). The bodies quoted are ones sympathetic to the dangerous warming thesis.
Morrison’s “win” this afternoon over Shorten, even with a minority government in the Lower House, in procedural changes in Parliament’s handling of two pieces of legislation should encourage him to effect changes in policies too.