On the subject of...

Federal Politics

9
Oct
2016

Energy Security Review 9 Oct 2016

The agreement by Federal and State Energy Ministers to have an independent review to “DEVELOP A NATIONAL ENERGY SECURITY BLUEPRINT” provides for Chief Scientist Finkel to head the review and to have two deputies. It anticipates that the review will be completed by December (see attached communiqué/ press release by federal Environment and Energy Minister Frydenberg).
3
Oct
2016

Turnbull’s New Strategy & New Assessment of Importance of Fossil Fuels

I have previously suggested that Turnbull is developing a strategy of making statements which are apparently compatible with the views of the conservative section of the Coalition parties but do not prevent him penetrating those views at the edge. This seems to have been the case with his strong support of a border controls policy while at the same time announcing a further increase in refugees despite Australia’s already high rate of intake, uncertainty about the checks to those admitted, and extensive public support for banning migrants from countries with substantial Muslim populations.
30
Sep
2016

Turnbull Needs to Go, Growing Threat from Muslim Adherents

Today’s front page of the Australian Financial Review carries the composite photo below of Malcolm Turnbull seated on a couch with Bill Shorten and Nick Xenophon and Pauline Hanson standing at the back. The accompanying (very) glossy magazine purports to present them as four of those in Power in Australia. In its subsequent pages the magazine includes many others, along with, surprisingly, Muslim Waleed Aly. President Obama is added for good measure, possibly because it is the last chance to do so.
18
Sep
2016

Budget (?) “Wins”, Immigration Policy

Although we had a long election campaign during which Parliament was not sitting, it now has another “break” until 10 October during which Turnbull and two other ministers (including Immigration Minister Dutton) will travel to the US. In this coming week Turnbull is scheduled to attend what his press release describes as “the biggest summit on the international calendar” - the UN General Assembly Leaders’ Week, which will include “summits on refugees and migration” hosted by Ban Ki-moon and a smaller one arranged by Obama. But, while discussions at UN General Assemblies rarely produce meaningful policies for use back home, the risk is that Turnbull may relax our refugees policy and, as Abbott did, agree to take more refugees. Given the tightening of border controls by European countries, and increasing concern about terrorists being amongst asylum seekers, Australia’s existing policy would seem justifiable.
15
Sep
2016

Newspoll 13 Sept 2016 & Turnbull’s Achievements

The widespread media coverage of Turnbull’s attendance at three international conferences has not resulted in any improvement in Coalition polling, which the latest Newspoll shows as still at 50/50 on a TPP basis (see below). Nor has it helped Turnbull’s net satisfaction ratio which continues slightly to trail Shorten’s despite the latter’s poor handling of the Dastyari affair (T minus 19 cf S minus 17). One might conclude that with both leaders on large minus net satisfaction ratios we Australians face a gloomy political outlook and have good reason to be dissatisfied with the way our existing political system is operating. Surprisingly, rather than concentrating on getting the domestic situation into better shape Turnbull is reported as off overseas yet again next week for a memorial of 9/11 in the US.
11
Sep
2016

Turnbull’s First Year

As the end of the first year of Turnbull’s Prime Ministerialism draws nigh, assessments of his performance are appearing in the media from various quarters. The Weekend Australian’s lead article reports former Treasurer Peter Costello as not directly criticising Turnbull but as calling on the Liberal Party to “explain better its agenda, motivations and priorities” and to “smash the high-tax cheer squad”. The AFR has even published a survey of the views of 50 people regarding his achievements and, in the range from A to F, has awarded him only a D+ (see attached Results Turnbull’s AFR Survey). In fact, almost all commentators in the media (including journalists themselves) have reservations about Turnbull’s contribution to the political debate and to where Australia is or should be heading. While they tend to focus on how he has been performing recently against Shorten or on specific issues, rather than the longer term and broader perspective, this suggests that there may not be a ready recovery of Turnbull’s personal polling in the current session of Parliament. This despite Shorten’s poor handling of the contradiction of Labor’s foreign policy in statements made by Shadow Minister Senator Dastyari.
6
Sep
2016

Turnbull & G20, Iran Threat, Andrews Poll Down; Obama’s Dr on Hilary

While Turnbull himself could not be blamed for the absence of three ministers and other Coalition MPs at the end of Thursday’s Reps session, he must have failed to emphasise to the whips and others the importance of attending the first session after an election result which he had publicised as providing a majority. The absence of 10 Coalition MPs allowed Labor (which had obviously planned to take advantage of any absences) to indicate that this is another example of Turnbull of mis-management. And this theme has been taken up in the media too, including one suggestion that Turnbull lacks a “wingman” to support him in Parliament. Perhaps the failure to sack the Chief Whip, Pyne, illustrates the problem.
31
Aug
2016

Turnbull Satisfies Electorate Less than Shorten, Enterprise Bargaining, Global Warming, Presidential Candidates’ Health

The first Newspoll since the election on July 2 shows only a slight fall in the Coalition’s TPP from 50.4 per cent to 50 per cent but a large drop in Turnbull’s net satisfaction ratio to the point where it is now less than Shorten’s (minus 18 cf minus 14). Late last year Turnbull was plus 38 while Shorten was minus 38. While Turnbull still has the Better PM rating, the gap has narrowed sharply. Importantly, the poll also shows that “Reducing debt and deficit” are strongly supported by both Coalition and Labor voters, almost as strongly as “Maintain border security”.
19
Aug
2016

GST Shares, Budget Strategy, NT Royal Cn

In my Commentary on Tuesday I suggested that Turnbull’s announcement at the WA Liberal Party’s conference held last weekend that each State would now be guaranteed a minimum share of GST revenue was, once again, lacking in any serious analysis or any checking first even with senior ministers, let alone other states. It has subsequently emerged that the new arrangements, the calculation of which has not been stated, are first to be discussed with other states and that it is unclear when they might start (although WA Premier Barnett who has an election next March says he thought it would be this calendar year). The Australian also published an analysis on the assumption that the minimum share would likely be 75% and that WA (now receiving only 30%) might not receive any future benefit from any such arrangement. My letter to the Australian on the issue was published yesterday with four others (see GST Shares).
9
Aug
2016

Turnbull Continues under Fire

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 attached). 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”.