My Commentary last Sunday reported that, in a speech to the South Australian Liberal Party, Turnbull said that Labor’s approach to energy was a combination of ideology and politics, compared to the Liberal focus on economics and engineering. No doubt with the South Australian Labor Premier in mind, he classified South Australian policy as “it’s actually ideology and idiocy in equal measure”.
My Commentary on 7 August suggested that the Newspoll on that day (a Coalition’s TPP of 47/53) mainly reflected the policies adopted by Turnbull since he became leader of the Coalition and that, unless there is a change in policies, there could be a further deterioration in its polling. I attached an article by Chris Kenny explaining why most of Turnbull’s policies were inconsistent with supposed Coalition objectives.
Why was Environment Minister Frydenberg unable to tell his equivalent ministers from the States what Clean Energy Target (CET) the Commonwealth government proposes? According to his comments made just before his meeting with State ministers on 14 July: “There will be discussion about the clean energy target, but ... we received the report just five weeks ago,” Mr Frydenberg said. “We need to get this right. Dr Finkel made it very clear that the clean energy target, if it would be implemented would be from 2020, so there is no rush. What is important is to get the policy right” (see Frydenberg on CET).
Today Andrew Bolt has made a scathing attack on Turnbull and has extended that to the Liberal Party itself for allowing Turnbull to get away with it. He suggests that, even if Abbott replaced Turnbull, the left that now exists of that party is so strong that he would be unable to repair it. Genuine supporters of liberalism would therefore have to decide where they would vote at the next election. I suspect a goodly number have already decided.
Today’s Herald Sun reports that, on a Galaxy poll of 815 people, the Victorian Coalition headed by Matthew Guy has suddenly jumped ahead of Labor with a “primary” vote of 41/33 compared with 36.5/38 in November 2014. On this basis, they would be 53/47 on a TPP basis compared with 49/51 in February. Daniel Andrews is still the preferred Premier but more say they are dissatisfied (47) than are satisfied (38).
Today’s Australian has devoted its entire Letters section to energy policy and the use of renewable as a part of climate change policy. My letter is published below and other letters are attached and are in a similar critical vein. They include one from Professor O’Brien (Adjunct to WA University), a physicist who has long been a critic of the so-called “consensus” on climate change - one of those many academics who do not subscribe to the “group” view which has prevailed for the last 30 or so years and whose views have been swallowed hook line and sinker by many political and business leaders.
As Parliament takes a two week break (again!), Turnbull is given a rest from answering questions from Shorten and leading commentators search for important things to write or talk about. As usual, ABC News continues to focus on murders - but not political ones. In Western Australia polling suggests political casualties amongst supporters of Premier Barnett, indeed the likely loss of government there, with Turnbull having made a negative contribution on his sole visit during the election campaign according to The West Australian newspaper (it described his visit as “a damp squib” and claimed he was “hopelessly unprepared, atrociously briefed or both” on what to say about WA’s share of GST grants). Instead, Turnbull has gone to Queensland supposedly to help the Nationals combat the increasing influence of Pauline Hanson there. But Nationals Leader Barnaby Joyce almost fell off his horse when he learned that Turnbull had taken a direct call from Pauline when she was meeting angry sugarcane growers and that Turnbull had apparently then agreed to discuss the issue with growers who had previously been unable to obtain a meeting with Turnbull ie his action effectively showed that One Nation has credibility with him and that the Nationals are being put aside as their vote is (supposedly) assured.
Turnbull’s address to the National Press Club was supposed to set out his policy agenda for 2017. Perhaps the first thing to note is that his text made no mention at all of the election of Trump as the new President of the US and the possible need for Australia to change some of its policies as the result of the major changes being implemented by Trump. This was surprising if only because of the importance of the US as a world power and our alliance with this country. But also because Trump appears to be reversing many of the major policies pursued by Obama, some of which have implications for Australia’s.
We are in a period when there is an increased need to check reports and interpretations of political policies and announcements appearing in the media and even those made by supposedly independent government agencies. This applies particularly to policies on climate change, where there exists a divergence of opinion about dangerous warming unless governments reduce/eliminate emissions of CO2.
During the first of the two weeks break from Parliament (Yes, it must have had the fewest meeting days for some years!), Turnbull spent some time in Queensland, possibly reflecting the number of marginal seats there and with One Nation seen as posing an increasing threat (although it’s polling percentage for Australia dropped slightly in the latest Newspoll). Of course, PMs are on the job all the time and when there is some spare time they can buy votes.