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.
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.
Yesterday’s The Australian detailed the bias we all know already exists at the ABC: in this instance our reference point is a TV presentation by ABC Four Corners, apparently approved by editorial director Sunderland (and with no reference to the almost invisible “new” CEO Guthrie). This presentation obviously grossly distorted the behaviour of the Nauruan community and the standard of government facilities in Nauru and, hence, its unsuitability to accommodate “refugees” trying to come to Australia. The ABC (and its sister SBS) are well known supporters of the refugee cause.
It is becoming more difficult by the day to guess what rationale is behind the limited policy announcements Malcolm Turnbull is starting to make. One interpretation of Turnbull’s latest announcement is that he reached a personal view that he needed to announce something new. That led to his decision to announce a “new” policy on federal-state relations without providing substantive detail because he thought that there would general agreement that something needed to be done to reduce the vertical fiscal imbalance between the Federal and State governments. And that there would be much discussion of the idea and praise for him for initiating it.