The extent of the Coalition’s loss in the Victorian elections far exceeds predictions in pre-election polling: it looks like a 5% swing against the Coalition which could mean they hold only 25 seats in a Lower House of 88 total seats and could lose 5 of their 16 seats in the Upper House, which has 40 seats. As such their capacity to constitute an effective opposition will be difficult, to say the least. The unanswered question is why such a loss has occurred particularly in the so-called sand-belt area on the east coast of Port Phillip bay which would include middle income groups.
In my Commentary published on 18 November I suggested the handling of the Bourke St incident indicated serious deficiencies. This has been confirmed by developments since then. Most important has been the statement by Victorian Attorney General Pakula that Victorian police had not received information from federal sources which would warrant them acting to at least monitor the now dead Muslim terrorist, Shire Ali. But Victorian police chief Ashton subsequently announced that they had in fact received the necessary federal information. This prompted me to send a letter to the press arguing that Pakula should resign but, as he has stuck to his guns and has been supported by Victorian Premier Andrews, that won’t happen a couple of days before the election (see OZ on Bourke St Terrorist Revelations and Pakula Claims Not Informed of Terrorists Passport Withdrawal).
Last Sunday’s Commentary on the killing by a Somalian (Shire Ali) in Bourke St gave the gist of PM Morrison’s reaction that “I am the first to protect religious freedom in this country, but it also means I must be the first to call out religious extremism,” he said. “Religious extremism takes many forms around the world, and no religion is immune from it … But here in Australia, we would be kidding ourselves if we did not call out the fact that the greatest threat of religious extremism … is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist Islam.”
Many will be aware of Banjo Patterson’s ballad on The Man from Snowy River, which began with “There was movement at the station, for the word had passed around That the colt from old Regret had got away, And had joined the wild bush horses”. Clancy of the Overflow then caught the escaped horse and turned around the other horses which had formed a collective with the colt. But Clancy had first to overcome numerous obstacles.
The Greens leader’s attempt to “explain” his party’s loss of votes in recent elections has led him down a track which could result in his displacement as leader. His response has been to bring back into public debate the extremist view of Greens that climate change causes many of the problems which society faces. On this occasion the problem is bushfires and the alleged failure of the Turnbull government to take sufficient action to reduce CO2 emissions.
Richard Morgan has again managed publication of an advertisement by his Climate Study group, this time to even a half-pager in today’s Australian and titled REALLY DANGEROUS, GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE, THE NEXT ICE AGE. Readers of this Commentary are familiar with the argument by the group that “ the dangerous global warming threat is …not supported either by failed climate models or evidence from past global climate experience”. But note that it also says that “past levels of CO2 were at least four times the present level without dangerous global warming” and that “the next ice age should be the most serious climate event for humanity to fear.“ Having regard to all this, it said “there is an urgent need to bring power costs down” (see full ad with title of Ice Age Possible).
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”.
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).
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.
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”.