As 2018 starts it is pertinent to ask whether we might expect an improved performance by the Turnbull government if it continues during the year. Turnbull himself had an article in Sunday’s Herald Sun and the heading to the article implies he is telling us just that, viz TIME TO FOCUS ON FUTURE (see attached, which I could only obtain digitally by first making a phone call to a technician at Herald Sun HQ as, rather surprisingly, they it did not have it on its web). Turnbull also sent me a message personally yesterday - and others too, presumably! (see My Message From Turnbull & use the right clicks).
Following my Commentary of 10 December my computer became unusable for over a week and I missed the opportunity of commenting on the final Newspoll for 2017 on 18 December. Despite inclinations in some media that the Coalition might improve, its TPP remained at 47/53 and, although the “Better PM” indicator lifted Turnbull’s to a poor 41 (from 39), Shorten’s also rose to 34 (from 33). Both leaders’ performances were left at a miserable 32 “Satisfied”. Various events/decisions by the Leaders seem to have cancelled each other out and the swing of 5% against the Liberals in the 16 December Bennelong election can be regarded as “normal” for a by-election . But the deficiencies in Coalition policy stances remained extant and the Coalition needed a much better than normal outcome.
Once again, Turnbull has shown that he should not be leader of the Liberal Party. His handling of the Coalition’s policy on same sex marriage failed to recognise that the plebiscite produced substantial opposition (38.4%) to legislation allowing marriage between people of the same sex and that a proportion of those who voted Yes would also have wanted any such legislation to include provisions protecting freedom to express opposition to such marriages for religious reasons alone. Other opponents not necessarily based on religion simply wanted “marriage” to remain as a relationship between a man and a woman and that, whether between relationships of the same gender or even between a man and a woman but not formally married, should be expressed as “partnerships” or in similar vein.
Such details as are available for the Las Vegas killer (causing 59 deaths and 527 injuries) do not suggest he was directly influenced by ISIS, although that body claims responsibility (it obviously suits it to claim responsibility for deaths in the US). However, the killer (Paddock, white) may have been indirectly influenced by that body’s jihadist policy of killing those perceived to be opposed to Islam. For details of Paddock’s life, see Vegas Killer’s Background.
Federal Parliament does not sit again until 16 Oct (and then only for one week) and I assume there will be a Newspoll tomorrow. With Turnbull’s inability to decide an energy policy and the National Party Conference rejecting a clean energy target and voting to eliminate subsidies for renewable, the Coalition’s TPP is unlikely to increase. Indeed, with the No votes increasing on same sex marriage (but still above 50%), and No voter former PM Howard highlighting Turnbull’s failure before the vote to (at least) publish proposed protection for those opposing official legislation endorsing SS on an on-going basis , these last two weeks are more likely to have produced a fall in the TPP. That would be “exciting”.
I headed my Commentary on Sunday “Are Our Politicians in the Real World? and suggested that some of the behaviour and events in Canberra and one or two other states in the last couple of weeks indicated that our political body is, like Alice in Wonderland, acting outside the real world. I added that “It would be surprising if tomorrow’s Newspoll does not show a further decline in the Coalition’s rating, which would again emphasise the need to replace Turnbull if the Coalition wants an election chance”.
I suggested yesterday that there has recently been a higher rate of violent activity from Islamic jihadists and that has been confirmed by reports today of an arrest of a man for supplying a weapon to the now dead Brighton jihadist and police questioning of others possibly involved. Today’s Australian has also published a range of material on jihadism, including the whole of its letters page on critiques of Islam and suggestions of what should be done about it.
The jihadism by the Somali who came to Australia as a refugee, followed by the discovery of two Australian deaths from the London stabbings and yet another Paris incident, confirm a higher rate of violent activity in recent months from Islamic jihadists, both individuals and groups, both here and in other Western countries. This is only part of the story. UK PM May told us, for instance, that 5 terrorist plans had been thwarted in the UK over the short period between the Manchester bombings and the London stabbings and other countries including Australia would doubtless have had similar experiences. And there are quite large numbers of people who are “on watch”. For instance, the 3AW interviewer of Turnbull today referred to a “watch list” of no less than 3,000 in Victoria alone (see Turnbull on 3AW). It is little wonder that some jihadists on such lists are missed!
After I read on Tuesday evening that ASIO Head Lewis had said there is “absolutely no evidence” to suggest a link between the refugee intake and terrorism, I decided early yesterday morning to send a letter to The Australian expressing concern about this assertion and Lewis’s other reported assertion that he doesn’t “buy the notion the issue of Islamic extremism is in some way fostered or sponsored or supported by the Muslim religion”. That letter has been published as the lead letter in today’s Australian, together with a number of others letters in similar vein
Turnbull’s further shift to the left (where is the middle now?) didn’t get any substantive support from the latest Newspoll, with the TPP percentages (47/53) unchanged. Some say that there was no budget “bounce” but the fact that it didn’t rise one bit sends a bad message on both the budget and Turnbull’s leadership even though his satisfaction ratio rose very slightly (so did Shorten’s). One commentator said that “the trend is set and it favours Shorten”.