Due to a major technical problem which put my computer out of action for two days (possibly caused by a hacker I was advised) I am now in a catch-up position in regard to circumstances where numerous pre-election statements have been floated around by both major sides of politics. It has almost seemed like a new policy per day, which seems unlikely to have attracted votes because of the limited attention by the Coalition to explaining benefits. One commentator even described Morrison as a Muppet and, despite his increased media appearance, it is difficult to see a closing of the polling gap next time.
On Tuesday I referred to Andrew Bolt’s suggestion on Sky News that the decision by Labor to push legislation through the lower House allowing asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island to “doctor” themselves to Australia for treatment without ministerial approval and, by obtaining court approval, to then “recuperate” here for a indefinite period. With the support of the Greens et al, this legislation has now passed the Senate too but, despite his strong attack on Shorten and accusation that he has broken what had seemed a bipartisan agreement on border control, Morrison has said that he will not call an early election. Even so, Bolt tonight again repeated on Sky News his advocacy of an early election by taking advantage of the policy windfall provided by Labor.
My previous Commentary have argued that, as a Coalition leader facing an election, Scott Morrison needs to get cracking on enunciating policies asap in the New Year. But although active since early January, he seems to have focussed on matters which are mostly “organisational” and would have limited appeal to the electorate in general. Indeed, his poor handling of some of these matters might even have attracted negative comment or a sort of “well what was that all about”.
I was a bit surprised at having two letters on climate change published in succession by The Australian and the latest one along with almost all other letter writers having similar questioning of Morrison’s energy policy as enunciated so far. Of particular interest, but worryingly true, is the heading to the letters below.
In yesterday’s editorial The Australian concluded by saying that “at some stage we need a serious debate about what we are doing and why” on energy policy (see OZ Editorial on Energy Policy, 12/9). Also yesterday Morrison answered Shorten’s question in the House about why Turnbull has been sacked by telling him to “get over it”. But he is the one who needs to “get over it” – the “it” being Turnbull, who is reportedly still busy from New York telling colleagues to have Dutton’s eligibility to be a minister tested in the High Court. Morrison had no real option but to reject this proposal.
At his first press conference with Frydenbrg (held before Turnbull’s resignation had been effected legally), Scott Morrison said “I want to start by thanking, and he still is the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. I have known Malcolm for a long time, as you know. He has been a dear friend. He has served his country, in a noble, and professional way. Josh and I have watched and worked with him as he has led our Cabinets and the achievements. We have been proud to serve with him as a government, whether it is in the economy, whether it is in all the other areas that Malcolm has outlined today at his earlier press conference. He is a great Australian who has contributed a great deal to this country and our party and our nation will be very grateful for his contribution”
Commenting on this morning’s media speculation that he might challenge Turnbull for PM, Peter Dutton said “In relation to media stories today, just to make very clear, the Prime Minister has my support and I support the policies of the Government. My position hasn’t changed from my comments last Thursday.” (see Dutton Says Supports Turnbull). That of course is a short time ago and he has also said that, while in Cabinet, he is bound to support government policy.
I suggested in yesterday’s Commentary that Turnbull’s proposals on NEG policy (sic) have created a chaotic situation in which changes now seem to be made almost every day in an attempt to persuade rebel MP’s to re-think their opposition to the policy and avoid resignations by some Ministers. These rebels are particularly opposed to any legislation which seeks to lock in the 26 per cent reduction in emissions under the Paris accord. It should be noted that, while 10 rebels have been publicly identified, there appear to be others who are also unhappy with some of the existing NEG proposals. Former Major General Jim Molan (now a Senator), for example, told Sky News last night that he did not accept any legislation endorsing the 26 per cent reduction in emissions.
The ACCC report on electricity prices, and the associated address by Turnbull at the Queensland Press Club, were not available on either’s webites at the time of writing this at 9.00pm and after. However copies of the report were available to the media, which also had an oral version of Turnbull’s 15 minute to the Press Club. These articles from The Australian include references to what appear to be the main points or the main emissions made orally by both Turnbull and Sims. It appears that the prices issue will again be a major item tomorrow in The Australian.
Today we have been “flooded” by opinion polls which, while not showing any overall deterioration in the Turnbull Coalition’s polling, confirm its continued inability to effect any significant improvement in that polling. The state by state Newspoll for the February-March quarter also suggests there is a continued problem in Queensland, where the One Nation vote is much higher than in other states and has increased significantly since the 2016 election result (from 5.5 to 13 percent in the February- March quarter).