Today’s Newspoll shows the Coalition still behind Labor on third party preference votes by 49/51 and indicates that only 41per cent think the tax-cutting budget was “good”. But the improvement in Turnbull’s Better PM rate to 46/35, compared with the 38/35 at the previous Newspoll, has led The Australian to present the poll as a major victory to Turnbull, to argue that the budget was “one of the most well-received …in a decade”, and to claim “the result maintains an electoral position for the Coalition that it has not enjoyed since September 2016”. It also says the result “builds momentum” for the five by-elections expected in early July (see attached Newspoll Shows No TPP Change on Budget).
The annual State of the Union address to Congress by the President is regarded as a fairly formal report on what he regards as having happened over the past year, the accomplishments and the already known policies being pursued (the full text of Trump’s address is attached). The event is however seen as one of the most important in the US political calendar because it is one of the few occasions when all three branches of government are collected under one roof and it has also been used as an opportunity to honor the achievements of some individual Americans.
As we enter the New Year many ask what happened last year and what is likely to happen this year. Not surprisingly, the climate is a point of focus as is whether Australian governments’ policies to reduce carbon emissions are working. Also not surprising is that there are fundamental differences in opinion about the merits of those policies, not the least being Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris agreement and his recent failure to mention in a major security statement.
Turnbull is Finished, But… Today’s media is replite with analyses which, although not actually saying that Turnbull is finished as PM, leave the reader with little else but to conclude that this is the case. Below is a summary of conclusions by several commentators
The announcement of Alexander’s resignation as an MP for Bennelong (and a by-election on December 16), and indications that at least three Labor MPs may be dual citizens as defined under Section 44 of the Constitution, raises a question as to whether Parliament will be functioning for a period as an effective political entity. Of course, after a series of by-elections next year Parliament can again become a body containing all “genuine” Australians. But should it make decisions on policies in the meantime or hold a general election that would bring the dual citizenship issue to a head?
My Commentary yesterday accurately predicted that the scheduled AFR Energy Summit and Abbott’s address in London would spark active discussion on energy policy, which necessarily involves environmental policy too. The address at the AFR Summit by Environment Minister Frydenberg indicates that the Turnbull government seems to have made a start at determining what its policy will be, although even after the many statements that “it’s coming” it seems it will not be finalised until the end of the year.
The (normally) two weekly Newspoll on 25 September showed the Coalition’s TPP had fallen by 1 percentage point to 46/54. Today’s Newspoll is a quarterly one that shows the TPP at 47/53 but this is the same as the previous two quarterly ones and, while Turnbull’s performance improved from 33 to 35 “satisfied”, Shorten’s “satisfied” also improved (from 32 to 34). Turnbull’s rating as PM fell fractionally to 43 (from 44) while Shorten’s stayed at 32.
The lead front page item in today’s Australian reports Abbott as indicating publicly that he will not support a clean energy target and that he advocates subsidies cease to be paid on wind and solar projects. The Australian also publishes an article by Abbott explaining his position. Both articles are attached. Abbott’s own article seems well written and, for the increasing number of sceptics on climate policy, it contains a sensible approach to energy policy which, inter alia, would ensure a reduction in electricity prices.
Today’s Fairfax Poll confirms that, despite a big fall in Shorten’s performance measure (from 42 to 36) and a big rise in his disapproval rate (from 47 to 52), Labor maintains a TPP lead of 53/47. This is the same as the Newspoll published on 4 September. More importantly, the Fairfax poll shows that “Mr Turnbull's approval rating has fallen 3 percentage points since May to 42 per cent, and his disapproval has risen 3 percentage points to 47 per cent – placing the Prime Minister into net negative territory, according to voters' assessments” (see Fairfax Poll 11 Sept). In other words, Turnbull is not the man to persuade voters to “save” the Coalition.
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”.