Turnbull’s Polling & Policies
The lead up to the Budget (on Tues 9 May) is normally pretty quiet except for advance leaks by the government on what we might expect – or not. So far the main possibility being foreshadowed is action to reduce housing “affordability”, which sounds like a worrying move by a government which should be reducing expenditure. But as it happens, some other issues have emerged since Parliament had the break after two weeks in Canberra.
Turnbull on the Fence
The Weekend Australian is replete with discussion about Turnbull’s incapacity to govern and about possible changes in leadership. The editorial below suggests “Mr Abbott’s urgings for the Prime Minister to take up the positive, economic liberation arguments on penalty rates and to deliver reform on 18C are wise” and, rather than rejecting them, Turnbull should “lead the debate rather than aspire to acting as a chief national conciliator hoping to broker consensus on every contentious issue”. As it concludes, “the markets, the public and Mr Turnbull’s own culpable colleagues are running out of patience”.
Energy Policy & Global Warming
Yesterday I had a “coup”, with The Australian publishing a letter by me and giving it the heading “Bad Energy Policy” (see below). This relates to my comment in the letter that “Voters would have to choose between two bad policies, with the Labor Party offering results twice as bad”. Although the Editor deleted some bits from my original draft (as shown by the bits in square brackets), he has retained the reference to the letter sent by 300 scientists to Trump on global climate. Several scientists from Australia are signatories, including myself ( I have a BSc Econ Hons from the LSE and economics is a justifiable inclusion here). The language used in Lindzen’s letter and included in my letter below is particularly interesting in that it asserts that government actions to reduce emissions of CO2 produce no environmental benefit and in fact cause serioussocial and economic harm. This can be taken as the view of deniers rather than sceptics. Note also that the lead author, Dr Richard Lindzen, is a highly regarded atmospheric physicist who has deeply researched this subject and has communicated with me on it (to put me on the right track!).
Turnbull Must Go
Today’s Newspoll shows that, despite Turnbull’s very recent decision to start attacking Shorten more aggressively, the Coalition’s polling has dropped a further percentage point (to 45/55 on a TPP) and Turnbull’s personal polling has dropped sharply to 29/59 satisfied compared with 33/54 last time. This has occurred after Shorten was not only unable to state the estimated cost of Labor’s 50% target for renewable energy but also announced that he would try to reverse the decision by Fair Work Australia to slightly reduce penalty rates even though he had previously supported a review when he was minister under Labor! With Labor on the back foot, the Coalition’s polling ought to have improved.
What Next for Turnbull?
Turnbull’s attempted recovery from declining polls appears to involve two immediate strategies. First, expose and publicise dubious activity by Shorten when he was head of the AWU. Second, attack the energy policy adopted by Shorten now that he is leader of the Opposition. This approach seems to have been welcomed by most members of the Coalition and praised by some in the media, both of whom reacted with comments to the effect “why the hell has he taken this long to point out the defects in Shorten as Labor leader” or words to that effect.
Bolt on Turnbull Dec 12 2016
In what is his last article for 2016 (see below), Andrew Bolt has made yet another important contribution to the culture wars in outlining why Turnbull “cannot lead the Liberals to victory”. This article is obviously based in part on being briefed by a minister on the Cabinet discussions on the terms of reference for the climate change policy review. The briefing revealed that in Cabinet Turnbull had supported the review covering a scheme which would operate to reduce emissions by some form of trading scheme, and which would involve the government setting a price on carbon, but which would not be specified in the terms of reference.
Turnbull’s Problems Coming to a Head
In my last Commentary on 8 December I asked “How Long Can Turnbull Stay as PM?” That question has become even more pertinent after Friday’s disastrous meeting with the Premiers and the apparent confirmation in the media that Turnbull was behind the move to have an emissions intensity scheme examined in the 2017 review of climate change policy announced on 5 December. Today’s media is replete with reports of the meeting and the events surrounding the 5 December announcement but an exposition by Laurie Oakes in Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph captures the “thrills”(see attached “Oakes on Turnbull”). Bear in mind though that Oakes has probably embellished the story.
How Long Can Turnbull Stay as PM?
Coming on top of the further drop in Turnbull’s status as a leader, his handling yesterday of the Coalition’s policy on climate change makes it difficult to see how he can continue as leader of the Coalition and PM. Shorten rightly described the chopping and changing as “climate change wars”.
Criticism of IMF Report Justified, Important to Maximise Use of Coal as Energy Source
I have no doubt that Terry McCrann does not want to be labelled a spokesman for Donald T. But after his conclusion yesterday that, in the wake of what he described as “the Trump-quake”, Turnbull now has a last chance to pull his socks up, Terry has again pursued one of Trump’s favourite targets viz international institutions. On this occasion it is the International Monetary Fund and the report by its “mission” to Australia to report on the Australian economy and the economic policy being pursued by the Turnbull government.
US Election, Turnbull Govt Down Again, Climate Change, Aboriginal Recognition
Too much has already been said and written about interpreting the victory by Donald Trump and why it was not predicted. But some aspects have been overlooked or given too little attention. This is partly because almost all of the media either predicted or wanted a Hillary victory and many of them do not want now to accept that government regulation of and interference in the lives of individuals and businesses has gone too far. Associated with that has been the failure to accept the possibility that there could be a reversal of that intrusion, and that Trumps’ “swamp” in Washington might be heavily drained. What is involved here is not just a matter of actually stopping or reducing government intrusion: it requires reducing the expectation that governments will or should come to the rescue when there is a marked change in circumstances. The failure to deal with that expectation appears to have particularly affected voting in US manufacturing states where Trump succeeded.