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 further fall (down to a 46/54 TPP) in the Coalition’s Newspoll last Monday might have been expected to produce a swathe of comments as to either the possible replacement of Turnbull or possible major changes in Coalition policies. Surprisingly, few did so.
My Commentary of 5 August included a section on Coalition Leadership and suggested the basic question that Coalition MPs have to face is whether to continue with Turnbull as leader in the event that Newspoll shows no significant change as Parliament resumes. That in fact is what happened, with the Coalition’s TPP remaining at 47/53 (compared with 50.4 at the July 2016 election) and its Primary Vote remaining at 36 (42.1 at July 2016 election). A glimmer of hope was that Labor’s Primary Vote fell by one percentage point to 36 but this is still equal to the Coalition’s and is higher than its 34.7 at the July 2016 election.
As Parliament resumes next week after its winter break, new views about the leadership of the Coalition are naturally emerging and another Newspoll will occur. The last one on 24 July showed no change in the Coalition’s TPP (47/53), although its primary vote did improve slightly (from 35 to 36). But Labor’s primary also increased by one percentage point (to 37) and gave no indication that it was “slipping”.
In my Commentary on Tuesday I drew attention to new reasons for implementing major changes in the Turnbull government’s policies directed at reducing C02 emissions and increasing the usage of renewable.
Yesterday’s Commentary suggested that “the Coalition is in dire straits and will almost certainly experience a further drop in the next Newspoll”. Today’s media appears to confirm that.
Next week is the last for Parliament before it takes a month’s break. Turnbull will be trying to divert attention away from “difficult” issues, such as the Finkel Blueprint, Turnbull’s attack on Trump during a speech at the Winter ball, and the publication of a book in which the author claims that Turnbull told him he joined the Liberals only because Labor wouldn’t have him(see attached Bolt on Turnbull & Finkel).
My Commentary yesterday suggesting “Turnbull Must Go” has produced some critical responses and has also revealed media bias in favour of Turnbull. This comes from the comments made last night and in today’s media. But before turning to those I should note that George Christensen has resigned as chief whip in the National Party so that, he says, he will be freer to comment on Turnbull government policies. While this follows the resignation of Senator Bernardi as a member of the Liberal party, Christensen indicated that he would stay as a member of the National Party in the lower house. A loss of his vote there in a motion of no confidence would now mean however that there would be equal numbers for each side, a potentially ungovernable situation.
For the second day in a row Turnbull has “savaged” Shorten in Parliament – and outside it. The savaging included an accusation about the benefit to Shorten arising from “managing” one of the deals done by the union he led before he became an MP and Labor’s leader, as outlined in the Heydon Royal Commission. The opportunity for the government to use those investigations has so far been largely neglected and the attack on Shorten presumably reflects a number of recent unfavourable developments, such as the drop in Coalition polling to 46/54 on a TPP, the resignation from the Liberal Party of Senator Bernardi, and the apparent success of Trump in effecting major changes in policy in the US (one of which was even quite favourably regarded in a poll here).
Since the election on July 2, Turnbull has continued his record of mistaken decisions as to both substance and process, plus a failure to indicate what substantive policies will be pursued other than the legislation already foreshadowed to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission and to make unions more accountable under the registered organisation arrangements. But unless the (recounted) loss of Herbet by 37 votes is successfully challenged and another election held there (which seems too risky a venture), he has a majority of only one in the Reps and a deficit of 16 in the Senate.This means that if the two houses sit together he would need 9 votes from cross benchers (who include no less than 4 from One Nation and 3 from Xenophon) to obtain a majority to pass that legislation, which is a possibility but clearly uncertain. It is of some importance to climate change and extremist terrorist policy that One Nation ended up with 4 Senate seats, including one held by a sceptic (Malcolm Roberts) on global warming who is well versed in the data.