With a Newspoll due tomorrow, one of the leaders now faces possible “long days and winter’s song”. On the surface it appears that Shorten will be the principal singer as he has experienced a setback from his repeated advice that none of the Labor parliamentarians are subject to the dual citizenship test only to find that four are now subject to the five in by-elections to be held on 28 July. He also has to accept responsibility for the extensive alterations made to a transcript of an interview on Labor policy on how long asylum-seekers could be retained in detention. The altered transcript, which was “cleared” by Shorten’s office, showed that left-wing Labor’s human services spokeswoman Burney opposed indefinite detention but refused to say for how long detention could be under Labor policy on immigration.
Although the Newspoll published on 5 March showed no change between the Coalition and Labor on a TPP basis (47/53), Turnbull’s Dissatisfaction rate fell from 54 to 57 and is now worse than Shorten’s (56). As to who is a Better Prime Minister, Turnbull’s rate fell from 40 t0 37 while Shorten’s rose from 33 to 35.
The failure of Joyce to handle his affair with a staffer, starting with his astonishing attempt to “explain” it as only a private matter, has led to a failure by Turnbull to display the leadership role he is supposed to play as leader of the Coalition and PM of Australia. It will be surprising if tomorrow’s Newspoll does not show a drop in both the Coalition’s TPP (which was 48/52 a fortnight ago) and Turnbull’s satisfaction rate (37 to 50 dissatisfied). The political editor of The Australian suggests in his Inquirer article (see Shanahan on Joyce/Turnbull) that both leaders will see a fall in their satisfaction rates (Shorten’s was 34 to 52 last time). That is quite possible: the electorate is sick of the behaviour of both sides in Canberra.
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.
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 week-end’s Media assessment of Turnbull’s New Energy Guarantee (NEG) is generally favourable, but withTerry McCrann predicting an extremely unfavourable outcome for the Coalition viz “Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg have made a deliberate decision to lose the next election and to lose it badly. The rest of the joint party room voted to endorse the decision, an indeterminate number of Liberal and National members voting for an early retirement. This is the irresistible and even more the irredeemable political consequence of the Turnbull-Frydenberg decision to opt for a policy of (only trying) “to keep the lights on” over a policy of significantly and quickly cutting both electricity and gas prices. Far less, the third, but first-best, option — the option, begging to be embraced by a half-rational government that had the most minimalist understanding of political dynamics — of aggressively aiming to deliver both more and more reliable power and cheaper and sustainably cheaper power”.
Some will remember Alice’s experience in Wonderland when, after falling through a rabbit hole, she found herself in a world full of strange creatures making decisions and expressing views about life which, while amusing, were more of a take-off of the real world. Failing to make friends with the Cheshire-Cat, for example, the King demanded that the Queen remove him but she simply decreed “off with his head”. This was a command the cat simply ignored. But that the rulers of Wonderland were unable to exercise control over their subjects now strikes a bell here.
My Commentary on 7 August suggested that the Newspoll on that day (a Coalition’s TPP of 47/53) mainly reflected the policies adopted by Turnbull since he became leader of the Coalition and that, unless there is a change in policies, there could be a further deterioration in its polling. I attached an article by Chris Kenny explaining why most of Turnbull’s policies were inconsistent with supposed Coalition objectives.
Today Andrew Bolt has made a scathing attack on Turnbull and has extended that to the Liberal Party itself for allowing Turnbull to get away with it. He suggests that, even if Abbott replaced Turnbull, the left that now exists of that party is so strong that he would be unable to repair it. Genuine supporters of liberalism would therefore have to decide where they would vote at the next election. I suspect a goodly number have already decided.
I have previously suggested that Turnbull is developing a strategy of making statements which are apparently compatible with the views of the conservative section of the Coalition parties but do not prevent him penetrating those views at the edge. This seems to have been the case with his strong support of a border controls policy while at the same time announcing a further increase in refugees despite Australia’s already high rate of intake, uncertainty about the checks to those admitted, and extensive public support for banning migrants from countries with substantial Muslim populations.