Unfavourable Polling for Coalition & Some Reactions to Turnbull Dinner

The reactions to Turnbull’s dinner at Kirribilli House with “dozens” of Muslims vary but will likely have only limited electoral influence in a context where the latest Fairfax –Ipsos poll shows for the second time that Labor is ahead at 51/49 on a TPP basis. While the Newspoll of marginal seats suggests this may not be sufficient to win (because the support for Labor is not fully reflected in marginal seats), the Fairfax poll seems to confirm that there has been a slight swing against Turnbull since the election started. In one sense this is surprising given the greater extent of promised additional unjustified expenditures announced by Labor, the fact that it has acknowledged that it would have higher Budget deficits than the Coalition over the next four years, and numerous policy announcements that provided the opportunity for extensive criticism, including the claim that Turnbull would privatise Medicare (Turnbull favours government interventions and the claim just gave him justification to confirm that without upsetting colleagues). But Turnbull has so far failed to exploit Shorten’s poor budget policy partly because the Coalition itself has already budgeted for high deficits and this makes it more difficult to distinguish between the two major parties. In addition, Turnbull has continued to announce expenditures which while claimed as already provided for in the Coalition budget estimates (The Australian’s SPEND-O-METER shows $5bn announced by Turnbull cf $16.2bn for Labor during the election campaign) give the impression that both sides are adding to deficits and that the differences between the two are small.

Some Things are Ruled Out, Some Not

We have now experienced two meetings/summits of world leaders following the Paris terrorist attacks last Friday, one by the G20 in Turkey and one in Manila by those involved in the negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (still to be approved by the US Congress). Although there was a general recognition at both meetings that the Islamic State constituted a powerful force and agreement that “something needs to be done” to combat it, no specific combined response was agreed, except that whatever else might be done boots on the ground are ruled out.

RC Outcome Provides Golden Opportuinity

Apart from Heydon’s decision to continue as RC, the most important part of his rejection of the apprehended bias claim is the detailed analysis he made of the submissions by unions. That analysis can fairly be said to have left the unions standing on only one leg, at least from a legal perspective. His 67 page judgement justifying his decision sets out three reasons, argued in detail:

Increased Challenges Faced by Abbott -Responses Needed

As indicated by its failure to have the Senate re-instate the powers of the Australian Building & Construction Commission, and by anti-coal groups’s revealed use of legislation to stop coal projects and purporting thereby to protect “the environment”, the Abbott government is facing increased difficulties in implementing existing policies, let alone maintain policies which have hitherto been widely accepted as important to on-going development and employment. As Greg Sheridan points out (see “Shutting the door to growth” below), “Australia has created a public–political culture in which the avenues to block something from happening are endless”. More strictly, it is that certain groups, not Australia itself, which have created this culture and are now actively moving to apply it.