Yesterday’s Commentary referred to a number of policy decisions and comments on policy positions made by PM Morrison which raised concern about the directions being taken by him and, in particular, whether his government is differentiating itself from the leftish Turnbull government to a substantive degree. The publication of an article in Spectator of 6 October by John Stone (see Stone on Morrison), and other developments, suggest the Morrison government does not seem at present to have the capacity to handle issues in a way conducive to attracting the electorate to the Coalition.
Today’s media contains reports which are of serious concern in regard to the capacity of governments and political leaders to operate or propound policies which are in the interests of communities considered as an entity rather than of particular groups. These are briefly described below and, except for two, the attachments.
Today we have been “flooded” by opinion polls which, while not showing any overall deterioration in the Turnbull Coalition’s polling, confirm its continued inability to effect any significant improvement in that polling. The state by state Newspoll for the February-March quarter also suggests there is a continued problem in Queensland, where the One Nation vote is much higher than in other states and has increased significantly since the 2016 election result (from 5.5 to 13 percent in the February- March quarter).
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).
On 19 January The Australian published a half page advertisement on The Next Ice Age by Richard Morgan’s Climate Study Group (the ad was also published in the Herald Sun on 12 Jan and is on my web). This contains carefully considered views by people who are aware of the possible influences on climate. The day before I had sent a letter to The Australian complaining that it had published a letter by Energy Minister Frydenberg criticising an analysis published in the paper by Judith Sloan but had not published any letters critical of Frydenberg even though some had been sent, including by me (see attached Energy Policy Letter Sent to The Australian 18/1).
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.
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.
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 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.
After I read on Tuesday evening that ASIO Head Lewis had said there is “absolutely no evidence” to suggest a link between the refugee intake and terrorism, I decided early yesterday morning to send a letter to The Australian expressing concern about this assertion and Lewis’s other reported assertion that he doesn’t “buy the notion the issue of Islamic extremism is in some way fostered or sponsored or supported by the Muslim religion”. That letter has been published as the lead letter in today’s Australian, together with a number of others letters in similar vein