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.
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.
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”.
I suggested in yesterday’s Commentary that Turnbull’s activism over the past couple of weeks was a desperate attempt to help him survive as leader. But while the latest Newspoll has put Turnbull 11 points ahead in the Better PM category (only 8 points ahead last time), there was no change in Newspoll’s TPP (still at 47/53 as it was a fortnight ago). Also, even though the Coalition’s primary vote did improve slightly (from 35 to 36), this is 6 points lower than it was when elected a year ago and still leaves unchanged the problem with the basic policy being pursued by Turnbull. Relevant here too is that Labor’s primary vote also increased to 37 (from 36) (see Newspoll 24 July).
Another development in the debate on climate policy is the publication of an article in the AFR by journalist Aaron Patrick reporting that the executive director of the IPA, John Roskam, told him that “The majority of federal Liberal MPs are not convinced the science behind climate change is settled and support reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases for political reasons”. He said “he hadn't conducted a formal count but found most Liberal politicians shared his doubts about what many experts say is the greatest global threat to mankind” (see AFR Aaron Patrick on Sceptics on Climate Change).
Why was Environment Minister Frydenberg unable to tell his equivalent ministers from the States what Clean Energy Target (CET) the Commonwealth government proposes? According to his comments made just before his meeting with State ministers on 14 July: “There will be discussion about the clean energy target, but ... we received the report just five weeks ago,” Mr Frydenberg said. “We need to get this right. Dr Finkel made it very clear that the clean energy target, if it would be implemented would be from 2020, so there is no rush. What is important is to get the policy right” (see Frydenberg on CET).