While in August Dutton challenged Turnbull for the leadership, he did not really spell out the reasons for doing so and, when Morrison succeeded in his challenge for leadership, Dutton did not continue as minister for immigration but stayed as Minister for Home Affairs alone. But in today’s Herald Sun (and other News Ltd papers) he has now publicly exposed more of the reasons for his challenge
The 30th Newspoll since Turnbull challenged Abbott and won has confirmed that Labor remains well ahead on a TPP basis (52/48), although this is one percentage point lower for Labor than in March. However, Turnbull’s Better PM test also fell by a fraction (39/38) while Shorten’s was steady on 36, and he also fell on the Best Liberal leader test 30/28. At that level he is only one percentage point ahead of Bishop (28/27). The Coalition underTurnbull has now trailed Labor on two-party-preferred support for 564 days. Julia Gillard’s government trailed the Coalition for 521 consecutive days, Abbott’s government trailed Labor for 493 days while Howard’s longest period trailing Labor was 364 days (see PM has 30 Poll Losses).
The (normally) two weekly Newspoll on 25 September showed the Coalition’s TPP had fallen by 1 percentage point to 46/54. Today’s Newspoll is a quarterly one that shows the TPP at 47/53 but this is the same as the previous two quarterly ones and, while Turnbull’s performance improved from 33 to 35 “satisfied”, Shorten’s “satisfied” also improved (from 32 to 34). Turnbull’s rating as PM fell fractionally to 43 (from 44) while Shorten’s stayed at 32.
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).
The widespread media coverage of Turnbull’s attendance at three international conferences has not resulted in any improvement in Coalition polling, which the latest Newspoll shows as still at 50/50 on a TPP basis (see below). Nor has it helped Turnbull’s net satisfaction ratio which continues slightly to trail Shorten’s despite the latter’s poor handling of the Dastyari affair (T minus 19 cf S minus 17). One might conclude that with both leaders on large minus net satisfaction ratios we Australians face a gloomy political outlook and have good reason to be dissatisfied with the way our existing political system is operating. Surprisingly, rather than concentrating on getting the domestic situation into better shape Turnbull is reported as off overseas yet again next week for a memorial of 9/11 in the US.
While the Morgan Poll (see attachment on Morgan Poll) is not generally regarded as being the most accurate, its latest result gives Labor a potential winning lead with a TPP of 52.5 to 47.5% and Queensland being the only State where the LNP is leading. This is the largest lead since Turnbull was elected leader of the Coalition and it also has a 30.5% vote for minority parties. While it is too early to be definitive, this suggests that the electorate is not attracted by either major party and that neither will have control over the Senate.
In the election now under way the Turnbull government has so far been selling its re-election on the theme of “jobs and growth”. In my last two Commentaries I have given reasons why this poses problems, based as it is on a budget presented as an economic plan which has very limited substance in terms of either its aggregates or its components. As The Australian’s Economic Editor Uren put it, “taken together, the initiatives in the budget will not shift the dial on national growth one way or another to a measurable extent”. This is already reflected in dissatisfaction amongst Coalition members, with no lift in polling following the budget (in Newspoll the Coalition’s TPP remained fractionally below Labor’s), a majority of voters judging that the budget left them worse off but with Turnbull still well ahead as the better PM. There has also been questioning of the components by media and other commentators. Further, in the first public debate in front of a supposedly undecided audience, Shorten easily won the head count. On the ABC’s Insiders today there was agreement from the four participants (all with the left inclinations that the ABC normally gives preference to) that Turnbull has so far shown less ability than Shorten to get his message across.
Malcolm Turnbull has been prepared to risk forcing a double dissolution to obtain a vote by both houses sitting together on legislation to pass the Registered Organisations bill and to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission. That body was abolished under the Gillard government in May 2012 and replaced by Fair Work Building & Construction with much reduced regulatory powers. Turnbull also secured the winding up of the Roads Safety Remuneration Tribunal established under Gillard at the behest of the Transport Workers union and effectively designed to favour unions able to collude with transport companies.
The Menzies Research Centre says it supports “principles of individual liberty, free speech, competitive enterprise, limited government, democracy, and the family as the foundation of a stable society” and, although it does not endorse the Liberal Party per se, it claims that its publications “go to the heart of Liberal Party policy-making”. Today, its Executive Director, Nick Cater, has had published a critique in The Australian of Lewis’s attempt to set “appropriate” limits on public debate on the influence of Islamic religion on terrorism (see article below). However, while Cater naturally does not mention that the current leader of the Liberal Party, Malcolm Turnbull, has made similar statements to those by Lewis, he is very much on the right track.
Like me, Mick Jagger was once a student at the London School of Economics (not long after I left there). He once wrote “you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might find you get what you need” (I would have said “if you keep trying”). My point here is that there are at last some signs that increasing numbers, even inside the ABC and other leftist media , are accepting that there is a real need to do something about the quasi-monopoly power unions have acquired. But can Tony Abbott recover his polling by increasing his recent attack on the Labor-union connection and identifying the problems with existing workplace relations?