So much has been happening since my Commentary last Friday 1 December that it is difficult to sort out what is important and what is not. The surprise improvement in the Coaliton’s polling on 4 December from a negative 45/55 TPP to a negative 47/53 TPP, and in Turnbull’s net satisfaction rating from minus 29 points to minus 25 points, has led some commentators to see this as the start of a recovery for Mr Turnbull (see Crowe on Newspoll). Certainly, by announcing Cabinet approval of the establishment of a Royal Commission into the alleged misconduct of Australia’s banks and other financial services entitiesafter he had previously rejected it on several occasions, Turnbull bought off the threat by a National’s MPto move in Parliament for a public banking inquiry. He also claimed support for the Coalition from the favourable swing of about 12% in Barnaby Joyce’s winning by-election, although he played no part in Joyce’s campaign. And he has been helped by the withdrawal of the threatened resignation by Coalition MP George Christensen (initially kept secret to highlight the “crisis”), who reportedly claimed that Joyce’s win gave the National’s a “reinvigorated leader”.
The further fall (down to a 46/54 TPP) in the Coalition’s Newspoll last Monday might have been expected to produce a swathe of comments as to either the possible replacement of Turnbull or possible major changes in Coalition policies. Surprisingly, few did so.
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”.