Most commentators, including Turnbull, welcomed or approved Trump’s decision to bomb a Syrian airport from where chemical bombs are alleged to have been dumped onthe rebel held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun. Although some claim there is no proof that Syrian President Assad made the decision to bomb, the only alternative deliverer must have been his Russian ally. Hence, one way or another the Assad government of Syria implemented or approved the bombing of the Syrian town.
As the end of the first year of Turnbull’s Prime Ministerialism draws nigh, assessments of his performance are appearing in the media from various quarters. The Weekend Australian’s lead article reports former Treasurer Peter Costello as not directly criticising Turnbull but as calling on the Liberal Party to “explain better its agenda, motivations and priorities” and to “smash the high-tax cheer squad”. The AFR has even published a survey of the views of 50 people regarding his achievements and, in the range from A to F, has awarded him only a D+ (see attached Results Turnbull’s AFR Survey). In fact, almost all commentators in the media (including journalists themselves) have reservations about Turnbull’s contribution to the political debate and to where Australia is or should be heading. While they tend to focus on how he has been performing recently against Shorten or on specific issues, rather than the longer term and broader perspective, this suggests that there may not be a ready recovery of Turnbull’s personal polling in the current session of Parliament. This despite Shorten’s poor handling of the contradiction of Labor’s foreign policy in statements made by Shadow Minister Senator Dastyari.
The behaviour of the Turnbull Government continues to raise questions. Immediately following the publication by Justice Heydon of the Royal Commission on Trade Union Governance and Corruption, on 30 December the government issued a press release by the joint team of Turnbull, Brandis and Cash acknowledging the assessment of “a ‘widespread’ and ‘deep seated’ culture of lawlessness among many union officials. It also said it would submit improved legislation on regulating the construction industry and (separately) on the governance of trade unions. It promised to give full and careful consideration to the recommendations in the final report and “announce a detailed response to the public in early 2016”.
We seem to have been experiencing a lot of talk about domestic issues which are scarcely of the top order. Number one is the expenses incurred by Speaker Bishop, who as I have previously suggested acted irresponsibly. Her failure to acknowledge this and to apologise straight away, and Abbott’s failure to ensure that happened and to announce a review of the expenses provisions (it appears that Labor’s front bench has “over-spent” too), has put the Coalition in damage control and will likely lead to a further decline in polling...