My previous Commentary have argued that, as a Coalition leader facing an election, Scott Morrison needs to get cracking on enunciating policies asap in the New Year. But although active since early January, he seems to have focussed on matters which are mostly “organisational” and would have limited appeal to the electorate in general. Indeed, his poor handling of some of these matters might even have attracted negative comment or a sort of “well what was that all about”.
There is one thing that emerges from the ABC shenigans, viz it establishes a strong case that there is now no need to have a public broadcaster covering the field, even if there was when it was established. The private sector now has many broadcasters and has ready access to “news” about what is happening overseas and to the views of visiting “experts” from overseas. This extends to the rural sector as well as the urban, although the former does not have as wide an access. There is a marvellous opportunity for the government to review the role of public broadcasting
The failure of Joyce to handle his affair with a staffer, starting with his astonishing attempt to “explain” it as only a private matter, has led to a failure by Turnbull to display the leadership role he is supposed to play as leader of the Coalition and PM of Australia. It will be surprising if tomorrow’s Newspoll does not show a drop in both the Coalition’s TPP (which was 48/52 a fortnight ago) and Turnbull’s satisfaction rate (37 to 50 dissatisfied). The political editor of The Australian suggests in his Inquirer article (see Shanahan on Joyce/Turnbull) that both leaders will see a fall in their satisfaction rates (Shorten’s was 34 to 52 last time). That is quite possible: the electorate is sick of the behaviour of both sides in Canberra.
Many of us are still recovering from the wrong decisions we made in making a bet on the Melbourne Cup (mine came last!). Who would have thought that two horses from Ireland would have come first and second and that they both came from Tipperary , to which it’s a long way to go according to the song whose joint author was a Williams. News Ltd Cartoonist, Mark Night has today brilliantly captured the contrast between Lloyd Williams’s sixth cup winner (Rekindling) and what one can only describe as Turnbull’s continued run of losers (and who should now “pack up his troubles in the old kit bag” and move along).At the end of this Commentary I have included today’s Knight cartoon along with his of 7 November, where he pictures Turnbull “having fun”.
As soon as Turnbull arrived back in Australia from his visit to Israel for the BeerSheba, he held a press conference in Perth at which he rejected the idea of having an audit to determine whether MPs have complied with the constitutional requirement of having no foreign ancestry or, if so, of having renounced it before becoming federal MPs. He particularly attacked reports that Frydenberg might be deemed to be of Hungarian ancestry because his mother was born in Hungary but escaped the killing of Jews there and migrated to Australia. Frydenberg is reported as telling the ABC that “I did seek some advice and I am very confident with that advice but also contacted the embassy here and I was very comforted by conversations with them”.
The week-end’s Media assessment of Turnbull’s New Energy Guarantee (NEG) is generally favourable, but withTerry McCrann predicting an extremely unfavourable outcome for the Coalition viz “Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg have made a deliberate decision to lose the next election and to lose it badly. The rest of the joint party room voted to endorse the decision, an indeterminate number of Liberal and National members voting for an early retirement. This is the irresistible and even more the irredeemable political consequence of the Turnbull-Frydenberg decision to opt for a policy of (only trying) “to keep the lights on” over a policy of significantly and quickly cutting both electricity and gas prices. Far less, the third, but first-best, option — the option, begging to be embraced by a half-rational government that had the most minimalist understanding of political dynamics — of aggressively aiming to deliver both more and more reliable power and cheaper and sustainably cheaper power”.
My Commentary last Thursday 28 Sept questioned whether the “agreement” between Turnbull and three big gas exporters to have the latter supply additional gas domestically has solved the gas crisis. Yesterday the media took up the issue, with an editorial in Weekend Australian suggesting that Turnbull has made “an interim breakthrough this week when Australia’s three big gas exporters agreed to fix the ‘emergency’ shortfall that threatens to send prices soaring and shut down factories. A formal agreement in the coming week with Santos, Origin Energy and Shell appears likely to avert dire shortages next year and in 2019. The deal will avoid the need for the government to impose drastic controls on overseas shipments” (see Oz Editorial on Energy Crisis)
Federal Parliament does not sit again until 16 Oct (and then only for one week) and I assume there will be a Newspoll tomorrow. With Turnbull’s inability to decide an energy policy and the National Party Conference rejecting a clean energy target and voting to eliminate subsidies for renewable, the Coalition’s TPP is unlikely to increase. Indeed, with the No votes increasing on same sex marriage (but still above 50%), and No voter former PM Howard highlighting Turnbull’s failure before the vote to (at least) publish proposed protection for those opposing official legislation endorsing SS on an on-going basis , these last two weeks are more likely to have produced a fall in the TPP. That would be “exciting”.
The end of the Parliamentary session (it resumes in 6 weeks) has produced various comments about its performance, including Turnbull’s claim that it showed that the Coalition is governing. He referred in particular the $6bn bank tax, gas export restrictions, the avoidance of Aboriginal Title restrictions on the $21bn Adani coal mine in Queensland, and the much publicised new arrangements for schools. The Weekend Australian observes critically that “the Prime Minister has won this victory only by adopting what even he argues is a purer version of Labor’s Gonski plan and by promising tens of billions of dollars that are yet to be raised and which, on the available evidence, will not necessarily boost education outcomes”.
In Friday’s Commentary I highlighted the editorial in The Australian saying “that Islamist terror cannot be bought off; it wants nothing less than a totalitarian caliphate for the planet. Jihad denialism, which wilfully obscures the wellsprings of Islamist violence, has limited appeal in Australia although its supporters include progressive elites with their media megaphones”. I also drew attention to the failure of Turnbull to make any reference to the likely source of the terrorist bombing in Manchester being Islamic and that he seemed “largely to be missing” from various references by other ministers to sources and the need for policy changes.