In my Commentary for 17 January I noted that “there is no sign yet of a more comprehensive presentation of Coalition policies even though Turnbull has gone”. Recent developments have now raised the question of what Morrison is actually seeking to achieve as leader of the Coalition. For example, his three day visit to Vanuatu and Fiji, accompanied by his wife, and the announcement of financial provisions for extensive infrastructure and other aid have made it appear an important initiative for Australia
The extent of the Coalition’s loss in the Victorian elections far exceeds predictions in pre-election polling: it looks like a 5% swing against the Coalition which could mean they hold only 25 seats in a Lower House of 88 total seats and could lose 5 of their 16 seats in the Upper House, which has 40 seats. As such their capacity to constitute an effective opposition will be difficult, to say the least. The unanswered question is why such a loss has occurred particularly in the so-called sand-belt area on the east coast of Port Phillip bay which would include middle income groups.
Not surprisingly there has been no response to my suggestion in yesterday’s Commentary that Victorian Attorney General Pakula should resign because he falsely told Victorians that the Victorian police had not received information from Federal agencies indicating that Shire Ali was a jihadist. Now, we also know that, for six days, Victorian Premier Andrews “kept to himself the fact that Shire Ali … had actually been out on bail”
In my Commentary published on 18 November I suggested the handling of the Bourke St incident indicated serious deficiencies. This has been confirmed by developments since then. Most important has been the statement by Victorian Attorney General Pakula that Victorian police had not received information from federal sources which would warrant them acting to at least monitor the now dead Muslim terrorist, Shire Ali. But Victorian police chief Ashton subsequently announced that they had in fact received the necessary federal information. This prompted me to send a letter to the press arguing that Pakula should resign but, as he has stuck to his guns and has been supported by Victorian Premier Andrews, that won’t happen a couple of days before the election (see OZ on Bourke St Terrorist Revelations and Pakula Claims Not Informed of Terrorists Passport Withdrawal).
Last Sunday’s Commentary on the killing by a Somalian (Shire Ali) in Bourke St gave the gist of PM Morrison’s reaction that “I am the first to protect religious freedom in this country, but it also means I must be the first to call out religious extremism,” he said. “Religious extremism takes many forms around the world, and no religion is immune from it … But here in Australia, we would be kidding ourselves if we did not call out the fact that the greatest threat of religious extremism … is the radical and dangerous ideology of extremist Islam.”