Some will remember from their youth US singer Dean Martin singing this catchy tune “The bells are ringing for me and my gal. The birds are singing for me and my gal. Ev'rybody's been knowing to a wedding they're going. And for weeks they've been sewing every Suzie and Sal” With Frank Sinatra, Martin rose to the top before dying of emphanezema in the mid 1990s. Perhaps this fall from the top of his profession was the reason this song was the first one to come into my head when I heard of the appalling behaviour by Smith as captain of Australia’s cricket team in allowing the scrabbling of one side of the ball used in a test match. This has significance beyond cricket. It encourages widespread antagonism to other supposed leaders in Australian society and will make life more difficult for future Australian cricket teams, possibly even extending to other sports played internationally. The announced penalty imposed on only three players for only a year by cricket CEO Sutherland is a weak response that must be changed.
Following my Commentary of 10 December my computer became unusable for over a week and I missed the opportunity of commenting on the final Newspoll for 2017 on 18 December. Despite inclinations in some media that the Coalition might improve, its TPP remained at 47/53 and, although the “Better PM” indicator lifted Turnbull’s to a poor 41 (from 39), Shorten’s also rose to 34 (from 33). Both leaders’ performances were left at a miserable 32 “Satisfied”. Various events/decisions by the Leaders seem to have cancelled each other out and the swing of 5% against the Liberals in the 16 December Bennelong election can be regarded as “normal” for a by-election . But the deficiencies in Coalition policy stances remained extant and the Coalition needed a much better than normal outcome.
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”.