Today’s Newspoll shows the Coalition still behind Labor on third party preference votes by 49/51 and indicates that only 41per cent think the tax-cutting budget was “good”. But the improvement in Turnbull’s Better PM rate to 46/35, compared with the 38/35 at the previous Newspoll, has led The Australian to present the poll as a major victory to Turnbull, to argue that the budget was “one of the most well-received …in a decade”, and to claim “the result maintains an electoral position for the Coalition that it has not enjoyed since September 2016”. It also says the result “builds momentum” for the five by-elections expected in early July (see attached Newspoll Shows No TPP Change on Budget).
The slight improvement in the Coalition’s TPP (from 48/52 to 49/51) is scarcely something to write home about and did not reflect a “bounce”, as The Australian headlined it. The improvement might have been helped by Turnbull’s announcement of Commonwealth contributions to a railway to Melbourne’s airport and to two Queensland projects (see Newspoll 23 April). But it is not good tidings that Turnbull continues to fail to attract majority polling when his “jobs and growth” policy is consistent with what is actually happening in the economy, although not necessarily causing it.
The 30th Newspoll since Turnbull challenged Abbott and won has confirmed that Labor remains well ahead on a TPP basis (52/48), although this is one percentage point lower for Labor than in March. However, Turnbull’s Better PM test also fell by a fraction (39/38) while Shorten’s was steady on 36, and he also fell on the Best Liberal leader test 30/28. At that level he is only one percentage point ahead of Bishop (28/27). The Coalition underTurnbull has now trailed Labor on two-party-preferred support for 564 days. Julia Gillard’s government trailed the Coalition for 521 consecutive days, Abbott’s government trailed Labor for 493 days while Howard’s longest period trailing Labor was 364 days (see PM has 30 Poll Losses).
As 2018 starts it is pertinent to ask whether we might expect an improved performance by the Turnbull government if it continues during the year. Turnbull himself had an article in Sunday’s Herald Sun and the heading to the article implies he is telling us just that, viz TIME TO FOCUS ON FUTURE (see attached, which I could only obtain digitally by first making a phone call to a technician at Herald Sun HQ as, rather surprisingly, they it did not have it on its web). Turnbull also sent me a message personally yesterday - and others too, presumably! (see My Message From Turnbull & use the right clicks).
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”.
Various developments emerging since yesterday’s Commentary suggest that the quick decision to establish a new National Energy Guarantee (NEG) may largely reflect concerns by Turnbull about his continued poor polling and that “something needs to be done” to repair that.
As expected, the London address by Abbott has led to many critiques, including some that attempt to present his analysis as ridiculous partly be being selective in quotes. I respond to some of these critiques below. Suffice to say here is that the response so far by Turnbull and Frydenberg is basically limited to saying “well he didn’t say that when he was PM” (see Frydeneberg’s Critique of Abbott). Turnbull has refused to comment on Abbott’s address but has rejected any withdrawal from the Paris agreement (see Turnbull to Stick to Paris) But the responses by some backbenchers indicate that Abbott has stirred the possum –and on more than one tree. He has also reinforced (without actually saying it) the problems with Turnbull. In The Australian, Simon Benson points out that the government led by Turnbull has created a policy vacuum and “when the government does finally dump the CET, Abbott will doubtless be there congratulating them for finally listening to him” (see Benson on Turnbull).
Today’s Australian runs a front page story saying that “Australian households are paying 60 per cent more for their power than those in the US and double their Canadian counterparts”. But while Minister Frydenberg acknowledges that our power cost is “still too high”, he claims that most of the price hike occurred under Labor and that the Turnbull government is “taking unprecedented action to reduce pressure on …household bills “(see “Electricity Bills”). Short of subsidising electricity it is difficult however to envisage significant falls. Frydenberg has dug himself so deeply in the Turnbull camp that is difficult to see how he can get out. Readers of my Commentaries will be aware of the widespread scepticism about the various policy changes first being considered by Turnbull and then dropped or put on one side. As to falls in electricity bills, Frydenberg’s attempt to shift the blame on to Labor seemingly overlooks the recent large increases imposed by my retail supplier AGL and doubtless other similarly large retailers too.
The lead front page item in today’s Australian reports Abbott as indicating publicly that he will not support a clean energy target and that he advocates subsidies cease to be paid on wind and solar projects. The Australian also publishes an article by Abbott explaining his position. Both articles are attached. Abbott’s own article seems well written and, for the increasing number of sceptics on climate policy, it contains a sensible approach to energy policy which, inter alia, would ensure a reduction in electricity prices.