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Day to Day Politics: The problems of weak and pathetic leadership. What happens now?

Friday, October 13, 2017

On the eve of a fresh Newspoll early next week and a run of bad news days it is unlikely to be good news. As things stand it is also unlikely that the Coalition can win the next election.

Former Liberal leader John Hewson has recognised this and urged Malcolm Turnbull to defy Tony Abbott in the party room over climate and energy policy. Hewson and others are right in their advisement. Tony Abbott’s latest visit to London has been greeted with astonishment by everyone with half a brain with his only support coming from like-minded people of no brains at all. (paywall) says that “Keeping track of Tony Abbott’s views on climate change can be a tough task. So they assembled the most comprehensive list of climate positions since the days of Julius Caesar and Jesus of Nazareth.” They went on to note 17 different positions he has taken on the subject.

Although he is a self described liar of prodigious proportion he still holds sway in the party room. It’s time for Turnbull to confront him. But I bet he won’t.

Even the nation’s peak business group has rejected calls for Australia to walk away from its pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

My tip is that that’s exactly what they plan to do. Abbott and the mad hatters will win the day and it will be announced the day the High Court announces its ruling on citizenship.

The mystery of why Turnbull won’t confront the climate denier fanatics of the Coalition is really not a mystery at all. To do so would simply cost him his job. The letter of agreement between he, Barnaby Joyce and the Nationals stipulates that he must toe the line with the nutters on a “Renewable Energy Target.” Although he has in the past been a strong supporter of the target and the means by which we approach the issue of climate policy, he is willing to be seen as a weak, hypocritical leader to retain his job.

He is also a coward for not standing up for what he knows and believes is right. He even gave a couple of million dollars in support of his own candidature.

But what has he to lose? To sack him would be a disaster because the other candidates are about as popular as Nick Kyrgios having a bad day. What if he did? He would have broken an agreement worth nothing, made himself more unpopular internally than he already is, but restored the public’s confidence in his leadership. The more astute in the party know that to change leader at this stage of the election cycle would be political suicide. And of course he could resign and threaten a by-election.

It’s easy to make a case for him. If he doesn’t show some character then maybe he is just a weak individual with no spine at all.

The mood of the electorate as we approach Christmas is one of anger and I suspect that the resulting high turn out in the Marriage Equality survey is as much a protest about the standard of governance we have been forced to endure for far to long, as much as it is, about spending $120 million to find out something we already knew.

There is still much to happen before the nation goes into its annual hibernation. Will the future of the Liddell coal mine be announced? The government will be doing everything it can to see that the run up to the festive season is smooth, even using some misery to cover up other miseries or to camouflage others.

Who knows, we could even have a bi-election for Joyce’s seat. But all theses issues will be random and take no particular order. Every issue has its own set of complications. If the YES vote wins there will be arguments about religious protections, dual citizenship, a bi-election with a resulting swing against the government. Brandis might even resign and we will have a cabinet reshuffle mid January. Now that would bruise an ego or two but accomplish little without any quality personal.

Whatever happens there are plenty of cluster bombs ready to explode and cause further damage to a government in a permanent state of shell shock.

The Coalition might even surprise with a narrative for the future, a plan or even a blueprint. But heck, they have tried all those before.

Some say with all these issues out of his way the Prime Minister will have a fresh start in 2018. But beware the “residue” of 2017. Yes, it is difficult to forget or forgive the residue of 2017.

My thought for the day.

“In the recipe of what makes a good leader there are many ingredients. Self-awareness is one. The innate ability to know who you are and what your capabilities and limitations are. The need to have the aptitude to motivate people with your vision. Often the art of leadership is the ability to bring those otherwise opposed to your view, to accept it. It is also about delegation, empathy and understanding. It can also require from time to time the making of unpopular decisions. Decisions like going to war. However when they consistently imply the leaders own morality and spiritual beliefs they are more akin to autocracy.”

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  1. Abu Seme Alakat

    I would hope that Malcolm has enough sense to ignore any election-winning advice that John Hewson might offer.

    John Hewson can’t stand any Liberal leader that actually – you know – beat Labor.

  2. John Lord

    John Hewson is one of the last remnants of what the Liberal Party once was.

  3. helvityni

    Abu Seme Alakat, Hewson is the ONLY Liberal I like and respect…..

  4. Abu Seme Alakat

    That’s understandable, Helvi – Hewson is/was only liked by those who would never vote for him. He’s a loser. Just like Latham.

    Malcolm was silly enough to believe those that would never ever vote for him, that he would draw flocks of new voters to the Liberal party. Wrong!

    Those same never-Liberal voters now proclaim how disappointed they are in Malcolm. What, precisely did they invest in him if not a single vote?

  5. Terry2


    The Liberal party has changed beyond recognition since Hewson was Leader : if anything, the Labor Party now look more like the original Liberal Party than the rabble that Turnbull his trying to muster.

    The next election will not so much be about who leads the country but who lead the Liberal Party. There is an existential struggle going on within the Liberals and if the Abbott, Dutton, Abetz faction come to dominate that will be the end of Liberalism in Australia and they will have to abandon that descriptor as it becomes misleading and deceptive.

  6. Abu Seme Alakat

    Interesting thoughts, Terry2. At least the Liberal party spell their misnomer correctly. The failed Turnbull “experiments” culminating in 2009 and likely early 2018 are over.

    Failed to articulate an argument for a Republic, Failed as Opposition Leader, Failed as PM. What four-letter word starting with “F” shrouds the hapless Malcolm?

  7. Jack

    Hewson has drifted well left in the 25 years or so since his tilt ended(likewise how Latham has drifted right). He is hardly a liberal anymore. His business is in solar power now. If he agreed with anything the LNP said it would be against his commercial interests. Always follow the money

  8. John Lord

    Jack, that’s true however he is on the right side of the argument and is following true conservative ideology in terms of economic policy.

  9. Klaus Petrat

    John Lord, generally enjoying your articles, I am utterly amazed that you still give Malcolm the benefit of doubt.

    He is beholden to big business, can’t stand up in front of cabinet and as you pointed out rightly, does not stand up for what he knows is right.

    The man has no spine, never had. He is void of character and his guiding principles are NOT the Common Good, but staying in the job.

    His only principles I might add.

  10. John Lord

    Krause I don’t know how you conclude that. I have written so much denouncing him. I was just putting forward the possibilities prior to Christmas.

  11. Abu Seme Alakat

    “can’t stand up in front of cabinet”? All he need do is quit and they have lost their single seat majority and therefore government. It is Malcolm who holds his party by the short-and-curlies.

  12. Klaus Petrat

    Agree ABU. He does. But the fact that he doesn’t act confirms his spineless character.

  13. Harquebus

    John Hewson is another economist know-nothing who, by advocating growth has contributed to our current predicament. There are no politicians with the foresight and courage needed to extract us from it.

    I keep saying that politicians need to represent their constituents. In respect to foresight and courage, perhaps they do.

  14. Abu Seme Alakat

    As a brilliant schoolboy, Malcolm was assured that he would be PM one day. Bucket list ticked. Now what? He’s found his conservative mojo a little too late. Australians will vote for a strong conservative time and again – John Howard won four elections. Like Keating, Malcolm is a “oncer”.

  15. wam

    ‘Although he is a self described liar of prodigious proportion he still holds sway in the party room. Its time for Turnbull to confront him. But I bet he won’t.’ Then you show why your bet is a certainty by ‘To do so would simply cost him his job’.

    “On a more personal level there are what we call white lies where we deliberately colour what we say in shades of hue to protect the feelings of others or ourselves, or to avoid argument” Lord 2014 this is the confessed lies of the rabbott to avoid the ‘shit happens’ scenes.

    What sort of a lie was Gillard’s ‘there will be no carbon tax’?
    What sort of a lie was the loonies forcing a carbon tax on her?

    Truth is what you believe and the rabbott et al speak their truth.

    Remember trumball got done on climate in 2009. Then, arguably, rudd got ‘greened’ on climate then gillard got greened on climate which gave the rabbott his supreme slogan ‘juliar?

    Will trumball repeat history? mark kenny bets he wont:

    When you were young, like the blacks you didn’t see till the shiny africans you didn’t see Rashomon.

    Film Club: Rashomon and the Notion of Truth in Akira Kurosawa’s films

    The bottom line is HONESTY, lord, truth is dependent on belief. Surely nobody can doubt the rabbott speaks his truth on climate change.
    We want honest politicians whose words have trust.

    (Gillard may have been speaking the truth that the greens turned into a lie but, perhaps, she could have been honest in public to explain the back flip)

    Of all the tragedies of aussie politics, The good from keating not withstanding, the birthday cake tops the bill. Oh how different Australia could have been if hewson knew his GST.(mrs petrov and senator fields complete my trilogy).

  16. Joseph Carli

    ” A Weak Prince who Succeeds an Excellent Prince Can Be Maintained, but Any Kingdom Cannot Be Maintained If a Weak One Is Succeeded by Another Weak One” (discourses of Machiavelli )
    Rudd/Gillard Labor put in place all those GFC saving policies and a string of good social policies that this current mob of losers in the LNP are spending all their time trying to dismantle and NO TIME creating anything to put in their place..only breaking the machine further.

  17. wam

    Spot on joseph keating howard gillard the rabbott the lnp are maintainers

  18. MikeW

    You have shown half of Gillard’s quote which is usually what the right wing media print the full quote is:
    “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead, but mark my words there will be a price on carbon”.

  19. Abu Seme Alakat

    “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead. What we will do is we will tackle the challenge of climate change. We’ve invested record amounts in solar and renewable technologies. Now I want to build the transmission lines that will bring that clean green energy into the national electricity grid. I also want to make sure we have no more dirty, coal-fired power stations. I want to make sure we’re driving greener cars and working from greener buildings. I will be delivering those things and leading our national debate to reach a consensus about putting a cap on carbon pollution.”

    This was a fair statement, however one hung parliament later, Julia was happy to be Bob Brown’s bitch as well as Bill Ludwig’s.

  20. Joseph Carli

    ABU’…Quoting “The Australian” on these pages, is as welcome as offering free-sample Bubonic Plague biscuits at an Organic Farmers Market.

  21. Abu Seme Alakat

    Sorry Joseph –

    Yes, she said the words “Debate” and “Consensus”. Out the window in 2011. Ohmigod a politican can break a promise you say??!!

  22. Kaye Lee

    I absolutely object to anyone describing a woman as someone’s bitch. It is that sort of insidious misogyny that allows domestic violence to flourish in this country.

  23. Joseph Carli

    Nothing wrong with Julia Gillard, Abu’…nothing at all..

  24. Abu Seme Alakat

    Yes, point taken – apologies for using that fraught term. If only there was some apparel that implies – nay, demands unconsenting congress with another ex-PM…

  25. The Pied Piper

    It seems to me that the prophetic poem The Second Coming by Yeats is especially relevant to the essentially unsolvable conundrum that all of humankind is facing.
    Furthermore much/most/all of what is now being dramatized as “conservatism” is a dangerous form of individual and collective psychosis – the mad monk being exhibit #1. Tragically these psychotic loons who pretend that know what is best for the rest of us are full of self-deluded passionate intensity. And most/all of what they advocate and practice will create more and more anarchy “loosed upon the world”

  26. Glenn Barry

    Klaus Petrat, John Lord – I am going to agree to disagree with you both, however, like Klaus I’m not criticising your appraisal of Turnbull, and I have read much more forceful words of condemnation from you previously.

    I found it most illuminating reading the unauthorised biography about Turnbull, and it came clear that whenever Malcolm spoke, supposedly with conviction, that he was merely tailoring his words to the perceived audience.

    So the supposed convictions which he held never truly existed, because whatever he said was essentially and irrevocably disingenuous.

    I too share the disappointment, not so much in Turnbull’s failure, moreso that I was fooled by a man whose only real accomplishment, in my eyes, is that he was a convincing liar. All other considerations are subordinate

  27. guest

    Abu, Peta Credlin has admitted that the so-called carbon tax was not a tax at all. Gillard was remiss in not refuting it herself. As for deals with Greens, is that not what happens in politics? Turnbull has had to do it. Gillard had always said she would put a price on carbon. But a heckling crowd stirred up by rabid shock-jocks allows no time for reason.

  28. Andreas

    Abu Seme Alakat is too shy to use his real name. A coward. His excellent command of the English language unmasks him as an LNP troll hiding behind a muslim name. Why engage with him?

  29. helvityni

    Andreas, I get the feeling Abu is a Liberal troll, and not necessarily a male, sounds more like a female to me who is eerily familiar to me…..she/he might already be writing here under another pseudo. Indeed Andreas, an excellent command of English..

  30. Roswell

    Andreas and helvityni, I share your suspicions.

  31. Max Gross

    Hewson. Meh. Dr GST. Have you forgotten?

  32. Andreas

    Nothing forgotten, Max. But with the current bleating mob of imbeciles he appears as the sole sane voice from that quarter.

  33. wam

    sorry mike the words are irrelevant:

    Carbon tax is what she said and she fleetingly she had the media saying price sadly she let it slip and juliar was then uppermost in the minds of voters. Perhaps the worst but most effective destructive campaign ever done to a pollie ensued.

    A truth is she let the loonies(remember their xmas crucifiction of the wong/turnbull price??) con her by blackmail and she did not seek to avoid/explain the term carbon tax rather than the howard price why why why?? juliar is a tag which is still her mantra in the eyes of the people. That she did nothing is another load of bullshit but believed by 50% QED. Her name is political poison when to most here she was the best labor PM.

  34. guest

    Wam, Credlin admits it was a false campaign. It was worse than that; it was a disgrace and Gillard’s misogyne speech revealed the reality of that appalling harassment and character assassination. There were many perpetrators and the major culprit still parades his baseness and ignorance in public.

  35. Karlo

    Hewson not only wanted to introduce the GST but he was also an unapologetic economic neoliberal. But then again so was that economic boofhead Keating.

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