Saturday April 7 2018
No doubt as one day amalgamates with the next the media will feed itself into a frenzy over the inevitable 30th Newspoll in which the Prime Minister will have, by his words, self judged his performance.
Sure, he will have equalled his predecessor’s record and in doing so each will lay claim to the dubious position of being just as bad as the other. But in all probability it would be fair to say that Turnbull will surpass Abbott by a long-shot.
Realistically though, forgetting the individual leaders for a moment, what we are looking at is a government that, come Monday, will have lost 60 Newspolls in a row and given its intention to go the distance, the figure may go to 90. Needless to say that the Coalition will have spent around four and a half years chasing the tail of their opposition.
That they have learned nothing in that time goes without saying, and you have to hand it to Shorten and his team. They have out-politicked the Coalition at every turn and have been aided and abetted by stupidity from Turnbull and his cohort of highly-educated but dunderheaded politicians.
Birmingham’s botch with Catholic Education, Turnbull and Frydenberg’s mismanagement of Energy, Turnbull’s failure to sell his tax cuts and his party’s head in the sand attitude towards marriage equality. You can add into that some individual personality traits that leave the public cold.
Together with Shorten’s political cunning the opposition has left the government with not much to look forward to. Even their official conservative newsletter The Australian is beginning to concede that they will find it very difficult to win the next election.
Dennis Shanahan concedes that Shorten, with a revised Franking Credit policy that won’t affect pensioners, has outwitted Turnbull, and bested the government on political strategy and electoral strength. Add to that a disastrous quarterly state by state Newspoll analysis, and you can see their predicament.
On Thursday night they dragged out an ageing former Prime Minister to confront a bemused Lee Sales (what are you doing here?) to talk up the party’s chances at the next election. Instead, he made them seem as old in ideas as Howard himself.
“They will be very unhappy and very angry with the parliamentary party if, through what they regard as their negligence, the opportunity of pinning the Labor Party on many policy failures is passed over.”
“Instead of searching within when we are at fault the first human reaction is to apportion blame elsewhere. Why is that so?”
This is how Paddy Manning put it in The Monthly:
“The Prime Minister and his senior colleagues were convinced the tax grab would alienate Labor voters and give the Coalition a lift in the latest Newspoll”, Shanahan writes, “perhaps even heading off the dreaded 30th losing Newspoll survey in a row”. He concludes: “people are not listening to the Coalition.”
Elsewhere in the Oz, Victorian political editor John Ferguson writes [$] that the Newspoll, which shows the government heading for inevitable defeat, will divide the Coalition.
In another article the following day Manning said:
“Suddenly and yet predictably, the waters have risen around Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, whom, we learnt last night, may have already lost the support of his party room ahead of Monday’s 30th losing Newspoll. Whether the leadership challenge comes from Julie Bishop, Peter Dutton, Tony Abbott or a resurrected Peter Costello, it seems only a matter of time.”
When Malcolm Turnbull came to power, I, like many others, naively thought that after Abbott’s confrontational gutter style politics we would see a new era in the practice of political discourse. Not exactly a lovey dovey one but at least it would be sensible and reasoned. After all, Malcolm for some time had been doing the rounds of media programs espousing his own particular brand of diplomatic civility. He was overwhelming seen as the conservative leader we had to have.
At the time I wrote:
“Conversely, Malcolm Turnbull, will it appears, obtain the office with a calculated mixture of personal charm, reasonableness, and consummate diplomacy. He presents a façade of calm confidence and understanding in stark contrast to Abbott who shows all of the traits of a man who has lost control of his emotions.”
The Saturday Paper in December 2015 said this of Turnbull:
“He has worked up a lovely public persona: as cultured as Keating but blessed with a kinder sense of humour; as intelligent as Rudd but far from as malevolent. And somehow, with his green-froth-drinking diet success and his endearing leather jackets and business shirts, his Stephen Fry-like adoration of gadgets and mastery of social media, his raffish smile and mellifluous voice, he has formed the perfect personality for most popular, and probably most trusted, politician in the nation.”
Now his future looks as black as the stuff that will bring about his inevitable downfall. Social media is alive with the news that a party room meeting has been called for Monday morning and that Peter Dutton will challenge. I cannot vouch for the veracity of that but it well maybe that the PM has lost control of his party and that the lovers of the black dust, the science haters, have won the day.
But wait, surely this cannot be right! This must be fake news or someone making mischief. Peter Dutton challenging Malcolm Turnbull. Parliament doesn’t return until May. Peter Dutton? NO. Pull the other one.
Back to Turnbull. I wrote three years ago that:
Try as one might it is difficult to feel even a touch of remorse for a man who sold out all his long-held beliefs for the title of Prime Minister of Australia.
When he allows and condones the xenophobic racist rhetoric of the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton any thoughts I had left that he might bring a new era of politics have been finally laid to rest.
Given that all this is true and a challenge is imminent, Turnbull does have a couple of things that could save him.
Firstly, he could threaten – if confronted by the possibility of being rolled – to immediately resign his seat and bring about a by-election.
Secondly, he could tell the party room that if they ditch him he will give them the greatest spray (the far-right in particular) ever given by a departing PM. Effectively he could bring the government down.
Either would have the effect of certain defeat.
Could it be that come Monday Tony Abbott will extract his full revenge by seeing his rival defeated? Will it finally reveal to the public that this has had nothing to do with the common good of the nation but everything to do with the ego’s of two men who’s only interest is their own grip on power?
Two men whose failures stand out like neon signs as testimony to their egocentric self indulgence. Turnbull for his hypocrisy and Abbott for his lying.
Now we have a group calling themselves the Monash Forum demanding that the government spend billions of taxpayer’s dollars building a new power station that would be unprofitable before completion. All the usual climate deniers are involved … Joyce, Kelly and Abbott etc. They are probably more intent on damaging the Prime Minister than anything else.
Senior ministers like Morison, the man who was just a short time ago exposing the virtues of coal with a piece of it in the parliament was now slapping down the idea. No, I’m not joking.
But the biggest kick up the backside came from the descendants of Monash himself when they said he would not have wanted to be associated with such an “anti-science and anti-intellectual” group.
Tony Abbott has said he will respond if Mr Turnbull loses a 30th Newspoll, arguing his rival should be expected to explain why the standard he set in 2015 does not apply to his own prime ministership.
And we the public will just have to contemplate our own collective conscience and ask ourselves why we elected either of them in the first place.
My thought for the day
“Power is a malevolent possession when you are prepared to forgo your principles and your country’s well-being for the sake of it.”
PS: Former prime minister Tony Abbott’s on-air claim that “there is a very serious situation developing in South Africa. Something like 400 white farmers have been murdered, brutally murdered, over the last 12 months,” was ranked “baseless” in an RMIT and ABC Fact Check. Lying comes so easy for the well-practiced.
PPS: Thanks to everyone who contributed to my post “A New Way Forward”. I have been a bit stressed out of late and needed a short break, but I will be onto it ASAP.