It might sound strange initially but, one suspects the election of Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister will be seen as a welcome change by Labor supporters, almost immeasurably so; one that is two years overdue.
Although the likelihood of a Coalition gain in the polls is fairly high, at least temporarily, the removal of such an embarrassing, ill equipped national leader, one who, I believe, devalued the office and one who should never have been appointed, trumps everything.
Having said that, the performance of the government is still the main issue and will remain so. They have failed on so many fronts, economically, environmentally, commercially and socially.
Those failures have been well documented and although contested by many as a latent inheritance, are nonetheless evident in the statistics current today when compared with statistics at the time the people of Australia chose to elect a Coalition government by default.
They have failed on all 22 indicators they put forward in 2013 upon which they accepted they would be judged. They were:
- Economic growth
- Trade deficit
- Terms of trade
- Government debt
- Job participation
- Higher wages
- Lower taxes
- Interest rates
- National income growth
- Gross domestic product per capita
- Business confidence
- Economic freedom
- Small government
- Government spending
- Government waste
- Global competitiveness
- Long term unemployment.
You will find greater detail of these failures here.
In every category listed above they promised improvement. Yet in every category today, the position is worse. This is the economic record of the current government. The myth that the Coalition are the better economic managers is exposed for the fallacy that it is.
This is what Australia has to show for itself after two years of the so called adults being back in charge. In the meantime, the rest of the OECD world is showing improvement.
Up until yesterday, Tony Abbott and his relevant ministers owned this deplorable result. Today, Malcolm Turnbull owns it. And, having been a prominent part of this failure, particularly in his own portfolio, he cannot say, as Abbott once stupidly said, “Good government starts today.”
He may be able to redeem some credibility by sacking half his ministry but it remains to be seen if the replacements are any better. It remains to be seen if the economic indicators they chose to be judged upon, improve. I suspect they won’t.
Turnbull says he will lead “a totally liberal government” whatever that is supposed to mean. To this writer, liberal means progressive, casting off the outdated and regressive norms of the past two centuries and entering a new, enlightened, non-judgmental, all embracing community where diversity is the norm.
It is hard to see him discarding the shackles of Edwardianism which has for the past two decades defined the Liberal National Coalition. He will still have too many of his enemies inside the camp.
While it is staggering to me that 44 of his parliamentary colleagues voted to retain the likes of Tony Abbott and appear willing to charge full steam into the electoral valley of death, I suspect they were all sitting in blue ribbon seats and felt their jobs were safe.
No elected officer should ever be allowed to feel safe. Safety in public life breeds contempt for those they serve, breeds complacency, breeds corruption. We shall see how efficiently or otherwise this new broom sweeps.
In the meantime, if Labor is to hold its position in the polls it will have to do better. It can no longer expect to be elected by default as was this government. Its destiny will be determined by its policies.
Turnbull is right when he nominated the economy as the principal driver. Labor’s economic record clearly demonstrates it to be superior in policy and implementation. Yet public opinion would see it the other way. Why?
The answer may be a media bias, but it shouldn’t be. Good management will prevail if explained properly and understood. Labor could have defeated the Murdoch press if it had not allowed itself to be bullied into a corner.
But it will now need to be better. Better in leadership, in articulation, in demonstrating clearly its vision. The present government has never had a vision beyond governing for today. It has relied too heavily on the Murdoch press masking its weaknesses.
Labor’s challenge is, as it always has been, to expose that for the truth that it is.