So the Coalition dump Malcolm Turnbull as leader and he decides to quit Parliament leading to a by-election in his seat of Wentworth. This no problem because he has a margin of seventeen percent. Ok, take a couple of percent off because the new candidate isn’t PM, another three or four for Mal’s personal following, five for the by-election protest vote, but there still should be a healthy margin for the Liberal candidate. Ok, they need more females in Parliament, but let’s not worry about that now, they decide that Dave Sharma is their man!
The day out from the election, Sportsbet is telling us that an Independent, Dr Kerrie Phelps has firmed from $3.25 to $1.33 favourite. No, this is not a gambling ad. I’m just pointing out that it seems there’s been quite a bit of money wagered on her to win. People putting their money on something is lot better indicator of people’s expectation than the prognostications of politicians trying to portray themselves as the underdog or journalists trying to fill columns or airspace.
Facing possible defeat, a few people have lashed out, suggesting that Turnbull hasn’t helped the current candidate enough. I guess they need someone to blame and it’s harder to use Labor this time around. Still, if you think about it, expecting Malcolm to help out is a bit like expecting your dumped ex-partner to help you with your Tinder profile. Or Barnaby Joyce wondering if his estranged wife would like to babysit Sebastian, so he and Vikki could have a nice dinner together.
The desire for Malcolm’s presence is one of those strange paradoxes. If Turnbull is not that good at politics, he’s hardly needed, but if Turnbull can help boost the votes by campaigning, it begs the question: Why did you dump him?
Lately I find myself wondering if I’ve been dropped into my own version of “The Truman Show” where everybody’s watching to see how ridiculous they can make politics before I start looking for the camera to announce that I’m onto the game and they need to take back to the real world. It was absurd enough when the electorate turned on Labor who steered us through the GFC without a recession. And at least Labor could answer the question, “Why did you just change leader?” with the response that they thought the new one had a better chance at the election. The recent Liberal answer to the same question seems to be: “Because we didn’t want Peter Dutton” or “Let’s not talk about the past… or the future, for that matter… Let’s just concentrate on the present moment and… Oh look, is that a Royal or two doing something?”
But since then we’ve had PM Tony and his knighthoods, Trump, Brexit, Deputy PM Barnaby’s saga, and so many other things that I could keep writing for hours and still miss something. As I commented the other day, Scott Morrison warning us that electing an Independent could lead to instability was just about the silliest thing I’d heard for a while. With the Liberals you know just what you’ll get, apparently. I presume he didn’t mean, you know you’ll get a change of leader.
Of course, the week wasn’t over.
Apparently Barnaby Joyce has decided that backbench life isn’t good enough for him, even if he is a Special Envoy. He made a strong pitch for leadership in an interview where he explained that the Coalition shouldn’t be criticised for “accidently” voting for Pauline’s motion because he rarely knew what he was voting for. I was expecting him to follow up by telling us it’s hard to keep track of what you’re doing when you’ve had that many beers.
Still, you can’t blame the Beat-rooter for being confused. Lately, Scottie has made it clear that he has many more positions than the missionary. He went from “religious freedom” meaning the right to exclude people to “let the gay children come unto religious schools” in just a couple of days. And Labor were suddenly anti-semitic for having exactly the same policy on the Israeli embassy as the Liberals until a few days ago. Or rather, for having exactly the same policy given there hasn’t been any decision on moving it yet.
In a vox pop, one guy said he liked the fact that Morrison was shifting our embassy to Jerusalem. Clearly this person hadn’t noted that our PM only said he was “open” to the idea. I suspect that his intention was to be “open” to the idea for just long enough to win Wentworth and then he could commission a report which would be delivered some time after the next general election and put in a drawer until people had time to read it.
Following Donald Trump’s lead is not the sort of thing I’d expect to end well. Lately, Forrest Trump has warned that if he finds out that the Saudis are responsible for killing Khashoggi, the journalist who disappeared after entering their embassy in Turkey, he’ll take severe action. If past USA administrations are any indication, this will mean bombing Iraq. In Trump’s case, he’ll probably choose to bomb Mexico because it’s closer.
Still there was some good news for Scottie this week. He even released a video (no, not the one on his appropriated website) where he was casually sitting on his desk in that oh-so-I’m-just-an average-baseball-cap-wearing-dude pose before standing up to tell us that unemployment was the best it’s been in six years.
Yep, we haven’t had figures like this since Labor were in office!
Of course, that was different because they were such poor economic managers that they had government debt approaching the debt limit of $300 billion, but the Coalition fixed that. They got rid of the debt limit altogether!