With less than a year to the next election (probably), it is hard to see what Malcolm Turnbull can do to turn the Titanic around.
Certainly voters disliked Abbott, but that wasn’t just because he was him (though I must admit that played its part). Malcolm will need to come up with some policy changes.
The positive rhetoric is a pleasant change and it gives a sense of hope which is good, but it’s like “stop the boats” – ok, good, and then what. Stopping the boats does nothing to help the refugee crisis any more than being optimistic addresses our economic challenges.
Already we have learned that Malcolm has signed a written promise to the National Party to never put a price on carbon while he is PM. Didn’t he learn from Gillard how those promises can come back to bite you? Bad judgement to make assurances like that.
Pretty much everyone in business knows that pricing carbon is inevitable. What they want is policy certainty so they know how to proceed.
Malcolm has agreed to a plebiscite on marriage equality which, in result terms, is probably a good thing because if our current Parliament was to vote, it appears they would vote against it despite the overwhelming majority of the public being in favour according to every poll. But why can’t it be at the same time as the federal election? Are we really that blasé that a cost of $100 million is not taken into consideration?
Christopher Pyne, despite conjecture that he will have a new role in the Turnbull Ministry, went ahead with announcing his new education policy which smacks of ideology and bureaucracy rather than student need.
Barnaby Joyce has been given control of water. Who can tell what that might mean? Oh for an environment minister that didn’t have the courage of the puppy in the window, or a science minister who would listen to the CSIRO in preference to Barnaby’s special friend, Gina Rinehart.
Malcolm’s record on the NBN has been shameful. Will he persist when his own people are wishing out loud that the multi-mix technology approach would just go away because the promises cannot be met?
The doctors have no doubt been on to Malcolm about the freeze in Medicare payments and other proposed changes. Will the $20 billion medical research fund go ahead?
It will be an interesting mix of egos having Turnbull and Morrison working together. Turnbull might want to go for an early election to validate his leadership while popularity is high. Morrison might want to make his mark by producing the budget that saves the world – then again, he will have to explain away growing debt, deficit and unemployment so may well want to avoid that challenge before an election.
Will Morrison display the same steely determination towards taxation reform that he did to repelling asylum seekers? Will the price of reform be borne by low income earners or will tax concessions be back on the table?
I know it has only been a few days but the early signs have not been promising. One symbolic announcement would have been enough to keep us going like when the Whitlam government in its very first week removed sales tax from the contraceptive pill and made oral contraceptives available via the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Give us a sign Malcolm. You’ve made promises to the Nationals and to the right wingers . . . how about some promises to the Australian people? Something . . . anything that reassures us that we haven’t just swapped the word nope for the word hope.