ScoMo calm amid storms
FIRST 100 DAYS: ‘I just don’t get flustered’
PRIME Minister Scott Morrison has praised re-elected Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, saying the state’s Liberal Party failed to make a case for change in last weekend’s election.
In an exclusive interview with News Corp Australia to mark his 100th day in the top job, Mr Morrison urged his federal colleagues not to be spooked by the result, which would see the Coalition lose six seats in Victoria if the swing was replicated at the May federal election.
“We are not making a case for change. It was for the Liberal Party in Victoria to make a case for change which they didn’t make,” he said.
He said many of the voters didn’t even consider the Liberal Party when casting their ballot “simply because they thought Dan Andrews was doing a good job”.
“Dan Andrews successfully convinced Victorians that they shouldn’t make a change,” he said. “It’s a compliment to Dan Andrews. It’s not our job to be spooked.”
Mr Morrison’s comments come 100 days after he unexpectedly took over as Prime Minister and was given the unenviable task of uniting a deeply divided party.
Five months from polling day, Mr Morrison has lost two MPs to the crossbench and is heading for electoral defeat. But he still believes he can beat Labor’s Bill Shorten: “Of course I can.” Mr Morrison said he’d like more stability in his party and wasn’t surprised by the months of chaos after the leadership spill.
“As a leader, you’ve got to deal with whatever comes your way,” he said. “When there are these types of events in politics, there are the ripples that follow. I’ve been around politics long enough to know that this was inevitable.”
When Kevin Rudd reached his first 100 days in office, he ordered staff to print glossy books detailing his achievements. Mr Morrison will spend the day on a plane from Argen- tina where he attended the G20 conference. He’s the third PM to represent Australia at the summit since 2014, and said other leaders did inquire about the latest change.
Back in Canberra tomorrow, Mr Morrison is expected to face another week of chaos in parliament as Labor and the expanded crossbench try to use their numbers to refer Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to the High Court, and push agendas such as an anti-corruption body and removing detainees from Nauru and Manus Island.
Amid last week’s chaos, which culminated in Victorian MP Julia Banks’s resignation from the Liberal Party, Mr Morrison said panicked colleagues asked him how he remained so calm.
“I just don’t get flustered,” he said. “When you’ve done some of the things I’ve had to do, particularly in those first few months, you can’t blink, you can’t flinch, you don’t get intimidated by anything or anybody.”
CONGRATULATIONS Prime Minister – it is 100 days today since you took the reins from Malcolm Turnbull.
At times it must seem like 100 weeks, or perhaps 100 years?
You hit the ground running, ScoMo, and seemed to be moving well around the country building a new and friendly brand for the Coalition.
Your charm offensive has worked to a degree; but for every step forward, it’s two steps back. You can’t take a trick. One day you hit a happy nerve with an announcement, and instantly someone rains on your parade.
People outside the party are obviously trying to upset the apple cart. But the most damage is coming from within the ranks of your own party.
Between now and the next election – likely in May – it looks like death by 1000 cuts.
At the moment, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s new best friend is Malcolm Turnbull who, according to some reports, is working furiously behind the scenes to destroy the Coalition’s slender chances at the next poll.
The latest upset, ScoMo, was dissident Victorian MP Julia Banks moving from the dwindling ranks to the cross benches. Ouch! That makes things tough for you on the floor as you’ve been pushed further into minority government.
But she may get her come- uppance in May when she tries to explain to her electorate why she changed her Liberal stripes.
Ms Banks has painted the Liberals as anti-women and, with her departure, just 12 of the 74 Liberal MPs are women. It’s not a good look.
But Prime Minister, three Australian states still have Liberal governments. Maybe their good work can save you?
There’s the NSW Liberal Government led by Premier Gladys Berejiklian in your home state. They’re in pretty good shape and will be going for a third term in office at the election in March 2019.
Worth remembering though, that no Coalition has won a third term since 1971.
Working in the NSW Coalition’s favour is the Labor Opposition in some disarray, particularly as their leader left under a cloud recently, accused of groping a female reporter at a Christmas bash.
In South Australia, Liberal Premier Steven Marshall was swept into office in March this year, after 16 years of Labor.
He has enjoyed eight months of stability, but that all changed last week.
Turmoil in the party room bubbled to the surface on Tuesday when four Liberal MPs crossed the floor three times to vote with Labor to delay a vote on mining reforms.
The next day the gloves came off as backbencher Nick McBride, on the ABC, accused his Premier and the Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan of stealing an old Labor mining Bill that upset regional electorates, and trying to ram it through Parliament.
Not pretty. With friends like that, Premier Marshall doesn’t need enemies. So that leaves Tassie. Well ScoMo, don’t bank on the Liberal stocks here being high next May.
The situation in the island state is your local Liberal Government is under pressure on a few fronts, and not handling it well.
When problems or issues confront our State Government, ministers move like glaciers to bury them. Problems just fester for months.
Government strategists seem asleep at the wheel.
No problem in Tassie is hit quickly on the head and dispensed with.
No one takes a firm hand. Leadership is weak and people are exasperated.
On Thursday, the last sitting day for the year, the Premier survived a no-confidence motion by a single vote, ironi-
e situation in the island state is your local Liberal Government is under pressure on a few fronts, and not handling it well.
cally saved by Speaker Sue Hickey.
Hopefully he bought her a drink that night.
The Adam Brooks saga has been hanging around like a bad smell for years.
Now found guilty by the Integrity Commission, he’s been slapped with a feather and demoted from being a Government Whip, and only after a public uproar did he decide to cough up the almost $60,000 legal bill for appearing before the commission.
Until then, the Government looked like it would pay up for Brooks’ legal fees.
The ailing health system and Royal Hobart Hospital upgrade has been a thorn in the side of the past three governments and guess what? – it is getting worse, by all accounts.
In Opposition, the Libs gave Labor the big stick over health up until Labor was bundled out of office in 2013.
And after five years running the health system, it seems nothing much has changed.
The public sector 2 per cent wage issue has been simmering forever, and people who wouldn’t have dreamt of industrial action a year ago are now driven to the streets in protest. Then there’s Minister Sarah Courtney’s relationship with her former department head. It seems they fell in love.
The circumstances may not have been perfect and the rules bent a little, but face the facts and let them get on with it. Maybe even support her!
So ScoMo, you’ll need to pull a few rabbits from the hat over the next few months, otherwise it will be Opposition Leader Bill Shorten pouring gin and tonics on the lawns at Kirribilli House in June.