ScoMo calm amid storms

FIRST 100 DAYS: ‘I just don’t get flus­tered’

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - AN­NIKA SMETHURST

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.

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