Peta Credlin Bets against coun­try the fi­nal straw

Hot on the heels of los­ing 30 Newspolls, Mal­colm Turn­bull has scored a se­ries of own-goals that put his fit­ness for lead­er­ship into ques­tion

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS -

THIS was prob­a­bly never go­ing to be a good week for the Turn­bull Gov­ern­ment, but it didn’t need to be this bad ei­ther.

Fail­ing the lead­er­ship test that the Prime Min­is­ter had per­son­ally set as the bench­mark for felling his pre­de­ces­sor was al­ways go­ing to prompt the ques­tion: “If los­ing 30 con­sec­u­tive Newspolls made Tony Ab­bott a fail­ure, what does los­ing 30 Newspolls make you?” Par­tic­u­larly when you con­sider that Ab­bott won 25 seats and Turn­bull’s elec­toral record is a loss of 14.

Hav­ing watched the Rudd-Gil­lard-Rudd years from a ring­side seat, I still don’t un­der­stand how the mod­er­ate “brains-trust” thought the trans­ac­tional costs of re­mov­ing a first-term Lib­eral prime min­is­ter would be any dif­fer­ent. But this wasn’t as much about Ab­bott as it was about the re­moval of a con­ser­va­tive prime min­is­ter.

The bat­tle for supremacy be­tween the mod­er­ates and the con­ser­va­tives is a bat­tle for the soul of the Lib­eral Party. Mod­er­ates who were happy for Ab­bott to do the hard yards in op­po­si­tion, and he was the most suc­cess­ful op­po­si­tion leader in his­tory let’s not for­get, re­fused to coun­te­nance an­other long con­ser­va­tive-led prime min­is­ter­ship.

Those who know their party his­tory know the Lib­eral Party has only won gov­ern­ment from op­po­si­tion four times – Men­zies, Fraser, Howard and Ab­bott – and all led the party from the cen­treright.

In Howard’s time, mod- er­ates such as Christo­pher Pyne were on the outer, and af­ter Ab­bott’s win, not­with­stand­ing their own se­nior po­si­tions in his gov­ern­ment, they wanted party poli­cies to re­flect more of their ide­ol­ogy. They wanted to be in the “win­ner’s cir­cle”, re­gard­less of the cost to the party they say they serve, and the mem­ber­ship they’re sup­posed to re­spect.

It’s hardly sur­pris­ing then that Mal­colm Turn­bull’s hos­tile takeover of the party has pro­duced such hos­til­ity.

The Newspoll mile­stone was quickly fol­lowed up by a mi­gra­tion own-goal, with the reve­la­tion that Peter Dut­ton had raised with Cabi­net col­leagues the idea of a cut of 20,000 in the per­ma­nent mi­gra­tion in­take. De­bat­ing mi­gra­tion wasn’t the is­sue; as al­ways, it was the cover-up. Turn­bull (pic­tured) didn’t just say the story was in­ac­cu­rate; he said it was a to­tal and ab­so­lute lie. Only it wasn’t.

There may not have been a Cabi­net sub­mis­sion – the story never said there had been – but there cer­tainly had been a dis­cus­sion be­tween Cabi­net min­is­ters as Dut­ton made clear.

Then there was Turn­bull’s bizarre ex­cur­sion into the La­trobe Val­ley on Wed­nes­day.

“It’s amaz­ing to think that brown coal in Vic­to­ria is go­ing to be keep­ing the lights on in Ja­pan,” he said.

Well, yes it is. But that just prompts most Aus­tralians to ask – if we can use brown coal to power Ja­pan, what’s wrong with us­ing it to keep the lights on at home?

And in any event, why are Aus­tralian tax­pay­ers sub­si­dis­ing a scheme to make hy­dro­gen out of brown coal for Ja­pan – but re­peat­edly told the Gov­ern­ment won’t sup­port the coal in­dus­try to gen­er­ate power here in Aus­tralia?

On Fri­day came the reve­la­tion that Mal­colm Turn­bull has a $1 mil­lion per­sonal in­vest­ment in a fund that bets on Aus­tralian busi­nesses fail­ing. While law­ful, any half smart politi­cian would know this is just toxic.

A prime min­is­ter can never bet against his own coun­try. And I bet or­di­nary Aus­tralians have had just about enough.

How­ever they do it, the Coali­tion must come to­gether. But unity alone will not save them un­less there’s se­ri­ous pol­icy change – by lis­ten­ing to peo­ple rather than lec­tur­ing – and en­ergy and pop­u­la­tion poli­cies

are where they must start.

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