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
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.