The following are articles that due to the timing of the news cycle, could not be published in the outlets I normally submit to.
Not even 24hr’s after the byelection results, Turnbull was already backpedalling
29th July 2018. Published 2nd August 2018.
The byelection results were devastating for the Liberals, and Malcolm Turnbull knows it.
The day after the Super Saturday byelections, Malcolm Turnbull started out the Sunday bullish about the result and somewhat defensive about perceived criticism of said result. As reported by ABC News, Turnbull initially had the following to say about the result:
“I see that Bill Shorten is punching the air like he’s won the World Cup, there’s not a lot to celebrate for the Labor Party. There’s certainly nothing to crow about.”
Within hours of that comment being published, The Guardian was reporting that Turnbull had softened his tune greatly, and was now saying he would:
“humbly re-examine his government’s policies after the Coalition failed to win two key seats from Labor in byelections on Saturday.”
By Sunday evening, he was flip-flopping further and now previously locked-in Coalition policies were all of a sudden on the table and being questioned.
The Guardian reported that Turnbull was now no longer committed to the specifics of the company tax cut legislation, with him only willing to commit to securing ‘a competitive company tax rate’ now.
Christopher Pyne was quoted as saying that he ‘conceded that the big business tax cuts were a hard political sell.’
I think it is fair to say that the results of the byelection have Malcolm Turnbull spooked, if not the Liberal National Party (LNP) cabinet as well. Not just Labor retaining their seats – as was to be expected, but possibly more so the massive swing to Centre Alliance in a previously safe Liberal seat in Mayo.
Turnbull is running scared already, as the shifting nature of the message on Sunday just one day after the byelections shows. Expect the message to shift even further during the week as the final numbers come in and key Liberals assess the damage if an election were to be held now.
The problem is Turnbull was never meant to be Prime Minister, not really, not in a world where logic and sense reigns, which is obviously not the world of Australian politics.
Turnbull is all about consensus building across the aisle, working with others to achieve good outcomes, a policy focused MP who could see the writing on the wall about global warming and other issues the LNP right loathe.
Turnbull was never going to do well in the broken church of the modern day Liberal party, where deals with One Nation are done and a former Prime Minister wreaks havoc and stabs colleagues in the back on a regular basis.
As a result Turnbull has become the Prime Minister who flip-flops, the one who can’t be held to his word because of the all the opposing interests he must try and please.
Turnbull wanted to be a Prime Minister of the people, to bring in a carbon pricing mechanism, to preside over a successful and working broadband network, to unite the fractured church of the Liberal party like John Howard did in his day.
Instead he has presided over inner turmoil and dissent, endless negative option polls, and questions over his leadership. As well as policy decisions that have left hundreds in indefinite detention and ushered in a new era of secrecy and government control with the new Office of Home Affairs and the Foreign Donations act.
If the knives weren’t out already for Malcolm Turnbull, it is likely some will be sharpening theirs now. The question is whether Turnbull will be the one calling the next election, or perhaps it will be Julie Bishop or Peter Dutton instead.
Turnbull is the one who said that the byelections were a test of leadership in the week leading up to Super Saturday, although he is downplaying that now, and his back pedalling only one day after the result shows he is more than bit worried about the implications of the outcome.
Meanwhile at least one betting agency has Julie Bishop at $1.80 to succeed Turnbull as leader, with Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton edging in 2nd and 3rd at $2.60 and $3.00 respectively. At least someone thinks a leadership spill is likely, now we wait for the outcome of Malcolm’s leadership gamble to see which horse is leading the pack at the end of the race.