November 17th 2018


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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY An election-winning policy: a development bank for Australia

VICTORIAN ELECTION The left gets ready to scream 'haters!'

CANBERRA OBSERVED Nats fracas points up need for vigilance

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Divisions undermine Morrison's leadership

SOCIETY UNDER THREAT The time is now for a real deal for the family

NCC SYDNEY DINNER Speakers spark keenness for a challenging 2019

NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT Aborigines hope to benefit in Kimberley development

CLIMATE CHANGE Rising sea levels? Pacific island data says 'no'

ROYAL COMMISSION Big banks shaken and stirred in their swamp

U.S. HISTORY Slavery: a yet unresolved legacy

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS The U.S. and China: more than trade is at stake

SOCIETY UNDER THREAT Partisan divide must vanish for defence of civilisational foundation: Christianity

MUSIC ABBA live: just not in person or on stage

CINEMA Coco: Family and home trump 'identity'

BOOK REVIEW Remnant hopes for post-Brexit Britain

BOOK REVIEW The Great War, raw and uncensored

HUMOUR A few more snippets from Forget's Dictionary of Inaccurate Facts, Furphys and Falsehoods

POETRY

LETTERS

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NATIONAL AFFAIRS
Divisions undermine Morrison's leadership


by Peter Westmore

News Weekly, November 17, 2018

Just three months after replacing Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister and six months before the 2019 federal election, Scott Morrison is finding out how hard it is to be Prime Minister, presiding over a divided party room, and dealing with a vengeful predecessor and a resurgent opposition.

Mr Turnbull, turn that frown upside down.

While Labor has serious tensions within its own ranks – which nearly cost Bill Shorten his job early this year – the Labor Party now looks a model of unity and stability compared with the Coalition.

It is important to note that deep residual divisions remain in the parliamentary Labor Party over Shorten’s plans to end negative gearing for housing investors and to cut dividend imputation credits that substantially benefit retirees.

There are also differences over asylum-seeker policy and live animal exports, but the Liberals have been unable to get traction on any of these issues.

On the other hand, divisions over reli­gious freedom, climate change, energy policy, the status of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and leadership tensions in the National Party, continue to undermine Scott Morrison’s attempts to forge a coherent message for the Australian people.

The Government has also failed to recognise the rising apprehension in middle Australia over surging petrol, gas and electricity prices, the dramatic downturn in the housing market, which shows no sign of ending, the sudden tightening of credit, which prevents many first-home buyers securing a home, and rising uncertainty over the future of the economy, with a trade war looming between the United States and China.

The challenge for Mr Morrison, as leader of the Government, is to put forward a program that meets the challenges facing ordinary Australians, and differentiates his position from that of the Labor Party and the Greens.

The Turnbull factor

A major impediment to this plan is his predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, who stood down as Prime Minister and resigned from Parliament after a majority of his party colleagues voted for a spill of the leadership.

Having served in the highest office in the land and then quit Parliament, Mr Turnbull should simply have left public life. But Malcolm Turnbull is not like that. By resigning, he forced his successor to an unwanted by-election whose predicted outcome was negative.

He also failed to endorse his party’s candidate, Dave Sharma, while his son Alex – who runs a Singapore-based hedge fund – publicly declared that the Liberal Party had been taken over by “extremists”.

Calling himself a small-l Liberal, Alex Turnbull said: “Don’t vote for the Liberal Party at the Wentworth by-election. If you want to pull the Liberal Party back from the brink, it’s the one clear signal you can send.” Malcolm Turnbull publicly said nothing, and spent the entire period of the by-election campaign overseas, only returning to Australia the day after it was over.

Despite claims that he tacitly supported Mr Sharma, while overseas Mr Turnbull “liked” a Tweet that supported inde­pendent Karen Phelps in Wentworth.

After Ms Phelps was narrowly elected, and Mr Morrison’s rating in the polls slipped, Mr Turnbull “liked” a Tweet that recorded the fact. While both Tweets were subsequently removed, he appears to be consumed by resentment.

Unfortunately, this is a pattern that goes all the way back to his undermining of Brendan Nelson, who served as opposition leader after the 2007 defeat, which led to Turnbull’s accession to the leadership of the party in 2008.

In his biography of Malcolm Turnbull, Born to Rule, Paddy Manning wrote: “Turnbull pledged his loyalty to Nelson but gave him absolutely none. He simply refused to accept the decision of the party room, and the undermining began immediately.”

However, a year later, divisions in the party over Mr Turnbull’s support for Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme, the OzCar affair and asylum seekers led to a leadership challenge in which Mr Turnbull was replaced by Tony Abbott as leader.

Although Mr Abbott made Malcolm Turnbull Minister for Communications when the Coalition won Government in 2013, Mr Turnbull was again continually undermining his leader.

Sam Clench, a journalist with News Corp, wrote: “Mr Turnbull played a longer game when Mr Abbott became leader, but again, actively agitated against him. There was never any question he would seek to seize the top job.” (Adelaide Advertiser, August 26, 2018)

Since resigning as Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull has shown that he is a player in the political process, even if the effect is to undermine his own party.

It was surprising, therefore, that the new Prime Minister sent Malcolm Turnbull as Australia’s representative to a conference on the world’s oceans in Bali. While there, Mr Turnbull undermined his successor’s announced plan to examine shifting the Australian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The challenge for Scott Morrison is to win the vote of the 30 per cent of the electorate who do not vote for any of the major parties and the up to 10 per cent who vote informal.




























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