Turnbull praises Key

September 15th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young reports:

After it was confirmed late last night that Malcolm Turnbull would be the new Prime Minister of Australia, John Key said something he could only have hoped was true.

“I am confident our close and critical relationship with Australia will continue unchecked with the change of Prime Minister.”

By the end of Turnbull’s first press conference as leader, Key could be genuinely confident. New Zealand had a leader whose style should be emulated, Turnbull was saying. You have to be able to bring people with you by respecting their intelligence in the way you explain things. “Let me point to just one international leader – John Key, for example”

Key had been able to achieve significant economic reforms by doing just that: “By explaining complex issues and then making the case for them.”

Key managed to win the 2011 election despite a policy of partial asset sales. That is because he spent a year making the case for them. They were never popular, but they were accepted – people understood why the Government was doing them – even if they disagreed.

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Turnbull wins

September 15th, 2015 at 6:38 am by David Farrar

Malcolm Turnbull showed he can count and won the leadership battle 54 to 44.  There ends the leadership and prime ministership of Tony Abbott.

It is somewhat remarkable that Abbott ever became leader and prime minister. He was a senior minister under Howard, and effective. But he was seen not as a leader. Even then he was one of the most conservative and sometimes controversial MPs.

Like Labour here in opposition, the Liberals searched for an effective leader. After their 2007 loss they elected Brendan Nelson who was not high profile in Government, nor in opposition. Nelson beat Turnbull 45 to 42 and Abbott did not stand.

Nelson had never been in opposition and rated below 10% in preferred PM polls. He lasted 10 months and lost to Turnbull 45 to 41 in September 2008.

Turnbull also struggled as opposition leader and his role in an alleged Government scandal that proved false undermined him. His support for a price on carbon was a step too far and he got rolled 14 months later by Abbott 42 to 41.

So Abbott only became leader after two previous ones failed. No one a few years earlier would have thought he would be leader. But he got it, and he was surprisingly good at it. He ruthlessly destroyed Kevin Rudd and Jula Gillard’s Governments. To be fair Kevin Rudd mainly destroyed himself.

Abbott made a few blunders in opposition, but overall was surprisingly disciplined and on message.  He became Prime Minister in 2013.

But as Prime Minister it all went wrong. They achieved a huge victory with their policy on turning the boats back – the annual drowning toll went from hundreds to zero. But elsewhere it was chaotic. The Budget was a disaster as they were seen to break their promises, and it was too punitive. And then it just became backdowns and u-turns plus a number of Captain’s Calls which backfired.

He got given six months to turn things around after the February spill, but didn’t. After trailing for 30 polls in a row, his caucus voted for survival.

Turnbull is seriously not liked by some of his caucus, and many Liberal supporters. He will need to attract voters from elsewhere. However I give him a good chance of winning the next election, if they have unity, as Bill Shorten looks horribly exposed due to his actions as a union boss where he sold out workers in return for money from corporates.

I had the pleasure of attending an IDU function at Malcolm’s Sydney apartment around a decade ago. He wasn’t an MP then, but was Liberal Party Treasurer and seen as a potential future Prime Minister.  I’m not surprised he has finally become Prime Minister.


Infighting on the right in Australia

June 4th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Age reports:

Demented? Unhinged?

Call it definition of character.

Malcolm Turnbull, a barrister by trade and chairman of the board by inclination, chooses his words and his adversaries for maximum effect.

And so, when he lined up neo-conservative commentator Andrew Bolt for a free character assessment, he was addressing not simply the bothersome Bolt, but the jury and the shareholders of his current organisation, which happens to be the Liberal Party.

The Liberal Party, of course, isn’t exactly Turnbull’s party at present. It’s Tony Abbott’s party, the same Tony Abbott who stripped the chairman’s title from Turnbull a few years ago by one vote and then, glory be, took the whole show to government.

So what has happened?

Andrew Bolt had the temerity at the weekend to get Abbott on his TV show and ask him if he thought Turnbull had designs on the prime ministership.

Well, duh.

Bolt suggested Turnbull was trying to do some undermining by having dinner with Clive Palmer, a man Abbott can’t stand but whose little party and fellow travellers will control the Senate balance of power next month.

It’s not immediately obvious how such a dinner might lever Turnbull to the prime ministership, nor how this might have been a secret meeting, given it was at a popular restaurant. Clive likes to eat, and the restaurant was a few hundred centimetres from Turnbull’s luxury Canberra pad, which might have been a better rendezvous for a secret meeting.

Bolt isn’t a man who gives up easily. Next he was blogging about how Turnbull had spoken at the launch of a Parliamentary Friends of the ABC, and how awful this was, given that the ABC was no friend of the Abbott government.

Well, duh. Again. Turnbull is Communications Minister. The ABC is the national broadcaster.

I think the author is being somewhat silly. The Freinds of the ABC is a lobby group that attacks the Coalition for its funding cuts of the ABC. Turnbull speaking to them is a very big thing.

It is clear Turnbull is positioning to take over – which is very different to launching a coup. A coup would fail as he has little caucus support. But I am far from convinced Abbott will make it to the election, unless his political management improves.

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Turnbull pledges no challenge to Abbott

November 22nd, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

This video is quite amusing. Polls in Australia show that voters wants Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull to lead their respective parties. An audience member notes that both are successful, very wealthy, and popular (except with their colleagues) and urges them to set up their own political party. Turnbull says he is committed to the Liberals. Rudd jokes that he and Malcolm could never agree on the leadership :-)

The Australian reports:

The former Liberal leader is making it clear there will be no challenge for the leadership before the next election and that his aim is to be a senior, influential member of the Coalition cabinet should Tony Abbott win government, The Australian reports.

After months of co-operation between the former opposition leader and the man who replaced him after the party division over the carbon emissions trading scheme in 2009, a new stability and certainty is emerging within the senior Coalition ranks.

As Labor uses Mr Turnbull’s standing with voters to try to drive a wedge into the Liberals, Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull have been in “close and regular personal contact” co-ordinating how to handle the prickly political issues of Mr Abbott’s defeat of Mr Turnbull as Liberal leader, Mr Turnbull’s continuing popular appeal, policy differences over carbon pricing and Julia Gillard’s campaign against Mr Abbott. …

There’s a lesson here for some parties in NZ.  Abbott did not get spooked by Tunrbull’s popularity and authorise a whispering campaign against him. He talked to him on a regular basis to make sure he was confident he had a key role to play going forward.

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Abbott new Liberal Leader

December 1st, 2009 at 12:25 pm by David Farrar

A massive upset in Australia. Not so much that Malcolm Turnbll got roleld as Liberal Leader, but that his successor is Tony Abbott.

news.com.au reports:

TONY Abbott has rolled Malcolm Turnbull to take over the Liberal leadership in a spill forced by deep divisions on the Opposition’s climate change policy.

Mr Abbott, Mr Turnbull and Joe Hockey contested a three-way spill at a special partyroom meeting in Parliament this morning.  Mr Abbott won by a single vote, 42-41.

Mr Hockey – who had been expected to win in a landslide – was eliminated in the first round of voting.  That sent Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull into a head-to-head vote for the leadership.

But those deep divisions remain.  Yesterday Mr Hockey was demanding a free vote to decide Coalition policy on climate change early next year, if he were to agree to take on the leadership.

That angered right-wing Liberal powerbrokers and prompted Mr Abbott to stay in the race for the top job.  Turns out that was a good call.

A very good call. But the real winner is Kevin Rudd who will easily win re-election now I would say.

The vote to have a contest was 48 to 34. Then the first round ballot was Abbott 35, Turnbull 26 and Hockey 23. Turnbull almost got wiped out on the first ballot. Abbott picked up seven votes from Hockey and Turnbull picked up 15, for a final result of 42-41.

Abbott is a brawler, but hard to see him attracting widespread support to become PM.

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Game on in Australia

September 16th, 2008 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A few days ago Peter Costello announced he will contnue with his plans to retire from politics, and not take up the Liberal Party leadership which would has been his for the taking.

Now Liberal Leader Brendan Nelson has called for a leadership ballot, to force Malcolm Turnbull to challenge or pledge loyalty. Turnbull has confirmed he will challenge. Nelson beat Turnbull in an upset victory last year.

In theory Nelson should be toast as he has massively low approval ratings, and his colleagues have little confidence in him.

But Turnbull, while talented, is very unpopular with many of his colleagues. It is likely Nelson will retain the leadership. A pity to some degree, as I think Turnbull has many good ideas and policies in terms of economic reform.

Also Labor’s one year reign of total government is over. Since they won the federal election they were uniqely in government in all eight states and territories as well as federally. That has ended in Western Australia though.

The Liberal Party got 38.5% and Labor 35.8%, plus Nationals 4.9% (and Greens 11.9%). The Nationals only contested a few seats and won four seats giving the balance of power.

Now you might think this means an automatic victory for the Libs, but WA is the one state where the Libs and Nats are not formally aligned, so just like in NZ in 1996 the major parties bidded for the Nats affection and they negotiated deals with each party. They finally opted to go with the Liberal Party.

UPDATE: Turnbull won 45-41. This is good.

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Coalition in trouble in Australia

March 10th, 2008 at 11:19 am by David Farrar

Brendan Nelson may end up with the shortest reign ever as Liberal Party Leader.

Four months into the job, and a poll shows:

  • 51% of voters want him replaced
  • 24% wants Malcolm Turnbull, 19% Peter Costello (who is leaving Parliament), 11% Julie Bishop (Deputy Leader) and only 9% pick Nelson
  • Amongst Coalition voters even worse with 61% wanting Nelson gone and 31% preferring Turnbull over 7% for Nelson
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