Has faffing about cost Turnbull an early poll?

From the AFR:

    Prime Minster Malcolm Turnbull has offered the Senate crossbench a stay of execution by promising not to hold a double dissolution election if they pass two bills cracking down on unions.

One bill, the Registered Organisations bill, which would establish a Registered Organisations Commission to replace the Fair Work Commission as the enforcer and investigator of unions, has already been blocked twice by the senate, and therefore forms a DD trigger.

The second, a bill to re-establish the powers of the Australian Building and Construction Commission, has not been put a second time to the senate. In fact Ricky Muir this week moved a motion to bring it on, which was voted down by the LNP and The Greens to give priority to senate voting reform. This was a tactical move to take it out of play in the DD stakes. Xenephon offered to keep the senate sitting to consider both bills, but the LNP and the Greens thought otherwise.

Leaving aside these bills, if Turnbull wants to go to a DD election, which must be called on May 11, he needs to secure supply. If the budget is on May 10, he would need to get supply through both houses on the same day, which is thought to be impossible.

Michelle Grattan reports that Labor has said it will not block supply, so Turnbull still has the option of bringing on the budget a week early, on May 3. However, whether the senate comes back early or not is up to the senate. Phillip Coorey at the AFR explains. I think we can assume that the senate won’t cooperate. Turnbull would then need to present the supply bill to the senate on May 10, having put it through the reps during the week before. He could also present the ABCC bill on that day, but I’d think filibustering would prevent it coming to the vote.

Last week Laura Tingle pointed out that “faffing about” was costing Turnbull votes. He needs a decisive election win, to establish the authority he doesn’t have with his own conservative rump, let alone the Nationals. Bernard Keane says he wants to go early, because he’s not getting anything done, and the longer he goes the mote his faffing is on display. Yet Mungo MacCallum thinks his dithering already has cost him a chance of an early election. Clearly not, but it won’t be with both industrial legislation bills as triggers.

Contra to Tingle, on Monday the Fairfax-Ipsos poll showed a bounce back to a lead of 53-47 two-party preferred. The next day Essential Report came in again at 50-50, for the third week in a row. Considering Newpoll is at 50-50 most think the real result is around 51 or 52 to the LNP, leaving the LNP on a slide and Labor competitive. Moreover, Peter Lewis, who is a director of Essential Media Communications, thinks that digging deeper, Turnbull’s popularity plunge has redefined the election.

“Plunged” is probably too strong but since the end of 2015 the number of strong approvals for Turnbull has halved, while strong disapprovals have doubled. Furthermore there are quite sharp drops in key character indicators.

Bill Shorten may have a spring in his step, but as best leader of the Labor party at 15% he is only one point ahead of Plibersek and Albanese, with Chris Bowen at 7%. Bill actually comes third, trailing “don’t know” at 32% and “someone else” at 18%.

While the HoR was faffing about over nothing in particular, emotions got quite raw in the Senate when David Leyonhjelm proposed bringing forward a bill on marriage equality formulated by Sarah Hanson-Young. This was voted down by the LNP and The Greens, with a meaningless sop of one hour’s debate to be scheduled on Thursday. Apparently Richard Di Natale got to speak, but Penny Wong was gagged, which could only be done with Greens’ support.

Certainly the Greens did not vote against their own bill. The vote was on timing and procedure. But on social media Andrew Bartlett was repeatedly quoted as asserting that Leyonhjelm’s move was “simply a tactic to try to prevent voting reform.” Apparently Leyonhjelm’s desire to do something about marriage equality is sincere and long-held. He would have known that it wouldn’t prevent senate voting from being considered.

In any case no-one is entitled to be sure what was in Leyonhjelm’s head. Indeed Leyonhjelm may have thought it could be his last chance to promote the matter.

The bottom line for the Greens is that it wasn’t a good look. On social media some were ferociously supporting the Greens, but some were saying, never again will they vote for them. While the issue exploded on social media the MSM largely ignored it. Fleur Anderson in the AFR wrote of “abominations such as the Greens and Liberal senators – like Cory Bernardi – working together to kill off the chance to debate same sex marriage.” Di Natale said that if you concentrate on policy the politics will look after itself. That didn’t work too well on Tuesday.

15 thoughts on “Has faffing about cost Turnbull an early poll?”

  1. Having a vote on the Marriage Equality bill in the Senate is meaningless because it will not be debated in the House of Reps and has no possibility of passing. people getting excited about that are being silly

  2. Combining Malcolm’s “faffing about” and citicism of the way he managed NBN and Malcolm is not looking good.
    On the other hand Shorten is looking much better as he brings out well thought out policies to take to the next election.

  3. John, whatever Shorten’s shortcoming the ALP shadow cabinet seems to be working well as a team. They seem to have a comprehensive range of policies worked out, which are on a slow drip release.

    Shorten reckons that climate change will be central, but we haven’t heard much detail yet.

  4. Douglas, IMHO it is not meaningless to pass the baton back to the HoR and let responsibility rest where it should – with Malcolm Turnbull.

    Saying people are just “being silly” evoked a lot of anger on the social media. For myself, I’m not angry, just reporting what the MSM seemed to overlook.

  5. the whole exercise this week was not a genuine attempt to progress the marriage equality legislation but was about trying to prevent the Senate voting reform going ahead – that’s very clear.

  6. Douglas, I can’t agree that David Leyonhjelm was seriously “trying to prevent the Senate voting reform going ahead”. I’m sure he knew that would fail.

    But certainly he was making life difficult for them. It was, I think, best characterised as a bit of revenge.

    Anyway, Patricia Karvelas interviewed Wong, Leyonhjelm and Di Natale this evening. Leyonhjelm was like “let’s get them to choose between senate voting and their own equal marriage bill, and find out which one they think is more important”. I guess he got his answer. though RDN reckons they could have done both. His explanation of how left me confused.

    That aside, FWIW I thought Di Natale came across as the most coherent and rational of the three.

    I have questions about Penny Wong. She’s very combative and is one of the most unruly senators on the floor of the house, which I don’t like.

  7. Apparently Leyonhjelm put a motion motion this morning to add the Sarah Hanson-Young bill to the ‘priority list’ of government bills that had to be dealt with before the Senate rises.

    The motion failed with the Greens opposing it.

    As far as I can tell this afternoon after 45 mins debate on the bill The Greens moved for a vote on the Bill. The ALP opposed, presumably because it had been inadequately debated. The vote to vote was lost.

    Anyway, it seems politicians were mostly behaving like politicians and the result to most would appear farcical. I believe Ricky Muir and Leyonhjelm were the only ones voting in favour both times.

  8. The ALP opposed, presumably because it had been inadequately debated.

    Correction, the ALP abstained. Only Greens, Muir and Leyonhjelm voted for the vote to vote.

    There is a real question as to whether the SH-Y bill would have passed if put to the vote. The Liberals don’t yet have a free vote on the issue.

  9. We’re getting close to finding out. Precondition 1 slammed home with the senate voting thing locked away.

    I don’t see why this is such a big deal. All there needs to be is a new party formed called the Independent Party which each of the special groups become a part of. It would look a little Heath Robinsonish but that might even make them stronger.

  10. We have that now, called the cross benchers, they can’t find unanimity on the colour of an orange ( except the platform of more not less cross benchers ).

    ( FWIW, I’d like all of them to be cross benchers in the Senate.)

  11. ( FWIW, I’d like all of them to be cross benchers in the Senate.)

    For once I’d be in furious agreement. Sortition sounds a bit too random, though.

  12. Sortition sounds a bit too random, though.

    I think Australians would overwhelmingly support Sortition in the Senate if put to them at a referendum.
    Trouble is, the entrenched political class won’t let it come to that.

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