Will Turnbull be PM this time next year?

My son Mark, who has a better idea about these things than I do, thinks we’ll have Abbott back again as PM, probably about six months before the next election. That way he can blame everything that’s wrong on Malcolm and concentrate on developing some nice slogans for an election, something he’s really good at.

Turnbull has just chalked up his eighth losing Newspoll in a row. By the middle of next year that could be over 20. Around about that time, with another unconvincing budget from ScoMo and Matthias Cormann, we should be due to lose our triple-A credit rating. If Malcolm continues to displease the conservative right in his party he will be vulnerable from that time on.

Newspoll, which looked at October-December as a block, had a few interesting tales to tell.

There was no new sampling of voters; the latest was on 6 December. This time they’ve done a reanalysis of the polls conducted from October to December, which yields a sample of 8,508 for the period, and an error margin of 1.1%.

The headlines have been about the seven-percentage-point plunge in the primary vote for the Coalition among voters over 50 since the 2 July election:

    Support for the government in the largest voting demographic has fallen from 49.9% to 43%, with two-thirds of the lost vote shifting to Labor and one-third to independents and minor parties.


    The analysis also shows the near eight-point lead for the Coalition among men at the election has been halved, with Labor’s support among men rising to 36% against the coalition’s 40%.

The decline in support from the oldies is thought to be associated with the overhaul of superannuation taxes and changes to the pension assets test. I addressed the issue of pensions in Greens sell out on aged pensions. I understand that from January 1, while 170,000 will get a pension when they didn’t before, 100,000 will lose their pensions and 300,000 will have their pensions cut. Letters have been going out to those affected, and from talkback radio there is fear in the land.

Overall for the two months, Newspoll has Labor ahead in TPP terms 52-48. The latest Essential Report has Labor ahead 53-47.

In the states, voting for a federal election, Newspoll has Labor ahead in all mainland states except WA:

Pollbludger has this summary, which I gather takes into account Newspoll and Essential:

That shows One Nation at 7.9%, breathing down the neck of the Greens. Trouble in the senate, I think. Also Labor’s primary vote is almost on a par with the LNP.

Turnbull, while he is still comfortably ahead of Shorten on ‘better PM’, has seen his personal standing plummeting from the stratosphere to below Shorten’s. He is on a net -25, compared to Shorten’s -16:

The slide started in earnest in February which happens to be when Turnbull said Labor’s negative gearing plans would “smash” house prices. As Lenore Taylor said, Turnbull’s claim that Labor will ‘smash’ house prices shows evidence-free politics is back. See also my post Negative gearing: the election scare campaign continues.

Turnbull had promised more civil and more rational debate on policy issues. At that point he lost the plot, and continued with a series of scare campaigns, which I identified in The giant Medicare scare campaign:

    In fact, however, the media has very much focussed on a series of scare campaigns:

  • Negative gearing was going to smash house prices and with capital gains tax changes bring the economy to a grinding halt.
  • There were black holes everywhere in Labor’s spending plans. Labor was high taxing and high spending by nature in government, which would be economically disastrous.
  • Labor was conducting a war on business.
  • Labor and Bill Shorten in particular was a party in thrall to corrupt unions.
  • Under Labor people smugglers would have a hey day with boats once again flooding our shores.
  • And, of course, the prospect Labor forming an alliance with the dreaded Greens.

Turnbull in fact conducted the election on the basis of scare campaigns based on lies.

Certainly Labor’s scare campaign on Medicare was unseemly, and I think in part unethical, although based on a meta-truth – the LNP had continuously eroded support for health, leaning to a user-pays model. However, I had pointed out a month earlier in a post Labor makes health central in its election bid:

    In revving up his election spiel Shorten said spending on health was an investment, not a cost. He says investment in health is basic to economic growth. It would be an important battleground if Turnbull would engage. The pointy end is that Labor is choosing to invest in Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme rather than spending money on company tax relief.

    Turnbull just says it’s unfunded, which is a lie, and he knows it. (Emphasis added)

I think it was in Turnbull’s hands to make the last election a reasonable contest of ideas. Part of the message from Brexit and Trump, and indeed from Abbott’s 2013 campaign, is that bad behaviour in terms of post-truth politics is rewarded. However, politicians and politics lose in public esteem and democracy is degraded. However, Turnbull isn’t all that good at the game. Best leave it to someone who can pump out silly slogans with conviction. Well, most of the time:

That’s David Rowe, of course.

19 thoughts on “Will Turnbull be PM this time next year?”

  1. Most voters don’t want a government that is controlled by the crazy right. Going back to a crazy right prime minister isn’t going to solve the LNP’s problems. A crazy right break-away may allow Turnbull to show us whether he really has what it takes to be a progressive prime minister.

  2. John, yes, I think it’s a fairly sizeable tail wagging the dog. I’d like to see some analysis, however, of how many ‘liberals’ there are in the Liberal party as against ‘conservatives’. I’ve been checking my standard text on political ideologies (Andrew Heywood’s Political Ideologies: an introduction) and liberals and conservatives turn out to be very different beasts, with incompatible views of human nature.

    On polling, Essential Report has done a series on state voting. Labor and the LNP are 50-50 in NSW, but labor is ahead everywhere else. In Qld it’s 52-48 in December, but an unbelievable 55-45 over Oct-Dec.

    States have their own issues, but I suspect Turnbull, Christiansen, Dutton, Bernadi et al are trashing the brand, and there is a but of a reaction against playing footsies with Pauline and ON.

  3. Mark is better informed than me, but I can’t see the Liberals re-electing Mr Abbott.

    He was ejected primarily because the electors nationwide didn’t want him to be PM, having elected his Govt. Majority opinion was consistently against Mr Abbott for many months, as estimated by several different poll series.

    The public “did him”; the public “did him slowly”.
    It wasn’t just Prince Phillip.
    It wasn’t just “treachery” by some Ministers, though Mr Turnbull’s frequent, smiling, smooth appearances on TV made the contrast with his PM more visible and clear cut as the years wore on.

    Many have said it before: Mr Turnbull’s favourable early poll numbers as PM reflected the electors’ sense of relief and release. Tony was gone. His own Party had removed him….. despite their endless claims to being the antithesis of ‘disloyal’ ALP, “tearing down a first term PM”, etc.

    I don’t think the electors want Mr Abbott back.
    Julie Bishop?
    Scott Morrison?
    Peter Dutton?
    Greg Hunt?
    Josh Frydenberg?

    In my opinion Chrissie Pyne, Cory Bernardi, and the Finance Minister are off the table.

    And rule out Dr di Natale coming in to form a Grand Coalition of National Unity.

    Send Mr Abbott off to Qld to fight bare knuckled against oNE nATION; he’s done it before.

  4. Ambigulous, I can’t see it either, and you are right, there are no alternatives other than possibly Ms Bishop, and I think she’s too smart to take it on.

    The voters certainly don’t want Tony Abbott, but that apparently doesn’t mean it won’t happen. It would be a gift for Labor.

    Any way we don’t know, and they say at the end of each year that the most important thing that happened was something that no-one foresaw.

    So as Malcolm says, it’s an exciting time to be alive, but perhaps not for the reasons he had in mind.

  5. This time next year? Prime Minister Hanson or Prime Minister Katter (yes, he could still make it on the votes of former ALP and LNP voters who don’t want to vote One Nation).

    More chance of the Whigs or the United Australia Party or the Protectionist Party getting in than the Liberal-Labor unity front.

  6. We don’t really know how the LNP is divided. How many belong to the toxic right? How many small “L” liberals remain after the Howard purges? How many are pragmatists who will support what it takes to stay in power?
    Are there any who think Abbott is finally growing and worth a rerun?

  7. Yes, John.

    It’s easy to forget the last twenty years, which would mean forgetting that Mr Howard as PM, had a hand in many selections of Liberal candidates. Also, occasionally, a hand in encouraging a “wet” or “moderate” MP to resign.

    I’d be interested to see what % of current Liberal MPs arrived under his tutelage. Of course, some may have changed their stripe since arriving….. like the High Court or US Supreme Court judges who vote other-than-how-journalists-confidently-predict.

    (How dare they?)

    I find press reporting of internal Party schisms very limited. There must be more factional manoeuvring than we ever hear about. It takes a Peter Costello non-challenge or a Senator Kimberley Kitching to bring out a bit of the dirty laundry.

  8. Are there any who think Abbott is finally growing…

    Could be just Mr Abbott and Ms Credlin, and that may be overstating the numbers.


  9. Hi All, a belated Merry Xmas and a Happy New year to all.

    Re-election of Abbott follows the Rudd path and even the least dumb LNP’s should see that. I agree that Ms Bishop is too smart to jump into the the spot – but I would pleased if she did go for it.
    I think the damage to the LNP is very deep and maybe irreparable.
    The next party to win an election, given the rise of the independents may not be either major party outright. I would speculate on a Labor based party possibly not led by the improved Shorten.
    Regardless of party policy, I think the Press will unduly influence the next government in return for yet more media ownership concessions or advantages.

    I was thrilled with Bob the other night when he queried the quality of our politicians.

    Lastly, why do we even have to have a discussion like this?

  10. Saw this lovely quote about Turnbull:

    Depends on the present PM’s capacity to mimic a jellyfish sitting on a fence.

    Could have been written with his chances of surviving in mind.

  11. I think the argument goes that because of One Nation the Liberal Party needs to move to the right. That’s what’s different. Thing is, those advocating a shift to the right are losing sight of the centre.

    We keep being told that the US is bifurcating into left and right, or at least into Republican and Democrat, which may not be the same thing.

    Here I suspect it’s like a bell curve, with the highest percentage in the middle. Those on the far right are very noisy, which makes them seem more important and numerous than they are.

    But we could do with some serious social research to sort out what is going on.

    And research and/or investigative journalism, to tell us where our pollies sit on the spectrum.

    There is, I understand, a left-right thing within Labor. The numbers lie to the right, hence Shorten rather than Albo, but I believe policy last election was more left than usual. And they came close enough to winning not to have to abandon the track they were on.

  12. If we continue to follow the trend set by the GOP in the US, the new emerging leader for the LNP will be someone like Gina.

    It will be interesting to watch Turnbull goes about to save his reputation either way. He is dammed if he get’s disposed and he is even more dammed if he stays PM under the circumstances.

  13. I don’t think it’ll be Abbott. They’re not that stupid. Well, they’re not all that stupid.

  14. Breakaway Party?
    Tony says, “No!”

    Paul Burns, I couldn’t believe it when they did a carbon copy of Labor and turfed Tony, when the constant reassurance to the public had been, “We’re not like Labor.”

    To then follow the ALP script and re-install their Rudd equivalent, would be simply ghastly. Also, ridiculous, astounding, embarrassing, and yes: very stupid.

    Two major Party laughing stocks.
    Further drift to minor party and independent candidates.

    BTW, heard about the factions inside the Motoring Enthusiasts Party? Yep, it’s diesel vs petrol, super vs standard, ULP entrists are lurking, and major doctrinal differences on lubricants.

  15. Brian: You said:

    I think the argument goes that because of One Nation the Liberal Party needs to move to the right. That’s what’s different. Thing is, those advocating a shift to the right are losing sight of the centre.

    Part of the LNP problem at the moment is that the National Party is seriously under threat from ON while the urban Liberals may lose votes to Labor or the Greens if they try and go further towards the nastier parts of what ON is about.
    On the other hand ON is talking to people who really do feel that they are doing it hard and that they are being ignored by Labor, the LNP and the Greens. Jessicca Irvine had this to say about the differences between what is happening t men and women in Australia:

    Jessica Irvine (1) had some relevant comments about what is happening to men and women in Australia. She said that there is more polarisation among men, that more men are working at the top and bottom of the skills ladder. “The proportion of men in the highest fifth of highly skilled jobs rose in the decades since the 1970’s but to a lesser extent to the gains of women. But crucially, the share of men working in the lowest skilled jobs also rose in the 1970s, 1980s 1990s but not in the 2000s.” By contrast, “in every decade since the 1970s, the share of women working in the lowest fifth of skilled jobs has shrunk” and “the proportion of women working in the highest fifth of jobs…has risen.”
    She goes on to say that: “This loss of secure, full time traditional jobs is fuelling an undercurrent of dissatisfaction among working-class men that is being increasingly exploited by charismatic politicians.”

    Add this to the decline to the Central Qld economy and it is easy to see why ON is doing well amongst the working class men Jessica is talking about. (And the women whose lives are affected by what is going on with these men.

  16. I think we are in a period where the trust in traditional political institution ( all traditional institutions really ) is eroded to the point that alternatives look more attractive .
    We have alway had this on both ends of the traditional political spectrum, but I think the distrust is nibbling its way inward with non traditional political aspirants filling the ever growing margins to a point of influential positions.
    Good or bad for me I don’t know.

  17. As for Turnbull, he’s the centrists centrists till the political tide veers him slightly one way or the other, whatever keeps him in the job.
    If he ever states he made a tough decision, it will be out of self preservation rather than ” long held belief ” for the betterment of the Nation.

  18. Will Turnbull be PM this time next year?

    Given the proclivities of the soon to be inaugurated Orange POTUS, I think a more appropriate question is, “Will we still be around this time next year?”

    Oh, and a happy new year to all.

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