Malcolm Turnbull took the press gallery to Cooma for an update on Snowy Hydro 2.0 (they are drilling the rocks to see whether the tunnelling is feasible) but all the press was interested in was whether it was time to sack Christopher Pyne and, of course, in Tony Abbott.
It was supposed to be the winter recess, with politics on the backburner. On Friday night Pyne, in a Sydney bar with some of his ‘moderate’ Liberal mates, indulged in a bit of triumphalism about how with Malcolm at the helm the moderates now control the agenda. He also said what everyone probably knew, that he’s voted for Turnbull over Abbott every chance he got, and said same-sex marriage may come sooner than we think.
Apparently there was nothing especially remarkable or unusual about this, except that someone recorded Pyne and leaked it to Andrew Bolt.
Seems there was indeed a plot to bring on a vote on same-sex marriage. Latika Bourke asked Could Christopher Pyne’s hubris prove the catalyst for the fall of the Coalition moderates?
Some Liberal MPs were suggesting that Pyne should be dumped as Leader of the House.
Tony Abbott, helpful as ever, had a lash at Pyne.
Pyne put on his serious look and said he was “very sorry” about the remarks. Barnaby Joyce said, ‘Give people some latitude if they’ve had a few beers’.
Self-styled as a fixer, Pyne does look pretty useless, but that might be the end of it if only Turnbull could make some progress in the polls. With his luck, Newspoll chose Tuesday to roll out their quarterly analysis. The dead tree edition said the LNP looked to lose 20 seats, 4 in NSW, 2 in SA, 5 in WA and a whopping 9 in Qld.
Chris Kenny’s article stunned me a bit. He said that the party membership was significantly more conservative than Turnbull, and what Turnbull needed to do was take the party to the right, not to the centre.
There was no new polling in Newspoll this time, so it didn’t pick up on Turnbull’s Gonski success or the Pyne imbroglio. Essential remains at 52-48 to Labor, but that is averaged over two weeks and probably didn’t pick up on recent events either.
ScoMo says the people have chosen to ignore the pollies, and the media too. People have turned down the volume on politics.
I think he’s saying that pollies need to be more authentic, and govern for the day rather than stick to the conservatism that worked for Howard.
At least he’s thinking, though he doesn’t impress as authentic.
Abbott is thinking too. He has declared he is in “no hurry to leave public life” as he laid out his vision to “make Australia work again”. He says:
- “We need to give the public something to hope for; we need to give our own people something to fight for.”
Indeed he’s come up with a six-point plan to win the next election.
“Tony Abbott is not a minister, he’s not in the cabinet, he’s not the ministry, he’s one member in the party room.”
Turnbull must be wondering whether he can rid himself of this serial pest by having him deselected.
Unlike Rudd, Abbott has no significant support amongst the pollies or the people. Support comes mostly from has-beens, albeit some with sharp tongues:
- Former Queensland premier Campbell Newman called on Mr Turnbull to resign on Monday night, claiming he had “led the Liberal Party into the valley of death”.
On the same day, Mr Abbott’s former chief of staff Peta Credlin described the Turnbull-led Liberal Party as “little men with soft, soft backbones”, “small minds” and “no ticker”.
Andrew P Street reckons Tony’s indeed your man of the times, if you were living in 1961, and Jane Norman at the ABC points out that he’s now promising all the stuff he didn’t do when he had a chance.
Abbott is now out in the open, almost every day, selling himself as the future standard bearer of ‘liberal conservative values’, whatever that might mean. That’s how he has honoured his promise that there would be “no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping” when he was unseated by Malcolm Turnbull.
Meanwhile in the Greens Lee Rhiannon has been sent to the naughty corner for undermining their effort to do a deal over school funding.
Rhiannon says she works for the NSW party, and the membership wanted no truck with the LNP on this one. Perhaps her rel sin was not telling the rest that she was never going to vote for a deal. Moreover, she says she was sticking with existing Greens policy, and a few pollies in a back room is not the way to change it.
It’s like the Greens are marching on parade and Rhiannon is the only one in step.
Officially she’s suspended while the national Greens sort out this structural issue with the NSW branch, but they too might think that life would be easier someone else was selected when her term runs out next election.
In the end the Greens were gazumped by Xenophon on Gonski schooling, plus a total of 10 of 12 of the senate crossbench. One wag suggested that the Greens have morphed from hippies to yuppies – even Bob Brown – and Rhiannon is a throwback or left-over.