Australian Politics – Malcolm In The Middle. So Far

Posted on Wed 09/16/2015 by


Bolt New 01By Andrew Bolt ~

Australia’s new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull’s first challenge will be to stop the Liberal Party from splitting. So far, so tentatively promising:

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull is moving to appease his conservative colleagues by striking deals to quell the anger over the leadership plot against Tony Abbott, cementing policies on climate change and same-sex marriage while reaching out to old enemies.

The new Prime Minister’s allies are urging him to accommodate the Liberal Party’s conservative wing in a cabinet reshuffle early next week, but a “generational change” is certain to be a key theme in the overhaul.

Mr Turnbull used his first ­remarks to colleagues yesterday to assure them he believes the Liberals are a “broad church” including the liberal and conservative traditions, responding to a clear warning from cabinet ministers against a shift to the Left.

A warning from John Howard:

He also said he had little doubt Mr Turnbull would understand, as Mr Abbott did, that “the Liberal Party is a broad church”.

“It’s a centre right party. It brings together two streams of the Australian polity,” he said.

“It is the custodian of both conservative values and also small-l liberal values.

“And it does best when it keeps a sensible balance between those two, reflected not only in the personnel of the government but also in the attitude that it takes.”

About personnel: the most senior conservatives are Employment Minister and Senate leader Eric Abetz and Defence Minister Kevin Andrews. Dumping either could send a signal Turnbull could regret.

John O’Sullivan wonders if Turnbull has it in him to placate a furious Liberal base:

One of the surest maxims about politics is that divided parties don’t win elections. Malcolm Turnbull has just divided the Liberal Party and taken control of it by the same action: staging a successful rebellion against Tony Abbott. He won but he did so against 45 per cent of his parliamentary colleagues and a much larger percentage of Liberal Party members in the country.

A good source tells me that telephone and internet messages into Canberra were running at well over the rate of 90 per cent for Abbott and against the parliamentary coup before and after the vote, with such messages as, “Are we mad?” and “We’re as bad as Labor”.

Electoral self-interest and party discipline will restrain and eventually pacify the disappointed former loyalists on the government benches. A reluctant National Party has already pledged fealty to Turnbull. Abbott will not join any cabal bent on revenge from the right, as his angry but dignified statement on Tuesday made plain. And the approaching election will surely strengthen all the instincts of party unity.

But these cold, necessary, Machiavellian calculations won’t greatly influence the Liberal rank and file who support a political party from tribal loyalty or ideological sympathy. Their discontent will have to be soothed, and their support will have to be won back by the new Prime Minister. It won’t be easy.

Miranda Devine:

The insiders have installed one of their own in Malcolm Turnbull. They never accepted Tony Abbott, with his religious faith, his monarchist beliefs, his humility, his kindness, his old-fashioned notions of duty, honour and loyalty.

You could see it every week on the ABC’s Q&A, the smug TV program that best captures their privileged leftist views. And on Monday night, when news of Abbott’s decapitation was announced, the audience erupted with rapturous applause.

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.

Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book  Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.

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