By Andrew Bolt ~
The journalists who helped Malcolm Turnbull to destroy Tony Abbott are now turning on Turnbull, who lacks the support from conservative journalists that a true Liberal leader should have – and needs.
When Malcolm Turnbull seized the prime ministership five months ago there were concerns he would be too autocratic, too daring. Instead, what we have is a sense of drift.
Recent headlines tell the story. “Malcolm in muddle”, “Turnbull fails to take risk on growth”, “Turnbull thinks small after large ambitions go bust” and “PM’s policy of caution”.
He has dumped the big-bang tax reform funded by the GST hike the government had talked up. And he couldn’t even do it cleanly, instead simply letting the idea sputter out over a couple of weeks.
Even business figures have started to express misgivings about an apparent lack of policy resolve.
The Turnbull government has to take a more — much as I hate to say it, given its previous overuse and misuse — methodical approach to the difficult tasks ahead, especially as it allowed a few months to slip by without properly making the case for tax reform. There has to be a clearer articulation of objectives followed by a disciplined outlining of solutions. They don’t have to be radical, they have to be responsible.
The Prime Minister has to set the direction, decide the policies with his cabinet, then lead the debates, publicly as well as privately.
Right now, people are uncertain about where he wants to take them.
Phil Coorey, noting also the self-destructive preoccupation of the Turnbull plotters with attacking Tony Abbott, months after they dragged him down:
Abbott, according to those close to him, has returned to Parliament “white-hot” with anger. If Robert had any hope of clinging on, that was snuffed out on Thursday when Labor started quoting in Parliament documents that cleared Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin of any culpability for Robert’s actions. Robert had taken the trip abroad when Abbott and Credlin ruled the roost.
Ministers such as Arthur Sinodinos inferred that Abbott and Credlin approved the trip, so it was their fault. The letters leaked to Labor made it plain that when Robert requested personal leave, he did not say what he intended to do while abroad. Abbott and Credlin were cleared…
Suddenly, on tax, the Coalition is at sea. It is at the starting point Labor and Joe Hockey were at yonks ago. The GST is too hard and the next best option is to scrape a dollar here and there from superannuation, negative gearing and tax deductions. All are difficult and very personal areas to dabble in. They are people’s retirements, investments and expenses…
Given the calibre of advisers with which Turnbull has surrounded himself, the start of the year has been unusually sloppy. When Briggs and Brough were stood aside in late December, Warren Truss and Andrew Robb should have been pushed to fast-track their retirement announcements so the ministry could be settled before the parliamentary year began.
Instead, it began the year with a ministry looking like a mouthful of missing teeth.
What’s going on? … Order has given way to a faint air of chaos…. Malcolm Turnbull’s administration looks slave to events rather than the other way around.
Don’t panic, is the message emanating from his office, no reshuffle is imminent. Yet the strong impression being created is that parts of the show are flying off – that either through incompetence, stupidity, or a failure of due diligence, Turnbull’s executive is disintegrating around him, suggesting he is less in control than he might pretend. And that’s before anything serious has even been tried in a policy sense.
The Liberals thought that handing their party to a whiteanter from the Left would win them better media support. Now they’ll see how weak and fickle was that hope.
True, Bill Shorten is a hard man for even the ABC to back. But it was notable that on Thursday he gave the best speech I’ve ever heard from him in attacking Turnbull over the Stuart Robert affair.
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.