By Andrew Bolt ~
Every day there is more evidence that the media Left which helped Malcolm Turnbull to destroy the conservative Tony Abbott is now turning on him.
The aim never was to make the Liberals more electable. It was to destroy the Liberals as a conservative force. And with so many Liberal MPs now lacking core convictions, it was only too easy.
Waleed Aly now joins the Turnbull deserters. Last September, Aly hailed Turnbull’s rise by ascribing to him qualities he does not possess:
Turnbull is popular. He seems to grasp the broad sense of what the centre wants, and has the ability to talk about it… Turnbull is [the Liberal Party’s] most representative figure.
It’s more a go-nowhere government right now. Floating ideas – perhaps even good ones – but to no obvious end; with no unmistakable direction. It’s a government as yet without a purpose….
Labor, meanwhile, is strangely coherent… [T]he Turnbull government is being comprehensively outdone on policy.
If Scott Morrison ever watched Joe Hockey and thought “how much better I could do that”, he’s getting a rough lesson in humility.
First the treasurer ran out in front, pushing for a big bang tax package based on an increased GST. It ended badly, with a displeased Malcolm Turnbull. This week found Morrison at the National Press Club reining in expectations about the tax cuts to be delivered in the May budget – and then mauled in interviews for having had nothing new to say…
Apart from delivering the final axe-blow to the already dead GST rise and making some criticism of Labor’s negative gearing policy, Turnbull kept to the margins of the tax debate during the week
Which is another way to say Turnbull is hanging Morrison out to dry. Why wasn’t Morrison given the job of announcing the GST rise was dead? Why get, first, Christopher Pyne to say it and then Turnbull to clear up the confusion? That just made Morrison seem overruled and without authority.
Another commentator of the Left, Michael Gordon of The Age unconsciously reflects the damage Turnbull is helping to do to Morrison by failing to set him a clear task and back him in it:
It was a media blitz with a twist. In the space of 24 hours, Scott Morrison was everywhere: delivering his first address to the National Press Club as Treasurer; appearing on the ABC’s 7.30 and then AM; taking questions from Sunrise and Today on commercial TV; jousting with Alan Jones
Problem was, he had nothing new to say. Absolutely nothing, from the moment he took the podium at the Press Club…
The … Labor Party … has announced [a] commitment… to pare back negative gearing… The policy is susceptible to Turnbull’s “every home-owner has a lot to fear” scare campaign, but it is a case of Labor leader Bill Shorten having the courage to back his shadow treasurer, the architect of the policy.
In the meantime, Malcolm Turnbull and Morrison assert that they have been quietly and methodically assessing the merits of all reform options and there remains quiet confidence in the Prime Minister’s inner sanctum that they will end up with something substantial for the country’s best [sic] political communicator to sell.
But the impression for many in the electorate has been one of indecision and drift …
The Prime Minister and Treasurer, while appearing to be fighting for a GST rise to the very end, had to pull out in the full glare of public scrutiny, which stranded Morrison on the beach and wounded Turnbull’s promise of economic leadership…
Individually, Turnbull and Morrison have suffered and the relationship between the Prime Minister and the Treasurer…
Although there were growing signs at the beginning of this year that many Coalition MPs thought the GST option was political madness and even Turnbull began to back away, Morrison ensured the option was kept alive. Even after Turnbull virtually killed the prospect with his argument in parliament that the economic benefit was not enough to “persuade” the government to go ahead, Morrison pushed the counter-argument that without a budget surplus, a mining boom or strong global growth, a GST increase was the only way of easing the tax burden.
Suddenly the Turnbull government is caught stationary in the headlights — it is a new government still to sort out its core tax policies, three months from its first budget but locked into an election year contest without its own policy artillery…
Turnbull made economic leadership the test. At present, there is a dangerous tax policy vacuum from the government… Guess what? Labor is looking more agile and flexible.
This five months of drift will prove very costly. The tension between Morrison and Turnbull could tell the story of this government’s fortunes.
It is not in Turnbull’s nature to be loyal, and Morrison – a relative novice in economics and finance – is being damaged by being given no clear task by Turnbull and no strong support. The facts facing the country – mounting debt, a looming election, uncertain economic outlet, high unemployment – clash with Turnbull’s strategy of selling sunshine and the “most exciting time to be an Australian” line. The imperatives – cutting spending, slashing programs, warning of pain – clash with Turnbull’s fundamental need to be liked.
These are extremely troubling times. This is the most exciting time to be an Australian going broke – or a Liberal who lost his head and his party last September.
(I)n the face of bitter and shrill media attacks on Abbott and persistent poor polls, the backbench (and frontbench) bed-wetters couldn’t see the plan or stand the pain, so they decided to dance to the gallery tune.
Under Abbott there was no doubt about the direction. It wasn’t elegant, some feared it would end in defeat, but it was a path. Turnbull now needs to hoe his own row. And soon.
Some journalists and commentators who were complicit in his prime ministerial ascension are talking as though they were dudded and the message from his team is jumbled and confused….
Turnbull skilfully capitalised on the nervousness of his colleagues to get the leadership. Inexperienced backbenchers on thin margins along with other MPs lacking in fortitude over-estimated their strife and fell for his promise of political survival…
(T)hey have seen the power of their timidity. The bed-wetters now think they are running the show. So they were pulling out of the GST debate before it even got going. These quivering quislings will shrink from every battle that doesn’t guarantee an instant spike in the polls.
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.