Australian Politics – If Prime Minister Turnbull Is The Problem, Julie Bishop Is Not The Answer

Posted on Mon 11/13/2017 by


By Andrew Bolt ~

Liberals and commentators must stop backing leaders on the basis of poll popularity, rather than strategic and leadership smarts. Take Peter van Onselen today, repeating arguments for Julie Bishop he once made for Malcolm Turnbull. Haven’t we seen with Turnbull – and Julia Gillard – that popularity melts like summer snow if you’re just no good?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, And Liberal Party Deputy Julie Bishop

Peter van Onselen, February 2015, when Tony Abbott was Prime Minister:

THE transaction cost of changing leaders is an incalculable risk for any political party, especially in government, doubly so in a first term. Removing a prime minister is no small thing. It will damage the Liberal brand, just as it did Labor’s. The unquantifiable question is: how badly? Is the risk of ­jettisoning a PM with a 68 per cent dissatisfaction rating, a dysfunctional office and a tin ear worth the reward?

The alternative leader is Malcolm Turnbull….


The latest Newspoll could hardly be worse for the Prime Minister.

The two-party and primary votes went backwards…. And the latest poll included a question about better Liberal leaders, with party deputy Julie Bishop outpointing the PM 40 per cent to just 27.

Turnbull’s strength has always been that there is no one else. The rise of Bishop wipes that out… She is a competent administrator, which just might be enough for voters to happily reject the other option, which is to make Shorten PM.

Just two months ago, however, van Onselen was still banking on Turnbull’s alleged popularity counting for something:

The problem for the Coalition is to figure out how to use Turnbull’s standing over Shorten to lift the party vote.

And before any Liberal thinks van Onselen’s judgement is worth banking on, here he is on October 2015:

If Turnbull does take his own advice, sidestepping the trap of spin and short-term positioning, there is no reason to believe he won’t succeed in the modern political contest.

In fact, there was every reason to see that Turnbull’s leadership would end in this disaster, with the Liberals facing utter ruin.

This is what I wrote on the day Turnbull took over as Prime Minister, on September 15, 2015:

Here’s Turnbull’s challenge in a nutshell: he stole the prime ministership he could not have won in an election.

He stole it by boasting of superior communication skills he does not have.

He will now campaign on successes by Abbott he could not have achieved himself.

And he will now be the leader of a party he cannot unite.

What have the Liberals done? Many of their members will be distraught and disgusted.

Whether Turnbull wins the next election or loses, conservative Liberals will feel they have lost already, now that a man of such “progressive” views has snatched the leadership of their party.

They may as well vote Labor next time, because only if Labor wins could they again have a party for conservatives.

Sure, Turnbull has one big advantage over Abbott.

The media and the Twittersphere have been absolutely feral in savaging Abbott, a man awkward in his own defence, but have been kind to Turnbull.

But the media always favours Labor in any contest, and what the media gives Turnbull today it could withdraw tomorrow.

Which they have now done, kicking away Turnbull’s last prop.

Must we really go through the same circus with Julie Bishop?

The Liberals should remember that the journalists barracking for Bishop – as they barracked for Turnbull – do not actually like Liberals that much.

Andrew Bolt writes for the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, and The Advertiser and runs Australia’s most-read political blog. On week nights he hosts The Bolt Report on Sky News at 7pm and his Macquarie Radio show at 8pm with Steve Price.

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