Australian Politics – Prime Minister Turnbull’s “Comeback” So Far Spells A Terrible Defeat

Posted on Mon 02/05/2018 by


By Andrew Bolt ~

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

The headlines after the latest Newspoll show the new media narrative:

Malcolm Turnbull’s popularity surges in polls as pressure increases on Bill Shorten

Encouragement for Turnbull in Newspoll as Parliamentary year starts

Newspoll: PM surges as pressure increases on Shorten

But wait. Reality check

Newspoll still shows the Government way behind Labor – 48 per cent to 52 – despite a barrage of positive media coverage. And the boost seems entirely due to a collapse in One Nation’s vote, not to an erosion in Labor’s:

Labor’s primary vote remained unchanged on 37 per cent…. One Nation has continued its slide dropping a further two points to five per cent, returning a five point loss since November last year. Almost all the One Nation vote has returned to the Coalition which has lifted its primary vote four points since plummeting to a record low of 34 per cent in November.

And don’t discount sampling error. Last week’s Essential Poll had the Government even further behind Labor: 46 per cent to 54.

This is not to deny that Turnbull is in better shape than last year and now has a faint chance at last of winning the next election.

He gets points for surviving, and Labor has stumbled and faces trouble. Labor has had David Feeney quit and will probably lose the byelection to the Greens. Another Labor MP, Susan Lamb, is also in trouble over her citizenship, and if forced to a byelection could lose her marginal seat of Longman, which would be a huge blow to Labor. (On the other hand, the Liberal “come-back” story could end with defeat in Longman.) Labor is stuck with crazy global warming policies and a Left that’s too powerful. Shorten rival Anthony Albanese sniffs the trouble and is openly stirring up leadership talk. Labor’s discipline is now being tested and is key.

On the Liberals’ side, Turnbull has persuaded independent Senator Lucy Gichuhi to join his party, and jobs growth is relatively good. America’s economic growth will help us. Even better, Turnbull’s opponents on the Right are loosing traction, at least for the moment, and could be much less of a distraction : Pauline Hanson has been quiet, Cory Bernardi’s Australian Conservatives aren’t having an impact in the polls, rebel MP George Christensen is a broke reed and Tony Abbott is marginalised and has about zero chance of becoming leader again this side of the election. Turnbull can now turn his full attention to fighting Labor instead.

All that said, there are four reasons to be cautious before buying too heavily into the Turnbull comeback story for now.

First, the polling results are mixed and even Newspoll shows the Government still has huge work ahead of it to get back the lead:

Second, although Turnbull’s political instincts and skills have improved lately – with the help of conservative MPs such as Peter Dutton and Mathias Cormann – they remain poor.

Third, Turnbull’s comeback story has only one more chance. He’s been so far behind for so long that he cannot sustain his colleagues’ hope through another fall.

And lastly, there’s the fundamental realities which affect how people vote. Spin and citizenship brawls are one thing, but in the end bills and paypackets count most. And there is the challenge for the Government. Wage growth is slow and standards of living overall have been stagnant for six years. Electricity prices keep soaring while governments fiddle. Turnbull talks of tax cuts – and good – but he has little money and a stroppy Senate.

Politicians and press may talk all they like, but deeds – not words – will speak loudest.

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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