Australia Comment: Malcolm Turnbull's Newspoll strategy backfired, making him a bigger target

05:52  10 april  2018
05:52  10 april  2018 Source:   ABC News

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbulll’s popularity has slipped in the latest Newspoll .Source:The Australian. THE CFMEU has seized on polling to continue its campaign against a construction industry watchdog, claiming Malcolm Turnbull ’ s popularity decline is a direct result of union “bashing”.

Malcolm Turnbull today has stated “I do have the confidence of my colleagues and no-one is suggesting I don’t” and that “I regret making those remarks at the time, making the remarks about 30 Newspolls at the time.

Barnaby Joyce, a National, hasn't a vote for the Liberal leadership. But he's a man of opinions and now he's on the backbench there are no restraints on his expressing them.

On Monday night, amid the feeding frenzy over Newspoll, Mr Joyce declared that if, as Christmas approached, polling indicated Malcolm Turnbull was heading to electoral defeat, he should call it quits. There was an obligation "not to drive your party or the government off a cliff," he told Sky.

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  $150 million splash for Qld highway Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull denies a $150 million upgrade to the Bruce Highway in Queensland is pork barrelling ahead of a possible federal election.In Queensland on Tuesday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced funding for the Murrumba Downs section north of Brisbane, which sits in Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton's electorate.

Malcolm Turnbull takes a hit in the latest Newspoll . One reason could be the critically timed intervention of former Prime Minister Tony Abbott who confirmed he would cross the floor to vote against a Clean Energy Target as recommended by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel.

Malcolm "Sugar Bomb" Trumble Turncoat Turdball Turnbull is an economic hit man, Prime Minister of Australia, and "ceremonial" leader of the Liberal Party. He' s an ex-banker and ex-lawyer who sees himself as a thoroughbred. He' s really just the sacrificed Yoshi to make a jump in a Mario level.

A new unhelpful spot fire erupted into flame.

With the fateful 30th Newspoll finally out there, the government on Monday descended into an orgy of destructive self-indulgence. It was a collective performance made up of individual bitterness, tactical misjudgement, and plain ill-discipline. Just the sort of thing to further disgust a public already turned off by the shambles of Canberra.

Abbott's primal scream

For Tony Abbott, Monday was the occasion for the primal scream. It might be two-and-a-half years since Mr Turnbull seized his job, but the former prime minister's pain hasn't abated a jot, nor his sense of what he sees as the injustice delivered to him.

As he pedalled through the Latrobe Valley, Mr Abbott told 2GB it was for Mr Turnbull to explain why the 30 lost Newspolls measure that he invoked in his 2015 challenge "applied to me but shouldn't apply now".

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  Minister pledges loyalty to PM Peter Dutton says ministers who don't share his loyalty to Malcolm Turnbull should resign. The Home Affairs Minister, seen by some as a future leader, made the comments days ahead of the Prime Minister's expected 30th Newspoll loss.Asked if he was loyal, Mr Dutton said he wouldn't remain a minister if he wasn't."I only accepted the offer to serve in the prime minister's cabinet because I could give my loyalty to the leader, exactly the same formula I applied when Tony Abbott offered a position within his cabinet," he told Sky News.

PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull thinks he knows how to make himself more popular with voters. In the latest Newspoll , both leaders had a 57 per cent disapproval rating. Parallel with this has been the deliberate targeting of Bill Shorten.

News National How Malcolm Turnbull lost 30 Newspolls in a row. 10:57pm, Apr 8, 2018 Updated: 11:46pm, Apr 8. Tweet Share Reddit Pin Email Comment . Malcolm Turnbull ’ s 30th straight Newspoll loss, the It is clear that the people have made up their mind about Mr Abbott’s leadership.”

And then there were the other points he had raised back then — about the need to restore cabinet government, and the lack of an economic narrative.

"Well, I ran a perfectly orthodox cabinet government", Mr Abbott insisted; as for having no clear economic narrative, "I completely reject that. There was a very, very clear economic narrative under my government." For good measure, he threw in a defence of the 2014 budget — which in fact began his political demise.

On the policy front, he topped his call for the government to build a coal-fired power station by suggesting it should nationalise the Liddell power plant, owned by AGL, which is resisting selling to another company despite sustained bullying from the government.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. © AAP Image Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Counterattack with little sense

Given everyone knew Mr Abbott would be grabbing the spotlight after Monday's Newspoll, the government had to make a tactical judgement about how best to counter.

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Malcolm Turnbull visited a child care centre on the day his government lost its 30th Newspoll . (AAP). Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says his colleagues still back him but he regrets making 30 Newspolls in a row a measure for dumping his predecessor.

Malcolm Turnbull has confronted his 30th straight Newspoll loss, repeating he regrets setting the benchmark as a reason to knife Tony Abbott. US President Donald Trump has slammed Syria over a chemical attack on Douma, saying President Bashar al-Assad will have " a big price to pay".

It could keep a low profile, with minimal prime ministerial and ministerial appearances. While that would give maximum room to Mr Abbott, it would also avoid further fanning the poll story. Or Mr Turnbull and his ministers could confront the bad poll day full on. That was the course chosen — and it was hard to see the sense of it.

Ministers were out everywhere, backing Mr Turnbull. That just gave the impression that his leadership was in need of protection, despite there being no challenge.

In a round of media appearances, Mr Turnbull said (for the umpteenth time) that he regretted citing Newspoll, declared he had the backing of his colleagues, and submitted himself to some humiliation.

On 2GB, Ben Fordham announced he had invited listeners to say what he should ask Mr Turnbull. "I hate to tell you PM: the overriding response was, 'when will you resign?'" Fordham told his guest, with the cameras looking on.

"Oh really," Mr Turnbull said. "Well, well the answer is I'm not, I am not. I am going to go to the next election and win it".

Then there was Wayne on the talkback line. "I'm a rusted-on Liberal and you've taken the party — you nearly lost the unlosable election. I find you politically inept, and basically you've taken the party in my view too far to the left and I think you should do the honourable thing and resign, put it to a party vote because quite frankly if we go to an election with you we are doomed as a party".

Analysis: Malcolm Turnbull's 30th Newspoll loss might not prove fatal, but leadership tension is apparent

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It' s about making life difficult for Malcolm Turnbull as his 30th Newspoll looms. Energy policy is a tried and true strategy for bringing down prime ministers and the wrecking crew has gone back to the well again.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ’ s coalition government lost its 29th straight Newspoll on Monday, putting the Australian leader in an increasingly precarious position as his party attempts to push planned corporate tax cuts through parliament.

"Well thanks Wayne for the advice," said the PM. "I don't propose to take it, however." Turnbull then went on to invite Wayne to tell him how he had taken the party to the left, and argue the toss with him.

Dutton piles on

Now one can say it's admirable that a leader gets out and deals with criticisms. But Monday didn't seem the day for maximum exposure.

Or for canvassing long-term leadership ambitions, as did Peter Dutton. "I think people are best to be honest about their ambitions", the Home Affairs minister told 3AW. His comments were in the context of reaffirming his loyalty to Mr Turnbull and were not new, but such candour just set off another spot fire of questioning, that soon reached Josh Frydenberg and Scott Morrison, both of whom acknowledged the batons in their knapsacks.

The 30th Newspoll was destined to be difficult. Mr Abbott was determined to make it so. Mr Joyce is a loose cannon. 

But the strategy adopted by Mr Turnbull — for he and his ministers to try to control the story by swarming all over it — simply made him a bigger target.

It displayed a lack of political nous but also suggested he is feeling more than a little rattled by the situation in which he finds himself.

Michelle Grattan is a Professorial Fellow at the University of Canberra and chief political correspondent at The Conversation. This piece was originally published on The Conversation.

Abbott ready to serve .
Tony Abbott says he's ready to serve the Liberals in whatever role they want."I don't know in what capacity that public life will play out," Mr Abbott told 3AW.

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