Remember back to the time of the coup against Tony Abbott when the great and the good (I speak loosely you understand) assured us that the change to Malcolm Turnbull was a change to the better: more articulate, better sense of small government economics, more competent, more able to negotiate things through the Senate, and with more of his own money to throw into the party’s coffers? Okay, I added the last one myself because at least it would have been true, unlike the others.
At any rate, we all heard with our own ears the reason Mr Turnbull gave for the coup. ‘One score and ten polls were too many to be trailing’, said the Lincoln-like statesman. ‘The judgement of the people is now clear’, was another point ‘Malcolm-the-ABC-adores-me’ made. And so it went on. Niki Savva loved him and promised he’d walk on water (and still does). Miranda Devine said we had to rally round the new guy, and anyway most of the world’s ills could be laid at the feet of Tony (and still does). Janet Albrechtsen was in raptures for Turnbull (not so much now). The entirety of the ABC was relieved to have gotten rid of an actual conservative (and still is). PVO and Paul Kelly couldn’t stop telling us the ways Turnbull would be better than Abbott and would reinvigorate Australian political life for the better (and still are).
A visiting Martian would have thought from all this commentary that it was the dawning of a new Age of Aquarius, especially for the Liberal party and the Coalition government. Why, the Martian would wonder, did it take the Liberal party room so long to make this change to this latter-day Abraham Lincoln, healer of the nation and fixer of the political situation?
Of course there were a few dissenters who said this was fool’s gold. For them there was no plausible pathway by which putting one of the most left-wing MPs in as leader of a supposedly right-of-centre Liberal party could work out. Turnbull would inevitably move the party to the left. This would open space further on the left for Labor to go even further that way. Turnbull would lose the Liberal party base. Human nature, being what it is, would mean there was bitterness and anger in the ranks of the troops and some of the MPs. The long-term effects on the Liberal party would be dire. You’d see a chasm form between the views of party members (mostly still conservatives) and those of the coup-plotting lefty MPs (sorry, ‘moderates’, who often prefer to hang out with GetUp! types more than with yucky conservatives). And of course Turnbull would encourage and reward the moderates. He might even employ ex-Greens party people in his inner circle. His policies would be Labor-lite ones. He’d ultimately go down as a disaster of a Prime Minister for anyone on the right side of politics – though it’s true that lefties would look back favourably on the man and the ABC would rub its hands in glee that they’d seen off any attack on their own patent ‘we employ not a single, solitary rightie on our TV current affairs shows’ bias. (And just remember who Turnbull went on to appoint to run and chair the ABC, two see-no-bias ‘ABC as usual’ types.) All in all, said the Delcons, we need to vote against the Libs until this man was gone as leader, for the long-term good of country and party.
I believe it was Miranda Devine who coined the term ‘Delcons’ for this group of naysayers and Turnbull sceptics. As I’m one of that crowd I embrace the term with relish. I think we Delcons have been correct in our predictions right down the line. Of course the myriad prognosticators who predicted Turnbull would be ‘awesome’ mostly refuse to admit they erred.
As an aside, I wonder what the correlation is between those who predicted Turnbull would be great (and wanted it so) and those who predicted Brexit would fail and Hillary would win (and wanted it so). Pretty bloody high, is my guess.
At any rate, as this past week saw Turnbull hit his own 30th losing Newspoll – on numbers that will see a massive Labor win, even ignoring unfavourable-to-the-Libs redistributions and huge GST anger in WA – let’s just recap some of the achievements of Team Turnbull. I list them in no particular order and off the top of my head. Feel free to add to the list at your leisure, preferably with a good stiff drink in front of you.
One, they attacked superannuation and undermined the bright line rule that the pots of money it contained should not be touched by any government if people were going to trust it enough to save with an eye to staying off the Age Pension. Team Turnbull did this because it needed money and is wholly incapable of cutting spending. So it increased super taxes.
But only on those in the defined contribution side of the pension world. All the über-elites with defined benefit schemes are doing just fine thank you very much.
Two, they signed up to the Paris Accords the day after Trump was elected. They wanted to preference emissions reductions over cheaper energy. It is as simple as that. Despite not making a flying fig’s worth of difference to the world’s temperature in the year 2100, Team Turnbull aimed to lock in the need for renewables madness. So when I arrived in Australia in 2005 this country had the democratic world’s cheapest energy. Now we are about the most expensive. It is all the fault of the political class. The blame is bipartisan.
Three, Turnbull has appointed all sorts of lefties to all sorts of bodies. Start within his own office, then look at Martin Parkinson, then look at Aboriginal stuff and keep looking. It’s not tough to see others. Four, Team Turnbull keeps spending like a drunken sailor – Gonski, NDIS, the idiotic NBN, French subs which few of us will live to see in the water, anything remotely fashionable. Five, nothing done at all on labour relations or free speech (in fact they want to make further inroads against free speech) while ditching the review into federalism and stopping the deregulation drive. Six, nothing has been done about our awful and so über PC universities and the ABC. Zippo. Zero. Nada. Nothing.
I’ll stop there. Turnbull is going to lose the next election. If he’s leader I’m voting against this Merkel-like sorry excuse for a right-of-centre party. So apply the same standard you MPs did against Tony, admit you were wrong, and get the man out as PM.