Laura Tingle today gives voice to the not too secret hopes of the nation:
…the strange thing over the past month or so is having been out talking to different groups of company directors, bank customers, economists and the like about the new government, the same question has inevitably surfaced: when will the Coalition bring Malcolm Turnbull back?
…The significance of the question though, apart from the fact it is so prevalent so soon after a change of government, is that it does reflect on all the woes that seem to be besetting the Coalition.
“The download from politics to them is that Turnbull is more progressive, there is more possibility of some bipartisan detente on energy, more middle ground than may be possible from a government that appears determined to take us back to the 1950s,” one business leader said this week. “There is a quiet panic in the energy sector about the yawning gap between all the jawboning that is going on from the government, and the reality that trying to retrospectively undo the carbon tax is just not legally possible.
“The government is jawboning on boat people. Ministers are jawboning on the budget. They are jawboning on carbon.
…“There seems to be a complete lack of cognisance that simply going out and repeating these mantras is not something that works once you are in government.”
It seems people are realising that they weren’t just yearning for a change from the chaos of the past few years, but yearning from some slightly more serious politics. Politics that can envisage the odd bit of bipartisanship and grown-up discussion.
I completely agree though have little insider knowledge to add to the discussion. For me the bovver boy approach of the Abbott Government is a sign of an overweening political drive not a policy or national vision that, as I said last week, is simply repeating the mistake made by the previous government (though it’s political obsession was more about who would lead).
Given the number of issues that seem suddenly to have beset the Government, Turnbull may not be the answer. But there are three reasons to think he is the man of the moment and could capture an enduring centrist support base that with each passing day Abbott seems more likely to squander:
- foremost, Turnbull is the best communicator in Parliament and can articulate the difficult reform agenda the country needs (and would embrace if it were explained by an adult);
- second, he is not a politician. He is a businessman in politics and that is a priceless asset if Australia requires hard decisions in the national interest. He can basically make people ‘cross the floor’ in a way that a tribal party man never will;
- third, one and two mean that Turnbull is far better equipped to withstand the slings and arrows of vested interests that are paralysing our politics;
- fourth, he can end the ridiculous and wild pendulum swings in carbon policy that are going to hurt Abbott the longer he is in power.
I know many readers will scoff at this argument. I know as well that many in the Coalition hate Turnbull. And that many of its power brokers are the card carrying climate skeptics that pull Abbott’s strings. But I can only say that as a swinging voter who has voted for the Coalition in the past (but went Green last election), the rise of Turnbull (and the policy values he represents) would bring me strongly back into the camp.
At the risk of solipsism, I’m of the view that a very impressive slice of the nation is much the same.