Business, nation, pine for Turnbull


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. 

Houses and Holes


  1. Agree, while LNP have gone all medieval on social issues dragging Labor with them, both seem to resemble the old DLP.

    However I do know many rusted on Labor supporters (bottom end baby boomers) who would vote Liberal with Turnbull as leader (who seems more like a Victorian Liberal, i.e. to the left of Labor elsewhere in Oz..).

    LNP is purely ideology (with many christian conservatives) now thanks to years of neo con or hard right influence plus ageing demographics, and that seems to preclude Turnbull becoming leader in short medium term, even if it guaranteed a win (but behind the current Zeitgeist of USA).

    Like GOP with the Tea Party, described by McCain (?) as’lemmings in suicide vests’ who not only stop them winning elections through e.g. opposing immigration reform (attacking their future constituency), they don’t care…. and will probably continue to guarantee that Democrats will win the next election, unless they have their own ‘reformation’…..

    Abbott and/or LNP need to stuff up a lot more yet, which maybe to Turnbull’s advantage.

  2. Yeah who’d have thought that Abbott would be more embarrassing than the two previous prime ministers.

    There are too many reasons to prefer Turnbull over Abbott to enumerate here, but the greatest number of stuff-ups in the shortest possible time would head my list.

    It is already obvious that unless the LNP change leaders before the next election, they won’t see a second term.

    The only thing that pisses me off about the change is that Abbott would get all those fantastic privileges that PM’s get for the rest of his life.

  3. In polling leading up to the election, Turnbull was consistently more popular among Lib voters than Abbot.

    Strategically it made sense to keep Abbot as long as he was going to win the election.

    But only a small section of the community actually likes him.

    Abbot is dangerous and unsophisticated. At a time like this, with the economy in transition, we need strategic brilliance and that is not Abbot.

    Now is not the time to piss off china or indo, either. Now is not the time for chest beating hawks.

    China has just set up the world’s second biggest c-trading scheme and its total thermal coal volumes are set to peak, as they bias their energy supply to gas, nuke and wind. They are imposing significant costs on themselves quite beyond carbon …

    What was always missed from the ETS debate was that the big emitters are 94.5% protected and the total impact, even at the too high a price of $23/ton – was about $3 billion pa in a $1,450 billion economy. The C-tax/ETS economic impact was always a fabricated BS argument.

    The sceptics and the anti-alarmists can bang on all they like – but there is not a peak body that supports their belief. There is not a peak body that supports the idea that warming will be limited either. So making yourself sound reasonable by saying – “look I accept the science, but I think the warming will be limited” – is just as barking mad as being a rampant sceptic.

    There is not a peak body that rejects the idea that there is a 90% chance that warming will exceed 2C. None. Holding a contrary position places you in scientific loo loo land and that is not a sound basis for policy making.

    The Libs need to realise that outside of their party meetings – most of Australia is simply not as far right as the cabal currently in control of the Liberal party. Also, as things get tougher, and less tradies are making $200k pa building resource projects – the populous is going to become even less interested in a far right point of view.

    And oh look – both Abbot’s and the libs popularity is plummeting at a record rate..

    It’s a good thing we got rid of the incompetent rabble that Labor had become – but we got the wrong PM.

    • “The sceptics and the anti-alarmists can bang on all they like – but there is not a peak body that supports their belief. There is not a peak body that supports the idea that warming will be limited either. So making yourself sound reasonable by saying – “look I accept the science, but I think the warming will be limited” – is just as barking mad as being a rampant sceptic. There is not a peak body that rejects the idea that there is a 90% chance that warming will exceed 2C. None. Holding a contrary position places you in scientific loo loo land and that is not a sound basis for policy making.”

      First off:

      Second the claim that Australia had the hottest winter on record is quite dubious considering the sample it was pitted against was 1960-1990, a very carefully selected range, and quite small considering 1880-1960 was quite a hot period for Australia, as was 2000-2012.

      While I agree with most peoples political and economic views on this site, I fail to see why people blindly follow the main stream media and vested interests without doing there own research.

  4. “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.”

    Same here.

    And from the article:

    “Another business source says: “Despite all their criticisms of Labor for failing to talk or consult with business, there has been a quick disillusion setting in about how serious the Coalition really is about consulting, in the sense of possibly altering course when presented with evidence that rather doctrinaire positions won’t work.””

    Well colour me completely surprised.

    • How so JoeBlow?

      To me, that assertion holds plenty of water when you consider that Turnbull has spent most of his working life in business. He has only been an MP since 2004.

    • I think HnH means that he has not been a career politician… I would tend to agree, that makes a huge difference.

      Whether or not he is more able to resist the rent seeker influence I am not entirely sure however.

      And his NBN policy is a dog.

  5. It’s a bit of a long shot isn’t it. I’ve only been politically aware for about ten years but the lying seems to be getting more and more blatant. It’s not just lying about little fringe issues, but major stuff. Like the Lib’s austerity lie, and Gillard’s anti big Australia statement.

    The best bet is a completely new party, like a UKIP.

  6. Yep. I bet Laura tingles for Turnbull.

    Can’t see MT getting up just yet. He’s always been Labor supporters’ most palatable pick for opposition leader and they regularly wave his name at the coalition as a direct taunt to Abbott. Abbott has probably done enough to retain leadership for this term by successfully slaying two PMs and winning the election. He is only too aware MT is looking over his left shoulder.

    Tingle is entirely partisan and getting more so. But I do rather like MT!

    • But I do rather like MT!

      I find that extraordinarily unlikely given your rabid denialism and support for the more extreme figures in the climate “debate”. e.g. Monckton.

      • Gentle agnosticism you mean. I guess when seen through your prism of rampant alarmism my more skeptical position seems extreme.

        Monckton has some interesting things to say and made for a night of jolly good bonhomie. You just don’t get that with the crowd you hang with 😉

    • I think there would have been bipartisan support for the FTTP NBN if Turnbull had remained Opposition Leader.

      Remember, Abbott and his puppet masters wanted the whole thing scrapped, but Turnbull somehow managed to present an alternative (albeit a dog of an alternative).

      If Turnbull was to replace Abbott, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see FTTP back on the agenda.

      • I don’t know, if what gets rolled out ends up being FttN for the majority we should have just saved our money instead until another leader with real balls comes along imo.

      • The promise of fibre to just about every home was always nonsense and more about politics, hard ball Sol and making ‘big vision’ sound effects.

        It was never going to be laid to every house and apartment and never will.

        Having not made over the top promises that cannot be kept, Turnbull can focus on what is practical and sensible. He is not a goose.

        What that will mean is probably the following.

        1. New houses will get fibre.

        2. Fibre will get run to the basement of apartment buildings and town house complexes and the existing copper will be used to get to the apartments.

        3. Houses will no HFC or every poor ADSL connections will be prioritised for work. If in a particular location the difference in cost between FTTH and FTTN is marginal they will probably get FTTH. Especially if they save money by slinging the cable off the power poles.

        4. Houses already served by HFC or good ADSL connections will be put at the bottom of the ‘To Do’ list.


        If they are going to be laying FTTH cable in any location it would be sensible to do it properly and build trenches that can take the power and other utilities as well. That way we get rid of the power poles and have good service infrastructure for the future.

          • I used to – so if any wants or needs the highspeed optus modem let me know. It was fine.

            These days I am on ADSL and have a reasonable connection. about 4-5 M most days. Which is fine for what I need – in fact more than enough. It can suck down more video than there are hours in the day to watch.

            Certainly enough for me – so 25M from Turnbull’s FTTN would be fine but even then a luxury for me rather than a necessity.

            For me the critical issue is not perfection but getting decent broadband to those who dont have it as fast as possible and if FTTN is going to be faster then that is an important consideration.

            Anything new should of course get FTTH.

          • Did you get reduced speeds on HFC due to congestion at high use times 5-9pm weekdays?

            I agree with you on the need for new builds/greenfields to get FTTP priority. My concern is also lack of retail competition and ISP access on HFC. Has Telstra sold its HFC to the NBN?

          • Not that I noticed but last I used it was back in 2011 in the inner west -Syd.

            Do you have the hi speed version? What sort of speed do you get when it is congested?

            Generally, I found it about 4 times faster than the ADSL i have now.

            If the copper is so crap they may as well buy it and hand it over to the NBN and then sort out what will get better access to those with poor or nil access asap. If it is fibre fine but many friends who have nothing now would rather get something much better than nothing sooner.

            The thing to avoid is blowing out costs by trying to do it too quickly. Rewiring the country is a big job.

  7. I have a mate with Liberal Party connections, and he told me that the whole Liberal party including grass roots members hated Turnbull, and that installing Abbott staved off a huge backlash.

    Now… installing someone as leader who is popular with the public, but not with their party. How well did that end up for Kevin Rudd and the ALP?

    • The political process has become so bastardised, and the public so jaded, that the two major parties end up representing the interests of a very small portion of the electorate. Then the democratic process becomes picking between the sh*t sandwich and the giant douche.

    • Sadly most Liberals (and Liberal supporters) are much closer to Abbott than Turnbull. You only have to read the blatherings of the wing nuts here to appreciate that.

      If you occupy the sensible middle ground then you’re unlikely to be popular in your own party.

  8. Astonishing that in almost every area there doesn’t seem to be any vision or any clear policy – I thought that behind the scenes they were privately preparing a clear policy agenda for post election rather than the trite and insulting mantras that were played out during the election. It appears that I was wrong – the silly mantras and jawboning ARE the policy.

    • Better still, how about they bring back PJK? (the old PJK, not the one that destroyed Hewie with a scare campaign in 93)

      • Certainly Turnbull is the only person in parliament that could fill a Keating role, with the reforming guts and the talk to match.

  9. Urgggg turnbull it was only a matter of time before the soft left elites started pushing his barrow i dont know about you but the only member for goldman sacks i want to see in the lodge is your own lvo, yes at least one commentator on this site is doing a bang up job.