From Peter Hartcher, the media outlet of choice for so much Capital Hill destabilisation:
“In February he asked for time,” as he pleaded for his job in the party room, says one Liberal MP. “He asked many of us for six months.” It’s been six months, a deadline that expired this week.
“The reality is that nothing’s changed and nothing’s improved. He asked some people to give him to the end of the year. Well, we aren’t quite there yet.
“This government is doing some good things. But there isn’t anyone who thinks this is a good government.” The Abbott government is approaching an existential moment. The existential question: What is the point of the Abbott government?
…The reform phobia “boils down to Tony and Joe having no capacity to project a vision or an economic narrative,” the minister despairs. “They are useless advocates. Tony’s just a wrecker.”
…”The government has become a preservation society to get Abbott from week to week” is the acid summary of one Coalition MP.
…As one of his ministers put it this week:
“Some people say we can’t win an election with him. That’s not true,” because while it’s hard to name any convincing purpose for the Abbott government it’s just as hard to name one for Bill Shorten’s opposition.
“But what’s the point of winning another election with Abbott?”
A good question and one that undermines the assumption that Labor can’t win. As I recall, “unelectable” was what they used to call Tony Abbott.
Although I have little time for The Kingslayer, his team is offering a platform of reform that if not aggressive at least addresses the issues of the day in climate change and negative gearing reform. On super reform they have missed the boat and the bigger narrative on the economy is still missing but it can be added.
Meanwhile, according to ReachTel, choppergate has hammered the PM:
A ReachTEL poll conducted exclusively for Fairfax Media ahead of Parliament’s return shows almost half of voters are less likely to support Mr Abbott following the expenses scandal that sparked public fury and led to his hand-picked Speaker’s downfall.
More worrying still for the Prime Minister, almost a quarter – 22.2 per cent – of Coalition voters say they are less likely to support him, according to the national poll of 2543 people.
Six months to the day since he barely survived a leadership spill motion and declared “good government starts today”, Mr Abbott is fast losing ground as preferred prime minister. Mr Shorten is preferred by 58.5 per cent of voters to Mr Abbott’s 41.5, despite the Labor leader’s recent Royal Commission appearance and the fireworks at ALP National Conference.
…The new poll conducted on Thursday – three weeks after the Bishop scandal first broke and five days after she announced her resignation – finds the two-party preferred vote unchanged with Labor still comfortably ahead 53 per cent to 47 per cent based on 2013 preference flows.
And from Newspoll via The Australian:
As Tony Abbott tried to play down the intense scrutiny of MPs’ entitlements as “a distraction” that he insisted was not affecting the job of governing, the latest Newspoll reveals the Coalition’s primary vote has fallen one point to 39 per cent — the first time it has been below 40 per cent since the budget. The poll of 1727 people taken exclusively for The Australian at the weekend — on the eve of MPs’ return to parliament today after the long winter break — shows Labor’s core support was unchanged at 39 per cent. The Greens gained one point to 13 per cent and support for other parties and independents was steady at 9 per cent. Based on preference flows from the last election, Labor has extended its two-party-preferred lead over the Coalition to 54-46 — the government’s worst result since March.
If the above string of quotes is coming from Abbott’s own team then I would not expect the punters to be kind at the ballot box. Laura Tingle continues the heat today:
Sources say despair over the affair, and perceptions that the prime minister has both lost control of the political agenda and is failing to move on major policy reforms, has led “rusted on” supporters to withhold donations in local MPs’ seats.
Amid the caution, cabinet minister Malcolm Turnbull – who leads Mr Abbott as the preferred Liberal leader in published opinion polls – told a closed door meeting of the Australian American leadership dialogue in Melbourne on the weekend that “appealing to people’s fear and anxiety is a low road that leaders should never go down”.
“We have to stop talking down to people and talking to them like they’re dumb and idiots”, sources at the function said, as part of a wide ranging speech which considered Australia’s relationships with the United States and China, the rise of China and the outlook for commodity prices.
The Coalition has clearly buried Joe Hockey in recent weeks following his blundering and Peta Credlin has been buried in recent months. Sadly that has meant more Tony Abbott off the leash and the more freedom you give an incompetent the more incompetent you will become.