Cameron has shared his post and this link with us. Thank you, Cameron, for adding a political perspective to our blog.
The aftermath of the Libspill – Cameron Gosley (guest blogger)
Now that most of the fuss has died down over the loss of our 28th Prime Minister, it might be worth seeing what changes Turnbull can implement, or whether it is a case of “Same shit different smell”, if you’ll mind the turn of phrase. Two of the main constraints after the change of leadership will be how much Turnbull will be able to shift the policies of the Government, as well as how far the coalition parties will bend to accommodate him.
Turnbull would be wise to pick his battles, as although he’s seen more favourably in the eyes of the Australian people, he still has to rely on the support of the party. We’re already seen him bite the bullet on issues such as climate change, sticking to the Direct Action policy (despite previously saying that he “wouldn’t lead a government that’s not as committed to effective action on climate change as [he] is”), gay marriage, as well as the newly dredged-up republic issue. The Labor party was quick to show this supposed selling out from the get go at the first question time of the new Prime Minister, however Turnbull is probably well aware that he has very limited political capital, especially among the right faction with players mainly in the Senate, such as Cory Bernardi and Eric Abetz, as well as the Nationals, who despite being initially reluctant to jump back into a coalition agreement, were seemingly placated by a new ministry. The effect of this limitation of capital means that it is more difficult for Turnbull, to make moves on issues on which he is more progressive.
With the new agreement, the Nationals may be able to be the tail wagging the dog for the first time in a long time. The air of illegitimacy that surrounded the Gillard and Rudd II Prime Ministerships has given the Nationals a bit of bargaining power, especially since their favoured candidate lost out. The Nationals are looking to remain relevant in an increasingly more cosmopolitan Australia. While heartlands still remain, they’re increasingly at risk of being knocked out by Liberals and Greens. Barnaby Joyce, one of the most charismatic Nationals, is one of the driving factors of the party in the current political environment, however, with his inevitable takeover of the party once again stopped by Warren Truss’ decision to contest the next election, The Nats are going to be trying to co-operate while providing a point of difference from the Liberals once again.
Leadership challenging is a fairly new trend in Australian politics. Billy Hughes kicked it off, when he challenged the larrikin Gorton in ’71, and even though Gorton was an average prime minister, Hughes was a shocker. Challengers have never succeeded their predecessors’ popularity, with none in history yet being able to win a second election. However, Turnbull may be able to turn this around yet. With a stunning opinion poll, Turnbull has appeared to have turned the party around in a way that history would not have thought possible. With Labor’s tactic of cheap shots, as well as Bill Shorten seemingly not being able to adjust to Turnbull’s snappier pace, the public opinion of Labor may now be irreparable before the election next year. Labor also has the issue of the Greens to deal with: providing a point of difference as well as trying to capture the centre as well as avoid leakage to the left.
This is the most unstable time in Australian Political History. Even the short-lived Prime-Ministers of the post-federation era had longer political lifespans than Prime Ministers in the last five years. John Howard was the last Prime Minster to serve a full term. Hopefully Turnbull will be able to retake control of the country and deliver a stable leadership, as well as trying to put an end to the current knifing culture in Australian politics for the long-term sake of the country.