ON THE 441ST DAY OF TURNBULL MY TRUE LOVE SAID TO ME – I missed an interesting kind-of-an-anniversary on the weekend; on Sunday, Malcolm Turnbull has been a Prime Minister and the leader of the Liberal Party for 441 days, which is the exact length of his first stint as the party leader in 2008-09.
So in a way that’s a success; Malcolm has survived longer at the top (now 443 days and counting) than the first time around, not having fallen prey again this time to a self-tsunami of stupidity likeÂ supporting Labor’s emissions trading scheme, which would have once again precipitated his political demise. On the other hand, Malcolm hasn’t done much at all these 441 days except for riding public transport, taking a lot of selfies and floating a clown-ful of policy balloons, all of which have burst with varying degrees of embarrassment. There are a lot of pricks in politics.
The difference, for the people with short memories, is that Malcolm is even more unpopular with the voters this time – 36 per cent approval at the time of his 2009 dumping, 34 per cent now, up from a dismal 29. The Coalition continues to trail Labor in the polls. On both occasions, the initial spike of Turn-phoria has been quickly whittled away with nothing to show for all the political capital lost.
Listen, I know it’s difficult to govern Australia with crossbenchers holding the balance of power in the Senate. But the Senate is almost always at the mercy of minor parties and independents. Not a lot is getting through the upper chamber under Turnbull, but what’s in some ways even worse is that not a lot is being articulated as the government’s vision for Australia, whether or not it could eventually get through. Just being Malcolm in the middle of it all is not a substitute for a direction or a strategy.
I’ve watched Malcolm’s trajectory from reasonably up close the first time around, which is why I didn’t have high hopes for his Second Coming. Not having big expectations means I’m never disappointed in life, but it’s not the state of affairs I would wish for my country. Labor continues to be absolutely dreadful, like the Bourbons having learned nothing and forgotten nothing, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a Coalition government that (with some exceptions) has more to commend it than merely being a stopgap.