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Same Coalition Newspoll, Dutton’s Status Rises, Abbott Speaks Out Again

I suggested in yesterday’s Commentary that Turnbull’s activism over the past couple of weeks was a desperate attempt to help him survive as leader. But while the latest Newspoll has put Turnbull 11 points ahead in the Better PM category (only 8 points ahead last time), there was no change in Newspoll’s TPP (still at 47/53 as it was a fortnight ago). Also, even though the Coalition’s primary vote did improve slightly (from 35 to 36), this is 6 points lower than it was when elected a year ago and still leaves unchanged the problem with the basic policy being pursued by Turnbull. Relevant here too is that Labor’s primary vote also increased to 37 (from 36) (see Newspoll 24 July).

More Support for Reduced/Abolished Restriction on CO2 Emissions

Another development in the debate on climate policy is the publication of an article in the AFR by journalist Aaron Patrick reporting that the executive director of the IPA, John Roskam, told him that “The majority of federal Liberal MPs are not convinced the science behind climate change is settled and support reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases for political reasons”. He said “he hadn't conducted a formal count but found most Liberal politicians shared his doubts about what many experts say is the greatest global threat to mankind” (see AFR Aaron Patrick on Sceptics on Climate Change).

Why No Clean Energy Target?

Why was Environment Minister Frydenberg unable to tell his equivalent ministers from the States what Clean Energy Target (CET) the Commonwealth government proposes? According to his comments made just before his meeting with State ministers on 14 July: “There will be discussion about the clean energy target, but ... we received the report just five weeks ago,” Mr Frydenberg said. “We need to get this right. Dr Finkel made it very clear that the clean energy target, if it would be implemented would be from 2020, so there is no rush. What is important is to get the policy right” (see Frydenberg on CET).

Some Puzzles About Energy & Climate Policies AND Turnbull

Today’s Australian reports that, at tomorrow’s meeting with his state counterparts, Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg will “press his state and territory counterparts to agree to 49 of the 50 recommendations contained in the blueprint for reform handed down by Chief Scientist Alan Finkel last month, arguing that they will inject ‘stability and security’ into the market”. He will also “demand that Victoria and the Northern Territory lift their bans on onshore gas development. However “the meeting will not consider the proposed Clean Energy Target (CET), which is a priority for some states and many in industry, because of Coalition divisions over the policy” (see Finkel Not on Agenda for Meeting with States).

Energy & Climate Policy AND Turnbull

Yesterday Environment Minister Frydenberg had a lead article published in The Australian in which he argued that “in order to create a more affordable and stable energy system, the states need to lift their game — business as usual is not an option” (see Frydenberg on States Energy Policies). I submitted a letter arguing that “the same comment might be made about the Commonwealth’s policy game”, but it was not published.

More Concern Expressed About Turnbull & G20 Meeting Doesn’t Seem Global

My last Commentary (on Thursday) argued that a number of reports/comments in The Australian added to the increased recognition that the policies being pursued by Turnbull are often not consistent with Liberal Party objectives and that “it is difficult to envisage that Turnbull could make a come-back for the Coalition before the election whereas appointing a replacement in the near future would give it a reasonable chance”. I have now written a letter to The Australian with the same theme and pointing out that it is laughable to see the suggestion by some Ministerial colleagues that the cause of Turnbull’s problem is the expressions of concern in the last fortnight by Tony Abbott. My letter says that “the problem is not Abbott but the policies pursued by Turnbull”.