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Polling Shows Further Coalition Falls

The announcement of Alexander’s resignation as an MP for Bennelong (and a by-election on December 16), and indications that at least three Labor MPs may be dual citizens as defined under Section 44 of the Constitution, raises a question as to whether Parliament will be functioning for a period as an effective political entity. Of course, after a series of by-elections next year Parliament can again become a body containing all “genuine” Australians. But should it make decisions on policies in the meantime or hold a general election that would bring the dual citizenship issue to a head?

Citizenship & Leadership Issues

Discussion and media coverage about the political situation is focussed mainly on the citizenship issue and its possible implications. It is an important and difficult issue on which to agree on what should be done (or attempted) to ensure that future elections (including the half Senate ones) have candidates who can pass a “no foreigners” test as prescribed by the High Court. The leaders of the two major parties seem to accept that it would be desirable on practical grounds to reach an agreement asap regarding the “audit” for future elections.

Rekindling Urgently Needed

Many of us are still recovering from the wrong decisions we made in making a bet on the Melbourne Cup (mine came last!). Who would have thought that two horses from Ireland would have come first and second and that they both came from Tipperary , to which it’s a long way to go according to the song whose joint author was a Williams. News Ltd Cartoonist, Mark Night has today brilliantly captured the contrast between Lloyd Williams’s sixth cup winner (Rekindling) and what one can only describe as Turnbull’s continued run of losers (and who should now “pack up his troubles in the old kit bag” and move along).At the end of this Commentary I have included today’s Knight cartoon along with his of 7 November, where he pictures Turnbull “having fun”.

Turnbull’s Leadership Dwindles Further

As soon as Turnbull arrived back in Australia from his visit to Israel for the BeerSheba, he held a press conference in Perth at which he rejected the idea of having an audit to determine whether MPs have complied with the constitutional requirement of having no foreign ancestry or, if so, of having renounced it before becoming federal MPs. He particularly attacked reports that Frydenberg might be deemed to be of Hungarian ancestry because his mother was born in Hungary but escaped the killing of Jews there and migrated to Australia. Frydenberg is reported as telling the ABC that “I did seek some advice and I am very confident with that ­advice but also contacted the embassy here and I was very comforted by conversations with them”.

In The Right Direction?

The kerfuffle over the ministerial handling of the Australian Federal Police raids on the Australian Workers Union raises serious questions about why the Turnbull government timed such action now and whether Turnbull himself was more closely involved than appears in the media. It followed Turnbull’s decision to announce a new energy policy with important details absent and a promise that these will be “explained” in due course. These “rush” decisions by Turnbull may well be connected with an attempt to lift his continued disastrous polling in Newspoll and prevent any move to replace him before Christmas. Yet an examination of recent developments suggests the polling is now more likely to fall than even stay put.

Energy Policy

Today’s Media has published two damming criticisms of government policy on global warming and, in particular, its predictions that NEG will result in falls in power prices. These come after yesterday morning’s seemingly desperate attempt by Frydenberg to support NEG including by his astonishing recourse to “experts” picked by Turnbull and himself viz “we are absolutely confident that prices will come down because that’s the best advice of the Energy Security Board which represents the best experts in the field … This is no subsidies. No taxes. No trading schemes. No carbon price”. It’s using existing market mechanisms involving “contracts exchanged for physical electricity”. One pertinent comment I received (from a different expert) is that NEG is similar to a plan by Lenin!

A Victory for Turnbull?

The week-end’s Media assessment of Turnbull’s New Energy Guarantee (NEG) is generally favourable, but withTerry McCrann predicting an extremely unfavourable outcome for the Coalition viz “Malcolm Turnbull and Josh Frydenberg have made a deliberate decision to lose the next election and to lose it badly. The rest of the joint party room voted to endorse the decision, an indeterminate number of Liberal and National members voting for an early retirement. This is the irresistible and even more the irredeemable political consequence of the Turnbull-Frydenberg decision to opt for a policy of (only trying) “to keep the lights on” over a policy of significantly and quickly cutting both electricity and gas prices. Far less, the third, but first-best, option — the option, begging to be embraced by a half-rational government that had the most minimalist understanding of political dynamics — of aggressively aiming to deliver both more and more reliable power and cheaper and sustainably cheaper power”.

The New Energy Policy Has No Substance

In Wednesday’s Commentary I suggested that the explanation given by an “expert” as to how Turnbull’s NEG would work, and how NEG would save $110-115 pa in costs, was incomprehensible. This expert (John Pierce) was making the explanation at Turnbull’s request to a press conference whose attendants included Frydenberg and board members of the recently established Economic Security Board (ESB), and whose role appears to be to ensure the provision of reliable power and the achievement of the emissions reduction target of 26-28% by 2030 (the text of the press conference is now attached to Wednesday’s Commentary on my web and is a “must read”). My guess is that the two ministers put together a group of “experts” as members of the ESB who are sympathetic to the need for government intervention to reduce carbon emissions.