Malcolm Turnbull arguably had his best week has Prime Minister last week. Not only had he now delivered is election promise to give the people a vote on same sex marriage but he personally was on the right side of the outcome.
He was eager to own the result in his press conference following the announcement of the result “the Australian people have spoken in their millions and they have voted overwhelmingly ‘yes’ for marriage equality.They voted ‘yes’ for fairness. They voted ‘yes’ for commitment. They voted ‘yes’ for love.”
He also vowed immediate action, something he had been criticized for lacking in recent months “now it is up to us, here in the Parliament of Australia, to get on with it. To get on with the job the Australian people have tasked us to do and get this done, this year, before Christmas. That must be our commitment”.
Malcolm Turnbull also would have felt the result would have silenced his conservative critics and temporarily ended any leadership speculation. His predecessor Tony Abbott was on the losing side and had been using no campaign has a platform for a renewed leadership push.
But of course just when things are looking up for Malcolm Turnbull he soon manages to self sabotage and plunge the government yet again into chaos. This occurred yesterday by taking the unprecedented step of suspending the House of Representatives for one week.
Leader of the House Christopher Pyne claimed this was being done so the Senate could finish debating the same sex marriage legislation before it arrived in the House. However most commentators and Turnbull’s political opponents correctly speculated that this was being done because now that the government had lost its majority on the floor of the House of Representatives due to by-elections caused two MPs being found ineligible due to dual citizenship, so they were eager to avoid any embarrassment when parliament resumed.
Nationals MPs led by George Christensen and Senator Barry Sullivan have vowed to cross the floor and support a Labor and Greens motion for a Royal Commission into the banking industry which the government has long 0pposed. Although it is questionable whether this royal commission is needed surely it is an overreaction by Turnbull to suspend the House to avoid a political outcome that actually would have broad community support?
The suspension of the House allowed Labor and Greens to renew their attack on the Turnbull Government accusing him of running scared. Deputy Labor leader Tanya Pilbersek claimed ‘I think this is the sort of thing that happens in dictatorship’. Nobody bought the the government’s justification as how does the House having less sitting days help the parliament pass same sex marriage?
Labor, the Greens, Bob Katter and several other crossbench MPs have vowed to turn up to work at Parliament House next Monday as that is what the Australian people expect of them. The government has responded by claiming this stunt will cost taxpayers $787,000 in flights and travel. However given it was the government who took this drastic course of action it is likely they will suffer the political fallout.
One week later Malcolm Turnbull has once again reminded voters why they have turned against the government in such massive numbers, his poor political judgement, his indecisiveness and the sense that the government is in a continued state of chaos.
It has also given his conservative critics another opportunity to attack his leadership with an unnamed Coalition MP vowing to quit the party if Turnbull is not replaced quickly. If Turnbull’s latest action does have the effect of breaking his commitment to have same sex marriage legal before Christmas then as Bill Shorten stated Australians will riot.
When you are being attacked from both the left and the right then it is a clear sign you are not doing things correctly. Malcolm Turnbull has yet again scored an own goal and blown any political capital he recently gained. It’s back to chaos this week and nobody has faith that Turnbull can return our politics to a state of normality and stability.