Just when it looked Turnbull was beginning to turn things around for the Coalition government and actually stand up for conservative principles, such as taking action to resolve Australia’s looming energy crises and finally proposing legislation to reform 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (even though it was doomed to fail in the Senate) he once again throws the right and the opinions held by a large segment of Australian community under the bus.
This occurred during Turnbull’s address yesterday at the Victorian Liberal Party’s State Council where he insisted the Liberals be the party of the ‘’sensible centre’’ and should reject ‘‘populism’’ and claimed this was all about uniting the nation “Above all, you build from the centre, bringing people together, and that is our commitment.” He even had the nerve to claim is this what Menzies would have done “Menzies rejected the populism, the authoritarianism of both left and right’’.
If Turnbull believes this is a winning formula, it is not reflected current polling with the latest one, the Fairfax-Ipsos poll showing the Coalition behind Labor 45%-55% two party preferred. This is landslide territory which would cause many senior government MPs to lose their seats. It is obvious Turnbull’s speech was aimed urging those on the right not to turn to Pauline Hanson and One Nation which despite constant negative coverage is still polling strongly.
Turnbull’s desire to claim what he calls the centre, is a demonstration that he and most of the members of his government are unwilling to tackle the key national problems our nation currently has. You only had to look at the way Turnbull rejected Pauline Hanson’s call for a Muslim ban after the latest Islamist terror attack in London claiming she was inciting hatred and creating a climate for more terrorism. Given that polling last year showed that 49% of Australians supported a Muslim ban this constant dismissal of this policy option shows once again the distain the political class have for ordinary Australians.
Of course, there are other smaller but still important cultural issues that the Turnbull government is unwilling to address. Turnbull’s recent appointments to key government organisations demonstrate this. Such as the new Chair of the ABC Justin Milne who denies there is any bias in the organisation, ensuring the ABC will continue to promote its left wing agenda. Despite his current railing against the Human Rights Commission Turnbull in 2015 made a status-quo appointment to the Commission in Ed Santow who replaced the self-described Freedom Commission now Liberal MP Tim Wilson.
Turnbull’s address to the Liberal Party faithful in Victoria appears to have not been met with the same scorn and ridicule like his address in New South Wales in 2015 when he claimed the Liberal Party was not run by factions. Though this latest address was equally as bad as it once again showed Turnbull to be out of touch with not just with the conservative base but Australia in general. During his Prime Ministership we have seen Cory Bernardi become so disillusioned that he has left to start the Australian Conservatives.
Turnbull’s strategy appears to be that if he just ignores the current problems we face they will magically go away. As events in Europe have shown that is wishful thinking. Constantly criticizing Pauline Hanson and other nationalist movements only makes the Australia people more resentful. Of course, the Labor alternative is even worse but the current conservative option is not good enough. It’s not just Turnbull that is the problem, as whoever would replace him would still lack significant spine and political courage. It is clear that conservative alternatives are still going to be needed in the coming years as the problems in Australia continue to get worse.