Tony Abbott’s vain hope

Like that popular Gillard meme on social media (Miss me yet?), Mr Abbott spent the week trying to rekindle the conservative flame in the hope that some voters, any voters would start to miss his presence in Australian politics.

Strangely Mr Abbott flew overseas to do so, reportedly paying his own way to the UK to give an address to a room of adoring Tories in the name of their high priestess Maggie Thatcher.

The hard truth for the former PM is that, nope, he’s not being missed much at all.

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There’s been a succession of opinion polls indicating that voters have vigorously welcomed the Ascension of Malcolm. First the voters of the safe Liberal seat of Canning declined to be outraged by the toppling of Mr Abbott.

And five weeks after the change, an opinion poll found 70 per cent of Coalition voters prefer Mr Turnbull as Liberal leader compared with a measly 12 per cent for Mr Abbott.

The honeymoon seems to be a leisurely one, with voters now giving PM Turnbull approval ratings that have not been seen since the heady Days of Kevin.

Facisist is as facisist does


Too much mercy towards refugees can undermine justice for all, Mr Abbott said.

Perhaps it’s unsurprising Mr Abbott hurriedly sought the embrace of his conservative brothers in the UK, to share their apparent lament for his government’s tragic passing.

During the address, the self-styled iconic conservative wistfully claimed his audience might “be disappointed that my own prime ministership in Australia lasted two years after removing Labor from office.”

That may well have been the case, but there were also reports that some audience members winced during the speech, which essentially preached against humanitarianism for refugees and encouraged European nations to take a control their borders against “those who are no longer fleeing a conflict but seeking a better life” because “too much mercy for some necessarily undermines justice for all.”

No wonder one audience member reportedly described the speech as “facisist”, which is a nice way of saying it sympathised with facism.

Bring out your policies!

Since the Turnbull era began, voters’ support for Labor has begun to wane and Labor Leader Bill Shorten to look like a box of baubles left on the shelf after the Boxing Day sales.

Bill Shorten

Mr Shorten is pushing on with policy.

Last week’s Newspoll saw Mr Shorten’s support as preferred PM drop 24 points to 17 per cent since Mr Turnbull took over the leadership.

The last time an opposition leader scored this badly, it was Mr Turnbull who was preferred by only 14 per cent of voters in November 2009. Now PM Turnbull is preferred by 63 per cent of voters.

Still unsure about how to handle the new guy, the Labor opposition has placed its hope in the questionable analysis of the armchair political pundits on social media who claim voters are more interested in policies than politics.

This is despite the evidence pointing to the contrary, with most voters tending to vote by habit or gut instinct than any deep analysis of the policies on offer.

However Labor is seemingly determined to take the policy route.

When recently asked about Labor’s poor polling, Mr Shorten claimed “the real business of opposition isn’t reading the polls”, suggesting that if “Labor keeps working on the right policies, the polls will look after themselves”.

Quibbling over the definition of catastrophe

Labor’s industrial arm, the labour movement, was also studying the opinion polls this week, wistfully wondering why the strong community support for unions expressed in the Essential Poll had not translated into more people becoming union members.

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Union membership is down, but recognition of their role is high.

Essential, which admittedly is a union-friendly polling house, found 62 per cent of respondents thought unions were important for working people today.

But this support has not translated into union membership fees, with the ABS reporting this week that less than 14 per cent of private sector workers have joined a union.

The ABS data was dismissed as flawed by union leadership.

The situation provides a warning pertinent to both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader.

Mr Turnbull has the option of going to a double dissolution election on workplace relations reform and will be hoping the union movement doesn’t manage to get its act together.

Mr Shorten will be wishing for the opposite – he can’t afford for the labour movement to die as his party depends heavily on unions for both campaign funds and physical resources at election time.


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