Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull depart question time just hours before the LIberal leadership challenge on September 14. Photo: Alex EllinghausenFirst 100 days as PM: Highs and lows
As the nation winds down for the summer break, its newly installed leader will be working through.
With just three months on the clock, and an election year dawning, there’s no need for a rest just yet.
Calendar year 2015 might have been Tony Abbott’s annus horribilis, but for his successor, it was annus mirabilis – or more inventively, his annus arrivalis.
December 23 marks 100 full days in the job as head of the government for Malcolm Turnbull MP-PM – a job he had always believed was his destiny.
Few within the clay-footed Abbott circle had seen his ambush coming, and nobody expected it in the same week as the Canning byelection.
And yet by the time the imminent challenge went public, it was already in the bag – the numbers aligning quietly behind the new man.
Turnbull’s opening gambit had been a dramatic statement, aimed as much at the public as his colleagues. The Abbott government had failed: failed to keep the people on side, failed to inspire business confidence, failed to lead the country at what should be its most exciting time, and failed to offer the government any chance of survival.
Sticking with Abbott, Turnbull fatefully predicted, meant making an unworthy Bill Shorten the next prime minister of Australia. It was as far away as he could get from Julia Gillard’s “Nerf ball” formulation that “a good government had lost its way”.
By his own poll metric, Turnbull’s first 100 days have been a success. As he had noted, 30 consecutive Newspolls had the government unable to lead, and yet within weeks, it was the new Turnbull-run operation that was ahead strongly – its support at least back to where it was at the 2013 election. It was a stunning turn-around that vindicated the switch.
But critics, on Turnbull’s left and right flanks, remain and disunity stalks.
As part of the deal to coax supporters away from Abbott, Turnbull had surrendered to Abbott’s go-slow on same-sex marriage and to the pallid Abbott-Greg Hunt formula of emissions reduction targets for the post-2020 decade.
These were big concessions delimiting from the get-go, the extent of Turnbull’s left-of-centre appeal.
The rest was largely rhetorical, but important nonetheless.
Technology-driven disruption would be friend not foe. Flexibility and agility would replace custom and practice. Everywhere, there would be hope, aspiration, opportunity.
It was necessarily atmospheric, but was not without some material elements too.
Ideas were the new black. Nothing was automatically “off the table”.
A major innovation statement found $1.1 billion for education and research, guaranteeing funding for collaborative work between science and industry, shoring up the CSIRO, and sending a message of priority to start-ups and the developers of new technologies.
The toxic university de-funding and deregulation plan was parked as ministers, unburdened by the cloying interference of the prime minister’s office, were encouraged to reach out and think big.
New Treasurer Scott Morrison and Turnbull energised a tax discussion, broaching a GST hike and opening up cross-party dialogues with Labor premiers.
New links were established with the Senate crossbenchers, resulting in the prospect of compromise. One dividend was an 11th hour compromise deal with the Greens on corporate tax transparency.
Yet big problems persist. Short of an election, Turnbull’s authority struggles to escape the gravity of its creation.
This plays out in his vulnerabilities such as his moderate handling of Islam and the terrorist threat.
While the interests of national security call for a deft and unifying hand, in the public square, frightened voters yearn for strength and clarity. Here Abbott speaks to voters and perhaps even to a silent majority the party room.
That is an ominous reality.
One hundred days into its life, the Turnbull manouevre has put his party back in front, but the full price is yet to be paid.
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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on 老域名.