The Inside Word

Is the Government losing its way?

There is a quote “Leadership is the art of disappointing people at a rate they can stand”. It makes you wonder if the Australian PM is testing this thesis. 

The recent Referendum loss, the bungled immigration detainee release and the ever-climbing cost-of-living has fuelled leadership disappointment not only inside the ALP caucus but the public at large.

The latest Newspoll has seen the ALP Government’s primary vote slide to 31 per cent. Conversely, the Opposition has risen to a post-election high of 38 per cent. The Two-Party-Preferred (TPP) vote has Dutton, leader of the Coalition, level pegging the Government at 50/50. Remarkable considering the Liberal Party lost its own seat of Aston in a by-election less than 8 months ago. One poll isn’t very telling, but a series of polls heading in wrong direction for the Labor Government is alarming. 

As mentioned in my Inside Word piece, ‘It’s the economy stupid’; cost-of-living pressures, the financial blowout from Minister Bowen’s unrealistic 2030 energy targets, combined with crazy market intervention policies, are all galvanizing resentment in middle Australia against the Federal Government. In fact, it’s not just working-class Australians that feel on edge, resentment is even surging among fellow ALP state governments as the Feds try to ‘reign in’ runaway fiscal expenditure. On the shopping list of cutbacks are an increase in GST payments, the new NDIS agreement and the review of federal-state infrastructure payments. 

Adding fuel to the fire of political discontent, a hand grenade was rolled into the public arena by the High Court judges. Their decision to release illegal immigrants into the community, many of whom are hardened criminals, caught the Government off-guard. As a result, as happens in the gladiatorial political arena, the whole issue was weaponized by Opposition leader Peter Dutton, who is no stranger to Home Affairs or immigration matters. 

The optics for the Federal Government on this key law and order issue is bad, reinforcing the view that the Government and the PM need to get back to basics. No more overseas trips, no more adventurism on symbolic gestures, but rather laser focus on getting the cost-of-living down, “the economy stupid”. 

For Liberal Party leadership, political fortunes have risen in recent months, picking the winning side on a Voice to Parliament and a successful prosecution of the Government’s floundering over a credible legislative response to the High Court’s recent ruling. 

But inside the Liberal Party not all is well.

The decision by the Dutton leadership to expel Senator David Van from the Victorian Liberal Party earlier in the year over allegations of poor conduct have come back to haunt them. In a bizarre turn of events, government ministers had been negotiating with independent Senator David Van, a key cross bencher, and have found a pathway through for key environmental legislation on the Murray-Darling Basin and are still in discussion with him on industrial relations reform.

Secondly, if the Liberal Party is to have any success toppling a one-term government, gaining seats in Victoria is crucial. In another act of incompetency by the Victorian Liberal Party, the Secretariate failed to lodge their preferred submission with the AEC over a forthcoming redistribution in time, which will see the State lose a federal seat and potentially one from the Liberal Party. 

Whilst the Government might be floundering at the top at a divisional level, the ALP machine is formidable. Unlike the recent incompetency of the Victorian Liberal Party divisions. 

To stop the decline, Prime Minister Albanese and his trusted Cabinet Ministers will need to regroup, reprioritise and refocus back on the economy.

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