Malcolm Turnbull arrived in Brisbane last week battling for popularity. Photo: Cameron AtfieldMalcolm Turnbull was in Queensland last week. Like a crusading St George fighting the Dragon, or leading the Roman attack against the flame-haired Boadicea. Either way, a Roman come to do battle. And a battle it is.
Coming off a bad week in Canberra where his own side suffered self-inflicted gunshot wounds, Malcolm arrived to a Newspoll showing a further slide in his popularity. Remember that under Turnbull, Newspoll is the means by which performance is measured.
This also means communication, not policy, is the core skill needed by his government. Malcolm’s own prolix style notwithstanding, he is not helped by the fibbers, babblers and simply deluded among his senior ministers.
Chief among the babblers are Scott Morrison and Maithias Cormann, the government’s chief economic spokesmen. Notice how in extended interviews, for example on 7.30, Insiders or ABC current affairs programs that both are ultimately reduced to a Labor-blaming babble which includes the mantra “six years of debt and deficit”.
Then there are the fibbers. The integrity of both Barnaby Joyce and George Brandis was questioned last week by frank and fearless senior officials, in a manner unseen since Air Marshall Angus Houston told the truth about the children overboard.
Correspondence to Joyce from Paul Grimes, the former Agriculture Department Secretary, finally saw the light of day under FOI Solicitor-General Jason Gleeson dive-bombed the Attorney-General for, among other things, misleading parliament.
Finally there are the deluded. A collective gasp came from the commentariat when Christopher Pyne’s asserted on Insiders that Turnbull and Abbott have a longstanding friendship and simply disagree about who should be PM. Brandis also showed signs of being under the delusion that he had properly consulted the Solicitor-General.
The other Coalition Queenslanders in Canberra are not helping. Peter Dutton is an unpopular person in an unpopular portfolio with an unengaging communication style.
Warren Entsch in Leichardt is more concerned about same sex marriage than infrastructure and Indigenous people in his sprawling electorate. George Christensen in Dawson is out there as Pauline Hanson’s new best friend.
Newbies and nobodies hold seats further south and out west (Capricornia, Flynn, Hinkler, Wide Bay, Fairfax, Fisher, Groom, Maranoa and Brisbane), and on the Gold Coast a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night, hang over Stuart Robert.
Trade Minister Steve Ciobo (Moncrieff) is mostly on the road and Karen Andrews (McPherson) has her hands full cleaning out the pigsty that is vocational education. So as the gag goes: Dutton is ex-Queensland Police, Robert is ex-army, Brandis is ex-parte, and Christensen is simply X-Files.
In the Senate, Matthew Canavan is doing most of the heavy lifting, the political Svengali James McGrath is all but invisible, while Senators Macdonald and O’Sullivan play knaves and jesters in the epic that is the current Australian parliament.
So if the patrician of Point Piper is to successfully take on Queensland’s own Boadicea, his troops need a lot more discipline than shown so far.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.