At a Glance
These are indeed challenging days for the Prime Minister.
With the publication of the latest Newspoll showing the Government behind Labor for the 21st time in succession, political pundits will be musing about the implications of 30 Newspoll losses in a row. Remember, this was a key trigger for Malcolm Turnbull to challenge Tony Abbott to become Prime Minister.
By all means, it is in no way a dead certainty for Bill Shorten to win the next election, as all the published opinion polls show Malcolm Turnbull consistently leading him as preferred Prime Minister.
There were media reports that Labors internal post-election review which is yet to be released, showed that the reason Labor did not win the 2016 election was due to Bill Shortens unpopularity.
In the absence of the release of this party report, we can only speculate the truth or otherwise of that claim. However, there was a time when political observers considered Tony Abbott unelectable and the rest they say is history.
The Endless Energy Debate
The energy debate now enters its 10th year and has cost party leaders’ on both sides of the House, their job along the way.
With the release of the Governments latest policy it has tried to put the energy debate to bed once and for all.
It’s an issue that has vexed both sides of politics and neither side has been able to come up with a palatable policy totally acceptable to the electorate.
Turnbulls latest policy is based on guaranteeing energy supply so that when people go to turn on their lights, they do indeed come on.
At this point it is not a home run for the Prime Minister, in fact, it is far from it. To get this policy over the line he needs the agreement of the state Premiers, none of which have been rushing to sign up.
The states have requested detail of the Government’s plan, which by all accounts has been scant to date.
In fairness to the states, its difficult for them to sign on the dotted line, when they don’t have the specifics of the plan. For some of them, they see the plan as much as a means to placate Tony Abbott rather than a properly considered policy to keep a lid on energy prices.
The politics of energy pricing is not something that the ALP is immune from. Federal Labor has a strong commitment to a clean energy target and the SA and Qld Labor Governments preside over some of the highest retail power bills in the country and for this reason Labor shares equal responsibility for the current state of the energy market.
If indeed there are blackouts over the summer…who do you think the voters will blame?
The Opposition has committed to go into the next federal election with a clean energy target, as opposed to the Government which has abandoned its commitment.
Malcolm Turnbull will argue that Labors commitment to a clean energy target is code for higher energy prices. If this becomes a defining issue in the federal campaign, it could well help save the Turnbull Government.
Lies, Damned Lies and Opinion Polls
Whenever a politician says, ‘the only poll that counts is the one on election day’ you can be sure that is a fib. All politicians watch opinion polls, discuss them with their colleagues and sometimes even make decisions to change leaders based upon them.
For the Government the polls are not proving to be their friend at the moment. With the publication of 21 Newspolls in a row showing the Government losing to Labor, if the Government hit 30 Newspoll losses in row, by around March/April next year, the question is, will the Prime Minister find himself in trouble?
One thing is for sure, the media and commentators will go into hyperdrive discussing it and this will just be another distraction that the Prime Minister can well do without.
There is a curious contradiction in the polls, in that while the Government lags Labor, Malcolm Turnbull consistently leads Bill Shorten as preferred PM making him the Governments best chance of defeating Labor.
The reality is, both major parties are equally unpopular with the electorate as each other. The latest Newspoll showed that 27% or just over 1 in 4 voters support anybody other than Labor or Liberal.
The minor parties are the direct beneficiary of this trend, as the electorate look for alternatives to represent their concerns. To date, the Greens and One Nation are the biggest beneficiaries of this dissatisfaction with both major parties.
Bill Shorten…Liability or Asset?
Recent media reports of Federal Labors internal review of the 2016 election claimed that if it were not for Bill Shortens unpopularity, then Labor would have won the election. This has been denied by the ALP.
But it does raise the question is Bill Shorten a liability or an asset to Labors election prospects?
If the polls are to be believed then Labor is on track to win the next election, even with a leader that is not exactly setting the world on fire in the popularity stakes. Bill Shorten is never going to reach the popularity and public adulation that Kevin Rudd achieved prior to becoming Prime Minister.
There is no doubt that Bill Shorten has been a direct beneficiary of the Governments political mismanagement fully aided and abetted by Tony Abbotts sniping from the sidelines. Bill Shorten is no Bob Hawke and is yet to prove he has the reformist zeal of Paul Keating, but he may yet be the nation’s next Prime Minister.
There is a saying politics and that is: ‘Government lose elections, Oppositions don’t win them’.
If things continue as they are, then Bill Shorten may well prove this adage to be true.
Polls are to politicians, what reality TV is to the viewing public – they are universally watched!
Within major political parties, internal party polling is tightly held and only made available to a select number of senior party members and officials, beginning with the party leader. Hence for party MPs, published opinion polls provide an insight into how their party is traveling short of the feedback they receive from their own electorate as a sitting member.
Politicians of all persuasions keep a close eye on the polls. In many ways, it’s an employment barometer, particularly for marginal seat holders.
What is clear is that the Government continue to lag the ALP in the polls and Bill Shorten continues to lag Malcolm Turnbull as preferred Prime Minister.
Despite all the excitement and expectation, the nation felt when Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister, there is now a large collective sigh as the nation ponders what could have been.
It is against this backdrop that Bill Shorten, as unpopular as the polls say he is, may well be our next Prime Minister providing the politics of energy don’t ‘zap’ him on the way to the lodge.
For more information, regarding this or any other public affairs issue you may require assistance with please don’t hesitate to contact me or visit the Insight Strategy website at www.insightstrategy.com.au
IMAGE CREDIT: Gannawara TImes