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The pursuit of power

By Everald Compton - posted Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Malcolm Turnbull has won the 2016 Australian Election. He got there by the skin of his teeth, but no one can dispute that he is entitled to form a government.

Now, he has to make it all work for the good of Australia and for the sake of his own political future.

What a hell of a task both jobs will prove to be as he has three Opposition leaders – Abbott, Shorten and Joyce, in that order.


We should look first of all at his chances of staying in power as he will have to spend an inordinate amount of time ensuring that this happens.

Tony Abbott will never again become Prime Minister, but he does have the power to lead a significant right wing revolt against Turnbull and replace him at an appropriate time with someone from the moderate right such as Christian Porter or Josh Frydenberg, even though neither will openly campaign for the job. Abbott won’t rest until his revenge is complete, particularly as he has a lot of mates on the extreme right who will gladly help him.

Bill Shorten performed better in the election than most people expected and will do even better in the future if he concentrates on presenting himself as an alternative Prime Minister, not an Opposition Leader. This is an important issue as I have not met a single soul anywhere who has told me that we must have Bill Shorten as our Prime Minister. He prospered in the 2016 election because he was not Turnbull. He now has to improve on that and do so quickly.

Barnaby Joyce has never been a status quo man, nor will he ever be. He will rock the boat mightily in Cabinet to ensure that his expanded band of Nationals have influence beyond their entitlement. In addition, right wing Liberals will encourage him to keep hauling Malcolm Turnbull back towards the right. He has a mandate to do this as he won New England because voters in the bush almost totally rejected Turnbull and wanted Barnaby there to keep a tight rein on him. Besides which, it is time the Nationals concentrated on developing regional Australia instead of just seeking to share political power with the Liberals.

Then there are the voters.

Only about a third of them actually voted directly for Turnbull, so he has very little political capital left out there in voter land. He cannot afford to have the polls turn against him or his political enemies will have a field day, causing his demise in months, not years.


All of this raises the question of whether or not he has a political mandate and whether that mandate is good for Australia.

He says that he has, but the cold hard facts are that he does not. But for less than a few thousand votes spread over ten seats, he would have been tossed unceremoniously out of power.

There is not one single policy that he put to the voters that was applauded universally during the campaign, certainly not his plans for middle class welfare such as tax cuts and negative gearing that have been discredited by all sane economists for many decades.

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About the Author

Everald Compton is Chairman of The Longevity Forum, a not for profit entity which is implementing The Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. He was a Founding Director of National Seniors Australia and served as its Chairman for 25 years. Subsequently , he was Chairman for three years of the Federal Government's Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing.

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