Your time starts now: how leadership instability and revenge became woven into our political fabric



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Wes Mountain/The Conversation, CC BY-ND

Frank Bongiorno, Australian National University

Back in 2012, a major study on the selection and removal of party leaders in Anglo parliamentary democracies was published. The book contained a section with the inviting title of “Machiavellian tactics”. Most of the authors’ examples came from Australia.

That was then. Since the appearance of that book, Kevin Rudd has tipped out Julia Gillard, and Malcolm Turnbull dispensed with Tony Abbott. Now, Turnbull himself seems in difficulty, as rumours abound of a possible challenge from Peter Dutton.

If Politics at the Centre: The Selection and Removal of Party Leaders in the Anglo Parliamentary Democracies ever appears in a revised edition, William P. Cross and André Blais should thank their lucky stars for Australian democracy. Henry Lawson’s description of the Australian bush springs to mind – “the nurse and tutor of eccentric minds, the home of the weird, and much that is different from things in other lands”.




Read more:
View from The Hill – It’s time for Turnbull to put his authority on the line


The intensification of leadership churn in recent decades, and especially since 2001, is well documented. After the defeat of Malcolm Fraser at the 1983 federal election, the Liberal Party changed leaders six times, eventually settling on John Howard in 1995. He then led the party for almost 13 years.

Since Brendan Nelson succeeded Howard after the 2007 election, the Coalition has changed leaders three times, including twice between the 2007 and 2010 elections. Following the defeat of Paul Keating’s Labor government at the 1996 election, Labor has had eight leadership changes, a remarkable feat considering that two of those leaders – Kim Beazley and Bill Shorten – have between them tallied up almost 13 years. The rest – Simon Crean, Mark Latham, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard – do not account for even a full decade between them.

Australia did not begin discarding party leaders and even prime ministers yesterday. Psephologist Malcolm Mackerras suggested during the peak Rudd-Gillard unpleasantness of 2012 that the phenomenon began with the rivalry between John Gorton and Billy McMahon in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

This contest – and the instability to which it contributed – stood in stark contrast to the somnolence of the post-war years, which included the lengthy terms of leadership served by H.V. Evatt (1951-60) and Arthur Calwell (1960-67) during the long Menzies ascendancy (1949-66). The turbulence of the Whitlam leadership was in tune with the post-Menzies times: the Labor leader only narrowly survived a leadership contest with the Left’s candidate, Jim Cairns, in 1968.

But even Gorton was not the first prime minister to win an election only to be discarded by his party. In Australian politics, that honour belongs to Billy Hughes. Forced to resign the prime ministership in 1923 at the instigation of Earle Page, leader of the Country Party, Hughes’s replacement was the wealthy patrician figure of Stanley Melbourne Bruce. Hughes spent the rest of the decade on the backbench, waiting for his revenge. That opportunity eventually came when Bruce tried to transfer most industrial powers to the states. Hughes and a group of dissidents crossed the floor and brought down the government. It’s hard to overlook one or two parallels in this scenario with the current state of play in Australian politics.

Hughes lost his job in large part because of a political realignment that had, in the first instance, placed the former Labor leader at the head of a non-Labor party and in the second instance, because a new force arrived on the scene in the form of the Country Party that was opposed to many of his policies. He might have been the classic “rat”, but even once he switched sides he remained true to many of the policies long favoured by his former party.

Again, it is hard to miss the present-day resonance. Turnbull leads a party with many members – both in parliament and beyond it – who do not see him as one of them. Some see him as Labor in Liberal drag. He has policy preferences that, at least for the right of his party, are as offensive as much that they find in Labor and the Greens.

There is also the cultural issue. Hughes still looked and sounded to many conservatives like the socialist demagogue he once was. Turnbull appears to his internal opponents as a progressive who should have joined the Labor Party, and might as well don his old leather jacket and go back to his friends at Q&A.




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But leadership instability isn’t just about leadership. It is about how we do politics. Churn is the result of the potent combination of rolling opinion polls and, in the case of the federal Liberal Party, the sovereignty of the parliamentary party in leadership matters. One of Rudd’s parting gifts to the Labor Party was a change of rules that has greatly increased the transactional costs of leadership changes between elections. Shorten has been the beneficiary. But the Liberals have not travelled down this path, and the destabilisation of Turnbull is one of the results.

This also speaks to a wider crisis in conservative politics. The global populist revolt epitomised in the Anglo democracies by Brexit and Trump is having its effects here. It is doing enormous damage to the cohesion of the Coalition parties, but especially the still fairly broad church of the Liberal Party. News Corp papers are a major player in its internal factional manoeuvring and leadership destabilisation, and there is beyond the parliament a network of radio shock jocks, op-ed columnists, Sky News personalities and think tank “researchers” who have dealt themselves into the Liberal Party’s internal politics.

Ironically, it is starting to look a bit like the Labor Party of the 1960s, an outfit that allowed too many meddlers too great a say in its affairs, until Whitlam and his allies said enough was enough.

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The Conversation

For Turnbull, it is starting to look like it might be too late.

Frank Bongiorno, Professor of History, ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australian National University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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View from The Hill: Energy policy and Turnbull’s leadership plunge into debilitating uncertainty


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

The most fraught day of his prime ministership has seen the implosion of one of Malcolm Turnbull’s key policy pledges – to deliver certainty on energy policy – that only weeks ago seemed on course.

As Turnbull threw everything at shoring up his leadership, business critics denounced the compromise he unveiled to appease rebellious backbenchers.

His energy policy rework placated some internal dissidents, but the capitulation has left his authority weakened and the issue itself back in confusion. Stakeholders have been left dismayed and bewildered.

After the announcement, the government was insisting the National Energy Guarantee policy was alive, as some of its backbench critics were pronouncing its demise.

Asked “is the National Energy Guarantee dead?” Treasurer Scott Morrison said on Sky, “No, not at all. It remains government policy.” He told the ABC: “The policy remains as we took it to the party room with improvements.”

But Kevin Andrews, one of Tony Abbott’s close allies, told Sky: “The reality is that the NEG, for at least the term of this parliament, is dead in the water. There is more chance of seeing a Tyrannosaurus in the local suburban street than seeing this legislation come into the parliament.”

Turnbull’s energy compromise has two parts.

First, legislation to set the 26% emissions reduction target has been shelved, on the ground that a bunch of Coalition MPs would cross the floor.

Turnbull didn’t dare to risk the hazardous route of negotiating the legislation’s passage with Labor, which might have come to nothing but an embarrassing failure, and anyway would have incited the hardliners in his ranks. And a brief flirtation with implementing the target by regulation was abandoned after that caused its own backbench backlash.

Second, a set of highly interventionist measures will be rolled out for use against recalcitrant power companies, including the possibility of breaking up those which abuse their market power.

The initiatives are based on the recent report from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, but even the ACCC didn’t support divestiture.

“Requiring the divestiture of privately owned assets is an extreme measure to take in any market, including the electricity market,” it said.

It is certainly an extraordinary course for a pro-market Liberal prime minister to contemplate.

Notably, the Nationals were happy – they had been pressing for the government to take this route. As former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said with enthusiasm, it means “if you play up, we can break you up”.

So where is the great NEG adventure left?

Battered by political bastardy, with months of good work by Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg trashed. Without a legislated target. With less chance of an agreement with the states, which need to tick off on the mechanism. Throwing up fresh problems for investors and promising a continuation of the political climate wars.

As Innes Willox, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group put it succinctly: “Long-term investment certainty in the energy sector remains further away than ever. Despite the best efforts and goodwill of many, energy policy has again fallen victim to short-term political gamesmanship”.

And where is Turnbull’s leadership left, as backbenchers contemplate whether they would be better off under a Peter Dutton prime ministership?

No one quite knows.

Morrison told the ABC: “I spoke to Peter today in Question Time and he said his position hadn’t changed and he was fully supportive of the Prime Minster and the government’s policies.”

Just think about that. The Treasurer is asking (in question time no less) a senior cabinet colleague about his intentions.

Basically anything could happen, anytime.

On Tuesday morning, as chance has it, there is a separate Liberal party meeting, before the joint Coalition parties meeting. At the very least, it will be an interesting discussion. Whether more occurs, who knows?

On Monday night Dutton, the man on the leadership stair, was reportedly very angry after the Ten Network ran a story raising a question about his eligibility for parliament under section 44’s pecuniary interest provision.

Ten has said the story was not political leak, and the timing coincidental. But Dutton would naturally see it as a strike from the Turnbull camp.

If the next few days go quietly, Turnbull will live now from poll to poll, with enemies circling like crows over a weakened animal.

Those enemies could hardly have anticipated they would be able to do so much damage to him, in just a week, after a Coalition parties meeting that actually strongly endorsed the original NEG policy.

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The Conversation

They’re watching, waiting. If, or when they judge Turnbull is vulnerable – that he has lost his numbers – they are ready to strike. Now or later.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Explainer: is Peter Dutton ineligible to sit in parliament?



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There is enough in the Dutton case to raise questions about whether disqualification has occurred.
AAP/Lukas Coch

Anne Twomey, University of Sydney

Section 44 of the Constitution has struck down many a politician in the past year – but is it powerful enough to take down the Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton? This time it is not dual citizenship under s44(i) that is at issue. Instead, it is the more obscure s44(v) in the spotlight.

What is section 44(v) about?

Section 44(v) says that any person who “has any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth” is disqualified from sitting as a member of parliament.

Dutton, as recorded in the parliamentary register of interests, is the beneficiary of a discretionary family trust. This trust, through its trustee, apparently owns two childcare centres in Queensland. The allegation is that since July 2, 2018, the trust, through its childcare centres, has agreements with the public service to provide childcare services in exchange for childcare subsidies.

Dutton may argue the childcare centres merely receive the subsidy on behalf of the parents and do not have an agreement with the public service. But if it is found there is such an agreement, it would appear Dutton has a beneficial interest in a trust that has an agreement with the public service, potentially triggering the application of s 44(v).

Last year, in a case concerning Family First senator Bob Day, a majority of the High Court held that the beneficiary of a trust which, via its trustee, is party to an agreement to which section 44(v) refers, has an indirect pecuniary interest in the agreement, and is therefore disqualified from sitting in parliament. If the facts set out above are correct, this would place Dutton into the realm of potential disqualification.

Exceptions for certain types of agreements

The key qualification is the reference to “an agreement to which section 44(v) refers”. Not every agreement with the public service will trigger the application of section 44(v). This is because otherwise ordinary agreements that everyone engages in, such as paying for a passport or a stamp, could cause disqualification from parliament.

In the Day case, Chief Justice Kiefel and Justices Bell and Edelman said there can be “no relevant interest if the agreement in question is one ordinarily made between government and a citizen”. But does an agreement between a childcare centre and the public service fall into that category? It is less ordinary than the purchase of a passport or a stamp.

Justices Gageler and Keane took the view that section 44(v) has no application to agreements entered into by the Commonwealth in the execution of a law of general application enacted by the parliament. As the provision of the childcare subsidy comes under a law of general application, which applies equally to all childcare centres, Dutton would not, on this basis, be disqualified from parliament. But two judges do not make a majority of the Court.




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Explainer: what is the challenge to Bob Day’s Senate seat all about?


Two other judges, Justices Nettle and Gordon, rejected the attempt to exclude agreements authorised by statutes of general application. In their view, the issue was whether the direct or indirect pecuniary interest in an agreement could conceivably influence a parliamentarian to prefer their private interests over their public duty.

A similar view was taken by the other three judges, Chief Justice Kiefel and Justices Bell and Edelman, who considered that one of the purposes of s44(v) was to ensure that parliamentarians do not seek to benefit from agreements with the public service or “put themselves in a position where their duty to the people they represent and their personal interests may conflict”.

In the case of Dutton, there is no suggestion of any attempt to use political influence or that the arrangements with the two childcare centres are any different from those applying elsewhere. It is therefore different from the Day case, where Day had asked the government to move his electorate office to a particular building, giving rise to an indirect pecuniary interest in the rent.

But it is still possible to argue that Dutton may benefit financially from these agreements with the public service. Is this enough to establish the kind of potential conflict of interest – where a person might prefer their private interests over their public duty – that concerned the High Court in the Day case?




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This is a matter of judgment for the High Court. It would depend on how strictly it chose to apply the provision. But we do know from recent experience that the High Court has been particularly strict in applying section 44. So even though this case falls within the grey border-area of section 44, it is enough to raise a substantial concern that disqualification has occurred.

What are the consequences of disqualification?

Disqualification is not just an issue prior to election. It can arise at any time within a member’s term in parliament. Section 45 of the Constitution says that upon a senator or member of the House of Representatives becoming subject to a disqualifying disability in section 44, “his place shall thereupon become vacant”. This means that disqualification is automatic at the moment that a disqualifying agreement with the public service is made.

Let’s assume for a moment that an agreement that triggered the application of section 44(v) came into effect from July 2, 2018. That would mean Dutton’s seat was automatically vacated at that time (although to be sure this had happened, a Court judgment would be needed).

Section 64 of the Constitution also states that no minister shall hold office for longer than three months unless he or she becomes a senator or a member of the House of Representatives. That means Dutton could remain validly a minister for three months from July 2. After that, if he was still not a valid member of parliament, he would cease to be a minister.

This would have consequences for the validity of any decision he made as a minister from that point on. It also raises another difficult question in whether or not the “de facto officer” doctrine would apply to support the effectiveness of those decisions.

Given that as Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Dutton makes many decisions that affect the lives of many people, his possible disqualification from parliament opens up a Pandora’s Box of litigation possibilities.

How to fix the problem?

First, the matter could be referred by the House of Representatives to the High Court, as the Court of Disputed Returns, to determine, as occurred in relation to Barnaby Joyce. The benefit of doing so would be to clarify whether such interests give rise to disqualification. But the disadvantage is that it would take some time to get a judgment, leading to ongoing uncertainty.

Second, Dutton could terminate his indirect pecuniary interest in the agreement, resign his seat and be re-elected in a byelection. This would resolve the matter more quickly, but it is unlikely that the government would wish to hold such a by-election at this time.

Third, Dutton could terminate his indirect pecuniary interest, and an election could be called later this year. This would avoid or reduce any period in which he was performing the duties of a minister while possibly invalidly holding that office.

Fourth, Dutton could resign as a minister once the three months expires, so that there are no issues of validity concerning his ministerial decisions, but remain in parliament as long as the House decided not to refer him.




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If High Court decides against ministers with dual citizenship, could their decisions in office be challenged?


Finally, the government could ignore the problem and tough it out, by not acting until an election was held next year, but risk a tsunami of litigation challenging the minister’s decisions.

None of these options is likely to be particularly palatable to the government, but nothing about section 44 has given the government great joy. However, it is another salient reminder of the importance of taking care to obey the terms of the Constitution.

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The Conversation

All MPs with family trusts need to be as vigilant about the agreements entered into by the trustee on behalf of those trusts as they should be about their citizenship status.

Anne Twomey, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Sydney

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Malcolm Turnbull shelves emissions reduction target as leadership speculation mounts


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The government has shelved any move to implement the 26% reduction in emissions because it cannot get the numbers to pass legislation in the House of Representatives.
AAP/Mick Tsikas

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Malcolm Turnbull has announced the government will shelve any move to implement the 26% reduction in emissions because it cannot get the numbers to pass legislation in the House of Representatives.

The desperate attempt to quell the rebellion in his ranks comes as Turnbull’s leadership is under mounting pressure, with speculation about a leadership bid sooner or later from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.




Read more:
View from The Hill – It’s time for Turnbull to put his authority on the line


But Turnbull told a news conference that Dutton had been at Monday morning’s leadership meeting and “has given me his absolute support”.

“I enjoy the confidence of cabinet and of my party,” he declared.

In a package of changes to the National Energy Guarantee, Turnbull announced the government would move for extraordinarily strong measures to be available against companies that do not give consumers a fair deal, including ultimate divestment.

The government has retreated from Turnbull’s Friday compromise move of implementing the 26% reduction target by regulation. That idea, aimed at denying critics the opportunity to cross the floor, sparked a fresh backlash from Coalition MPs who thought it would make it easier for a Labor government to increase the target.

“Our policy remains to have the emissions intensity standard in the legislation,” Turnbull said at a news conference.

But “as John Howard said, politics is governed by the iron laws of arithmetic and in a House of Representatives with a one seat majority, even with strong support in the party room, if a small number of people are not prepared to vote with the government on a measure then it won’t get passed. So that’s the reality.”

He said the government would bring the target legislation forward “where and when we believe there would be sufficient support in the House of Representatives and obviously in our party room to progress this component of the scheme”.

Turnbull has been frantically seeking any means to pacify his critics, as Tony Abbott and other hardliners are determined to use the energy issue to try to bring him down.

However, it is unlikely his latest move will satisfy his most trenchant opponents. Critics such as Eric Abetz are broadening their attacks on Turnbull to call for government policy changes in other areas, including immigration.

Turnbull admitted he had not personally spoken to Labor to determine whether it would support the emissions legislation, which would give it the numbers in the House.

The shelving of the emissions legislation could cause the Labor states – yet to sign off on the National Energy Guarantee – to walk away from the broad NEG scheme.

Under the initiatives to try to drive down electricity prices announced by Turnbull, a “default market offer” would be set, from which all discounts would be calculated.

“Consumers will be able easily to compare offers from different companies and recognise when they’re being ripped off or when they’re getting a fair deal,” Turnbull said.

He said the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission estimated that for average customers on an inflated standing offer, the savings on moving to a new default market offer could range between $183 and $416 a year. For the average small to medium business the move could save between $561 and $1457.

Turnbuil said the ACCC would be given new powers to “step in where there has been abuse or misuse of market power.

“In the most egregious cases of abuse, additional powers will be conferred on government to issue directions on operations, functional separation and even, as a last resort, divestiture of parts of the big power companies,” Turnbull said.

At his news conference, where he was flanked by Treasurer Scott Morrison and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg, Turnbull rejected a reporter’s suggestion that he had just delivered Tony Abbott’s policy. Abbott has wanted the emission target dropped and Australia to walk away from the Paris climate agreement.

“Our energy policy remains the same, but we are not going to present a bill into the House of Representatives until we believe it will be carried,” Turnbull said.

“We obviously need the support of sufficient of our colleagues to get it passed and that means, you know, substantially all of them.”

On Paris, he said: “We are parties to the Paris Agreement and the government has committed to that”.

The president of the Queensland Liberal National Party, Gary Spence, is urging MPs from Queensland – a vital state at the election – to replace Turnbull with Dutton.

Meanwhile, Western Australian Liberal senator Linda Reynolds strongly backed Turnbull, telling Sky she “absolutely” believed he would be prime minister at the election.

Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce welcomed the government’s crackdown on power companies saying it was a good outcome. He was particularly pleased with the divesture power, which meant “if you play up, we can break you up”. Turnbull had shown his “capacity to listen”.

Throwing his weight behind the revised package, Joyce said “it’s a great move today.” Asked on Sky about the leadership, he said “I don’t think changing prime ministers looks good.” He also dismmissed Spence’s call for a move to Dutton saying the parliamentary wing should not be confused with the branch members.

Monday 2:33pm

UPDATE: Nationals enthusiastic about revisions but energy industry is critical

The Nationals have swung in strongly behind the revised package.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack and his senior ministerial colleagues held a joint news conference to back the enhanced measures to attack high prices.

Nationals who previously had been dissidents, including former prime minister Barnaby Joyce, made separate supportive comments.

The fact the backbench Nationals have been brought back into the tent is important for Turnbull, because it leaves the Liberal hardliners more isolated.

The Nationals are particularly enthusiastic about the commitment to embrace the ACCC recommendation for the government to underwrite investment in projects for new dispatchable power undertaken by new players.

Although the recommendation is technology-neutral, the Nationals see this as a pathway for new coal projects. Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie said: “I’m not afraid to say the C-word: coal, coal, coal is going to be one of the areas we invest in.”

Queensland Nationals backbencher George Christensen, said: “We have a new energy policy thanks to a band of ‘Liberal National rebels’ who stood firm and fought for common sense.”

Christensen said: “What has been announced this morning puts price reductions first and foremost, so pensioners struggling to pay their power bills come before the ‘feel good’ Paris Agreement.”

Another Nationals backbencher, Andrew Gee, welcomed “plans to abandon the National Energy Guarantee”. “It shows that if you stand up and be counted you can actually make a difference, but it’s disappointing that it took this long”.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten labelled Turnbull “truly a white flag prime minister”. “Every day it is a new policy
from the government, a new policy not designed to lower energy prices but just for Mr Turnbull to keep his job from his enemies,”

“Mr Turnbull has demonstrated that he is not the leader this nation needs. Real leadership is about fighting
for the principles you believe in. Real leadership is about not always giving in to your enemies every time they disagree with you,” Shorten said.

Labor states and the ACT were scathing.

Victorian Energy Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said: “I’m not sure Malcolm Turnbull knows what the NEG is anymore – or if it still exists.”

“We’ll carefully consider whatever energy policy emerges out of the infighting going on up in Canberra.”

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said “what we are seeing today is energy policy in free fall”.

The ACT minister for Climate Change, Shane Rattenbury said the federal government had now completely capitulated on emissions and climate change, and abandoned the Paris Climate Change commitments.

“The NEG is dead. It was hailed as a policy to address the ‘trilemma’ of prices, reliability and emissions reduction. Instead, Federal energy policy is being determined by the worst, climate change denying elements of the Liberal Party,” Rattenbury said.

The Australian Energy Council’s chief executive, Sarah McNamara, criticised the government’s announcement, saying it “has left the most critical policy, the National Energy Guarantee, in limbo.

“Re-regulation of electricity prices and aggressive market interventions are not the long-term answer to high energy prices,” she said.

“The NEG and policy stability remain the long-term solution to bringing down prices.”

McNamara said that “replacement investment demands bipartisan policy and the lack of it remains the biggest drag on the energy market.”

“This is policy with no consultation,” she said.
“Re-regulation has the very real potential to damage competition and confidence.”

McNamara said increasing the ACCC’s powers to allow divestment of private assets was not supported by the ACCC’s own report.

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The Conversation

The Council represents 21 major electricity and downstream natural gas businesses operating in competitive wholesale and retail energy markets. They collectively generate the overwhelming majority of electricity in Australia.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Poll wrap: Coalition slumps to 55-45 deficit in Ipsos, and large swing to federal Labor in Queensland



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The latest Fairfax Ipsos poll has brought bad news for Malcolm Turnbul – and good news for Bill Shorten.
AAP/Lukas Coch

Adrian Beaumont, University of Melbourne

This week’s Fairfax Ipsos poll, conducted August 15-18 from a sample of 1,200, gave Labor a landslide 55-45 lead, a four-point gain for Labor since late July. Primary votes were 35% Labor (up one), 33% Coalition (down six), 13% Greens (up one) and 19% for all Others (up four). Ipsos consistently has the Greens higher than other polls.

The respondent allocated two party figure was also 55-45 to Labor. During this term, Labor has usually performed worse on respondent allocated preferences than using the previous election method, and the Ipsos July poll had a 50-50 tie by this measure.

46% approved of Malcolm Turnbull (down nine), and 48% disapproved (up ten), for a net approval of -2, down 19 points since July. This is Turnbull’s first negative net approval in Ipsos since December 2017; Ipsos gives him better ratings than other pollsters. Bill Shorten’s net approval was -11, up five points. Turnbull led Shorten by 48-36 as better PM, a big decline from a 57-30 lead in July.

By 47-44, voters supported cutting the company tax rate from 30% to 25% over the next ten years (49-40 in April). In an additional question from last week’s Newspoll, voters thought the Senate should block, rather than pass, the tax cuts for companies with a turnover over $50 million by a 51-36 margin.

56% thought the government is doing too little to address climate change, 28% thought they are doing about the right amount, and just 13% thought they are doing too much. By 54-22, voters supported the National Energy Guarantee (NEG), including over 59% support from both major parties’ voters.

In last week’s article, I referred to divisions within the Coalition over the NEG and the company tax cuts as an explanation for Turnbull’s Newspoll ratings slump. Since then, those divisions have became much worse.




Read more:
Poll wrap: Turnbull’s Newspoll ratings slump; Labor leads in Victoria; Longman preferences helped LNP


In an attempt to fend off a potential challenge from Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton, Turnbull on Monday abandoned the emissions target part of the NEG, in effect yielding to the 13% who say the government is doing too much on climate change.

This 13% of all voters is greatly over-represented within the parliamentary Coalition and among right-wing media commentators. By reserving their right to cross the floor on the NEG, some Coalition MPs have shown how out of touch they are with the electorate on climate change. This probably also contributed to the swing in this Ipsos poll.

Despite Turnbull’s current woes, I think it would be a mistake for the Liberals to replace him with Dutton. While Dutton would appeal to One Nation voters who have left the Coalition over dissatisfaction with Turnbull’s perceived moderation, more moderate Coalition voters would likely desert. About 60% of One Nation preferences will probably return to the Coalition, but if moderates leave, Labor is likely to benefit directly from the Coalition’s lost primary support.

Only three weeks ago, just before and immediately after the July 28 Super Saturday byelections, the Coalition and Turnbull had some of their best polling this term. Ipsos is more volatile than other pollsters, and it was taken at a time of great division within the Coalition. Now that Turnbull has dumped the emissions targets, the internal divisions may subside, and the Coalition’s polling could improve.




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On August 15, the ABS reported that wages grew at a 0.6% rate in the June quarter. Continued slow wage growth is likely to be a crucial issue at the next election.

Fieldwork for the two polls below was taken before last week’s parliamentary sitting.

Federal Queensland Galaxy: 50-50 tie

A federal Queensland Galaxy poll, conducted August 8-9 from a sample of 839, had a 50-50 tie, a two-point gain for Labor since May. Primary votes were 37% LNP (down three), 34% Labor (up one), 10% One Nation (steady) and 9% Greens (down one). This poll was conducted from the same sample that gave state Labor a 51-49 lead (see last week’s article).

This poll represents a 4% swing to Labor in Queensland since the 2016 election, and such a swing would probably result in Labor gaining many seats. According to The Poll Bludger’s BludgerTrack, eight LNP Queensland seats are held by less than 4%, including Dutton’s Dickson (a 2.0% margin).

There was no One Nation candidate in Dickson in 2016, when Dutton suffered a 5.1% swing against. A redistribution slightly increased Dutton’s margin from 1.6% to the current 2.0%. If Dutton becomes PM, he will probably receive an extra personal vote boost in Dickson, which could enable him to hold it. Otherwise, Dutton is vulnerable to the Queensland-wide swing in this Galaxy poll.

56% of Queenslanders opposed tax cuts for companies with turnovers over $50 million, just 16% fully supported these cuts, and 12% wanted the big banks excluded from the tax cuts. Many pollsters are making mistakes by asking whether voters support tax cuts for “all” businesses; the issue is the tax cuts for businesses with turnover over $50 million, not all businesses.

National Essential: 52-48 to Labor

Last week’s national Essential poll, conducted August 9-12 from a sample of 1,032, gave Labor a 52-48 lead, a one-point gain for Labor since three weeks ago. Primary votes were 39% Coalition (down two), 37% Labor (up one), 10% Greens (steady) and 6% One Nation (steady). Essential’s two party estimate uses 2016 election preference flows and it would probably be 51-49 using Newspoll’s new method.

Turnbull’s net approval dropped three points since early July to a net zero, while Shorten’s net approval increased six points to -10. Turnbull led Shorten by 41-27 as better PM (42-25 in July).

By 54-25, voters thought the current drought across eastern Australia is likely to be linked to climate change.

88% approved of drought relief for agriculture, 76% of subsidies for renewable energy and 73% of the private health insurance rebate. Just 33% approved of the fuel rebate for the mining industry and 36% approved of negative gearing.

Voters were not alarmed by the proposed merger between Nine and Fairfax. By 47-28, they thought the merger would be good for quality of news coverage, and by 42-34 they thought it would be good for diversity of news media.

In the context of large Internet company bans on alt-right speakers, 48% thought that an individual’s right to free speech does not mean these companies need to provide a platform, while 32% thought these companies should allow such people to speak even if they disagree with the speaker.

Electoral system not to blame for Fraser Anning

There has been much controversy following Queensland Senator Fraser Anning’s speech to the Senate on August 14. There have been suggestions the electoral system is at fault as Anning won just 19 personal votes at the 2016 double dissolution election.

Anning was the third candidate on One Nation’s Queensland Senate ticket. One Nation won 1.19 quotas, electing Pauline Hanson immediately. They then performed very well on preferences from populist parties, earning a second seat for Malcolm Roberts, who had just 77 personal votes.




Read more:
Final Senate results: 30 Coalition, 26 Labor, 9 Greens, 4 One Nation, 3 NXT, 4 Others


In October 2017, the High Court disqualified Roberts over the citizenship fiasco, and Anning was elected to replace him.

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Other than in Tasmania and the ACT, whose state electoral systems encourage below the line voting in the Senate, over 90% of Senate votes at the 2016 election were above the line ticket votes, according to analyst Kevin Bonham. In most cases, the number of personal below the line votes received by a candidate is irrelevant to the electoral process.

Adrian Beaumont, Honorary Associate, School of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Melbourne

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Drought, wind and heat: when fire seasons start earlier and last longer


Owen Price, University of Wollongong

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service declared the earliest total fire bans in its history this week. The entire state was declared to be in drought on the same day.

The combination of winter drought and hot, dry weather has made dangerous fires increasingly likely.




Read more:
After the firestorm: the health implications of returning to a bushfire zone


Already this week two fires on the south coast have escaped containment lines and destroyed houses. The weather during these fires was 6℃ warmer than the August average, dry and extremely windy. The wind speed peaked at 104 kilometres an hour in Bega and 85km/h in Nowra, two towns close to where fires broke out.

Under these conditions, bushfires will spread quickly, produce large numbers of embers and are hard to stop.

Our fire seasons now start earlier and last longer. This means we’re increasingly likely to see repeats of historically large fires threatening residential areas.

Fire seasons are longer

Current dry conditions are reflected in the maps of live fuel moisture produced by Dr Rachael Nolan of Western Sydney University.


Nolan R.H., Boer M.M., de Dios V.R., Caccamo G., Bradstock R.A. (2016), Large-scale, dynamic transformations in fuel moisture drive wildfire activity across southeastern Australia. Geophysical Research Letters 43, 4229-4238.

This method tracks the weekly moisture content of the forests in southern Australia, as observed by NASA’s MODIS satellite. The latest map shows a patchy distribution of dry areas and a drying trend over recent weeks.

It looks like NSW’s fire season has already started, and it’s likely to be bad. Last year’s fire season also extended well into autumn, with serious bushfires burning in mid-April.

Fire agencies usually enjoy a six-month break from bushfires between April and September, but this year they had only three months’ respite.

This reflects evidence of a trend toward more extreme fire weather over the past 30 years, and lengthening fire seasons.

This problem is being keenly felt in western United States, where fire agencies have warned that the fire season now lasts all year round. Not only that, there is clear evidence climate change is increasing fire activity in the United States; the record for the largest fire in California history has been broken two years in a row.

Alarming precedents

The most damaging fire season for NSW in the past 30 years was in October 2013 when the Linksview fire destroyed 200 houses in the Blue Mountains.

The build-up to that season was eerily similar to this year, with a winter drought and bushfires in September, but the moisture maps show that the forests are drier now than at the same time in 2013, and we have already seen serious bushfires in August.




Read more:
Future bushfires will be worse: we need to adapt now


As we move into September and October, the weather will warm, which means any remaining moisture in the ground and plants will evaporate even faster than at present, and fires will be more intense and spread faster. The only thing that will reduce the risk is soaking rain of at least 100mm.

Whether or not that will occur in the next two months is almost impossible to predict. At the moment it seems unlikely. The Bureau of Meteorology’s latest seasonal forecast, issued on August 16, considers it likely that dry conditions will persist for the next three months.

The heightened risk of bushfire this season should be a wake-up call for residents in bushfire-prone areas. Most people in really risky areas such as the Blue Mountains are well prepared, but many people who are a little more removed from the forests are not aware of the risk.




Read more:
Where to take refuge in your home during a bushfire


For example, many residents of Wollongong probably don’t know this October is the 50th anniversary of the great 1968 fires that swept down the Illawarra Escarpment into the suburbs of Figtree, Bulli, Austinmer and others.

The footprint of the 1968 Illawarra fires, which burned through residential areas.

If the same footprint of fire were to occur again, some 5,000 houses would be affected. The present indicators suggest a repeat of this event is more likely than at any time for decades.

Residents need to prepare a bushfire survival plan, which includes a decision on whether to stay and defend or to leave as soon as they learn about a nearby bushfire.




Read more:
Our deadly bushfire gamble: risk your life or bet your house


Current research at University of Wollongong suggests that the biggest influence on the risk of house loss during a bushfire is the actions that the residents themselves take. This includes ensuring that natural and man-made fuels are kept to a minimum in the garden, especially close to the house, and also defending the house from spot-fires caused by embers.

The Rural Fire Service has a wealth of advice for preparing for bushfires on its website.

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We’re look at a torrid upcoming fire season, dependent on the vagaries of the Australian climate. Either way, now is the time for people to brace themselves and get prepared.

Owen Price, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Environmental Risk Management of Bushfires, University of Wollongong

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

View from The Hill – It’s time for Turnbull to put his authority on the line


File 20180819 165937 lc50q7.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Malcolm Turnbull is faced with a highly volatile situation. But he may need to manage it by taking a risk.
AAP/Lukas Coch

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

As Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull struggles with the National Energy Guarantee, the Liberals are in an existential moment – no less dramatic because in recent history, they’ve made a habit of such moments.

Are they going to allow a toxic combination of revenge politics, anti-climate change ideology, panic over the Longman result, and sheer muddle-headedness kill the chance of giving certainty to energy investment and tear down or mortally wound their prime minister?

One pro-Turnbull backbencher describes it as a “hostage situation”, with a small number “holding the nation to ransom”. By and large, the backbench is happy with the NEG, this backbencher affirms.

Turnbull now should put his authority on the line over his energy policy, which he’s augmented by concessions and extra price measures.

This doesn’t mean asking for a vote on his leadership, but perhaps it should mean breaking the normal practice of operating by consensus and instead taking a formal vote on the policy at Tuesday’s Coalition parties’ meeting.

Yes, it would be a big risk. Some sources do say there is leadership stirring going on in Liberal ranks. (Certainly, News Corp appears to be helping fuel the situation – it’s a nice irony that a lot of trouble is coming from the government’s favourite media organisation, not the one it so dislikes, the ABC.)

It would be better for Turnbull to take on his enemies than allow his position to be eroded progressively on their timetable, which reportedly is to wait until September, after another bad Newspoll.

If he can’t hold the situation at this point, his grip is only going to get weaker quite quickly.

Turnbull, Treasurer Scott Morrison and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg have spent the past few days cobbling together initiatives in an attempt to appease mutinous backbenchers. This comes less than a week after the NEG had majority support in the Coalition party room.

Turnbull looks weak and desperate, but had little choice because he could not afford a number of MPs crossing the floor.

The proposed changes include regulating rather than legislating the 26% target for emissions reduction in the electricity sector.

To counter his earlier warnings about a Shorten government easily increasing the target if it were set in regulation, Turnbull said in a Sunday social media video: “we will introduce a new law that ensures that before any new emissions target is set, or changed, the energy regulators and the [Australian Competition and Consumer Commission] must advise what that means for your electricity prices.

“This will ensure that any government who wants to change this, has to tell you up front what the cost will be.”

The revamped package also includes provision for a “price expectation”, with companies that don’t meet it facing penalties, plus a range of other market interventions on power companies.

“We will set a price expectation which should be the most anyone pays,” Turnbull said.

“And if the prices remain too high, we’ll implement the toughest penalties, until you’re getting value for money.

“We will not hesitate to use a big stick, as we did with gas, to make sure the big companies do the right thing by you, their customers.”

These measures will satisfy some critics within the Coalition. They don’t satisfy Abbott – and an unknown number of others.

The dissidents last week included some Nationals but the pragmatists in that party, which had its federal council in Canberra on Friday and Saturday, are anxious for a settlement (that includes a gesture to coal). Nationals cabinet ministers have been embarrassed, however, by being out of the loop as Turnbull crafted his concessions.

All that’s happened vindicates, incidentally, the Labor states and ACT declining to sign on to the NEG until after the party room finalised its position. Those jurisdictions, and federal Labor, have had one of their demands – having the target set by regulation – met, thanks to the dissidents.

After the reports of the change, Abbott was quickly on 2GB on Saturday to stir trouble.

“On Tuesday, in the party room, we were told it is absolutely essential to legislate the Paris target, because if we don’t legislate it Labor can just increase it willy-nilly, and last night it seems we’ve dumped the idea of legislation, for god knows what reason,” he said. “It’s no way to run a government, making absolute commitments on Tuesday and breaking them on Friday”.

While once again declaring he was about switching policy rather than leader, he also posed the question: “Can you change the policy without changing the leader?” Asked if there was going to be “a leadership attempt”, he said: “I don’t know”.

And that takes us straight to Peter Dutton, whose performance last week was highly provocative.

On Thursday Dutton played footsie on 2GB about his possible route out of cabinet. On Friday the Daily Telegraph said he was being asked to challenge Turnbull. On Saturday that paper’s headline was “Dutton Ready to Roll – Minister considers Turnbull challenge …”.

Dutton stayed silent all Friday. Only on Saturday morning did he tweet: “In relation to media stories today, just to make very clear, the Prime Minister has my support and I support the policies of the Government. My position hasn’t changed from my comments last Thursday.”

As they say, too little, too late. Dutton’s long silence had encouraged the speculation. His colleagues will judge (some will know) whether this was political misjudgement or disloyalty.

Turnbull is faced with a highly volatile situation. But how to handle it?

Firstly, Turnbull and his ministers need to get a package out on Monday that can be delivered (do some of the extra measures require state legislation?), is free of glitches, and provides insurgents with minimum opportunities for floor crossing. Cabinet ministers were discussing this over dinner on Sunday night.

Secondly, Senate leader Mathias Cormann, Dutton’s very good friend, should tell his mate, as they take their 5.30 am constitutional in Canberra’s cold, that allowing others to trail his coat is not appropriate behaviour for a cabinet minister.

Cormann might usefully make a couple of other points. Leaders who come to power by the sword often end badly. And if there were a leadership contest, who would know what surprise result might eventuate (who, in 2009. thought it would be Abbott who’d defeat Turnbull)?

Thirdly, Turnbull needs to get strong, articulate backbench supporters of the NEG out there countering the substance of the dissidents’ policy arguments.

And finally, he should press the party room into a decisive stand.

Chancing his arm might at worst backfire, leading quickly to his losing his head. But if so, he would have lost it before too long anyway.

Update:

Malcolm Turnbull’s situation has been worsened by the latest Fairfax Fairfax Media/Ipsos poll, published Monday, which has the Coalition trailing Labor 45-55% – a dramatic drop from a month ago when the gap was 49-51%.

This poll, which tends to be volatile, varies significantly from Newspoll earlier this month, which had the Coalition behind 49-51%.

Turnbull still has a strong lead over Bill Shorten as preferred prime minister in the Fairfax poll – 48-36%. But the gap has narrowed greatly compared with a month ago, when Turnbull led 57-30%.

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The poll showed that a majority – 54% – back the National Energy Guarantee, with only 22% against. Among Coalition voters 64% back the NEG, with support among Labor voters at 59%.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The royal commission should result not only in new regulation, but new education


Dirk Baur, University of Western Australia; Elizabeth Ooi, University of Western Australia, and Paul Gerrans, University of Western Australia

The Financial Services Royal Commission has not only shown that banks and their representatives have behaved appallingly, but that we need better-educated consumers.

It is naive not to expect new schemes will pop up to replace the now (or soon to be) banned practices. There is a clear pattern of repeating unconscionable behaviour in the financial services industry.

Consumers need to be trained to ask the right questions. “How much do I have to pay each week over the life of the loan including (hidden) fees?”, “How much do I have to pay in fees each year?”, and “Why is this right for me rather than right for the bank?”

Being able to answer such questions can help reduce the invariably expensive and imperfect regulation that generally follows inquiries such as the royal commission.




Read more:
Royal commission scandals are the result of poor financial regulation, not literacy


A 20-year-old, let’s call him Mark, just started his first job paying A$45,000 a year. Confidently, he walks into a bank branch, applies and is approved for a A$30,000 car loan within 20 minutes. He wants a new car and isn’t too concerned about the 12.5% annual interest.

Mark states afterwards he didn’t know he could hardly afford the loan. It cost more than A$40,000 over five years. And with other commitments he was in over his head, leaving no room for changes in work, illness, etc.

Should Mark be expected to know? Was he taught any of this? Could he know if he had made some effort, or should the bank have informed him better and been more explicit?

And where does the responsibility sit?

We assumed in the story (loosely related to one heard by the royal commission) that the bank had informed Mark about rates and fees, but had not effectively communicated what this meant in terms of weekly payments or total cost.

For the moment, let’s put aside the primary role of the banks and their representatives – it is their practices on the line and we are not blaming or judging the victims. Neither do we know the client’s individual circumstances.

But, caveats established, how much information must be presented and what can be reasonably expected in terms of the financial literacy level of customers? If the response from the royal commission is increased disclosure, these are the relevant questions.

But this still leaves whether we can be confident that education is being provided so customers can make informed decisions.




Read more:
There are serious problems with the concept of ‘financial literacy’


Financial literacy is in the National Curriculum and being taught to primary and secondary students. But, given Mark’s age, there is no guarantee he would have received financial literacy education at school.

For the future Marks, financial literacy is now embedded, but coverage remains uneven as what is taught varies by state and school level.

Elsewhere policy is continuing the trend of transferring financial responsibilities from government to individuals, which requires greater financial literacy. For example, the NDIS aims to build a new disability marketplace, requiring important financial decisions from individuals or their representatives.

But the royal commission has clearly shown people suffered by following bad advice or by not questioning numbers sufficiently.

How were 24% p.a. car loans supported by banks and accepted by customers? Were the numbers too abstract and customers didn’t know what 24% a year meant in dollar terms?

Not just new regulation but new education

Better-educated people are better equipped to ask the right questions and make more informed decisions.

We can’t just rely on regulated disclosure – we need to continue to ensure the “simple” questions about the total costs over the life of the loan and whether it’s right for the customer, rather than just the bank, are taught. Teaching consumers to ask these questions, to question the information provided, is important and can enhance the regulation.

Who should provide this education? Not those with a conflict of interest such as financial institutions. If the royal commission tells us one thing it is that incentives matter.

If you are incentivised, or part of an incentivised brand, it may be better you don’t have a role in education. The Dollarmites scandal may not be the biggest scandal this year but it’s emblematic and part of a problem.

Schools, VET and universities can do better and more.

A new round of regulation will create new incentives to avoid it. Regulation tries to catch up and focuses on institutions – here the banks. But new financial technologies mean financial providers don’t look like they used to – for example, new app-based peer-to-peer lenders at your favourite store.

We can’t rely on education alone but we also can’t rely on regulation alone.

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Let’s recognise the limitations of regulation as we try to improve outcomes and consider whether some of the money spent on designing and enforcing new regulations may be better spent further educating our future customers.

Dirk Baur, Professor of Finance, University of Western Australia; Elizabeth Ooi, Lecturer, Finance, University of Western Australia, and Paul Gerrans, Professor of Finance, University of Western Australia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Turnbull dumps emissions legislation to stop rebels crossing the floor


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has done a backflip on his proposal to put the emission reduction target into legislation, in the face of rebel backbenchers threatening to cross the floor.

The new plan is for the energy target – a 26% reduction to carbon dioxide emissions for the electricity sector – to be set by an executive order of the minister. Such an order cannot be disallowed.

The stunning retreat emerged as the energy issue threatened to turn into a crisis for Turnbull’s leadership, and the government worked on measures to reduce power prices to meet the demands of Coalition dissidents.

Cabinet Minister Peter Dutton remained conspicuously silent on Friday in face of a report that conservatives in the Liberal party were urging him to challenge Malcolm Turnbull within weeks.




Read more:
VIDEO: Michelle Grattan on the NEG showdown and a ray of parliamentary unity after Fraser Anning’s racist speech


A report in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph injected leadership speculation into the centre of Turnbull’s already highly difficult battle to curb a backbench rebellion over the government’s National Energy Guarantee (NEG).

The government has consistently refused a demand from the Victorian Labor government that the target should be set by regulation not legislation.




Read more:
Infographic: the National Energy Guarantee at a glance


The executive order would be accompanied by an Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report to parliament on the price impact of the target.

If Turnbull had gone ahead with legislation, and enough backbenchers had crossed the floor to defeat the bill, it would have amounted to an effective vote of no confidence in his leadership.

While some of the backbench rebels will be satisfied with the price package, it is not clear whether this will include Tony Abbott and his hardcore supporters, who want to bring Turnbull down and have smelled political blood.

Tuesday’s Coalition parties meeting will discuss the new proposals.

On another front, Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack is facing mounting criticism of his performance, as the Nationals federal council meets in Canberra at the weekend. The energy issue is likely to be front and centre there.

Despite his public silence, it is understood that Dutton on Friday privately told Turnbull that he was comfortable with the government’s energy policy.

The backbench critics have had two major areas of concern. They did not think the NEG plan did enough to reduce electricity prices. And they were unhappy with the 26% target for reducing emissions in the electricity sector being legislated.

But the retreat from the target being enshrined in legislation will not be enough to satisfy those who want Australia to walk away from the target altogether and pull out of the Paris climate agreement.

Up to 10 backbenchers had threatened to cross the floor on the emissions reduction legislation.

The report about Dutton followed his interview with Ray Hadley on 2GB on Thursday in which Hadley challenged him over whether he was “blindly loyal” to Turnbull.

Dutton said he gave his views privately as a cabinet member and wasn’t going to bag out his colleagues or the Prime Minister publicly.

“If my position changes – that is, it gets to a point where I can’t accept what the government’s proposing or I don’t agree – then the Westminster system is very clear: you resign your commission,” he told Hadley.

The Telegraph report said Dutton was being urged to challenge Turnbull “on a policy platform of lower immigration levels and a new energy policy focusing on cheaper bills rather than lowering emissions.” Conservative MPs had told the Telegraph “a ‘torn’ Mr Dutton was considering his options,” the report said.

Asked on Nine whether Dutton was going to have a crack at the leadership, Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said “absolutely not.”

Pyne also rejected the suggestion the government was on the ropes. In an obvious reference to Abbott and his supporters, Pyne said: “The polls are about 50-50 and there’s a lot of hyperventilating going on, and there’s a few people I think who are trying to put the band back together from the late 2000s, noughties.”




Read more:
Grattan on Friday: Malcolm Turnbull’s NEG remains in snake-infested territory


Finance minister Mathias Cormann said he had not heard any talk of some conservatives urging Dutton to challenge.

Cormann, a fellow conservative who is close to Dutton and said they had had four walks this week at 5.30 am, told Sky,: “We are both very committed to the success of the Turnbull Government and to winning the next election.

“We strongly support the Turnbull leadership of course and we want to see the Coalition government successfully re-elected early next year when the election is due.”




Read more:
The National Energy Guarantee is a flagship policy. So why hasn’t the modelling been made public?


The prices package would be based on recommendations made in the recent report of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The government has been briefing that Turnbull is willing to take a “big stick” to companies to ensure consumers get better deals.

The government is looking at cracking down on how companies bid into the wholesale electricity market and secret contracts between different players.

There would be closer scrutiny of energy companies buying and selling electricity internally between their own generation and retail companies at inflated prices.

This would put the contracts of “gentailers” under attention to ensure transfer prices did not disadvantage consumers. The ACCC said high transfer prices “raise concerns about the potential for substantial profit to be allocated to the wholesale businesses.”

The ACCC has also urged more transparency on direct contracts between retailers and individual generators, proposing these be put on a public register.

Among other changes being discusssed are:

  • providing the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) with powers to deal with manipulation of the wholesale market.

  • requiring the reporting and disclosing of over-the-counter trades (in a de-identified format) to make available important market information.

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    expanding the AER wholesale market monitoring functions to include monitoring, analysing and reporting on the contract market.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.