Where did Malcolm Turnbull go wrong?

  • He challenged an incompetent Tony Abbott for the leadership at the behest of the Party, earning his ire and insurrection; despite pious vows to the contrary.
  • He wounded the ego of armchair critics and vocal conservative media opinion makers such as Alan Jones, and others, by ignoring their gratuitous advice.
  • He deviated from the more extreme conservative positions of his predecessor.
  • He tried to maintain unity by appeasing his opponents and moving to the right.
  • His dignified statesmanship, and legislative success, annoyed his detractors.
  • He set and practised prudent ethical standards for his ministry.
  • He tried too hard. His generosity to the party was not appreciated.
  • Frustrated, in the end, as Tony Abbott cruelly observed, he fell on his sword by calling for a vote on his leadership. His own supporters, urged on by the media could not then resist the temptation to further their own ambitions, by calling for a leadership spill.

Malcolm Turnbull, the 29th Prime Minister of Australia from the 15th September 2015, until the 25th August 2018, held the position for three weeks off three years. His dismissal continues the pattern of Prime Ministerial instability.

Australia’s record is six Prime Ministers, but seven changes, in the past nearly eleven years, since the 3rd December 2007 when John Howard lost not only the election, but his own seat, largely for outstaying his welcome. This is a leadership ballot about once in every eighteen months. (18.4)

This in stark contrast with the stability of the office during John Howard’s reign. In fact he was Australia’s second longest serving PM, from 11 March 1996 until 3 December 2007, a period of 11 years and 267 days.

Ruling parties are able to dump unsatisfactory leaders mid-term, but the practice can be abused for political gain, and serves to increase rather than settle party disunity.  Kevin Rudd believed his dismissal was unjustified and was able to reform the rules for the election of the leader of the Labor Party. The Coalition Party to their cost has not followed suit.

Is this transition to shorter terms an ongoing feature of Australian politics and if so, why? Leadership turmoil may be a bonanza for the media, but it comes at a cost to tax-payers, and it diverts the focus of politicians away from community needs, to advancing their own reputations and career prospects.

Ousted Malcolm Turnbull has been a dignified and effective leader,  but in spite of this he too has been brought down by concerted destabilisation from a coterie of disaffected colleagues, egged-on by some sections of the media. Ever since assuming the mantle, he was ahead of Bill Shorten as preferred Prime Minister in the polls. This is now irrelevant.







Posted in Political debate | Tagged , ,

Turnbull’s leadership reaffirmed in Coalition vote.

Conservative media guru, former Abbott Chief-of Staff Peta Credlin, is jubilantly now expecting Malcolm Turnbull to be outed as Prime Minister within days.

The bumbling, usually unsmiling would-be assassin of Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, when asked for his take on the events of the day, could scarcely wipe an awkward grin from his face.

Leadership contender Peter Dutton, who also rarely smiles, received surprisingly strong  support with 35 votes to Turnbull’s 48, because of his conservative leanings.

Several Prime Ministerial leadership ballots in recent years have shown that it takes a second poll to unseat an incumbent leader, suggesting that Malcolm Turnbull’s present reprieve is likely to be temporary.

But can the agitators for change be sure that political events will play-out in the coming months, prior to the next election, as they plan? After all it is party members, not the paparazzi, who risk their careers at every election.

It is a fact of political life that party disunity is suicidal. Unless there is substantial consensus, the changes a new leader initiates may aggravate rather than diminish party turmoil.  Are party members prepared to lose their seats if there is a swing against them?

Peter Dutton is one who could easily lose his seat at the next election. I believe he is a man of integrity, but he holds the Queensland seat of Dickson with the narrowest of margins, lacks charisma and is seen by many as inflexible and harsh in dealing with delicate immigration issues.

Foremost amongst possible contenders in a leadership spill is the forceful and articulate Treasurer Scott Morrison. If elected, he is likely to be a more ruthless, less conciliatory leader than Turnbull. Perhaps this is what is needed.

The “get Turnbull” movement is gaining momentum. Despite protestations to the contrary, the chief insurgent is sixty-year old former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who changes tack from day to day to create embarrassment for the PM.

But is he still a well man? Over the last decade his speech has become more hesitant, his logic more flawed, and he is prone to stupid and insensitive gaffes. He now has mask-like facies, grimaces, and rolls his tongue in a disconcerting manner. Furthermore some video clips show an intermittent nodding head tremor and his gait is more laboured.

Might these features be indicative of the onset of post-boxing Parkinson’s Disease? He has a right to privacy, but as he continues to place himself in the public-eye, the electorate deserves to understand his situation.

He could avoid more public ridicule by gracefully standing down from politics before the next election. Will he?

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How should Australian communities respond to Eurydice Dixon’s murder?

In Greek mythology, Eurydice was an oak nymph or one of the daughters of Apollo. She was the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music. (Wikipedia)

Her’s was an exotic name, derived from Greek mythology.  Her death, however, was more appalling than any Greek tragedy, because it was all too true. She was just 22 years old.

Her body was found by a passer-by in Princes Park, North Carlton, at 3 am in the morning of Wednesday June 12, 2018. She had been raped and murdered walking home after performing a one-woman stand-up gig “At Hom”, at the Highlander Bar in Melbourne CBD. She was almost there!

Her attacker, 19 year old James Todd, who is alleged to have an autistic spectrum disorder, confessed to police the next day, and is being held in custody.

There has been a very public outpouring of grief and anger since, some ill-directed at police warnings about the dangers of women walking alone at night. The article below is a pertinent, well-written response to such criticism.

Where to direct your hate and hurt over Eurydice Dixon’s death
By Madonna King
20 June 2018 — 10:07am


It is one thing to assert that every woman should be able to safely walk the streets at any time of day or night; but quite another to guarantee that they can. Particularly in the early hours of the morning, or very late at night, when many of those wandering the streets are likely to be inebriated, or disturbed, and there are few awake to help anyone in distress.

May I offer a suggestion that could improve the safe return home of entertainers, staff, and customers without their own car, or unable to drive, and when cabs are not available or affordable?

Surely there is an obligation for pubs, clubs and bars that remain open past the hours of public transport, to provide safe transport, perhaps in the form of a curtesy bus. 

Of course party-goers with the assistance of their loved-ones, need always to take responsibility for their own actions, and to plan for a safe and timely return, before leaving home.



Posted in Community Issues | Tagged ,

Welcome precious little “Seb”

Sebastian Curtis Scott Joyce was born on Monday April 16, 2018 at Armidale Public Hospital, the son of former Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and his former staffer Vikki Campion. He is doubly precious, as the only son to Barnaby, and as a child to Vikki after she had been told that she might never conceive.


Lovely Baby Pictures and his story can be found on “now to love” in the link below.


Bella Brennan’s article, written June 04, 2018 is titled:

Meet Sebastian Joyce: Barnaby Joyce and Vikki Campion’s baby son.
He’s Australia’s most talked-about baby… And he’s just beautiful.


I welcomed what I thought was a tactfully presented Channel Seven interview on Sunday Night,  of Vikki Campion and Barnaby Joyce, presenting their perspective on the unfortunate predicament their liaison has created. They have been widely and severely  censured for their relationship and for accepting payment for this appearance, but I believe they are justified to do so, in return for baring their souls to the nation.

The programme ratings were not as high as had been anticipated in view of their high profile over an extended period, but still over one million viewers tuned in,  perhaps more out of curiosity than anything else. Or was it voyeurism? For me there was no pleasure in witnessing the discomfiture of Australia’s former Deputy Prime Minister, and his former staffer, but I felt deep sympathy for them in their endeavours to balance their religious scruples with their ill-considered, but very human, predicament.


An important issue their story raises is the question of abortion, especially for those of the Catholic faith.  I admire them for respecting the life of their embryonic son when a timely abortion would have allowed them to keep their affair private, and would have avoided the harsh criticism and humiliation they have received. Their reward however is baby Seb to cherish and nurture.

The next issue Barnaby Joyce will face is whether to divorce his wife, contrary to the teachings of the church. It he does not, how can he adequately support Vikki and Sebastian? I would hope that Barnaby and Vikki will be supported by both the public and the church as they work out this no-win/ no-win situation for themselves.

The Republic of Ireland May 25 2018 referendum on abortion provides hope that democracy will prevail in the Catholic church; and that the hierarchy will soften their traditional anti-contraception, anti-abortion and anti-divorce stances that have imposed tortuous choices on their adherents. Might the church not make a distinction between ideals to strive for, and reality?

The approximately 4.8 million, predominantly Catholic, population of Ireland has long suffered from strict adherence to these moral codes, braking rather than uniting marriages, creating poverty for many, and leading to a massive exodus from Irish shores.










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Can State and Federal politicians agree on the National Energy Guarantee?

I’m fed-up with the often extremely partisan debate over energy. Now after more than a decade of endless wrangling, the end could be in sight.

This past week the even-tempered and moderate Minister for Energy Josh Frydenberg met with his State counterparts to consider how to implement the Coalition’s  National Energy Guarantee (NEG) plan, taking into account the differences between the States of existing energy infrastructure, and their philosophical commitment to emissions reduction. 

It is a plan that follows on from the independent 2017 National Electricity Market Review requested by the COAG Energy Ministers in October 2016, and conducted by Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel. 

In essence it suggests guidelines for retailers to chose a rational mix of energy generation sources that would both enable Australia to meet its Paris agreement emissions reduction target whilst also ensuring a reliable and secure supply of both dispatchable and renewable energy, as cheaply as possible for both consumer and taxpayer.

Whilst agreement was not reached at this latest meeting of Energy Ministers, there was consensus on the need to continue discussions, and a further meeting has been set for August.

A quick resolution of differences is not likely with a federal election looming in the next year that could see Labor win office, and pushing for a more ambitious emission reduction target.

Even then it could take a couple of years to implement. In that time further developments, particularly in battery technology, could lead to more changes in the requirements for electricity generation and storage.

Our politicians, charged with the responsibility of ongoing market planning, must avoid doctrinaire positions, embrace the changing science, and create flexible solutions for all-Australians.

Cross-party and cross-factional agreement is essential before private enterprise will risk raising the capital needed to construct appropriate facilities.





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Is Turnbull’s inconspicuous opponent The National Civic Council (NCC)?

The National Civic Council, founded by Catholic layman Mr B.A. Santamaria in the 1940’s, over the years has enunciated a political philosophy based on pro-Catholic values.

His policies were devised to oppose the growing influence of the atheistic Communist Party in Australian politics, and their infiltration of Australian Trade Unions.

The NCC inspired the rise of Industrial groups within the Australian Labor Party dedicated to opposing Communism when the ALP wouldn’t.

Prime Minister Bob Menzies exploited the situation by portraying Labor as being soft on Communism, and provocatively moved to ban the Communist Party, a change that the  Leader of the ALP, Herbert Evatt, strongly opposed for fear of undermining civil liberties.

The issue irrevocably split the ALP when the Democratic Labor Party (DLP), a political affiliate of the NCC was formed. It did not have the political clout to win office itself, but it succeeded in denying Labor office for many years.

Over 60 years later it is the Coalition’s turn to face office-denying dissent within its ranks. The political spokesman for the Coalition revolt has been the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, going back on his promise not to cause trouble for the new leadership.

My motivation for writing this post is a desire to understand why he has changed his mind and is now hell-bent on opposing Malcolm Turnbull at every turn, despite the electoral damage it is causing. I have always thought well of Tony Abbott and so have found this behaviour galling.

With an impeccable Catholic pedigree, a Jesuit education, and seminary training,  it was not surprising that he espoused NCC philosophy when he switched from the priesthood to politics. As the 28th Prime Minister of Australia, he always sought to implement policies consistent with NCC philosophy.

I suspect that although Catholic, Malcolm Turnbull has not continued on with some of Tony Abbott’s policies, and has failed to always uphold NCC ideology, especially in regard to family values, because he prefers to lead by consensus and negotiation.

If he is to be re-elected, Malcolm Turnbull has the almost impossible task of countering a re-invigorated Labor Party, neutralizing NCC-inspired opposition within the Coalition, refuting strident conservative media criticism, and persuading a large Conservative voting block not to desert the Coalition.

Australian’s have a strong sense of fairness, and there may be many who will perceive the constant attacks on his leadership, as ethically wrong!



Posted in Uncategorized

Mental health emergencies and community safety.

It is estimated that 4 million Australians will experience a mental health problem each year.

The bill for this year on mental health is $4.3 billion including $120 million on mental health research.

On the 27th November 2017 the Health Minister Greg Hunt announced a $53 million boost to new research funding of 47 projects through the NHMRC.


It has been calculated that Australia spends about 300 times as much on cancer research as it does on research into mental health issues. Yet mental illnesses cause more disruption to the lives of family members, friends and associates who have to cope with their emotional and behavioural instability, than does cancer.

In a less tolerant era, doctors were able to certify dangerous psychotic patients as insane, institutionalizing them against their will, and protecting society from their irrational behaviour.  Not so today.

Most patients can be successfully managed as outpatients, but the risk is that some will stop taking their medication, and refuse to present for the treatment they need. Should they also consume alcohol, and/or use drugs, it is highly likely that they will end up creating a public disturbance, and come to the attention of the police.

Police methods designed to apprehend criminals and law-breakers may be excessive, and inappropriate for the management of disturbed but non-psychotic mentally-ill patients, particularly if unarmed.


For this reason it may be wise to more often involve ambulance based paramedics acting under the direction of psychiatrists.

I would hope our government would allocate more research funding, and establish a national panel to formulate best policy for the management of psychiatric emergencies.
















and that a national panel could be appointed to formulate best medical policies.


Posted in Uncategorized

Why I think a September poll is likely!

Barnaby Joyce today called on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to stand down from the leadership if  the Coalition fails to overtake Labor in the polls by Christmas. His gratuitous advice shows how desperately some Conservatives want him gone. Since no one is prepared to challenge him for the leadership, he must be persuaded to voluntarily resign. It is clear evidence that unless he does, his every move will continue to be mercilessly criticised in the media.


Although he did not say so, they expect Malcolm Turnbull to base his decision on further two-party preferred polls by Newspoll, since today’s result (ALP 52%, L-NP 48%) was the 30th in which the Coalition has trailed Labor, and equalled the Tony Abbott sequence of negative polls.

No allowance will be made for the fact that Malcolm Turnbull has consistently out-polled Bill Shorten as preferred Prime Minister, the Coalition is leading Labor in the Primary Vote, and Roy Morgan polls with a better election prediction record show the difference of ALP 51%, L-NP 49% to be too close to call. And of course the only poll that really matters is the election.


It is not Malcolm Turnbull who should resign because Conservatives demand it, but Tony Abbott, if he is to be a man of his word.

When he lost the leadership ballot he gave a firm and repeated undertaking not to destabilize ongoing leadership. It is he who must now give reason why he has not done so. It is the damaging dissension he is creating that will almost certainly result in the Coalition continuing to lag in the two-party preferred Newspoll results, and result in its election defeat.

It is possible that an election will be called in the wake of a favourable May budget for middle income earners.  It is appropriate that Australians have their say sooner rather than later, in the light of the Coalition split.  Hopefully this will end the distasteful wrangling between the Coalition factions.




Posted in Political debate | Tagged

The Courageous Charge of the Monash Brigade!

Passionate Coalition duo George Christensen and Craig Kelly are the driving force behind a rebellious pro-coal forum reputed to have more than 20 back-bench signatures.  Their oft-repeated mantra is that coal will deliver “low-cost electricity for consumers and industry”, and create jobs.


They are perfectly correct, if the government foots the bill, or subsidizes the development of the expensive, environmentally risky Adani coal mine and the construction of sufficient coal fired power stations. But what would it cost tax-payers?

Despite Craig Kelly’s protestations that “Malcolm Turnbull has my full support”, it cannot be sheer co-incidence that they have timed their lobbying until the very week that the Coalition’s negative Newspoll results again equal 30, the number Malcolm Turnbull used  to question Tony Abbott’s leadership competency in 2015.

There has also been a swelling chorus of conservative voices calling for Malcolm Turnbull to step-down, or be dumped as leader. His departure was predicted over the Easter week-end, even although there were no leadership contenders.

It is not surprising that both investors and lenders are wary of risking their capital on coal at present. There is a global trend away from using coal for energy generation. The UK government for example aims to phase out coal-fired power stations as early as 2025, in favour of gas-fired electricity generation, and renewable energy sources that are now cheaper to build than the alternative coal using facilities.


I admire the courage of the Monash Forum group in putting their political fortunes on the line over a single issue, which has already been extensively researched.  Of course they do not believe in climate change and are presumably prepared to wear the opprobrium they will receive if they are proved wrong.

They are also out-of-step with their colleagues, who will not thank them if and when the Coalition looses seats at the next election, because of leadership instability.

The disaffected could defect to Corey Bernardi’s Conservative Party with similar policies, but it is fast becoming irrelevant, and they are unlikely to do so.

Let’s hope that they stay, and contribute more constructively to future debates. It would certainly help if it were Tony Abbott, not Malcolm Turnbull, who left politics!










Posted in Community Issues, Political debate | Tagged

How safe from Terrorism are we in Australia?

Just a week before Easter the French experienced another alarming terrorist attack, this time in Southern France, not far from the Mediterranean coast, and the Spanish border. Five lost their lives, including tragically a 44 year old police officer Arnaud Beltrame who in a gesture of great magnanimity,  had exchanged place with a female hostage. Others were seriously injured.

France, with a population nearly three times greater than our own, has long endured many more incidents, and of greater magnitude, than we have in Australia.

From my calculations based on information from Wikipedia, in 15 years since 20 July 2003, and not including this latest one, there have been 33 terrorist attacks in which 259 people have lost their lives, and 899 have been injured.

The most horrific sequence of assaults occurred November 2015 in Paris. It resulted in 130 deaths, and 368 serious injuries.

One might have thought that with such a troubled history of terrorism, the French would have preferred the well-known and popular lawyer leader of the right wing National Front Party, Marine Le Pen, in the ballot at the April-May 2017 French Presidential election for a five year term.

Instead it was the young Centrist, pro-European, moderate leader of the En Marche Party, Emmanuel Macron who easily won the most powerful position in French politics, that of the French President by 66% to 33%.

Australians might well ask themselves, as Immigration policy is canvassed as an election issue in 2018, what is the security risk to us here in Australia? Do we wish to erect aggressive Trumpesque Immigration barriers that drastically cut our humanitarian refugee quota to supposedly protect our privileged standard of living?

Wikipedia derived data on Australian Terrorism in the past decade, documents 10 attacks, with 9 deaths and 15 injuries. It seems like it was only a few months ago but the Martin Place Lindt café siege in which two innocent people lost their lives was in December 2014.


This News article suggests that a further 15 terrorist attacks have been thwarted in a three year period.

The figures show that the threat of death and injury  from terrorism in Australia is very low,  thanks in large part to the vigilance of our security forces, and the information they receive from peace-loving, law-abiding ethnic minorities.

We need to focus equally on the prevention of domestic violence, a much more formidable problem in our societies.




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