Turnbull really is in trouble. When a Liberal leader loses Dennis Shanahan as a supporter we can safely assume he really is doing badly. The political editor of The Australian is not a journalist to be easily swayed by a left leaning press gallery herd. He tends to stick to the views that the paper’s bosses would like to think are held by the majority of its readers. Dennis showed that right through the dying year of John Howard’s rule when he steadfastly remained a loyal supporter always looking for a sign of hope as the evidence of impending defeat mounted. That conservative viewpoint remains but after quite an extended period away from active duty he has returned anything but a fervent admirer of Malcolm Turnbull.

Take this morning’s offering where he described Kevin Rudd as sounding “like a prime minister with his foot on the throat of an opponent and a finger itching for an election trigger.” That gloomy assessment came after the previous day’s description that “Liberal MPs no longer just look like they are thinking of defeat at the next election, they are beginning to talk about it”, and that “even Malcolm Turnbull has raised the fear of losing a double-dissolution election in an attempt to impose discipline and unity.”

On Tuesday the Shanahan commentary had been even harsher when he wrote:

What had been primed as a king hit on the Rudd Labor government, designed to take out Rudd and Swan, has turned into a potentially mortal wounding of Turnbull. No matter what the evidence, the logic or the sense of political justice, the Coalition has botched its prosecution of Swan. And it has opened the way for a government demolition of Turnbull’s character.

The significance of these comments is considerable. This is the political commentator that Liberal MPs know is the most sympathetic to their cause within the press gallery and the commentator who writes for the one newspaper that consistently supports them against Labor.
Malcolm Turnbull surely is in serious trouble.

Tabloids lead, broadsheets follow. The ABC and The Australian are the last bastion of interest in ute gate as a news story. I noted yesterday how the tabloids had moved on to other things and now the Fairfax broadsheets have followed suit. The Oz kept plugging away with a page one lead this morning that had the look of a paper that decided it should keep putting the boot into the Opposition Leader and the ABC’s AM program kept going at breakfast but I notice the World Today had moved onto other things at lunchtime.

Malcolm Turnbull should be thankful that he will now have a couple of months in which he can hide away from Canberra to lick his very considerable wounds.

A royal familiarity. My fluent Spanish speaking correspondent was so excited to hear Kevin Rudd’s welcome in Spanish yesterday to the Spanish King and Queen but was surprised that such a stickler for detail as our Prime Minister said, according to the ABC, “con vuestra visita,” which means “with your visit”. This is the highly casual use of the form “you”. Spanish, like most Latin languages has both informal and formal use of the word “you” and “vuestra” is the casual form. Not exactly appropriate for a head of state! I know people who call their parents in law the formal version of you, so its suprising that no one picked Rudd up on this. It is however, very standard to use in Latin America, so perhaps that’s why it went through.

Just thought you’d all like to know.

Best horse racing coverage on Business Spectator. I have noted on a couple of occasions in the last year that the Australian racing industry is about to undergo some amazing changes as the pots of gold provided by monopoly state totalisator businesses disappear and commented on the reluctance of the major newspapers to draw attention to what is unfolding. Clearly the papers are desperate to preserve one of their own last advertising monopolies — the production of advertorial formguides — and do not wish to risk offending the totalisator operators.

Over on our associated businessspectator.com.au website there are none of those inhibitions and so it is that the best coverage of the future of Australian racing has appeared in the form of an interview with Tabcorp CEO Elmer Funke Kupper. An accompanying commentary by Robert Gottliebsen neatly summarises the problems the racing industry will soon have dealing with employment cut backs, lower prize money and the fall in the value of horses.