POLLS COME AND GO, RIGHT?

When Malcolm Turnbull challenged Tony Abbott for the prime ministership, he referenced his predecessor’s dire Newspoll figures as a sign the government needed a new leader. He’s probably regretting that now, with today’s Newspoll in The Australian showing the government is sitting at 45-55 behind Labor in two-party preferred terms, and the party’s primary vote has dropped to 34%. The polling comes after a bad week from the government, with Abbott attacking Turnbull’s agenda, and the Fair Work Commission’s decision on penalty rates also led to a flurry of headlines.

Voters turning away from the government aren’t necessarily turning to Labor, though. The figures show that One Nation’s share of the vote has increased to 10%, but a different poll in the Queensland seat of Dawson has One Nation up to 30% — on even footing with the LNP’s George Christensen. The ABC reports the ReachTEL poll was taken last week just before Christensen revealed he almost resigned from the government over issues with the sugar industry.

ABBOTT’S OWN DEPLORABLES

Senior government MPs have spent the weekend criticising Tony Abbott, after the former PM used a speech last week to tear down Malcolm Turnbull. Now the Oz reveals why Abbott went public with his criticisms, after his colleagues backed away from his attacks. The Australian‘s Peter van Onselen reports in an exclusive Abbott and his conservative offsider Eric Abetz led a group calling themselves “the deplorables”, who held phone meetings regularly over the last few months, ostensibly to push the PM on conservative policy issues. Van Onselen writes:

“‘He wanted clean hands,’ one MP said of Mr Abbott. ‘So we were co-opted into the attacks.’ Junior members of the group had thought the meetings were purely to discuss strategies as to how to press Mr Turnbull on conservative policy positions, before realising that ‘more sinister ­motives were at play’, as one participant put it.”

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THE NUMBER TO REMEMBER: 6/35

That’s Steve O’Keefe’s scorecard for both the first and second innings in Australia’s had a stunning upset against India in Pune, winning by 333 runs on Saturday. The Oz’s Peter Lalor has this great insight into the man himself.

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: The House of Representatives begins the parliamentary sitting week, with Labor and the Greens planning separate bills to protect Sunday penalty rates. The Guardian reports though that the crossbench isn’t keen on the idea — meaning the idea is just a political play to get the government to vote against the bills.

Canberra: Senate estimates hearings begin today, with the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority among the agencies appearing.

Canberra: The Auditor General will release a report into the Australian Border Force’s use of its statutory powers.

Los Angeles: The 89th Academy Awards starts at 12:30 AEDT. The ABC has this guide to all the Australian nominees.

THE COMMENTARIAT  

Newspoll: Liberal civil war will end in burial rites — David Crowe (The Australian $): “The Coalition cannot repair the damage until it decides who to blame for the wreckage. With Tony Abbott running rampant over the past four days in an attempt to rally conservatives to his flag, cabinet ministers hold the former prime minister responsible for weakening the government at the very time it hoped to win back voters.”

‘Sad’ truth is that Malcolm Turnbull is doomed and savaging of Tony Abbott shows it — Andrew Bolt (Herald Sun $): “A warning to Turnbull backers: killing Abbott will not save Turnbull. The government is not way behind in the polls because of Abbott. The public makes up its own mind whether he speaks or shuts up.”

Style was wanting, but Tony Abbott’s substance is right — Jennifer Oriel (The Australian $): “Abbott is providing the intellectual leadership the Liberal Party needs with a policy platform to reposition it as a competitive ­political force in the new era. His delivery was ill-conceived, but the substance of his speech should be considered.”

Tony Abbott: Even his friends now say he is a liar and a clunkhead — Laura Tingle (Australian Financial Review, Friday $): “Backed by the tailwind of a gushing and fawning conservative media, Abbott had every opportunity to set a new highwater mark for the right in Australia. But as his own conservative colleagues publicly abandon him, it is a sign of Abbott’s utter failure that he has even made this unfashionable.”

Independence versus accountability — Dean Smith (Australian Financial Review): “The problem is that “independent” also means “unelected”, and therefore “unaccountable”. Worse still, it doesn’t always mean the outcomes are non-political. For Exhibit A, look no further than the Fair Work Commission, which recently suffered another high-profile resignation, that of senior deputy president Matthew O’Callaghan.”

Sundays aren’t so special – according to the Fair Work Commission — Greg Jericho (Guardian Australia): “In effect, the FWC has determined that Sundays are less important because those of us who don’t work on that day are now more desirous to have the lowest-paid working in shops and cafes in order to serve us on our day off, and that they should receive less pay for doing so.”

TODAY IN TRUMP

Donald Trump will skip the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. The annual event allows comedians and commentators to roast the President as they sit on stage, a task most perfectly performed by Stephen Colbert in 2006. The last president to miss the event was Ronald Reagan in 1981. He had recently survived an assassination attempt and opted to phone in from hospital.

THE WORLD

Thomas Perez has been elected as the chair of the Democratic National Committee, the organisation that will oversee the party’s efforts to win local and state races then reclaim the presidency in 2020. Perez narrowly defeated Keith Ellison, a Muslim congressman backed by Bernie Sanders and seen as the outsider pick. Perez endorsed Hillary Clinton during the 2015 primaries and had close ties to the Obama administration, serving as labor secretary.– Washington Post / Politico

US authorities are investigating whether a fatal shooting in Kansas City was motivated by racial hatred. A 51-year-old man has been charged with first degree murder after shooting two men originally from India, killing one. The shooter reportedly hurled racial slurs, asked the men about their visa statuses, and later told a bartender he needed a place to hide as he had just killed two Middle Eastern men. — The Kansas City Star 

A 35-year-old German man has been taken into custody after driving a truck into a crowd in the town of Heidelberg. Police and prosecutors said the incident, which left one person dead, showed no signs of being a terrorist attack. — Reuters

A Taliban leader in Afghanistan has urged people to plant more trees. The unusually peaceful request was issued in the name of environmental renewal and the “beatification” of the earth, though an Afghan government spokesperson described the call as an effort to mask the Taliban’s “crimes and destruction”. When it comes to horticulture the terror group does have some runs on the board: it oversees and taxes much of Afghanistan’s illicit opium production. — BBC

WHAT WE’RE READING

Yassmin Abdel-Magied and the Australian crucible (The Saturday Paper): ” So often we hear the same bleating refrain, ‘Where are the moderate Muslims?’ After the past fortnight, the answer is apparent. You just threw her, and every other Australian Muslim, in the water. Moderate or fundamentalist, sink or float, the outcome is the same. And that was always the plan.”

Sixteen of my students at the University of Sydney told me they were raped (Sydney Morning Herald): “Victims who simply wanted to change classes so as to avoid their attacker were subjected to a callous bureaucracy, which required them to repeatedly retell their abuse or sign statutory declarations detailing their assaults. Those who failed subjects were threatened with course expulsion, despite the university having reports of their rape on record.”

An actual false-flag operation at CPAC (The Atlantic): “The stunt made waves on social media, as journalists covering CPAC noticed the scramble to confiscate the insignia.”

A world turned upside down (The Economist): “Rolando Fuentes of Kapsarc, an energy think-tank based in Saudi Arabia, claims the world is caught in a vicious circle: subsidies foster deployment of renewables; renewables depress power prices, increasing the need for financial support. Theoretically, if renewables were to make up 100% of the market, the wholesale price of electricity would fall to zero, deterring all new investment that was not completely subsidised.”

Why nothing works anymore (The Atlantic) “Technology’s role has begun to shift, from serving human users to pushing them out of the way so that the technologised world can service its own ends.”

HOLD THE FRONT PAGE

 
Peter Fray

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