A reluctance to give Opposition Leader Tony Abbott credit for the plunge in the government's fortunes encourages potential challengers such as Joe Hockey and the failed opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull, writes Miranda Devine in The Sydney Morning Herald (17/6).
“Their chutzpah is astonishing,” she says.
She writes of a” reinvigorated Turnbull” giving a speech containing “a carefully worded sideswipe at his leader,” while ostensibly criticizing Rudd over climate change.
''Our efforts to deal with climate change have been betrayed by a lack of leadership, a political cowardice, the likes of which I have never seen in my lifetime,'' he declared. Ms Devine says there wouldn't have been a “political junkie” in the country who didn't think he was talking as much about Abbott as Rudd.
She might have recalled that on losing the leadership, Mr. Turnbull redeclared his republicanism in the London and Sydney media just before the visit of Prince William.
Was this a declaration of product differentiation against Mr. Abbott, modelled on Mr. Peter Costello’s impotent campaign against John Howard?
Ms. Devine notices, as we did (“Joe Hockey: congratulations on the own goal, “16/6), the Shadow Treasurer’s curious decision to distract journalists’ interest in the government’s misfortunes.
“Equally unhelpful to his leader, the former head of Australians for a Constitutional Monarchy,” she writes “was news at the weekend that Hockey has rekindled the republic debate, for no apparent reason, by beginning talks with the Australian Republican Movement. That's called wedging yourself.”
“With the government bleeding on so many issues, on the eve of what was always going to be a crucial two weeks in Parliament, the weekend contributions of two of the opposition's most innocent-eyed politicians were self-defeating, to say the least.”
Liberals who raise republicanism surely know that this will show their party as divided with little support from the rank and file, Liberal voters and indeed Labor voters.
The National Party MP’s are sensible and principled enough to reflect their members and voters.