Voters think the Turnbull government is on its own highway to hell

Malcolm Turnbull
Peter Lewis writes in the Guardian (21 November 2017) that Malcolm Turnbull and the whole political system in Australia is on the nose. Australians want change and not more of the usual political antics. Lewis starts off with Turnbull’s disaster interview, where he cluelessly talked about Australian bands AC/DC and Mental as Anything and uses a tongue in cheek approach to underline a very serious matter.

You really have to be an 80s music nerd to fully appreciate the prime minister’s faux pas on commercial radio yesterday when he botched an opportunity to pay tribute to Australia’s finest rock’n’roll export.

On a scale of one to 10, likening AC/DC to Mental as Anything hits 11 in lame. When asked to embrace power he opted for middle of the road: it’s enough to demand the leather jacket be handed back immediately.

Where AC/DC drove pulsating guitar rock to a new intensity, the Mentals delivered catchy ditties via synthesiser. Where AC/DC were a bunch of migrant kids who screeched hardship and defiance, the Mentals were a gang of art school grads who crooned smug whimsy.

AC/DC was fronted by an untamed, tattooed dude called Bon who died choking on his own vomit; the Mentals were fronted by a smart arse who wore a cardigan and called himself “Greedy” (maybe that explains the attraction).

What was so revealing about the moment wasn’t that 40 years of rock history had passed our PM by, it wasn’t that he hadn’t been briefed on the obvious angle for his morning FM skate; it was that all he had in an unscripted moment, when he was caught short and the dead air was beginning to suffocate him, was: “If you leave me, can I come too?” **

And it wasn’t the PM’s only implosion in what was a high voltage* day of politics.

By lunchtime the prime minister had effectively closed the parliament in the face of growing fears that the berserk warriors** from the National party would detonate political TNT* by backing a commission of inquiry into the banking sector’s litany of dirty deeds, done dirt cheap*.

By dinnertime, he was desperately reaching into the political bag of tricks, promising the Business Council to give the dog a bone* in the form of income tax cuts. It’s a trick we’ve seen too many times** but one that politicians play when they are feeling the heat.

But rather than being thunderstruck* by the prime ministers’ political nimbleness, this week’s Guardian Essential Report shows most voters think the Turnbull government has embarked on its own highway to hell* 

How much trust do you have in the federal government to do what is right for Australia?

Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens Vote other
A lot of trust 8% 6% 17% 2% 2%
Some trust 34% 34% 49% 20% 22%
Not much trust 32% 37% 25% 45% 34%
No trust at all 21% 18% 8% 28% 42%
Don’t know 5% 5% 1% 5%


The majority of the public say they do not trust the federal government to do what’s right for Australia, which is hardly surprising when they come across fighting like cats and dogs** most of the time.

Even when a moment like the marriage equality vote generates hope that parliament is finally working for the man** it is soon back in black* arguing about the rights of homophobic bakers***.

This means that even when the federal government manages to achieve something positive, there’s no time to live it up** before it reverts to stereotype.

Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way democracy is working in Australia?

Total Vote Labor Vote Lib/Nat Vote Greens Vote other
Total satisfied 35% 34% 53% 18% 22%
Total dissatisfied 32% 32% 19% 43% 54%
Very satisfied 6% 5% 11% 1% <1%
Satisfied 29% 29% 42% 17% 22%
Neither satisfied nor dissatisfied 28% 31% 28% 32% 23%
Dissatisfied 21% 24% 15% 29% 27%
Very dissatisfied 11% 8% 4% 14% 27%
Don’t know 5% 4% 1% 7% 1%

While it’s easy to attribute this discontent to the farce surrounding section 44 of the constitution, a separate question suggests there is a broader sense for democracy that the spirit got lost**.

Just one third of us say we are satisfied with the basic operation of our system of government, with a similar number believing it needs to be fundamentally changed to shake the foundations*.

And as the above table demonstrates, the desire for change is driving voters away from our major parties, to the Greens on the left and the gaggle of unaligned independents and personality based parties on the right, summoning hell’s bells* for the major parties.

And yet despite the sense of rolling crisis, a clear majority don’t see the answer to the prime minister’s woes as calling an early election. Another round of promises, and attack ads and forced choices is the last thing we are looking for. Who made who? * The reality is that they have made each other.

Even supporters of the likely beneficiaries of such a poll, Labor voters, cannot muster majority enthusiasm for a speedy resolution to the current dog eat dog* political contest.

And that’s why the prime minister will continue to cling power through this crisis even as it seems he’s on borrowed time*, because he knows that his best chance of long-term survival is to offer the stability the electorate craves.

He’s learnt from personal experience that if it’s a long way to the top* in politics, it’s an even a longer way back down and as long as he is in power there’s always the chance of a political jailbreak*.

* suggestions for the PM, should he do another FM interview about AC/DC

** phrases the PM should avoid if he does another FM interview about AC/DC

*** thankfully, there is no reference to this concept in any AC/DC or other Aussie rock playlist





1 Comment on "Voters think the Turnbull government is on its own highway to hell"

  1. Kevin Rudd has called out Rupert Murdoch. About time. The Saturday Paper, 18 Nov 2017.
    The Murdoch media monopoly is a cancer on democracy. We are left with a neo liberal version of Crony Capitalism.
    The sheeple of Australia got the NBN that suited Murdoch, a US billionaire &Tony Abbott owner.

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