Politics

Malcolm Turnbull Is About To Have A Very Bad Day

The PM is now officially as terrible as Tony Abbott.

Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull is now officially as terrible as Tony Abbott was when he lost his job. The PM has just lost his 30th Newspoll in a row, which was one of the benchmarks he famously used to justify challenging Tony Abbott for the leadership of the Liberal Party in 2015.

“The one thing that is clear about our current situation is the trajectory. We have lost 30 Newspolls in a row. It is clear that the people have made up their mind about Mr Abbott’s leadership,” Turnbull said when he challenged Abbott — which makes today’s news quite awkward for the PM.

The results are pretty much in line with where the government has been stuck for months now — it’s losing the two-party preferred vote 48 to 52, meaning it would be wiped out if an election were held today, and Bill Shorten would become Prime Minister.

It means this week is likely to be pretty rough for the PM. He can expect plenty of questions about why he shouldn’t step aside for someone who actually has a chance of beating Bill Shorten at the next election.

Tony Abbott is also looking to cause some mischief. The former PM, who promised no wrecking, sniping or undermining when he was tossed out of The Lodge, popped up last week as one of the leaders of the “Monash Forum”, a group of angry Liberal MPs looking to challenge Turnbull over his signature energy policy.

The former PM has ~coincidentally~ planned a bike tour of Victoria’s Latrobe Valley for the same day as the Newspoll figures were released. That will give journalists plenty of opportunities to ask him about Turnbull’s failures, and Abbott plenty of time to directly challenge the PM’s policy initiatives.

Abbott and a bunch of conservative backbenchers say they want the government to invest more in coal and less in renewable energy, which is true. But what they also really want is to destabilise Turnbull so that he never has a chance to recover in the polls — and so far they’re doing a pretty good job of it.

But unlike 2015, there is no challenger waiting in the wings to take a shot at Turnbull. Abbott has a tiny support base within his own party, and no one else has any appetite for another leadership challenge, which means Turnbull’s leadership will continue to limp along for now.

In the short term, you can expect the PM to hold a lot of weirdly defensive press conferences in which he smiles and tries to pretend that poll numbers don’t actually matter, even though that’s exactly what he used to justify knocking off a Prime Minister in the first place.