Turnbull’s big gamble
RIGHT after Malcolm Turnbull defenestrated his Liberal Party boss last September, Australia’s new leader, the fourth prime minister in three years, promised “substantial change” and a “different style of leadership” to that of Tony Abbott, his ousted predecessor. In place of the division and dysfunction of Mr Abbott’s time as prime minister, Mr Turnbull would be a unifying force, promoting sound policy while dragging politics back to the centre ground. After Mr Abbott’s rightist demagoguery, Mr Turnbull would lead through “advocacy, not slogans”.
Australians cheered, and the approval ratings of the government that the (conservative) Liberals lead in coalition with the smaller National Party leapt. Mr Turnbull talked of a new dawn. Yet until recently the sun has shone upon the not much new. Mr Turnbull has struggled to assert his authority and carry out his promises.
One problem lies in the Senate, where eight senators representing tiny parties, including the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party (mission: to safeguard people’s right “to modify and restore vehicles based upon their own freedom of expression”), hold the balance of power...