The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Tony’s Gone, And All Is Well… Or Is It?

So, the age of the Tones is over and there is much rejoicing in the land of Oz. We now have the smooth smoothie Malcolm Turnbull sworn in as Prime Minister and, from the jubilation on the internet, it would seem that some kind of golden age is in prospect for the long-suffering people of Australia. But while I hate to be the ghost at the feast, I really don’t see how this can happen.

Sure, there are a bunch of immediate and significant benefits to the ousting of the Tones. There’s the fact that now we have a leader who is capable of expressing himself in recognisable English, which is always helpful both for our own political discourse and our reputation worldwide. There is also the fact that Mr Turnbull’s appeal is much more amongst the centre right. No longer do we need to endure a PM whose broad base appeal rests so firmly with the pointy-headed, protectionist, racist and homophobic sections of our population. Mind you, I don’t accuse Mr Abbott of having been any of these things, but his disconnected mumblings over the past couple of years have mobilised these subhumans to an extent that we haven’t seen since Howard tried to tap into the “Australia for Australians” line to garner popularity.

Further to all this, Mr Turnbull has a surprising range of progressive ideas. He wants Australia to be a republic, cares deeply about climate change and is also in favour of gay marriage. Which is good, right?

Well, it depends on your definition of ‘good’. If by ‘good’, we mean having a PM whose ideas we can once again be proud of, that’s probably right. I personally don’t see the point of becoming a republic, but it’s a question that deserves a much better airing than our last farcical (and wasteful) attempt at a referendum. As for the other two, they’re no-brainers.

Except, of course, in the party that our new PM happens to be a leader of. And this means the opposite of good if, by ‘good’, we mean a return to effective and focussed government.

After a breach like this, all rhetoric aside, a frantic reshuffle needs to take place. People who had been elevated in the wake of Tony cannot all be cast aside – such a decimation would permanently, and possibly fatally, split the party. So what we’re looking at here is a significant portion of the same old people with the same old ideas. These exact same people who previously ousted Mr Turnbull for being too progressive, among other things. Which means that the Liberal Party is going to have to take some time to heal itself, smooth ruffled feathers and work out some kind of compromise between Turnbull’s ideas and what have now become the party’s core ideologies. And by the time they’ve done this, it’ll be time for an election.

And even if, as seems likely right now, Mr Turnbull can win out against the uninspiring Mr Shorten or, as I like to call him, “Mr Luckiest Opposition Leader Ever”, there’s still the small matter of every significant position he has being directly at odds with at least half his party room. So we’re looking either at a significant watering down of this promising agenda, or its paralysis in hostile home territory.

We can see the ousting of Tony Abbott as a good thing, I suppose, because in many ways it is. But there’s a few discouraging aspects to it. We shouldn’t expect an era of golden government, for a start. Our new PM is going to be far too busy with politics to even worry about government until after the next election. This leadership ballot was about one thing and one thing only – ensuring that this government can survive that election. We would be foolish if we did not see everything this administration does in the light of that single, solitary priority from now on in. Expect a Liberal Party in survival mode, attempting to win back popularity with a long-neglected section of the population and far too pre-occupied with this and with its own internal wranglings to do much else.

Basically, business as usual, only with smoother soundbites and more syllables per sentence.

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