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How the Coalition’s panic over polls set the stage for a radical reshaping of Australian politics

Katharine Murphy reports in The Guardian (26.12.18) that, while Australia has not succumbed to the populism shaking other western democracies, the major parties here - and especially the Morrison Coalition government - know they are on borrowed time.

'In international terms, Australia is a beacon, a country with a thriving economy and a political system that has not yet turned entirely on itself and succumbed to the populist forces roiling democracies elsewhere. Still, 2018 was a brutal year in national affairs.

'After a long siege, the Liberal party in late August felled another prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and installed its third leader in only two terms in office. Turnbull, a pragmatic centrist in a fractiously ideological centre-right party, was reasonably popular with the public but barely tolerated by his conservative colleagues, who undermined his position despite winning many practical concessions throughout his prime ministership.

'The defenestration was a panicked response to poor results for the ruling Coalition in byelection contests, and it has damaged the government’s political standing. But Turnbull’s replacement, Scott Morrison, has spent the opening months of his prime ministership in overdrive, trying to build a legacy to campaign on when voters go the polls in the first half of 2019.'


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