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The Coalition’s deep ravine will be hard for Scott Morrison to cross

The ABC’s Laura Tingle writes (25.8.18), in the wake of this week’s surprising Liberal leadership challenges, about the prospects of new Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, uniting the party – and government – now bitterly divided between moderates and right-wing conservatives.

‘There was a time when the great lament was that our politicians were too driven by opinion polls. Leaders came and went based on the fortnightly poll cycle. After the past week, those days almost seem something to mourn.

‘At least there was a rationale — however shallow and idiotic — for an assassination. Why exactly have we lost another prime minister this time around though, you may well ask?

‘Malcolm Turnbull probably put it best himself in the prime ministerial courtyard on Thursday.

‘”It’s been described by many people, including those who feel they cannot resist it, as a form of madness, and it is remarkable we’re at this point where only a month ago we were, as you all know being avid readers of polls, just a little bit behind Labor, and in our own polls a little bit ahead, but in any view thoroughly competitive,” he said.

‘And here is the irony: despite all the talk about 38 consecutive bad polls, the Government was gradually finding its feet, getting its agenda in order.

‘That is, getting its agenda in order when it was not being regularly firebombed by the malevolent, ever shifting, revengeful anarchy of Tony Abbott. And sometimes even despite that.’

The myth of the Liberal base: electing Dutton would have threatened glorious defeat

David Marr writes in The Guardian (24.8.18) about Peter Dutton’s failed challenge to become leader of the Liberal Party and Prime Minister. The author ponders, when even Dutton’s own seat was not safe after 17 years, how could he have won over the nation?

‘Peter Dutton is not a sure vote winner even on his own home turf. The assumption that he’s a potent adversary of his party’s enemies in Queensland looks very shaky in the light of focus groups of undecided voters held in the last few days in his seat of Dickson.

‘He’s no hero to them. They haven’t forgotten – as Canberra strangely has in the turmoil of the last few days – that Dutton made his reputation imprisoning women and children out in the islands. These voters want the boats stopped but they reckon their MP is heartless, cruel and not very bright.

‘Dickson is not a bleak outer suburb of Brisbane. It’s leafy and only a quarter of an hour from town. It’s mostly middle class. The notion that this is some uniquely Queensland electorate is rubbish. There are electorates like this across Australia. If Dutton can’t hold onto his – and his margin is only about 2% – then how could he, as prime minister, hold such electorates across the nation?

‘… The question now is whether we’re saying goodbye to more than a prime minister. It looks like curtains for a party that can’t bring itself in 2018 to represent the country.’

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