Macklin / Dramatic end to a colourless campaign

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PM Malcolm Turnbull’s furious demand that the police investigate Labor’s “deliberate lies” that he was either destroying or privatising Medicare provided a dramatic end to a colourless campaign.

Robert Macklin
Robert Macklin.

It cast a shadow over Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s leadership since he not only authorised the blanket advertising but personally continued the attack in the face of Turnbull’s denials.

It also gave notice that the wafer-thin Turnbull majority will produce the exact opposite of the “stable” result he sought. Indeed, it was probably the worst possible outcome for the country.

Coupled with a big Senate crossbench, it will certainly test Turnbull’s powers of leadership. He lost several of his closest supporters and the Abbott forces will be circling.

In the last week the leaders battled to stay on message – Turnbull with his “Jobs and Growth” mantra bolstered by “Coalition stability”, while Shorten sounded increasingly shrill as he accused Turnbull (without the slightest evidence) of planning to privatise Medicare.

It was a woeful end to what had been an otherwise civilised and mannerly campaign. But the weakness at its core was Shorten himself who is certainly “foreman material”, but lacks the gravitas and authority required for the top job. Perhaps only Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek has the iron in the velvet glove that could land a knockout punch on her “agile” opponent.

TRY as they might, other issues – notably same-sex marriage and the role of the independents – ran interference with their chosen themes. But neither had the impact of Brexit, which played perfectly into the Turnbull message. And while it helped return him to The Lodge, voters will demand that the “real” Malcolm Turnbull finally stands up.

THE Brexit vote continued to wreak havoc in Europe and the UK:

  • In BRUSSELS “Nasty Nigel” Farage recalled the way MEPs laughed at him 17 years ago when he spoke of Britain leaving the EU. “You’re not laughing now!” he crowed amid the jeers.
  • In LONDON more than 170 of Labour MPs declared no confidence in their leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Yet under party rules he is also chosen by unions and the broad membership where Corbyn claims to have continued support. However, his weakness in the bullring of Westminster was so risible that lame-duck PM David Cameron could cry across the chamber: “For heaven’s sake, man, go!’
  • CAMERON’S own Conservatives quickly jettisoned the shambling Boris Johnson whose overweening ambition had helped bring about the Brexit vote, when his 2IC Michael Gove put his own hand up for the leadership. But instead of rewarding the betrayer, by week’s end they were coalescing around the former Home Secretary Theresa May.

THE UK itself was threatening to collapse as Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon sought to remain in the EU along with 62 per cent of her constituents. And no one knows what will happen in an Ireland divided by English colonisers for four unhappy centuries.

BUT the best news of a bewildering week was the continued deflation of “Daffy Donald” Trump’s bid for the US Presidency. Indeed, poor Donald ended it drafting his family members to fill the growing gaps in the speakers’ list at the forthcoming Republican convention.

Happily, he has several wives to choose from.

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Robert Macklin
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