Thirty consecutive Newspoll losses.
It’s a milestone of sorts for the Prime Minister, but somehow we doubt he’s cracking open the Dom Pérignon.
On Sunday night The Australian published its latest poll, putting Labor ahead of the Coalition on a two-party preferred measure 52% to 48%. This latest result sustains the coalition’s losing streak since the end of September 2016; which, in other words, can be described as 19 months of treading water with no land in sight.
Of course, 30 poll losses is bad news for any leader, but for Turnbull it’s catastrophic. While launching a successful leadership coup in 2015, he directly cited Tony Abbott’s sustained poll losses as a justification for his own actions.
“The one thing that is clear about our current situation is the trajectory. We have lost 30 Newspolls in a row. It is clear that the people have made up their mind about Mr Abbott’s leadership.” he stated at the time.
He was right of course. Australians had made up their minds about Abbott long before his 30th poll loss. He had made too many mistakes, failed to listen and his leadership was unsalvageable.
But now, in a Shakespearean twist, Turnbull faces the same fate. And who can blame us?
On an insular level, the Prime Minster has disappointed thousands of hopeful Australians. He promised “advocacy not slogans” and yet, his policy portfolio reflects the opposite. The Government’s response to climate change has been lacklustre at best, the NBN’s a certifiable disaster, no one can afford a home, and innocent men still languish on Manus Island.
But such policy lethargy, points to a bigger issue: A basic lack of diversity, which the coalition must address quickly, else risk a future of irrelevance (and a million more poll losses).
Malcolm Turnbull frequently recounts the merits of Australia’s multiculturalism, but such a view is far from mirrored in his line-up of ministers. Indeed, of the 226 parliamentarians currently serving in Federal Parliament, fewer than 20 have come from a non-English speaking background.
Likewise, the LGBTI community is starkly underrepresented. WA Liberal Senator, Dean Smith, NSW MP, Trent Zimmerman and Victorian MP, Tim Wilson are the only members who identify as gay.
And, as for women, well the situation is bleak. Of 84 Liberal MPs in Parliament, just 18 are female–the lowest representation since 1993. New Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer, recently called for barriers to be broken; but rhetoric is feeble when it’s not backed by action.
As Shadow Minister for Women, Tanya Plibersek said recently “very few government policies or decisions are gender-neutral. Mistakenly thinking they are, is how inequality becomes embedded in revenue and expenditure decisions.”
Plibersek’s point is apt and applies to other areas as well. Australia is a diverse country, with a wealth of opinions, talents and traits but our government is not. It’s white bread– a bunch of middle class, middle aged, anglo men, setting an agenda and making decisions which fail to represent the masses.
Like business, democracy needs diversity. Without it, governments will continue to flounder and the country will suffer.
If Turnbull had been sage enough to recognise this from the outset, he would have been lauded. As it is, he’ll be lucky to survive another month.
His superseder should take note.