Well, I certainly am. Bear in mind that this is not an expression of the usual, boring party-political animus, but a growing frustration with the media’s fascination with Turnbull’s leadership difficulties and the Opposition’s inability to present itself as anything remotely like a cohesive unit. Every new opinion poll re-iterating what we all already know about the Opposition Leader’s popularity is splashed daily across the headlines and consumes valuable broadcast time during the nightly news. Every gormless quip from Wilson Tuckey or one of his muddle-headed mates is bandied about in the media as if it represented a personal challenge to Malcolm Turnbull cut from the very cloth of Mario Puzo’s Italian suit. Yes, Turnbull’s numbers are bad but have been for some time. Yes, Turnbull does not command the complete and unequivocal support of the conservative party-room, but then nobody has since the former member for Bennelong was ridden into the ground by his supporters in 2007.
The absence of a strong, unifying presence within the Federal Coalition party-room has proven decisive since the conservatives left government. With the benefit of hindsight, we can see that John Howard’s electoral success evidently provided the glue that bound the conservative and “small-l” liberal branches of the Coalition together tightly over the course of the last decade, through hell and high water. Despite the numerous individual qualities that Malcolm Turnbull brings to the role of Opposition Leader, he does not have the ability to provide that glue; especially not in the current state of the election cycle. He is strong-willed, not particularly consultative, and is pulling the Liberal and National parties in directions that a good proportion of them just don’t want to go.
In any case, while I don’t doubt there is a story to the ongoing speculation about the security of Turnbull’s position, surely it does not need to dominate the headlines in the way that it has. It seems to me that some conservatives in the Coalition party-room must be over-feeding trash talk to their mates in the media, effectively pushing their own agendas ahead of the agenda of their parties. How the Coalition believes it can operate as an Opposition with any effectiveness while all this is going on in the public eye is beyond me. Either Malcolm Turnbull should be granted a robust level of support, or a leadership vote should be held to validate the strength of his position within the party-room and either silence any dissenters, or produce a more agreeable leader.
Enough is enough. If even I as a Labor voter am dissatisfied with the capacity of the Opposition to provide a meaningful foil to the government, I shudder to think what non-partisan voters think. Democracy in Australia is being further tarnished every day that this distracting hullabaloo is allowed to continue.