Government seeks alternative narratives – September 2017

Filed under: Politics, Australian Politics, Opinion Polls,

With the possibility that the citizenship issue could hang over several Coalition members for months, and polls indicating no improvement in the Government’s standing with voters, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull did not need more bad news.

Nevertheless, it arrived in the form of population data from the last Census, prompting a review of electoral boundaries in Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.

The changes could mean an effective loss of three seats by the Coalition – with new seats to be created in Victoria and the ACT – both of which would be likely to fall to Labor - and the loss of one South Australia seat – possibly Sturt, currently held by Turnbull loyalist Christopher Pyne.

North Korea’s Kim Jong-un has provided something of a distraction for Mr Turnbull but not the type that might sway Australian voters.

Mr Turnbull has warned North Korea's leader that he will be signing a “suicide note” if he starts a war.

This followed Kim Jong-un's regime launching another ballistic missile that flew over Japan, the latest in a string of provocative actions by Pyongyang, including threatening a missile strike near the US Pacific territory of Guam. “If the leader of North Korea continues down this provocative track the risk of war gets greater all the time,” Mr Turnbull said.

“The reality, however, is that if he starts a war, he'll lose instantly, so it would in effect be a suicide note on his part.”

More in hope than expectation, the Prime Minister said China must step up and contain North Korea economically, including by cutting off the regime’s oil supply.

He said the best chance of resolving the crisis on the Korean peninsula without conflict was to make sure the regime in Pyongyang was completely economically isolated.

Mr Turnbull also travelled to Tumut to refocus attention on his Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro scheme as the Government comes to grips with the Finkel review of the electricity system.

He added to his initial announcement of the project in March, with a further $8 million in funding for the Snowy 2.0 feasibility study, to be provided through the Australian Renewable Energy Agency. The study is to be completed by the end of the year.

But his predecessor Tony Abbott continues to raise roadblocks in that direction, declaring if the prime minister is prepared to back pumped hydro, he also needs to support a new coal-fired power station.

He said the Government needed to walk the walk on technology neutrality, and use its looming response to the Finkel review to create a regulatory environment where coal-fired power generation was not subject to “political risk”.

Mr Turnbull had said he would welcome a next-generation coal-fired power station but the Government had no plans to fund it. “If we are prepared to go ahead with pumped hydro, and we are neutral on technology, we should certainly be prepared to go ahead with a new coal-fired power station,” Mr Abbott said.

Mr Turnbull said the Snowy hydro 2.0 scheme would “contribute to more affordable, more reliable electricity in the future” but conceded its impact would be “some years” away.

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