Thursday, May 14, 2009

Turnbull soars then crashes

I have just listened to Australian opposition leader Turnbull's response to the latest Rudd Government budget. I insisted youngest listen with me. She is not a coalition supporter. 

The first half of Mr Turnbull's speech  was frankly magnificent. Sharp, incisive, some new ideas combined with critical analysis. Youngest was saying that this was the best speech by a politician she had seen. She also commented in the growing discomfort in the body language of ALP members. Then he (Mr Turnbull) lost it.

The dividing line came in Mr Turnbull's remarks on the medicare levy.

The proposal to oppose the Government's change in the rebate and instead compensate by increasing taxes on cigarettes may or may be right. After all, I am a smoker. But what was meant to be an example of an alternative view became instead the end of substance. From this point, rhetoric ruled.

What a missed opportunity. If Mr Turnbull had continued with the same analytical approach mixed with human example, he would have carried the day. In some ways, it would not have mattered what he said. If he had announced cuts, explained problems, presented choices, people may have disagreed , but they would have respected him. And in the lead up to the next election, that's really what counts.

Instead, this all vanished. He let the Government off the hook. He became another polly. I have never seen such a clear case of defeat snatched from the mouth of victory.     


Neil said...

Good call, Jim. Technically, Turnbull is a very fine public speaker -- and we've seen that before, even in the old Republic debate. He has the skills.

I too thought it descended into anticlimax. He just didn't rise to the challenge after all, didn't say anything really convincing about what should/could have been done.

Jim Belshaw said...

It's sad, Neil. As I suspect you know,I am not a Turnbull supporter. He is too silver tail and arrogant for me. Yet he started so well, and we need an alternative view.