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Don’t compare Australia’s new Prime Minister to Bernie Sanders

Don’t compare Australia’s new Prime Minister to Bernie Sanders

What you need to know about Australia’s new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull

This week saw the election of Malcolm Turnbull as the new Prime Minister of Australia, after having defeated the sitting Prime Minister Tony Abbott as head of Australia’s conservative ‘Liberal Party’.

Some commentators in the United States have, erroneously, compared Turnbull’s ascension to power to that of Democratic Party Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders. But this could not be further from reality, with the two on stratospheric polar opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Although Turnbull comes from the ‘Liberal Party of Australia’, like in Canada, it is the local conservative party, with the emphasis being here on ‘classic liberalism’ and conservative traditions.

Whereas Sanders maybe be on the far-left in terms of both domestic and foreign policy issues, in Australia, Turnbull is considered a ‘moderate conservative’.

Although Turnbull supports issues like gay marriage, climate change and social welfare, he is staunchly conservative on matters of foreign policy, economy and governance. He firmly believes in the free-market economy, private enterprise and free trade (including being a major proponent of Australia’s current negotiations for a free trade agreement with China), as well as lower taxes, reduced public spending and smaller governments. In other words, he is a ‘fiscal conservative’ in the truest sense of the word.

Much of Turnbull’s outlook on the economy was also shaped by his personal career before entering politics, including as a highly successful merchant banker, lawyer and entrepreneur.

Indeed, on the very day Malcolm Turnbull became Prime Minister this week (14th September), he stressed “Our values of free enterprise, of individual initiative, of freedom, this is what you need to be a successful, agile economy in 2015.

Turnbull’s election to the top political post in the country was purely on domestic economic issues. Therefore, one should not expect any drastic foreign policy changes, especially as Julie Bishop, who was Foreign Minister under Abbott and with whom Turnbull is very close, will retain her position.

Turnbull, who is a strong proponent of the U.S. – Australia alliance, will continue to strengthen this special relationship, as the bedrock of Australia’s foreign policy. He will also continue Australia’s active military support for action against ISIS and Islamic terrorism, as well honoring the Government’s commitment to take in 12,000 plus Syrian refugees.

In particular, under Turnbull’s leadership, Australia will continue its strong support for Israel, being one of the most vocal supporters of the Jewish state on the international stage.

In an interview with Israeli commentator Shmuel Rosner in Sydney, only last month, Turnbull spoke openly about Australia’s “very good” relationship with Israel, saying “we need to collaborate more with Israel, particularly on matters of science and technology. The more we can do with Israel, the better.

Turnbull also ‘just gets it’, when it comes to Israel’s security situations, and as he says, the need for “Middle East’s only democracy to take the necessary steps to defend itself from terror.”

Even with respect to the Iran Deal, Turnbull recently said that although he supports the agreement, he does so “cautiously”, while “recognizing and emphasizing with the anxiety in Israel.”

After the Abbott government was lagging for some time in the polls, Malcolm Turnbull provided the conservatives an immediate boost, with the first poll following his election already giving him a 70% – 24% advantage over Labor Leader Bill Shorten as the preferred Prime Minister.


Arsen Ostrovsky is a Middle East analyst and freelance journalist based in Israel, who lived in Australia for 25 years. You can follow him on Twitter: @Ostrov_A

[Note: This post was modified shortly after initial publication.]


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Turnbull’s election to the top political post in the country

He was not elected to the top political post in the country — he was appointed.

And most actual conservatives are not very happy with his coup. As Andrew Bolt put it, “he stole the prime ministership he could not have won in an election.” His biggest fans seem to be from the opposing Labor Party: Tim Blair refers to him as “Australia’s third Labor Prime Minister since 2007.”

No, he’s no Bernie Sanders, but neither is he Tony Abbott — the man Australians were led to believe was going to be their PM when they last went to the polls in September 2013.

    Okay, so that’s Australia’s two most popular conservative opinionists heard from. But what about the more Libertarian-ish Australians? How do they feel about this?

    Malcolm is almost the perfect reflection of media opinion. He is like blotting paper, soaking up every conventional opinion without any actual apparent ability to think for himself. He is a non-entity in the Barack Obama mould, filled with vapid thoughts and a high opinion of his own abilities and intellect that is never at any stage reflected in anything he says or any action he takes.

    He apparently won on the promise that he would not change any of the more contentious compromises Abbott had been able to meld, which is to say, he won promising not to do the very things that he wants to do, and which the media will look to him to do. The Great Communicator he is not. He is a shallow and pompous blowhard. If there is more to him, we will find out. If there isn’t, the 54 fools who backed him into the Lodge will perhaps regret what they have done, but in the meantime will have caused great harm to this country, while not even saving a single Parliamentary seat.


    stevewhitemd in reply to Amy in FL. | September 17, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    He was elected to lead his party in the parliament. In a Westminster style government, that is tantamount to being elected prime minister, as the subsequent vote (not appointment, vote) demonstrated.

    Sure, he (and his pals) instigated the first election. That’s also their right in a Westminster style government.

    Elected, not appointed.

      He was elected by the party room due to a ballot being held after he made the announcement that he was directly challenging Tony Abbott for the role of Prime Minister.

      Turnbull is not to be trusted. He had the role of Opposition leader before he was rolled by Tony Abbott prior to the 2013 election. This came about because Turnbull showed himself to be in bed with the Rudd Government over the attempt to implement an ETS scheme which would benefit Turnbull and Goldman Sachs (Turnbull was a member of Goldman Sachs before he became a politician).

      The media has played up that Turnbull won an Oxford scholarship, well so did Tony Abbott and former Prime Minister Robert J Hawke so there is no difference.

      Turnbull is all about himself. He whiteanted Tony Abbott after he became Prime Minister. He kept on making appearances on TV especially the ABC always presenting a contrast to a man who is definitely far more trustworthy than this Turkey.

      One could say that the polls have been manipulated. There was talk of the Libs losing the Canning by-election but that might not have been the case because there is always a swing when a person has such a high popularity and can no longer represent his electorate in this case brought about because of the death of the politician. Canning is going to be a very close vote and this is due to the usual factors that one sees in a by-election such as:

      1. sending a message to Canberra
      2. the personal pull of the previous member.
      3. changes in the electorate that reflects a swing to other parties.

      It is true, that Turnbull is from the Left of the Liberal Party and is known as a “Wet” whereas those with a more conservative bent who are to the right within the Liberal Party are known as the “Dries”. There are others who are in the middle, and these are your conservative people who are more moderate. Turnbull is not a moderate but for now he has to pose as one.


#ThrowbackThursday … to that time I worked on #Australia's new PM @TurnbullMalcolm's 2010 Campaign! #tbt— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) September 17, 2015

This has to be the lefty MSM trying to portray the “purge” of a corrupt prime minister as the defeat of the Right by the Left, and they generally get away with it because most people are ignorant of Australian politics. I smelled a rat but it’s good to see some clear analysis.

    Milhouse in reply to peg_c. | September 17, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Corrupt?! What the HELL are you talking about? Tony Abbott is the very opposite of corrupt, if there is such a thing. Nobody has ever even alleged anything corrupt about him. Until you, that is, but you are nobody.

    Excuse me, but Tony Abbott was not corrupt. Abbott is nothing like Chris Christie.

      Henry Hawkins in reply to Aussie. | September 17, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      She didn’t say he was corrupt. She said the MSM was trying to portray him that way. That makes perfect sense.

        No, it doesn’t. Nobody is trying to portray him as corrupt, except peg_c. Read her comment again; she writes that instead of portraying the coup as it is, a corrupt PM being dumped, the MSM is portraying it as a victory for the left. She’s wrong. Nobody accused Abbott of corruption, and it is a victory for the relatively leftish (“wet”) wing of the Libs over the relatively rightish (“dry”) wing. Invoking Sanders is insane, but this is like Ford beating Reagan, except with Reagan as the incumbent.

Donald Trump became PM of Autralia?

“Although Turnbull supports issues like gay marriage, climate change and social welfare, he is staunchly conservative on matters of foreign policy, economy and governance. He firmly believes in the free-market economy, private enterprise and free trade (including being a major proponent of Australia’s current negotiations for a free trade agreement with China), as well as lower taxes, reduced public spending and smaller governments. In other words, he is a ‘fiscal conservative’ in the truest sense of the word.”

“Although…” Any more caveats before we are to accept his “synergy of Darwinian socialism with conservatism?”

Gay marriage is never acceptable to a true conservative and one who reinforces the permanence of traditional God-sanctioned natural selection marriage. Perhaps, Turnbull should call himself a Libertine.

And, anyone who accepts global warming as a real in-the-now issue is not playing with a full deck of cards.

Social welfare and fiscal conservative are two concepts which don’t play nicely together.

This comment from from a Timblair article is interesting:

“I’ve heard a bit of chatter today about the timing of this despicable act.

1) There seemed to be a growing chance that the Canning result could actually be a good one for the government. This would bode well for Abbott and throw some doubt on other polling.

2) The TURC is really starting to hit its stride with revelation after revelation, particularly regarding the CFMEU (a major donor to both the ALP and the Greens). Certain ALP figures would be tainted by association if/when charges are laid. There is also the expectation that Shorten will re-appear at the RC.

3) Australia has responded to the US request to become more involved in the war on IS (increased RAAF involvement etc). We commenced operations this week. Any successes against IS would be seen as favourable to Abbott.

4) Australia’s recent response to the “migration/refugee crisis” in Europe was measured, sensible, compassionate and workable.. despite the demands that we do more. The entire European response began to fall apart big-time throughout last week and would clearly get worse this week. This would only serve to highlight Abbott’s success in the emotive area of boats/immigration etc. standing firm on principle and actually delivering desirable outcomes.

Turnbull and Bishop needed to act before any of this could occur.

I think there is some truth to this.

Puzzled (Reply)
Wed 16 Sep 15 (01:26pm)
Gillard stating “it’s a great honour?” Only she could see honour in what Turnbull and the other rat did. “Treachery will be rewarded” should be the Turnbull and Bishop catch cry now. And how many leaders has Bishop actually shafted.
In the words of Mark Latham I think we are heading for a conga line!

Kenny (Reply)
Wed 16 Sep 15 (02:02pm)”

Although Turnbull comes from the ‘Liberal Party of Australia’, like in Canada, it is the local conservative party,

Um, bad example. The Canadian Liberal Party is “liberal” in the US sense.

But yes, the Australian Liberal Party covers about the same range of opinion as the US Republican Party. Except that in a monarchy “republicanism” is a lefty position to have. And Turnbull is a republican. A very prominent one, actually: the leader of the republican movement about 10 years ago when there was a referendum on the monarchy.

In any event, anyone who campares him to Sanders is insane. He’s more like Lindsay Graham, while Abbott is more like a Bobby Jindal, or perhaps Chris Christie.

Part of what’s also going on is that Turnbull represents the Liberal Party establishment, while Abbott is something of an outsider. Turnbull represents the moneyed interests, and so long as they’re looked after they don’t care much about principles of liberty. Abbott’s all about the principles. But Turnbull is telegenic and cordial, while Abbott is a policy guy, not that popular with the masses. Which is why he was dumped; they’ve got a year to go till they have to call an election, and they were worried that Abbott would lose it for them.

And Amy, he was elected, by his party colleagues, exactly as John Boehner and Mitch McConnell were elected. The prime minister in a westminster-style government is the equivalent of the Speaker in the USA system, and it’s best to think of him that way.

    Abbott is nothing like Chris Christie. I think that fits best with Turnbull.

    Abbott is more like Scott Walker who is in my view a more measured person.

      Milhouse in reply to Aussie. | September 17, 2015 at 6:44 pm

      I was going with Walker, but the more I thought about it the more Christie fit. He’s an outsider, a battler, not one of the Good Old Boys, and as dry as one can get in a moderately wet state but rather damp by US national standards. Abbott is dry by Ozzie standards, but Oz as a whole is more like New Jersey than Wisconsin, let alone Texas. If Oz were a US state it would consistently elect moderate Democrats. Even Honest Johnny Howard banned guns, which over here would end any national career he could have in the GOP. And even the driest Libs now accept Medicare, the way Republicans here accept Social Security.

      Milhouse in reply to Aussie. | September 17, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      PS: But that’s why I also threw in Jindal. Also I was thinking of Jindal’s down-side, the reason he’s not doing well in the polls, which is his lack of the flash that it takes to attract the low-information voter. Abbott lacks it too, in comparison to Turnbull, just as Howard lacked it in comparison to the aptly named Peacock, and everyone lacked it in comparison to Hawke in his prime (remember when Hawkie walked on water and could do no wrong?)

“Although Turnbull supports issues like gay marriage, climate change and social welfare,…”

Goodbye, Australia. You gave up Abbott for Kasich. Expect more Islamic “refugees” heading for your shores in short order.