Spill fuels public disillusion
A QUEENSLAND political expert says the Liberal Party's decision to shunt Tony Abbott in favour of Malcolm Turnbull will do nothing to improve relationships with the general public, especially increasing numbers of young people who "don't care" about politics.
University of Queensland reader-in-politics Dr Ian Ward said "we live in an era where most Australians are increasingly disillusioned with politics generally".
"More than half of young voters now tell pollsters they don't care whether we have a democracy or not," he said.
"And part of the reason for that disinterest in politics is a feeling that it's remote, distant, removed from ordinary everyday people.
"And when groups of backbenchers make crucial decisions about who's going to be the prime minister that's only going to aggravate that feeling."
Dr Ward said the Liberal Party would have some serious ground to make up to limit the damage this move caused among voters, similar to the Labor fallout after the axing of Kevin Rudd.
"There is a significant resentment from the conservative side of politics that will have to be placated," he said.
"I listened to talkback radio from Sydney for several hours last night (Monday) and caller after caller was ringing up and saying they weren't going to vote Liberal.
"I think there is a genuinely a hostile reaction from the right of the Liberal Party and that group will have to be placated in some way, if the Liberal Party can do that then its electoral chances are greater than they were this time last week, if they can't they have a Labor like problem on their hands."
Dr Ward said he hoped leadership changes mid-term would not become the norm given Mr Turnbull was the fifth prime minister in five years.
"You have to go back to the early years after federation to find such instability of leadership," he said.
"The serious question is has the cabinet system failed?
"When Malcolm Turnbull made a pubic statement yesterday he said 'I will return to a more conventional system of cabinet'.
"That's exactly what Julia Gillard said when she challenged and took the leadership from Rudd."
"The complaint Mr Abbott's colleagues had was his proficiency to make decisions without reference to them.
"We seem to have a failure of the cabinet system. If that's true then there is a structural problem at the centre of Australia's government."
Dr Ward also said there was now an interesting situation emerging in regard to how the National Party and the Liberal Party coalition would move forward from this point.
"The National Party six months ago and today have said 'our coalition agreement is with Tony Abbott, and not with the Liberal Party, and in light of the leadership change we will have to have a new negotiated coalition agreement'," he said.
"So there's clearly resentment on the part of the Nationals...that the Liberal Party has unilaterally made the decision about who will be the coalition prime minister."
But Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd said yesterday's meeting between the Liberal and National parties had formalised its relationship with the new-look government.
"We accept the fact that we are the National Party and they are the Liberal Party and they can choose any leader they like without any interference from us," he said.
"We were all about discussing a broad range of issues before we gave our total support to the new prime minister."
Mr O'Dowd said a new term of agreement had now been signed off on.
"We confirmed that climate change policy will not change," he said.
Mr O'Dowd said the authority of water policy had been changed from the Department of Environment to the National Party's agricultural portfolio and the NBN, communication black spots, new jobs for regional areas, same-sex marriage and funding for rural and remote students had all been discussed.
Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said it was business as usual as far as he was concerned.
Mr Pitt echoed Mr O'Dowds comments about policy committements and added that Mr Turnbull had given a commitment to establishing a jobs program for areas of high regional unemployment, a win for Hinkler.
"Our job is to work in the best interest of the people, so it is a day like any other," Mr Pitt said.
Mr Pitt said there were no concerns moving forward with Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister, which was in the best interests of the nation and better than a Labor Party and Bill Shorten alternative.