NZ troops to be withdrawn from Iraq

Beehive:  New Zealand to withdraw from Iraq in June 2020:


New Zealand will conclude its non-combat Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji Military Complex in Iraq in June 2020, when full responsibility for basic training will be handed over to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark announced today.

New Zealand currently deploys up to 95 personnel to the BPC at Taji. Following recent Cabinet decisions this will reduce to a maximum of 75 from July 2019 and 45 from January 2020, before the mission’s completion by June 2020.

New Zealand and Australia have been jointly delivering training to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) at Taji since 2015, when New Zealand first deployed to Iraq as part of the multinational Defeat-ISIS Coalition. Over 44,000 ISF personnel have been trained at Taji since 2015.

“Four years ago New Zealand made a commitment to the Iraqi Government and to the Coalition to train the ISF at Taji and lift their capability to defeat and prevent the resurgence of ISIS. Over the next 12 months, New Zealand will be able to wind down and conclude that commitment,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“The New Zealand and Australian troops at Taji have worked hard, not only to provide training, but also to ensure that the ISF are well placed to take over this commitment at Taji in the near future. The goal of any training mission is to ensure that it becomes a sustainable programme.”

“Significant progress has been made in this area, which will allow the mission to reduce in numbers and conclude within the next year, having successfully achieved what we went in to do. This is an encouraging evolution and a success not only for us but also for the ISF personnel who have trained hard to gain the skills to become a modern military force,” said Ron Mark.

Alongside the deployment to Taji, the New Zealand Defence Force will continue in a reduced number of support roles within the Defeat-ISIS Coalition in the region. Cabinet will consider these positions again by next June.

New Zealand will however increase its stabilisation funding contribution to Iraq to approximately NZ$3 million per annum for the next three years (from NZ$2.4m in 2018-19) to help affected communities recover and rebuild following the conflict with ISIS.

Stabilisation funding will come from within MFAT’s overseas aid and development fund, and will contribute to what has been estimated to be a US$87 billion rebuild of Iraq.

“Despite its territorial defeat in Iraq in December 2017 and Syria in March 2019, it is clear that ISIS remains a threat and Iraq requires ongoing international support as it moves towards recovery and stabilisation,” said Winston Peters.

“As large numbers of Iraqi people return home and begin to rebuild their lives and communities, New Zealand’s targeted funding support can make a meaningful contribution towards this.”


National have sort of supported this – with a catch.

RNZ: National supports troop withdrawal – if partners do same

The National Party is on board with the government pulling Kiwi troops out of Iraq next year – on the condition Australia and the United States also withdraw.

National Party defence spokesperson Mark Mitchell said the decision to leave was the right one, providing everyone went at the same time.

“It looks okay with us, it would be dependent on whether it’s in line with what our partners are doing – especially the Americans and the Australians,” he said.

Australia is yet to make a formal announcement but Mr Mark told media yesterday the New Zealand decision was part of a carefully planned exit strategy alongside partners.

“We took a role of about a third/two-thirds contribution in partnership with Australia. This reduces down to a quarter/three-quarters and we will be downsizing alongside them and working with them, not just walking away from the mission,” Mr Mark said.

In a statement Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said Australia and New Zealand “consult closely on their respective deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan”.

“Australia is proud to support the Iraqi Security Forces, alongside its New Zealand counterparts. We will continue to work closely with New Zealand as it gradually draws down its footprint in Iraq,” she said.

“Australia regularly reviews its overseas operations, taking into account the needs of the Iraqi Government and the operational context on the ground.”

Whether National backs the withdrawal probably won’t make any difference, as the drawdown will have largely happened by next year’s election.

I doubt there is much public support for staying in Iraq, and there will be much stronger support for a withdrawal.

 

Populism falters in Australia, threatens Europe

Populism seems to be the latest political term in favour, but it is being applied across the political spectrum.

The unexpected defeat of Labor in the election Australia, after promoting  ‘populist’ type policies (like in dealing with climate change), has been seen as a setback for populism.

Washington Times: A populist surprise down under

Political trends, like the common cold, are contagious. Revolutions are often not confined to one country. The Communist revolution in Russia soon spread across the first half of the 20th century. The rise of fascism occurred in tandem across wide swaths of the world.

The period beginning in our own century might loosely be called the Age of Populism.

Gallup now says 4 in 10 Americans have embraced populism, perhaps not knowing everything about populism. The list of nations that have seen the birth of populist movements is a long one, including the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Poland, Israel, Hungary, the Philippines, Mexico, India, and Brazil. Ten thousand miles away from America, a populist revolution has exploded in Australia.

Scott Morrison won his first full term as prime minister of Australia, confounding expectations that the country’s voters were ready for a change after six years of tumultuous leadership.

But Australia’s “quiet voters,” as the prime minister called them, had a different idea. Mr. Morrison’s victory — his Liberal party is in fact the small-c conservative party in Australia — took an outright majority in parliament.

Australian voters rallied to the prime minister’s bold, Trump-like message.

I thought that lack of boldness was a feature of Morrison’s campaign, compared to Labor who thought the time was right for left wing populism. Bill Shorten was seen by voters as a threat to middle Australia’s future.

I don’t think that Scott Morrison is generally seen as a populist leader. He won more because he was the least unpopular.

New Zealand contrasts with this, as popular leader Jacinda Ardern is widely praised, even though her government keeps watering down or avoiding dealing with populist policies.

Blomberg editorial: The Populist Threat to Europe’s Future

The European Union is under siege. In elections from Sweden to Spain, right-wing populists continue to gain strength, while support for traditional parties withers. Populist groups expect to make sizable gains in this week’s elections for the European parliament — giving them more power than ever before over the institutions at the heart of the EU.

Europe’s cohesion hangs in the balance. Though the Brexit fiasco has diminished the appeal of leaving the EU, populists remain determined to undermine it from within. They want to halt the momentum of European integration, curtail the authority of Brussels and limit the EU’s ability to force member states to adhere to democratic norms.

European leaders need a coherent strategy for fighting back. That requires they come to grips with the scale of the populist surge and address the legitimate grievances populists have exploited for electoral gain. At the same time, they must resist the urge to placate the demands of agitators on both the right and the left.

But Europe consists of many countries. While operating under the EU umbrella there a a variety of issues in different countries.

The landscape of populism is as diverse and cacophonous as Europe itself — from the yellow-vest protesters in France to the far-right Alternative for Germany to Italy’s anti-establishment Five Star Movement — but common threads help to explain its appeal.

Populist leaders harness public frustration with political elites, who they cast as corrupt and indifferent to the daily struggles of voters. They draw support from citizens with low levels of formal education and those living in regions that have suffered from globalization. And populists play on cultural anxieties, blaming the loss of national identity on immigrants, asylum seekers and the faceless bureaucrats of the EU.

Both right wing and left wing activists think they can tap the support of ordinary citizens, assuming they will support their ideals. This is often flawed thinking.

Political insurgents have also benefited from the erosion of voters’ loyaltiesto traditional parties. In countries with fractured electorates, like Belgium and Sweden, the mere process of forming a government can take months, and sometimes years. As ruling coalitions become more ideologically diverse, their ability to govern effectively declines — which only strengthens the populists’ anti-establishment message.

This isn’t happening here. One of the biggest criticisms in New Zealand is that the two major parties, Labour and National, are barely distinguishable with what the do in government, especially on economic policy.

If pursued at both national and pan-European levels, political and economic reform can restore confidence in mainstream parties and blunt the appeal of populism. That work won’t be easy, nor yield results overnight. But for the sake of Europe’s future, it needs to start now.

That’s as unlikely as what is proposed is idealistic.And it’s vague – the left and the right are trying to pull economic and social reform in different directions, while governments are getting more messed up in the middle – Britain’s attempt at reform via Brexit is a continuing disaster.

Donald Trump promised to ‘drain the swamp’, but hasn’t achieved much, especially what could be called reform. His biggest claim to fame is reshuffling the swamp monsters, and tweeting nonsense.

Australia has just chosen more of the same politically and economically, with no sign of anything looking like reform. Australians voted for the status quo.

New Zealand is continuing largely the same, with even modest tax reform and social reform both being rejected by the government this year.

Populism is more popular in social media than in politics, but it is amplified by small minorities who keep getting disappointed by voters and governments.

A simplistic label like populism doesn’t fit the real world, which is far more diverse than simplistic reforms can deal with.

Morrison majority for Australian government more or less confirmed

Results are slow to come in for marginal seats but the ABC has now called the election as a clear (but slim) majority for the return of a Scott Morrison led government.

ABC News:  Election results see Scott Morrison reach 76 seats to win majority government

The Coalition is predicted to win 78 seats in the House of Representatives — a result consecutive opinion polls and political commentators failed to predict.

The seat of Chisholm in Melbourne’s east delivered the Coalition its final required seat, with Liberal candidate Gladys Liu winning despite a small swing to the Labor Party.

Reaching majority government — 76 seats out of 150 — means the Coalition will not have to rely on independent MPs to pass controversial legislation provided no MPs cross the floor.

The seats of BassCowanLilley and Macquarieare still in doubt according to the ABC election computer.

The West Australian seat of Cowan is held by Labor’s Ann Aly, who as of 10:55pm (AEST) had 50.5 per cent of the preference count.

In the Tasmanian seat of Bass, Labor MP Ross Hart is trailing Liberal candidate Bridget Archer, who has had a 5.8 per cent swing towards her.

In the seat of Macquarie, Liberal candidate Sarah Richards was leading Labor incumbent Susan Templeman by 151 votes at 10:55pm (AEST).

A New Zealand view:

I have heard similar mentioned elsewhere – the Australian election result proves that if policies are too ‘progressive’ or radical the chances of winning an election are slim.

I think it is much more complex than that.

It depends on the policies being proposed  – how they are presented and how far they try to change things.

But it also depends on the people who are promoting the policies, especially party leaders. And how election campaigns are conducted is also important, especially in close electorates.

Australian elections – are polls bad, or does media misuse them?

Scott Morrison and his National Coalition winning the Australian election is being reported as a shock, in part due to polls predicting a loss.  Are polls a waste of time? Or does media put too much weight on imprecise indications of how people might vote?

I keep saying that at best polls are an approximate indication of how people may vote in the past, and can in no way predict accurate election results in the future. Polls have well known statistical margins of error, but media reporting on them seem to largely ignore this.

Perhaps more accurate ways could be found to predict election results, but I think that a media obsession with trying to predict what will happen in the future is aas much a problem as polling methods.

RNZ – Australia election: Why polls got it so wrong

It was predicted to be the federal election Labor simply couldn’t lose, but after last night’s surprise Coalition win, the opinion poll may struggle to stand the test of time.

Experts say cost cutting and technological change in the polling process is leading to many inaccurate and misleading suggestions.

Nearly all polls predicted Labor leader Bill Shorten would have an easy win with a 51:49 lead over Prime Minister Scott Morrison on a two-party preferred basis.

I dispute that. Polls generally ask something like ‘if an election was held today who would you vote for?’ – perhaps some polls ask ‘who will you vote for on election day?’ but i have never seen that.

And a 2% gap is well within margins of error, which are usually around 3-4%.

51% with a 3% margin of error means there’s a 95% chance of the result being between 48% and 54%.

49% with a 3% margin of error means there’s a 95% chance of the result being between 46% and 52%.

So there is quite an overlap.

In fact, for three years the polls had picked the Opposition to take government.

Again I dispute that. Over the last three years polls tried to measure who people might vote for in the week or two prior to the poll being published.

They are usually whole country polls. Elections in non-MMP countries like Australia and the USA can be decided in just a few key swing electorates or swing states. \being swing electorates they have a history of impressionable swing voters.

Election campaigns are carefully planned to try to change crucial votes right up until election day. Polls are not designed to examine how people mat change their mind at the last minute.

I obviously have ideas about who to vote for in the weeks and days before an election, but I don’t decide for sure until I vote. There must be others who do similar. Polls can’t get inside our heads.

So why exactly were the polls, as ABC political editor Andrew Probyn put it last night, such a “shambles”?

Former Newspoll boss Martin O’Shannessy blamed the flawed forecasting on the fact that many people’s telephone habits have changed.

“Not everybody has a landline and the numbers that are published are incomplete.”

That might be a part of the problem – but that doesn’t address the ‘trying to predict the future’  misrepresentation of polls.

Polls can only be approximate.

I think that media trying to use polls as precise predictors of future voting is the biggest problem here.

Australian election – Morrison returned as Prime Minister

Despite late polls giving a slight advantage to Labor their leader Bill Shorten has conceded to incumbent Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Stuff – Bill Shorten concedes defeat, Scott Morrison to return as PM

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has claimed victory in a stunning political “miracle” that has devastated the Labor Party, forced Bill Shorten to step down as its leader and reshaped Australian politics.

Shorten had been favoured in exit polls and made significant gains in some seats in New South Wales and Victoria, while independent candidate Zali Steggall defeated former prime minister Tony Abbott in Warringah.

But his bid to become Australia’s 31st Prime Minister – through a platform of tax, wages and climate policy reform – was in deep trouble with his party suffering damaging defeats in key electorates the party needed to claim power.

Mr Shorten announced he would stand down as Labor leader while staying in Parliament, adding the federal election campaign had been “toxic at times” but that Labor had fought for ambitious change.

The election result was yet to be finalised at the end of election night, with several seats in doubt, but the Coalition defied the opinion polls to hold its ground and win seats from Labor.

With almost three quarters of the vote counted, the Coalition had 74 of the 151 seats in the House of Representatives and was within sight of forming government in its own right or with support in a hung Parliament.

Any result would have been dramatic. When was the last time an Australian Prime Minister won an election?

But:

However, the result shows the nation is divided along geographic and ideological lines with Mr Abbott declaring a political “realignment” with Labor making gains in progressive wealthy seats and the Coalition doing better in working class areas.

A group of key independents could still hold the key to power.

Neither of the major parties are popular in Australia.

Annette King appointed High Commissioner to Australia

This is a predicted and I think widely applauded diplomatic appointment.

Beehive: New High Commissioner to Australia announced

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has announced the appointment of Dame Annette King as High Commissioner to Australia.

“Dame Annette King needs no introduction given her long running career as a parliamentarian where she has previously held a number senior Cabinet portfolios, including Justice, Police and Health. She also was Parliament’s longest serving female MP with 30 years’ service,” said Mr Peters.

“As High Commissioner Dame Annette will be working on one of New Zealand’s most significant relationships. The Trans-Tasman bond is exceptionally strong however the relationship is not something we take for granted, and the new High Commissioner will be tasked with keeping the connections strong,” he said.

“The new appointment is notable because Dame Annette is a former MP on a diplomatic posting. In this sense she is an exception. Of the 25 Head of Mission appointments announced this year all have been career diplomats.”

Dame Annette is expected to start her High Commissioner duties at the end of the year.

She should do a good job diplomatically connecting New Zealand to Australia.

There is a funny side to this, as Peters has blasted the appointing of ex-politicians to diplomatic posts.

In 2016 (NZ Herald):  Winston Peters takes swipe at ‘brorocracy’ of diplomatic appointments

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has promised to order “unsuitable” political appointees to return home from diplomatic posts if the party holds the balance of power next year.

In a speech to students at Victoria University today, Mr Peters attacked the “brorocracy” of recent diplomatic appointments.

“As an example of how meritocracy has been abandoned in favour of a mainly white brorocracy look no further than how some of our high commissioners and ambassadors are being appointed.

“This is not to say that some of the people we have sent offshore haven’t been the best choice, or not done excellent service, but some have not been the wisest choice.

“Many have represented an insult to foreign affairs, leaving their posts with absolutely nothing to show, but deterioration in our international relationship with that country.”

Mr Peters went on to say that a political appointee should be “the absolute exception”, and if any future appointments were made that the party regards as unsuitable, it would order that appointee home should it hold the balance of power after next year’s election.

I guess he can say that Annette King is an absolute exception. And she is not a bro.

She may well be as New Zealand’s High Commissioner in Australia.

 

Hung Parliament after Liberal seat loss in Australia

Things just got even tougher for the Liberals in Australia after they lost a by-election in the Wentworth electorate after ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull exited Parliament.

The Liberals had been clinging to a one seat majority, but Australia now has a hung Parliament.

news.com.au – Independent Kerryn Phelps claims victory over Liberal candidate Dave Sharma for Malcolm Turnbull’s seat of Wentworth

Independent Kerryn Phelps is ahead on the two-candidate preferred vote by 54.39 per cent compared to Liberal candidate Dave Sharma on 45.61 per cent.

Dr Phelps has 17,500 primary votes compared to Mr Sharma’s 20,712 votes.

ABC election analyst Antony Green said about 80 per cent of preferences from other candidates were going to Dr Phelps and so she should win easily. He called the by-election in her favour about 7.15pm, not long after polling booths closed at 6pm.

It’s the first time in its 117-year history that the Liberals have lost the Wentworth seat and commentators are already predicting it will spell chaos within the party, and Malcolm Turnbull will be blamed.

There was a 27 per cent swing away from the Liberal Party, the biggest swing against a government in a by-election in the history of federal parliament.

It means the Morrison Government will lose its one-seat majority and Australia now has a hung parliament. The Liberal Party will have to work with crossbenchers to get its legislation passed.

Talk about a rock star reception

Kerryn Phelps was greeted by a roar of jubilation as she arrived at her victory party at North Bondi Surf Life Savers club, and the noise didn’t die down for five minutes.

Dr Phelps took her time moving to the front of the room, stopping to hug and high five supporters. At several points she even broke out dancing, and an impromptu moshpit promptly formed around her.

“I am humbled by this privilege and I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said, before descending back into the crowd.

Scott Morrison’s speech slammed

Morrison is the current Liberal leader and Prime Minister.

While the Prime Minister’s speech to Liberal supporters at Dave Sharma’s election party was heartily cheered, it has not gone down well on social media.

Many said it showed a lack of humility and that Mr Morrison had not understood the message from voters.

In contrast, Mr Sharma’s speech was praised for being gracious and respectful.

Mr Morrison’s defiant speech drew frequent heckles from the rowdier attendees.

Beaten Liberal candidate Dave Sharma got a more respectful reception, perhaps because his speech was notably magnanimous — not only towards Dr Phelps, but towards the old member of Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull.

Loss will be blamed on Malcolm Turnbull

The disastrous by-election result for the Liberal Party is already being blamed on the former prime minister and Wentworth MP.

Mr Turnbull was noticeably absent from the campaign and his son was openly encouraging people to vote for Kerryn Phelps.

Australian associate editor Chris Kenny said he thought the repercussions of the loss would be extraordinary.

“There’s going to be incredible turmoil within the Liberal Party as the blame game plays out,” he told Sky News.

“I think Malcolm Turnbull’s reputation is going to be absolutely trashed.”

I think that the Liberal Party needs to bear a lot of responsibility for the blame, but politicians are known for often not acknowledging their own failings. They probably don’t see their own failings.

But this is a big failure for the Liberals.

news.com.au – Voters scoff at Liberal Party’s tactical blunder in Wentworth

THE Liberal Party appears to have made a catastrophic tactical blunder in the Wentworth by-election.

Its core argument to voters was obvious to anyone who visited a polling station today. Huge signs warned of the consequences that would follow a victory for independent Kerryn Phelps, saying Labor would ultimately benefit.

“Labor + Phelps, don’t risk it,” the most common poster read.

The implication, hammered into voters heads all week by Liberal candidate Dave Sharma, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and even retired party legend John Howard, was that Dr Phelps would cause chaos in parliament.

In other words, the biggest reason to vote Liberal was “stability”.

The Australian Liberals are about as stable as a Jami-Lee Ross.

Dysfunctional democracies

There seems to be growing dysfunction in democracies with important associations with New Zealand.

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom continues to struggle with it’s exit from the European Union after a controversial referendum in 2016 chose Brexit by a fairly close margin. It is claimed that the referendum was unduly affected by social media manipulation similar to what happened in the US election, also in 2016.

Prime Minister Theresa May made a disastrous decision to have a snap election and seems to have gone downhill from there. Her Conservative Party has been in a close contest with the opposing Labour Party in the polls for some time, largely because of the arguably equally unpopular leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Not only does UK politics look in dire straits, their future as a country, especially as a trading nation, looks precarious. They are struggling to sort out an exit of the European Union, and that is delaying attempts to negotiate with alternate trade partners.

The Telegraph: Theresa May is showing how thorny a ‘clean Brexit’ could be so voters reconsider her plan

The Telegraph: Who do you think should be the next leader of the Conservative Party?

Over the past few months notable Conservative politicians and outside voices have questioned Theresa May’s ability to lead the party through Brexit and beyond. This in turn has cast doubt over the stability and longevity of the Prime Minister’s position in the top job.

 

United States

Who is in the most disarray, the Republicans or the Democrats? Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton deserved to lose the 2016 presidential election, and it’s arguable that the worst person won.

Trump has had some short term wins with some policies, especially with huge tax cuts, but the effects of resulting huger debts may case major problems in the future, especially if the record length bull run in the markets hiccups, as it inevitably will at some stage. the odds are that that will be soonish.

Trump has had a shambolic approach to trade ‘negotiations’, and a high risk approach to international relations. He often seems to work (or tweet) at odds with his top officials, and has questionable inclinations towards appeasement with Russia (while his country increases sanctions for interference in their democracy).

National Security Adviser John Bolton: U.S. sanctions to stay until Russia changes its behavior

Trump’s claims of great success in his meeting with Kim Yong Un seem to have been premature: Trump says Pompeo won’t go to North Korea, criticizes denuclearization progress

And his potential legal problems grow. Graham: Trump Will “Very Likely” Fire Sessions After Midterms – sacking everyone who won’t support his attempts at interference is unlikely to save him in the long run.

Much of the world watches in wonder at what the most powerful democracy in the world has become.

While many stupid and troubling things are by Trump there’s hope that his big mouth and little fingers won’t work there way towards the big button – however there are risks that Trump might escalate attempts to divert from all his problems by choosing a military sideshow, a common ploy of tyrants who can make their people revere them.

But the Democrats look in disarray after the disastrous Clinton presidential campaign. Hillary may be considering another shot at the presidency, which would likely dismay many, and there is no clear alternative (although in US politics it’s a long time until the next presidential election (2020). Trump was just an unlikely contender in a crowd of wannabe candidates two years before he won.

Australia

Our relatively) close neighbours the Aussies have a new Prime Minister that most Kiwis are unlikely to have heard of (Scott Morrison, after two leadership votes in a week. The deposing of Malcolm Turnbull adds to the procession of Australian Prime Ministers who have failed to see out a term in office.

See Out with the not very old Aussie PM, in with the new.

The change of leadership looks like a bit of a move right, but looks likely to be tested at an election soon, if Turnbull resigns and the Government loses it’s one seat majority.

Labour’s left has been riven by ructions in the not very distant past.

Depressing

This could be quite depressing for those who yearn for healthy democracies and competent politicians and parties. Is democracy self imploding, or can it recover?

Meanwhile, New Zealand

Here we have a three party government that has it’s challenges, and it’s critics, but the big local political stories of the week have been about the leak of expenses details several days before they were due to be released, and the semi-demotion of a Minister who didn’t properly record or advise having a meeting with someone who could potentially be a big benefit to the country.

Out with the not very old Aussie PM, in with the new

Our relatively) close neighbours the Aussies have a new Prime Minister that most Kiwis are unlikely to have heard of (Scott Morrison, after two leadership votes in a week. The deposing of Malcolm Turnbull adds to the procession of Australian Prime Ministers who have failed to see out a term in office, earning Canberra the label of “the coup capital of the Pacific”.

Guardian: Australia’s new PM is Scott Morrison as moderate Malcolm Turnbull is forced out

Australia has a new prime minister in Scott Morrison – the socially conservative architect of Australia’s hardline anti-asylum seeker policies – after he mounted a late challenge during a drawn-out struggle for power in the governing Liberal party.

On Friday, incumbent Malcolm Turnbull failed in his attempt to stare down a challenge from hard right MP Peter Dutton, with insurgents in his party gathering enough signatures to call for a “spill” – or leadership contest.

There appears no end in sight to the civil war consuming the ruling Liberal-led coalition government. The country may be headed to an election, with Turnbull saying he will not stay in parliament. His resignation in between general elections would erase the government’s single-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

Australia has now had five prime ministers in just over five years. Since 2010, four prime ministers have lost office, not at the ballot box, but torn down by their own parties, earning Canberra the unhappy appellation “the coup capital of the Pacific”.

So who is Scott Morrison?

Morrison was treasurer in Turnbull’s administration, and before that, as immigration minister, he was behind Australia’s controversial hardline asylum-seeker policies – including indefinite detention on remote foreign islands.

So that stain on Australia’s reputation may not end before the next election at least.

The son of a policeman and an active member of a Sydney Pentecostal evangelical megachurch, Morrison wears his political ambition and his conservative credentials proudly.

He voted no in Australia’s plebiscite on same-sex marriage, listed “church” as one of his interests in his Who’s Who report, and regards former prime minister John Howard as his political inspiration.

Before his election to parliament in 2007 he was a factional kingpin in the rightwing of the New South Wales Liberal party.

Maybe less right wing than the twice-in-a-week unsuccessful Peter Dutton, but Morrison looks like a move right at a time when they might be heading into an election that may be determined by voters in between the major parties.

Turnbull has sounded some warnings.

In his valedictory speech, Turnbull sounded a warning against the rising tide of populist anti-immigration political rhetoric, promoted from within his own party. “We are the most successful multicultural society in the world, and I have always defended that and advanced that as one of our greatest assets,” he said. “We must never allow the politics of race or division or of setting Australians against each other to become part of our political culture.”

Turnbull also made another thinly veiled swipe at actors “outside the parliament” undermining his leadership – widely interpreted as an attack on the influence of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation newspapers and TV channels, which have consistently campaigned against him.

We are likely to go back to largely ignoring Aussie politics until the next democratic dumping, be it by general election (that mightn’t be far away) or by caucus.

Australian leadership spill looks inevitable, three lining up

A tumultuous day in Australian politics yesterday, with a the second Liberal leadership vote looking likely in a week now. Malcolm Turnbull looks like dead leader stumbling.

News.com.au: Peter Dutton needs just one signature to secure leadership spill

PETER Dutton is only one signature away from securing a leadership spill to oust Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, according to a Liberal MP.

Mr Dutton’s supporters say he now has more than 40 signatures in his favour in a petition to Mr Turnbull to call a spill that’s been circling Parliament House since last night.

Speaking to reporters outside parliament earlier this evening, Liberal member for McPherson Karen Andrews said she understands only “one more signature is required”.

Ms Andrews, who signed the petition herself, noted that she wasn’t necessarily going to back Mr Dutton.

“But I will not stand by after having Parliament adjourned today to have this matter not concluded tomorrow. I understand that only one more signature is required,” she said.

The former home affairs minister needs 43 signatures for Mr Turnbull to call a party room meeting.

But the Prime Minister has left Parliament House for the day — and it’s understood he hasn’t received a petition.

Mr Turnbull today said he would call a special party room meeting at midday tomorrow if a letter requesting one, signed by a majority of MPs, was presented to him. The embattled leader said he would move a spill motion, and if it was carried, that he wouldn’t stand as a candidate for the top job, and resign both as prime minister and as a member of parliament.

That would leave Turnbull’s replacement leader with a poisoned chalice, probably a hung parliament.

But the controversial Peter Dutton isn’t the only challenger. Treasurer Scott Morrison and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have also indicated they would put themselves forward.

Roy Morgan snap poll:

Liberal Leadership contenders vs. Opposition Leader Bill Shorten

  • Julie Bishop (64%) cf. Bill Shorten (36%)
  • Malcolm Turnbull (54%) cf. Bill Shorten (46%)
  • Bill Shorten (50.5%) cf. Scott Morrison (49.5%)
  • Bill Shorten (62%) cf. Peter Dutton (38%)

All ‘can’t say’ and ‘don’t know’ responses have been removed from these results to make them directly comparable.

Analysis by Party – Bishop leads easily amongst L-NP & Ind./Others supporters, Shorten ahead with ALP & Greens supporters

  • L-NP supporters: Bishop 87% cf. Shorten 13%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 74%;
  • ALP supporters: Shorten 59.5% cf. Bishop 40.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 19%;
  • Greens supporters: Shorten 56.5% cf. Bishop 43.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 13%;
  • Ind./Others supporters: Bishop 70.5% cf. Shorten 29.5%. Lead to Ms. Bishop 41%.

Seems like an easy choice for the Liberals, if they care about the poll results.

I think Dutton would be dire, and Bishop looks a good prospect – but it depends on what sort of support she would get from the Liberal caucus.

And to avoid her being forced into an immediate election it would require a change of mind by Turnbull about quitting.

But perhaps an election would be needed regardless.

Source: Julie Bishop easily preferred to Bill Shorten as PM, virtual dead-heat between Morrison & Shorten while Shorten leads Dutton clearly

More details here.