Next week, according to reports, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will announce his latest capitulation to Tony Abbott by unveiling something miraculously better than a Clean Energy Target.
We should resist this blatant attempt by the government’s spin-doctors to frame the decision as anything other than the PM rejecting Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s recommendation, thereby letting Mr Abbott control the government’s policy agenda. Yet again.
Voters are well beyond the point of bewilderment with Mr Turnbull’s failure to deliver any of the things he promised when he challenged Mr Abbott for the Liberal leadership.
Economic leadership? Any chance of that went out the window with thought bubbles on the GST and the states levying income tax. An end to slogan-led government? That lasted until only until some wit in Treasury dreamed up “Jobs and Growth”.
And what about the much vaunted return to traditional liberalism? That promise died the moment Mr Turnbull sealed a fresh Coalition deal with the Nationals that locked in the plebiscite for gay marriage and repudiated any price on carbon.
Far from returning the Liberals to the principles of Robert Menzies, Mr Turnbull has instead returned it to the principles of Mr Abbott – the principles Mr Abbott now espouses to the clamorous delight of the RWNJ (right-wing nut job) voters who claim to be the Liberal Party’s “base”.
Not those other principles when he was actually the PM and considered a faux-conservative by Andrew Bolt and the IPA talking heads because he failed to abolish section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
On almost every important issue, Mr Turnbull has either tried to out-Abbott his predecessor or bowed to his wishes. We now have tougher asylum seeker policies than the Abbott government, stronger national security laws, and a new round of three-word-slogans that may have changed the words but kept the same tin-eared song.
Mr Turnbull also acceded to pressure from Mr Abbott and his small but vocal band of supporters to scrap funding for Safe Schools, attempt to weaken 18C, and stop Liberal MPs from having a free vote on same-sex marriage.
Then there’s that ridiculous eyesore of a “security” fence being built around Parliament House to stop Australian voters from walking over the top as was originally intended. That was Mr Abbott’s idea too.
Next week, we can probably add banishment of the Clean Energy Target to the unedifying list.
This litany makes one thing very clear. Despite the conservative cheer-squad in the tabloid media and Sky News after dark, it turns out that Mr Turnbull is Mr Abbott’s greatest enabler.
By creating the vengeful parody that the former PM has become, and not being prepared to stand up to the Abbott forces both within and outside the Liberal Party, Mr Turnbull is directly responsible for Mr Abbott’s continued dominance over the government’s political and policy decisions.
This poses the obvious question: If there’s no difference between a Coalition government under Mr Abbott and one under Mr Turnbull, why change leaders in the first place?
At least if Mr Abbott had been left to contest the 2016 federal election we could have been rid of him by now.