This added to another division — over “retrospective” superannuation tax changes — to compound the sense of disunity and unhappiness in a government that wants to project an image of strength and resolution. Scott is not getting enough support from some of her own local members and it is not hard to see why. As Sarah Martin reported last September, Scott was one of the MPs who switched sides to vote for Turnbull in the leadership change.
When journalists started asking questions about the leadership spill, Turnbull had to step in — just like Bill Shorten had done the day before when shielding a Labor MP from questions about asylum seeker policy.
Journalists later found out from the bus driver on the Turnbull campaign that the Prime Minister had cancelled a visit to a nearby shopping centre — and news spread that Turnbull was on the defensive over the questions about Abbott.
This was a classic example of the way social media can wreck daily campaign tactics. Turnbull could not control the “narrative” about the cancelled shopping centre visit because the news was spreading on Twitter and Facebook before his office even knew the word was out.
Was the cancellation related to Scott’s problems with Abbott supporters? Social media turned the rumour into hard news in no time.
For the record, Turnbull’s press secretary says the shopping centre visit was cancelled because the Prime Minister was running late for a lunch in the Sydney CBD, having spent too long at his meeting with businesswomen in Penrith. But there is no detail about who he was lunching with in the city.
Shorten, meanwhile, had another clear message about the need for more school funding as he campaigned in Mackay in the electorate of Dawson, taking the fight up to outspoken conservative Liberal National Party MP George Christensen.
The Opposition Leader had a new announcement on teacher training that costs a fairly small amount — $4.6 million over four years — but reinforces his message about helping to lift the quality of education.
Not everything went Shorten’s way. A story in y shows that Labor is exaggerating the economic gains from its schools policy. The 2.8 per cent economic dividend is based on calculations out to 2095.
Shorten rebuffed that concern, saying the economic gains would come “straight away” under his plan. Labor finance spokesman Tony Burke said there was a “deception” or “error” in the story.
The challenge for Labor is that it is trying to turn a social policy — helping disadvantaged school students in low socio-economic schools — into an economic policy. As Shorten tries to counter Turnbull’s arguments about economic growth, he is trying to claim a dividend from bigger spending on schools.
There is no doubt that better education produces an economic reward over time. Even so, Labor was citing research that calculates the gains by 2095 — which means there is nothing “straight away” about it.
This is a substantial challenge for Shorten over time. Yet the media coverage suggested he had a better day than Turnbull.