Coded writing at the AFR

A fascinating article in The AFR today which in the paper is called, “The Secrets of Team Turnbull” but online is titled, By delegating power, Turnbull tries to avoid Rudd and Abbott’s mistakes. This is one of the best pieces of coded writing I have ever come across since it is on the surface about how clever Malcolm is and how wonderful things now are, but in every para shows his incompetence in the softest possible light. How’s this for an example of just how excellent Turnbull’s governance has been:

Even ministers concede that Turnbull’s decentralisation has made him less effective at managing what has been dubbed the “24-hour media cycle” – all-day coverage of politics on websites, social media and cable television (although by fewer reporters).

But they argue that over the longer term Turnbull’s approach will produce better policy, which will deliver votes.

So far, it isn’t working. Turnbull’s personal approval rating has almost halved since he took over, and the Coalition trails Labor in the polls.

Allies are disillusioned.

And if you think his allies are disillusioned, you should see what people who don’t like him think. Then there’s this:

Abbott and Turnbull are very different prime ministers in private. Abbott made himself accessible to the business community, lobbyists say, but was reluctant to consider major policy changes.

One of Credlin’s achievements was instilling political and policy discipline in Abbott, who had a reputation for gaffes when he spoke off the cuff. “With Abbott, certain areas were off-limits,” says one lobbyist who dealt with both prime minsters. “He would say: ‘We’ve just got to kill the carbon tax’.”

Well, certainly no one goes around saying that kind of thing any more. And then just one more about how things have changed for the better since Abbott and Peta Credlin left and Malcolm’s Chief of Staff Sally Cray took over.

Observers say Turnbull’s office lacks the personal intensity of Abbott’s office, which often felt under seige because of the strong emotions created by Credlin’s tough style and Abbott’s deep loyalty to her. More staff feel they have direct access to the Prime Minister, which they say enhances the sense of collaboration.

“Within the PMO, it’s a very happy place,” said a business executive who lobbies the government. “People get along.”

Still, the business executive misses Credlin’s knowledge of government decision-making. “Peta would tell you what is happening,” the executive says. “If she said something was going to be delivered, it would be delivered.”

Even some former Coalition ministers say they struggle to get Cray to return their phone calls.

Don’t worry? Be happy.

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