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Disunity isn't the only issue for the Turnbull Government. We really need to talk about Malcolm’s leadership and ask: who in the hell is advising him?

NT election can't be ignored by Malcolm. He needs a new adviser!

Peter Switzer
29 August 2016

It’s one of the toughest jobs imaginable, especially nowadays, but someone has to do it. It’s called being Prime Minister and Malcolm, mate, you need to get some help before it’s too late for us and you.

Both economic and business confidence dived during the Labor battles of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard but it wasn’t just the disunity that hurt. It was the questionable policies and then the uncertainty it all bred.

Need an example? Well, try the Gonski education reforms when there was no money there. If Gonski was framed with money for it, the policy would have had few dissenters and I for one would not be writing this.

But to credibly find the money and also help to reduce the Budget deficit, some voters had to be offended and Labor needed all the voters they could find in those days of revolving door PMs.

Then we saw the Coalition decide to mimic Labor, with the hatchet job on Tony Abbott. Of course, the combined work of Tony and his adviser-turned-media star, Peta Credlin, saw his popularity plummet like that of the NT’s Chief Minister, Adam Giles, who could even lose his seat of Alice Springs.

Anyone who saw how he handled the violence against young criminals in NT custody facilities had to think this guy must be on political death row and he was.

This is how Malcolm summed it up on the ABC’s Insiders program: "Adam Giles summed it up, it was a landslide, a thumping, but it was a massive win for the Labor Party, Mr Gunner.

“There are a lot of local issues there. It was driven overwhelmingly by local issues ... the point that Adam made about unity, that is a wise insight into politics on every level.”

He’s right and Bill Shorten rammed it home with this reaction: “Disunity is death.”

Of course, Malcolm’s message was not an overdue and ill-timed prodding for his mates in his own party. He’s telling the more conservative members of his Government that they better give up their Tea Party-ultra-conservative ways and blathering or else they will be looking forward to pay downgrades after the next election.

But it’s not just a disunity issue. We really need to talk about Malcolm’s leadership and ask: who in the hell is advising him?

I’ve been in Melbourne since Thursday and when people recognise me they want to talk politics. Business leader-types are bewildered about how ineffectual Malcolm appears. A guy who owned an upmarket food emporium in East Melbourne “couldn’t vote for Shorten, while Malcolm looks hopeless, so I voted for Ronald McDonald!”

Seriously Malcolm, for the sake of the economy, you have to start looking impressive to the nation first, so that we love you and then questionable fellows like Cory Bernardi and his Australian Conservatives group. This is another Tea Party, like the odd one in the US, which has ruined the Republican Party and given birth to Donald Trump – the presidential candidate!

Once you win the people over again, like you did when you first rolled Tony Abbott, then you will have the power to dilute the conservatives, who have seen your waning popularity, which was not crash hot in the election of not too long ago.

Right now, consumer confidence as measured by the weekly ANZ/Roy Morgan consumer confidence rating, rose by 3.6% to 121.8 in the week to August 21. This is the highest reading since late 2013. Confidence is up 7.8% over the year and well above the average of 112.4 since 2014.

But don’t let this give you false hope that Aussies love you – they might like you but they’re becoming disappointed with you. You need to not only lift your game, you have to change it.

Last week you welcomed home our Olympic athletes like you’d embrace a visiting dignitary – straight-backed, no kisses, all handshakes and you looked uncomfortable. Not good.

Generally, business confidence has been OK, while business condition readings of how business looks now have been above the long-term average but the numbers post-election have been weakening. You and we don’t need to become a trend.

This week on Thursday we get to see the latest business investment figures and the last ones were pretty bad but the predicted investment for 2016-17 had a pretty big uplift. If this shows itself to be a believable trend, then it will be great news for the economy and possibly Malcolm’s leadership. However, if it disappoints, then the PM won’t be Malcolm in the middle, he’ll be heading to the side and it won’t be the winning one!

It’s not easy to change but Malcolm, my old mate, you need to show the more relaxed Australian that you occasionally showed at the surf club in bygone days. Bob Hawke and John Howard could do it but Paul Keating couldn’t. Keating was a bit like Gough Whitlam, who represented the working class but didn’t have the same interests.

In sales, people buy from people they like. I know I said that last week but it has to be said until it gets through to the PM. He needs to read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People but ‘Aussiefy’ it. That will help with people liking him but I think Malcolm needs to create the love-factor or he will end up like Adam Giles.

Nicholas Boothman wrote a book called How to Make People Like You in 90 Seconds or Less. I interviewed the guy a few years back when he was over here from Canada where he lives. He wrote another popular book that the PM must read called How to Make Someone Fall in Love You in 90 Minutes or Less.

As most of his books to help people in sales always had time limits for help in the seconds, I asked why this one came with a 90 minutes limit.

“Love takes more time,” Boothman replied.

So get started on it Malcolm, for the sake of the economy. And let me suggest you stop hanging out with ABC-types and start talking to the rest of the country and my TV program would be a decent start!

Yes, identify people who Aussies love and start hanging out with these people and you just might learn something about the people who you want to lead and the people who once wanted you to lead them.

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