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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indonesian President Joko Widodo inspect the honor guard during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia, Aug. 31, 2018 (Pool photo by Mast Irham via AP).

How Australia’s Constant Leadership Churn Undermines Its Foreign Policy

Monday, Sept. 24, 2018

When Malcolm Turnbull was ousted as Australia’s prime minister last month, replaced by the country’s treasurer, Scott Morrison, Australians welcomed their seventh prime minister in just 11 years. Turnbull was the fourth prime minister to be removed from office by their own party since 2010 through what is known in Australia as “spills”—cutthroat internal party ballots to remove the leadership without a general election. Turnbull had been one of the leaders of a previous revolt within the governing Liberal Party against then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott that led to Abbott’s ouster in 2015. Turnbull now appears to have played a role in selecting the candidate to run in his seat, which he is vacating, and to prevent Morrison’s favored candidate from running there in a by-election.

The Labor Party, currently in opposition, has fallen prey to its own party leadership “spills” too. But this constant churn in Canberra doesn’t seem to sit well with the Australian public. Respondents in a Sept. 10 poll taken by The Guardian largely disapproved of the leadership change, which seems to have further hurt the Liberal Party’s chances against Labor in the next general election. Another poll in The Australian showed that public support for the governing coalition, which includes the Liberal Party and the National Party, had sunk to its lowest point in a decade. ...

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