Turnbull living in alternate reality

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has had plenty to think about this week.Listening to Malcolm Turnbull, you’d think everything is fine.

Relationship with China? It’s good.

Live sheep exports? Still going.

Company tax cuts? Working hard to get them through.

But listen to the prime minister’s coalition colleagues and his rosy, calm demeanour looks a bit out of touch with reality.

“We have a good, frank relationship with China. It’s a very strong one,” Turnbull told reporters this week.

Everything is clearly not fine with China.

That’s according to the Chinese foreign ministry, who said “must adopt a correct perspective” on things Beijing doesn’t like.

Proposed foreign interference laws, designed to stop foreign donations from buying influence with political parties, have angered China.

n media reports about Chinese influence have also upset Beijing, which is used to a censored press.

Turnbull insisted relations are strong – even as Liberal MP Andrew Hastie decided to announce under parliamentary privilege Chinese-n billionaire Chau Chak Wing was allegedly involved in bribing a former UN president.

Hastie said Dr Chau had Chinese Community Party links and had donated millions to political parties. Dr Chau’s lawyer says he’s never been charged with anything.

Turnbull was blindsided by the speech.

It wasn’t the only blindside he copped.

Mathias Cormann, the Senate whisperer, had a deal locked up on the corporate tax cuts with Pauline Hanson.

The One Nation senator reportedly shook hands with Senator Cormann – only to publicly break her promise and increase her demands.

“I just feel that they are not addressing the black hole in the budget, and I have got concerns that we are not going to be paying down debt,” Senator Hanson said.

The corporate tax cuts have dogged the government for months now, a policy measure they seemingly can’t sell to the public or the Senate.

Getting Senator Hanson over the line would have been a huge step. Instead she’s hopping between saying no and demanding more.

Her bombshell had some coalition MPs wondering if they should drop the company tax cuts altogether.

It’s not like anyone has managed to come up with a killer line to sell it, while Labor hammers on about an $80 billion “handout” which means less money for schools and hospitals.

But Turnbull and his cabinet are sticking with the corporate tax cuts for now, after spending truckloads of political capital trying to win support.

One idea that does have public support is banning live sheep exports to the Middle East, after shocking footage showed overheated animals dying on ships.

MPs are getting hundreds of emails a day from impassioned farmers and animal lovers, who want the sheep treated humanely.

Turnbull’s response is to lift penalties for exporters who break the rules – but his former health minister Sussan Ley decided to go further.

She brought in her own bill pushing to ban live sheep exports during the northern hemisphere summer, with several other coalition MPs joining her.

Turnbull told a coalition party room meeting backbenchers can bring forward a bill, but there are other ways.

“We have a good system in our parties – issues can be brought up with ministers,” Turnbull told the meeting.

But Ley’s bill makes it tougher for the prime minister to argue his case, when even his own party isn’t fully behind him.

Ley, Hastie and Hanson have given Turnbull headaches he didn’t need – especially before five by-elections – as he insisted everything was under control.

It’s unclear if the sheep export bill will get through, with Labor down a few members thanks to the citizenship by-elections.

The corporate tax cuts are in limbo, and they may have to go to the next election to muster the support to pass them.

And China’s Community Party mouthpiece The Global Times said “arrogant” needs to be taught a lesson, possibly with a trade freeze worth up to $10 billion a year.

Turnbull might insist everything is fine, but the bomb-throwers in parliament beg to differ.

The prime minister may need to find a way to get them to “adopt a correct perspective” before they cause too much more trouble.

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