Teflon Mike looks scuffed up, but he is still our PM in waiting

NSW Premier Mike Baird may be twisted up like a pretzel but he still has the look of a future prime minister.
NSW Premier Mike Baird may be twisted up like a pretzel but he still has the look of a future prime minister. Digitally altered

HE MIGHT be backpedalling like a cliff-top unicyclist, but Mike Baird is still our future prime minister.

The once-untouchable New South Wales Liberal Premier has endured his worst week in office, humiliatingly forced to concede he "got it wrong” on his hard-line vow to destroy the greyhound industry.

Party infighting and a massive voter backlash in regional areas have revealed Teflon Mike to be a mere human, but somehow he still comes out looking sincere.

And, despite a slight pong setting in, like a prime minister in waiting.

To get an idea just how bad an idea it was to wipe out greyhound racing without giving the industry a chance to clean itself up, listen to what upper house Liberal MP Peter Phelps had to say in parliament.

He blasted the "careerist weasels” on his own party's backbench for massaging the Premier's ego instead of telling him he was making a terrible decision.

The colourful wordsmith, already in the bad books for crossing the floor to vote against his party's ethanol laws in March, was brutal in his assessment.

He branded his party-mates spineless blancmanges (sounds delicious), bobble-headed appeasers of Executive diktat, utter gooses and lick-spittle yes-men.

He congratulated Baird for having the gumption to swallow his pride and change his mind.

"Well done, Premier, you are too good, too noble, too decent for the vast bulk of the backbench of your own parliamentary party,” Phelps said.

Baird is relaxing his lock-out laws at the same time. Why not do it all in one fell swoop?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's own popularity slump has come about for the opposite reasons to Baird's.

Both men likely would have enjoyed having the same leadership style, but whereas Baird held god-like status among his party and was given carte blanche to make unilateral decisions, Turnbull's every move has been questioned and fought within his own party.

Baird mastered leadership by social media - announcing major changes such as the greyhound ban via Facebook before even his own Cabinet had any idea they were coming.

He makes a choice, runs with it and, until now, has gotten his way every time.

Turnbull has to run policies up the flagpole to gauge public and party support before inevitably deciding no one likes his idea and cancelling it.

Now both men have plunging approval ratings for opposite reasons. Baird has put his beliefs ahead of the public's and Turnbull is looking like a weak-kneed namby.

There is another possibility in the greyhound ban reversal - it could have all been a clever ploy to go to one extreme, rein it in and end up with a sport free from animal cruelty.

Wiping out an entire industry in less than a year is a ballsy move.

That Baird is sincere about stopping live baiting and the widespread culling of dogs deemed too old or too slow to race is beyond doubt.

This way, he can still ban the industry without reproach if and when it stuffs up again.

His admission that he "got it wrong” is a crock - the sport would be up in dust if he did not need the votes.

Turnbull and Baird could take a leaf out of each other's books and find some middle ground in their leadership styles.

Voters respect Baird for having the courage of his convictions, even if he does look foolish this time around.

But by the time he is running for prime minister, this whole shemozzle will be just a blip, a bump on his road to The Lodge.

And when he finally manages to sell off the state's poles and wires and set off on a $10 billion infrastructure spending spree, Teflon Mike will be back - albeit with a few scuff marks.


Topics:  bill shorten casino mike comment greyhound industry greyhound racing greyhound racing ban malcolm turnbull mike baird nsw politics opinion prime minister strange politics teflon mike tony abbott

Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Making an arty stand for turtles

GREEN ART: Sunshine Beach State School students with their art that raises awareness of the impact our rubbish has on local sea creatures.

Enviro art makes a stand against rubbish

Challenge to pool erosion zone ban

The highlighted property at Peregian Beach that has led to a legal challenge to Noosa Council.

Court challenge to council pool refusal at Peregian Beach

Mixed shops 'the way ahead'

Acres./ Noosaville.
Photo Geoff Potter / Noosa News

Council sees mixed use as retailing future

Local Partners

Leonardo DiCaprio nearly drowned while filming

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio

Oscar winner almost drowned in Galapagos

Miranda Kerr to wed next year

Supermodel Miranda Kerr

Supermodel and Snapchat founder to wed

What's on the small screen this week

Georgia Love pictured in a scene from The Bachelorette finale.

TWO big reality shows wrap up this week while

MY SAY: Thanks, but we are worth every cent

Journalist Kathy Sundstrom.

So much more to the job than the headline

Brad Pitt won't file legal response to divorce petition

Brad reportedly refused to send off the paperwork

Azealia Banks won't take legal action against Russell Crowe

Rapper Azealia Banks

Rapper drops legal action against Russell Crowe

Hit songwriter's Noosa mansion on market

SPECIAL PLACE: The Cintamani estate is going to tender, marketed by Tom Offermann Real Estate.

Is this Queensland's best property?

Kiwi siblings snap up Dotcom mansion for $32.5m

The new toy company owners of the Coatesville mansion want replace any controversy with positivity and fun. Photo / Barfoot and Thompson

The trio paid $32.5 million for the property in June

New $200 million development will create 580 jobs

Cassie And Josh with baby Alfie and daughter Andee. They have bought at new Lennox Head development Epiq.

Majority of new positions will be given to Northern Rivers locals

Give me shelter - but perhaps not in this park

Some regular users of Cotton Tree Park have bagged the new shelter sheds, saying the roofs are too high to provide adequate protection from the sun and rain.

Users say no cover in new shelters

Cherrabah's mega resort plans axed

PLANS for a massive development at Cherrabah have been scrapped.

What our mayor thinks of the new draft SEQPlan

The plan to use the innovative technology as part of the new Maroochydore CBD was cemented on site today when Mayor Mark Jamieson and Envac Asia Region president Chun Yong Ha formally signed the contract for the $20 million underground waste collection system.

New plan accommodates Sunshine Coast Council's vision for growth.