The major losses by the Coalition this election have had people thinking that Malcolm Turnbull's authority in his own party and in the country at large is weakened. Well, with some good decision-making, based on the evidence, it need not be.
Now the count is finally in, we can work out who the really big losers in this election were: the far right of the Liberal Party. Not the left and centre of it, nor the National Party.
Of the 12 seats lost by the Government, eight were from the far-right of the Liberal Party. Moreover, some of the biggest swings against sitting Liberals were against the far right.
Tony Abbott in Warringah suffered a 10 per cent swing – three times the national average. Peter Dutton, the Minister for Immigration, copped double the state's average swing in Dickson – 5.2 per cent.
Abbott supporter Tony Pasin retained Barker with a swing of 12 per cent away from him.
Right-wingers to lose seats with big swings were Abbott supporter Andrew Nikolic with 10.2 per cent in the Tasmanian seat of Bass. Abbott supporter Brett Whitely lost with a bigger-than-national swing in Bass.
Hillsong Church member Louise Markus had a 6.9 per cent swing against her in Macquarie.
Abbott loyalist Jamie Briggs lost Mayo with a monstrous 17 per cent swing against him. Admittedly there were other factors.
Mark O'Sullivan, a big supporter of welfare cards, failed to retain Burt for the Liberals, suffering a 13.5 per cent swing.
Peter Hendy, who was chief of staff to Defence and Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith in the Howard Government, lost Eden-Monaro with a swing of 5.6 per cent, again well above the national average. He is a conservative who supported Turnbull, but perhaps more out of a desire for self-preservation than any political ideology.
Ewen Jones who said, "I backed Tony Abbott. I always did. He always had my 100 per cent support," lost Herbert with a 6.2 percent swing. Russell Matheson lost Macarthur with an 11.9 per cent swing.
Right-wingers lost twice as many seats as centrists and small-l Liberals, and when they lost, they lost more spectacularly.
The crunched numbers tell us that Australian voters spurned the right wing of the Liberal Party and that if Turnbull had abandoned the marriage plebiscite and paid attention to the environment, education, health and fair tax reform, he would have romped home.
But he pandered to the right, and he and his party suffered for it.
The results show that any notion that Turnbull suffered because of the superannuation changes or that he was not "true to conservative values" is nonsense. He copped a hiding because Australian voters want something done about climate change, renewable energy, the environment, fair tax, decency to refugees, and fair funding for health and education.
He lost the respect of some voters for not being true to himself and his earlier views. The way to get that back is to move to the centre.
A significant number of voters know the views held by their local member and a lot of them vote accordingly. The result has been that MPs in the centre and left of the Liberal Party did better than those on the right. Indeed, Julie Bishop got a swing towards her of 2.7 per cent.
People rejected Abbott and his policies in every opinion poll since the failed 2014 Budget. And voters rejected them at this election.
Returning Abbott to the frontbench would be madness. The lesson for Turnbull is no more accommodation of the Liberal Party right-wing. He can point to these figures and say, "Look what happens when you do that."
Have people forgotten the collective sigh of relief we all had when Abbott was toppled? The election tells us that the Abbott policies were just not how Australians think.
A good start for Turnbull would be Medicare. The election tells us that people do not want it messed with and polls suggest people are prepared to pay for it. The present levies of 1.5 per cent to pay for Medicare and 0.5 per cent to pay for the National Disability Insurance Scheme are woefully inadequate.
If voters reject meddling with Medicare it means we have a revenue problem.
Medicare needs a levy of about 8 per cent to raise the $20 billion to run it. That would solve half our budget woes in one stroke, and do it fairly.
Another lesson from the poll is the unerring accuracy of opinion polls. Nearly all were within 1 per cent and all were within 3 per cent. So why then is Turnbull going ahead with the non-binding plebiscite on marriage equality, which is little more than an advisory opinion poll?
We know the result. A Fairfax poll a year ago had support for marriage equality at 68 per cent. No poll gets it that wrong.
If several Coalition MPs say they will not necessarily vote in Parliament according to the plebiscite, why bother with it. Why not go straight to a parliamentary conscience vote and save the $160 million?
Turnbull should not feel bound by a partyroom decision concocted by the previous leader during the previous Parliament – particularly as eight of those Abbott supporters who we can presume voted for it have now been removed from the partyroom by the voters.
There is every reason to take the matter back to the new partyroom.
But, no. Good sense is not even given a chance in Australian politics. And they wonder why the public gets so disenchanted.