On Monday, Malcolm Turnbull’s memoir A Bigger Picture, will be released. Already the Turnbull haters mainly at Newscorp and SKY are ripping into him for having chosen the middle of a pandemic to launch his reflections on his life and times in politics. In reality, with so many folk at home in lock-down, perhaps this is a propitious time to be launching a memoir.
I haven’t read the book and may not, at least until it reaches the remainders bin at our local market. It is a large tome and I understand that it runs to a bit under 700 pages – thoughts of a doorstop come to mind after all Margaret Thatcher’s biography is looking a bit dog-eared.
Overall, the commentators without an axe to grind are recognising him as a good writer and humorous raconteur and evidently we come to learn a lot more about Malcolm’s early years than many of us would previously have been aware. We can expect in the next week that the Abbott supporters – yes there were such folk mainly at Newscorp and Sky, will rip into Turnbull and try to diminish his legacy.
I’m not saying he has a towering legacy like, say Churchill or Spike Milligan, who both in their own way did the world a favour by seeing off Hitler. But Malcolm did rid us of that pestiferous, strutting twerp, Abbott and that gave many of us a warm feeling for him, initially .
There is little doubt in my mind that Turnbull is his own man and that he’s a pretty honourable sort of cove when compared with the rabble he came to lead.
Being prime minister must have been a bit like being headmaster at school for wayward adolescents.
He recalls on one occasion how two senior members of his staff brought news that a Daily Telegraph reporter had learned that Barnaby Joyce, then deputy prime minister, had accompanied his press secretary, Vikki Campion, to a doctor’s appointment. The purpose, it was understood, was for Campion to have a pregnancy test. He initially accepted Joyce’s assurance he was supporting Campion because she had no family to help her through a difficult time. “He gave me an unequivocal assurance he wasn’t in a sexual relationship with Vikki,” Turnbull writes. This had the ring of truth as you may recall there was much speculation about immaculate conceptions at the time.
Not long afterwards – well into the third trimester they tell me – Campion was again photographed by the Tele this time in a state of advanced pregnancy which even Barnaby could no longer ignore. He fessed up on this occasion and Turnbull was shocked to find that his Deputy, the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia who would be running the country in his absence, had lied to him. No suggestion of an immaculate conception this time ; Barnaby had done the deed !
Joyce duly fell on his sword – is that what they call it now ? – and Headmaster Turnbull issued the “bonk ban” edict to his ministers.
No sooner had Joyce resigned and moved on to warm and cuddly interviews with Vikki in the Australian Women’s Weekly than the head prefect, in the form of Andrew Colvin, AFP Commissioner, had to inform the prime minister that young Georgie Christensen a Queensland LNP member of our parliament had been spending inordinate amounts of time in the Philippines. Staying at “seedy hotels” in Angeles City, the red-light areas of Manila, where he patronised girly bars and bought drinks for all and sundry. The Australian Federal Police were concerned that as a member of our parliament he may become a target for blackmail. Headmaster Turnbull must have wondered what sort of nut House he had wandered into when, in speaking of Christensen’s absence from his electorate whilst in the Philippines he said : “it beggars belief” an MP could spend nearly a third of the year overseas, on full pay, with the Nationals (federal National Party) either not knowing or not caring. “The hypocrisy made me sick.”
The rest is history and I am sure that if you are so inclined, you will read the book when it’s released on Monday. Suffice to say that Malcolm is now out of politics and probably reflecting on how he ever got into that Canberra bubble. Perhaps he takes some comfort from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland :
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked. “Oh, you can’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here !
In conclusion, it is interesting to note that both Joyce and Christensen are still in our parliament and were returned with increased majorities at the last election : what does that say about us as a nation !
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