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Canberra’s Pot and Palmer Night or When the Bull Turns

“One version of the get-together is as follows.

Mr Turnbull was back late in Parliament House because his department was being grilled in Senate Estimates hearings. As he left he ran into a friend, business executive and Liberal Party vice-president Tom Harley who also was a friend of Mr Palmer. They agreed Mr Turnbull should text Mr Palmer and invite him to dinner. Another businessman, John Fast, was with them.

In the Parliament House car park Mr Turnbull ran into Dr Parkinson, who had been head of the Environment Department when Mr Turnbull was Environment Minister in 2007. He, too, was invited to dine.” 


A couple of weeks ago, I tried to explain to someone that Labor and The Greens couldn’t force a double dissolution in the current circumstances, and that I couldn’t really see a scenario where Abbott was likely to declare one. For a start, even if they blocked supply, Abbott could simply wait till the new Senate and have a great time shifting the focus from the Budget to their “economic vandalism”. Even in the highly unlikely event of the new Senate still refusing to pass appropriation bills, Abbott could still just wait it out, all the time blaming Labor for any problems being caused. “Wouldn’t the Governor-General sack him – like in 1975?” When I tried to explain that John Kerr’s sacking of Whitlam was incredibly divisive, the person declared that it was either a double dissolution or a revolution. Like Russell’s Revolution where we all declare we won’t vote until they get their act together?  At this point the conversation broke down.

However, when I’m wrong I’m the first to admit it. Maybe not loudly, or even audibly, but, at least, I do admit it. So I’m going to give you a far-fetched scenario on how a double dissolution may occur. But before I do, I’d like to give you an account of the events leading up to the “secret” dinner between Turnbull, Palmer and Company.

Scenario A.

Turnbull – Hi, Tom, good to see you.

Harley – Hi, Malcolm, what you up to?

Turnbull – Just going to grab some dinner. Want to join me?

Harley – Sure. But what if we order too much and can’t finish it?

Turnbull – I know, Clive Palmer’s a friend of yours. Why don’t we invite him along?

Harley – That’s a good idea. And he’s a friend of mine, why don’t you text him at the Minerals Council dinner and ask him to leave that to join us at the Wild Duck.

Turnbull – Slow down, Tom, we haven’t agreed we’re going there yet. We have to get our story straight.

Harley – Sure, you text as we walk into the Parliamentary car park.

Turnbull – Hey look, there’s Martin Parkinson. Hey, Martin, you want to come to dinner with us?

Parkinson – Sure, there’s nothing I’d rather do than hang around with a couple of Liberals, given how Tony Abbott has liberated me from my job.

Harley – Clive’s probably going to join us.

Parkinson – Super. Clive’s so much fun. I hope we’re going to The Wild Duck. I hear they have a banana split to die for.


Now, for the far-fetched scenario.

Scenario B

With Abbott languishing in the polls, Turnbull is doing the numbers. His dinner with Palmer was all about garnering support for certain items, so that he could add his ability to convince Clive to pass them as an extra selling point when making his case that the time has come for a change. Palmer, on the other hand, is extracting deals from Turnbull. And Parkinson would have a good idea about what was and wasn’t possible. 

Abbott gets wind of Turnbull’s plan, and decides to do the only possible thing to ensure the long term future. He calls a double dissolution, so that leadership speculation has to stop and the party has to unite behind him. Once he wins that, he figures that his leadership will be safe. But what about being behind in the polls? Abbott decides that he’d have a better chance of winning an election where Murdoch backs him, than a party room ballot where nobody does.

Yep, that does sound far-fetched, doesn’t it? Scenario A sounds much more credible. Like I said, I always admit when I’m wrong.


  1. bobrafto

    Here’s another one to throw in the pot.

    What if Rupertus saw his boy having no prospect of winning the next election which could jeopardize his financial prospects.

    Rupertus must be shuddering at the poll results, spooked more likely that he Rupertus with all his vile rags could not save a Lying Tone.

    Rupertus on the phone to Turnball.

    Rupertus: Mal, my main man go forth and knife the Tone with all my blessings as he is now a threat to our financial deals.

    Malcolm: Straightaway, Sir.

  2. bobrafto

    oops, you already covered what I said, might go back to sleep.as it appears I’m semi-comatose. it happens with age.

  3. little devil

    How about something like this

    At the moment there is 90 Liberal/National party members in the HoR and 55 Labor party members with 1 Green member 1 PUP member with 3 independent members.

    Turnbull has not got the numbers to cause a spill so he leaves the Liberal party and forms another party with a coalition with the PUP party. then he gets 25 members of the Liberal/National party to join him in the new party or to join the PUP party.

    Then we have in the HoR 65 members of the Liberal/National party 55 members of the Labor party and 26 members of the new Turnbull/ PUP party with still the same number of Independents/Greens.

    Abbott has not got the majority of the house so he has to negotiate with the new Turnbull/PUP party to have the confidence of the house.

    If Abbott doesn’t or can’t negotiate and Turnbull moves a vote of no confidence in the government and second by Palmer and it is carry with the support of the Labor party Abbott has to resign as Prime Minister.

    If the Labor party can’t get Turnbull/PUP coalition on side to get the confidence of the house the Governor-General would have to call a election of the HoR.

  4. M-R

    After Malcolm amazing rave in Question Time the other day, I don’t see him garnering a whole lot of support amongst any but the Libs so disaffected as to say so in public. Not a lot of ’em.

  5. Kaye Lee

    I’m not quite sure what Malcolm is up to. His facebook page shows that many Liberals hate Tony and want Malcolm to take over but how could he when they spent so much capital on the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd saga? He can’t really leave the party because he is beholden to his financial backers, the Wentworth Forum.

    Malcolm believes in his own “charm” but he has sacrificed all pretence of integrity by supporting policies he knows to be crap. He knows climate change is real and that urgent action is required yet he is too gutless to speak out. He knows the advantages of FttH NBN, having invested in it elsewhere, yet he is happy to appoint NBN critics to the review panel, just like Tony has appointed climate change sceptics to every advisory role going.

    As has been said elsewhere, there is not one Coalition MP worthy of respect because they are all complicit in the lies that are being told to the Australian public and in the deliberate misinformation campaign being waged to sell those lies. My disgust with these people who are being paid by us to invest our money for the good of the nation has hit explosion level. Secret back room deals, payment for access to Ministers, soirees for lobbyists – the whole steaming pile stinks to high heaven.

    Personal ambition has no place in public service, and those who use their position for personal gain or to further the business interests of their supporters at the expense of our society should be exposed, expelled, and excommunicated.

  6. stephengb2014

    Kaye Lee
    I hear and share your disgust of these vandals

    my fervent hope is that is indeed right and senerio B is likely, but as with Ross Leigh I suspect that senerio A is the reality

  7. scaper...

    Did it ever occur to you people that there might be absolutely nothing in Turnbull and Palmer having dinner?

    Nothing unusual, politicians from different parties supping together. If there is anything untoward happening do you really believe they would meet in a restaurant??? Silly speculation at best.

  8. rossleighbrisbane

    Yes, as I said I totally believe their story that they texted Clive. He left the Minerals Council dinner to meet with them. If he’d stayed at the Minerals Council, he’d have had to listen to Tony Abbot speak and who’d want to do that?

  9. Möbius Ecko

    He knows the advantages of FttH NBN, having invested in it elsewhere, yet he is happy to appoint NBN critics to the review panel…

    … and appoint a possibly shonky CEO. NBN Co chief Bill Morrow to vigorously defend US lawsuit

    Let’s not forget Turnbull gifting millions of public money to a friend for a shonky rainmaking scheme.

    Time and again we see Turnbull, who is so often touted as and astute businessman and decent human being, fail in business and humanistic principles.

  10. Stephen Tardrew

    De backroom boys are at it again. No doubt. Must try to plug the leaky ship or throw the captain overboard.

    Its coming.

    Fun for all.

    The big bad public don’t like Tony.

    Nah, Nah, Nah it was the sales job the dumb plebs don’t seem to realise what is good for them.

    You know sweaty man is just too er… well sweaty and needs to dry up a bit. That dancey cigar smokey thing was bloody misinterpreted by the press.

    Bloody numbers bloody numbers must have the numbers.

    Malcolm get up a team and start the knife play.

    We should stick him while he is in the senate. You know tradition, history, Rome and all that stuff.

  11. Dr. Lynne De Weaver

    I really enjoyed this article. I like Stephen’s comments!!

  12. Ian Mcmillan

    Has anyone considered the prospect that he was on a softening up job for the Liberals in general.Turnball and the rest of his mates and cronies know they need to pass some of this legislation to look even mildly credible.The downsize here is not just on Abbott but the whole party.

  13. Benign

    I have been saying the same thing. Abbott would jump on his bike to the GG rather than risk being rolled in the party room.
    Malcom doing deals with Clive fits, especially with Clive refusing to talk to Abbott.
    Bob Ellis has said Abbott won’t last a week, but it’s not a goer until the whispers are being discussed and opinions sought in the media.

  14. lawrencewinder

    I like Fairy stories but I really like the one from France in 1789 where the untrained masses decimated a highly organised (or so they thought) and in control, delusional “leaders”.
    Perhaps a role play in Canberra instead of a DD?

  15. James Cook

    Kaye Lee, my wife and I share your anger but, unlike many of the other respondents, we think the Lib strategists are well ahead of the pack, including most of the left-leaning commentators. They are manipulative and machiavellian. We don’t care how dumb Abbott my be, mhis minders are among the best (and we use that word advisedly) in the world, no doubt being rewarded handsomely and secretly by Rupert. We are not optimistic whilever Rupert has media control and the publc underestimate the breadth and depth of his power. But above all, we hope we are wrong!

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