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Day to Day Politics: Gutless leadership.

  • Thursday 10 March 2016

1 I have been writing daily about Malcolm Turnbull’s takeover of the Liberal Party leadership. Anyone who follows my writing will attest to me at first embracing him as a new light on the hill. I said that Australians would be eternally grateful to him for removing the greatest liar of a politician the country had endured. He would bring a new era of reasoned political discourse.

For the ensuring five months it became apparent that despite his eloquent, articulate and grandiose statements, he had no plan, no economic reform agenda and his only motive has been one of self-interest. There was nothing to reasonably debate.

Some said I was overreacting and he just needed more time. Well I’m pleased that yesterday one of their own in former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett said it like it is.

Jeff, whether you liked him or not could never be accused of holding back. I got to ask him a question at a function many years ago. I asked him why he was going to an election when there was no reason to do so. His answer was a lie but forcefully put.

Anyhow, this is what he had to say about Malcolm Turnbull during a 2UE radio interview on Wednesday:

‘When they changed leaders, I thought we were in for a period of government, a period of stability, a period in which policy was going to be enunciated.’

‘This talk about an early election is an indication, sadly, that the government does not have a plan for the future of the country and they are trying, I think, to use this talk of a double dissolution, an early election, simply to cover up their own failings.’

Mr Kennett said the Prime Minister ‘did not have any plan at all’ when he took the leadership ‘for his own self-interest’.

He added that Turnbull had received much public goodwill in taking over the leadership but had squandered it with his failure to create a narrative when the public was ‘craving good leadership’.

‘What they can’t stand is vacillation where politicians don’t have the courage, in this case in my opinion, to put the interests of the country well before their own and their own party’.

He went on to say that he had failed to stand by his beliefs on negative gearing and same-sex marriage:

‘We don’t need a plebiscite on this. We don’t need to waste another $139 million on a vote. If Malcolm had any courage, he would have simply stood up and said ‘I’m going to put this through the Parliament.’ What he’s saying now: ‘This decision, this policy position was decided by Tony Abbott and we’re going to stay with it,’ he said.

‘There’s a good example of where Malcolm set himself apart from Tony Abbott and yet, when he took on the leadership, he hid behind Tony’s clothes and did not have the courage of his conviction and that applies right across the board.’

Nothing different in all that than what I have been saying for some time. At the risk of repeating myself the fact is that he never had any policy to bring to the table, nor the conviction of his own beliefs. We have a ‘yes’ man, a hypocrite doing what he is told to by the extremists in his party.

2 The total absurdity of the Government’s Asylum seeker deal with Cambodia is revealed with a married Iranian couple who were once refugees on Nauru deciding to return to Iran. The deal has cost $55 million so far. Put that together with the $160 million for a nonsensical plebiscite and you have $215 million of taxpayer’s money being wasted on bad decisions. Now it doesn’t take much imagination to know what could be done with those sorts of dollars.

Their inability to secure alternative resettlement arrangements means that those in detention may remain so for the rest of their lives. No, I’m not joking.

3 A reader yesterday asked if I could give an overview of The Australian newspapers contents because it’s behind a paywall. Well I don’t read it for the same reason. I’ll have a stab at it though.

One headline refers to the election date but it’s not news because it seems that the PM is confused himself. Another asks the question ‘Will Windsor Challenge?’ The answer to that is that we will know today. Recent polls in New England suggest Windsor would give it a great shake. Wouldn’t it be great if his brain replaced that of Barnaby Joyce? The Parliament would be a better place.

Yet another headline – ‘Pull Libs out of Ice Age’ – refers to the right of the party insisting on a series of debates on Climate Change insisting that the science isn’t settled.

Conversely, The Guardian reported it like this:

‘Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has reportedly been heckled by parts of his party at a meeting where NSW Liberals voted for his government to conduct public debates about climate change and whether the science is settled.’

‘An overwhelming majority voted in favour of the motion at the party’s state council meeting on the NSW central coast following a speech by Mr Turnbull at the weekend, revealing the persisting level of climate change scepticism among the party, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.’

I know it’s hard to believe, but there it is.

An observation. A repeated one.

In terms of the environment. I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today’.

There is another headline about the ‘Risks mounting in poll timing’ another ‘PM might be in for a tough ride’ yet another talking about Turnbull’s confusion about the date of the poll and its effect on the budget.

All in all The Australian wasn’t its usual biased self.

4 I have also been warning about the public unrest a plebiscite on Marriage Equality might bring. Now I wouldn’t normally find myself on the same page as Alan Jones but he said this.

‘That means there must be a case presented for and against,” he said. “It could be angry and spiteful and divisive, the last thing we need. Many Australians have suffered enough as a result of their sexuality.’

5 Greens members who often comment on this blog must feel utterly betrayed with their party jumping into bed with the Conservatives. They joined the Greens because Labor wasn’t left enough and now the party is doing deals with the right.

DiNatale said this:

‘We are the natural home of progressive mainstream Australian voters…’

Is he saying that conservatives are progressive? Never heard such a thing. Is it all a hoax?

My thought for the day

‘On the NBN. The problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow’.

PS I have it on good authority that the fixer has privately lobbied a broadcaster to help stop independent senator Nick Xenophon from running a candidate in his seat.



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  1. Paul

    If readers want to keep up with what the reptiles at the Australian are saying may I suggest a blog called “Loon Pond.” Dorothy Parker does the heavy lifting and analyses what the reptiles are saying in a very light hearted way, it saves you and me getting our minds too polluted.

  2. Paul

    I find it quite disconcerting agreeing with Jeff Kennet and Alan Jones, I was in quite a state when I found I was agreeing with Malcolm Fraser, but this pair really have knocked me.

  3. Terry2

    I hear that Tony Abbott is miffed that Peta Credlin is being blamed for the dysfunction and ultimate demise of his government ; according to Tony it was his government, his legacy and he did it all himself.

  4. Stephen

    The Greens Party just lately with it’s pragmatism so called is sadly starting to remind me of the Democrats. A party that once held to certain beliefs whether you agreed with all or some. They devolved into a party of pragmatism and self serving moves to empower them selves and gratify the ambitions of particular members at the cost of integrity and public support, Making deals with the government of the day because they believed it necessary and useful to themselves.
    I am starting to reconsider my voting for the Greens after long doing so just as I eventually gave up on the Democrats, however I don’t as yet see any alternative, and my seats never seem to have independents acceptable to me. I do hope it doesn’t happen again voting informal is a last recourse but still better than voting for the least worse. At least I feel better knowing I in no way voted for the eventual winner.


  5. margcal

    I wonder if that was me asking about The Australian. If so I apologise for putting you, John, to work like that because of my poor formatting. It was meant to be directed at someone who posted a couple of links without elaboration. I assumed they must have had access and wondered what they thought worth a read, the gist of the story. Posting links without info or a précis of the story isn’t very helpful, especially when a paywall is involved.

  6. margcal

    Unfortunately Turnball is exactly what I expected. He got the prize he wanted but had given no thought to what he’d do with it once he got it. He had no position on anything, anything he said over the previous years was merely whatever would get him one step closer to the PM bauble. Much like the touted up-and-comer Frydenberg – a professional politician, in it for himself, another one mouthing whatever it takes. At least the newest generation of Libs, the IPA crew, have served time in a policy machine, abhorrent though the policies are.

    Just through as I write ….. it’s official ….. Go Tony Windsor!!!

  7. Max Gross (@Max_Gross)

    Excellent piece, John, but seriously? You thought Malcolm Gretch was a “light on the hill”? Ever hear of the 18th Century practice by English smugglers using false beacons to lure ships onto rocks in order to collect the “salvage”?

  8. ella

    Mr. Lord a worthwhile read.
    I wonder if TA & co vanished what sort of a MT would we see?
    How can so few hold a country as hostage. Where are the statesmen in this place?
    I have just listened to Tony Windsor…what a breath of fresh air!
    He should be cloned.

  9. lawrencewinder

    …and yet I still read people saying how they couldn’t vote for Labor and hate the Greens… what a mess we’re in!

    His nickname “Truffles” is one of the most apt in its incisiveness.

  10. Jimmy

    Hear Hear ella, I watched Tony W as well.
    No ranting, no blaming, concise answers even when the Murdoch dogs attacked him.
    He actually had some policy ideas and explained why he wanted to do the job.
    If you haven’t seen it folks make sure you find a link. Just wish there was more of his ilk in our political arena.
    More than a breath of fresh air.
    P.S he never blamed labour once.

  11. diannaart

    Am happy Windsor is prepared for another fight – Joyce already started with cries of “A vote for Windsor is a vote for Greens and Labor”.

    A vote for Windsor is a vote against nuff-nuff Joyce.

  12. Terry2

    An off topic Observation

    Those of you who carry private health insurance – as do I – have probably heard from your private health insurance carrier in recent days – or you will – telling you how great this new impost is going to be and asking you to join with them in rejoicing. You may also have heard that the government approved a 5.6% increase although not all carriers will limit themselves to this amount.

    I’ve just had an email from my carrier – Medibank – from a ‘no reply’ email server telling me my new quarterly premium and the old quarterly premium but no percentage increase shown : it works out at 12.8% .

    I can’t communicate with them by email – although they do see fit to email me – and their toll free phone number has that mismatched recorded message that says ‘your call is important to us ‘ but ‘ all their operators are busy at the moment’: can’t be that important then, can it.

    I shall revert to snail-mail to have them explain themselves in writing so that I can pass it to the ombudsperson if I see fit – is that Tim Wilson ??

    Be interested to hear any of you who have had a similar experience.

  13. silkworm

    Please give it a rest with the “Greens siding with the Libs.” Everyone knows what you are talking about – voting reform – but why don’t you mention that?

    Many Labor supporters are hypocrites. They have been supporting voting reform for years but did a 180 at the last minute for no reason other than to make it appear that there was a “coalition” between the Greens and the Libs. Pure nonsense.

    The Greens are the natural party of the progressives, and so would Labor be, if it could show the same level of compassion towards asylum seekers.

    Labor often attacks the Greens, and always on false grounds as far as I am concerned. On the other hand, Green attacks on Labor have always been justified. This voting reform issue is just the latest in the feeble attempts by Labor to smear the Greens.

  14. Tyler

    “Greens members who often comment on this blog must feel utterly betrayed with their party jumping into bed with the Conservatives.”

    G’day John, appreciate your posts, keep up the good work. 🙂

    I am a Green voter and I don’t feel betrayed at all. The fact is, the Greens have been promoting more transparency in our voting practices for decades. The LNP have jumped into bed with the Greens because they think they’ll get a benefit out of it. Luckily for us, the result will be a more transparent voting system where your vote goes to the party or parties that you select and then stops, instead of trickling through a convoluted preference system designed to rort your vote.

    I should also point out that Labor has “jumped into bed with the conservatives” much more often than the Greens. And on much more horrifying legislation including infringing on our privacy, transparency in general and our inhumane treatment of Asylum Seekers.

  15. king1394

    I don’t know why people think that voting informal is a way of achieving anything. All an informal vote does is get removed from the countable votes. No one counting them thinks they are impressive or saying anything, even if they are covered with writing (no one reads that). There are enough informal votes that are sincere mistakes which have to be set aside because it can’t be established what was wanted (such as using a tick beside a candidate), please don’t add to that pile. Cast a vote that will be counted.

  16. Faye Cox

    Di Natale is , in my opinion, no different to Meg Lees..

  17. my say

    Murdoch and his gutless followers have started the kill Tony Winsor on day one,if todays front page of the murdoch gutter press wasn’t bad enough,right on que we had a shock jock refusing to give him air time,but he would continue to critise him ,
    THIS just proves how difficult it is to have a real debate re politics in this country ,when the one being critised has no right of reply

  18. jim

    Hey great post but another thing this is how the famous China /FREEE trade deal is travelling in the good old USA , estimates that America lost 3.2 million jobs as a result of the U.S.-China trade deficit between 2001 and 2013. Three-fourths of those jobs were in manufacturing.

    “We need to level the playing field.” — Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan
    Wages of American workers have also suffered due to the competition with cheap Chinese labor, EPI says. The extensive report, which analyzed data by Congressional districts nationwide, says the key to making exports cheap is currency manipulation. Chinese exports are cheaper because China keeps its currency artificially low, according to the report. Another great deal done by the Abbott government hey.

  19. Trish Corry

    I prefer Tony Abbott to be honest. His politics are rubbish, but at least you knew what you were getting. Turnbull is too sly for me. May Evan dethrone the clown prince.

  20. Keith

    “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” ― Alvin Toffler

    The perfect quote in relation to the LNP attitude to Climate Change.

    Especially when the volume of sea ice in the Arctic is second lowest recorded, and sea ice extent is at lowest for time of year.
    Every State in the US recorded high temperature for the winter just gone by.
    The Northern Hemisphere had a spike in temperature of 2C on 3 March above pre Industrial times.
    The list goes on; with rain bombs going off around the planet.

    In relation to the Senate vote, ballot papers have become unwieldy having to vote for 100 or more candidates when only 6 get elected under normal circumstances. The Senate is no longer as much of a House of Review as intended by the architects of the Constitution; Senators are meant to be pushing the interests of their States; rather than Party. We are not seeing that happen. Should the Liberals gain control of the Senate that would be a disaster. So there is a real tension between maintaining Independents and small Parties in the Senate, and stopping the gaming of Senate votes

    To be honest, Senate voting is a dogs breakfast at present, where when a voter wants to vote below the line the impediment is where all candidates must be given a number showing the voter’s choice. Realistically nobody can really get a good idea of what all candidates stand for; and so, the incentive is to vote above the line. In voting above the line it lets the Liberals, Labor, Greens et al nominate where your vote goes. To limit the number of entries people need to place below the line would be a godsend. It is my understanding that is being proposed with the current reform.

    I have not ever voted above the line , nor will I in the future.

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