Saturday 4 November 2017
Kevin Rudd decided to give Malcolm Turnbull a serve. And what a thunderbolt it was. No, it wasn’t on his latest visit to promote the first volume of his memoirs. I wrote what follows a year ago, on 2 November 2016, from Kevin Rudd’s article in The Sydney Morning Herald:
“Malcolm Turnbull, in his 12 months in office, has now repudiated virtually everything he once stood for. He has done this because he has concluded that in order to hang onto his job, after his near-death experience in the July election, he must now appease the mad right of his party in every domain”.
It’s Kevin Rudd’s references to the conservative far right of the Liberal/National parties that interests me:
“This is both bad policy and bad politics: on policy, the far right in Australia represent the worst of the xenophobic, nationalist and protectionist wave that we now see raging across Europe and America; while on politics, appeasement of political thugs like Abbott, Dutton, Abetz, Andrews and, depending on which way the wind is blowing, Morrison, only embolden the far right to demand more, not less”.
“This measure is about the politics of symbols, designed to throw red meat at the right, including the Hansonite insurgency, and to grovel to the broad politics of xenophobia. Turnbull, once an intelligent, global citizen, knows better”.
What has happened? It was accepted by every man and his dog that Malcolm Turnbull represented everything that Tony Abbott did not.
There is only one explanation. Whilst Turnbull suffered the indignity of reversing long-held sensible beliefs on some policies and signed away his soul, it is reasonable to assume that he underestimated the hold that the far right held over his party.
As things have turned out, he has caved into their every whim. So much so that he is now recognised – by voice and action – to be a member of the same right. Something that even I found it difficult to admit.
As Rudd says:
“It is pure politics designed to appease the xenophobes”.
People who think they support a Liberal/National Government with a political philosophy of years past need to pause and reflect. It is now owned by the far right. As is Malcolm.”
Had I not told you, I could have let it be and it would have fitted into today’s political environment perfectly, yet a year has passed and we are unlikely to see the emancipation of Malcolm Turnbull. The right wing of his party entrapped him and there will be no letting go.
Yesterday The Australian planted the first seeds of a campaign to remove him from office. The headline in a piece by Simon Benson read; “PM’s job no longer guaranteed”. Kevin Andrews, the man from Menzies went on ABC TV to decry the Coalition’s lack of leadership. Andrews is usually one of the first to speak when the reward of a ministry is in the air. In fact, Friday’s mainstream media was full of negative articles detrimental to the Coalition. The public, well at least 54% of them, know they are being governed poorly but they have to wait until the next election before they can bring out the baseball bats.
The party seems to slide from one crisis to another. Josh Frydenberg is the latest to be put under the microscope of citizenship. Stephen Parry seems to be involved in some sort of coverup. Much of the media demands an audit. The government’s unsympathetic approach to the plight of a few hundred men on Manus Island takes up many column inches. In a couple of weeks all will be revealed on the peoples Marriage Equality verdict. If it’s a good vote for the YES campaign the PM will have to explain why $120 million was spent on something that was well known. If the vote is closer than people think but still a winnable YES then all hell might break loose in the Coalition party room.
Leadership changes are always complicated and Australian politics is inundated with those who would take advantage of a change. We all know the recent history. Capitalising on an opponent’s misfortune is commonplace.
“When asked by ABC what he meant when he described Mr Turnbull as “leader at the moment”, Mr Andrews said: “He’s the leader, he’s the Prime Minister. I’m simply saying he’s the Prime Minister. But what we have at the moment is a clear frustration on the part of the Australian public that they’re not getting what they want and whoever the leader is, they need to be responding to this.”
What he was saying was that you’re a dead duck, Malcolm, and you should consider your future. And in all fairness if Turnbull hadn’t been obliged to do what he’s told then he might have made it as a decent Prime Minister. Of course, if Turnbull wanted to play it tough then he could resign upon losing a challenge, force a by-election, and the rest would be history. The other consideration is that replacing a leader is all very fine but will the replacement be any better?
Let’s look at the cast of hopefuls. Abbott aspires to the role but the public found him out. He’s a liar. Bishop was once the Assistant Treasurer but proved to be hopeless at the job. Motor-mouth Morrison speaks fast but is unfathomable and words leave me at the mention of Peter Dutton. Well, except to say that he has failed at every ministry he has had.
In the long years I have observed Australian politics I can say once the cast is set it never changes. There are tactics that come into play that might prolong the death throes of the leader in question but eventually they all become background noise in the daily politic.
My thought for the day
“The rise of narcissism and inequality and the demise of compassion illustrate the state of the world.”