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Day to Day Politics: Turnbull is finished

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.”



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  1. Ella miller

    Mr. Lord, a sad read. I despair for our country and democracy.
    The latest rant by our PM , shows arrogance, despair and just how hopelessly he is lost. Hence our nation. God forbid any of the candidates you have mentioned. Some how I hope fate is good to Australia and we end up with an early election.

  2. Max Gross

    Anyone who has watched Turnbull over the years is not surprised by his apparent 360 degree turn-around of apparently long held progressive believes. Turnbull’s boundless ambition, moral slipperiness and ruthless, cold-blooded pursuit of what is best for Turnbull, has always driven him. Abbott once said he would NOT sell his soul for the PM position. Turnbull did so without a second thought. He always wanted to be PM. He became PM. He is still PM. Nothing else remotely even matters to him now. Fortunately, he is still hated within his own sordid ranks and will soon join a long line of ousted LNP leaders limping around with daggers in their backs. Meanwhile, the damage done to justice, parliamentary process, national infrastructure and social order will take decades to repair and the ALP will be blamed for the “delay” by voters with the memory span of goldfish, the LNP will be returned to power, and the whole corrosive process will repeat itself. Democracy, globally, like Communism in the vanished USSR, is dying, corrupted from within. The wake will be held soon. BYO hard hats, baseball bats and Molotov cocktails. Guillotine Day cometh!

  3. Harquebus

    Criticizing Turnbull is easy. Any leader pursuing absurd ideology will fail. The pursuit of growth is The Coalition’s failing and will be Labor’s as well.

    One thing that I have been saying for a very long time is, it does not matter who governs nor who leads if, their ideology or policy is based on growth, they will fail. That’s it. Physics rules.
    Bill Shorten’s turn to fail is next. A different government and different leader but, still facing the same depletion and scarcity problems and using the same old failed core policies to try and solve them. Jobs ‘n’ growth and the vast majority believes it is the way. Failure can be the only outcome.

    Will we see similar criticisms of those in the next Labor government because, Labor will fail just as badly or will we see excuses instead. A few more years will tell. In the mean time, the real economy will continue to decay and the environmental destruction will continue. Be prepared for that and don’t just blame the politicians. All who support the growth ideology are to blame.

  4. Terry2

    The outburst from Turnbull over reports on Frydenberg’s possible Hungarian citizenship, by descent on his mother’s side, was passionate but confusing. He was presumably pointing at the Australian newspaper when he referred to a witch-hunt. It was after all the Australian who commenced the campaign and it’s not just Frydenberg they are focusing on.

    The Australian newspaper finds it very hard once they have embarked on a campaign of personal attacks to retreat – just think of Gillian Triggs and Yassmin Abdel-Magied – so it will be interesting to see how they respond to Turnbull’s tongue-lashing.

    They could :

    Back-off and just focus on Labor politicians which would be much more in their comfort zone but not necessarily productive, or
    The could double down and reveal what their enquiries with the Hungarian authorities have revealed, in an attempt to force Frydenberg to quit or refer himself to the High Court.

    In the meantime it is surprising that Turnbull is doing everything in his power to avoid an audit of all politicians which as Karen Middleton noted in The Saturday Paper would only need a small number of immigration lawyers. A senior bureaucrat could knock it over inside a month.

    The concern is that this farcical situation will be allowed to fester and it will be left to the media and whistle-blowers to progressively expose politicians who are dual citizens and who won’t accept that we have a constitutional requirement that they have an obligation to comply with as has been the case since 1901.

  5. Joseph Carli

    From : “The discourses of Niccolo Machiavelli…”

    “Among all men who have been praised, the most lauded are those who are heads and establishers of Religion. Next after them are those who have founded Republics or Kingdoms. After these are celebrated those who have commanded armies, [and] who have enlarged the [territory] of their Kingdom of those of their country. To these should be added men of letters, and because these are of many fields, they are celebrated according to their degree [of excellence]. To other men, the number of whom is infinite, some degree of praise is given to them as pertain to their art and profession. On the other hand, those men are infamous and destroyers of Religion, dissipators of Kingdoms and Republics, enemies of virtu, of letters, and of every other art which brings usefulness and honor to human generations [mankind], such as are the impious and violent, the ignorant, the idle, the vile and degraded. And no one will ever be so mad or so wise, so wicked or so good, that selecting between these two kinds of men, does not laud what is laudable, and censure what is censurable. None the less, however, nearly all men deceived by a false good or a false glory allow themselves to drift either voluntarily or ignorantly into the ranks of those who merit more censure that praise. And being able to establish either a Kingdom or a Republic with eternal honor to themselves, they turn to Tyranny, nor do they see because of this action how much fame, how much glory, how much honor, security, and tranquil satisfaction of the mind, they lose; and how much infamy, disgrace, censure, danger, and disquiet, they incur. And it is impossible that those who live as private individuals in a Republic, or who by fortune or virtu become Princes, if they read the history and the records of ancient events, would do well living as private citizens in their country to live rather as a Scipio than a Caesar; ”

    It could be said that Caesar was the better general, but Scipio was the better man…


    right wing coup anyone? There is the possibilty of a right wing coup in Aust soon. it will be led by Abbott on some anti terrorist anti nth korean scare campaigne. The fence around parliament house is indicative of that, the witch hunt against bill shorten, likewise the current behaviour of the AFP and the ineptitude of the current GG who refuses to intervene. Turnbull has tilled the soil for it to happen. Its purpose would be to ensure the introduction of the TPP and the transfer of all public assetts to private hands and the final stage of the destruction of the welfare state

  7. babyjewels10

    Not a fan of Rudd, but he nailed it with his comment last year.

  8. metadatalata

    John your assertion “Malcolm Turnbull, in his 12 months in office, has now repudiated virtually everything he once stood for” highlights exactly what Malcolm Trumble excels at. That is lying and fraud. He seems to have fooled most of the Australian population at one time or another about his values and motives. What may on the surface seems like a considered opinion from Trumble is nothing more than taking a position that will personally advantage him. It may not always be in the first move like Abbott. Take for instance his destruction of the NBN. He was able to take advantage of the kickbacks afforded by the Murdoch media turning a blind eye to this act knowing that a successful NBN would hurt Murdoch’s Foxtel network. No-one will ever know what Trumble’s real position was on Climate Change because it is probably true that he never had one. He made it up as it suited. Trumble is an empty vessel inside a politician’s skin.

  9. helvityni

    babyjewels10, takes one to know one, no fan of either, both narcissists, and totally lacking of humour…and creativity…

  10. John Lord

    Metadatalata. I confess that he had me fooled.

  11. wam

    Had a lovely man as my grade 10 teacher we drove him to a mental hospital by easter but it was the class before us that was wild and did the damage.
    The rabbott and his conservatives are the class which did the damage. Trumball is merely the front man realising his ambition.
    Perhaps he is saving us from the rabbott and people next in line:
    Hands up who would like:
    son of a small car a religious lying hypocrite
    the soulless ex-copper dutton
    the slimy fryer who can plead holocaust in the midst of manus
    asbestos entitlement spending bishop?

    how far down the line do we need to go to get to a real person who may have some interest in controlling narcissism?
    ps was whitlam a narcissist? Churchill back to caesar through napolean, wellington?? They were ones who rose above the lesser narcissists? TRUMP.?

  12. Rob BORCH

    Just after Turnbull got the job and started having trouble with the extreme right, I emailed him suggesting he should leave the LNP taking all Moderates with him to form a new True Liberal Party. Labor would have taken Government but the Liberal Moderates would have controlled the Agenda, and True Liberals with a moderate stance would have flourished while the Conservatives would shrink into History. Few people in Australia want them. While the True Libs would lose some of their far-right base, they would more than make that up on the other end. Under the LNP and their shonky methodology, inequity, good governance, human rights, truth, democracy, and fairness have all taken a lethal hit.
    I didn’t get a reply. Possibilities are:
    1. He was never shown the email
    2. There were just not enough Moderates left for my suggestion to succeed
    3. Turnbull is really just a sheep in wolves clothing
    4. He really doesn’t give a stuff. Pay and conditions are great, even when you no longer work

  13. Chris Rand

    indeed metadatalata, HIH showed us where his morals lie, even back then, before utegate and the rest. and we still don’t know theamaount that his bosses paid to keep him out of the spotlight of a court hearing that did not end well for the man he advised. In itself problematic regarding loyalty

  14. bearbrooke

    Occasionally I’ve cause to wonder why I behave like a prick. I find that working out my faults gives me insights into the imperfections of others. Knowing the feeling of self importance, for instance, fits me to recognise a like absurdity in another — in one like our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull who feels terrific and knows he is gorgeous to boot.

    Turnbull is a political prick whereas I am merely ordinary.

    It’s all about the narrative.

    It doesn’t matter much if mine is a self centred taradiddle, but it would be disastrous if I was, say, prime minister. I’d be like him, finding narcism such a burden there’d be little energy to spare for governance. My sense of self, daubed and plumped out would demand, for the sake of the image in my mirror, that I barter my soul. The contrary narrative of duty to country would appear irrelevant.

  15. Glenn Barry

    One the score of reckless and dangerous fools in power: we followed the US with George W. Bush in power before the election of Tony Abbott.
    However on the charge of an immoral, deceitful, narcissistic populist in power: Malcolm Turnbull was elected in Australia before Donald Trump in the US.
    Fortunately for us, Turnbull is a dead man walking and his successor can only come from a bucket of deplorables.
    Terrifyingly, Trump may succeed in securing a second term…
    I too was fooled by Malcolm until I saw the avalanche of incongruous, dishonest statements from him, the narcissism and accompanying complete lack or self awareness generating the unmitigated hypocrisy whenever he speaks – he is a congenital liar

  16. Terry2

    On the subject of an audit of politicians’ citizenship, Trumble says it’s all too hard. But let’s consider what we are talking about.

    There are 226 federal parliamentarians (150 in the Reps and 76 in the Senate). We are only concerned with those who were born overseas or who have at least one parent born overseas ( we don’t have to worry about grandparents). We are told that roughly 40% of the community fall into this category so that’s around 90 who we need to look at.

    All they need do is demonstrate that they are Australian citizens and where dual citizenship applies (and it’s not unreasonable for us to expect that they have made some enquiry) that they have taken reasonable steps to relinquish that duality. If there is still doubt, they can either resign or refer themselves to the High Court : Job done !

    NB: reasonable steps does not include sending random emails to non-existant email addresses as was the strategy adopted by Malcolm Roberts.

  17. Glenn Barry

    @Terry2 – On Turnbull’s resistance all I can say is The lady doth protest too much, methinks – it may not be Frydenberg, but I think he is petrified just by the possibility that there’s anyone on his side

  18. wam

    Good one glenn is that also billy’s excuse for silence?
    I should have added Billy is not a viable alternative to trumble. Tanya possibly but they are too frightened to even mention gillard so who is the next labor PM? Is it a hunt for a narcissist like the last men of labor??

  19. Graeme Henchel

    A Sonnet for our times.

    We live in times when thugs and shysters rule
    A house inept led by a spineless spiv
    A senate tainted by a racist fool
    Alas lament these times but not forgive

    A public misled by slogans and spin
    Fed by hacks with symbiotic plots
    Behind it all a cabal deep within
    As malignant mega rich call the shots

    Yet the wheels of power are falling off
    Their lies come back to bite them on the arse
    We’ve had enough of the Thug and the Toff
    As fiasco evolves into high farce

    The cycle of these charlatans repeats
    These liars destroyed by their own deceits

  20. Glenn Barry

    @wam – Billy’s silence is perplexing though I could understand not wanting to join the hysterical chorus, unless there’s concealment afoot

  21. Rhonda

    I knew it was time for a Henchel ode

  22. helvityni

    ‘We’ve had enough of the Thug and the Toff…’ 🙂

    Thank you Mr Henchel, that cheered me up…

  23. Terry2


    Bill Shorten has announced that he now backs calls for all MPs to disclose their citizenship status in a parliamentary audit.
    It follows the resignation this week of Senate president Stephen Parry after he disclosed he held dual British and Australian citizenship.

    Shorten had not backed an audit of all parliamentarians until Stephen Parry popped up with a possible cover up by Mitch Fifield who wanted to shunt the matter.

    When the circumstances change Shorten is free to change his position without being accused of a backflip, as reported in the Australian today.

  24. Jaquix

    Rudd was right. And what he said a year ago is as true today as it was then. I particularly liked this: “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.” That is the only explanation I can find that explains why on a 2PP basis the L/NP still gets 46% of voter intention. They are wedding to the past. They also cling to the idea of past Labor governments, whereas IMO this one is better overall. They are united, they are a talented team, and Bill’s public performances have increased amazingly. He’s no silver tongue, but look how Turnbulls fooled us?
    The Austraslia may be gunning for Turnbull, but I doubt changing the figurehead is going to change the rabble behind it. And now we have the new Prime Minister of New Zealand, 37yr old Jacinda Adhern, coming over here to try to sort the Libs out. She is a breath of fresh air the likes of which we havent seen in Australia since when? Forever? NZ escaped Murdochs clutches, and it makes a huge difference.

  25. Glenn Barry

    @Terry2 – thank you for that, to this point in time – I’d only heard the journo rumours about political whispers about perhaps he was changing his position and considering an audit

    @Jaquix – I watched the announcement of Winston Peters on his choice of Jacinda Ardern & Labor as partner – I knew nothing of his politics and still don’t with any depth, what was astonishing was in his speech he spoke of the common good, homelessness, inequality and fairness.
    Seemed to me to be a really straight shooter and gave and received respect in the press conference.
    The whole country seems to be very non-toxic compared to Australia and as you’ve highlighted – the absence of Murdoch is one very significant difference.
    I still revere David Lange for his stance regarding US nuclear weapons

  26. stephentardrew

    Nah he signed Barnaby Coots little bitty piece of secret paper so he was hobbled from the start. He just wanted power full stop regardless of the compromise. He knew very well. Time to stop making excuses for this criminal hypocrite.

  27. Terry2

    New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern is meeting with Turnbull tomorrow and evidently will renew New Zealand’s offer to take 150 of the refugees on Manus/Nauru.

    I think Adearn , like John Key before her, is trying to act as a circuit-breaker and actually help to resolve the impossible situation that Peter Dutton’s obstinacy has created.

    Once we accept this goodwill gesture from New Zealand it is probable that more countries will put up their hands and more people (Russell Crowe) and groups within Australia will say enough is enough we cannot continue with is recalcitrance : a strong PM would also remove Dutton from this portfolio – now there’s a challenge.

  28. Zathras

    Wasn’t it Keating who said that Turnbull was “like a cherry on top of a compost heap”?
    He went on to say that Turnbull will eventually turn into a sultana when he tried to get the States to levy their own income taxes.

    I think that “sultana time” has well and truly come.

    Behind that false smile and the confected outrage is a frightened and disillusioned man.

    Who would like to lead this rabble, especially during its political death throes?

  29. Terry2

    The Weekend Australian clarified its claims of Frydenberg possibly being a dual Hungarian citizen by descent on his mother’s side.

    Former Liberal MP Alex Somlyay (Liberal member of the Australian House of Representatives from March 1990 to August 2013), who was born in Hungary and travelled to Australia as a stateless refugee after the war, was alerted in the early 1990’s that he may be a dual citizen as the Hungarian government had legislated post-war to grant all expatriates, citizenship rights. At that time Somlyay wrote to the Hungarian Embassy and renounced those rights to avoid a section 44 conflict.

    So, Frydenberg just needs to do his homework as is the case with all parliamentarians whilst section 44 remains part of our constitutional law.

  30. George Theodoridis

    Deliciously named metadatalata’s got it right.
    With all due respect, John, you fall for the same oft told myth that Turnbull was once a nice, touchy-feely lefty and somehow he got overrun by the nasty right in his party and is now their tortured captive. That’s a myth that would make Homer turn in his grave. It’s an egregious lie. Turnbull is now what he was always. Just the fact that he’s got his wallet hiding in some dunny hole in the Cayman’s is at odds with anything resembling lefty and lofty ideals, or the sort of conscience a political leader -a PM, for Zeus’ sake!- should possess. He was always a selfish thug, a lying thug, and a sadistic barbarian, aligned with the mightiest forces of evil, those residing in the stolen land of Palestine. Nor does the humanitarian disaster running its lethal and shameful course over which he’s presiding has anything to do with the morals of a person with a conscience. No, he’s a sadistic mongrel of the worst kind. They all are in the major parties.

    Stop expecting to see good things be done by Turnbull. They were never done before he got into the throne room, they are not being done now and they will never be done in the future.

    All this applies also to Bill Shorten who has behaved identically and who, like Turnbull calls himself what he is not. If he really wants to know what a true Labor politician and leader behaves like he could easily turn to NZ’s Ardern and ask for some lessons.

    This is Australia’s most abhorrent decade, after the massacre of the indigenous the first hundred years.
    I bet no one thought we would scrape the last levels of inhumanity with such shameless gusto!

    On Manus: Both major parties love to leave sores to fester -and fester until they become lethal!

  31. Möbius Ecko

    George Theodoridis to back up your assertion if you look through Turnbull’s investment history, you will see he’s had no issues with buying into companies that knowingly conducted illegal forestry operations but worse, he’s invested in vulture funds, one of which caused untold misery and hardship to a small third world country for its (and Turnbull’s) returns.

    Turnbull in yet another attack against Shorten re-class warfare was openly boasting about the many “successful” businesses and investments he and his wife had undertaken over the years, berating Shorten with them as though they were a club, stating Shorten was the greatest hypocrite as his fortunes came from the union and befriending billionaires. I’m sure if anybody had asked Turnbull to give a list of all his supposedly successful businesses and investments, and what their fate after he had gutted some, he would baulk and bluster as he always does when confronted with his half-truths and exaggerations.

  32. George Theodoridis

    Quite so, Möbius Ecko. I hear the clown (excruciating as it is) doing this at every sitting and at every opportunity he gets, as if wealth gathering at all cost, were a virtue and the only requisite for the political throne. Alas, the big media being what it is, it never asks him questions that would show what decay and morass is below his public doona.

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