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Prime Ministerial Chaos: Turnbull’s Last Days

No one is in charge in Australia. Monday’s leadership challenge by Home Affairs minister, the potato-headed former police officer Peter Dutton, was cutting enough to leave Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull a wounded animal. The 48 to 35 margin of victory demonstrated the sheer degree of disaffection for the leadership within party ranks, and risks keeping that unenviable record of no Australian prime minister lasting out a full term of office since John Howard’s 2004 election victory.

Resignations have duly followed (some ten frontbenches outed themselves as Dutton supporters in offering their notices, though many have not been accepted by Turnbull). Dutton has become a chief plotter on the backbench, from where another challenge is brewing. The government is imploding and New Zealand’s foreign minister Winston Peters, visiting Canberra, offered a bit of advice: “When you go into a spill, you have to take your abacus.”

In the aftermath of the challenge, Dutton continues to fuel the fire, giving radio station 3AW a generous smattering to threaten Turnbull. “You don’t go into a ballot believing you’re going to lose and if I believe that a majority of colleagues support me, then I would reconsider my position.” He had been chasing up colleagues, testing the waters, working the phones. “I’m not going to beat around the bush with that.”

Ever blinkered and reactionary, his policy offerings continue to be unimaginative, the stuff of cold porridge. To cope with housing affordability, immigration needs to looked at. To deal with infrastructure problems, immigration needs to be looked at. “I think you need to cut the numbers back.” This is less the remit of a potential prime minister as a demagogue who remains trapped in the portfolio of home affairs.

In a bid to make a populist steal, Dutton is offering a temporary sweetener to the public. To Triple M Melbourne, he outlined a proposal that will tickle a few: “I think one of the things that we could do straight away, in this next billing cycle, is take the GST off electricity bills for families. It would be an automatic reduction of 10 percent for electricity bills and people would feel that impact straight away.”

Another peg on offer is one distinctly against the free market ideology of the party. It’s the season for royal commissions, and Dutton is willing to capitalise. A royal commission into the electricity and fuel companies, argues the freshly resigned minister, could be established. “I just think Australian consumers for way too long have been paying way too much fuel and electricity and something just isn’t right with these companies.”

It has been a true spectacle of self-destructive delight: the Liberals immolating themselves in plain sight, while justifying such behaviour on the broader premise of “debate” and calm thinking. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop claimed on Tuesday morning that there were conservatives, moderates and those somewhere in the middle. Other front benchers suggested that this was the Liberal method, which was simply another way of concealing a tribalism more commonly associated with the opposition Labor Party. The broader reality is that centre-right politics in Australia has become cacophonous.

The Turnbull ship, as it heads to a monumental iceberg, was given a further push with the defeat of the company tax cut policy in the Senate. It had been, since 2016, a vital aspect of the prime minister’s trickle-down economics, another enduring fiction that has ceased to catch the imagination of many in the electorate.

Selling a policy reducing the tax rate from 30 to 25 per cent for companies earning over $50 million, thereby shrinking a vital tax base, has not gone well for the former merchant banker, whose connection with the Australian voter continues to look curiously alien. Little wonder, then, that the tribe is unruly, leaving the extremists to go on the rampage.

Things also look murky for the main challenger. In what must be yet another example of history’s distinct lack of cunning, the man who was so enthusiastic about keeping refugee children in offshore detention has a family trust operating a childcare company in receipt of Commonwealth funding. The amount is not negligible: some $5.6 million dispensed to both the Camelia Avenue Childcare Centre and another centre located in Bald Hill. The significance of this is that section 44 of the Constitution might well render Dutton ineligible to sit in parliament as it rules out those with “any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth”.

Most troubling in the Dutton challenge is its acceptable extremism. His language is the unreformed, unconstructed argot of law, order and directed hysteria. He is an instinctive authoritarian who is unlikely to govern by consensus. The method, rather, will be through imposition and dictation. Australians and those coming to the country can expect an aggressive push in the direction of the police state. But Turnbull’s ultimate failing has been a pronounced and seemingly growing inability to lead a party keen to lurch with ever greater urgency to the right.

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22 comments

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  1. Keitha Granville

    bring him in, let him have TA on the front bench. A sure way towards the downfall of the LNP

  2. Henry Rodrigues

    The irony is that turdball ascended to the top job by promising to adhere to all the obstructive backward IPA policies which Abbott followed diligently, and now he’s being humiliated for doing precisely that. The Liberal party and Murdoch had him pegged right away as someone with no principles, no courage and certainly, as it turns out, no damned judgement at all. Goldman Sachs must be wondering why they ever employed him.

  3. Kerri

    Hubby, not interested in politics asked “who is Dutton?’ (Like background not recognition)
    I replied An ex-cop from Queensland who thinks we are all criminals.
    In a nutshell.
    And in true northern style, believes we can all be bribed. Hence the GST suggestion.

  4. ROY EDWARDS

    I feel it is now time for KEVIN RUDD and JULIA GILLARD to get in front of the cameras and advise MALCONTENT TURNCOAT on how to handle all of this. What an absolute joke!. For years they have talked the talk and walked around with the holier than thou stick up their arses until suddenly this chaotic group still fiddle while Rome burns, trying to tell us all that things are all sorted out now- BLEATER MUTTON fully supports MALCONTENT………..”Slip out the back, Jack, Make a new plan Stan, No need to be coy, Roy…..just listen to me”.

  5. Ill fares the land

    I find staggering how a nitwit like Dutton ever got anywhere near being even a potential candidate for the PM role. You know, I once had the misfortune to work with a very similar person – limited intellect, an a**-kisser, a sleazebag (who was renowned for affairs with younger women in the office), no technical skills to speak of and a backstabbing slime. Interestingly, his backstabbing was very “feminised”. Men who a bullies are usually “tough guys”, or at least see themselves in that way, so their bullying is usually a bit more overt and direct (there is no hard and fast rule though). Women who are bullies are snide, devious and vicious and rely on the nasty put down and the gradual undermining of their victim. But the most marked characteristic is the self-delusion – the guy was nowhere near as smart, as talented, as popular or as attractive to women as he imagined. His belief that he was an intellectual powerhouse, witty, technically gifted and just an all round great guy was a total fabrication in his own narcissistic mind – which brings me back to Dutton.

    The last week or two in politics shows how disgraceful politics now is, how low it has stooped and how much we have all allowed the rapid decline in the quality of our parliament by electing the present collection of fruitcakes, dimwits who are probably, without exception, corrupt in one way or another. If they are not corrupt in the financial sense (using their allowances for all manner of trips with no substantive purpose relevant to their job); they are ideologically corrupted by siding with others who share their twisted world view (for example, they can’t find any evidence that supports a strong connection between corporate tax cuts and job growth, but still they persist with the farcical idea that tax cuts will lead us to our economic nirvana). I guess our parliaments have long been repositories of wackos and incompetents, but it seems to me that sometime in the past there were still enough people who were true to their ideals and served. Howard, I suspect, created the environment that saw Hanson enter the parliament (she voiced the views he held, but could not express in the racist and bigoted way that Hanson could) and that seems to have opened the floodgates for the sad collection we now have “representing” us.

  6. Rhonda

    Dead eyes Dutton and child care! Oh, the irony is simply too much. If we could do him in on this it would be sweet.
    PS Michael, any movement on the log in /comment front?

  7. SteveFitz

    BLOODY HELL – Malcolm Turnbull – Have you read this part of his resume’?

    [1] Malcolm Turnbull opposed the banking royal commission without which, the financial sector would still be screwing their customers. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/malcolm-turnbull-rules-out-banking-royal-commission-despite-backbench-pressure-20171122-gzqa2s.html

    [2] Malcolm Turnbull opposed a federal corruption watchdog or, national independent commission against corruption (ICAC). https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/prime-minister-malcolm-turnbull-rules-out-federal-icac-in-exchange-for-abcc-win-20160403-gnx6mf.html

    [3] Prior to the last election we didn’t vote for Malcolm Turnbull to be our PM – He was placed. He was placed to do the bidding of the top end of town. In laymen’s terms: “He’s a corporate flunky”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberal_Party_of_Australia_leadership_spill,_September_2015

    [4] With corporates on trial for unlawful workplace practice in the FWC Commissioner Cambridge said: U2016/14484 3rd March 2017 {AB}(192)[PN35] “- they could get the Prime Minister here to assist them.” They didn’t need him, and corruption was proven. https://docs.wixstatic.com/ugd/fae9bc_3407055508f04b1fb48c489663afad79.pdf

    [5] Malcolm Turnbull’s tax avoidance in the Cayman Islands. https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/labor-attacks-malcolm-turnbull-over-investments-in-cayman-islands-tax-haven-20151014-gk8pg9.html

    [6] Malcolm Turnbull donates his entire $528,000 salary to charity – That’s right, to the Turnbull Foundation, where he is only legally obliged to give away 5%. The rest is tax free thanks to John Howard. https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/editorial-the-figjam-philanthropist,11644

    [7] New call-out powers allow military to respond to riots in Australia with shoot to kill authorisation. It certainly smells like Liberal government police state mentality to me and, what are they expecting? https://www.afr.com/news/new-calloutpowers-allow-military-to-respond-to-terror-attacks-riots-20180627-h11wug

    [8] Under the Turnbull government Australia’s population hits 25 million – 25 years ahead of schedule and, if anyone objects it’s called a racist rant. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-03-12/australia-is-struggling-to-handle-its-swelling-population/9535116

    [9] There is only one path for MT and that’s the chopping block. Whether it’s now or the next federal election. This is a wake-up call to any politician who thinks they can play us for fools including you Mr Dutton: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-08-21/malcolm-turnbull-is-mortally-wounded-and-peter-dutton-knows-it/10147056

    SteveFitz

  8. Graeme Henchel

    The potato will get smashed.

  9. helvityni

    I used to like any potato dish, baked potatoes with a nice roast lamb/beef/pork, potatoes sliced and baked with anchovies and cream in the Swedish style, a good Russian potato salad, grilled sausages with mash….all delicious….

    Now I’m off potatoes, it’s all pasta and rice…

    You know who I am blaming….

  10. Bronte ALLAN

    The Rabbott was an incompetent idiot, so is Talkbull, but The Dutson is even worse! If that is possible! Here is an inept, lying so-called “minister” who insists on locking up would be immigrants etc, in prison camps in overseas islands etc & also thinks this is “OK” with the rest of Australia? He does not even deserve to be in the cabinet or even in the parliament! Cannot wait for the next Federal election!

  11. Matters Not

    Think strategically and therefore celebrate the rise of Dutton. The pig without a hint of lipstick.

    Dutton only advances because the parliamentary Liberal Party is an echo chamber that ignores completely the wider world.

    Go Dutton – the lemmings will surely follow. Sit back and enjoy.

  12. Matters Not

    It would seem that Dutton’s past may threaten his future. When Dutton was a humble Queensland copper one of his workmates was Roman Quaedvlieg. While Dutton became a Minister, Roman Quaedvlieg advanced to be the Australian Border Force commissioner. When Quaedvlieg was sacked for a variety of discretions, Dutton kept a low public profile – he didn’t help his mate. It now seems that Quaedvlieg seeks revenge. (Like any Queensland copper, he never lets a chance go by.)

    Roman Quaedvlieg has personal knowledge of the involvement of Peter Dutton’s office in the unusual ministerial intervention in a foreign au pair’s visa case, a source has told the Guardian Australia.

    The visa status of the two unknown young women has been in the spotlight since March, when it was revealed the former home affairs minister used his discretion powers to grant them visas on public interest grounds

    Roman may have the last laugh.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/aug/22/former-border-force-head-roman-quaedvlieg-has-knowledge-of-duttons-au-pair-visa-decision

    When coppers fall out. Look out!

  13. paul walter

    Helpful stuff.

    Here is Tanya Plibersek, briefly.

  14. Pappinbarra

    Paul Walter, gotta love that Tanya Pliberseck

  15. Henry Rodrigues

    Paul Walter/ Pappinbarra.

    I second your appreciation, Tanya is a class act.Looking forward to seeing more of her in government. Now compare Jules (perfumed cockroach) and you don’t need to wonder why labor is far far away the better party.

  16. SteveFitz

    Peter Dutton donates $50,000 to Libs just prior to being apointed Minister for Home Affairs
    Peter Dutton offers Sarah Henderson front bench position for her support
    Peter Dutton proposes GST cut on electricity if elected to be Australia’s next Prime Minister
    Peter Dutton ex Queensland police officer doing what he does – It’s called bribery

  17. Ian Hughes

    I think you’ll find that an American media magnate is in charge ….. just sayin’.

  18. Robert Mutton

    Ian Hughes – you’re spot on!

  19. Catherine

    You could not make this shit up !!

  20. Ross in Gippsland

    A royal Commission into the gouging of the electricity companies, from a minister of the coalition of private is always vastly supremely better.
    Surely a slip of the tongue, wouldn’t that mean, shock, horror, privatisation has completely failed us, the ordinary sods who have to cough up the reddies to pay the gouging?

  21. SteveFitz

    Sad but true – How many people, out there, have to budget paying off their electricity bill? And, do you remember doing that before privatisation? What were we told – “Privatisation will make electricity cheaper.” You see it’s not about what’s best for us. It’s about more money going directly to the top. It’s called “The Liberal Corporate Coalition”.

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