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The year that made me

As I listened to Attorney-General George Brandis today unconvincingly bellow (shout loud: argument weak, as the father of my children used to say) that Malcolm Turnbull will be remembered by history as one of our great prime ministers, I reflected that while it’s sadly apparent Brandis is a fool, what is most unsettling is that he apparently believes the rest of us to be even bigger fools.

Malcolm Turnbull will be remembered by history as one of the weakest men ever to hold the nation’s highest office: I’m damned if I can think of many who’ve been more ineffective, more blustering, more incompetent and more so obviously at a total loss as to what to do next. No amount of Brandis’s maniacal talking up is going to change that situation, as we saw with failed and sacked prime minister Tony Abbott, also marketed as great and in the process of leaving a powerful legacy, as his popularity hurtled off a cliff like Sidney Nolan’s upside down horse, his death cult followers clinging to the saddle, three-word slogan at the ready: Nothing to see! Nothing to see!

There’s a pattern here. Talked up one day, compost the next.

No one can make a silk purse out of a pig’s ear, least of all the meta data-challenged Attorney-General who will himself be remembered largely for his technological ignorance, his ludicrously expensive bookshelves, and his elitist notion of what constitutes art.

Turnbull’s deplorable decision to carry on with predecessor Tony Abbott’s (the one who will be remembered for giving Prince Philip a knighthood, just one of a vast array of incomprehensible acts of wilfully destructive stupidity) ill-willed and non-binding plebiscite on marriage equality demonstrates yet again that the Prime Minister is haemorrhaging principles from every orifice, in a kind of spiritual Ebola that has afflicted him since he took office.

I am unable to think of one reason why the Australian public has a “right” to vote on the right of citizens to marry or not. This is not a question of protecting the Australian public’s rights: no member of the Australian public will suffer during the enactment of same-sex marriage. Marriage equality is a human rights issue, and it is an outstanding example of heterosexual arrogance to reframe it as an issue on which “the people” are entitled to have their say. Why are they entitled to have their say? Give me one good reason.

If “the people” are “entitled” to “have their say” in plebiscites on all matters regarded by politicians as “too important” for them to simply do their jobs, why bother having a parliament at all? We’ll use their salaries and perks to fund opinion polls instead, then all they’ll need to do is pass the legislation.

The High Court ruled that parliament already has the authority it needs to simply amend the Marriage Act to include same-sex marriage, without consulting anybody. Why are we paying the idle swine to hand the job back to us?

Trust me, said George Brandis when asked if his party would honour a yes vote, and that’s where I fell off my chair and rolled on the floor laughing my arse off.

It used to be that when Abbott said anything good about someone we knew they’d be in the dumpster fairly soon. It’s very hard to believe that Brandis is serious about Turnbull’s strength as a leader. I don’t think he is. He’s shouting loud because his argument is, like its subject, weak. His exaggerated praise of Turnbull is turning the corner into mockery. Brandis knows what’s coming.

Some of you may be familiar with the segment on ABC broadcaster Jonathan Green’s Sunday Extra, The Year that Made Me. A guest who has achieved chooses a year from her or his life which to them was highly formative. Malcolm Turnbull could do this gig. He could call it The Year that Made Me lose every principle I’d ever held, and left me a dusty, creaking husk of a man, and taught mean the true meaning of the phrase, laughing-stock.

Excoriate! Excoriate!

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.


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  1. flohri1754

    A fairly good summing up of the past year …. perhaps it could be said that rarely has one (Malcolm) thrown away such popularity to gain so little. Of course, just his assault (at Abbott’s behest) on the original NBN concept … leaving such a national project one of the walking wounded of the past year … should have kept everyone aware of the fact that Malcolm was a fizzer before given the title of “PM”.

    As had been said in many places, however, even that initial euphoria a year ago over Malcolm taking up the reins was actually merely puffed up by relief that he was not Abbott. Going back further, the Godwin Gretch debacle seems to be indicative of the extent of Malcolm’s political nuance. Nothing more.

  2. babyjewels10

    Well said! Regarding the Plebiscite. I find it astonishing that in 2016, our government is offering Churches $7.5 million to promote the No vote of a human rights issue. How far backwards can we go?

  3. Möbius Ecko

    An illustration of Turnbull’s incompetence and mashing is that he’s now going to compromise on the ABCC bill. The very reason he went to an early election was because he said he wouldn’t compromise on the ABCC legislation.

  4. helvityni

    My euphoria of having Mal and not Tony as our PM, was extremely short lived, it lasted roughly 24 hours… Mal will not last, but sadly we’ll have Hanson for six (6) long years.

  5. 1petermcc

    You do have to troll back a long way to find such a poorly regarded Leader by his own Party. Billy McMahon springs to mind. He of the prediction before facing Whitlam, “We’ll win and we”ll win well”.

    It was actually a close result but the infighting in the Coalition was very damaging and he resigned after his defeat. A fate that would have befallen MT this time if had slipped any further, and might yet happen before the next contest. The current instability within the Coalition seems to mirror the grand old days of ’72.

    It’s interesting how train wrecks travel in slow motion so you can take in all the detail.

  6. king1394

    The plebiscite on this matter sets a dangerous precedent. Will Australians now be sent off to the polls every time a difficult decision has to be made? As Jennifer says, our governance system may well become a farcical parade of opinion polls

  7. Kronomex

    Brandis is a cretin and the “yes” vote will turned into a “no” when the spineless excuse for a PM has to run the conscience vote in parliament. Turnbull will just about bend over and part his cheeks to remain as leader and Puppet Minister. He will also be remembered as the Great Big Void and Marionette of the Rabid Right.

  8. kerri

    Baffles me that the media, both mainstream and online still give Malcolm so much room for improvement?
    He’s had a year! This is as good as it gets!
    Still media commentary lulls the public into believing there is more to Malcolm than meets the eye!
    He has shown his lack of principles. His turn on a dime beliefs. His willingness to capitulate.
    Malcolm has achieved all that he wanted.
    He wanted to be PM. Tick
    He wanted an election win in his own right. Tick
    He is now at the point of having nothing else to tick off and we will suffer for that as he hangs like an empty pinata being bludgeoned by the right wing parliamentary children who really control the country.
    He will do nothing more until Shorten or Four Corners raises some issue that requires immediate attention at which time he will leap up with a hastily purchased band aid decrying his horror and waving his fist a la oratory 101.
    This is as good as it gets from Malcolm and yet many stilll argue he will work quietly away in the background to overcome the Bernardi’s, Abetz’s and Christensen’s who, incidentally, have zero fear of Malcolm. While he, oblivious to the public’s understanding of the whole situation, thinks he can get away with walking the tight rope.
    The media should have copped a serious flogging after the way they treated Gillard and talked up Abbott.
    Now they deserve a bigger flogging for patronising the handsome, charismatic puppet of the right.
    The emperor has no clothes, no ideas and no principles.
    Good article Jennifer! Thanks.

  9. Stephen

    You presume Malcolm is capable of recognizing admitting and learning from this last year. I don’t think so, all he sees is his gaining the office as an end in itself, to shine more light on his magnificent intellect and personality and fulfill the proper order of things with him in the limelight feeling superior and recognized as such. Swaning around the world attending conferences getting his picture taken. Actually achieving anything is secondary to maintaining the spotlight and ego massaging. With Malcolm it’s not and never has been about Australia first it’s always about Malcolm first , how else do you explain his craven cowardice over the NBN and willingness to eat the shit sandwich Abbott gave him when instructed to bastardize it to keep a ministerial portfolio I imagine Abbott and his crew pissed themselves laughing over that one.
    I wonder if he ever had any core beliefs he stood for I doubt it just surface beliefs subject to change and reversal as need dictates. Republic, Technology, climate, among others all quickly overboard if it helps him keep the job. He is a sad pathetic and hollow picture and showing it more every day.

  10. diannaart

    Turnbull sounded the alarm on my B/S meter (as he did many) with the Utegate/Grech mess. However, seared into my memory is Turnbull’s acceptance speech after winning the 2016 election.

    Of course, I did not watch his speech live, which meant I was vaguely hopeful for a very short time.

    We’re not going to see a return to governance, are we? Brexit in Britain, Trump in the USA…. OK best looking PM ever in Canada (there’s always an exception).

    Thanks to Rupert and the rest of our MSM wanting only headlines, anyone in the public sphere will be able to say any dribbling thought-fart that enters their brain without any consequences.

  11. Clean livin

    In response to 1petermcc. You have a very short memory re poorly regarded leader.

    Abbott springs to mind, and he was FAR worse than Billy Mc Mahon.

    In fact, I could not recall ANY past PM, including Malcolm who would be worse than Tony.

    Weak as Malcolm is, we are a lot better off with him than that lying mad monk?

  12. lawrencewinder

    Just when you think the Ruling Rabble can’t go any lower or get any worse, off flatulates Bookshelves. But one thing is fascinating about this collective of cronyism, they’re totally and universally incompetent.

  13. diannaart

    @Clean livin

    Malcolm knows better, far better than the ignorant simian, Abbott.

    That’s why he is worse because he could do something to mitigate some of Abbott’s damage.

  14. Paul

    I like Malcolm, but he made one mistake – he joined the LNP.
    Then they chose him as President.
    Then the wheels fell off.

  15. townsvilleblog

    I don’t know about the rest of you good souls, but at the moment I am weary of discussing the stupidity of this tory government. How I wish the electorate had gone one extra seat in the last election, so we could be rid of these incompetent imbeciles.

  16. jim

    The Liberal Nation Incompetent Party comes to mind when assessing the LNP …… according to the International Monetary Fund, the Howard/Costello government was the most profligate (wasters) in Australia for the last 50 years. Indeed, while the mining boom was gathering pace they cut taxes (for the their mates) so far and so fast that they forced the Reserve Bank of Australia to rapidly increase interest rates (for the battlers).

    LNP incompetence…… comes to mind,……Australia’s NBN a monumental failure it will turn out to be why the police raids? and mostly it will have to be uprooted and installed the right way …Labors fibre to the premises The LNIParty have doubled/tripled the cost of Australia’s NBN (for the battlers) so we just have to pay more to use Australia’s NBN we understand…… incompetence comes to mind. LNP incompetence.
    Are there anything else you’d like to wreck LNP?.
    Hey LNP is that why you cut $60 million from the ABS after Labor cut $10 million..

  17. Stephen

    Yes the price to get it right will be high but why don’t the MSM investigate who has benefited from this dogs breakfast the Abbott LIB’s have turned it into, how many billions are wasted going to business to support and continue this Farago, when in doubt follow the money see where it goes. Just like the logic of not taken money from polluters to make them improve or pay the real cost of the pollution to the common good, instead we pay billions to try and get them to change. I wonder how that is working out, how much longer do we need to throw money at them or has change been achieved(please note this is sarcasm) In five years will it be considered by business as just another subsidy like fuel excise rebates for mining, and loud howls if anyone tries to remove it. Why change if money is being shovelled at you makes sense to drag it out as long as possible. Howard/Costello spent the boom on their mates and getting reelected this last three years is business as usual without the extra money coming in to help this is why we are screwed and sure enough the remedy is tax cuts for business and rich and the lower classes paying to subsidize the rich.

  18. Max Gross

    And the loser is… Australia. Again. God pity’s sake, kick the ratbag LNP out and keep them out!

  19. TuffGuy

    I realise you have to have thick skin to be a politician but even they must have their limits. For the past 12 months Turdball has been slammed from pillar to post about his lack of performance as PM and rightly so. When he and Missus T sit down of a night and review their press clippings just what goes through their minds? Are they not embarrassed, or guilty or whatever? And then he goes out and stands before the press with his little rehearsed spiel about his achievements which are basically just more slogans without any actual substance??? Does it mean nothing to him and Abbott that they will go down in history as the worst PMs in our history???

  20. Duke

    A man who stands for nothing, falls for everything. Principles and ideals are just cheap words to Malcolm TurningBull. Just like the cheap car salesman trying to sell you a lemon. He will be remembered only for his theme song “today I don’t feel like doing anything” and my apology to Bruno Mars.

  21. Steeleye

    This is totally unrelated to the story at hand … but if you have perchance been wondering where the unlamented ‘neil of sydney’ is spending his time of late, I can report that he is now inflicting himself on the Guardian site.

    And his comments? Same old, same old …

  22. lawrencesroberts

    It just dawned on me the other day, the similarity between Turnbull and Trump, vanity politics. they are there because they can be there. A certain ruthlessness, enough money to sway the vote and policies are largely immaterial. Dangerous when they get there because they will change the rules to stay there, Hail Vladimir.

  23. kerri

    And lawrenceroberts they will change the rules to benefit their own investments and that is precisely why I am of the opinion that retired MP’s or PM’s should not be allowed to ever work in an industry they may have had influence on whilst in the parliament. For mine, they take their pension and retire! Full stop! No more work or they forfeit their parliamentary pension FOR LIFE,!!!!!
    Enough of the double dipping after working hard at feathering their future nest.

  24. Sam

    helvityni I had the misfortune to stumble upon low level Win journalist Marcus Paul’s facebook page after a friend shared some meme or something he created mocking the greens for walking out on Hanson.

    Naturally a guy like that attracts a few bigoted people as supporters and if you believe them and what they said about the issues surrounding Hanson on Paul’s page, it won’t stop at 6 years for her and One Nation and instead each election will only see more and more like her, join her in parliment because people are finally ‘waking up’.

    It could be that I’m being naive but I don’t believe that. I believe that she will fade away again over time but we need to be wary of people like that, if we underestimate her again she’ll be back again a few elections down the track!

    Also to lawrencesrobers, I’d hold off on Hailing Vladmir because he’s hardly a stand up guy himself for a start. Matter of fact, the reason I believe he’s saying nice things about Trump is because he sees a destructive presence like that awful man being in charge of America as being the best way to return the world back to the way it was in the ‘good old days’ of the Cold War. Vlad is far smarter than Trump and if he can manipulate the situation of a buffon like Trump being US President to his advantage, he will. I mean in itself that sounds fair enough as any world leader worth a damn would look for a way to give their country an advantage but it definitely wont benefit the world if tensions escalate between America and Russia and I fear Trump as President will lead to just this.

  25. Adrianne Haddow

    Love your work Jennifer.

    My particular favourite is your statement, “the Prime Minister is haemorrhaging principles from every orifice, in a kind of spiritual Ebola that has afflicted him since he took office”.

    The only thing I can say in his defence, is that he, at least, had some principles at some point in the past.
    Unlike the rest of the rabble on the LNP gravy train.

  26. Steve Laing

    He really has turned out to be as much a post turtle as his predecessor, hasn’t he. Sure, he sounds more promising, but he is totally ineffective. Vibble, vobble.

    And masterful Dalek punchline!! PMSL!

  27. Col BB.

    Adrienne, let us say he EXPRESSED principles, but probably didn’t HOLD them.

  28. Adrianne Haddow

    Well Col, he certainly isn’t holding them now.

  29. Jennifer Wilson

    Thank you Adrianne.
    I don’t know how principled Turnbull used to be, but I think he used to have some values. He might well have intended to implement them at some point as PM, but the RWNJs proved too intimidating and he abandoned everything but his desire to add Prime Minister to his CV, no matter what the cost. A truly Mephistopholean bargain. (I may have misspelt that)

  30. wayne117700

    there hasnt been much being passed in this government the only thing these toffy nosed snobs is to give these rotten multinationals 50 billion dollars of our money which hell willl freeze over before we let that happen i give you my word

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