When Malcolm Turnbull rolled a sitting Prime Minister, he promised a different style of leadership.
“The big economic changes that we’re living through here and around the world offer enormous challenges and enormous opportunities and we need a different style of leadership.
We need a style of leadership that explains those challenges and opportunities, explains the challenges and how to seize the opportunities. A style of leadership that respects the people’s intelligence, that explains these complex issues and then sets out the course of action we believe we should take and makes a case for it.”
When giving the 2012 George Winterton lecture, Malcolm asked “Have we become so despairing of our public discourse that we no longer expect that it should be civil and honest; respecting, not insulting, the intelligence of the Australian people?”
“How often do we hear Australian politicians discuss these challenges in a genuinely open, honest, spin-free and non-adversarial way? Where the intention is to clearly explain the problem, accept responsibility for past misteps if appropriate (rather than apportion as much blame as possible to the other side), allow a non-ideological discussion of possible remedies, and see if there is any common ground for bipartisan work?
Seldom, and even more rarely if a camera is rolling.
Most Australians believe we need an honest, informed policy debate. Yet I don’t see many people who believe we have that. Instead, we all hear again and again that Australians are ashamed of the parliament, that they see it as nothing more than a forum for abuse, catcalling and spin.”
In that same speech, Turnbull spoke of the urgent need for honesty and bipartisanship in dealing with the challenges posed by climate change and appropriate energy policy.
“Politicians and shock jocks, scientists and coal barons, all of them can argue for as long as they like, but they cannot change physical reality.
The reason our planet is not a frozen chunk of ice is heat trapped by greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Increasing the amount of those gases will necessarily over time cause the earth to warm.”
But now we have Tony Abbott’s director of communications and deputy chief in staff, Andrew Hirst, as Liberal Party federal director.
And our Prime Minister has completely capitulated to the Abbott attack dog approach – name-calling and blaming Labor for everything.
“I mean Blackout Bill, fair dinkum, as my old dad would have said, ‘He is so hopeless he could not find his backside with both hands’,” said Malcolm to a meeting of the party faithful in Darwin.
He railed against No Coal Joel and blamed Labor for the lack of coherent energy policy in Australia – a claim that is astonishing from a government who has been in power for four years and who tells us that they hope to have an energy policy by the end of the year.
Turnbull has even become an advocate of coal, much to the anger of other world leaders at the Pacific Forum whose very existence is threatened by the global warming that Malcolm used to see as an undeniable existential threat.
Everything Malcolm Turnbull spoke about in his speech titled “Truth, leadership and responsibility” has been abandoned. He has adopted the very strategies he decried as being destructive to our democracy.
“The politicians and parties that can demonstrate they can be trusted, that they will not insult the people with weasel words and spin, that they will not promise more than they can deliver, that they will not dishonestly misrepresent either their own or their opponents’ policies – those politicians and parties will, I submit to you, deserve and receive electoral success.”
By your own standard Malcolm, you should face the loss that was coming Tony Abbott’s way.