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Turnbull: Just the man to tell all (part 2)

I always had a soft spot for Malcolm Turnbull. The early pages of his memoirs outline the many occupations he experienced as a young man and the remarkable dexterity he showed in performing them.

But Prime Minister is what he wanted to be and that’s what he achieved. There are many who would say, and they would be right in doing so, that he was out of his depth.

They point out his unpopularity in his party and his failure with the NBN. That he failed to live up to his potential.

In all fairness, it has to be said that had he been allowed his way with policy he may have made a success of it.

But that wasn’t to be. Instead, he was made to sign an agreement that saw his leadership at the mercy of the ratbag fringe of the LNP. The so-called conservative extremists who eventually got rid of him so as to have their own way.

Many others and I called him a hypocrite in not being able to legislate policies such as. climate change and on a national energy policy. Policies that were joined to his hip, so to speak.

That the likes of Scott Morrison, Barnaby Joyce and other like-minded dunderheads defeated the prodigious intellect of Malcolm Turnbull  showed how out of touch with reality the LNP are.

But this post has more to do with Turnbull,s opinion of the man who ousted him than Turnbull himself.

Katherine Murphy, a consummate journalist for The Guardian, in a preview of Turnbull’s book gives an exhilarating insight into the – what can only be called devious – workings of Prime Minister Morrison. She writes that:

“Turnbull says his first encounter with Scott Morrison happened in 2001, when the then-businessman was mulling options to enter politics and Morrison was the state director of the Liberal party.”

As the story goes Morrison wanted Turnbull to be the Premier of NSW and “had hatched an ingenious” plan to implement it.

Turnbull, however, wasn’t interested and I could imagine he felt it was beneath a man seeking the big prize.

It seems to me that Morrison is always central to the machinations of the party, always in the scrum directing the moves, and always with a long-term objective.

He plays his politics in the shadows just behind the play ready for any eventuality.

Murphy continues:

“Turnbull portrays the current prime minister as always ringside, either in person or through surrogates, during the corrosive leadership battles that erupted shortly after the Coalition came to power in 2013. Turnbull says Morrison began to “sniff out interest in removing Abbott” as early as 2014, only a year after the Coalition’s election victory, when the majority of colleagues were not countenancing a change.

There was talk of moving Turnbull to Treasury to replace Joe Hockey after the disaster of the 2014 budget. “I was careful to play no part in this. Abbott would never move me to treasurer,” Turnbull says. “And I felt I was being used as a stalking horse by others, especially Scott Morrison, to position themselves.”

When one watches individual politicians over a long period of time a profile emerges. In this case the one of Morrison is incomplete but it can be seen that he is conspiratorial type with great cunning.

At this point I’m trying to condense Murphy’s words but the scheming of Morrison is getting the better of me.

Let’s move on.

According to Murphy Turnbull says the “agitation persisted,” and on “10 December he had dinner with Morrison, who wanted to replace Abbott as party leader.”

“It was the first time he laid out, fairly comprehensively, his thinking on Abbott, who he felt would have to go by the middle of 2015 if his performance didn’t improve. He said Hockey should go now and he was making the case to Abbott to replace him with me.

He was closely in touch with the key figures at News [Corp], he told me, and said they were getting ready to dump Abbott. And he made it clear he saw himself as the successor.

After reshuffle at the end of the year and Abbott moved Morrison out of Immigration and into Social Services, Turnbull said that Morrison was “furious” and “this was the first time I recall him saying we will need to remove him before the budget”.

Morrison, according to Turnbull, garnered a cohort of MPs who would readily get rid of Abbott from the leadership.  It was obvious that Morrison wanted the job, “but didn’t want to be seen to challenge him.”

According to Morrison, the shock jocks wouldn’t support him (by whom he meant Alan Jones and Ray Hadley). Morrison also, according to Turnbull, wanted to sideline Julie Bishop, but later changed his mind, and they agreed that Turnbull would be the leader in the event that Abbott got the flick.

Turnbull noted:

“Morrison was vocal in his support for Abbott and publicly denied discussing leadership issues with me. Of course, he’d done so on many occasions, and every indication was that he’d encouraged, if not masterminded, the [first] spill itself.”

If Turnbull is correct you can see the succession and opportunistic planning in Morrison’s mind. The dice were beginning to roll for his own benefit.

Back to Katherine Murphy:

“Turnbull’s ire is directly predominantly at Mathias Cormann and Peter Dutton for the coup that terminated his prime ministership in 2018 but he concludes after some equivocation (“it’s never possible to be 100% certain about these things”) that Morrison “was playing a double game: professing public loyalty to me while at the same time allowing his supporters to undermine me.

It was, of course, precisely what he’d done in 2015 when he said he’d voted for Abbott in the leadership ballot but worked closely with me to ensure his supporters voted against Abbott.”

You might describe Morrison as a cunning rat, loyal and disloyal depending on the need.

Murphy continues:

“Turnbull says he knew on the morning he spilled the leadership, “while I was prepared to accept Morrison’s assurances of continued loyalty, I knew that some of his supporters were starting to urge him to make a move himself”. He says he was aware of the risks of tactical voting by Morrison supporters in the first ballot. Turnbull says Morrison sent him a note while the ballots were being distributed.

The note said: ‘I don’t know why we didn’t discuss this. But that’s your call.

Turnbull is on my ballot.’ I replied, ‘Thanks! It’s the right call. The room has to make up its mind.’”

When the result was 48 votes for Turnbull and 35 for Dutton, “I wondered whether some of Morrison’s supporters had taken the chance and voted for Dutton, hoping they didn’t accidentally deliver him a win.

Subsequent accounts of these events indicate that Stuart Robert and Alex Hawke had organised about half-a-dozen of them to vote for Dutton – enough to lift his numbers up to a level that damaged me but didn’t get Dutton over the line. If Morrison’s friends had voted the way he said he did, the Dutton insurgency would have been utterly dead that morning.

The idea that they did that without his knowledge is fanciful. Scott is a control freak and I’d seen before in the ballots in 2015 how he’d publicly vote one way while ensuring his supporters voted the other way.

When it was clear he had no prospects of retaining the prime ministership, Turnbull actively encouraged Morrison’s campaign.

Turnbull says he lined up behind Morrison because he believed he was “a responsible, safe pair of hands. But Dutton, were he to become prime minister, would run off to the right with a divisive, dog-whistling, anti-immigration agenda, written and directed by Sky News and 2GB, designed to throw red meat to the base.

With no constraints, Dutton would do enormous damage to the social fabric of Australia. It’s one thing having the tough cop handling border protection and counter-terrorism, but not at the head of our multicultural society”.

Turnbull also records the messages he exchanged with his successor after Morrison was sworn in.

“I messaged him,” Turnbull says, “Congratulations prime minister and good luck.” According to Turnbull, Morrison replied the next morning. “Only you can know how I feel today, but I cannot begin to know how you feel.

I loved working for and with you. I’m really proud of what we did. And that is always how I will always feel and speak of it. I want you to know I am thinking about you a great deal and you know I pray for you.

That doesn’t change now. I don’t know why all this happened, but now it has come upon me, you know I will be relying on my faith, friends and values to overcome and conquer what is ahead …

Thank you for all you’ve done for me. But above all as one PM to another, thank you for everything you did for our country. No one knows that contribution better than me.

“Love you, mate.”

All we can do is gather the evidence, sort out the fact from the fiction and come to a decision. For my part, I have the added benefit of about 65 years of an up front close observation of politics that allows one to see through the lies, the bullshit and the intended airbrushing of it all.

I make two points. On the one hand Morrison mentions in his note to Turnbull, “all that we have achieved together.” I’m lost as to what he is referring to because in 7 years they have achieved nothing,

On the other hand I used to think that the Americans were the only race on earth that believed their own bullshit. Now I know that Australian politicians do also.

My thought for the day

Power is a malevolent possession when you are prepared to forgo your principles and your country’s well-being for the sake of it.

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19 comments

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  1. Kathryn

    My God, the level of betrayal, toxicity, dishonesty and obscene ambition displayed by the devious, morally bankrupt Morrison is beyond description! Despite everyone’s fear in having the psychopathic, borderline personality and committed racist, Dutton, in charge, one cannot see how Morrison is any better! If there was an Olympic Games for sanctimonious, evil, bible-thumping hypocrites, Morrison and Dutton would win Gold and Silver in every event!

    The LNP has proven itself to be a malignant Boys’ Club of misogynistic, megalomaniacal narcissists who don’t give a flying shit about Australians or the progressive future of Australia! Instead, these ghastly coal-loving, regressive, self-obsessed sociopaths just spend their time playing each other like pieces on a chess board! What is worse is that their idleness and depravity are being rewarded by taxpayer-funded salaries that the LNP have increased to the point where these useless, non-achieving bastards are now recognised as being some of the highest paid politicians in the world! Every member of the lying, conniving LNP live in an insular cocoon of their own power-obsessed, callously inhumane and divisive parallel universe – all of them listening to NO ONE but the self-promoting bullshit bouncing around in their echo chamber!

    When we look back over the past seven long years, all we can see is a pathetic, non-achieving history of chaos, dysfunction and back-stabbing vindictiveness towards their own members and a level of callous inhumanity towards the most vulnerable members of our society – especially innocent asylum seekers locked up illegally and indefinitely in off-shore concentration camps – that has literally destroyed our nation’s once fine reputation and made Australia an object of international condemnation and ridicule! In only seven years, the LNP has turned Australia into a hate-filled, divisive, small-minded country that most of us barely recognise any more! What have we become since Abbott opened the doors to bigotry and gave permission to the despicable racists among us to crawl out from under their rocks and heap their abuse and intolerance on others? Abbott and Morrison have, by example, let the Prime Ministership of this (once) great nation sink into a cesspool of mean-spiritedeness whereby leadership is attained and maintained through fear, hatred, division and self-entitlement INSTEAD of the progressive foresightfulness, compassion, long-term planning to benefit our nation and/or encouraging the welcoming spirit we once had within our multicultural society (so evident in Gough Whitlam’s leadership).

    The LNP (going back to the lying, devious little war criminal, John Howard) have used and abused power for decades, have achieved absolutely NOTHING but their depraved ability to bring so much shame upon our nation in record time! They have decried and condemned the ALP, blamed them for their OWN inadequacy, criticised the moderate debt left behind by the Gillard/Rudd government whilst single-handedly, managed to TREBLE our national debt and deficit in less than seven years of mismanagement, corruption and diabolical waste. The LNP have leased our (once) secure Darwin ports to a nation that now describes Australia as being “chewing gum under their shoes”; have caused the catastrophic vandalism of our environment, the deforestation of thousands and thousands of square miles of pristine woodlands and forests in our midst; and (thanks to the blubbering serial alcoholic, Barnyard Joyce), handed over the precious waters within our longest river system, the Murray/Darling, to be “gifted” to foreign-owned cotton growers in Joyce’s electorate, drying up the River – in the middle of one of the worst droughts in history – leaving barely a drop for desperate farmers further down river!

    Will everyone choose to forget all of this catastrophe, chaos and betrayal at the next federal election? Will the farmers choose to forget the traitorous betrayal by the LNP to benefit BIG BUSINESS and multi-billionaire (foreign-owned) corporate predators? Will working- and middle-class Australians forget that we have ALL been kicked to the end of the LNP’s list of priorities – way behind themselves and their multi-millionaire donors at the Top End? So much damage in record time – what will become of our nation if these reckless, morally bankrupt charlatans – a literal WRECKING BALL of a government – get ANOTHER term in government?

    NEVER FORGET and please, please, PLEASE – at the next federal and State elections – ensure that you kick these tyrannical, self-serving, totally corrupt and autocratic FASCISTS to the gutter because that’s right where they belond! After seven long, long years of astonishing corruption, greed, ineptitude and inhumanity, the LNP have proven themselves – over and over again – to be the absolute WORST government in living memory!

  2. Baby Jewels

    Turnbull is no less a traitor to the people than his two predecessors, Abbott and Howard. When I think of the damage he’s done to this country watering down our NBN, ensuring we are not and never will be the smart country, the payments to Murdoch, the creation of Robodebt, the Indue Card and the cutting of penalty rates to those who are now called “the frontliners.” He’s got a warped idea of his own decency, that man.

  3. Phil Pryor

    Nohopers and unlovable bastards are typical of the liberals, who coddle losers and liars inside the nest and save their arses for possible future use. We get some of this turdery shoved at us, the O’Farrell and Morrison types, who survived in advisor and director roles. But, only the rock solid Goebbels faithful types were wanted. Turnbull was always a leaky tyre to hard conservatives. Liberals, Hah, what a disgrace it is to have the Mill and Gladstone types being utterly betrayed and abused by the Australian fascist conservative backstabbing bastardry and corporate ignorance of this lot, as liberal as a randy diseased pig. Self multiplied by self is the core of it, for they must win, succeed, triumph, climb, ascend, at any cost over anyone, over any sense and decency, that’s the Howard, Turnbull, Abbott, Morrison way, and it stinks like a dead camels clacker. Australia has gone very far down and back since the constructive sense and positive gains of Hawke and Keating. With the Mad Media Maggot, the Magnificent (in his own mind) Yankee Wankee Murdoch, runnng the script, we are Buggered. And the country party defectives, like Juicy Joyce, fight on for the right to bugger the environment…What disloyal, un-Australian, idiotic, profiteering, egofixated anuses they really are…

  4. My say

    It has been that you get the government you deserve,In this case I think that is true ,we were given this corrupt LNP Government ,to prove Australia should never vote for them again,

  5. Terence Mills

    What has always intrigued me was that, after Turnbull prevailed over Spud Dutton 48 votes to 35 in 2018 why did he not leave it there and move on.

    If you remember, when Abbott rolled Turnbull in 2009 the vote was Abbott 42 to Mr Turnbull’s 41. Hardly a ringing endorsement of Abbott’s prospective leadership – and what a disaster that was.

    Then in 2015 Turnbull defeated Abbott, 54 votes to 44, becoming the leader of the Liberal Party once again.

    So, my question is why would Turnbull, having defeated Dutton’s challenge by thirteen votes – a bigger margin that he had when rolling Abbott – then encourage a second vote : it’s almost as though he wanted to be defeated ?

  6. wam

    The big three ‘principles’ killers are, self righteous pragmatism, acquisition of money and the search for political power.
    Smirko and his girls and boys are proficient at all three and have media help to succeed in all three. Labor’s principles struggle and without the media access need other conditions to succeed in elections.
    Where do he extremists phon and the greens stand?? The former doesn’t know what principles are and the latter’s principles are for their supporters.
    ps
    yes waltz it did look that he had had enough and took the been there done that tick the box and back to the vulture culture.

  7. Bert

    Haven’t read the book yet. One question I’d ask is does Turnbull take any responsibility for decisions made by him and his so called government? Any? Regarding murpharoo, personally I switched off whenever she started commenting on Turnbull and I still wonder if she held an unrequited love for the man. Some of her comments could be vomit inducing. Morrison? the less said about this purulent pimple on Australian politics the better.

  8. Jack Cade

    Bert

    I’m glad someone pointed this out. Murphy was criticised by a number of Guardian readers for her blatant adoration of Shallow Mal, the hologram PM. Since his crucifixion and inability to resurrect three days later, she has turned into a reasonably able political commentator. Not the best on the Guardian, but better than she was. However, her commentary on his memoirs still bears a soupçon of hero-worship.

  9. RosemaryJ36

    Wouldn’t it be great to have more political leaders like Whitlam, who wanted to help Australians and needed to become Prime Minister in order to do so!

  10. Aortic

    Of course he is a cunning rat full of skullduggery, with a mentor like Brian Houston how could he be anything else with a teacher like that. We can only but trust when his inevitable demise occurs, circumstances will be such as to cause him the utter shame and abject humiliation he has caused others. I know not what his religion espouses, apart from ” give me your money” and hand clapping but it appears to bear little resemblance to the book on which it is purportedly based. The machinations involved in his preselection process alone were an indication of his ” me at all cost” attitude and we can only trust his fall will be just as venemous.

  11. Sully of Tuross

    John, I think that what you refer to as the ratbag fringe of the LNP is actually its very heart and soul.
    Any prospective MP who shows a hint of moderation before entering Parliament throws that out the door the minute he/she enters Parliament and become a talking point zombie in any media interviews or panel discussions. All individualism and creative ideas are erased from their being.
    Dave Sharma is just the latest example.

  12. Kerri

    What makes the LNP such an abominable crowd, cough NSW ATM, is that every last one of them wants to be PM.
    Not a single Doug Cameron amongst them.

  13. andy56

    Terence Mill, its not to hard to fathom. Hubris. Malcolm always thought he was heads above and didnt need to work on it. He assumed that which was in his face didnt apply to him. Somehow, you can do the devils work but that doesnt stain you. I bet Gorgeous George (pell) has the same personality type.

  14. Michael Taylor

    I will not be reading his book. To me, he has not a shred of credibility.

    When, as prime minister, we were horrified that he threw away all the principles we had once admired him for he kicked us in the guts by declaring that what you see now is the real Malcolm Turnbull. Now he wants us to believe that he still has all his old principles.

    Give me a break.

    And his hand in the destruction of our NBN should never be forgotten or forgiven. All this “but he was following Abbott’s orders” may well be true, but has he shown an ounce of regret for what he did? Nope. He still defends it.

    Turnbull is a privileged prick who shall be remembered as a political fizzer. He did absolutely nothing for the betterment of the poorest 95% of Australians.

    He was the “T” in the ATM government: the worst mob in decades.

  15. New England Cocky

    I must protest that JL has impugned “rats” by comparing them to any of the present COALition misgovernment Parliamentarians, especially Nazional$ representatives.

    Thank you other posters for your accurate and concise descriptions of those politicians.

  16. Max Gross

    John, the words you are looking for are “absolute arsehole”.

  17. paul walter

    The portrait of Dorian Grey.

    Horrible people and it is half way fair to suggest Murphy was trying to counterbalance the Murdoch smear campaign against Turnbull’s book.

  18. Jack Cade

    Rosemary J36

    Australians were given the choice of Gough or Betty Battenberg’s nominee, recommended by the CIA.
    And they chose darkness.
    Overwhelmingly.

  19. James Lawrie

    “Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful. A man who gives a good account of himself is probably lying, since any life when viewed from the inside is simply a series of defeats.”
    ― George Orwell

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