So, after talking about the “grey area” concerning the fatherhood of the unborn spawn because he had to respond to rumours, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Shamed walked out of a news conference today, because he was asked to respond to his own comments from yesterday.
The only rational explanation for the behaviour of the ex-Deputy PM – yesterday and today – would be that it’s a deliberate ploy to distract from the latest Newspoll or the news that Trump is slapping a tariff on steel and aluminium. That explanation, however, quickly falls apart when one considers two important facts. First, there’s no way that BJ would want to do Malcolm a favour. More importantly, it would be a mistake to look for rational explanations where the Honourable Member is concerned.
So Malcolm woke up to the news that he leads Bill Shorten as preferred PM by a margin of just two percent. Given there are very few times when an Opposition leader has actually been preferred PM, this is an incredibly bad result for poor Malcolm. Even Tony Abbott was forced to forgo his “no sniping” commitment and remind everyone that Malcolm was quite likely to beat the record of 30 losing Newspolls in a row. Now, I’m not sure if Mr Abbott was implying that we need to protect him from such a fate by choosing a new PM, or whether it was just an idle remark given to us in case there’s a question about which Liberal leader lost the most consecutive Newpolls at the next trivia night.
Still, you have to feel sorry for Malcolm. Apart from getting a selfie with Cher at the Sydney Mardi Gras, not much has gone right for him.
Just a couple of weeks ago, when he was lecturing us about morals and not sleeping with your staff, he was in control and seemed to be actually capable of making a decision. He was so masterful that Peter Dutton mistook him for Bill Shorten. Dutton, you may have noticed, complained about being lectured on morals by Bill. Unfortunately, Malcolm was the only one who’d chosen to stray into the area of who it was permissible to bonk; Shorten had merely been questioning the lack of process in moving Ms Campion from office to office and the possible misuse of taxpayer money.
And then, his stirring performance in the US, standing shoulder to shoulder with the great Donald Trump, where the word “mateship” was used in a way that made it seem like Donald actually knew who Malcolm was. Turnbull, we were later told, hadn’t managed to turn the T-Rump around on the TPP, but he’d extracted assurances that we were a special little country and he just loved us to bits and, yes, we could have a special deal on trade, and by the way, would we like to go on a cruise with our mate through the South China Sea.
So, it’s a bit of an embarrassment that so soon after the very successful US mission, that Donald announces the 25% tariff on steel and the 10% on aluminium. I mean, it’s almost like the POTUS heard Turnbull’s arguments on free trade and went, “Right! That’s it. If this idiot thinks free trade is a good idea then it’s time for a trade war.”
Apparently, it’s unclear whether Australia will receive an exemption, but signs are that it isn’t likely. Even though our Trade Minister, Steve Ciobo rang his US counterpart, he couldn’t get an answer because Trump had only just made the decision so nobody had had time to think about it… including the President himself.
President Trump seems to think that no country should have a trade surplus with the United States, which is a pretty strange way of looking at the world. I mean, if every country argued that, then world trade would be pretty difficult. And I know some of you may not see that as a bad thing. However, given the USA has a powerful economic position because countries trade with it and because – in almost every case – trade deals end up favouring the USA, then anything that reduces trade is likely to hurt the rich in America. And when I say “hurt” I mean, they won’t make quite as much in profit as they otherwise would have.
So this move from Trump could see some of his supporters suddenly deciding that he clearly must have colluded with Russia because anything which stops them making money must be the work of a “commie” who needs to be impeached.
Will Malcolm outlast Donald? Will the Liberals call an election before the stock markets crash so that Labor is in charge during a difficult economic time? Will “Married At First Sight” be replaced by a show about politicians and their staff members? Will Peter Dutton use his powers to have Border Force take both Turnbull supporters and the Labor Party into custody under our anti-terror laws, paving the way for a relatively trouble-free election?
These and other questions may be answered over the coming weeks. But probably not by Malcolm Turnbull. And certainly not by Barnaby who will only be scheduling press conferences to ask them to respect his privacy.