#QandA: Malcolm Turnbull’s Audition As Prime Minister

MALCOLM TURNBULL — whether by design or otherwise — put in a performance on the ABC’s #QandA programme last night that amounted to a public audition for the Prime Ministership; using a national platform provided by a public instrumentality answerable to himself as Communications minister, Turnbull left most commentators in agreement that his latest appearance constituted little more than a pitch to the public for the top job.

I am on the hop this morning, so there is little to say; in any case it is the opinion of readers I am most interested in today, for my position is pretty simple: Malcolm Turnbull, appearing on the ABC’s #QandA programme last night, turned in a performance that seemed calibrated as an explicit attempt to win public support for himself as Prime Minister.

Right from the beginning, every utterance — every polished, clipped sentence of it — gave the impression that Turnbull is simply biding his time until the Liberal leadership falls to him.

In the meantime, it appears Malcolm was content to use the latest of his regular #QandA slots to flaunt his “credentials” for the role before a sympathetic audience.

Those who did not watch #QandA last night are strongly encouraged to take the hour to do so via this link.

From the outset — with Turnbull quite obviously addressing some early remarks on the imminent execution of two Bali Nine drug traffickers toward Indonesian government figures, staring almost regally down the camera — it was obvious that this was an audition for Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s job, and a pretty blatant one at that.

And to be sure, Turnbull put in a good performance: probably one of the best performances I have seen him give anywhere, be it on #QandA, in Parliament, or anywhere else.

But even then, as high-profile ABC journalist Latika Bourke noted on Twitter during the show, there were two problems Turnbull might have caused for himself: one, that this was a very blatant audition (which ran the implied risk of enraging some Liberal MPs and others opposed to him within the Liberal Party) and two, that the grand old man reminded everyone of his penchant to waffle, and waffle badly.

Indeed, as he more or less summed up his evening’s remarks at the end of the show (in what I characterised on Twitter as his “closing remarks in his pitch for the Prime Ministership”), Turnbull went on and on and on to such a degree I remarked to Bourke that it was getting nauseating.

To bluntly restate my position, I’m prepared to support Turnbull to the hilt should he replace Treasurer Joe Hockey; I could even be persuaded he should be elevated to the deputy leadership of the Liberal Party, such is the race against time for Turnbull — 61 later this year — to realise his ambitions now or not at all; to miss out on the leadership at the next change (whenever it is) would virtually ensure he advances no further.

But if Liberal MPs elect Turnbull as leader — and he is nominally the Prime Minister at the coming federal election as a result — then in the absence of any change of heart in the interim, I will go to the polling booth, collect my ballot paper, and shred it on the way back to my car.

Have a look at the #QandA episode from last night through the link provided; as I said, I’m against the clock today and in any case, people know my views when it comes to Turnbull — and last night’s performance did nothing to change the positive or negative aspects of those views, nor shift my disinclination to support him as a potential Prime Minister by so much as an inch.

Make no mistake though: Malcolm is coming; he thinks he is, at any rate, and I think last night’s effort was designed to give that eventuality an air of inevitability.

I would question, however, whether a left-leaning forum on the ABC — a public broadcaster answerable to him as the minister for Communications — is an appropriate place for Turnbull to be brandishing his leadership “credentials” to garner the approval of an audience that might vote for him, but mostly rusted onto the ALP and the Communist Party Greens, will never vote for him in a pink fit, no matter how much they might protest otherwise.

And what current Prime Minister Tony Abbott, his deputy (and prospective leadership rival) Julie Bishop, or anyone else in the Liberal inner sanctum who have accepted Turnbull’s repeated but nuanced pledges of loyalty might make of his performance last night remains to be seen.

What do people think?




8 thoughts on “#QandA: Malcolm Turnbull’s Audition As Prime Minister

  1. Totally agree with you. The Turnbullite base was staring back at him in the twinkling lights of that Ultimo studio last night; it isn’t the old stalwarts in branch meetings, or the libertarians, or the conservatives, who find a friend in Turnbull. Where does that leave him?

  2. I don’t watch ABC, and I don’t watch it to see Malcolm Turncoat. Sorry.
    I think we will be seeing you at the Australian Liberty Alliance, Yale.

    • Sorry, Karabar, I won’t vote for a minor party. But I won’t vote for Turnbull either. I’ll just lock my door and hope no one bothers me until I die if that opportunistic bag of wind becomes the face and voice of conservative politics in Parliament. If that happens, 40% or more of the electorate will no longer have any more than the merest pretence of a voice in Parliament. They will have been shouted down by the Greens, and Christine Milne will become the de facto, henpecking spouse of misleader of the country leading it over the precipice of doom.

  3. He certainly did put on a good performance Yale but I don’t think that it was as blatant as your argument suggests, as you point out he has been on the panel quite often and from that comes an ease and aplomb that a good media performer like him can deliver. Rather than decrying his performance as part of a push to be PM I was left just wishing taht the current incumbent could match Turnbull’s media skills.
    I was actually quite impressed by Greg Sheridan on the show last night. His candor about the futility of badgering Indonesia was a light in a sea of sackcloth and ashes

  4. Bolt has a comment that says it all: “There is a two-part strategy at work here. First the Left wishes to give the Liberal leadership to one of their own. And then it will destroy his government. That way conservatives will not just lose government but their party. ”
    Greg, may I remind you that it was not so long ago that UKIP was just a “minor party”.

    • Yes, Karabar, but they have risen on the back of an anti-immigration stance which already had a hard core of support in the disreputable BNP. If your party was going to succeed in a similar way, you would need to use a springboard like Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, and dress up its policies in polite language the way Farage dressed up, and watered down, Nick Griffin’s policies. In any case, you need some core issue that is seething beneath the surface of Australian politics.

  5. Just saying: Bolt the one who told us that the war was won and over in Iraq, while dressed in his flak-jacket, inside the safety of the green zone, and hangs out off Murdoch, like dags on a sheep’s crutch

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