A PROFILE ON Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull in chic magazine GQ — containing just enough foolish hypothesising to raise eyebrows — borders on disloyalty to the present Liberal leadership; minor as it may seem, Turnbull has indirectly sanctioned a resumption of leadership speculation through the timing and substance of an inadvisedly given interview that serves no purpose other than to posture for the Prime Ministership.
Another relatively brief piece from me today, as I have a lot of work to chew through this weekend (although I am heading across to the MCG this afternoon to witness what I hope will be a regulation belting of the detested Essendon Football Club, dished out by my beloved Carlton, but we will see).
But in what is being billed as “The Power Issue” — quite — Turnbull’s latest appearance in the trendy GQ magazine can really only be interpreted as a tacit green light to ongoing speculation that he will replace Liberal leader Tony Abbott, becoming Prime Minister, and I think it is fair criticism that when all factors are considered, Turnbull’s participation in the GQ feature borders on an act of disloyalty against his leader.
It is no wonder his critics accuse him of compromising the political and electoral interests of the Liberal Party, for they are causes that will receive no advancement as a consequence of this latest media foray.
Already badly damaged by the abortive putsch against him in February, Abbott and his Treasurer Joe Hockey now face a difficult imminent budget that appears to be a losing proposition whichever way you cut it; snookered by an exceedingly hostile Senate in which an irresponsible Labor “leader” marshalls votes against virtually any constructive legislation put to it, Hockey and Abbott have spent months trying to suggest the coming budget will be mild, uncontroversial, incremental at best, and not “scary:” all bywords for a damp squib that will eschew meaningful action on the increasingly urgent redress the national finances require.
Already, Abbott in particular is backtracking from tough action to fix specific issues — the GST being the most prominent at present — at a time those issues are virtually exploding in the Coalition’s collective face, suggesting instead that others (in this case the state Premiers) sort them out instead, in a distasteful and confused double actin which Hockey seems to be posturing over the need to get moving with reforms over the very same issues.
The outrage lobby to the government’s Left is pre-emptively attacking the Coalition for even daring to contemplate tough action; the government’s critics on the mainstream Right are voicing disapproval at best that Abbott’s government appears hellbent on avoiding any further attempts to do what it was elected to do after last year’s disaster, which is to fix the federal budget.
And all the while, the Coalition — which has been very poorly served by its recruitment of so-called “tacticians,” “strategists” and “communications” personnel — continues to drift dangerously toward the political oblivion of a first-up election loss when next it faces the people.
Yet none of this bothers Turnbull, who posed for GQ in the sort of (admittedly impressive) outfit reserved for power pics of the up-and-coming.
His admission, when asked if he would have stood for the Liberal leadership if the February spill attempt had succeeded, that “people would have been astonished if I hadn’t” breaks the cardinal political rule of not fuelling destabilising chatter against the leader of the day — unless, that it, destabilisation is exactly the desired effect.
And whilst Turnbull himself may not be directly responsible for GQ‘s provocative headlining of the “Primed Minister” or its crass assertion that his “next stop” would be The Lodge — “maybe” — Turnbull should have had the brains and the judgement to have realised that co-operating with GQ at this time and for this type of feature he would merely fuel unrest against Abbott’s leadership — and declined to participate.
Tellingly, his office is said to have refused to comment when contacted and asked whether Turnbull was happy with the finished article GQ is publishing next week after its most recent interview with him.
And I think Joe Hildebrand, writing in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today, has it about right with his satirical interpretation of the Turnbull interview.
I have said it before and I will share the piece with readers once again, and I am prepared to do so until the cows come home: Malcolm Turnbull is no solution as Prime Minister, and no amount of glib posturing or smugly provocative media appearances will change that.
In an ideal world, Abbott would sack his minister for disloyalty, for certainly Turnbull has honoured his obligation not to undermine his leader in only the most literal sense: his activities and his utterances within cooee of leadership chatter make it painfully clear that not only is Turnbull agitating to become Prime Minister himself, but that he considers himself more than ready to join the battle the moment it begins.
Alas, such a decisive confrontation is too fraught with risk for Abbott to contemplate, for in the febrile world of Coalition politics and the government’s still-dire (if improved) standing in reputable polling, there is no guarantee he would emerge victorious from such a contest.
Turnbull will therefore carry on with his mischief-making and his subterranean intrigues, and these will in turn continue to damage the government and the Prime Minister personally irrespective of Turnbull’s protestations otherwise.
In the meantime, nobody wins, except perhaps for the disreputable and vacuous specimen leading the Labor Party at present. If Turnbull does not want to help facilitate a Labor triumph at next year’s election, stunts like his GQ appearance are an odd way of proving it.
AND ANOTHER THING: with an eye on some of the attacks I have been fielding on Twitter of late from the lunatic trolls of the Left, there is a grotesque irony in the fact that cretinous tweet-bombers who rail against “people like me” for daring to advocate low-tax, workplace flexible policies designed to maximise incentive and encourage reward for old-fashioned hard work are also the sort of people who tell pollsters with reckless abandon that not only do they support Turnbull as preferred Liberal leader, but that (unbelievably) they would vote for the Coalition were he to be restored to the position he lost in 2009 as a result of his disregard of the Liberal base and non-existent political judgement.
These people will no more vote Liberal than I would propose Communist Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon as president of the HR Nicholls Society, and it amazes me that even in the interests of mischief-making, these types would advocate for one of the richest men in Parliament to become Prime Minister: a man who admittedly had a severely compromised upbringing, but who has made millions of dollars through hard work and is the epitome personally of the cultural change I would like to see take hold in this country, even if his political utterances and ideas are not reflective of this.
It’s yet more evidence that the iron sulphite promise of Turnbull as Prime Minister is preposterous and fanciful bullshit. The same stellar opinion numbers that propelled Kevin Rudd back to the Prime Ministership in 2013 would as surely disintegrate beneath Turnbull’s feet the moment he was elevated to the post as they did for Rudd. Turnbull is an election loser in the making, and it is the very people who agitate for his ascendancy now who would guarantee it at the polls in 18 months’ time.