I am outraged to learn you’ve cheated on me, absolutely outraged’, says the husband to his wife. Only the man saying it had three years earlier cheated on her. What sort of hypocrite with no self-awareness at all makes that sort of complaint, the ‘it’s okay for me but how dare you do it in turn’ variety? Well, if we take that as a rough analogy to politics, the man’s name is Malcolm Turnbull.
According to the genius who brought us Team Turnbull, he himself can plot and scheme for months to bring down a first term Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. He himself can white-ant and leak and work tirelessly to defenestrate a PM who had won the party a huge majority so his victim can’t make it to a second election as leader for the voters to pass their own judgement. He himself can even solicit the no doubt willing aid of a bevy of Black Hand MP lieutenants almost from the moment Abbott had won his big election victory.
That’s all good for the goose that is one Malcolm Turnbull. But yet when it happens to him – in a far more open and transparent, if hamfisted way, let it be said – Herr Turnbull has the unmitigated and contemptuous gall to feel hard done by. He wallows in self-pity and laments the decline in political standards. Worse, he does what he can to salt the earth behind him in order to blow up the party that had made him PM. He breaches long-established conventions about the holding of party spills. He demands names on paper, one suspects to help those closer to his outlooks who hadn’t brought on the spill. He behaves with zero class, zero grace and a rather massive dollop of whatever goes in to making one seem despicable.
I could go on but it’s probably better to understate one’s feeling about our former Prime Minister. Of course it is worth noting that all the while Turnbull was revelling in hypocritical self-pity and blaming the lack of loyalty in the Liberal party, the lefty journalists of the ABC and Fairfax (and one or two from Newscorp and Sky, let’s not omit) metaphorically and even literally wept right along with ‘their man’. They too lamented the Libs’ lack of loyalty and condemned the coup. It was a long way from the cheers on Q&A when it was announced that Abbott had been rolled. It was a long way from the near total lack of any condemnation of Turnbull for his lack of loyalty when he was the perpetrator not the victim. It is clear that for these people, Chris Uhlmann included, it is the side that counts not the principle. The hypocrisy stinks to high heaven. If ever any conservative in this country needed further proof that the billion dollar behemoth that is the ABC is massively biased and has a greater tilt than the Tower of Pisa, this was it. Not one of these supposedly impartial journalists at the Turnbull ‘farewell’ news conference brought up or pointed out the massive hypocrisy of the man standing in front of them.
So whatever else we on the right side of politics in Australia can say, one thing is this: political life in this country is much better now that Turnbull is gone forever. Peter Dutton has done the party and the country a great service. A few of us (like me) predicted in print this ignominious ending for Malcolm and we did it three years ago immediately after the Abbott defenestration.
Whatever one’s views of the Abbott government, we said this switch to lefty Turnbull was a terrible move. We predicted Malcolm would rip apart the Liberal party; that he would move it farther to the left than any other Liberal leader ever (which, I should point out, goes a long way to explaining the adoration the journalistic class had for the man – they as a class being considerably to the left of the voting public and generally pretending otherwise); that he was a man who thought himself smarter than everyone else when what is known in the philosophy of science as ‘the facts’ were otherwise and that this arrogance would be his nemesis.
The last three years of Team Turnbull have been a disaster for small-government, lower-spending, Hobbesian conservatives in this country. Team Turnbull, 39 negative polls on the trot, has undermined thrift and savings by attacking superannuation; it has thrown billions at submarines that will be useless and decades in the delivery just to try to save the seat of Christopher Pyne, the least deserving MP of such consideration on either side of the aisle (Malcolm excepted); it has outspent the big-spending Labor years of Rudd-Gillard-Rudd; it has pointed to GDP growth while suppressing the truth that continuing massive immigration numbers (the highest in per capita terms in the democratic world) have largely driven this meaningless GDP measure of economic activity and that GDP per capita growth in Australia has been pathetic for a decade, as has the growth in real wages.
Team Turnbull has appointed lefties to the top jobs in the ABC, the Human Rights Commission, the AAT and made a slew of judicial appointments that Labor could have made (in fact Labor would often have done better); it has tossed a half billion at some Paris Accord-loving Barrier Reef outfit in a way that would make a Venezuelan strongman blush; it has bought into the alphabet soup that are the NBN, the NDIS, the RET, Gonski, Finkel, the NEG and more. It has made all of us on the right side of politics think to ourselves ‘if this is a right-of-centre political party, please give me something else’.
Now we will see. Maybe the Photios-supported Morrison crowd will significantly shift direction. Alas, the new PM’s Cabinet picks of Pyne, Payne, O’Dwyer and Birmingham but no Tony is not a good start. Still, as I’ve said many times, you could throw a dart at the phonebook and I’d prefer that person to Turnbull.
As for bringing the band back together, well it would help if those who supported and encouraged this Turnbull experiment at least admitted they were wrong. I applaud Janet Albrechtsen for doing just that the day after the Turnbull dumping in the Australian. Mea culpas are not easy.
How about a few of those 2015 coup-supporting Liberal MPs now do the same?
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