There is a long-held tradition that Australian notables do not criticise their country, its leaders, government or policies when overseas. Almost always, this tradition has held.
No one appears to have advised Malcolm Turnbull that sledging his country, what used to be his government, his former cabinet colleague, now Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the party he once led was a bad look.
This is Malcolm’s legacy to the Liberals, tipping mud on former colleagues and doing on BBC TV, hosted by Andrew Neil, who clearly found Turnbull’s line of attack eccentric enough to try to tease out further. Malcolm obliged, in spades, asserting his defenestration was “a peculiarly Australian form of madness” and claiming he was removed because he was on track to beat Bill Shorten, a claim that the BBC’s Neil found impossible not to challenge.
“I am a Liberal” he declared, somewhat to the astonishment of Australians who may have watched the show. Malcolm is clearly suffering from a case of bile and delusions that threaten to poison his being if allowed to continue. He is clearly carrying the burden of unbearable bitterness and wishes the whole world to share his anguish, as today’s Twitter blitz at Tony Abbott shows.
But is this really the way he wants to be remembered? A vengeful, bitter man who carries a huge grudge not just against his parliamentary colleagues but anyone who stood against him?
The comments he made on British television indicated clearly the rawness of wounds unhealed, the burning bitterness that nothing except the defeat of all those who defied him will assuage.
History gives examples of losers who, in defeat, overcame their enemies by the way they bowed to inevitability, with a wry smile, a bitter – yes, that is allowed- jest.
Hannibal the Carthaginian, the first warrior to challenge the might of Rome, taking his elephants through the Alpine passes and marching down into the Italian flatlands before the Romans quite knew what was taking place, accepted the inevitable when defeat finally game.
“Let us rid Rome of this nuisance,” he quipped, while swallowing the contents of a poison ring.
Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t, one gathers, own such a ring. The poison is within him, curdling and embittering his being, stopping him from being able to move on, to put it all behind him.
Instead, it seems he seems to want to create a Gotterdammerung scenario, a twilight of the gods, the gods of the Australian parliament where he once reigned unchallenged.
But this is Australia, down-to-earth, practical and pragmatic. Sledging your country from abroad is not looked upon as good sportsmanship by Australians, brought up to believe in the rules of good sportsmanship. It’s ‘spoilt brat’ behaviour, unseemly, and intemperate.
In the (overheard) words of one elderly Canberran to another, “I quite liked him at the start but now, well, he should just get over it, shouldn’t he?”
Quite right. He should get over it – and hopefully sooner, rather than later.
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