Leading article Australia

Malcolm Pantsdown

10 April 2021

9:00 AM

10 April 2021

9:00 AM

First up, congratulations to Premier Gladys Berejiklian for, presumably, being the one to hit the ‘Eject’ button on the appointment by her foolish, ill-informed and dangerous Energy Minister, Matt Kean, of Malcolm Turnbull to the role of ‘chair of the Net Zero Emissions and Clean Economy Board’. This appointment was stupid beyond belief and risked doing untold damage to the Liberal party at a grassroots level as well as potentially torpedoing the federal government’s chances at the next election.

Having been brave enough to give Mr Turnbull the flick, Ms Berejiklian must now take the next obvious step and flush away Matt Kean himself. The man is a menace to not only her Coalition government but to the future prosperity of Australia’s most important state. With his fondness for left-wing political heroes (he is a vocal supporter of Joe Biden and displays in his office a photo of renowned philanderer John F. Kennedy), and embrace of policies indistinguishable from the neo-Marxist Greens, Mr Kean is an insult to every conservative voter in New South Wales. If he has not been replaced before the next election, the One Nation vote in NSW will rightly soar to unprecedented heights.

Only someone pig-ignorant of the sensibilities and concerns of the small business, traditional, mainstream majority of the NSW electorate could have contemplated the Turnbull appointment in the first place, even for a nano-second. Given that sound judgement is a prerequisite to the holding of any ministerial position, not to mention a degree of ‘emotional’ intelligence, it is clear that Mr Kean’s ongoing role in the most critical economic portfolio after Treasury is, to use one of his own favourite words, simply not ‘sustainable’.

When Deputy Premier John Barilaro announced the decision to dump Mr Turnbull on 2GB radio, he claimed to have initially given the benefit of the doubt to Mr Turnbull but ‘he pulled my pants down within 48 hours’.

It’s a superb image and, presumably, was a reference to Mr Turnbull racing onto the ABC to announce the ‘end of coal’, or some such nonsense, thereby ensuring the Coalition would lose the upcoming by-election in the Hunter.

But let’s extend the metaphor. Without a shadow of doubt, and this harks back to Mr Kean’s woeful lack of judgment or intelligence, the former prime minister, if recent form is anything to go on, would have used his new position to ‘pull down the pants’ of any number of Coalition federal ministers, including Angus Taylor’s, Peter Dutton’s and the prime ministerial daks as well. Indeed, Mr Turnbull would likely have used the position repeatedly to sabotage the federal government on a range of faddish issues.

Apart from making obscene amounts of money, Mr Turnbull’s only apparent gift appears to be in the dark arts of political assassination and trouble-making where ‘pulling down pants’ is a much-admired talent and skill.

To date, and to name only a few, the list of those whose metaphorical trousers unexpectedly wound up around their ankles includes the much-loved MP for Woollahra, Peter King, the much-admired and short-lived Coalition leader Brendan Nelson, the landslide-winning and rapidly-ousted former PM Tony Abbott, the missed-opportunity leadership of Peter Costello and any number of other individuals who have felt the tug of Mr Turnbull on their political belt-straps.

Fortunately, and in direct correlation to the above, the discarding of Malcolm Turnbull (‘like a soggy dumpling on a lazy Susan’) also has a long and noble pedigree: discarded by the electorate at the Republican Referendum in 1999; discarded by his colleagues as Opposition leader in 2009; discarded (almost) by the electorate in 2016; discarded by his colleagues again (slow learners, these Libs) after two miserable years in 2018; and now finally discarded within a week of his latest gig. To quote this magazine’s Mark Latham: ‘This is the shortest political posting since Mal Meninga. Turnbull should never have had the job.’

Nor any of the others, either.

Jim Molan, warrior

The news that Liberal Senator Jim Molan has been diagnosed with ‘an aggressive form of cancer’ comes as a blow to many Australians, and certainly to all conservatives.

As former Labor Senator Graham Richardson told Sky, ‘The guy is not good; he is a grand man. I don’t think Australians come better than Jim Molan. We ought to be praying for him.’ A sentiment shared by us all at The Spectator Australia. Fight hard, Jim!

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