“[He has] fallen into the classic trap of the egomaniac…This childish business of putting his leadership on the line every time he doesn’t get his own way is straight out of the Elysee Palace in the days of De Gaulle.”
Now, who said that? Well, according to Philip Adams, it was Malcolm Turnbull towards the end of Whitlam’s turn in office. That long ago. Ancient political history, almost.
And yet, now we have former prime minister Malcolm, encouraging voters to back an independent in 12 days time in the by-election in Upper Hunter in a seat held by the Nationals for many years.
Old politicians don’t die, they don’t even fade away. Though John Barilaro and his Nationals saw this as Turnbull treachery, Malcolm was exactly pussyfooting around, standing shoulder to shoulder to the young female independent candidate.
Of course, Turnbull’s antics make it awkward for the Liberals, who still have him on their membership list despite some vigorous efforts to dislodge him from their ranks.
No doubt Phillip Adams, that relentless recorder of Canberra politics would have a solution, dredged from actions of the past or even Annabel Crabbe, another observer of life in the Canberra Bubble, who wrote in her Quarterly Essay on “The Life and Adventures of Malcolm Turnbull” that another stalwart of Whitlam days, the late Jim McClelland, had said of Turnbull, “He’s a turd. He’s easy to loathe, he’s a shit, he’d devour anyone for breakfast, he’s on the make, he’s cynical, he’s offensively smug”.
Turnbull, at the time, riposted that McClelland was “a bitter old man”.
Funny. That would be just what a lot of people might be thinking right now about Malcolm Turnbull.
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