After six months of indecision, Australia’s most trepid PM is suddenly judged “bold”, “canny” and even a “man who can transform his prime ministership in one fell swoop.” A Double D-Day is suddenly on the cards.
Turnbull groupie Mark Kenny loves the new Power-pragmatist-Mal and pens a purple paean which owes a bit to the Scottish play and a bit to Canute with a nod to the valour of the old time Bondi surfer south of the Ocean Outfall Sewer.
“In one fell swoop, the Prime Minister has taken control of a sea of floating imponderables.”
The hacks of Canberra’s press claque go mad with flattery of Captain Malcolm Bligh Turnbull, Monday. At last he’s doing something. Finally he’s shed his Clark Kent outfit to reveal Super-Mal, a true liberal with a small l.
Super Mal busts out of his disguise. More progressive than a speeding bullet, he is now, at last, their dream leader revealed, they gush.
Super Mal knows all the angles. An urbane, sophisticated silver fox, who knows business, real wealth and legal stuff, is about to rise up and slap down the recalcitrant crossbench. Such masterful decisiveness! Tony Abbott, aka junkyard dog, will now sit up and beg.
With one blow, Super Mal slices his Gordian Knot and can now assume his rightful destiny as our saviour. His manly resolve will strike terror into the hearts of the monkey pod rightists and the likes of Cory Bernardi, who, flushed with success in terminally endangering Safe Schools, are up for more of the same against equal marriage.
Leading the world to the new vibe may take a little longer. The PM makes another dud right wing speech about “our place in our region” at the Lowy Institute, Wednesday. He forgets the Pacific; makes no mention of “our dear friend New Guinea” as Julie Bishop refers to the island nation which allows us our own gulag on Manus.
Worse, Turnbull insists Abbott-like that Syrian refugees may be ISIS terrorists: “Recent intelligence indicates ISIL is using the refugee crisis to send operatives into Europe.”
However many points he aims to win from the monkey pod room at home, however, Turnbull underwhelms the rest of the world. Belgian ambassador to Australia, Jean-Luc Bodson, rebukes Turnbull for playing into ISIS propagandists’ hands, “making a confusion between terrorism and migrants and between terrorism and Islam.”
Abbott, on the other hand, is too busy looking at himself in the mirror to applaud his PM’s rightist ranting. He eagerly “makes a confusion” of his own. The former PM reflects on his achievements as a world statesman in an essay in Quadrant Sunday.
Abbott celebrates his boat stopping, sneers at wimpy human rights groups and congratulates himself overall on a job well done.
Modestly entitled I was right on national security, Abbott’s essay will be an absolute godsend to any Australian conservative Prime Minister seeking re-election who is in need of a reminder of how his predecessor was so much more than he could ever be.
Turnbull will learn how Abbott “put aside the moral posturing” and got on with the job of “making a difference”, a motive which lay at the heart of everything his government did.
The PM, on the other hand, can’t resist a good finger-wagging even if he fails to do his homework first. In January, in Washington in his first foreign policy speech, he called for the UN convention on the Law of the Sea to be upheld.
The PM was trying to persuade China to behave itself in the South Pacific but failed when China pointed out Australia flouts the Law of the Sea over Timor Leste.
This past week, 10,000 people demonstrate at the Australian Embassy in Dili, Timor-Leste, calling upon Australia to adopt fair and permanent borders in the Timor Sea. Protesters claim East Timor has lost $6.6 billion in oil and gas revenues to Australia under provisional arrangements for resource-sharing between the two countries.
...accuse Australia of taking advantage…
John Howard pulled a swiftie according to UN officials and local politicians who accuse Australia of taking advantage of East Timor’s economic and strategic vulnerability in pressing for an early signing of the treaty in 2002.
Since Australia bugged their cabinet rooms in 2004 to take the tedious guesswork out of our diplomacy, East Timorese feel we ripped them off in our oil and gas treaty and demand justice in The Hague ... but we won’t let the spook responsible give evidence.
Julie Bishop denies a passport to former ASIS agent, known as Witness K, preventing his giving evidence at the Permanent Court of Arbitration about an operation to bug East Timor’s cabinet rooms during talks with Australia over an oil and gas treaty in 2004.
“It will prejudice Australia’s national security to allow him out of the country,” her office says - not mentioning it would lead to the repudiation of our 2004 oil and gas treaty.
A returned Abbott-style Turnbull government will be big on national security, although Tuesday’s Essential opinion poll has Labor and the Coalition on 50 % two-party preferred and other polls suggest a possible hung parliament. Turnbull knows he has to do something before his popular support collapses entirely.
He will organise an early election, wedge his rivals and unseat an uppity Senate crossbench. Governor General Peter Cosgrove is persuaded that government cannot continue without the Australian Building and Construction Commission, sold as a “tough new cop on the beat”; something it is not.
Turnbull is panicked into a high-stakes gamble. Six months’ capitulating to a rabid Liberal right wing, half a year with no real economic plan and no real policy platform to define himself, even Malcolm Turnbull realises he is on the road to political oblivion.
...the most meaningless political slogan…
A dramatic new role calls for a bold new script. Despite keeping a small army of expensive advisors, the PM comes up with “Continuity and Change.”
“Continuity and Change” is “the most meaningless political slogan we could think of” according says a VEEP writer. Julia Louis-Dreyfus laughs hysterically at our PM.
With “Continuity and Change” at his disposal, Turnbull won’t be letting Abbott snipe or undermine. Nor will he suffer George Christensen’s homophobic hijacking of the party room. Or stand by while opinion polls confirm his opponents’ 2009 verdict, he is rubbish at being Liberal leader, let alone Prime Minister.
Recall parliament early. Push for a double dissolution election 3 July, he proclaims. He neglects to tell Scott Morrison whom, he insists, was “in the loop”.
On Nine Network’s breakfast television show, it seems that “the loop” is effectively a cabinet by-pass. “A small circle of people” were told, he tells Lisa Wilkinson.
Turnbull’s ruling circle includes his wife, Lucy, creative bean counter Arthur Sinodinos, his assistant and Education Minister, Simon Birmingham and the Attorney-General George Brandis who refused to allow Dreyfus to see his diary because of the “unreasonable burden” it would place on himself and his staff.
In December a tribunal ruled that Brandis was not complying with the aim of the Freedom of Information Act and his behaviour was “thwarting the intentions of parliament.”
Who better to have in any cabal dispensing with cabinet government?
It is not known if household pets may contribute to the proceedings of the Turnbull Circle but Arthur Sinodinos, the PM’s numbers man, is threatened with a rolled-up newspaper if he tramps any more ICAC droppings into the house.
Labor calls for Sinodinos to resign over his involvement in the Liberal Free Enterprise Foundation which effectively laundered the identity of donors to the NSW Liberal Party.
(Morrison)...is slapped down
Former Abbott political pet, Scott Morrison, a boat stopper cum champion Abbott cabinet leaker who is nominally Treasurer, despite economic policy now being done by Dr Martin Parkinson and Turnbull’s PM&C, is not only excluded, he is slapped down in two radio interviews which Turnbull subsequently gives.
“I believe that government should look at these issues very carefully, take all of the matters into account, confer confidentially in the cabinet and then, when we make a decision, announce it, rather than providing hints and leaks, and briefs and front running,”
Turnbull makes it known he is prepared to duke it out with his bare knuckles if necessary. He will do foreign policy announcements; not Tony Abbott, who just happens to be in the UK visiting his old pal David Cameron.
World statesman Abbott appears on TV with London images of bridges over the Thames and buses behind him claiming that Turnbull is only running an Abbott agenda anyway.
It’s tough, but Turnbull must do another Tony slap-down, insisting that the innovation vibe, the amazing deals with media ownership laws - which may well not be passed this year anyway - and his cities policy make this election clearly all about him.
Tough-guy Turnbull’s already warned Abbot and anyone else listening recently that he’ll publicly correct the record when necessary. The electorate readies itself for a campaign with policy by slap-down, an innovative approach to an election nobody wants over an issue few can be bothered by with. Peta Credlin helpfully comments that it is war between the Abbott and Turnbull camps.
...swallowing his republicanism…
Turnbull’s cunning plans include a few tough patches. Dealing with Abbott knight, Sir Pete Cosgrove does mean swallowing his republicanism, but, heck, a man has to make a stand. Play that ace up his sleeve.
Despite a six-month losing streak, he’s really been secretly, political poker-playing, a move or two ahead of the game. If only the same could be said for his new script.
‘The Time for game-playing is over’, declares the great prevaricator, dazzling many by deploying a House of Cards reference to announce his own game plan. The House of Cards Twitter account tweets him back in a digitally disruptive duet between fiction and PM in an ominous pre-election flash of narcissism.
It is a gusty effort. Now the chips are down, the PM is putting everything on the (new black) of an industrial hammer to crack a walnut. Turnbull’s histrionic decision to con Sir Peter Cosgrove into recalling parliament three weeks early allows the government time to call a double dissolution if the crossbench block his reinstating the ABCC.
Do we need to go back to a John Howard Australian Building and Construction Commission? It’s a bad law which we don’t need that he misrepresents as “a tough new cop on the block.”
The ABCC grants STASI-like powers that deny the right to silence or a lawyer of choice to anyone it chooses to investigate. Despite the coalition’s slogan, it is not a cop at all; it has no powers of criminal investigation but it does have the ability to act in the civil jurisdiction to impose massive fines for behaviour it deems unacceptable.
We already have a watchdog on the job that as Paul Bongiorno says “works without denying legal rights we are supposed to value as a free country.”
No real policy. No real motive other than self-preservation for calling an early election over some legislation we don’t want or need. Sounds like one of Abbott’s captain’s calls.
“At war” with Abbott, his right wing and with Morrison fit to kill, Turnbull sets up an interminable election campaign everyone will resent, which he can’t even launch honestly or without dissent.
With apologies to Mark Kenny, the PM is diving head first into a sea of potentially toxic imponderables. What could possibly go wrong?
• SkyNews: Turnbull losing key state support: Newspoll Queensland is emerging as a problem state for Malcolm Turnbull’s government, which is also losing ground in Victoria, Western Australia and NSW as it counts down to the federal election. According to the latest Newspoll published in the Australian, in the battleground state of Queensland, Coalition support has dropped six percentage points in two-party terms since the 2013 election. The coalition has also lost a lot of ground in W- A with support down 5 point 3 on a two-party preferred basis to 53 percent while Labor is up 5 point 3 to 47 percent. It’s the same in Victoria with the coalition down 2 point 8 to 47 percent and again in NSW with coalition down 1 point 6 to 52 percent. While he remains easily preferred as Prime Minister over Bill Shorten, Mr Turnbull has suffered a hit to his satisfaction rating in all states, with voters in his home state of New South Wales the least satisfied and most dissatisfied with his performance.
• Jacqui Lambie in Media HERE … Because Bob has voted with his liberal friends to take $30B of education, health and social entitlements from Australia’s poor – while allowing their rich Liberal mates to escape paying a fair share of tax. And unlike Bob Day – I’m not scared of a DD election.” said Senator Lambie.
• Tony Mulder MP in Comments: State income taxes are a bad idea …