Malcolm Turnbull is the Freddy Krueger of Australian politics
Chris Kenny writing in The Australian about the bizarre actions of Malcolm Turnbull leaves the average punter wondering if Malcolm’s overthrow has tipped the ego driven sod overboard. Every time Turnbull opens his mouth now he further suggests what sort of a person most of us knew him to be. It is good that he conducts himself in such a manner. It cements a persona that makes any form of comeback to public life, especially as king of a Republic completely out of the question.
In his Twitter flurry and Fran Kelly interview Malcolm Turnbull dropped any pretence. He has kissed goodbye to his promise not to be a “miserable ghost’’. Instead he confronts Scott Morrison as the Freddy Krueger of Australian politics. It wasn’t easy to write on the weekend that Malcolm Turnbull and his “Malcontent” supporters were actively working to destroy the Coalition government. It is a tough reality to confront when you once worked for the man, enjoyed a friendship and aspired for him to be successful.
Source: News Corp
Besides, writing those words was bound to generate tough responses from the many Liberal moderates, media commentators and Leftist activists who will always support Turnbull as a bludgeon against conservatives, pretending he is blameless in his own demise. But who could doubt my conclusion now?
In his Twitter flurry yesterday and interview today he dropped any pretence. He has kissed goodbye to his promise not to be a “miserable ghost.” Instead he confronts Scott Morrison as a vengeful spectre — the Freddy Krueger of Australian politics.
He lost the prime ministership the same way he seized it and in return plunged the government into minority by quitting parliament and cruelling the pitch for the Liberal candidate, Dave Sharma. The former prime minister refused to lift a twitter finger or sign a letter to help Sharma during the campaign yet tweeted up a storm yesterday to try to kill off his conservative backbench critic Craig Kelly.
The organisational issues at play are complicated and longstanding. Suffice to say the systems of the Liberal Party ought to be such that preselection interventions are unnecessary. But the last time Kelly was threatened, it was Turnbull who intervened to help him.
The NSW Liberal Party is corrupted by factions and needs fixing — urgently. For Turnbull to pretend otherwise and urge Kelly to take his druthers is disingenuous. The biggest laugh Turnbull ever got as prime minister was soon after he rolled Tony Abbott when he told a NSW Liberal state council meeting that the party was “not run by factions”.
Turnbull rightly says the party should not give in to blackmail from its own preselected members yet he was the prime minister who delivered a one seat majority then said he would quit parliament if he was overthrown. He was and he did — and he helped ensure the seat was lost.
There is no purity in this argument. There is no moral high ground to be found.
While reform of the Liberal Party and expurgation of the NSW branch form the backdrop for this latest conflagration, and might well have played a role in its genesis, the pressing question for the government is how to deal with this Nightmare on Capital Hill. Turnbull is in a scary mood and no longer cares for niceties.
His floating of an election date is an open plea to have the federal government put down before the NSW Liberals wear the wrath of voters. The way the Liberals are heading they could see a Freddy Krueger state election nightmare, quickly followed by a federal election sequel.
One Liberal branch is pushing to expel Turnbull from the party. He must now be sailing close to the party rules that saw former MP Ross Cameron expelled last year for criticising colleagues (rules, admittedly, that were absurdly implemented for a party that is supposed to valued free expression and debate).
Such action would only inflame the situation. Morrison needs to find a way to ignore Turnbull – which will be very difficult given the ABC will offer him a national, uncritical megaphone anytime he chooses.
It is deeply sad to watch a man writing himself into history in this way. Think of Kevin Rudd, who should be remembered for a national apology but instead is remembered for bitterness and recriminations. Turnbull should be remembered for same sex marriage and the US refugee resettlement deal but instead seems intent on a reputation for demolition.
Morrison’s only hope is that voters soon tire of the circus. And he might finally stop getting asked that silly question about why Turnbull is no longer prime minister.
Common sense has not been sufficient to prevent the Liberal Party from inflicting the same leadership self-harm we saw from Labor. Post-election, serious rule changes around leadership selection are imperative. Whatever is left of the party will need to guard against future nightmare scenarios.