Renaissance Man’s rapier skewers Cave Man’s club… but can it last?

Abbott Turnbull Renaissance

I woke up this morning with a nice sense of calm that Abbott had gone. And I’m not too worried about Turnbull.

Unless Turnbull cuts a big swathe through the Abbottistas, and their policies, he won’t succeed. He’ll just be the caretaker Prime Minister.

Turnbull made his money with a serendipitous investment in Ozemail. Hey, good luck to him. He had $500k to spare, put it all on the internet, and won.

I still have an Ozemail account, one with “ozemail.com.au” in it. I must be one of the few left from the old days where all you had to do was pick up a free Ozemail CD at a trade show (or, as in my case, have a mate who brought you one saying, “D’ya know what this is for?”), a phone modem, and five minutes to spare, and you were on-line.

It was a brilliant marketing scheme and Turnbull made a killing, selling out at the top of the market to the ill-fated Tyco (who then went broke in one of the bigger Dot.Com crashes a few years later).

You only need one Ozemail investment in your life to live the rest of it on Easy street. That’s what I would have done. Malcolm chose to “further his career in public and professional life”. The rest is connections.

Malcolm had the connections and the savoir faire, and he made the best of them.

I don’t think you needed to be a business genius to get yourself shoe-horned into a merchant bank and turn over money, with a decent amount of it falling into your pocket each time the investment merry-go-round completed a cycle. If you had the money to start with, making more was easy. Once again, good luck to him. I can only wish…

I guess what I’m saying is that Turnbull had a lot of luck in amassing his pile, not particularly a lot of business savvy. He DID have style, though, which is important… once you’re in the driver’s seat.

As for his career as a lawyer, the Turnbull legend is only based on winning one case, the local franchise version of Spy Catcher, not the big game in the UK. Another serendipitous win that stood Malcolm in good stead.

He has an amazing head for detail There’s no doubt he’s very intelligent. I can still remember him going brain-to-brain with Tony Jones (no slouch in the quick-wittedness department) over something to do with coal industry, during an interview one evening on ABC TV. Jones had copious notes in front of him and quoted something that someone-or-other had said, or perhaps it was some statistic.

Turnbull had only his memory, and contradicted Jones on the quote. Jones looked up his notes and (sort-of) conceded that Turnbull was right. Jones was wrong. Now, THAT is a good head for detail from Turnbull, no risk about it.

Unfortunately though, there’s the Turnbull ego. They say he doesn’t suffer fools gladly, and you can see it in the breezy, almost friendly, almost hesitant way he corrects people. It’s almost like he’s patting them on the head. Apparently in private he’s a little more pointed in his contradictions.

There are a lot of fools in the ranks of the Liberal Party.

They have had 5 years of slogans and total war. They gotten used to winning with sheer aggression and a veritable gale of media sycophancy behind them, with toadies waiting for them at every port, ready and willing to do anything to get them into and keep them in power. “Dead.Buried.Cremated”… the über 3-word slogan of the Liberal Party, 2009-2015.

Policy? Who needs it? There was always a scandal that could be drummed up: Ipswich Inc, Godwin Grech, Thomson, Slipper,Pink Batts, School Halls, Gillard’s bathroom, Bill Shorten’s AWU days, and a hundred more. The shock jocks went feral and nasty, even feraler and nastier than they had ever been. A stench started to come up over the Australian polity as it laid waste to itself.

It was so easy to cut someone down, so you could stand taller than them.

The better way, of course, was to raise everyone up. You could still be taller, because they’d hoist you onto their shoulders and cheer you. But that was not the Liberal way. They had it too easy.

Turnbull, like all his colleagues, fell for it and came a cropper on Gretch. If it hadn’t been Gretch, it would have been someone else who swindled him.

Turnbull is the show pony who’s been forced to corral in with the pit ponies. There may be some among his colleagues he respects and admires, but probably not too many.

The others? They will want to continue playing dirty. It’s become a habit. It won’t suit Turnbull’s breezy “why-can’t-we-all-just-get-on” style. I think he’ll be torn down by the Liberal cavemen simply because he has vestigial scruples, the last reserve of decency that Abbott did not have. Turnbull doesn’t have the killer instinct that the modern Liberal Party needs and has gotten used to having in Abbott. No-one should underestimate the capacity of today’s Liberal Party for stupidity and boorishness.

Turnbull’s faith in his party is touching. But he’ll not only have to rewrite their policies to get some sense out of them.

He’ll have to rewire their DNA as well, which will be a vastly bigger ask.

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