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 “” 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.

628 thoughts on “Renaissance Man’s rapier skewers Cave Man’s club… but can it last?

  1. Speaking of Bastets, paralysis tick season has started again. :-/

    Our “prodigal son” was off to the vet this week to get one of the buggers removed after it slipped through the net; they found a second (smaller) one giving him the thrice over.

    Tick Twisters have been brilliant, but failed in this instance as the tick was too engorged to slide underneath.

    The vet used one of these (or similar):

  2. From yesterday, worth keeping in mind.

    Even if they wanted an early poll, Liberal Party is not ready
    The Australian September 17, 2015 12:00AM
    Rick Wallace Journalist Melbourne
    Mark Coultan State political correspondent Sydney

    A key barrier to any rush to the polls by Malcolm Turnbull is the mixed state of readiness of the Liberal Party’s state divisions as the party machine struggles to shrug off a fraud scandal, a series of abrupt departures and recent trouble filling vacancies.

    The Victorian division is moving to a battle footing but is still reeling from the $1.5 million fraud allegedly perpetrated by former state director Damien Mantach.

    Electoral redistributions in NSW and Western Australia loom as another hurdle should the Prime Minister be tempted to seek an early election. No preselections have been held in NSW because of the uncertainty of the redistribution. With the changing of the guard from Tony Abbott to Mr Turnbull, there is also speculation now of a clean-out of MPs in the party’s Sydney heartland.

    While the Coalition has the option of seeking to force an early election, Mr Turnbull has indicated his preference is to run full term — to the end of next year. “My assumption is that the parliament will serve its full term,’’ he said after winning the leadership.

    The problems facing the Liberal Party are nationwide, with the South Australian division operating without a state director and scrambling to finalise preselections.

    In Queensland, the president’s position is also unfilled, with a replacement for businessman Bruce McIver yet to be confirmed.

    The turmoil comes as debate continues over the future of federal director Brian Loughnane, with sources in the Turnbull camp suggesting he will be replaced even though an election could be held soon

  3. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    VERY GOOD READ! Waleed Aly on the beast that Turnbull must tame. Aly writes with great style – and substance!
    Peter Hartcher on the slow to move evicted tenants of the PM suite.
    Mark Kenny says that the left and the right have a common plan – get Malcolm Turnbull.
    Is Abbott’s empty chair in parliament a gift to his colleagues.
    Peter Martin on the additional $8b deficit blowout on Hockey’s 2014/4 budget.
    And Stephen Koukoulas steps in with this piece – Hockey’s debt and deficit disaster.
    There are some ominous signs emerging from the Australian Border Force and public service strike actions are likely to roll over the country.
    Michael Gordon asks if this cabinet leak could threaten Turnbull’s honeymoon hopes?
    Malcolm consultative? Since when?
    Turnbull’s new Liberal world is still a largely unknown country writes Michelle Grattan.

  4. Section 2 . . .

    This Senate Committee report accuses Brandis of using A-G staff as political tools to cover up mistakes made with Monis.
    Speaking with William Bowe on the Canning by-election.
    How the Australian Public Service “Grey Army” has grown.
    The hazards of a higher GST.
    Peter Wicks wonders whether Turnbull will remove Michael Lawler.,8172
    This meeting of Young Liberals brought their innate characteristics to the fore. Lovely types!
    And now Abbott’s pig-headedness on the local building of submarines has been exposed. Kevin Andrew throws a Hail Mary and supports Turnbull on it.
    Greg Sheridan cops some stick over his re-writing of the history of the Abbott years.,8173
    Donald Trump is an anti-vaxxer. What a dangerous idiot that seems to be going very strongly in his quest for Presidency. It’s tempting to say to the Yanks vote him in, you deserve him. But what would that do for the world at large?
    Vodafone’s response to the hacking of a journalist was “offensively inadequate”.

  5. Section 4 . . . Cartoon Corner

    Alan Moir has Shorten receiving news of the latest opinion polls.

    Ron Tandberg doesn’t think much of Joe’s chances.

    Nor does John Shakespeare.

    Bill Leak goes even further.

    Cathy Wilcox has an oblique stab at Abbott and his :febrile media” comment.

    MUST SEE! David Pope and a refugee’s guide to Canberra.

    Mark Knight has Shorten mourning the demise of Abbott.

    A nice cartoon in The Australian showing Morrison’s role in the change of PM.

    David Rowe takes us into Bill Shorten’s bedroom.

  6. Ageing PS staff is no wonder. One of my sons worked for PS after being recruited as a graduate with Honours degrees in Science and Engineering and could not get out fast enough. They basicly parked him in an office and had him do meaningless crap till he literally broke down in tears telling us about it. He could not understand why they didn’t try to train/employ him and others like him to do real meaningful work. He now has just completed Graduate Medicine at ANU obviously does not work for the PS any more. Others are making the same descisions obviously.

  7. Well knock me down with a feather! The ABC are reporting that the Coalition are in an election-winning lead, and would win an election if held today. How many times do you think we heard that about the ALP during their umpteen-month stretch of comfortable poll leads? Not all that many, and a lot less than we heard about Abbott being on the comeback trail when he went from 6 pts down to 4 pts down.

    We’re talking about polls of 50-50 and 51-49, during the honeymoon period, when most people are simply relieved we’ll see no more of Abbott. These aren’t really leads at all, it’s parity. And there’s no guarantee they can be maintained. Turnbull the White Knight hasn’t so much stormed the castle as ridden his horse smack into the gate.

    I’m going to reserve predictions on Turnbull’s polling for the moment. It’s possible he may go a little higher, especially with the assembled press throwing roses at his feet. It’s just as possible he might stall right there. What the current polling seems to be saying is, “We like you Malcolm, but we’re still not all that crazy about your party or its policies. Do something about it.”

    Much as it pains me to say it, I’d probably really like Turnbull if he led the ALP. He wouldn’t be a problem if he had some decent policy to sell, he’d probably come across as quite inspirational. He’s a rotten fit where he is, and he can’t personally overcome that. He’s chosen to lead a party that’s in direct contradiction to most of what he says he believes. As has been said elsewhere, the lawyer in him won’t see an issue with that, most lawyers get paid to defend or prosecute things they don’t personally agree with. A PM is not a lawyer, however. A PM won’t be rewarded for successfully arguing wrong things, and he won’t be admired for it either. He’ll be resented.

    So we’ll see how that goes.

  8. Tony’s staff slow to move out of the PMO.

    Abbott ‘understood to have left’.

    Don’t bet on it. He’s still there, refusing to budge. He will have to be trussed, bagged and carried out like a sack of potatoes.

  9. It’d be risky for the ALP to do this, but one strategy that might work is to build up expectations of Turnbull to a point where he simply can’t satisfy them. Just talk about how great it is that he’s going to act on his convictions and introduce SSM at the first opportunity, how he’s going to bring us back into the 21st century on climate change, how he’s going to turn the economy around and reduce unemployment and be consultative on the CHFTA and so on. Define him as someone who’s going to moderate the Liberals, bring them back to the centre.

    And then just keep asking him what he’s done about it. When’s it going to happen? Where’s the legislation? Force him to defend all the hard right stuff he’s saddled with, over and over again.

    Setting up a wild community expectation for Turnbull would not only drive the hard right of the Liberals crazy, it’ll set Turnbull up for a series of failures.

    Risky, as I say.

  10. I expect the polls – such as they are – to swing back to where they were before the leadership thing once people work out nothing has changed, nothing will change. We just have a toff for a PM now instead of a wannabe toff.

    Social media is full of people demanding a conscience vote on SSM, now. Poor pets, they haven’t heard about AllBull’s deal with the Nats. Ditto any action on climate change. The expectation was AllBull would ride in like a knight in shining armour and fix all Tony’s crap. They thought he would –
    champion renewable energy
    raise out emissions target for the Paris conference
    call for an immediate vote on SSM
    free children in detention, maybe even end off-shore detention.
    stick up for penalty rates and
    get rid of the threat of $100,000 uni degrees.

    Plus so much more. Why they thought all this might happen is a good question.

    He’s not going to do any of that. The new boss is following the old policies to the letter. You have to ask why they even bothered changing leaders if there is to be no policy change.

    Gradually light will dawn. if you want all that stuff you need to vote Labor. Labor needs to hurry things on by getting policies out there now.

  11. A little thing I’ve noticed about news articles lately is that journos appear to refer to Turnbull as “Prime Minister” a bit less than they did with Abbott. Not so eager to hammer that one in I suppose.

  12. This will be a real vote winner.

    Malcolm Turnbull might take GST hike to the next election, says Josh Frydenberg

    Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has raised the prospect of the Turnbull government taking an increase in the goods and services tax to the next election.
    Addressing a tax forum at the Australian National University and conceding that after the reshuffle due on Monday he might no longer have responsibility for tax, Mr Frydenberg said he had noticed a “change in the public’s mindset” on the GST

  13. Now for the first time in over 18 months our totally unbiased and even handed ABC have returned to trumpeting the results of opinion polls.
    For months it was a case of ‘don’t mention the war’ as the ABC ignored scores of polls and the likes of Fran Kelly and Virginia Trioli
    assured us that polls dont matter and too much was made of inconsequential polls.
    So you can imagine my surprise when today, after 18 months of no mention at all of these apparent nonsense polls which showed Labor in a winning lead I wake up to ABC radio leading their news with the latest result.
    Well at least they no longer start the news with ‘ the opposition says’ as was the case for several years.
    In what im sure is just an amazing coincidence that particular line hasnt been utttered at all since September 7 2013.
    Im not a clairvoyant but i predict that the ABC will resume to starting every single news broadcast with that line once again on the very day after the next ALP is elected.

  14. Has any enterprising journalist wondered/asked how Waffles might be perceived in the less affluent areas of our capital cities, or in rural areas?

    We kept hearing that Sydney’s western suburbs just adored Abbott (another media myth) but so far there has been nothing on what different places/electorates might think of AllBull.

    Has he ever been further west than Balmain?

  15. Also gotta laugh at the ABC now telling us that Labor are worried about the Canning by-election and Shorten is making a desperate last minute dash to campaign there today.
    It was only before monday that for weeks they had decided that it was clear the ALP was running dead in Canning.
    What a bunch of unethical bums.

  16. BK

    A long, long time ago,way back before Turnbull became a politician,there was a story in the gossip column of either the SMH or The Oz about Turnbull.

    He had been heard complaining that his mansion was uninhabitable because ……wait foir it……renovations on the ensuite were not finished.

    I’ve tried many times to find a link for this, but there isn’t one. But other people I’ve mentioned it to have also remembered the story.

  17. Love the ‘faceless men’ tag here –

    Liberal leadership: the faceless men who stalked Abbott and made Turnbull king

    When your allies are Mal Brough and Wyatt Roy then you really should be worrying about the company you keep. Brough has not given up his leadership hopes. Look what he did to Slipper just to get back into parliament. Watch out, Waffles.

  18. Also, a Galaxy of 51-49 to the LNP? That’s less than what I was expecting. A good result for Labor to fight on with.

    Admittedly it’ll probably be hard for Labor to regain a steady lead before the end of the year unless the L/NP gets into massive infighting, but a narrow victory for Shorten next year is certainly possible. Especially if the 2016-17 budget turns out to be another dud. It probably will be, especially if Morrison writes it.

  19. What might a budget written by the man who gave us the ‘Where the bloody hell are you’ ad campaign look like? Morrison’s background is in advertising, not economics.

  20. Aguirre

    I agree with both your posts above. As Leone and Stoney have said, after over 18 months of saying polls don’t matter, now they are just the bees knees, the first report in every news bulletin.

  21. Abetz accused of restacking Fair Work ahead of his Cabinet dumping

    Employment Minister Eric Abetz has made a series of conservative appointments to the Fair Work Commission, using his expected last days in federal cabinet to counter-balance union appointments to the tribunal made by the former Gillard government

  22. FMD, you would think, listening to Fran Kelly that all the massive problems Indigenous people face in this country were solved because Abbott spent a weeks holiday, camera crews and gullible journos in tow, in a remote community.
    How can we expect Politicians to ignore the 24 news cycle and actually govern with sound policy when even the host of a supposed high brow program can so easily be fooled?
    Fran Kelly would be one of those smug sophisticates who thinks she understands and sympathizes with aboriginal people because she likes indugenous art and she once ventured to an inner-city theatre to watch the Bangarra dance company.

  23. One lousy little poll, and AllBull is seen as a saviour. Rose-petal strewing at his feet whenever he appears is now compulsory. Palm fronds optional, for the time being.

  24. Malcolm living in a tent in a remote indigenous community – I’d like to see that.

    Do tents come with ensuites?

  25. Leonetwo, good point but there is no reason for Turnbull to spend a week in an indigenous community because didnt Abbott solved all those issues because of those trips he did and as the media constantly told us he wanted to be the PM for indigenous affairs.
    Are you telling me that this boast and stunt haven’t magically fixed these problems?
    Next you will be trying to tell me that the economy didnt magically transform overnight into a golden era of business confidence, low unemployment and billions of dollars in new investment just on the election of a liberal govt and a claim that we are open for business.
    You wouldnt make it as a journalist in this country Leonetwo.
    A proper journo knows that liberal promises and rhetoric are enough, to bring forth a golden age of economic prosperity and a bright new future for aboriginal people.

  26. Odd priorities –

    Morrison has time for a 17 miute on-air stoush with Hadley this morning, (Scrott was in the Canberra studio) but cancels a CEDA meeting in Melbourne at which he was to give a keynote address. Cancels at very short notice.

    Minister @ScottMorrisonMP will be speaking at CEDA's event today, discussing social services delivery, welfare, productivity & the workforce— CEDA (@ceda_news) September 17, 2015


    Apologies to attendees, unfortunately Social Services Minister Scott Morrison has this morning had to pull out of today's event— CEDA (@ceda_news) September 18, 2015


    Pushing Abbott under a very large bus was obviously much more important.

    Scott Morrison concedes Tony Abbott offered him Treasurer’s role before leadership ballot

  27. Ho Ho Ho. Border Force is about to become a Strike Force. Heard on the radio the Border Force peasantry are to run a series of strikes next week. Management are reportedly going to be flown hither thither trying to plug the gaps.

  28. I am repeating from today’s view from the street that BK linked to this morning

    Water, water everywhere…

    Speaking of that Coalition deal, it’s worth unpacking one important part that seemed fairly bureaucratic yesterday but actually has very serious (and potentially salty) implications.

    The management of Australia’s water resources was taken from the Environment portfolio and placed into Agriculture, thereby changing water from being a natural resource to be monitored to a free thing to be exploited. Too harsh?

    Well, water was originally part of the Agriculture portfolio but was moved to Environment by that well known lefty and green warrior, John Howard.

    The reason for this? Because, frankly, agriculture had basically stuffed our largest freshwater source: the mighty Murray River and its tributaries. The major droughts of 2007 spurred the need for action, with Howard moving the matter to the Environment portfolio that year.

    The Environment and Water minister at the time? One Malcolm Turnbull.

    The result was the adoption of the long-in-development Murray-Darling Basin Plan, an ambitious strategy formed in response to, in the words of its Authority’s executive summary, “the need to ensure that there is balance between the water needs of communities, industries and the environment, while at the same time protecting and restoring the ecological and other values of water-dependent ecosystems so they remain healthy.”

    In other words, to ensure that the nation’s fresh water wasn’t squandered by industry and agriculture, which is what had been happening in increasingly greater degrees for the previous century.

    …and not a drop to drink
    “OK,” you might say, “so Turnbull knew the history of the plan and why it was put into the new portfolio – but why is it such a big deal?”

    Well, imaginary interlocutor, there’s a very very very very very good reason why one might doubt that the Nationals will look after the Murray in the best interests of all that are affected.

    See, if you live in New South Wales or Victoria then the Murray is a big free water supply that rolls down from the Snowys along that verdant corridor, encompassing nice rural electorates which the National Party either control or would very much like to.

    If you’re in South Australia, on the other hand, the Murray is still an awesome agriculture resource (isn’t that right, Berri?) but is also largely how Adelaide can remain alive since around 40 per cent of the drinking water is drawn from it. You know how people make jokes about Adelaide water quality? That’s largely because it’s been through a lot by the time it gets there.

    Also, as it happens, the Nationals don’t exist in any meaningful way in SA.

    So if you’re, let’s say, Agriculture Minister and Nationals Deputy Leader Barnaby Joyce and you can deliver an electorally useful water-allocation coup to your party at the risk of ruining the drinking water for electorally irrelevant communities, then what are you going to do?

    And that’s not even considering whether you might have been humiliated by embarrassing failure to prevent a dirty great big mining development in your own agriculture-heavy electorate and need to look less of a dill to the farming community upon whom your very job depends if you don’t want retired independent Tony Windsor waltzing back into your job.

    Turnbull was unable to negotiate The Murray Darling Basin plan it was finalised and signed off under Gillard’s stewardship

  29. To add to the disaster of the Nats being put in charge of water –

    Barnaby Joyce supporters agitating for National Party leadership change

    Bananaby will do whatever it takes to become leader. If we end up with Adelaide dying of thirst and the Liverpool Plains being turned into a huge coal mine then he won’t care. The fool will be leader and deputy PM.

    Self interest trumps everything.

  30. Typical Liberal – a nasty, sneering, lying bastard.

    Hastie attacks Labor over Digger support

    Senior Labor figures are furious after Liberal candidate for Canning Andrew Hastie again questioned whether previous Labor governments had given wholehearted support to Diggers fighting in Afghanistan.

    The spat comes in the final hours of campaigning, with Labor strategists conceding they have little hope of seizing the seat with Tony Abbott out of the picture.

    During a debate on ABC radio with Labor candidate Matt Keogh yesterday, Mr Hastie — a former captain in the Special Air Service Regiment — repeated his suggestion troops in combat had been let down by Labor

    Talk about a one trick pony. All this fool ever talks about is his time in the army, he seems to think that makes him special.

  31. Leone,

    Handy Andy is special. He is one of God’s Elect.

    Doctrine of predestination and all that jazz.

  32. One more good thing about Abbott’s demise – we won’t have to read any more gushing, man-crush pieces about him by David Marr. At least, I hope not. At least this time he managed to restrain himself and leave out his usual reflections on Abbott’s physique and alleged masculinity. He did get a bit carried away with the warrior/combat thing though. Just can’t help himself, poor pet.

    Marr got something right – Abbott certainly is unique. Just not in any sort of good way.

    i liked this comment –

    Ronald Ostrowski 4m ago
    “The ousted PM never strayed from the belief that his God-given mission was to save a nation in peril. But Australians didn’t buy it – we don’t see ourselves that way”. Bullshit. Abbott was a lying, grossly power hungry thug and bully who sought to destroy this country in as quick as time possible. And, by God, the bastard near done it!

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