“Mirror, mirror, on the wall…”

Turnbull Mirror

Malcolm Turnbull is not a leader. He is a lone wolf.

He has always tended to celebrate his own magnificence, and has done well – for himself and his family – out of it. But the fact remains that while he may be in a team, he is not a team leader. No political team he has ever led has done well. Urbane and sophisticated doesn’t seem to cut it in the snakepit of politics.

Bill Shorten (as I am getting tired of writing, but it has to be repeated) has kept Labor together without the usual rancour and restlessness from the peanut gallery of Labor machine men, time servers and influence peddlers that usually cruels the ground for an Opposition leader from the Left.

Before he was in parliament Shorten led a major union successfully into the 21st century. No wonder the conservatives attempted to pillory him for it at the TURC. It was one of the strongest indications that he was a genuine leader. It seems obvious now that the aim of TURC was to show him up as just another grubby self-server, out for the personal perks.

The TURC failed, and had to exonerate him.

Weak attempts to keep the “Bill Shorten has questions to be answered” issue alive have withered into the mists of time. Who now thinks there’s going to be a “Union Corruption” election campaign? Life’s too short for shit like that.

Abbott and Hockey – the supposed foundation pillars of the new Liberal government are both gone. Was Bill out and about waving him arms and trying-on the 3-word slogans, Tony-style for the two years it took their party to wake up?

No. He judged that it would be better to just block them where they could do real harm, and then to let their petulant overreactions and their thinly disguised ideological obsessions, ever more rabid as time passed, do the rest.

And it worked. The first two years of the Coalition government have gone up in a puff of smoke, exposed as a shallow, policy-free fraud. Even their own people are now pointing this out, if only to take some of the heat off themselves: members of the Abbott government, but strangely not connected to any of its mistakes… in their own estimation, of course. The fact remains that they are equally responsible for the two years of Abbott mayhem as Abbott is himself. God help them if the punters make the connection.

Meanwhile, Bill Shorten has avoided the opportunity to gloat, heckle and kick heads from the sidelines. Instead he got his team working, knowing that schadenfreude is one thing, planning and substance are another.

His calmness and patience got him into a lot of trouble. There was the mockery about zingers. Then the accusations of being bland and uninteresting. There were even taunts from the very people who refused to listen to him that no-one was listening to him! Nice try. Because Shorten wasn’t a thug like Abbott, driven by vindictiveness and destructiveness, and he wasn’t a clown like Hockey, Abbott’s Toltoy punching bag, he was written off as “No Fun”, the human Dad Joke.

A lot of ostensible “Labor” supporters fell for this too. They believed that unless you were a vaudeville showman like Abbott, making noise all the time, you couldn’t “cut through”. Retail politics was what it was all about. There had to be an “announceable” every day, and lots of stunts, or the Opposition leader should go, to be replaced by someone who could cut it. Round up the usual suspects.

Then there were the polls which, if looked at honestly, only snapshotted the political situation as it should have been: a rump of an Opposition, exhausted by past internal ructions, decimated at the last election, barely able to get out of bed each day and fight the good fight in the Parliament and hustings. 53-47 against, post-September, looked pretty close to normal in that situation. The polling excesses of the Abbott years were the exception. The 2013-2015 polls were a bloody miracle for Labor, when you think about it. But they gave Labor confidence, but some of its supporters too much confidence. They forgot that the electoral cycle is three years, not the two weeks between Newspolls, owned and operated by one of Shorten’s (and Labor’s) greatest enemies.

As Churchill said about “ends of the beginning”, so it’s true for Labor. The fight’s not over.It’s hardly begun. The CPG can become just as bored with Bill Shorten again as they seem to be with Malcolm Turnbull at present.

But for the moment they’re seeing Shorten in a new light (for them). Funny how they’ve only just twigged, isn’t it? The new light is an illumination that many here have seen for quite some time. But it can be switched off as suddenly as it was switched on. Don’t rely on the journos for anything that resembles deep thought: they’re still trying to run the line that Malcolm Turnbull making a May 11 DD announcement is sensible, or certain, or even a guaranteed winner with no political blowback. That’s how dumb they are. Kids with toys. Camp followers. Their own echo chamber. Only ever tangential to the curve of history, but not part of it.

Turnbull has been lazy, thinking he has all the time in the world to fiddle while Canberra and Australia burn. It’s an investor’s laziness. Investors put up the capital, and then let others do the work for them.

The problem is that, as Prime Minister, it’s now Turnbull’s job to roll up his own sleeves, and to lead. I don’t think he’s got that in him. Malcolm employs people to do that. Unfortunately, the buck has now stopped rolling and is stuck in crevice: jammed right up the Prime Minister’s fundamental orifice.

It’s Turnbull who has to get himself and his party out of trouble. Don’t expect Bill Shorten to help by attracting too much attention to himself, yet.

Shorten’s strategy is to do what you can do, within your capabilities, while the enemy fritters away their resources preening before the mirror they are trapped inside of, one that tells them, “You are the fairest one of all”.

Until you’re not.

848 thoughts on ““Mirror, mirror, on the wall…”

  1. ” Michelle Grattan urges Turnbull to announce taxation policy “pronto” ”
    Wassamatter, Michelle..souffle turned to shit so quickly?

  2. All these journalists begging, really begging Turnbull to do something, call a DD, release a tax policy, anything, just do something or Labor will win – it would be funny if it was not a declaration of their ever-so-biased politics. They just can’t bear the thought of the Born To Rule Party losing government. Especially not after working so hard for almost six years to get it back into power.

    They are frantic, getting shrill, trying to come up with an idea to pass on to their adored Messiah, and he isn’t listening to his flock at all.

    Maybe they should have wangled invitations to last night’s dinner, Waffles’ only solution to the growing crisis, let’s invite the cross-benchers over for dinner. That will fix it. A spot of truffley extravagance in The Lodge, a taste of the finer things in life. Butlers, chefs, maids, fine foods, fine china, real silverware, crystal glasses and the best wines, starched napkins, antique sofas, national treasure art works on the walls, things that could be theirs if only they would give in and join his team, give in and worship at his feet. Just agree to obey his commands and all this, all this could be theirs.

    Will they – the ones who turned up, that is – say ‘Get thee behind me, Waffles’ and refuse his bribes, laugh at his lies, or will they cave in and join the dark side?

    All will be revealed when it comes to the next important senate vote.

  3. Have been sitting up this morning twiddling my thumbs. Nervy.

    This is because, for better or worse, I haven’t got anything to do for HI, and also because the No. 1 grandson, not long turned 17, had come all the way down from the country to sit his driving test in Sydney.

    The narky grandparents he lives with in the bush wouldn’t let him use their car for the test, and all his mates had hotted-up contraptions and jalopies that, if he’d borrowed one of them, mightn’t have pleased the local tester. So coming down to Sydney was essential.

    He was down two weeks ago and failed. Talk about long faces!

    This morning the 2nd test was at 8.45am.

    It was a long wait for me from 7am when I got up. He and HI had already left to have a practice drive, and HI (as usual) left her phone at home, so I wouldn’t know until they came in through the front door.

    He passed.

    BIG smiles on his face this time. I was so pleased for him. I’d forgotten how big a thing getting your licence really is for a kid. And he’s a good kid too, which is a plus.

    Same tester as the one who failed him last time (before he’d even left the motor registry… there was this STOP sign in the driveway he overshot by about a foot, you see…).

    I was freakin’ out about School 40k zones, and peak hour traffic, as in “extra obstacles”. I CAN be a bit of a worry-wart. But he got it, and I’m happy the second trip wasn’t wasted.

    For a bonus, I hear that the Liberal dries are in revolt. Just as predicted, they’ve felt the breeze in their sails over the GST and now they’re going for negative gearing to be taken off the table.

    If Turnbull was a leader he’d know what to do. But that smarmy smile of his doesn’t cut it with the hard men of the Liberal right. They see it as a sign of weakness.


    • “They see it as a sign of weakness.”

      Which, of course, it is.

      As are all his other non-decisions.

    • Congratulations to grandson No. 1! That is definitely one of the rites of passage.

      Congratulations to you and HI as well – you have both put so much effort into getting him through.

    • Congratulations to your grandson, and what a shame he fell victim to the good old Stop sign trick.

      They had the same thing here, you had to stop at the sign, or you failed straight away, but there was an added catch. The line you had to stop on was too far back from the road, you could not see on-coming traffic. It meant you had to stop on the line to pass the test and then stop again another metre or two further on to check the traffic. You lost points for not stopping on the line, you lost points for stopping twice. They got you no matter what you did.

      Everyone had to do the test again, everyone. The only thing to do was stop on the line then charge into the traffic and hope for the best. The place was notorious for failing hopeful drivers because of that line and the damned Stop sign. Revenue raising at its best.

      The line has gone now, replaced by one in the proper position. There must have been too many complaints from ‘concerned’ parents.

  4. I like the current translation of Turnbull’s much lauded “MTM.” broadband…
    “MTM” = Mongrel Tech Mix !
    Very apt.

  5. Oh my goodness!

    More on last night’s dinner at The Lodge. It did not go well.

    Glenn Lazarus hits Maccas after ‘stick insect size’ Lodge dinner

    I suppose that means Lazarus and Lambie will not be voting with the government.

    Me? I would have left as soon as I saw who the other guests were. Brandis, $inodinos and Fifield. Who thought asking that pack of vultures was a good idea? No wonder Ms Lambie talked about corruptions.

  6. Good luck with that!

    The government is rushing to fill the policy void at the centre of its poor start to the election year, with the new head of the department of prime minister and cabinet, Martin Parkinson, taking over responsibility for coordinating Malcolm Turnbull’s long-awaited tax package from the treasurer’s tax unit.


    So it’s back to the days of the NE: everything run from the PM’s office

    Both the treasury department and the prime minister’s department would normally be involved in major policy development, but giving the the prime minister’s department the lead co-ordinating role means it is involved in every idea from the outset.

  7. You might have missed this story the other day – Scrott deciding to sell off Australia’s oldest companies to the Chinese, on the excuse it has always been foreign owned so why change.

    Now he is in all sorts of trouble over that decision because there was an Australian buyer who Scrott ignored.
    VDL sale to foreign buyer a ‘betrayal’, Kathmandu founder Jan Cameron says

    He is now trying to justify his decision.

    Just as well for Scrott parliament is not sitting today, there might be questions to answer.

    Background –

  8. HoJo didn’t really want to do anything. One of the problems with the current incumbent is that he does, anything.

    • good riddance… did he jump or was he pushed..? Clearing the decks for early election perhaps?

    • “I thank the people of Fisher for their support at the last election and the trust they placed in me …”

      I wonder if it’s a question of “trust” or rather just a habit, the habit of just voting LNP without thinking.

  9. I heard a little bit – only about 10-15 minutes but it was more than enough – of Tony Biggs on RRR this morning. He comes at politics from what he likes to think as an anarchist, but is really a Greens, perspective. It’s your typical rabid socialist attitude in fact – everything is shit, two-party politics is killing us all, you need to be politically pure or you’re part of the problem, that sort of thing. He used to get a fairly eclectic mix of callers, but nowadays it’s mostly people of a like mind to him, phoning in to have a whinge about EVERYTHING.

    Anyway, in the time I had him on he put a couple of misconceptions out there:

    1. ‘The proposed Senate changes are there to benefit the two major parties’ – he actually said that. He bemoaned the effect it will have on independents in the Senate, but he didn’t say at thing about the major beneficiary, the Greens. I didn’t hear him mention that the ALP opposed the changes and that the Greens supported them, either. And there’s a reason for that….

    2. ‘The ALP and the Coalition are as bad as each other’ – which is his usual hobby horse. The way he sees it, both exist only to facilitate the takeover of the world by large corporations. He had a wild swing at Daniel Andrews, but I’m not sure what it was about. As I switched on, he was in full flight about the number of times the ALP have voted with the Coalition in the Senate.

    Somebody rang in to ask what he thought of the ALP’s proposed negative gearing changes. He said they were a good idea, but within a minute of talking he was back talking about how much the major parties love seeing corporations buy up all the housing.

    I only wanted to talk about that because it put me in mind of the ways in which the Greens mindset fails again and again. Every time, they get out the map, point to a destination and way “we must end up here” and then refuse to listen to any talk about how to plan the trip. They just keep stabbing the map with their finger and say “this is the destination!”

    • And anyone who disagrees with them is an ALP hack or a ‘broken’ or whatever putdown they like to use to belittle others, just look at how they’ve turned on Van Badham.

    • Just try getting any one of their acolytes to admit that the Greens ever got anything wrong in the entire party’s existence. It’s impossible. No capacity for self-reflection. When cornered, they come out with the, “Oh yeah, well what about what the ALP did!” That’s as close as they ever get.

    • That’s exactly their line Aquirre. I mentioned I got into a Twitter brawl with one which had started innocently enough by me praising Tanya for speaking out against Nauru. She thought she Tanya should be condemned because she’d voted for what they’ done in the past. I argued that doing something about the present was more urgent and important than apportioning blame for past decisions.

      She wouldn’t let go and I mentioned that all parties, including the Greens, had erred in the past. I pointed out that they did a deal with Morrison to block Malaysia when the only political alternative was Nauru/Manus. That really got her going that the Greens were the only good guys in the situation. But at least she ceased trolling from that point.

      They’re not serious political players because they’re not prepared to negotiate. Human lives are an area where we shouldn’t have to, but sometimes you just have to reach an agreement on the ‘least worst’ option. In that particular case, the Gillard Government was in such a pickle over ‘deaths at sea’ that the Greens if serious could just about written their own safeguards into such an arrangement. With that issue at least taken out of the political spotlight, there is every reason to suppose the government would have survived despite all the media stunts by Abbott and Rudd and their backers. We might have had a sensible government instead of the corporate lackeys we have now.

  10. I am going to get my nauls dpne. Ready for tomorrow’s SAChapter Knees Up in the Scrub at the Jaycee Jamboree.
    Suggestions please for colours patterns to paint my claws. I thought dragon red dripping over Lib tie blue but it might be a bit garish for the Nat stronghold out in the Mallee.
    Lwt your imaninations run wild!

  11. Grandson is learning the first few hard facts of having his first car and a new licence:

    1. Don’t attempt trick driving in steep driveways. You new car ends up in a ditch with a ding in its bumper bar.

    2. Insurance for 17 year olds is really, really expensive, especially if the car is a Nissan Skyline.

    3. Having your “P” plate is not the end of the trail, nor is it the beginning of the end. It’s only just barely the end of the beginning.

    4. Even if your Dad chews you out, your Bushie granddad will tell you “We all make mistakes. Don’t let it get you down, mate. A bit of sandpaper and polish and we’ll fix that in a flash.” (this wisdom from one who knows… “King Of The Ding” as they call me in my battered Forester).

    G/son still glum, but getting over it. He’ll learn. He’s a good kid.

  12. I got my license in a country town by just going to see the local copper and asking without a driving test.

    • I got mine in SA in 1958 when only a theory test (rules of the road) and no driving test was required. Local copper was rather stern and asked me how long I’d spent learning it. I said it was an hour or so last night. “well,” he said, still in a gruff tone, ” You did very well, since you got every question right,”

      I didn’t really learn to drive for another two years.

  13. gigi – I was off a farm so you learn early. I still can’t do a reverse park because there wasn’t any need to.

    No collisions, actually ever!

    And 1 fine for speeding only (the Merc tricked me and I got done for 8 over – a two liner to the Motor Traffic Authority got me off that.

    I’ve fallen off motor bikes numbers of times.

    Luck well and truly with me for the 30 or so years of driving on the road.

  14. I saw the point made earlier today that Morrison has barely even settled into the Treasurer position, and Turnbull has already been forced to state publicly that he has ‘confidence’ in him. Morrison really is that much of a dud.

    I also heard some claims that Morrison is a worse Treasurer than Hockey. Nobody could be worse than Hockey, he was a disaster of such breadth and depth that he’ll be unchallenged for decades. Hockey’s particular claim to notoriety was that he took a healthy economy and virtually destroyed it – and managed that within a year. Morrison had to inherit that disaster, so he’s coming off a lower base. But he has done nothing to rehabilitate the position, and demonstrated a similar incomprehension in the face of economic figures.

    They both share a similar misconception – that the ability to see what a graph says – you know, what the things on the side say and which way the line is sloping – is the mark of good economic nous. Understanding it, and then being to place it into a wider context, is way beyond them. You can’t just say what’s there and then move straight into your ideological stance – you have to at least try to link the graph with the ideology. Neither of them learnt that.

    They also both have this mistaken idea that the louder you shout, the more intelligent you are. Or perhaps that shouting lends authority to whatever nonsense you are saying. It doesn’t.

  15. Turnbull’s got some different lunatic ideas floating around in his head:

    1. If the opposition challenges you on a particular topic, the best response is to provide them with a definition of the thing they’re talking to you about. This apparently makes it look like you’re teaching them, and also helps you to avoid the actual question.

    2. If the opposition asks you a question in a policy area you’re finding tricky, the best response is to complain that they didn’t ask you about a topic you want to talk about.

    3. If you’re not across a particular policy area, that shouldn’t stop you from talking endlessly about it. Everyone else loves the sound of your voice just as much as you do, and it would be a shame to deprive them of it, even it that voice is saying nothing useful.

    4. Ad hominem attacks on the opposition are not necessarily in contrast to calls that they engage in adult conversation. Combine them freely.

    5. If you said something yesterday that either didn’t work or was factually wrong, saying the opposite today is perfectly acceptable, and standing by both statements is the honourable thing to do.

    6. An arrogant, supercilious attitude can sweep away all other faults, and it’s what the people love.

  16. The big story today should be the way Waffles has excused the vile behaviour of George Christensen.

    Christensen made some appalling remarks in parliament last night. He should, at the very least, have been reprimanded by the PM, should have been asked to resign from the parliament.

    So what did Waffles do? He waffled – a lot – but said not one word of censure. His miserable, spineless response has given the impression he and his government fully approve of Christensen’s unhinged hate-filled words.

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