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September 15th 2015 print

Roger Franklin

You Won’t Get My Vote, Mr Turnbull

On the morning after a decent, albeit supine, Prime Minister was dispatched to the backbench, where is a conservative to turn? If principle is worth defending, a Liberal Party that lavishes its leadership on treachery's most astute practitioner is, quite clearly, beyond the pale

caesar gets itI wasn’t taking notes, but the conversation beside the barbeque at a recent social gathering went something like this. It is a pity 54 Liberal MPs did not hear it:  

“Abbott,” said the software engineer with something akin to a shudder, “what a disaster. The man is an embarrassment.”

“And an idiot,” interjected his paramour, who in the fashion of the times prefers to be known as “partner”, rather than “wife”, even though the couple was formally married more than a decade ago. Getting the emphasis right, keeping up with the latest fashions, is important in circles where black will always be the new black and the general consensus runs to the view that taxes, wonderful things, are best paid by those too dim to engage the services of sharp accountants.

Turnbull would make a better Prime Minister, Mr Software continued to the hearty endorsement of his, er, partner.

But would you vote for him, I wondered?

Incredulity contorted my interlocutors’ faces.

Vote for a Tory? Don’t be silly! It was Labor all the way for him and the Greens for her. As to Turnbull, well they “liked” him, but only as their placeholder of preference — the Liberal who, until someone from a  better party comes along, could best express Australia’s determination to tame the scourge of global warming and load the welcome wagon with conspicuous compassion when the next batch of boat people steps ashore. Turnbull, this duo seemed to think, was almost one of them. Almost, but not quite.

zeg turnbull big

This morning, after the White Ant of Wentworth’s two years of relentless undermining, Mr and Mrs Hip-Dude have their wish and so does he. The party they despise is now led by the man they find somewhat less despicable. But actually vote for him? Well put it this way, those 54 MPs quite likely have an unpleasant surprise in store.

And me? Where do I turn now?

It was galling to see the ousted PM stutter and stumble through his curtailed reign. The passivity was infuriating. Where was the fabled pugilist who, when the voters put pay to the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd circus, was widely expected to set about the ABC? Instead, of all people, it was Turnbull he placed in charge, the self-serving sniper and sly self-promoter who indulged the national broadcaster’s blatant bias and ignored its abrogation of the chartered obligation to make at least some pro forma attempt at balance. Why would the man in the leather jacket, the tame “conservative” so beloved of Q&A’s producers, give a fig? The ABC was on his side, after all, forever massaging the dauphin of Australian politics with its kid-glove touch. For Turnbull and his party of one, keeping the national broadcaster on side was the important thing. Bugger the damage a daily stream of slurs and sneers was inflicting on his party brethren. Much better to assure Mark Scott with a quiet word and indulgent smile that he and his minions had nothing to fear from the knuckle-draggers with whom the Prince of Point Piper is obliged to share the party room. Now, incredibly, having seen their electoral chances diminished by Turnbull’s sabotage, they have rewarded him with their greatest honour. It requires a special brand of stupid to perceive wisdom in that response.

And then, returning to Abbott, there was 18C and his craven retreat from what should have been a principled campaign to restore free speech, even its odious and offensive varieties. The spectacle of a Prime Minister prostrating himself before an audience of disdainful imams was stomach-turning, his begging and pleading without dignity or success that they should enlist — no, really! — in Team Australia even moreso. They told him to get stuffed and he copped the humiliating rudeness of that rejection without complaint. In his books and during his turn as Opposition Leader, Abbott had stood for something. In office, he was seldom better than a supine shadow of his former self, a punching bag to be beaten without fear of the reciprocating blow.

Such were but two of Abbott’s fatal flaws, and they are enough to enumerate here.

But Turnbull, know that his sin is the polar opposite. Where Abbott was guilty of too much loyalty, his successor seems to have no comprehension of the word and its meaning — although he most definitely appreciates the benefits accruing to its denial.

Think of the constant mischief in the endless cascade of leaks and whispers, those confected scandals the pugilist-turned-pacifist was unable or unwilling to address head-on. From Prince Phillip’s knighthood to the lies about Abbott’s alleged shunning on an airport tarmac of a gay ambassador’s boyfriend, they were issues a competent leader would have addressed and put to bed, perhaps even turned to his advantage. A leader possessed of a workable survival instinct would long since have rooted out the Fifth Columnists, but not Abbott  Now he is gone to the back bench as Turnbull revels in the spotlight and the acclaim, at least for now, of his ink-stained cheer squad.

Did you catch his post-ascension press conference last night, the first airing of the redeemer come amongst us? It was quite a performance. He stood by the record of his friend Tony’s achievements, he insisted as blood dripped from the knife and Julie Bishop, that Theodora of the Molonglo, gazed with a courtesan’s eye at the latest sponsor of her career. But it wasn’t the serial contradictions in Turnbull’s silver-tongued assertion — Tony Abbott has been the leader of a very good government and that is why he needed to be done in — that jarred. No, it was the fluffers of the gallery to whom he turned for those few questions he was prepared to take. His questioners he flattered with little quips and first-name familiarity — tokens of endearment, one assumes, and little notes of gratitude for their assiduous promotion of the betrayals at the core of one man’s conscienceless ambition.

So back to Turnbull and my dilemma. I can’t vote for him, must refuse to reward such treachery with a ballot-box endorsement. No doubt many others feel the same, and perhaps there are even some in Parliament who still believe that honesty is at the core of conservatism, that chicanery borne of presumption and ambition is no winning quality.

If so, if members of such an endangered species still exist within the Liberals’ party room, here’s a suggestion: The door is over there. Leave, right now, and leave for good. We need a party that believes in something more substantial than the Turnbull chimera. I want a new party and I want it now.

Roger Franklin is the editor of Quadrant Online. This column reflects his personal view, not the editorial position of Quadrant. Submissions from any who wish to defend and support the new Prime Minister are welcome.

 

Comments [15]

  1. Eeyore says:

    I have a considerable degree of agreement with your viewpoint however once the astonishment at the chutzpah has settled down it seems there is little choice, its support Turn bills government or hand labor a free pass.

    Australia simply cannot afford a Shorten led labor green government, not at least for a few terms, we would never be able to pay for it.

  2. Peter says:

    Agree, but will probably put a clothes-peg on my nose and vote Liberal because the alternative is likely to be worse. Mind you, my mind has been prised open and any retreat on national security, border protection, the make-up of any influx of refugees, or any move to bring in a carbon price or ramp up our CO2 emissions target will see me desert the cause and either abstain or vote for anybody on the ballot who espouses conservative views. Whether Abbott should have been stronger is moot in my view. It’s hard to be strong and forthright when you’re being white-anted and jeered by your own colleagues or some of them. He needed someone – an attack-dog – to take the pressure off him and there was no-one around worth much.

    • hwka says:

      Peter: “Agree, (with the author) but will probably put a clothes-peg on my nose and vote Liberal…”
      Disagree very strongly.
      You cannot possibly trust your future to someone so duplicitous.
      Fortunately vacuums are always filled and this will be resolved by some party grabbing a huge opportunity to advance yet knowing well the penalty for further duplicity.
      Politicians are hostage to the electorate and yet live in hope of short memories and the occasional yawn to confirm there is actually someone out there monitoring their activities.
      The past can never be regained but it is possible to stamp an equally irrevocable template on the frontal lobe of each duplicitous Liberal politician.
      DO NOT vote informal.
      Make your vote hurt.
      One thing the Yanks do well…they harass the heck out of non-performing or out-of-favour politicians.
      Ring and snail-mail or email at every opportunity..harass them at the bus-stop and the supermarket , the airport and public gatherings.
      NO violence .. NO bad language..a sneer and a rehearsed stinging remark delivered at moderate volume will have the desired humiliating effect.

      http://joannenova.com.au/global-warming-2/australian-elected-representatives-emails/
      JoNova has updated this list as of Feb 2015

  3. Keith Kennelly says:

    Why would anyone, with a skerrick of ethics, vote for a party that prefers ego over substance.

    They can all go to hell.

  4. Turtle of WA says:

    I’m with you, Roger. I can’t in good conscience vote for this scoundrel. Time for an Australian UKIP.

  5. Bill Martin says:

    My sentiments exactly as expressed by Roger and the commenters above. No, not even with a clothes peg on my nose could I vote for a Turnbull-led Liberal party. As for a new party, the only way that might be feasible would be if a truly conservative and patriotic segment of the Liberal party broke away, much as the Democratic Labour party came into being. Cory Bernardy could well be its leader. Starting from scratch does not seem to work out very well, as illustrated by One Nation, in spite of popular appeal. The Democrats, even though long gone now, were more successful, having been comprised of disaffected liberals, than other new parties over recent times. Yes, I know, it is wishful musing in a desperately sad situation, but nothing better seems to come to mind at the moment.

  6. en passant says:

    As my frustration and angst grew I was finally asked by Alan Tudge not to email him any more. He said he was always willing to listen to ant points about the Liberal failures and how they could improve, but I made it personal. So I sent one last email – which remains valid. The following is a slightly edited version.
    “Alan,
    Let this be the end of it, but as you asked, here is a short list of non-personal Liberal failings for you to consider:
    1. Failure to repeal Section 18C – a specific promise and a betrayal that grates with many Liberals.
    2. Failure to deal with the ABC bias = perhaps a promise the Liberals should have broken as they will destroy you with lies and more lies
    3. Failure to recognise the giant scam that is the ‘Climate Alarm Industry’ – and a continued waste of funds to bury CO2 at Colac, trips to Paris, the RET and the setting of targets that are no more than random numbers with zero effect on the climate. A Royal Commission into the science, the BoM falsification of records and the cost would have revealed the scam and saved $Bn’s (including Greg Hunt’s wasteful Direct Action).
    4. Failure to organise the Party along competent lines – the disaster in Victoria is only a symptom, not the core problem. I sent Michael Kroger some emails pointing out that myself and others had identified the managerial deficiencies since years ago. In fact, I commented in one email (on which you were a bcc addressee) that “The State Director is the best asset the Labor Party has” – yet he moved up to an even more powerful Federal job until exposed by Michael.
    5. Failure to rein in the Defence bureaucracy and using Defence as a Petrie Dish for social experiments. There are actually two failures here:
    a) Defence is too important for social experimentation and Stuart Robert’s slogan ‘Capability through Diversity’ is truly Orwellian. Strength comes through UNITY.
    b) the strategic requirement is unclear and is reflected in our ad hoc acquisition programmes that are beggaring the nation, emasculating the capabilities of the few military we have and place the nation at risk from neighbours near and afar.
    Are you aware that we hold stocks of 13 rounds per gun for our 54 x 155mm guns? Singapore has 275 guns and stocks about 600 rds per gun. It will be too late to place a mail order when needed.
    The F-35 JSF will not defeat the Indonesian Sukhoi Su-35 and our old (and new) submarines cannot operate between Derby and Cairns. Does any politician realise this?
    6. Failure to take the pain and cut the Federal expenditure to the bone in the first year is the soft-Left approach and not based on Liberal principles. Now it is too late before 2016. What can I say, or more importantly, what can you say?
    7. Failure to recognise why people are leaving the Liberal Party and the delusionary thinking that follows this reality. I have a wide contact group and it is being populated by more ex-Liberals than Liberals. Bizarrely, a former Liberal Senator stated at the ATA Forum into the Victorian Election Loss “Yes, we have declined, but when the time comes I am sure we can count on these former members to return to the fold.” What? Like sheep at an abattoir – while ignoring the 22.4% of voters who gave their primary vote to the Minor Parties making them collectively the third largest voting bloc in Victoria. This will be repeated Federally. As an aside, I asked the former Liberal Party Member behind me at that forum what he was doing now “I am State Director of the LDP” was his reply. He ain’t coming back.
    8. Failure to address the potential for electoral fraud. – I raised the need for a comprehensive review and overhaul after the last Federal election but was told there are bigger issues the government needed to deal with first. Note the suggestion that I saw for the first time a week ago that 11,500 new voters have been registered in Canning. If that is correct, is there any chance that involves a potential fraud in the making that should have been addressed 18-months ago? The Liberals hold Canning now by a substantial margin, ‘we’ have a fine candidate, yet there is a possibility that he will lose by fraud. (WRITTEN BEFORE THE TREACHERY LAST NIGHT)
    9. On a matter of pure politics and propaganda – Bronwyn Bishop was deservedly brought down, but the Liberals did not bring down the far worse crimes of Tony Burke. Why not? The impression left (that is probably right) is that an equal number of Liberals would also have been exposed, so Tony was allowed to survive so that the rorting Liberal MP’s could too. Unless you can say categorically that this impression is wrong, you need not wonder why the public has little respect for politicians in general or why conservative supporters are bemused at the lack of fight.
    10. The ChAFTA, non-boat immigration, internal security, the NBN, infrastructure development, foreign land ownership, decline of manufacturing capabilities, taxation rather than expenditure cuts, etc
    So, no personal attacks on anyone in this final email, just a litany of failures that are not being addressed by what looks more and more like a one-term government despite the no-hope puppet you face and the faceless men who control him. In fact, I will bet you $50 to Legacy that the Liberals lose the next unlosable Federal Election. Enjoy your easy life without criticism”

    No, if the Liberal Party, of which I was a decades long member stood any of the 54 Lady MacBeth’s as the only candidate I would not vote for them. I do not know who I will vote for, but it will probably be an Independent (as I laboriously fill out every box to place the Liberals last). That Independent will be someone of character (which paradoxically fits the Liberal Candidate in Canning). He is not one of the 54, so his affiliation is unimportant.
    Finally, how low has the once great Liberal Party descended? Well. only to the point where it has no principles, no policies (expediency and populism are not policies), no vision, no hope and a maximum of 15 months in government before it is swept into the dustbin of history.
    There are two glimmers of hope: a massive revolt by the 43 Ronin to resign and found OzIP or that the Nationals revolt and bring down this monstrosity in the next two months. I would support both options as that will lead to the removal of deadwood and the potential installation of real people with character.
    One afterthought: I agree Tony ‘Thought-bubble’ failed and his resignation ‘to spend more time with his family’ should have been arranged in a decent and managed manner, but that required the identification and grooming of a Liberal Successor, not a political assassination by a ‘Liberal’ Pretender

  7. PT says:

    I’m with the author! I will NOT vote for Turncoat. Apart from a purely self interested interest in lower taxes and less regulation in the financial sector there is little difference between him and the ALP (in its current, degenerate state) and even more so, the Greens. He doesn’t have a conservative bone in his body, and has the arrogant, born to rule mentality of Shorten. Ironic that this attitude is increasingly the defining characteristic of “progressives”. The only hope is that Turncoat and his cadre are restrained by the rest of Cabinet and the Partyroom, but is this likely in the unlikely event of him winning the election?

    Shorten is an arrogant, unlikeable man. He will fail as PM. At least, hopefully, he can be opposed. Where does bipartisan “progressivism” leave us?

  8. Ken Harris says:

    Roger, if you lived in Turnbull’s electorate you would have a choice apart from the Great Man, a Green and a union mouthpiece. A perennial oddball candidate acts as a little sanctuary for voters who can’t tell the difference between the other three. His name is Pat Sheil and his campaign slogan is ‘Sheil be right’. He gets only about 300 votes, one of which is mine. His campaign slogan is just as facile as his opponents’ but it has the advantage of humour.

  9. Simon says:

    Rob Brighton is right – the remotest possibility of having a Shorten govern us is too horrifying. It would be the same thing as putting the Rebels, or CFMEU, in government (and although I recognize this sounds way OTT, it’s actually not that inconceivable). WE must hope Turnbull has learnt from the past, and does right by conservatives.

  10. Jody says:

    The Right is on the decline in this country and the ascendency of Turnbull is proof of that. Older generations will be disenchanted by the new ‘progressivism’ of Turnbull and the breathless enthusiasm for – wait for it – same sex marriage. It tells me a lot about the electorates priorities, which I do not share. The Baby Boomers are still a significant voting block but as long as they don’t touch superannuation and keep our borders secure I’ll be quiet. Labor won’t do this and have already announced a policy on super concessions tax being increased, which is scandalous really.

    The poorer the constituency becomes the less they’ll like it when people are self-sufficient, so stand by for a resurgence of the politics of envy. Malcolm will, unfortunately, be the poster boy for successful business and be aligned with Goldman Sachs types. He won’t be able to win this so the best he can hope to do is placate the electorate. Impossible by any measure.

    I don’t feel at all optimistic about this, but I certainly WILL vote Liberal.

  11. Stuart says:

    They will not get my vote. However I will not vote informal but seek to register my protest with one of the more right of centre micro parties. What good will it do? Probably not much at all but that’s what the liberals are counting on people thinking. But as my local MP said by phone this morning, “what are you going to do, vote Labour?”

  12. MickL says:

    It was hard to watch but it had to happen. Tony had let his image deteriorate to the point where it was only one point above manure. His policies weren’t very conservative, and yet was portrayed by those on the left as far far right. He never picked the hard fights, never tried to fix his image, never tried hard enough to satisfy his base and spent too much time trying to placate his enemies who didn’t vote for him and never would.

    By the end the media had managed to convert everything he did instantly into a smear. If Tony held a press conference on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin and in full view of the media walked across the water to the other side the Age headline the next day would be “Tony Abbott mocks working Australians who have to swim”.

  13. Jody says:

    The problems are well delineated here, but a first class leader isn’t going to be cowed by either the Fairfax media or the ABC. Peter Costello would have laughed at them, much as Rowen Dean does to lefties on “The Drum” and “Q&A” (though I didn’t notice too much laughter on Monday night’s Q&A!). Leadership requires courage and moral strength. Since those things are both missing from society it’s no surprise we cannot find a decent leader.

    Howard stared down the haters and was not ever moved to anger or defensiveness. He knew what he had to do, that he had made mistakes but continued to press on. Today it’s quite different – in just those few short years – when moral courage is in such short supply. I blame the society itself, I’m afraid. They’ve bought into what I call the “Century 21″ dream promulgated by American film and its hegemonic depiction of family, plus 1 child, plus dog, plus working mum and high-profile dad = success.

    How damaging this has all become. Where are the heroes for the young to admire? Those without a huge chip on their shoulders? Think about our previous generation’s heroes: John Wayne, Gregory Peck, even Clark Gable. They stood for something, even if we disagreed with it. Today’s ‘heroes’ are predominantly aggressive, smart-alecs or damaged individuals – a kind of James Dean on steroids, sans emotional vulnerability.

    It’s all gone pear-shaped.

  14. Steve Spencer says:

    Turnbull has put an awful lot of conservative voters in an invidious position, myself included. I could not vote for the ALP, at least in its modern incarnation and operated by the likes of Shorten, Plibersek and Burke. Yet I will not reward betrayal, especially when performed solely to feed Turnbull’s ego and satisfy his need for revenge, as was the case here. He has very clearly put his own needs way above those of his party, and his nation. How could I vote for somebody like that? While your average Lefty, for whom winning trumps principle every time, would forgive if the assassination means their party wins government I, like most conservatives, put principle first.

    I believe the future in Australian politics will include many more independents, who will harvest the votes of disenfranchised Liberal voters. Thanks, Malcolm.