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January 28th 2016 print

Michael Copeman

Malware in the Hard Drive

He has embedded himself deep within the Liberal source code, yet the current PM is loathed by more than a few as an invasive and destructive presence. This explains conservatives' dark mutterings about a spell in opposition being one way to cleanse and re-format the party's hard drive

wafflecomputerAs all who have had their computers invaded and seized by an invasive presence comprehend all too well, an unwanted program that pretends to be useful, inserts itself into your system, takes over and eventually destroys its host is known to geeks as Malware. In the case of the Liberal Party, that word really needs to be dignified with a capital letter.

In 2004, something inside John Howard’s computer must have registered an erroneous click, as he downloaded Malcolm Turnbull into the conservative party’s operating system. By 2008, the virus had taken over and, soon after, the Coalition’s electoral prospects began to self-destruct.  This all happened despite then-PM, Kevin ’07, being the king of political incompetence, banging on about “programmatic specificity” to much public amusement, and also posturing about “the great moral issue of our time”, this last being global temperatures which had barely budged when he uttered his enviro-pieties and have not since moved by any margin capable of measurement by honest science.

In December, 2009, a Liberal Party system scan must have worked, as the rogue program was isolated, its system-control thwarted and the Liberals went back to being a conservative party — a party in which loyalty and trust counted for something.

But getting rid of an unwanted program is never easy.  Deep within the hard disk, the trojan horse program continued quietly to hum and to run, rewriting previously sound files while leaking un-sound bytes left, right and centre, but mostly to the left. When Tony Abbott became PM in 2013, he must surely have reviewed the unwanted program’s woeful history, yet somehow decided that it would be more trouble than it was worth to expunge such reliably unreliable software. So he left the virus in place. Bad mistake.

As most undoubtedly know, in September, 2015, the rogue program once again took control of the Liberal Party.  In a series of pop-ups celebrating the fulfillment of its destiny,  it kept flashing messages and promises of better communication, stability and, and to Liberal Party members, assurances of electoral popularity. Four months later, with the program now overriding all others, it seems possible — indeed, likely — that the Liberals’ operating system is on track to self-destruct all over again.  Why do I say this, given  the polls’ testimony that the Coalition would most likely win were an election to be held tomorrow?  Here’s why.

Unless Turnbull waits until later in the year to making the trip to Yarralumla, he can call only a half-Senate election.  That would risk yet another Senate stalemate, which was part of Abbott’s undoing — further worsened, need it be said, by the Turnbull virus’ back-door channels to the ABC and other favoured recipients of its leaks and smears.

On the other hand, if Turnbull waits, Treasurer Morrison must deliver a budget in the interim.  That document will not be pretty if it is written in the ink of fiscal responsibility. If it isn’t, if it showers largesse and electoral bribes on the populace, then existing problems will only grow worse.  Even if no major cutbacks are made in expenditure, continuing falls in government revenue will see thoughts of Paul Keating’s Banana Republic given a fresh outing.

Further, if Turnbull waits, Bill Shorten may well be replaced by someone less prone to looking uncomfortably anxious while whining and hectoring. Pie shop owners will heave sighs of relief, but Liberals will feel no such lightening of the spirit. Whoever the next Labor leader may be — “paging Ms Plibersek, history calling for Ms Plibersek” — she is likely to enjoy a heady political honeymoon. Recall the general uselessness of Julia Gillard and then contrast that with the media accolades prompted solely by her gender. Ms Plibersek may not have much to offer in terms of ideas, competence or comportment, but she is is also female and of the left and can thus expect to be held up as an inspiration to all. Alternately, Anthony Albanese might replace Shorten. While he lacks the media-friendly advantage of XX chromosomes, he is also of the left and can likewise anticipate an extended and sympathetic honeymoon.

Turnbull’s lease on what he has long deemed his birthright, The Lodge, faces another threat, this one in the Liberals’ very own disk drive. Who knows whether disaffected Big-C Conservatives will act up? Are they willing to scuttle their own government in the cause of principle — to get back at Turnbull and his co-conspirators, in other words, for scuttling principle in the name of retaining government? The whispers are there already, the discord and muttering just below fully audible.

Be certain of one thing: the Opposition will exploit every crack or hint of division within the ranks of those Turnbull professes to lead. As the election approaches, it will not matter (it never has), how Labor gets over the line just as long as it actually gets there. Expect electoral bribery on a massive scale.

In the meantime, if the Chinese and European economies falter further, and if the US remains divided in the lead up to its Presidential election, all the indicators could be that Australia is in for a batten-down-the-hatches period.  Optimists’ fond hopes notwithstanding, the mining boom and its bounty will remain for the foreseeable future but faint echoes of a receding past.

A what-the-hell conservative may also decide that seeing Labor saddled with the economic mess — rather than, as usually happens, their own side blamed for the very difficult decisions that governments are required to make during hard times. Such is the level of frustration with the Turnbull virus’ hijacking of the hard drive that it is not uncommon in certain circles to hear the thought given voice that Liberals might benefit from a period in the wilderness, a gap year or three to examine consciences, dust off principles, re-enshrine values that were once at the core of the party’s heart and soul. Oh, and to finally clean out the defective hard drive.

None of this may happen.  The Australian media may continue to believe that Turnbull can walk on water.  The Liberal backbench may continue to veer left, finding an adherence to all the trendiest policies both attractive and, more to the point, expedient. Labor and Greens voters might even vote Liberal, though this seems the most improbable prospect of them all. The Australian voter, in his and her wisdom, may reward Malcolm with majorities in both Houses. But who really knows what might happen, which of Fate’s hinges may creak and open vistas of hitherto unforeseen circumstances, up to and including a conflict with China.

Should the Turnbull virus remain in charge of  the Liberal Party’s operating system, it might be that I will have to launch the Coral Society and list myself as its charter member.  No, that’s not a misprint.  I’ll be naming it in honour of Coral Magnolia Lansbury, Malcolm’s mum.  When she had had enough of her country and, presumably, her son, she up and left for New Zealand.

Comments [15]

  1. Bill Martin says:

    What an unholy mess we are in! Much as the replacement of the Turnbull government at the next election with the Labour alternative fills one with horror, it is hardly more abhorrent than watching the Liberal Party morphing into Labour light, unchecked by voter rebellion. Which of the options is more acceptable to a genuine conservative elector? That, my dear fellow conservatives, paraphrasing Hamlet, is the question.

    • Spot on Bill. This is scary stuff. If we get Left/Green policies heaped on us by a Labor government we (voters) at least have an opportunity to fix that at the next election. But if we have similar policies compliments of the Liberal government, then we’ll be stuck with them for a long time, no matter who governs. Probably until we run out of money, and credit.

  2. Thank you Michael. I thought it was only me that detected Malcolm Turnbull morphing into Kevin Rudd before our eyes without it being commented on by any journalist in the media. Malkev Ruddbull might have a nice ring to it, but I expect more from the ‘philosopher king’ and member for Goldman Sachs than taking selfies on ‘public transport’. The wealth generating areas of Australia – rural and regional areas and even some suburban areas – don’t have access to public transport and the people there have more to do than be addicted to twitter and other ‘social’ media. Social media might subtly help a person become PM but it doesn’t and can’t help with the wealth creation that Australia needs to maintain out standard of living.
    But for all that I think that the media as an entity is the biggest problem facing Australia and western civilisation. When Lenin supposedly said – ‘when we are about to hang the capitalists they will queue to sell us the rope’ – I suspect that he actually meant that the media will be the rope by which free societies are to be hung. Much of the media seem to have the typical 70′s University student would be socialist revolutionary mindset of ‘liberate us from our freedom’. Unfortunately Quadrant at this stage is a very small knife only when we attempt to cut the hanging rope.

    • PT says:

      Morphing??? He was always Krudd’s mirror image. A narcissist, heavily overrated by the media, who “knows” he’s the smartest person in the room. The man’s arrogance and conceit have been on display for decades – fancy writing a book about the Spycatcher trial?

  3. Davidovich says:

    Good analogy, Michael. I still wonder why Howard allowed the virus into the system especially as it had managed to destroy a good representative in Wentworth via very dubious means. Sometimes the adage of keeping your enemies close doesn’t work and the virus should have been isolated or removed from close contact with the Liberal Party operating system at that stage.

    • PT says:

      Turncoat bought the seat. Something these “egalitarian republicans” in the media always overlook. The man would have been at home in the pre-1832 House of Commons! Rest assured, these “dubious means” happen with Labor positions all the time. It’s how Keating got into Parliament etc.

      What’s of more concern is that Howard apparently convinced the man to stay in Parliament in the 2010 election.

  4. BTW says:

    Perhaps voters will take Turnbull at his word and be agile and innovative in casting their votes.

  5. en passant says:

    I was a Liberal Party Member for over 30+ years, but no more. I recently moved house into a marginal Liberal seat and will not be voting for my local Member as he supports the Malevolent One, even if he was the only candidate.
    It is not a case of the Liberals spending time in the wilderness – they are already there having lost their principles compass and their ethical map.
    We need a complete replacement of 80% of all sitting members so I will be voting for a minor party and independents first until I get to preferencing the majors last.
    So far Turncoat has yet to disappoint me as I expect nothing good from him. I hope he will not let me down this one last time as I have a $10 bet riding on us being in the polling booths by 31 May.

  6. Bran Dee says:

    Strange that Labor says: we will gain office and hold office whatever it takes.
    Conservatives whinge and say: we need to relinquish office and be purified in the wilderness, and when 100% pure we can wait for power to be thrust upon us by the indebted survivors of the Left’s pathological borrow and spend.

  7. Simon says:

    “that Liberals might benefit from a period in the wilderness” – It feels to me like we are only just recovering from the previous spell in the wilderness that almost caused the demise of Australia, courtesy of Messrs. Rudd and Gillard.

    I can only pray that Labor stick with Shorten, as we are now bound to stick with Turnbull. It appears to be much harder to remove the Labor leader now than it used to be, so that’s a positive.

    The thought of Plibersek or Albo is startling. Shorten would be far better than either of those two, mainly because he’s too dumb to cause any lasting damage to Australia. But Plibersek and Albo? Well, they have IQ’s in the double digits.

    • bullockornis says:

      Cause lasting damage? The damage has been done and it is lasting, will last, is continuing… Some new smart thinking and acting is what is needed.

      Neither Plibersek nor Albo have manifested any brilliant new ideas. No one has. Not even me. :)

  8. Mr Johnson says:

    I had hoped that when Malcolm Turnbull and JulieB finally managed to white-ant Abbott out of his job that there would be another true conservative party arise that would vacuum up our votes. Now, that seems unlikely. There’ll be some splintering, but not enough to cause Turnbull any trouble, especially considering that Shorten is such an appalling politician and so pathetically weak.

    The consolation prize was Abbott staying in politics, to continue providing some conservative backbone to the party. Let’s just hope he never takes a front bench role, and continues to sit at the back of the bus and speak his mind.

    The other thing to look forward to, is the inevitable demise of Turnbull when he has to face up to the serious problems we have, and he makes decisions that upset his Left media mates – Lord Malcolm does not do pressure well.

  9. Davidovich says:

    I should have commented yesterday on the brilliance of the concept of a Coral Society. It reminded me of the TV series about the most boring man in Yorkshire, Eric Olthwaite, lover of shovels, black puddings and rain gauges, whose parents run away from home to escape him. Perhaps Coral did the same when she escaped to NZ leaving the Malevolent virus behind – what a wise woman!

  10. Jody says:

    This is a must-see commentary. And it’s funny. What else can do you but laugh at ‘progressives’?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCis1U1nFR0

  11. hwka says:

    Sorry Mr Copeman but the idea of a Liberal politician…heck any politician voluntarily assigning himself ..oops, umm, herself…to the wilderness for even a mid-morning break never mind a 3 year term is absurd.
    We the people have to assign them.
    That ‘s possible.
    And it would be immensely rewarding if we survived Labor governing for another term.
    We would not.
    Remember they totally stuffed Australia up in a mere six years.
    What we need is a really strong showing in the Senate from the ALA so that Labor or Labor Lite are prevented from raiding the till yet again.
    Neither Labor nor Labor Lite have any intention of reducing spending as indicated by Labor announcing it will borrow something like another $36 Billion for education and Labor Lite mulling over a 50% GST increase to maintain their own spending plans.