Bronwyn’s reward

turnbull w hendersonNot known for his bon mots, Tony Abbott did manage a neat joke when describing his political lineage. He was, he said, “the lovechild of John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop.” Given the treachery of his parliamentary colleagues, he must have felt himself a victim of maternal abandonment when Ms Bishop cast her party-room vote for Malcolm Turnbull. Of all the defectors from the Abbott camp, her betrayal is perhaps the most remarkable. Not only had Abbott installed her in the Speakers chair, he  resolutely declined to demand her resignation when details of that infamous $6000 helicopter ride from Melbourne to Geelong became a fixture on the nation’s front pages.

What made Ms Bishop’s support for our latest PM even more striking was his quite deliberate policy of humiliating her: while she attempted to shrug off her use of a taxpayer-funded chopper ride to a party fundraiser, the soon-to-be PM flew to Melbourne, manufactured a reason to visit Geelong — see the picture atop this post — and took the train there. Just to emphasise his concern for the public purse, and to further embarrass Bishop, Turnbull tweeted pictures of himself on the V-line rattler.  “Look, men an women of Australia! I’m one of you, happy to ride the rails with common folk. No gold-plated helicopters for me!” That wasn’t the caption, of course, but it was most definitely the subtext.

Soon thereafter evicted from the Speaker’s office and perks, Ms Bishop then threw he support behind the man who had quite deliberately and explicitly humiliated her. Perhaps she thought her switch of loyalties would be rewarded. Perhaps she did not like Peta Credlin. Perhaps treachery is encoded in her DNA. Whatever her reason, the reward has been a bitter one, as the knife she helped wield against Abbott has now been turned against her.

According to widespread reports, Turnbull’s acolytes are out to deny Ms Bishop her preselection.

If there is a lesson in this it must surely be as warning to the young, especially those contemplating a career in politics: If you deal in back-stabbing and betrayal, make sure those 30 pieces of silver are securely in hand before unsheathing the dagger.

The Australian‘s coverage of the push to “blast out” Bishop and other members of the Liberal old guard can be read via the link below. Warning, it’s paywalled, so access might be difficult for non-subscibers.

— roger franklin 

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