turnbull lab coat IIMy brother is terminally ill with cancer.  Malcolm Turnbull is terminally ill with politics. For these two human beings, this Christmas will be a critical time. For one, much loved and innocent, it could well be his last celebration of the birth of Christ. For the other, dismay, disappointment and public disdain should see him shuffled off the national stage.

My brother’s problems started with a lesion in his pancreas. Malcolm’s began with his ego.

The pancreatic tumour could have been excised, but it was not discovered before it had metastasised to his liver.

Malcolm’s fatal career infection spread just as fast, and was not detected early. It led to the false assumption, then conviction, that ruthless exercise of legal and commercial skills justified his ambition for national leadership.

For the oncologists, the challenge was to prevent the spread of the disease to the lymphatic system. For Malcolm Turnbull, the task was to remove a competent MP from a blue-ribbon Liberal seat, vault into the shadow cabinet and pretend that the intellectual messiah had arrived to save the party.

Rigorous and tiring tests became a feature of life for my brother, week after week.  Blood measurements, scans, x-rays searched for evidence that malignant cells had not migrated to other organs. Cocktails of chemicals were injected to kill those cells.

The virus of hubris ran wild and undetected through Turnbull, who first fell victim to a fraudulent e-mail claim with which he thought to bring down the government. Then his extremist climate views led to his support for its emissions trading scheme, and his removal as leader.

In the hospital, numbers mark the progress of the battle. White blood cell counts tick off the scores for neutrophils, lymphocytes, eosinophils. Platelets, which control coagulation, need to be kept within the 150-450 range, but are savagely attacked by the chemo treatment.

Likewise, polls mark the political health of a leader. After thirty Newspoll samples, Malcolm overthrew the incumbent and triumphantly set out to inject “progressive” social and economic toxins into the system.

Despite everything, the malignancy has now spread to the lymph nodes and the lungs. Breathing is becoming difficult, exertion impossible. The chemicals to attack the cancer cells also reduce the haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying component of the red blood cells. Transfusions are necessary to restore the numbers so the body can stand the battering of the next round of chemo.

The oxygen is leaking out of Malcolm Turnbull too. Fatuous re-design of nuclear submarines, egregious waste on alternative energy, gross mis-judgements in the dual-citizenship crisis, repudiation of promises on religious protections given to win the same-sex marriage vote, then the rash offer of personal tax cuts as a wasteful Keynesian stimulus to a flat economy. All bear witness to the irreversible malaise of a necrotic prime minister.

My brother remains cheerful, pragmatic, optimistic, willing his medical team to succeed in their work to save him.

Malcolm Turnbull has never had more fun in his life. But his political lifeblood is dripping away with every scan of popular opinion.

Their time is running out. One will go with tears and regrets, the other…..

Geoffrey Luck was an ABC journalist for 26 years

23 thoughts on “Malignancy

  • ianl says:

    Poignantly written, Geoff. My wife died in her mid-60’s of a rare mutation that viciously and despicably shut down the electrical signals to her motor neurones. The irreversible, cumulative effect was horrendous beyond description (most people do not want to know, anyway). I nursed her at home till she went, then about 12 months later was myself diagnosed with Stage 3-4 bowel cancer. That tumour was removed and so far there is no sign of metastases – but as you say, timely detection is not guaranteed. Your brother is undoubtedly a brave man and I wish him well; however, both my wife and then myself wished for the denied Nembutal as a last resort.

    Yes, Waffle is despicable. All vainglorious ego, sneaky sneaky and incompetent bluster, causing no end of destruction. Your analogy with malignant tumours is apt from my viewpoint but I cannot see the country returning to any semblance of its’ previous strengths even if the most unlikely prospect of excision is actually performed. Shorten will become PM without too much effort (all that work is being done by Waffle). No way back then.

  • Jody says:

    My mother died of pancreatic cancer in 1984 and it was hideous, beyond belief. She was 58.

    Regarding Turnbull: Dennis Shanahan writes today that the governments of the last 10 years have suffered from “immaturity” and I disagree. No government could have been more immature than Whitlam and Gillard. I believe the politics of climate change is responsible for the current instability and it can be sheeted back directly to Rudd’s “moral challenge of our time”. All things have devolved from that. The younger generation has become proactive and powerful, the Greens have grown and Labor has moved further to left to appease these and appear ‘relevant’. The Coalition fears being left out so also moves further Left. Apart from some dissidents in minor parties – Bernardi and Hanson – the people grow more and more entitled, the public service bloats daily as do the quasi-governmental bodies, human rights groups etc. I’m saying climate change has been the Trojan Horse for all subsequent left-leaning ideologies, since they’ve been able to marginalize anybody from the right who is in the least skeptical. I blame conservatives for not prosecuting the case, but the pendulum always swings between left and right anyway. Right now climate change acolytes have control of the agenda and the ordinary people are left adrift with nobody interested in their ideas. Well, every dog has its day (and a bitch has a week!!). When the Left and its media activists like a Coalition leader you know that’s the kiss of death. They’re never going to vote for them. We are looking down the barrel of a split akin to the ALP and DLP in the 1950s, IMO.

    • ianl says:

      > ” I believe the politics of climate change is responsible for the current instability and it can be sheeted back directly to Rudd’s “moral challenge of our time”. All things have devolved from that”

      Yes to the first bit, no to the second. Rudd just jumped on an unstoppable bandwagon, sleazily opportunistic as he always was and still is.

      Greenies draw their real support from the “We must save Mother Earth” meme. People are attracted to that simplistic notion without needing any scientific or mathematical knowledge. Your oft-mentioned “feelings” are a perfect example, Jody. Here, you are one of the enemy.

      Their consciences about possible environmental damage from consumption are easily salved by shelving the blame onto the “big polluders”, “greedy corporates”, “coal barons” etc. Just observe the constant shouting rhetoric from the trollster. Green politicians understand the core idiocy of the general populace very well indeed. Cassandra saw that writing on the wall 20 years ago.

      • Jody says:

        I expect these comments are just more of your own projections, which are easily transparent.

      • Warty says:

        There is a tendency, amongst QOL readers to put each other into easily tagged boxes, ianl, which overlooks the complexity of those too often denigrated. I too have ‘feelings’ about things, though I do my best to keep abreast of political trends and philosophies. I do believe, for instance, Tony Abbott was handed a poisoned chalice, when he took over the leadership from Malcolm Turnbull back in 2009, and as leader, took responsibility for his fair share of poor policies, including his lack of understanding of just how toxic the Safe Schools programme actually was, and his failure to pursue s.18C with the degree of resolve he adopted post leadership. These are things Jody has alluded to, and she has a point there.
        But, as I have said here several times before, Tony is better able to pursue a conservative agenda as a backbencher than ever he was as a leader, where he was forced to balance some of the competing interests just to keep the party together. It is not something he is required to do now. I also think John Howard, excellent leader though he was, was nevertheless still an establishment figure, who found Trump and his supporters distasteful. He too could be rather blinkered at times. But I am more than happy to read balanced arguments both for and against Abbott here in this forum, as I am against Trump, despite the fact that my own responses demonstrated support for him well before he was elected. I think views for or against are worthy of being expressed here without vitriol. I have criticised Paul Kelly and Greg Sheridan of the Australian for this disdain for what I consider to be just a matter of form, not substance, and I have criticised Jody on the same grounds, without feeling the need to disparage her obvious intellect.
        I also concur with Ian MacDougall, two days ago, in his comment directed towards me (and possibly others on QOL): ‘“Quadrant readers”, possibly including yourself, will all finish up confined (literally, as mental prisoners) to tiny echo chambers if that is the case. Abusing one another in those echo chambers as well, if the recent past around here is anything to go by’.I do indeed tend to focus on conservative philosophers and publications, because at my age I have trouble wading through all that I do, and lack the capacity for recall I had twenty, thirty or more years ago. But I will say to Ian Mac that the few times I have stuck my sensitive nossie into a Guardian publication, I’ve had to recoil in revulsion, so I’m unlikely to check any of those particular references he submits in support of his arguments. But I do attempt to read his comments with an open mind, my only limitation being my own lack of scientific understanding or interest. Yet his echo chamber argument is valid, though I did in fact start off my ‘career’ on the far left, becoming increasingly more conservative as I got older. So I have read more of the mind-numbing stuff of the left that Ian may ever have guessed, and I mean by the bucket load.
        My overall point is that antipathy shown towards various responders on QOL are unfortunate to say the least, and perhaps say more about those doing the ‘bitching’ than those to whom the venom is directed. White hot anger seems increasingly more common in political debate today, on both the left and the right, albeit even more so with the former. All we have to acknowledge is that we are not necessarily immune from this, even though we may consider ourselves conservatives. I’m more an advocate for conservative moderation nowadays, and I prefer the mellowness of a good shiraz than the more pronounced acidity of a Cab. Sav.
        Why do I more readily jump to the defence of Jody? Because I think three on one is just a little unfair.

  • en passant says:

    When the Great Turnip (the lawyer who won the unlosable ‘Spycatcher’ case with an onside activist judge in support) diagnosed the Joyce citizenship situation and declared Joyce cured, I thought then that poor Barnaby was terminal – as it turned out.

    The only positive I can find in the Oz political landscape is the mental health damage that will be inflicted on Our Dear Leader when his ego is shattered. Unfortunately, the terminal damage he (and soon to be PM Shorten) have and will inflict on Australia is more severe than we deserve.

    Celebrate your brother’s life while you can although I find the unfairness barely acceptable.

    From a personal view,I am with Ianl and the Nembutal option …

    • lloveday says:

      Death can be brought about in a few days, quicker than getting government approval to have someone kill you, by not taking any liquid and instructing doctors to not force-feed. If the pain is “unbearable”, the feeling of thirst cannot be any worse, and I have read that dying from dehydration is generally not uncomfortable once the initial feelings of thirst subside. My father did that.

  • mburke@pcug.org.au says:

    My younger brother died just a few weeks ago of liver cancer, roughly 12 weeks from diagnosis. Unfortunately, I feel he was the lucky sibling.

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    My heart goes out to anyone suffering cancer and it’s cures.

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    Turdbull should just go, and take Savva and all his other acolytes with him.

    Bishop and Morrison don’t have the moral compass to lead.

    Only Abbott has that.

    The lemmings in the Liberals will eventually go with the one they all know can win an election.

    Abbott has won before and can win again.

    I feel for Alexander and the Qld liberals. They are suffering from Turdbull’s ego.

    In Australia it is not about ideologies or other superficial nonsense. It’s about leadership.

    Only Abbott has those qualities. The community is wanting that and they will vote for the first person to show them or who is proven to have them.

    Those attacking Abbott have no understanding of leadership. Look who they have picked and supported.

    Rudd, Gillard, Rudd, Shorten, Turnbull and now anyone but Abbott.

    That analysis alone says Abbott is the only leader and the flawed analysis of those who supported Rudd et al is called a self evident truth.

    • DonOnTheLake says:

      Tony Abbott is certainly the leader who I would support and do admire. However, after the destruction wreaked by Turnbull and his cabal, Tony would have little chance to pull together a political party to win the next election. I suspect that the Liberal Party is irrecoverable.

  • Keith Kennelly says:


    Please check the comments in ‘Winners? History isn’t so sure.’

    • Warty says:

      I have (regarding the comments there) and yes a lot of damage has been done on all sides, with on-going tit for tats not helping the situation.
      I’m afraid I’m very old fashioned when it comes to women: I tend to treat them with respect regardless. I would switch off the radio whenever Julia Gillard spoke, but would listen politely if she were ever to speak to me face to face. I have copped abuse in the past, but refrained from returning in kind, though I am not so successful with those whom I love dearest, yet I still open doors, stand aside etc etc.
      I came from Rhodesia, and many of us were locked in the Victorian era with regard to these matters, but more than this, my father was a gentleman through and through, and though I don’t live up to his standards, some of his qualities have rubbed off. Those are my justifications.

  • brian.doak@bigpond.com says:

    A new Liberal leader could almost miraculously appear. If former general Jim Mowlen enters as senator in the next few weeks as expected he could quickly move to the Reps as I recall did a former PM, John Gorton. Imagine for one minute the leadership effect of a decisive, battle hardened Conservative, who would be a conviction politician.

    Tony Abbott has had his chance and failed. Having been trained for the priesthood did not help. He often has to combat ridicule and would never be give a second honeymoon period.

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    So Warty

    You if won’t criticise Jody then don’t criticise me for defending myself from her nastiness.

    Best you keep all criticisms to yourself in future. What do you think?

    • mburke@pcug.org.au says:

      Oh, rubbish, Keith. If you can’t take it, don’t dish it out. As far as I’m concerned, you and Jody can disagree as much as you like. It all makes for an interesting forum. But as I’ve said before – to both of you together in the same message – less of the ad hominem would be nice.

      • Keith Kennelly says:

        Oh I can take it DT. It’s just that I only respond and never initiate it. So I get the opportunity to then dish it out

        So here, you don’t seem to mind me responding.

        Isn’t that logical?

        To be ffair DT what you should be saying is ‘Jody, stop initiating the ad hominem. Keith doesn’t initiate them’.

        That would be much much more accurate and the message would get through to Jody.

        As it is with you saying we both have to stop, well that only encourages Jody.

        Try that and then sit back and watch.

        • Keith Kennelly says:

          You’ll continue to see me not initiating them. I promise I will continue to only respond to Jody’s attacks.

          What could be more reasonable?

          Cheers Keith

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    Bran Dee
    Abbott never failed the electorate.

    Abbott was never given a first honeymoon period … by the media or Turnbull and his co conspirators.

    Abbott is the only leader capable of winning the next election.

    Turnbull certainly cannot. Shorten will lose to Abbott,

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