Dutton: The Last, Best Chance

dutton II

UPDATE: It’s Morrison, 40-45, according to confirmed reports from inside the party room. The Liberals have made their choice. Now conservatives get to make theirs.


Come on, Liberals, make my day.

Three years ago, watching from the sidelines as Malcolm Turnbull leaked and schemed and repaid the prime minister who magnanimously installed him in Cabinet despite an unblemished record of failure, I wondered what had taken possession of the party’s wits. Surely they saw this vainglorious wretch for what he was and always had been, a narcisistic wrecker in a well-cut suit. Surely they grasped their colleague’s ego and ambition were unmoderated by nous, let alone a sense of obligation to those who installed him? Surely they realised they had hitched their wagons to a creature only marginally more pleasant than something to be wiped with a grimace from the sole of one’s shoe? Surely they understood that the feting of an ego by the likes of the ABC, the Fairfax press, Tim Flannery and every other variety of climate hysteric was an indictment, not an endorsement?

But, no, none of those thoughts seem to have occurred to them, and thus it was the Liberal Party began the process of reducing itself to what it is today, a fractious and anxious rabble too preoccupied with appeasement to recall the reason they became Liberals in the first place. That would be a set of not-too-forbidding principles: free speech, free markets, free minds.

Today, when Malcolm Turnbull, human wart, is excised from the face of the party, the key questions will be adverbial: Who will lead? Where will they lead? What do they stand for? Why should voters ever again trust them?

The answer, the multiple-choice option of selecting (A) Julie Bishop, (B) Scott Morrison or (C) Peter Dutton.

Julie Bishop, according to this morning’s rumours, is garnering the votes of lady Liberals. Solidarity, sisters! If true, and were she to succeed, what hope of reclaiming the party’s soul and perspective? Cash to the Clinton Foundation abroad. Devious treachery at home. An ignorance of economics so pronounced it makes Emma Alberici seem competent. If the Liberals want Malcolm Turnbull in a size 4 frock, she is waiting for her closeup.

Scott Morrison? The man who kept his powder dry when Turnbull was making the moves that toppled Tony Abbott, professing his support for the then-leader while lifting not a finger to support the man whose guidance and mentoring made his career? The Treasurer who knows how to spend but not to slash, whose only observed reaction to question and criticism is bellicose belligerence, who dutifully saluted his soon-to-be-ex leader’s inane plans to pump water uphill and cut the price of power by making it more expensive? As to rat-cunning deviousness, if there is any truth to speculation that Morrison deliberately misled Turnbull about the extent of Dutton’s support in order to prompt a premature party room meeting and thus open the way for his own ascension to the top job, well what can be said of such a shark? Malcolm Turnbull with less polish and no less appetite for intramural chicanery.

wilkinson tweetAnd finally, Peter Dutton, endorsed this morning by TV’s Lisa Wilkinson. That’s her tweet at right, listing all the things she and those like her, which is to say the self-pleasuring solons of the media class, regard as negatives.

Boycotted the Sorry speech. Good. ✓

Like all living Australians he has never distributed diseased blankets or poisoned flour to Aborigines. Why should he apologise for something he has never done — other than vote for billions of dollars annually to  “close the gap”, which only ever seems to get wider

Sent txt to female journo: ‘You’re a f*#@ing witch’. Better

That txt was directed in error to the object of his ridicule, Samantha Maiden. As some at Sky News might attest, truth could be mustered as an adequate defence.

Joked about Pacific nations being wiped out by rising seas. Best

They’re not sinking.

Voted ‘no’ on marriage equality. Impressive

A commendable affirmation of one man’s refusal to act against his principles, whether you agree with his stance or not.

If a politician is to be known by his enemies, Peter Dutton is the standout possibility in today’s field. More than that, he might actually have some fight in him. Tony Abbott didn’t, not once he had moved into The Lodge. Who recalls the stony silence of that staring match with Seven hack Mark Riley,  who accused him of making light of Australian casualties in Afghanistan? Abbott should have socked him, verbally at the very least. Or who can forget the passivity when he was derided for winking at the ABC’s Jon Faine as a phone-sex granny called in for an on-air gripe session? Perhaps the Jesuits got to him as a child, filling his head with the addled post-Vatican II notion of there being good in even the worst of us (when there clearly isn’t) and that one must turn the other cheek to make friends of enemies. As Abbott discovered, that just means evenly balanced facial bruising.

Dutton might be cut from more robust cloth. We won’t know for sure, allowing that he gets the top job, until the first ABC ambush (“So, Mr Dutton, when did you stop beating your wife?”). If he pushes back, refuses to be verballed, we just might have the fighter the Liberals, and conservatives, have needed for so long.

Install Dutton and conservatism might, just might, have a chance of reclaiming Middle Australia and doing right by it.

And if the party room doesn’t, if it opts for the clothes horse or the shout-until-hoarse, well that’s a win too.

We’ve needed a new party for some time — a party not overseen at state level by main-chancers, cowards and and tin-eared incompetents. Place either of those two contenders atop the Liberals’ reeking pile, Bishop or Morrison, and a new party will arise, albeit one forged in the catastrophe of a Shorten prime ministership. Politics, just like nature, abhors a vacuum and there has seldom been a bigger void than the Liberal Party of today.

The easy way or the heartbreak route, the wrong road or the right one, both lead to the same destination.

So come on, Liberals, make my day.

Roger Franklin edits Quadrant Online

24 thoughts on “Dutton: The Last, Best Chance

  • Peter OBrien says:

    It should be remembered that Dutton did NOT bring on this crisis, Dutton, an strong Abbott supporter, loyally served Turnbull, even he as he watched him sail serenely past 30 negative Newspolls. By all accounts he has been urged to move against Turnbull by his local party constituents, since the Longman by-election. Dutton might owe loyalty to ‘his leader’ but, presumably his greater loyalty is to his constituents and to the national interest. By all accounts, even after the debacle o the NEG, he was still torn about challenging (I admit I’m nor sure how much of this hesitation was occasioned by principle and how much by timing). Nonetheless, Turnbull brought it on by trying to flush Dutton out. Stephen Conroy perhaps put it best when he described Turnbull’s ‘ambush’ as ‘putting a gun to his head and blowing out his brains’. Out of all this mess, Dutton at least has nothing to be ashamed of. As opposed to his erstwhile ‘leader’ who continues to compound his contempt of the Party by, even as we speak, demanding that the signatures on the petition be verified. The man is shameless and we are well rid of him.

  • Jody says:

    What pathetic old refugees from the 1950s and unintelligent political observers you all are. ScoMo has won and will likely head for defeat but he will govern for all Australians, not just the extreme right and other interest groups. I have a personal stake in this outcome and have been taking lots of wonderful calls and sms since 12.45. Sore losers – look at Abbott slinking away like the reptile he is.

    No more “Quadrant” for me and no more rants from Rowen Dean and Peta Credlin. Begone!!

  • lloveday says:

    The determination of the Australian PM is a serious and important issue, and for the first time in years, apart from AFL, I briefly watched the ABC and Barrie Cassidy announced “And the winner is…. Bill Shorten”.

    Is that funny? How much do taxpayers pay him for that sort of puerile rubbish?

  • prsmith14@gmail.com says:

    I don’t think Dutton could have won the next election. The wets in the party would have undermined him. Morrison has a better chance of welding the party together for long enough; at least to give the Coalition a show of winning the election. I think he has been a bozo on taxing the banks and on screwing self-funded retirees. But he is better than Shorten. The last thing Australia needs is a Shorten government; and if that means Morrison, so be it. We need to remember that the things Shorten is likely to do on renewable energy, immigration and industrial relations might not be easily undone. They may do permanent damage. It’s all very well to hope the Liberals in opposition will renew themselves and come back in conservative form, but that is, first, unlikely and, second, may be too late to save the ship. So, reluctantly, while not liking it, I think the best decision might have been made. I hope.

  • Greg Williams says:

    I think Morrison will only have 12 months in the job and Shorten will take over. Libs will be so mercilessly flogged that they will need a new leader. Maybe Dutton will lose his seat in the carnage, but they will need someone who can offer policies different from Labor, unlike the current government. Once the Labor party legislate for 50% renewables, once energy prices go even further through the roof, once the people smugglers get support from the Labor loonies and the boats start coming in again, the LNP will need someone who can attack them and bring them to account. It won’t be Abbott, although he is good at that sort of thing. The big problem is, the way things are looking, it will be a fairly small pool from which to make the choice.

  • Keith Kennelly says:

    Well done Scott and Josh. I watched your interview this afternoon.

    I liked what I heard and expect you can achieve your aims. They resonated with me.

    I sincerely hope you can pull all our mates together, with reasoned and sensible policies and a balanced cabinet.

    I’ll vote liberal again if you show signs of doing so.

    I can’t see you have any need or desire to go back over the battlegrounds of yesterday. I’d advise you that any of those who continue to spew the bile of the past should be avoided

    I didn’t support your candidature and I’ll only say I felt sadly let down by Malcolm, as many of us did. Now he’s gone I have hope again and look forward to your positive stewardship.

    Good luck Keith Kennelly

  • padraic says:

    I agree with you Keith – anyone is better than Bill Shorten and his PC mob. Let’s hope Scott and Josh can get a unified approach and decent policies in the next few weeks and sell them properly – none of this simplistic “nimble” and jobs and growth” stuff. I like Dutton and think his plan B was to do a Captain Oates for the sake of party unity, as long as Turnbull went. To be fair to Malcolm the seat of Wentworth would always be hard to hold with overt conservative values given what one commentator said today was the “demographic” – code for Darlinghurst and its surrounds populated by newly wedded couples and climate conscious latte drinkers and avocado consumers.

  • rodcoles says:

    Let’s remember ScoMo’s great job under PM TA in setting up Sovereign Borders. Perhaps he can recover that determination and skill with turnbull’s dead hand lifted. And it also seemed to me that Frydenberg had no real understanding of the energy issue, with its science and engineering aspects, although it was clear that he worked very hard in the portfolio. He was right to choose treasurer, a task more in keeping with his CV. We are better off already than we were on Thursday.

  • whitelaughter says:

    ScoMo’s election is not what I wanted – but I think it is ideal. He will either rise to the occasion, or when he fails, Dutton is sitting in the wings ready to take over after the next election. This is a win/win situation. And getting rid of Trumble is a major victory.

    Anyway, ScoMo is starting well, having invited Trump here: https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/scott-morrison-invites-donald-trump-to-australia-20180825-p4zzq6.html

  • lloveday says:

    Euronew’s news loop has a item on Morrison’s ascension. For much of the telecast a large banner is at the bottom of the screen “AUSTRALIA’S NEW ANTI-IMMIGRANT LEADER”, and the vast majority of the story is unfavourably about Sovereign Borders, including querying how “Morrison, a committed Christian…” could do such a thing.


    Dr Evatt demanded a similar list of insurgents before he split the Labor party.

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