The Turnbull Twist

Asked by a viewer last Sunday on Channel Ten’s Meet The Press why the Government and the Opposition could not work together collaboratively to manage the nation’s response to the GFC, Agriculture Minister Tony Burke responded by pointing out that “Mr Turnbull changes his position almost every day”, presumably rendering cooperation out of the question. Government ministers express the same sentiment repeatedly; in Question Time today Kevin Rudd accused the Coalition of rank inconsistency and flip-flopping.  Malcolm Turnbull’s changeability was addressed also on the previous Sunday by Laurie Oakes on Channel Nine. He presented him with a catalogue of changed positions over the last year or two.  Turnbull blustered and fumbled his answers; some of his explanations lacked plausibility.  While all politicians are entitled to change their positions as circumstances change, there seems to be little doubt that Turnbull does often change his position.  Why?

This piece proposes that it is because forces within his party regularly pull and push him away from his own considered opinion.  As he dances to others’ tune, we see him sometimes gyrating violently, sometimes swaying gently, and sometimes lurching precipitously – this is the ‘Turnbull Twist’. More...

Silly questions

Media people yearn for the scoop, the breaking story they get to first.  They dream of being ahead of the pack, of upstaging their competitors.  They pursue their dreams every day.  But today’s politicians watch every word they utter, fearful of saying something that will come back to haunt them, as it can so easily with today’s instantaneous communications technology.  They worry about spilling the beans about party machinations, about what has been said behind closed party doors.  There are of course a few exceptions; some enjoy backgrounding, leaking and sabotage.  But more than anything else they are nervous about letting slip party strategy and tactics. 

Herein resides the conflict between the media and the politicians.  They are in constant battle – the media intent on drawing out of the politicians what the politicians do not want to reveal, and the politicians determined to thwart them.  This is the basis of the charade we see played out daily on TV and radio.  The media personalities that indulge in this line of questioning seem to enjoy the joust, the politicians themselves may sometimes enjoy it too but usually look uncomfortable, whereas those forced to witness the contest usually end up frustrated, annoyed or plain bored.  This is the ‘silly questions syndrome’.  A few contemporary examples illustrate the several forms it takes.  More...

Has the Costello comeback begun?

The reappearance of Peter Costello over recent weeks has heightened speculation that he will soon take a run at the leadership.  Rumours filtered out today that he now has the numbers in the Liberal party room to roll Malcolm Turnbull if it came to a challenge.

As asserted in an earlier piece on The Political Sword, The Costello enigmaCostello is highly unlikely to accept any front bench position other than leader.  His much publicized dislike of Turnbull makes the acceptance of a position under his leadership virtually out of the question.

Recently, the electronic media, always quick to sniff a coup coming up, has focussed on leadership to the detriment of its reporting on the matters that really count, the GFC, ETS and IR.  Then today in an editorial First leader to the centre wins The Australian declares its hand and gives the Costello bandwagon a hefty push.  More...

The Turnbull answer to the Rudd essay

In an article in The Weekend Australian of 7-8 March titled PM's cheap money shot Malcolm Turnbull responds to Kevin Rudd’s essay in The Monthly, The Global Financial Crisis – (first 1500 words of the Rudd essay here).  Turnbull’s piece is worth reading as it gives tentative insight into his thinking, tactics and ideological position, more the former than the latter.  You be the judge.

It’s an article in three pieces – an initial somewhat emotive and sarcastic condemnation of Rudd’s propositions, then an objective account of how the sub-prime mortgage problem emerged, starting with Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, followed by a return to a condemnation of Rudd and some personal invective thrown in for good measure.   The contrast between the middle and the rest of the piece is arresting.  Did someone else compose the middle?  It doesn’t sound like Turnbull-speak. More...