Every time it seemed a suitable time to comment on the leadership of the Coalition, the story changed. Acknowledging that, like a fast moving Formula One race, there would never be a time when the prediction of the outcome would be extant for more than a brief period, I thought it wiser to point visitors to some contemporary pieces, mainly on Crikey, that spell out the ins and outs, the whys and wherefores of this complex ever-changing scene. Unlike a Formula One race though, where all the cars are going in the same direction most of the time, the Formula One Coalition Race has vehicles going in several directions, sometimes reversing, sometimes opting not to be in the race at all.
Bushfire Bill has long predicted Malcolm Turnbull’s demise as Leader of the Opposition, although Guy Rundle also lays claim to being an early adopter of that notion when he says today: “Your correspondent picked it months ago, of course. While the dinosaur media was humming and haahing about Turnbull's chances, let the record show that we noted: 'Turnbull is dead’. The only mystery is why he lasted as long as he did.”
Anyway, what the media says today, and any comment I might make, may well be obsolescent by nightfall, so E&OE.
Bernard Keane in CPRS bottlenecks while Libs dither begins “So where are we at in the CPRS debacle at lunchtime? Well, you might be surprised to know no one’s too sure. Julie Bishop may have tapped Turnbull or may not. She is denying it. It's understandable, because anyone going in to tap Turnbull on the shoulder should probably wear body armour. Joe Hockey and Peter Dutton may be preparing a joint ticket, or may not. I'm hoping Dutton doesn't become deputy because, try as I might and professional as I would want to be, I just don’t understand why anyone rates him. Connie Fierravanti-Wells resigned as shadow Parliamentary Secretary, if anyone is still counting.” And so on it goes in entertaining fashion. Read the full story here.
Bernard has a second piece: Libs search for their dreamtime martyrs that starts: “Leadership tickets are a dime a dozen round this joint at the moment. Last night it was the Two Tony’s Ticket, perhaps inspired by the Wednesday prospect of Kevin and Julia going up against Kevin and Julie. This morning it's Joe Hockey and Peter Dutton, because what you need as a deputy is a bloke who doesn't think he can hold his own seat. The dream ticket of Wilson Tuckey and Bronwyn Bishop, alas, remains just that for the moment. But there's three days to go, so we live in hope.” The rest is here.
Guy Rundle, writing in his usual perceptive and amusing style in Beyond the fatal quinella, there’s mention of Hannibal Lecter and the future Mrs Edelsten has this to say: “Malcolm Turnbull should obviously resign and go do something else with his life. It's over. And it's a measure of the times that between writing this and sending it to the Crikey bunker, Turnbull may well do so. Your correspondent had always assumed that Turnbull was dead meat -- he was fatally wounded by the Grech affair. Without that disaster calling into question his judgement, nous and skills, he might have been able to survive the ETS brouhaha. But the two were a fatal quinella. The past six months resemble nothing so much as a trail of blood across the tundra, the wolf who chewed through his foot to get free of the trap, bleeding out beneath a winter sky.” Read the rest here.
The ABC's Chris Uhlmann in The Liberal Catch-22 begins: “At the heart of Joseph Heller's novel Catch-22 is a brilliant paradox: if you plead insanity to avoid suicidal bombing missions then you must be sane and can't be excused.” and later "There is an Australian inversion of Catch-22: if you want to lead the Liberal Party now you must be insane and shouldn't be allowed to. By that measure, Joe Hockey is the sanest person in the Opposition because he genuinely does not want to lead it now. But he may not be able to avoid it.” Read it all here.
In The Age Tony Wright in Ascetic warrior ready for battle says: “Tony Abbott, long known as the Mad Monk, transmogrified into a vision of the Grim Reaper as he swung through Malcolm Turnbull's office yesterday afternoon. Those who have met him on a rugby field or a boxing ring know there is much of the ascetic warrior in the Abbott. Malcolm Turnbull is a physically solid fellow, too, and no wilting flower. He would prove it within hours with a fighting performance of a news conference, declaring himself still the leader of the Liberal Party and vowing that his party would deliver on its emissions trading deal with the Rudd Government, whom-ever may try to deny him.” More of Tony Wright here.
The Godwin Grech affair has resurfaced with the report of the Senate inquiry. Although it did immense, and according to Guy Rundle irreparable damage to Turnbull, it has the capacity to do even more damage as Turnbull’s intimate and repeated contacts with Grech were documented fully in the report. It may be the coup de gras, if one is still needed. Michelle Grattan had this to say in Dangerous double life of Grech “If you were writing a novel he'd be a difficult character to construct. A senior Treasury official, slightly odd but competent, credible and respected, who has a separate secret persona as a political player, trying to bring down the Government for which he works. The strange affair of Godwin Grech hogged the headlines for weeks, wounding Malcolm Turnbull terribly. The story struck again at Turnbull this week, with documents in a tabled parliamentary committee report about Grech's explosive appearance before the OzCar Senate inquiry. This documentary evidence of the dangerous double life Grech led is spine-tingling. How did he manage to live such a lie? Was he often fearful, or high on the excitement of being part of the political game, a confidant of powerful Liberals? The electronic trail shows that Grech was deeply involved not just with Turnbull, but also with John Howard's former right-hand man Arthur Sinodinos, now in the banking sector, and others with political connections. For Turnbull, the material is double-edged. It helps explain how Turnbull was taken in by the fake email - why would he suspect Grech? Yet someone more cautious might have wondered about such blatantly improper behaviour by a public servant. It wasn't just that Grech leaked to the Opposition. He saw himself as a Liberal secret agent embedded with the enemy, spiriting out intelligence and advice, reassuring, exhorting, analysing.” Read all about it here.
There’s plenty more, but if I don’t post this now, it will be out of date.
What do you think?