The Formula One Coalition Race

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?


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27/11/2009Now I've been sort of following personality politics for 40 odd years and apart from The Dismissal this has got to be the craziest example of such I can remember. And, from memory, I don't think The Dismissal had so many elements of farce as this, currently unfinished, play has got.


27/11/2009Hi Ad Delighted with your post, pleased you are back writing. How right you are ( fast moving Formula One ) for sure. Yesterday was such an exciting day, between Sky News, Punch live, and Google Turnbull news search, google blogg search. Watching the Liberals blow themselves up, it is hard to believe, how are they going to survive as a party. Some were saying yesterday there will be two parties. Then we had the added excitement of the Grech emails thrown in, but of course didn't get much media coverage. These Grech emails are very damaging for Malcolm Turnbull, I read some, but can't remember who posted them. Today Sky has been playing the clip where Hockey said 4 weeks ago "Malcolm has my full support" My guess is, that Malcolm Turnbull will stay to the bitter end, because winning any fight is in his DNA. Then if the Liberals vote for a spill, Joe Hockey will back away from the fight , Tony Abbott will stand against Malcolm Turnbull then Tony Abbott will not have the numbers so Turnbull will win the spill. But how could Malcolm Turnbull or anyone lead such a divided party??? The links you have povided me are wonderful thanks Ad. Linking Grogs and Gutter Trash for you Ad


28/11/2009I think the Coalition is still being run by a mob of treacherous idealogues and Turnbull, with his aspirations for the top job in the land, entered a hornet's nest. If he ever had any thoughts of caution, any question marks as to the character of those pulling the strings, his ambition over-rode them. He was willing to support tactics he didn't believe in and to make utterances that went against his own ideals, and this showed in his media appearances when he appeared to waffle and stammer. In placing his trust in the traitorous Grech he almost cooked his goose when the scam unravelled and he was left holding the grenade that was meant to explode under Rudd and Swan's chairs. Mortally wounded, Turnbull survived to fight another day. Now we see the 'Malcontents' spewing their malicious bile in both houses of parliament but this time, Turnbull is targetted as well as the Rudd Government. This time there is some difference in that the cockroaches have crawled into the light where they can be identified. This time, Turnbull sees them for who and what they are and refuses to hand them back the leadership without a fight. Too late, Turnbull sees the treachery behind their lying eyes when they swore blind he had their support. Too late, Turnbull sees that these people do not, and never have, worked in the national interest and that in all probability they may win this party war and cause the absolute annhilation of the party they all profess to care about. If a miracle does occur and Turnbull comes out the winner of the latest leadership spill, he will most probably gain a bit of respect for his efforts among voters but it is doubtful if the electorate will look upon the liberal party as a credible alternative government for a long time to come. If he loses the leadership spill on Tuesday, I don't see how he could contemplate hanging around so I would venture to say he will get out of politics - and who could possibly blame him?


28/11/2009Environment policy was always going to be a complicated ask of the Coalition in Opposition, but it was made immeasurably more difficult by Peter Costello wimping out on election night. He should have, some might argue, he was obligated to, take on the leadership of the Liberals as caretaker and baton-passer after the 2007 election. Parties that lose government routinely fall into disarray. The depth of the resulting disarray's effects is measured by the strength of the person at the top, experienced enough and respected enough to recognize the signs of incoming disturbances and reduce their impact. Kim Beazley had the ticker to take on this role after Howard was first elected, and garnered more votes (though less seats) for Labor than the Coalition at the following election. Costello selfishly standing aside from the tasks of party reconsolidation seeded the Liberals' instability and rancorous internal divisions as have exploded over the last week. Because he was not big enough to be the Leader of the Opposition, every bit as much as Howard recognised he was never big enough to be Prime Minister of Australia.


28/11/2009Boerwar at Poll Bludger wrote this perceptive comment: "This is an interesting process. The Denialists have been flushed out of their caves. The spear carriers for King Coal have had to come out into the open. All that power all these years, hidden from view. It is the beginning of the end for them." Whatever way the ball bounces I think the Denialists have done Australia a great service. They have exposed themselves for what they are. Fringe extremists.


28/11/2009But Michael, you really can't blame Costello for not sacrificing himself to lead that lot of rabble. After all, he knew them better than you and I LOL. Everyone and his dog (including me) thought Costello should have challenged Howard, but in hindsight I now believe he'd have got nowhere faster than the speed of light. Howard was made in the same mold as his loyal cohorts Minchin, Abbott, Abetz, Andrews et al and that is the only reason there was unity in the Coalition. This treacherous block cleverly held the moderates in the party at bay by letting them know that any dissent would not be tolerated. The moderates had no voice whatever after Howard won his second term. IMHO the big difference between Labor and the Liberals is that the latter party is bereft of integrity. The Coalition parties are out to serve themselves and don't give a fig for the well being of the nation as a whole. They ruled with the politics of fear and smear. They thought nothing of leaving a scattering of destroyed careers and characters in the wake of their dirty smear campaigns.


28/11/2009I think you were right to get in with some observation before the Libs. come up with something even more surreal. Apparently, they are so bitterly opposed to the PM being able to be an effective medium level player internationally, this is a part of their motivation in opposing passing the ETS before Copenhagen. Apparently, this is 'feeding Rudd's ego'. Can't have an Australian PM being internationally important if that PM is one of "them". It's so petty and mean spirited, you just want to weep. While Turnbull has been attracting quite a bit of positive comment around the blogs for sticking to his guns, firstly, I can't see how he could or would have done anything else. How could he possibly say "I give up" and go to the back bench? His ego, for that matter, wouldn't let him. After all if you can face down Packer, a serious player with serious money, you can face down Minchin et al., particularly when you have serious money. Something I learned when playing cards for money is that s/he who is prepared or able to lose the most money, will win. Secondly, the Godwin Grech report reveals Turnbull's fatal character flaw. He will over reach at critical moments and not check his judgement against others. It's probably why he's aroused such hatred and opposition within his own party.

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28/11/2009Thank you folks for your remarks. Today’s papers spell out the treachery exhibited by many Liberals. I just hope Joe Hockey stays true to his beliefs and resists the temptation to abandon them for the poisoned chalice of leadership. Let Abbott sip it and suffer the consequences, and when he fails, as he inevitably will, take over. The drama will continue to unfold over the weekend and in the subsequent days. I hope Turnbull makes them sweat and stays put until they vote him out, as they surely will. I have little time for Turnbull, but much less for Abbott, Minchin and their Machiavellian fellow travellers.

Bushfire Bill

29/11/2009The paradox here is that if the Right Wing wins on Tuesday they will demand loyalty to the new leader. As they say, pass the popcorn.

Tyson F. Gautreaux

29/11/2009One of my favorite artists, thank you! A thoughtful insight and ideas I will use on my blog.


29/11/2009Bolt is panic stricken, Turnbull is wrecking the party and in complete denial. Please, spare us the dribble Bolter. Best insiders to date this year. I actually have respect for Lenore Taylor, she seems to know her stuff, unlike the Bolter and Pies. I haven't enjoyed watching politics so much since the Howard / Costello love in just before the last election, pure gold. cheers Eb. :)


29/11/2009Hi Ad Ebenezer (I haven't enjoyed watching politics so much since the Howard / Costello love in just before the last election, pure gold.) Ebenezer I have had so much fun since Howard/Costello too. I thought the Utegate saga was just so much fun, but what is happening now beats any game of sport I have ever watched. I agree the Insiders was the most interesting show, this morning that they have put on for a long time. Bolta sure acted and looked panic stricken in the lonely chair. Tell me what you think. The Liberals have exposed a deep seated disloyalty to the Liberal party by at least half of their MP'S, and it's been going on for a long time. Nick Minchin has been the real leader for a long time. What's more I think Malcolm Turnbull has been taken by suprise. How did Howard conceal this huge rift. Sending an interesting link


30/11/2009Hi Lyn1. Here is a link (below) to my other favourite site. Aristotle puts it best here, which I have quoted below. [quote]The Conservatives advocating an anti-climate change stance with the "bring it on" bravado, remind me of the Southerners at the outbreak of the US Civil War, cheering with delight that they were going to 'wup them yankees'. Only to find that it didn't take long before a population of 30 million and all its industrial and financial might, was always going to be too much for a population of 9 million (5 million of whom were slaves) agrarian economy. There is no chance a Tony Abbott Liberal party will have any credibility on climate change. Whatever he comes up with will be viewed with cynicism and suspicion. If Hockey takes over, it won't be much better. He'll probably argue for a delay, send it off to a committee etc etc etc. People aren't interested in the nuances. To them it will be very clear: ALP will do something about climate change, and the Coalition won't. That's it. Sure they''ll argue that it's a huge tax and try to ride a wave similar to the anti-GST wave in 1993, and to some extent in 1998, but this is totally different. People had to be convinced of the need for a GST, people don't have to be convinced of the need for action on climate change, and if the ETS is it, well so be it. Also, the GST was a domestic issue, climate change is an international issue, and its momentum is unstoppable. [/quote] Sorry Ad for the cross promotion, I hope you don't mind. Cheers Eb :)


30/11/2009The conservative Liberals, the noisy minority led by Minchin & Abbott, need Hockey to run. If he doesn't it will expose them by forcing a Turnbull vs. Abbott contest, with the distinct possibility that Turnbull will retain the leadership. If Turnbull does, their audacious sham will be exposed. If Hockey runs he will win the leadership, & the poor goose will be subjected to the full force of Labor's political attack & the sinister machinations of a divided and bitter Liberal party. Hockey will lose the next election badly. The conservatives will then take over with Abbott at the helm to "re-unite and rejuvenate our proud party", by which time the conservatives will probably have the numbers anyway (after the bloodbath of back-benchers). Minchin & Abbott’s spiritual godfather, Howard, has now anointed the poor stooge Hockey, who will run, despite his own better judgement. If he doesn't & Turnbull retains leadership it would force a split in the Liberal Party. The stakes are too high. My prediction is Hockey will run no matter what - he will be made an offer he can't refuse.


30/11/2009Hi Ad I wonder what you are going to write next, I can hardly wait. Twitter is alive with journalists reporting every few minutes, it seems the senate is burning with tempers going up in smoke. I am absolutely amazed. This Liberal show is bigger than Ben Hur and looks like going on for some time. Vex news is reporting maybe Malcolm Turnbull will have another party and take 25 marginal liberal seats with him WOW! Thankyou Ebenezer for your reply and link much appreciated. Ad I have to send you some twitter links, it is so much fun, reporting Hockey going to see Howard on the minute, Dutton pulling up outside Hockey's house. I am not a member but enjoy reading the political twits. There is heaps more but I have run out of time

Sir Ian Crisp

30/11/2009When Brendan Nelson’s approval rating was hovering around the 17% mark he was tapped on the shoulder and told it was time to move on. He didn't respond by throwing his toys out of his pram. When considering the Banker’s latest approval rating we should ignore the support of the upper echelon of the Goldman Sachs Group. Having said that the Banker’s approval rating isn’t much of an improvement on Nelson’s. On the strength of that it’s time for the Banker to hand the baton to the next boofhead. The Banker needs to know we already have one ALP. Don’t be surprised to see the Banker toss in his badge and accept a job from our dear leader. Maybe Ambassador to Antarctica. While on the subject of cold regions what can we make of the 50 centimeters of snow that fell in two days on Shijiazhuang in Hebie Province, China. The heaviest falls of snow in 54 years. Didn’t Kev tell us that two hot days in Sydney was a harbinger of global warming.
T-w-o take away o-n-e equals?