03 March 2016
by John Kelly

Turnbull, the Puppet P.M.

After observing Malcolm Turnbull for the past five months, nothing could be clearer to the shrewd onlooker. If his accession to the leadership was to signal something different, a new direction, a policy reversal of any kind, it would have happened by now.

He is a puppet leader controlled by the extreme right of the party, the real faceless men of Australian politics.

The Liberal parliamentary party installed a puppet leader to be the prime minister of Australia for one reason and one reason only. They feared losing the election to be held this year and knew winning it could not be achieved without a popular figure at the helm.

They know they were elected by default. A Labor government tearing itself apart internally was easy meat for a pro-Liberal media that had successively concealed Abbott’s and the party’s flaws and helped project an utterly false image of the conservative Opposition to the electorate.

But after two years of mis-management, Abbott’s failure to validate the perceived economic devastation he and the hapless Joe Hockey invented, as well as Abbott’s all too obvious idiocy, the hard right wing of the party decided to act.

That hard right faction are neo-liberals on steroids mixed in with a small group of Christian fundamentalists. They want to resurrect the Australian cultural identity we suffered in the 1950s, the conservative image dominant in the days of Robert Menzies; bland, subservient and Christian up to its eyeballs, intolerant of cultural, ethnic, social or moral diversity.

Nothing could be more obvious to the astute observer. Malcolm Turnbull was installed to ensure the continuation of the aims and objectives of a small but immensely powerful faction who realised their preferred leader, Abbott, did not have the charisma that would ensure their dreams were realised.

About Abbott, they were right. A little thing called “unelectable” got in the way. Something had to be done and so they turned their eyes to a man they detested but who did have the charisma, was seen by the average voter as popular, progressive and articulate, and who possessed all the attributes Abbott lacked.

The despised Turnbull, who stood out like a festering sore inside this conservative stronghold, who was not at all one of them, was now seen as a necessary conduit to carry them over the line, a thinly veiled veneer to conceal the incompetence of the rest of them. He was their only choice.

How Turnbull became a Liberal party member in the first place is a paradox on its own, but there he was and when it became obvious that Abbott could not win, these faceless men made their move. The opportunity to be installed as the Prime Minister of Australia was too much for Turnbull to ignore. He took the bait.

And so, these ultra conservatives succeeded in executing a transition that they believed would ensure their continued hold on power and guarantee them another three years in which to reverse what they viewed as an unacceptable direction for the country; one that embraced compassion, ethnicity and above all, egalitarian equality.

If anyone doubts the veracity of this let them read the list of objectives sought of this government by their masters, those other faceless men of the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA), a list which Abbott was well on his way to delivering.

They would have been much further down their chosen path by now but for an obstructionist senate. Eliminating that problem is now well underway. A reformed voting system followed by a double dissolution will rid them of the cross benchers, all but guaranteeing a conservative senate majority.

In March last year, Laura Tingle from the Australian Financial Review wrote an article, “Being governed by fools is not funny.” She was right then, and nothing has changed since. She wrote then, “But the government’s utter failure to prosecute either the policy arguments or political strategies to get voters to countenance its signature policies, is a responsibility that rests squarely with the government of the day.” In other words, they have stuffed up.

If you think that sounds like an appropriate description for today, you’d be right. The utter incompetence shown on the issue of tax reform, the confusion, the dissent from the backbench and Scott Morrison’s inability to recognise that there is a revenue problem is a continuation of what was going on then and a microcosm of a much deeper problem.

They don’t know how to govern. They have no raison d’entre other than to govern. No policy standard, no vision, no inclusive mission, no direction, nothing other than to be in government.

In a few months this giant hoax, this second rate vaudeville act, with fourteen of their stars already fallen off the stage, will ask that we give them another go. If we do, then expect more of the same, only more comical than ever, more conservative than ever and far less tolerant of all they despise.