Australian Commentary (53) – The Floundering Turnbull


The Floundering Turnbull

Unless Malcolm Turnbull can re-invent himself, his days as PM are most definitely numbered. And he will have no one to blame for his fall but himself.


When a man’s ambitions run a long way ahead of his abilities, trouble becomes predictable. Malcolm clearly wanted the top job, but since he took the role less than a year ago, he’s done little of any value. The Liberals have gone backwards.

Clearly, July’s election shows that he hasn’t impressed the electorate. And for someone who had a history before entering Parliament of public articulation of argument and persuasion as a prominent legal person, Turnbull’s No Show has been all the more surprising.

The Dyson Royal Commission handed him more ammunition to use against Labor than any Prime Minister could have dreamed of, but he did nothing with it during the election campaign. Union corruption and intimidation is rife in Australia, and the Leader of the Opposition is implicated, up to his neck.

Any competent campaign manager should have realised that this was the Labor Party’s soft underbelly, to be pursued relentlessly during the campaign. It was public knowledge, and absolutely indefensible. The Labor Party knew it, which was the very reason they sought to unfairly discredit Dyson during the Royal Commission, as some kind of Liberal stooge.

But Turnbull went AWOL, on the very issue that should have been central to his campaign. It was as if the Labor Party had reluctantly parked a loaded brick-truck outside his door, but Malcolm walked out of his house, saw the truck, got in his car and drove away. He could have gotten in that truck, driven it around to the House of Labor, and spent the rest of the day  hurling brick after brick through its windows. It never happened.

Turnbull’s real problem is this. On matters of fundamental conservative ideology, he really doesn’t have what it takes, and only alienates those who could be his supporters. (This is why Pauline Hanson is so popular in Australia today. In the hearts of the grass-roots of the community, she has what it takes to represent them, and she’s fast becoming the de facto heroine of Australian conservatism.)

Turnbull is not a free-market man, and there isn’t much about the Liberals that he actually identifies with, including moral and economic conservatism. He wants to be friends with everyone and in the middle of the road, and he’s afraid to de-regulate the labor market, because there might be some losers. Of course there will be some losers: those who can’t do their job well and should be sacked.

So, he loses the backing of the thousands of small-business operators who should be his supporters, who have to abide by the Penalty Rates that are such a burden for them, preventing them from hiring more staff and growing the economy. But Penalty Rates are not his problem. Why should he care?

A week before the Census, when Turnbull on television effectively endorsed all that the Census was going to ask for, he set himself up. And when the electronics couldn’t cope and there was a Bureau of Statistics computer melt-down, who was made to look stupid, distant and incompetent? The Department, along with the sucker PM who supported that Department in its bureaucratic ineptitude.

The symbolism hasn’t been lost on the electorate. They know a loser who really doesn’t care about them, when they see one.

Electorates don’t care about inspirational leaders, because they want competency. Inspiration is nice, but it’s just cream on the cake when the leader is doing their job properly. The best inspiration is competency. Voters will choose those who come across competent, every day of the week. Turnbull lacks it, and in too many ways, he’s on another planet to the average Australian.


In my opinion, Turnbull at 62 won’t be able to re-invent himself, and I don’t see him making it to the next election. It’s not that the party hates him; they wanted him to do well and succeed, but he’s been a do-nothing PM, on the very issues he needed to perform on.

I grew up on a farm, and cattle farmers buy stud bulls to do one job: get the cows pregnant. If the new bull (despite his bellow and blood-lines) can’t do what he’s there for, he’ll get replaced. They won’t hang around with him being unproductive- their future depends on it.