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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Turnbull on telly « Previous | |Next »
August 25, 2008

With any luck tonight's Four Corners will give the Liberal leadership nonsense a gentle nudge towards something, anything, even a tiny gesture at resolution of some kind.

As usual when Four Corners does a political story, bits and pieces have been leaking out during the day, presumably by way of promo. A bit on Packer and Fairfax, a little of Julie bishop and Tony Abbott.

From the Four Corners promo:

In this unauthorised profile, Four Corners hands the microphone to allies and adversaries who have seen the very best and very worst of Malcolm Turnbull at close range. Four Corners explores Turnbull's meteoric career and tempestuous character to gain a glimpse of the promise and pitfalls of a Turnbull leadership.

Ooh er. Unauthorised.

Are the coalition – and the country – ready for Malcolm Turnbull?

Maybe, maybe not. The more entertaining question is whether Costello's spruikers are ready. Who would they have left to love if Turnbull got up?

| Posted by Lyn at 1:20 PM | | Comments (18)


Bernard Keane, the ex public servant who replaced Christian Kerr as Crikey's political reporter, reckoned Brendon Nelson would be gone from the Liberal leadership by Question Time tomorrow.

I take it that Keane is a Costello spruiker? He's salvaging his credibility of having his finger on the pulse of political life in Canberra by mocking Dennis Shanahan's speculations in the form of political commentary.

Keane has been chuckling at the Costello spruiking in the Australian as much as anyone else. It would be surprising if even Shanahan believed Shanahan any more.

As for expecting Nelson to be gone by now, that's reasonable given Nelson's popularity, and everything else about him really. You can't get much worse than yelling 'I care, I care, I care, I care' like a broken Dalek and expect people to see you as prime minister material. On the other hand, you'd expect someone in Keane's position to have taken more than just cosmetics into account.

Bad call, really.

Keane is sold by Crikey as the political guide to all things Canberra. We political tragics take our bearings from him because he is there and knows what's going on.He is the insider we can trust because he hasn't sold out to his sources or been taken in by the drip feeds.

What a lot of hooey.

Why is there a need for a resolution? Nelson is doing the job required of him--taking the hits and living on the ropes. He just has to survive the punches, smile for the cameras and hold the party together.

Isn't he doing that?

Shanahan says that:

The Liberal leadership is in hiatus. Brendan Nelson can't crack even a small improvement against the ascendant Kevin Rudd and the Coalition can't attract even a handful of voters who have dropped off the ALP. So, why aren't there murmurings about Nelson? The answer is Peter Costello .... There can be no movement against Nelson - and no movement in his favour, it would seem - while Costello's position remains in doubt within the Liberal parliamentary party.

Judging from last nights Four Corner programme Costello is using his power to block Turnbull's destiny. So Nelson lives on courtesy of Costello despite their noble tradition of knifing their leaders who have passed their use-by date.

I can't make up my mind what impression the programme left. Did it make Turnbull look good or bad? Was he likeable or not? Did he look like prime minister material or not? A Labor politician with that background wouldn't have any problems, but a Liberal? Knifing a Packer?

Sure the leadership issue is more urgent in the media's collective mind than anyone else's at the moment, but when the Liberals are done with Nelson the human shield, they have to install someone else.

Turnbull is bright, smart, tough, energetic and going places, with the money to do so. But we knew that already. So 4 Corners wasn't that revealing.

Where is the tragic flaw? Hubris?

He's volcanic, when he's supposed to be sedimentary.

Pity he's not metamorphic.

My impression was mixed too. Yeah he knifed the goanna but the goanna did bite him first.

The Latham reference seems apt.
Both with a Whitlam connection too (make twilight zone noises now).

Overall I think he comes across as untrustworthy.

Boy, did Abbott (sp?) lay in or what?

"now is the winter in Malcolm's tent.."


I thought that the 4 Corners programme was lightweight. It focused on the man and ignored his ideas. Why not get him to talk about the troubles he had with Victoria over water in the Murray-Darling Basin when he was environment minister?

That would have been helpful

I came away with a Lathamish impression too, but that was emphasised in the programme to the point where you have to wonder how realistic it is.

And it was lightweight. It would have been impossible for Turnbull to have talked about his ideas because he has to toe the Nelson line. Bad timing maybe.

As for Timmy Costello's "turnbull criticism" about Mal being domineering, a case of the pot calling the kettle black if there ever was one, based on "costello criticism" at the Summit!

I sometimes wonder how Tim Costello can live with himself.

Don't hold back, Lyn, give non-defamatory details of why you think that!

The Media has treated Tim with kid gloves. Remember when he first came on the screen during the tsunami seemingly in a jocular spirit about bodies washing up around his Organisation's HQ?

His Media Minders must have had a few words to him because the next time we saw him he was a very sober Tim!

Any other public figure would have been crucified for such an inappropriate response!

It seems the minute somebody becomes the spokesperson for something, they stop being part of whatever it is they're spokesperson for. I don't doubt that Costello is sincere, but he comes across as just another celebrity hanging around politicians a bit too much. I suspect he wouldn't get anywhere near as much attention if he wasn't somebody's brother.

Yeah, I too thought the 4 Corners program was light on.

I think all this prodding of Pete C to show his cards is a bit rich considering the prodders didn't support him in his leadership grab and now when the Coalition is floundering it's a case of: "Pete, pete, pete, we need your help!".

Pete should tell them to get lost!

As for Costello v. Turnbull, Mal has the handicap of wealth and success.

He'll no doubt encounter a lot of envy and people (in the UK and Australia) don't vote according to a person's merits, they vote for the person who doesn't threaten them which is why we get compromise in politics e.g. Gary Humphries instead of Kate Carnell; John Howard instead of Peter Costello.

I'm plumping for Pete and it's not because Mal once snubbed me at the Kingston shops!

I think Mal is a maverick in the Keating mode and will adopt a "I know best attitude" whereas with Pete, while he'll no doubt think he knows best, he'll be more amenable to argument that he doesn't!

And in a democracy, people need to at least feel they are in control of their leaders!

re your comment

And it was lightweight. It would have been impossible for Turnbull to have talked about his ideas because he has to toe the Nelson line. Bad timing maybe.

he could have talked about the core issue re Bracks' resistance to national water reform when Turnbull was MInister for the Environment. That is history.

The show was all about character.

Brendan was the best AMA President ever!

His troubles started when he ditched the earring and tried to become an everyman!