One could be forgiven for occasionally believing Malcolm Turnbull is a comedian. That is mostly because, if one had arrived from another country knowing nothing about Australian politics, and was exposed to it de novo and unadorned, it would be a fair bet that you would think it was broad satire.
Firstly, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull professes he is a strong leader because “strong leaders carry out their promises. Weak leaders break them. I’m a strong leader”1. This referred to the shemozzle of a voluntary, non-binding, postal plebiscite to precede a free vote in parliament to legalise same-sex marriage. Turnbull argued emphatically against a postal vote when he led the campaign for an Australian republic stating that a postal vote “flies in the face of democratic values”2. The change of heart by Malcolm Turnbull is largely in response to the squirrel grip in which the ultraconservatives in his party have him. That is because he made a Faustian bargain with them, and if he transgresses the terms of that agreement, there will be a slight squeeze of his testicles, just to remind him where the power lies. Real leaders do not have to convince people they are strong. The fact that Turnbull felt he had to state he is a strong leader meant that he is not.
Secondly, Turnbull has now come out and stated that Bill Shorten is the “most dangerous left-wing leader in generations”. He was talking to a Liberal Party audience, so it is not surprising that he flew off the handle in front of the blue-rinsed and moustachioed conservatives. After the ‘dangerous’ comment, Turnbull stated that Shorten is a “wholly owned subsidiary of militant, left-wing unions who have no regard for the rights of others let alone the law of the land”. This from the Liberal Party, a party that accepts large donations from large corporations that require a quid pro quo, mostly in attempting to support the dying thermal coal industry beyond any common sense4, keeping minimum wages and awards down and decreasing corporate taxes. You could easily argue that the Liberal Party is a wholly owned subsidiary of big business. Pot, kettle, black.
Finally there was the leaked transcript of the phonecall with US President Donald Trump4. One of the funniest items was when Turnbull stated that he and Trump had similar backgrounds (i.e. businessmen). Turnbull was probably chortling inside when he said this, as I am sure he knows that Trump has been bankrupt four times5. More ridiculous was the reference to the agreement with the Obama administration whereupon the US would take refugees from offshore detention, subject to US vetting. In the conversation Turnbull backed down and stated that the US didn’t actually have to do anything, except vet the refugees. There would be no obligation to take them. The only obligation was to go through the vetting process4.
It could be satire at its finest.