How long will Malcolm Turnbull last as prime minister? … Tony Abbott wants his old job back but Liberal MPs aren’t rallying … Australia’s sickening fiasco in Afghanistan … World’s newest nation becomes failed state … When Abbott talked up DIY terrorism … Rupert Murdoch’s slaughter of Fairfax … Great Crashing Bores continued …
Prime Minister Turnbull faces the inevitability of a party room coup
Even Blind Freddy has woken up to the fact that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull won’t last his full three-year term in The Lodge.
Some people think he will be ousted next year, others say in 2018, or just before the next federal election in 2019.
His vulnerability is obvious to everyone, particularly since the abject failure of his gamble on a double dissolution election.
He keeps insisting he scored a “victory” on July 2 but the Coalition lost 14 lower house seats and three senators. That’s the kind of wretched result which normally leads to resignation, certainly not celebration.
He has a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives, but when you remove the speaker, Tony Smith, his “majority” falls to zero.
For a prime minister to govern successfully, he/she has to enjoy the support of the Cabinet, the party room, the parliament, the country at large and some sections of the mass media. Turnbull enjoys none of the above.
Less than half his 23-member Cabinet support him; only a quarter of his Liberal party room are supporters; in parliament he has already lost some votes and lives on a day-to-day knife-edge; and in the broad electorate he is distrusted, disliked or considered a major disappointment.
In the media he is treated with uncommon disrespect by reporters, commentators, photographers and cartoonists. The enormous number of letters written to the editor verge on the defamatory.
Former prime minister Julia Gillard was roundly disliked as well, but she survived from 2010 to 2013 because of her fearless management of a noxious parliament where Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin were on a mission to destroy.
After his overseas visit to the G20 summit in China, the ASEAN summit in Laos and the Pacific Islands Forum in Micronesia, Turnbull had secured a diplomatic “triumph” with Australia’s big and small neighbours, according the soft-brained media entourage covering the trip.
However, the fact is that every prime minister or president is a “big deal” abroad. Diplomatic protocol determines that it should be so. Leaders who arrive home thinking that they have impressed the world are deluding themselves.
When British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was flavour of the month in Reagan’s America, William Whitelaw, the former home secretary remarked: “No good getting mobbed in America, and thinking that’s going to work here.” Exactly!
None of the hand-shakers and back-slappers in Hangzhou, Vientiane or Pohnpei have a single vote in Turnbull’s party room or at the next Australian election. While their gestures of goodwill may be welcome they are politically meaningless and, sometimes, can be quite counter-productive.
Voters, whether they are Liberal, Labor, National or Green, are focussed on Turnbull’s leadership performance. While they are utterly unimpressed, they haven’t started applying critical mass pressure to get rid of him – yet.
Abbott’s motley crew
The only politician on the rampage against Turnbull is his sick-minded predecessor Tony Abbott. Since his overthrow one year ago, Abbott has recruited no new supporters: his parliamentary cheer squad still consists of Kevin Andrews, MP for Menzies (Melbourne), Craig Kelly, MP for Hughes (NSW), Peter Dutton, MP for Dickson and George Christensen, MP for Dawson (both Queensland), plus Senators Eric Abetz and Cory Bernardi.
Even those Liberals and Nationals who can’t stand Turnbull are unwilling to return him to the prime ministership. He had his chance and he blew it.
One of the main reasons for the current hesitation over Turnbull’s fate is that Liberal MPs have few ideas on a replacement. Uppermost in their mind is: who can defeat Labor and save my seat?
With Scott Morrison making such a hash of the treasurer’s job, the field is wide open with assorted turkeys preening themselves on the sidelines.
In the lead-up to the overthrow of Mrs Thatcher in 1990, the British Tory Party was “lazy, sullen and frightened”, according to Cabinet minister Alan Clark.
“The Lady is under deep pressure now,” Clark wrote in his diary. “It just won’t go away. As far as I can make out practically every member of the Cabinet is quietly and unattributably briefing different editors or members of the Lobby about how awful she is.”
Clark surmised that Mrs Thatcher didn’t realise “what a jam she’s in”. He continued: “It’s the bunker syndrome. Everyone round you is clicking their heels. The saluting sentries have highly polished boots and beautifully creased uniforms. But out there at the Front it’s all disintegrating. The soldiers are starving, in tatters and makeshift bandages. Whole units are mutinous and in flight.”
This isn’t happening yet in Robert Menzies’ Liberal Party, currently celebrated by John Howard in a taxpayer-funded ABC TV documentary. But it will, it will.
Australia’s Afghanistan fiasco
Heard of Tarin Kowt? No, it isn’t a Nepalese aromatherapist at Byron Bay, it’s the capital of Oruzgan province in Afghanistan.
People don’t remember Vung Tau either. It was the headquarters of Australian forces during the Vietnam war when two million Vietnamese people were killed, while Tarin Kowt was the headquarters of Australian forces during their 10-year engagement in the US-led war on Afghanistan.
What was achieved after Australian taxpayers contributed billions of dollars on troops, special forces, commandos, snipers, intelligence-gathering, public relations, mechanised forces, helicopter gunships, and bribes?
Bugger all. The latest military assessments reveal that war lords, Taliban supporters, tribalist militias and heroin traders are back in charge across large parts of Oruzgan which Australia handed over to the US-backed Kabul regime in 2013.
Hundreds, if not thousands of Afghanis, were killed, maimed or turned into refugees during the Tarin Kowt counter-insurgency operation.
Australian losses were 41 soldiers killed and 261 seriously injured. Hundreds more had their lives screwed up: many are now back in Australia on disability pensions, fighting alcoholism, drug addiction or depression; their families are wrecked, some are either homeless or jobless and others have joined the bikies or the racist Australian First Party and are voting One Nation.
Meanwhile, the RSL and the Australian War Memorial are celebrating the war in Afghanistan as another “victory” for “freedom” and “democracy”. Pass me a sick bag, please.
Newest nation becomes failed state
Thank goodness for actor George Clooney. He had the character to launch a report exposing the wholesale corruption in the top leadership of the military regime of South Sudan.
When the world’s newest nation proclaimed its existence in 2011, the brain-dead reporters in the world media were ecstatic.
They welcomed the “liberation” of South Sudan and the “birth of the world’s youngest democracy”. It was sickening stuff.
Anyone who knew anything about the Christian sectarian tribalists behind the independence movement knew that they were in the pay of Washington, London and the anti-Khartoum Arab regimes in the Gulf.
They wanted to weaken Sudan by dividing it into Moslem and Christian sectors. If that mean creating two failed states – so what? – it would ease the Arab pressure on Israel and allow wholesale exploitation of uranium, oil and gas in the Sudanese basin.
Clooney’s report named the criminals in the South Sudanese military who have stolen billions of dollars to benefit their families and cronies.
The US and other Western governments, including Australia’s, were well aware of the industrial scale larceny but kept quiet because they didn’t want to draw attention to their criminal involvement in this nationhood debacle.
Will the Rev Fred Nile and the Australian Christian Lobby gives us an account of their involvement in this shameful episode?
When Abbott incited terrorism
The knife attack on 59-year-old Wayne Greenhalg in a Minto street, south-western Sydney, on September 10 by Ihsas Khan, aged 22, has been attributed by the police to his association with the terrorist psychos from IS.
Why rule out former prime minister Tony Abbott from any responsibility?
In his national security statement in Canberra on 23 February 2015, then prime minister Tony Abbott said: “Today’s terrorism requires little more than a camera phone, a knife and a victim.”
In parliament he told MPs: “Under the influence of the Islamist death cult, all you need to be a terrorist is a knife, a flag, a camera phone and a victim. That’s all you need.”
Then he told a press conference in Sydney: “It is a serious situation when all you need to do to carry out a terrorist attack is to have a knife, an iPhone and a victim.”
At the Seven Network’s Sunrise studio in Martin Place, he told host David Koch, aka “Kochie”: “The regrettable reality is that to mount the kind of attacks which Isil in Syria and in Iraq has in mind for Australia, all you need is a determined individual who will kill without compunction, a knife, an iPhone, and a victim.”
In September after 18-year-old Numan Haider, was shot dead after attacking police with a knife outside Endeavour Hills police station Abbott flew to the UN headquarters in New York where he told a press conference: “It doesn’t take many people to commit an act of terrorism. As I have said a few times lately, all you need is a knife, an iPhone and a victim.”
As a result he was praised by Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post which enthusiastically reported Abbott’s “do-it-yourself” terrorism guide.
If any Australian repeated what Abbott said on an email, a Facebook posting, a Twitter message or a public speech, they would be charged on terrorism incitement laws and face jail.
Why the hesitation in prosecuting the death cultist Abbott?
How Fairfax was gutted
There is an old journalist adage that a top reporter makes a bad editor and an even worse CEO. If Greg Hywood ever heard the saying he ignored it.
As CEO of Fairfax Media for the past six years Hywood, once a competent and thoughtful journalist, has been an unmitigated disaster.
When he became CEO, Fairfax’s share price was $1.38. Now it is limping along at 94 cents.
The number of printed copies of The Sydney Morning Herald has dropped from 209,644 copies to 104,155 and there is persistent speculation that print editions of the SMH and The Age will end within a year.
Which brings me to the memoir, Making Headlines, published this week by Chris Mitchell, former editor-in-chief of The Australian. It is a brazen exercise in self-promotion; he’s polishing his career before former employees have their say.
One anecdote, however, stands out when he is recounting his bitter 2012 clash with then News Ltd CEO Kim Williams, a gentleman Tory with an opera, music and theatre background.
When Rupert Murdoch waded into the dispute he quickly backed Mitchell and Williams was forced to make a humiliating exit from his job.
Murdoch subsequently asked Mitchell why Williams was determined to beat Fairfax’s Hywood in adopting a digital publishing model.
“Chris, tell me why that man Kim was in such a hurry to get to the bottom of the toilet before Greg Hywood gets there?
“I told him three or four years ago to sort things out. What the hell was the race about?”
And there you have it. Murdoch was delighted that Hywood was galloping towards a digital future. He didn’t want Mitchell to compete in any race “to the bottom of the toilet”. He was very happy to see Fairfax destroy its newspaper platforms because that would leave News Ltd with the sole daily and Sunday products in Sydney (Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph), Melbourne (Herald Sun and Sunday Herald Sun) and Brisbane (Courier Mail and Sunday Mail).
In tearing the guts out of Fairfax and turning it into a miserable digital platform Hywood kept telling sceptics – “There is no alternative”, the TINA mantra once used by Mrs Thatcher to pursue monetarism and austerity in the UK.
His total salary and benefits since becoming CEO has been an estimated $13 million. Well done, Greg.
Great Crashing Bores – 13
Call me a New Age Guy, a NAG, if you want to but I’m changing my diet and going on the healthy stuff because it’s the only way to go if you want to live a few more years and enjoy your taxpayer-funded retirement and the income from your shares and investment properties. I’ve switched to eating vegetables instead of cream buns and might even become a vegan but that’s all down the track so for the time being I‘m just adopting fresh fruit, organic rolled oats, quinoa and chia wraps, free range chicken, sliced organically-farmed turkey, green tea and sourdough bread made from ancient grains. I’m not getting all religious about it though and there are moments when I’m out shopping with She Who Must Be Obeyed that I lose it completely if she tries to stop me buying a family pack of Snickers for 10 bucks – so what’s wrong with that? Then we have another blue when I put a package of creams buns in the trolley along with a block of cheese and some chocolate which I tend to eat after lights out. Jeez mate, it’s hard enough going on a diet without having to give up all your favourites. I try to tell the doctor to let me make up my own diet, but he just won’t listen. All these health fads are just a load of rubbish, I reckon, you are what you eat and I’m 115kgs and not morbidly obese either just perky, especially after a couple of glasses of wine from the casket.