The overthrow of Malcolm Turnbull

Liberal MPs overthrow Malcolm Turnbull and replace him with a lightweight happy-clappy

In 36 consecutive opinion polls, Malcolm Turnbull was preferred Prime Minister over Labor’s Bill Shorten. In mid-July, for example, Turnbull extended his lead over Shorten to 19%; Turnbull was 48% with Shorten dropping 2% to 29%.

At the same time, Labor continued to lead the Federal Coalition on a two-party preferred basis by 51 to 49.

What was blindingly obvious to everyone (except Liberal MPs apparently) was that Turnbull was a goer but the Liberal Party wasn’t.

So, being Liberals, what did they do? They sacked Turnbull, their best electoral asset by a country mile, and replaced him with the cannon-ball-headed lightweight, Scott Morrison.

Morrison’s elevation to the Prime Ministership was an accident. The job was supposed to go to Constable Peter Dutton, aka “Mr Potato Head”, but the geniuses in the extreme conservative camp, i.e. Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, Kevin Andrews, Craig Kelly, “Field Marshal” Jim Molan, “General” Andrew Hastie, Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Michaelia Cash, Amanda Stoker and Dutton himself, got their sums hopelessly wrong and Morrison carried the day in a split party room vote: 45 votes to 40. A “form of madness”? No, more an act of colossal stupidity.

By the way, just remember, these same people are now running the country.

Turnbull and Dutton in private conversation in the House

It’s worse than you think

In the immediate wake of the latest Canberra coup, the political class and the media class have formed an uneasy alliance to tell Australians to “Stay Calm and Carry On”.

The idea is that everyone should become ostriches, put their heads in the sand and pretend that nothing has happened. It’s not working.

A counter-narrative is emerging and it goes something like this:

1. Malcolm Turnbull was an arrogant, out-of-touch toff. Every time he was challenged by his conservative enemies, he buckled and caved in. Voters don’t like spineless leaders and they aren’t right wing as the politicians think. In fact. they are more progressive than their politicians.

On the other hand, Turnbull was intelligent, sophisticated and he had some good ideas on climate change, coal-fired power stations, the republic, constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians etc. It’s a pity he didn’t fight for them.

2. His main opponent, Tony Abbott, aka “The Mad Monk”, relentlessly conspired every day to tear Turnbull down. It was like an agonising re-run of Kevin Rudd stalking Julia Gillard after she stole his job back in 2010. Abbott is driven by revenge, right-wing Vatican ideology and misplaced ambition. He should quit parliament and remove himself to a cloistered monastery where celibacy, silence and masturbation are the chief vows.

3. Scott Morrison, the 20th prime minister and seventh in 11 years, is a lightweight without the intellectual capacity to govern a chook yard let along a country of 25 million with a $400 billion Federal Budget.

What’s my evidence? Twenty year ago, Morrison was hired by John Brown and his son Christopher at the Tourism Task Force. He escaped being sacked by relocating to New Zealand where he learned the political ropes with the right-wing NZ National Party.

On returning to Sydney he became director of the NSW Liberal Party which lost the 2003 State Election. A post-mortem, which was critical of Morrison’s inflexibly hardline policy approach, was never released in full.

Morrison was not present to cop any blame. He became John Howard’s managing director of Tourism Australia where he masterminded Lara Bingle’s disastrous advertising campaign which carried the slogan: “Where the bloody hell are you?” It cost a heart-stopping $200 million.

Morrison was on the road again with his eyes set on Bruce Baird’s Federal seat of Cook, based on Cronulla. He lost the first pre-selection ballot, picking up only a handful of votes. Right-wing Liberals organised a vicious campaign against the successful candidate, of Lebanese background, with harmful “leaks” to the Daily Telegraph and radio shock jocks.

Morrison then won pre-selection and was elected to the House of Representatives. He was soon Immigration Minister in charge of the Coalition’s “stop the boats” campaign called “Operation Sovereign Borders”. Morrison changed the focus of decades-long immigration policy, most notably with refugees becoming “illegals”.

He used his “happy-clappy” evangelism to cloak a policy replete with sickness, depression, psychological disorder, self-harm and suicide.

4. What’s the difference between Morrison and Peter Dutton? Morrison’s Liberal supporters claim the two politicians are different. Superficially, this may be true but essentially they are cut from the same reactionary cloth. Dutton is dumber and stupider than Morrison; after all, Dutton is a Queensland copper while Morrison has a university education and work experience in Australia, NZ and Canada. Dutton has joined Morrison’s Cabinet in his old portfolio as Home Affairs Minister where he commands a para-military Homeland Security Force with a tremendously lucrative budget.

Australia’s best hope is that Dutton loses his Queensland seat of Dickson at the next Federal Election. On the eve of the latest Canberra coup, Canberra journalist Hugh Riminton revealed that Dutton had benefitted from the Commonwealth through the family ownership of a string of childcare centres; three were sold to Eddy Groves’ ABC Learning in 2002, a much favoured privately-owned entity during Prime Minister John Howard’s era.

In the tumultuous days of the last parliamentary sitting Coalition MPs defeated a Labor motion to refer Dutton’s case to the High Court for adjudication. The Coalition won by a single vote.

MPs are now pretending the case has “gone away”. It hasn’t and Riminton is furiously focussed on being vindicated. But even before the High Court challenge comes into play, Dutton will have to survive his French au pair scandal. Watch this space!

5. Stuart Roberts, Liberal MP for Fadden on the Gold Coast, is Morrison’s choice as Assistant Treasurer. This politician carries so much baggage he is like a dead man walking.

A former senior army officer, he was recruited to boost military numbers in the Australian parliament. Their purpose is to attack the Greens and ALP “lefts” who are increasingly alarmed about Washington’s influence in military policy, war purchases, promotions and joint exercises with the US and Japan.

Roberts has featured regularly in Gold Coast headlines as the “bag man” for the Liberal Party and a “fixer” for the party’s right wing.

Two years ago Malcolm Turnbull sacked Roberts from the ministry but Morrison’s first job was to bring him back.

Criticising Roberts’ ministerial appointment, Gold Coast Labor Senator Murray Wyatt said: “I was a bit surprised to see Stuart Roberts back in the ministry, given how scandal-prone he’s been over the years.”

Roberts shares a flat in Canberra with Scott Morrison. They are also rumoured to share “happy-clappy” religious views.

Roberts told the media that the Australian Federal Police had cleared him of any wrongdoing. He described the latest criticism as “all Labor rubbish”.

We shall see …

Lest we remember

On August 18, Vietnam Veterans’ Day, Malcolm Turnbull, still Prime Minister, sent a Trump-style electronic message from his mobile phone saying: “Today we remember and honour those 521 Australians who laid down their lives in the service of our country, defending our values and freedom.”

On August 27, Homeland Security Führer, Peter Dutton, dived into the headlines to announce a fishing boat from Vietnam had sunk off the North Queensland coast and “illegal boat people” were on the run.

The stricken Vietnamese fishing boat

It was not clear whether the crew and occupants were fishermen, boat people or refugees, but Dutton didn’t care.

“The threat of people smugglers hasn’t gone away and the arrival of this boat should be a very clear and timely message that people smugglers will put people onto boats, to take money from innocent people, men, women and children. We have been very clear that we won’t allow people who arrive illegally into our country to settle in this country. People will be deported from our country at the first available opportunity.”

Ben Morris, a veteran of the Vietnam war, wrote to the editor of a local newspaper, saying: “Australia in the Sixties sent troops to Vietnam in democracy’s name. Now, 17 Vietnamese turn up on our front door and our democracy is no longer available.”

No one from the Australian Labor Party challenged Dutton’s demonisation of the fishermen/refugees or the racist scaremongering.

Anthony Albanese, leader of Labor’s “hard left” faction, ceded the anti-refugee argument to the Liberal Party’s hardliners on June 28 when he delivered the Gough Whitlam annual oration at the Shellharbour Workers’ Club.

In a speech to establish himself as a Labor “moderate” who is “business-friendly”, Albanese uttered the words:

“We are a nation state. No mainstream politician believes in open borders … Labor supports offshore detention and regional processing in order to stop the people smuggling trade.”

There you have it. The ALP has betrayed the millions of Australians who are sickened by what they read about the hideous treatment of asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru. Importantly, the number of Australians who oppose Canberra’s anti-refugee policies has grown over the years; Shorten luvvies will ignore the new vibe at their peril.

Australia’s international reputation has been trashed by cruel, inhuman and treaty-breaking offshore detention and the three major parliamentary parties, Liberal, Labor and Nationals, support it. And, of course, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation. The intransigent Greens are looking better by the day …

Writers’ Festivals revisited

Australia has a long-held and enviable reputation for staging excellent writers’ festivals but two recent events had called our pre-eminence into question.

First, at this year’s Sydney Writers’ Festival the Pulitzer Prize winning writer Junot Diaz was ambushed during a panel discussion by another American author Zinzi Clemmons alleging sexual harassment from him at Columbia University six years earlier.

Mr Diaz apologised for his behaviour, withdrew from the festival and flew home.

Dr Germaine Greer

Second, the Brisbane Writers’ Festival shunned audience favourites, Dr Germaine Greer and former Foreign Minister Bob Carr, prompting a widespread debate about literary censorship and writers’ freedoms.

Brisbane steered clear of Greer for reasons that were immediately vented on social media. Her latest book On Rape reaffirms her reputation as Australia’s foremost historian, scholar and intellectual. She challenges the conventional rape-is-worse-than-murder opinion by presenting unwelcome facts, such as: “Penetration of the vagina by a bottle or a broomstick is a far more vicious attack than the introduction of an unwanted penis but is usually categorised as the lesser offence of sexual assault.”

Bob Carr was avoided for fear of upsetting the Zionist community which has sworn to keep him off public platforms following his very public support for a Palestinian homeland and his opposition to bullying by the Israeli lobby when he was NSW Premier (1995-2005).

Now award-winning author Tim Winton has questioned the direction of writers’ festivals and protested about their “dumbing down”.

The four-times Miles Franklin award winner spoke after attending last weekend’s Melbourne Writers’ Festival where some of the invited participants had not written a book.

Discussions organised at the Melbourne festival covered such non-literature issues as tattoos and pet meditation.

On the festival website, the pet meditation event was promoted thus: “Medium and spiritual teacher Mitchell Coombes and animal ‘high priestess’ Laura Jean McKay examine the spiritual lives of pets.”

Marieke Hardy, the Melbourne festival’s artistic director and grand-daughter of late Communist Party writer Frank Hardy, rejected criticism of her choice of participants, saying: “I wouldn’t program (sic) Germaine Greer.”

Among Ms Hardy’s other festival innovations was an all-women’s event where speakers and the audience were all naked plus a Sacred Texts session to discuss three works: The Book That Made Me A Feminist, The Book That Made Me An Activist and The Book That Made Me A Better Lover.

A few years ago at the Byron Writers’ Festival I was sharing a drink with a group of festival supporters, organisers and participants when I lamented the fact that there were not more males in the audience.

“I’m not surprised at all,” one of our group responded. “Men don’t read books.” Really?

In recent years global publishers have begun to throw their weight around writers’ festivals, turning them into commercialised events to sell their high-profile authors and promote lesser ones who need a profile and a more imposing CV. Perhaps it is time to tell publishers, like Rupert Murdoch, to butt out and give festivals back to those who love reading books, writing them (authors), lending them (librarians), selling them (booksellers), illustrating them (graphic artists) and discussing them (educators and the general public).

The Gold Coast?

News item: “The number of people dying from drug overdoses on the Gold Coast has increased 75% in the past decade. Figures released by Australia’s Annual Overdose Report show 245 Gold Coasters died from drugs from 2012-2016, 105 more than the 2002-2006 period. Surprisingly, experts said the fastest-growing killer was prescription drugs.” (Gold Coast Bulletin, 28 August 2018).

Peter Beattie (right) with supporter

News item: “Former Queensland Premier, Peter Beattie, has been appointed chairman of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation, on a salary of $50,000 a year. He said: ‘This is paradise. This is paradise on earth, as close as you can possibly get. This is a jewel and all you have to do is just show people this. We have to show this to the world’.” (ABC News, 17 May 2016)

Beattie delivered the welcoming address at the opening ceremony in April saying: ‘Right now there are over two billion people from all over the world watching us at this moment that connects us all, here in this beautiful meeting place on the Gold Coast’.” (Gold Coast Bulletin, 4 April 2018)

Beattie, who recently became chair of the Australian Rugby League Commission on an undisclosed salary, received an annual Games salary of $50,000 plus a bonus payment to be paid when the business entity is wound up on 31 December 2018.

Senator John McDeath

The unindicted war criminal John McCain was given hero status by US Republicans and Democrats when he died last week. It was part of the anti-Trump fever gripping America.

John McCain, warmonger

But why did the Australian media have to follow suit? McCain was deified in newspaper obituaries as well as in TV and radio tributes. It was nauseating.

McCain flew 23 bombing missions over North Vietnam for which he was awarded two Silver Stars, two Legions of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Bronze Stars and three Purple Hearts. None of these imperialist honours could cleanse the blood from his heart and soul. Called “McNasty” at the US Naval Aacdemy, he ranted for “lights out in Belgrade” when US bombs rained on the Serbian capital in the 1990s, and he urged NATO ground forces to “cream” the Yugoslav army.

When captured by the Viet Cong, McCain was tested by Spanish psychologist Fernando Barral who found him “deeply narcissistic, cold, hardened and largely devoid of human empathy”.

He concluded that the US airman seemed to view bombing civilian populations as “kind of sport”.

I seriously doubt whether surviving relatives of the two million Vietnamese killed by America and its allies think the same thing.


  1. Oh, and I’m male and I read books – lots of them – Behrouz Boochani, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Malcolm McFarlane, Marie Munkara, Melissa Lucashenko, and so forth in the past two weeks.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Jim. Always a pleasure to see your biting observations the day after I file my Notebook. Cheers, Alex

  3. Your observations on Morrison and Dutton are spot on, from what a former Canberra correspondent told me, dumb and dumber, respectively. Tony Abbott’s despicable campaign of revenge succeeds, and then conservative columnists were even blaming Turnbull for his own demise. God help us from the God bothering PM.

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