Lamest. PM. Ever.

So, we’ve wasted $100 million on a postal survey that won’t decide anything. It’s already evident that, even with a thumping majority for Yes, the bigots on the LNP backbench will fight all the way to protect the right to be a bigot. They are, in my view, playing a dangerous game here. The existing law gives lots of special privileges to religious organizations that are justified only on the basis that we all need to get along tolerantly. If that rationale ceases to apply, all those privileges are open to question.

Meanwhile, all the fine words about letting the people decide have gone out the window when it comes to indigenous recognition. Even though Abbott has gone along with Turnbull on the decision, I think, if he were still PM. he might have done better on this issue.

In any case, this confirms me in the view that Turnbull is the weakest Prime Minister in living memory. I thought that Billy McMahon was a competitor for the title until I discovered that he took the decision to kill off Australia’s foray into nuclear power (they’d actually excavated the site at Jervis Bay) over the opposition of the redoubtable Sir Phillip Baxter who saw the project as a step towards an atomic weapons capability. The cancellation of this project was a bigger achievement than Turnbull can claim in his 20-odd years in public life, encompassing the Republic referendum, the Murray-Darling fiasco, the downgrade of the NBN and his two years as Prime Minister.

43 thoughts on “Lamest. PM. Ever.

  1. Turnbull’s impotence was completely foreseeable, because he might have had enough numbers to gain the leadership but he never had the numbers to change the policies of the still-dominant Abetz/Andrews faction. The dries used up his personal popularity to extend their time in power, and left him a desiccated husk of a pol.

    Shorten is going to be PM for quite some time, for better or worse.

  2. Barnaby is gone! So much for Turnbull’s brave prediction about the case. What a numpty.

    (Apologies for the off topic comment.)

  3. “In any case, this confirms me in the view that Turnbull is the weakest Prime Minister in living memory.”

    Indeed….so why did we ever had the impression otherwise? I for one, though never a liberal voter, thought there was substance to Turnbull with his stands on climate change and other environment matters. Its easy to say he is a talented lawyer with no underlying substance but I still am puzzled – and everything is easier in hindsight (with the possible exception of Trump is as bad as he always looked).

    The question how with his government suffering another deep wound thanks to the High Court what should be Labor’s strategy – go for the throat or let the coalition bury themselves even deeper?

  4. Perhaps some are bigots but there are a number who most certainly are not.

    Agree with M0nty on Turnbull and said so at his place except they are not the dominant faction.

    As for Shorten it depends. Will he grow in the job or be diminished by it. Gillard for example was not up to it. Nor was Rudd for a different reason and Abbott was never going to as Andrew elder always said.

  5. @Newtownian

    Because people drink from the spring of eternal hope. Australians vote people out instead of in, and this is why we have inane leader after inane leader, spouting inane response to inane issues in one huge distraction machine. The only reason they are in a position of power is that someone slightly more qualified than them wasn’t qualified for the job.

  6. Billy McMahon was not re-elected, Gough managed to beat him by 7 seats. Turnbull got re-elected

  7. Also, clearly Barnaby Joyce is the lamest Deputy PM ever. Especially as he was a dual citizen and not entitled to a seat in Parliament under our constitution. This has now been determined by the High Court.

    “Contrary to what the MSM is leading many to believe, there is no need for a by election if Barnaby Joyce is found to be a disqualified person pursuant to s 44 the Constitution.” – Michael Griffin writing well before today’s decision. His entire article looks very prescient now.

    There is also the matter of “Section 46 the Constitution : Penalty for sitting when disqualified”

    Micheal Griffin further opines:

    “Joyce has technically been disqualified since he first sat in parliament many years ago and his disqualification could be back-dated many years. If many citizens took action against Joyce under section 46 he would quite clearly be bankrupted and, therefore, further disqualified from being elected at the next election as an undischarged bankrupt.

    Further again, if Joyce is found to have obtained a benefit from the Cth, such as his payments as a parliamentarian, without being entitled to that benefit then he also risks being charged and convicted under s 135 (2) Criminal Code Act and deported back to his ancestral home of NZ.”

    However, a Wikipedia entry states:

    “Section 46 of the Constitution of Australia provides that if a Senator or member of the House of Representatives is constitutionally ineligible or disqualified from holding that position, they will be liable to pay any person who sues for it 100 pounds for every day that they have sat.[1] With the introduction of the Australian dollar on 14 February 1966, where 100 pounds equaled A$200.[2] The section has never been invoked.[3]

    “Section 46 only applied “until the Parliament otherwise provides”.[1] Prompted by the case of James Webster,[4][5] a Senator whose eligibility to sit was questioned in the High Court, Parliament passed the Common Informers (Parliamentary Disqualifications) Act 1975,[6] which replaced the constitutional scheme of penalties for members sitting while ineligible. If Webster was found to have sat whilst ineligible, the penalty under the constitution may have exceeded $57,200.[7]

    Under the legislative scheme, the quantum of damages which can be recovered is significantly reduced. A person found to be ineligible is liable for a single payment of $200 for sitting in Parliament on or before the day they received notice of the suit challenging their eligibility, and a $200 payment for every day they sit in Parliament after receiving notice of the suit.[8] A twelve-month statute of limitations has been introduced,[9] and it is made explicit that a person may not be penalized twice for the same sitting.[10]”

    Clearly, parliamentarians make laws to ensure that if they are ever to be thrashed it will be with a feather. Nevertheless, I for one believe that Barnaby Joyce should be charged under s 135 (2) Criminal Code Act. Joyce continued in Parliament beyond the point where any reasonable and honest-intentioned person would have resigned. The absurd “legal” advice he received (that he would be cleared by the High Court) was clearly designed and intended as a device and pretext to give him later “grounds” for claiming that he was honestly convinced by said legal advice that his tenure was sound.

  8. McMahon was ridiculous and a national embarrassment, but he was not a weak leader. Unlike Turnbull, he didn’t allow himself to be pushed around by the man he defeated in the party room for the leadership.

    Turnbull is unique in having such a long record of serial failure. Many politicians stuff up badly of course, but they usually don’t get a second chance, let alone a third or a fourth. It’s hard to think of anyone else in Australian history with a 20 year continual run of failure at a high level.

  9. @Smith
    “Serial failure”. What I’ve held for many years. Godwin Gretch should have been the end of him but these are strange times we live in. Just think, a stuffed toy bear could once bring down a minister.

  10. Noel Pearson’s view (expressed last night on Radio National) is that Turnbull acted the way he did on the Indigenous Voice because Abbott was stalking him. But he also said that when Abbott was PM and Pearson suggested to him an elected Indigenous advisory body, that Abbott came back with the idea of some reserved Indigenous Senate positions instead. Pearson said he didn’t think the Australian people would accept that. So you might have been right that Abbott as PM might have been more radical than Turnbull on Indigenous matters (if Peta had let him).

  11. The Michaelia Cash issue is also relevant to Turnbull, under his leadership we have a govt that is not responsible for its actions.

    He really has lost the plot.

  12. @John Goss: plainly you’ve never “negotiated” with a narcisist. It’s impossible, because the narcussist has no real idea of their own preferences, which means that they can’t prioritise and any objection is a fatal objection. So negotiation falls into one of two patterns:
    + you’ll make some proposal, they’ll norice something objectionable and come up with a counterproposal, you’ll agree to that and then they’ll look at it, find simethong rlse acceptable, and wash-rise-repeat
    + you’ll agree to give them everything they want, or might want in future, and to abandon any future claims that might arise, and they’ll agree to a plan that gives them some of what they never wanted… which plan will break down in implementation with a demand for renegotiation when they discover yhst actually they wanted some if what they agreed to give you meaning that the deal has to be renegotiated.

    (Those people so affected _genuinely_ think that negotiation is and only is a game of chicken)

  13. Turnbull has two problems. He said the Court of Disputed Returns would rule one way and it did the opposite. He allowed to Ministers to continue in office making decisions when they clearly should not have been making decisions. This is a legal minefield.

    It does continue the to show the government incompetent as well.

  14. No one ever seemed able to say more than 2 or 3 sentences about Turnbull without pointing out how ‘intelligent’ he is .I havent heard that claim for a while .Remember him on QandA ,before he ascended the throne, in his leather jacket ,everyone cheering.

  15. Intelligence is only a useful trait in Prime Ministers if they use it to do intelligent things. Unfortunately, as we have seen, all that it required for Abbott men to triumph is for Turnbull men to do nothing.

  16. David Cameron, Turnbull, Trump, Poroshenko, Babis (Czech Republic), Key (NZ) all have this in common, that they run on not being professional politicians but (rich, therefore admirable) outsiders. Since they lack the practice and craft skills of politics, no surprise when they screw up. The surprise is that the electorate refuses to learn from the experience.

  17. @Peter T

    Macron ran and won as an outsider (even though he isn’t one) but he didn’t make a virtue out of being a rich businessman. And Cameron was always a standard Eton Tory, the insider’s insider.

  18. Lameness has been creeping into western democracies everywhere since the 90’s or sooner. Managerialism has been replacing leadership, cynicism has been sapping the drive for real change, and free market individualism has taken away belief in common goals and ideals. Turnbull is as much a symptom of this process as Trump and Brexit.

  19. Despite Turnbulls obvious failings he tends to make Bill Shorten even less competent than himself. Both are on a trip to Israel, for some obscure reason. If Shorten had sufficient nouse he would be here, working on a grand plan to challenge the govts legitimacy. But he seems to not be and Turnbull seems relaxed about leaving the govt in caretaker mode.

  20. Turnbull wanted to be PM for so long, you would think he had a definite plan for Australian in mind.

    But no, more like:
    • dog chases car
    • dog catches car
    • now what?

  21. The referendum provides an opportunity for same-sex marriages to become legal. Given that there was a hopeless divide politically on the issue it gives an opportunity for this to happen. If the vote is majority “yes” the decision to allow will probably proceed because of the pressure on parliamentarians. How is this a failure? What did Labor ever do to resolve this issue despite their hypocrisy now?

    If a small unrepresentative body of Australians decides that it wants an indigenous voice that comments on all issues in the Federal Parliament with Constitutional approval then a serious issue is raised. Indigenous Australians can voice their concerns now but they clearly want more than this. Were non-indigenous Australians consulted in arriving at this decision? I think Turnbull was correct in denying this policy option and that this decision is not at all anti-democratic as you assert. To accept it would have been anti-democratic. It is a reasonable decision that almost certainly would be supported by a majority in the community.

    Backing one political party consistently forces you to see things in a biased light. It is important to look at issues fairly, to recognize the constrained character on the political process and the need for compromises. Every PM since Howard has been exposed to these exaggerated claims of incompetence and weakness.

    McMahon was not weak but he was stupid so the comparison with Turnbull, who is by no means stupid, makes no sense. Turnbull runs a divided Coalition so that he is obviously constrained. Making statements along the lines that he is the weakest PM in history makes no sense given this context. It is just you expressing your preference for a change in government. That is all.

  22. I never cease to be amazed at the delusions about Malcolm. If you look at his business and political lives, there is one outstanding feature: he is a conman. He will do and say anything to get ahead. Then, while you’re rummaging around trying to work out what he has just sold you, he’s moved onto his next scam. He doesn’t do planning; he doesn’t do implementation; he doesn’t do after-sales service. His only plan is to fire out more bullshit if things go wrong (as they inevitably do).
    His claim that the HC would vindicate Barnyard was a classic Turnbullism. He knew that was bullshit, but he pumped it out so he could keep Barnyard in Cabinet for a bit longer. Then, when that turned awry, he pumped out replacement bullshit.
    I’m not exaggerating. That is who he is.

  23. @hc Have you read the Uluru Statement From The Heart Harry?

    The application of democratic principles should not be restricted by time.

  24. @Cameron Pidgeon

    Yes ,things converged on the radical center long ago. But change is in the air -however history tells that peaceful redistribution doesnt happen very often. They will hang on.

  25. @hc

    “To accept it would have been anti-democratic. It is a reasonable decision that almost certainly would be supported by a majority in the community.”

    A majority of the community think that aborigines are lazy drunken violent pedophiles with a market value of almost zero who need to be dragged into the 21 st C against their will.

  26. “Turnbull runs a divided Coalition so that he is obviously constrained.”

    McMahon had to wait for McEwen to retire before the Country Party would tolerate him at all. The Coalition was more divided then than now. In fact it was a genuine coalition rather than a single party with subfactions, as it now. For example, IIRC, the coalition ceased to operate when in opposition after 1972 and had to be agreed again in government.

  27. @John Quiggin

    “McMahon had to wait for McEwen to retire before the Country Party would tolerate him at all.”

    That is not quite right. McEwen personally had it in for McMahon, and as leader could and did veto him, but the rest of the Country Party didn’t have such a problem with him at the time.

    “the coalition ceased to operate when in opposition after 1972”

    I don’t think this is true. While the LP and NP and its antecedents routinely review their Coalition agreement after each election, the Country Party held shadow portfolios during the time of the Whitlam government, though they did famously break with the Liberals on occasion, most famously by voting with Labor to increase funding for private schools, a policy opposed by the Liberals, and without whose support the relevant bill would have been defeated in the Senate.

  28. The National/Country Party had rather more talent in those days. The trio of Doug Anthony, Peter Nixon and Ralph Hunt formed Malcolm Fraser’s inner circle of most trusted advisers. The last National leader of any ability was John Anderson, who retired in 2005 while still in his 40s. The super-safety of many Nationals seats used to attract people of some talent. Not any more.

  29. @Hal9000

    It’s a fair point about how the NP doesn’t have the talent it once had. The change of name from Country Party to the National Party diluted their focus from representing farmer interests to being just a more socially conservative version of the Liberal Party and they’ve never recovered.

    One is reminded about the ABC coverage on the night of the 1990 election. Andrew Denton was doing the comedy relief. He bailed up some minor NP official and the conversation went,

    “You’re from the National Party?”
    “And you’re called the Nats for short?”
    “What were you called when you were the Country Party?”

  30. @Smith
    They first changed in Queensland, so I’m guessing that was yet another brilliant, winning strategy from the Bjelke-Petersen/Sparkes team of electoral geniuses. Older voters would have remembered the expedient party of the same name formed for the sole purpose of keeping Billy Hughes in office when the Labor party split.

  31. @Hal9000

    The Bjelke-Petersen/Sparkes strategy was to destroy their mortal enemy, the Liberal Party. It worked, in the short term. In the 1983 Queensland election, the Liberals lost 14 of their 22 seats, including blue ribbon Liberal seats like Aspley, Mt Gravatt and Toowong to the Nationals. One surviving Liberal, the criminal Don Lane, defected to the Nationals after the election.

    It was a massive shock. The Bjelke Petersen hayseeds and hicks had conquered the most prosperous parts of Brisbane. The only event comparable in human history was the Siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Empire in 1529, only they didn’t succeed.

  32. @Hal9000

    Late in his life Hughes was asked why he had never been a member of the Country Party, since he had been a member of every other party. He answered that you’ve got to draw the line somewhere.

  33. Nasty situation brewing on Manus, Cash has taken a bullet for him and the Parliament is in chaos.

    But where is the coward?

    Off on an abject photo op in Israel.

  34. @Smith

    Wikipedia says “Since 1946, the Coalition has remained intact with two exceptions, both in opposition. The parties decided not to form a coalition opposition following their defeat in 1972, but went into the 1974 election as a Coalition.[1] The Coalition remained together upon entering opposition in 1983 election. The Coalition suffered another break, related to the “Joh for Canberra” campaign, from April to August 1987, the rift healing after the 1987 federal election.[2]”

  35. @John Quiggin

    So you were right that they ceased to operate as a coalition after the 1972 election, and I was half right that they were in coalition while in opposition during the Whitlam government.

  36. @Smith

    Yes. Abbott didn’t have to look over his shoulder from the beginning. Whatever we thought of Abbott’s (loosely held, in several areas – e.g., the SBS promises right before the election – as we soon found out) policies and ideology, at least he had some. At the time, I thought Abbott was the worse PM ever, but Turnbull is the worse, and weakest.

  37. By interfering in the gas market Turnbull is acting to reduce the currently massive amounts of money coal generators are receiving from high wholesale electricity prices which are currently often being set by gas generators. It’s hard to imagine Abbott making such a move. Of course, I didn’t think he’d eat a raw onion either, so what do I know?

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