Why can’t ex-prime ministers just retire gracefully?

By - CTL
November 11, 2020
Why can’t ex-prime ministers just retire gracefully?

By Mike Canavan

I suppose the single greatest aphrodisiac of most people is power. When you coupled it with fame, sex, and money, if you have them all, life doesn’t get any better.

When deprived of it, the loss can be so great, that once considered normal, reasonable, functioning humans turn into rabbit, desperate and deluded souls. Who sadly descend into blithering dysfunctional and irrelevant idiots.

If ever you needed affirmation of the above, you only had to tune in to a gut wrenching interview this past Sunday on the ABC ‘Insiders’ program.

Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull, supposedly bitter rivals; both coming from purportedly diametrically opposed political parties were swooning and cooing like adolescent teenagers on their first date. During a sycophantic interview from the less than impressive David Spears, they praised and supported each other for the wisdom and initiatives they were spouting. It was simply the most nauseating and irrelevant 25 minutes of television that I’ve watched in the past 20 years.

A group of people looking at a screen Description automatically generated

Watch from 23min

Arguably, they are two of the worst prime ministers that our nation has had to suffer. In what could only be described as a tragic grab for notoriety and relevance, both are now calling for a Royal Commission into the Murdoch media empire.

I suppose it has a lot to do with the fact that the Murdoch press found both of them incompetent and wanting in terms of the leadership of our Nation, therefore (Murdoch) blew the whistle on them.

A close up of text on a white background Description automatically generated

The word ‘bitter’ comes strongly to mind on both sides. According to the Oxford Dictionary Bitter is: A feeling or showing anger, hurt, or resentment because of bad experiences or a perceived sense of unjust treatment. Additionally, it is hard not to couple it with delusional: A feeling of disorder, previously called paranoid disorder, is a type of serious mental illness — called a “psychosis”— in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. The main feature of this disorder is the presence of delusions, which are unshakable beliefs in something untrue. There is no doubt that both suffer from the same afflictions.

The sad reality is that both their parties found the stewardship untenable and removed them in mid-term. I suppose that given their ego’s, they have to seek reasons and justification for their failure. Clearly, they cannot process the fact that neither of the parties believed them to be suitable leaders to represent them in the upcoming elections. They (Rudd and Turnbull) had to blame someone (it couldn’t possibly be their fault). But who? Obviously, Mr Murdoch — he, alone must be responsible for their failures.

Text Description automatically generated

Rudd recently launched a petition to the Australian parliament, comparing the Murdoch media empire to a ‘cancer’ and suggesting the organisation had used its dominance to “chill free speech and undermine public debate”.

Over that weekend, Turnbull took to Twitter to reveal he had signed the petition, along with nearly 400,000 other Australians.

“Kevin has done well to get this petition going. I doubt it will result in a Royal Commission, and Murdoch’s print monopoly (since 1987) is only part of the problem. But I have signed it and encourage others to do so,” Turnbull said.

Rudd responded to his fellow former Prime Minister, suggesting this campaign goes beyond partisan politics.

“Good to have you on board, @TurnbullMalcolm. Supporting media diversity isn’t about left or right, Labor or Liberal, but preserving the lifeblood of our democracy,” he said on Twitter.

Not-withstanding the cost of a Royal Commission — somewhere between $550M AUD to $750M dollars, I for the life of me cannot see what possible findings such an august body could contribute to our Nation’s future betterment — but what the hell, if it makes Rudd/Turnbull happy it would no doubt be money well spent.

The truth about Turnbull.

Some of the defining moments of the chaotic Malcolm Turnbull premiership were:

The toppling of Tony Abbott: Mr. Turnbull was hardly new to internal chaos. As opposition leader in 2009, he was unseated by Tony Abbott. The latter became PM in 2013, but – and stay with us – Turnbull mounted a coup d’état in 2015. In doing so, Mr Turnbull used a justification that would come back to haunt him: “We have lost 30 Newspoll’s [opinion polls] in a row. It is clear that the people have made up their mind about Mr Abbott’s leadership.”

He went to the poles in 2016 and successfully managed to reduce the Abbott majority from 90 seats to 76. Well done Mal!

Deputy PM revealed to be a Kiwi: A scandal soon developed concerning the ability of foreign nationals to hold positions in the Australian Parliament. Turnbull stood firm and told all who would listen that the High Court would never rule against his belief that things were fine. Sadly, he was completely incorrect.

The matter reached a head when it turned out that Mr Turnbull’s, Barnaby Joyce, held a New Zealand citizenship. Mr Joyce was soon disqualified from office, imperilling Mr Turnbull’s one-seat majority in the House of Representatives.

Fortunately for the government, Mr Joyce was returned at a by-election, prompting a hands-aloft celebration with a relieved Mr Turnbull.

Though their unity was not to last. When Mr Joyce was later embroiled in a scandal over an affair with one of his office staffers, Turnbull was virulent and sanctimonious, damning Mr Joyce as an adulterer and roué. The two exchanged bitter barbs in the media and later Mr Joyce stood down.

A picture containing diagram Description automatically generated

‘Worst’ phone call with Trump: Mr Turnbull’s relationship with the US president got off to a famously testy start when he made a device call, with Mr Trump calling it ‘the worst by far’ of all his post-election phone calls. Mr Trump had been unhappy with an Obama-era refugee deal, describing it as “dumb”. It was a rare low point in Australia’s relationship with the US — its chief ally.

On the global stage, Mr Turnbull’s tenure was also defined by strained ties with China. That year, he announced sweeping new laws to prevent foreign interference. When explaining why they were needed, Mr Turnbull referred to “disturbing reports about Chinese influence” – but insisted that was not their sole focus.

Nonetheless it intensified discussion and suspicion that Australia’s largest trading partner could be “infiltrating” its politics and universities.

China responded by accusing Australian politicians and media of stoking “hysteria” and a “Cold War mentality”.

In a bid to ease tensions, Mr Turnbull gave a conciliatory speech in August that year in which he promised “clearer thinking” on China.

Great Barrier Reef Foundation: The Turnbull government announced it was giving $444 million to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF), which at the time had an annual revenue of about $10 million and only six full-time staff. The move came under intense scrutiny, with the Greens senator chairing an inquiry into the funding decision, describing it as a “captain’s call” and Labor arguing the grant should have been made through a competitive tender process.

A picture containing text Description automatically generated

A clash over energy and climate: This was the catalyst for Mr Turnbull’s demise. After poor polls and by-election defeats, Mr Turnbull needed a win with his signature energy policy.

Despite gaining support from a majority of government MPs, a vocal group of conservatives were unhappy with the policy and instigated a rebellion.

It forced Mr Turnbull into an embarrassing U-turn at the time, in which he scrapped plans for the policy to contain an emissions target. But it did not offset leadership rumblings. They gathered pace, and were soon seen as terminal for Mr Turnbull.

Diagram, map Description automatically generated

The truth about Rudd.

Rudd the Ego Maniac: Rudd was a self-absorbed ego-maniac who cared for no one’s feelings so much as his own. But Labor (and Gillard) knew that all along. With Howard past his time and stumbling into the 2007 election, Labor decided to put up Rudd to inherit the spoils of victory. People who have narcissistic personalities usually get worse when they get into positions of power. Once Rudd had the power and the prestige of the prime minister’s office, he was unbearable. Yet Labor hooked its fortunes to Rudd. There was no point acting as if the outcome was some kind of surprise.

Rudd’s Debt: In 2006 Australia had no debt in six years of Labour the debt was $400m. Then there was the disastrous mining tax that raised no money, and the carbon tax that sapped Australia’s competitiveness. It’s not just that Rudd bungled these taxes, it’s that it discredited the whole process of tax reform.

Rudd hates to see boat people suffer 600 | nicholsoncartoons.com.au

The Boat People Saga: Before Rudd, Australia had an immigration system that worked, partly because of surveillance and patrols, but mostly because it had managed to convince the smugglers that whatever tactics they tried, the government would respond and defeat them. Labor abolished that system in the name of being more “humane”. The smugglers and their passengers understood that to mean the door was open again. The flood gates opened. According to the Morrison Government in 2019, more than 50,000 people had arrived by boat, with at least 1,200 people drowning at sea during those Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years.

Pink Batts & School Halls: The home insulation scheme saw shonky operators with little or no training flood the market with Pink Batt roof installation tiles; four young installers died working on the program. It was later withdrawn, and warehouses sat full of unused material that was paid for by the government. Media reports also highlighted examples of waste in the “Building the Education Revolution” school halls program.

Emissions Trading Scheme: Despite describing climate change as the “greatest moral, economic and environmental challenge” of our time, Rudd walked away from plans to introduce an emissions trading scheme in April 2010. Australia would now wait on the world to act before introducing an ETS. This decision saw Rudd’s popularity nose-dive, as voters questioned his conviction.

Resources Super Profits Tax: In May 2010, following the Henry Tax Review, Labor announced a plan to implement a Resources Super Profits Tax: a 40% tax on high mining profits. Although polls later showed the idea of such a mining tax was popular with voters, Labor’s plan became a political nightmare when the resources industry mounted a lavish advertising campaign against it. Labor figures later acknowledged the scheme had been rushed through without enough consultation with industry, or enough time to explain the package to voters.

The indignity that they bring as former prime ministers to the highest office in our land is reprehensible. Both should take note from ex-prime ministers who have moved on with their lives and have earned the respect of being known as older states-persons. I cite John Howard and Julia Gillard as prime examples of retiring with dignity. Truthfully no one outside the ‘ABC bubble’ gives a tinker’s cuss as to what they think about anything. Their comments today are as irrelevant as their leadership was during the tenure of their failed mantel.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Email and Name is required.