‘May you live in interesting times,’ is an ironic malediction which Malcolm Turnbull has now had ample opportunity to ‘unpack’ as his Prime Ministership is rocked by local scandals which daily expose his weakness as a leader and by more bad news abroad which he appears eager to deny.
The world economy is tanking. War displaces so many people that millions are dispossessed, homeless refugees. Climate change conspires to bring disaster. Yet Malcolm Turnbull’s take on all of this is to declare that there has ‘never been a more exciting time to be alive.’ Is he serious? Or has his sense of irony gone – as they say – viral?
It’s a palpable lie, Turnbull is telling, of course and against all reasonable evidence. Psychologist Lissa Johnson ( HERE: Optimism Is The New Denialism In A Warming Malcolm Turnbull World ) sees Turnbull’s ‘exciting times’ as yet another expression of the denialism in climate change, science and so much else which has made the Liberal party in power so unfit to rule. What makes things worse for Turnbull is that it is wrapped in the bigger lie of his own political emasculation.
‘Interesting times’ for Turnbull evoke his own squalid Faustian fiction, his hollow Prime Ministership. His bargain with the Nats to gain power has cost him the very autonomy and authority he needs to wield or enjoy it.
Naturally, the PM is as pleased to strut the world stage as any narcissist but darkening clouds of war and famine and religious bigotry conspire to spoil his enjoyment of his newfound undeserved role as world leader and his latest VIP selfie with his latest VIP bestie for a day.
Nowhere is he seen engaging in any of the acts of leadership which might lessen suffering, ease distress, improve mutual understanding. Instead his ministers can joke about rising sea levels while his foreign minister slashes aid spending to establish an innovation centre. Interesting times at home and abroad reveal a hollow man who is happier talking about innovation than ever doing anything new to reach out to help others.
.. his predicament will become known as The Turnbull Curse.
The hapless Malcolm Turnbull is now so deeply beset with interesting times, his predicament will become known as The Turnbull Curse. So excited is he currently with his interesting times, the PM can’t even holiday at Christmas. It takes real dedication to maintain the facade.
Hard yards must be put in on the damage control phone to the ABC and the Daily Telegraph. No-one is to go on Q&A. Everyone, is forbidden, a la Credlin, to speak to anyone about anything, especially anyone in the meeja. Our Great Communicator, naturally, manfully hangs up on any national conversation he can’t handle. But some he can’t just ignore. if he does, he will plunge headlong into the dustbin of history before you can say a minerals bust always follows a boom.
Yesterday’s economic miracle, tomorrow’s noodle basket, China leads the world dip into recession with its own, interestingly rubbery figures on productivity and its unique approach to state-sponsored crony capitalism and corruption while a table-topping Jamie Briggs, a hard act to follow at any time, hots up a Honkers night spot with his interesting interpretation of ministerial responsibility.
Hong Kong, ‘one party two systems’, Briggs, a happily married man, takes no prisoners with his hands-on approach to foreign affairs and respect for cultural sensitivities. Yet the ugly Australian raises more than a few questions about his party’s treatment of women – questions that could spell an end to Turnbull’s fairy-tale electoral honeymoon.
Brushing these questions aside makes him seem even more supercilious, detached and uncaring. His support among women voters will fall.
…good scandals drive out bad…
Happily, in national politics, especially in a misinformation age of sensation and fractured attention spans, good scandals drive out bad a la Gresham’s Law. Here Turnbull is spoilt for choice. Peter Dutton’s Monkey Pod pretenders are an interesting push to get Tony Abbott back on top but their deeper wish is to take Australia back another fifty years.
The Monkey Pod boy band enjoys a Chinese meal together once a week where it is all Dim Sum, wit and scintillating discourse. Crazy fucking witch. Dutton has become untouchable, such is the power of the pod and the legacy of Malcolm’s pledge not to alter any redneck policy after his coup. The times are already so interesting for the PM recently that he has struggled to hose it all down; tell us how dull things really are. Or he’d like them to be.
For a man who relishes excitement or who wishes it to be publicly known he is happy with his available testosterone, Turnbull spends a lot his time acting dull, being dull and speaking dull of the world. He can’t help it. Dullness occupies him constantly. It defines him and surrounds him. If only he had Byron’s wit. Or his way with words.
‘There is no such thing as a life of passion any more than a continuous earthquake, or an eternal fever. Besides, who would ever shave themselves in such a state?’
However priapic he may find himself personally with innovation, disruption, or Julie Bishop’s hackathons and her push to make politics a ‘gorgeous little funky, hipster, Googly, Facebooky-type place’, however exciting the vibe of the times, the PM must take a cold shower; don his public habit of dullness.
…a late night moment of madness…
Nothing’s happening. There’d be no point in holding any inquiry. Just ask the Royal Commissioner. You’d never discover who leaked Jamie Briggs’ photographs which The Daily Telegraph just had to publish which Jamie Briggs just had to take and pass around of the ‘staffer’ who spurned his attentions in a late night moment of madness in Hong Kong.
It’s all very dull, really. Run along, sonny. ‘Nothing to see here.’ Forget leadership and policy, Turnbull, is too busy hosing down commotion; damping down discontent. Consequently he is beset by more ‘interesting’ leadership opportunities than you can shake a stick at. An ever-helpful Barnaby Joyce throws him a typically contentious bone of his own.
Both dog-catcher Barnaby Joyce’s rise to the top of the Liberal-National dung-heap and Jamie Brigg’s notorious Honkers-bonkers carry-on spell trouble for Malcolm, while each in its own way is interesting enough to be the plot of a Working Dog episode of Utopia.
Jamie Briggs’ disgrace is an unhelpful reminder of the misogyny, sexism and arrogance that infests his party while Barnaby ‘loose cannon’ Joyce is top junkyard dog after blowing the whistle on two illegal immigrants, namely Johnny Depp’s lap dogs, Boo and Pistol. Joyce is agile, too.
The Shenhua Mine was a goer, he said, before he’d even looked at its impact on the local water. Perhaps he could replace Briggs in cities, a subsidiary of Greg Hunt’s portfolio, another fictive entity, which in itself has as much to do with the environment as Joyce knows or cares about agrarian futures. Tony Windsor could write him a reference.
…’anyone but Barnaby’…
The Nats may yet have the last word on who will become Deputy PM when Wokka Truss retires or is pushed out by Joyce. Already an ‘anyone but Barnaby’ campaign is lumbering around the Nationals’ pre-selection casting paddock in a brave but vain attempt to head off Joyce, as much for his own sake, as for the sake of the nation. They say he is too pushy for his own good – or the good of the party.
The boys will be hard pressed to find anyone interested amongst their mob of twenty endangered species let alone one up to the task. Or one who isn’t Iain McFarlane who so badly wanted to jump the fence before Malcolm had it shifted. Sometimes the fence is just too big for the man.
Gravel guts Macca’s done his dash now, of course. Roughie Mal Brough, the Liberal National Member for Fisher is a late scratching on veterinarian advice. The nation needs, it is said, a safe pair hands, a steadydeputy to take the reins when the PM’s OS, as he is often. Joyce needs to take a long, hard look at himself before he leaps into the ring. If only Malcolm had taken the same advice.
Jamie Briggs is not only a disgrace to himself and his party, he is causing women to question good old Ozzie misogyny and our prevailing gender oppression while the Chinese, who sensibly hold their New Year later than everyone else and who advocate the regular cessation of trading in their unique approach to share marketing are prudently sampling everybody else’s special fried rice before they order their own banquet, allowing ample time to choose from festive or funerary dishes.
2016 is but a pup yet our professedly positive and excited. Tan Bao or Sweet Custard Bun as Turnbull is known in China faces a world recession triggered in no small part by the Chinese tradition of over-reporting good fortune, a practice not unfamiliar to our PM who has declared that he, himself, can conceive of no more exciting time to be alive.
…she’s simplified everything…
Sussan Ley who still purports to be Health Minister, against the best medical advice, is making it more and more expensive for old and poor folk to even find out what is wrong with them, let alone get it fixed. But to hear her talk, you would think, she’s simplified everything in an heroic attempt to get the right tourniquet bandage on the right person at the right time.
What she means is that she’s put back the old GP co-payment but hidden it away to confuse the elderly, the mentally challenged and most of the rest of us. Expect Health to make Mr Turnbull’s government unwell in 2016.
National spin-meister, our self-inflating air-bag, ‘Mr Positivity’ Malcolm Turnbull is already struggling to keep on top of events, let alone look excited by the times. China is embracing recession, the Nationals have him by the short and curlies and his positivity is revealed for all to see as a cheap, hokey script he has written for himself. Optimism as one writer has noted is his party’s new denialism. It also cloaks his own wanton disengagement from reality.
The times are less exciting personally for Big Mal than when he got the top job by knifing his Prime Minister. Once a glass half-full sort of bloke, he’s now, clearly having trouble seeing any drinking vessel in front of him at all. Apart, that is, from the poisoned chalice of the gift of his Prime Ministership. 2016 is so far one endless massive hangover headache for the PM, and like all hangovers, he has only himself to blame for it.
…a castrato in a cat-house.
Unmade, unmanned, made impotent by his own pact with the Nats, our PM is, for all his silvered tongue, a castrato in a cat-house. He’s all mouth and no trousers. Meanwhile, the lunatics have overrun the asylum. Again, he can only blame himself and his permissive, if not indulgent regime. He is paying the price of his pact with the Nationals.
‘Seize the day’ is right, he mutters when he thinks Lucy is asleep. Part of the problem. Some of them don’t know how to keep their hands to themselves.’ Or when to let go. But then, the Liberals have every been the party of the tight-fisted.
You can always count on a former QLD copper to help out in a crisis. Climate change comedian Pete Dutton’s timely tweet calling Sam Maiden a mad, fucking witch’, was all a mistake, he says. Funny that. Sam even came on TV to have a bit of a laugh but Mal still can’t see the funny side. It’s as funny to him as the revelation that Australia has a massive revenue problem in that 40% of companies pay no tax at all. And we have Scott Morrison as our Federal Treasurer.
Marry in haste, repent at leisure! Silver-tongued Turnbull can now only curse himself for his Faustian pact with the Nationals. Their support would require he deny his progressive ideas. Everything really. Cause him to run dead. Behave like a redneck in a suit he borrowed from a flash cockie to go to a funeral. In this case it could be his own.
Of course, it’s never been a more exciting time to be alive for Turnbull. Especially, as Maurice Chevalier, quipped, when you consider the alternative. This year the alternative is staring Malcolm Turnbull in the face.