Annabel Crabb, in her book ‘Stop at Nothing’ about current Prime Minister (correct at time of publication) Malcolm Turnbull, recounts a phone call from ex Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating to then PM Kevin Rudd. The story originally comes from Peter Hartcher of the Sydney Morning Herald (27 June) and here’s the grab-
When Malcolm Turnbull took the leadership of the Liberal Party, Paul Keating decided he had some useful insights into the man. He decided to offer them to Kevin Rudd.
The previous Labor prime minister told the incumbent Labor Prime Minister on the phone that he had studied Turnbull over the years. Rudd had to understand three key things about Turnbull.
First, he should know that Turnbull was brilliant. Second, that Turnbull was utterly fearless.
At this point Rudd, an irritated Rudd, demanded to know, ‘Is there any good news here?’ Keating replied with his third point: Turnbull has no judgment
Well, Turnbull famously came unstuck in late 2009. He couldn’t get his party – nor the Nationals – to back his backing for Rudd’s monstrous ‘Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.’ Already having kicked himself hard in the credibilities (over ”Utegate”) Turnbull was turfed.
Apparently, after being convinced not to quit politics, he spent some time worked on his arrogance and his peremptory nature and somehow convinced enough of his colleagues that he was the only alternative to Tony ‘People Skills’ Abbott in September 2015.
But judgement is, it seems, not something you can work on so easily. Because his response to Barnaby Joyce’s dual citizenship foul up has taken a crisis and turned it into a catastrophe. He and others tried to accuse Labor of treason for having had some minor discussions/info-seeking with New Zealand’s Labour Party.
To see the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, gamely but disastrously trying to hammer this home was uncomfortable viewing in the extreme. But presumably she was following the agreed script to the hilt (one of her strengths). But then you have to ask yourself, what was Turnbull thinking in signing off on the batshit crazy script. Because he is surely the one who dreamt it up, or signed off on Operation Tinfoil Hat.
Meanwhile, his tolerance of fools does not seem to have improved all that much. This from today’s Saturday paper article by Paul Bongiorno
Katter’s immediate beef was with Turnbull’s treatment of himself as a potential kingmaker on the crossbench. Promised regular meetings, there has only been one. “It was scheduled for one hour and lasted 20 minutes,” according to Katter, who says the prime minister got quickly bored, frequently checked his watch, and called the meeting to an abrupt halt. “I mean, to do that to a person whose vote you might need to survive?”
So, not quite as much change as everyone pretended to believe, then….
(For more on Bob Katter and the skills needed for dealing with him, have a read of Rob Oakeshott’s memoir ‘The Independent Member for Lyne’ – especially on Katter vs Oakeshott/Windsor and his ability to drive even Treasury officials to distraction.)