When Mal went mad

Caption: He’ll get you – and your little dogs, too!

As I wrote recently, Malcolm Turnbull is someone with a remarkable record of achievement, but a terrible political leader. The main reasons for this are twofold: Firstly, his too-often hamfisted political judgement. That tendency in turn is directly exacerbated by his Everest-sized self-admiration.

As his leadership collapses around him, Turnbull?s ego is off the chain. Quote:

You thought he?d go quietly? Malcolm Turnbull?

Faced with a second challenge by Peter Dutton in as many days, here is what Turnbull says he?ll do if the party dares try to remove him: he will quit parliament.

This would, of course, plunge the Coalition government into chaos via a by-election in Turnbull?s seat of Wentworth.

The government has only a majority of one seat in the house. It would become a minority government, at least until the by-election. And there?s no guarantee it could win Wentworth without Malcolm.

So he?ll bring down the government. Or trigger a federal election. End of quote.

Even a narcissist as grandiose as Kevin Rudd slunk to backbench after being deposed, rather than quit and force a by-election. Of course, Rudd?s retreat was strategic: lurking in the backbenches while he plotted his return. There?s no returning for Turnbull, and he knows it. But the same was true of Julia Gillard, who at least had the decency to not re-contest her seat at the next general election, rather than quit just to spite the party. Quote:

Turnbull also intends to bring down Dutton, personally. He was seeking to mortally wound him on what may have been the last day of Turnbull?s political life.

He said there was a constitutional cloud over the head of his rival, and it would be for Dutton to convince the Governor-General that he could form a stable government, without Malcolm in his seat. End of quote.

This is where it gets personal. Labor is trying desperately to make mileage out of a supposed breach of the Constitution. Section 44, the same clause that brought down so many dual-citizen MPs, also stipulates that MPs cannot have any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth. Dutton?s family trust has a financial stake in several child-care centres which receive a government subsidy. Dutton sought legal advice back when these changes took effect and is confident he?s in the clear. It?s also unlikely the Opposition would even get the numbers to refer him to the High Court. Most importantly, the solicitor-general has advised that Dutton is eligible to sit in parliament.

But Turnbull is deliberately fanning the flames on this, as just another fire lit in revenge. Quote:

And Turnbull still wasn?t done. Before any of this could happen, he also wanted to see a letter with the signatures of the 43 insurgents who apparently want his head.

He wants their names. If that is not menacing, what is? End of quote.

But if that sounds petty and vindictive, it?s nothing compared to this: Quote:

The Australian was told last night that the Prime Minister, through his department, had ?attempted to order departments to cut off IT and phones in the offices of ministers who quit yesterday. A source suggested it was intended to stop them from communicating but was against usual protocol. End of quote.

As Australian reader, Jeremy wrote, ?I may have to reassess my opinion of one Kevin Rudd, who until now, was the most vain, narcissistic bully to ever attain the status of PM!? Quote:

Turnbull?s never been much good at politics, but revenge? He?s always been very good at revenge. Why not burn the house down? End of quote.

It goes without saying that it takes a certain kind of chutzpah to rise to the top in politics. Although, even that isn?t a universal: a genial, self-effacing Tasmanian country boy was one of the most loved prime ministers Australia has ever had. But that was in another era. It often seems that politics today rewards the vain and the ruthless.

And if it doesn?t, big-headed losers are spectacularly vindictive in defeat.