Laugh? Elroy nearly voted Labor! Now, friends of Let’s Ask Elroy!™ will know that he tipped that Mighty Malcolm Turnbull would take over the leadership of the Liberal Party of Australia once the troglodytes tired of Brendan ‘The Locum’ Nelson’s bedwetting behavior, and of course Elroy was, naturally, correct.
The Locum was going down faster than Rupert Murdochs’s profits but it was Peter ‘Tip’ Costello’s sterling contribution to deforestation, a yawnathon memoir simultaneously launched at remainder shops throughout a nonplussed nation, that proved too much for The Locum.
He called for a party room spill, a challenge that Mighty Mal bravely took up even knowing Tip was in the mood for, well, just about anything; Tip was always waiting in the wings, sniping from the backbenches and threatening, by his very presence, to make the Liberal Party giddy with joy by announcing his availability for the gig of Lib head Pooh-bah, but as it was Tip shut up and Mighty Mal got the nod.
Elroy was a little off the mark as he didn’t quite gauge Mighty Mal’s ardent opportunism correctly; he thought Mal might wait until everyone else in the Liberal leadership had retired bleeding to their various electorates and the ALP had fucked up in some inevitable and irretrevable manner before shimmering forth, a vision from Vaucluse come to lead the Libs back to some semblance of sense, but the wait was too much for him and Mal is not a man given to hearing the word ‘No’.
Still, Mal was a little wary – what will Tip Costello do next? When will he do it? Oh, if only he would turn it up completely and go write a book someone actually wanted to read, or something, and then…hoopla! Suddenly it was over! Tip had packed his bat and ball and declared that the great unwashed of Higgins would no longer be subject to his tender mercies! Huzzah!
It is indicative of the combative, born-to-rule nature of the Turnbulls that, upon hearing the news that that daddy was in clear, Mal’s son celebrated by donnng a cowboy hat while riding around the room yelling ‘Yeehaw!’ – Elroy nurses the vague suspicion that said scion might spy some opportunities for upward mobility from daddy being PM, not that he needs any, but Elroy is ever so glad to report that daddy proceeded to blow it in a matter of hours.
In a demonstration of cavalier disregard, Mighty Mal’s joy got he better of him. It is said that a good barrister will never ask a question that he doesn’t know the answer to, but Mal obviously missed that day at law school – the day he didn’t miss, however, was the one where they show how to prep a witness.
And so he stitched up a neat little vignette starring the permanently outraged Senator Eric Abetz and a hapless civil service mole called Godwin Grech in which Abetz was shocked, shocked I tells, ya, to hear a faltering Grech stammer that the government was up to no good (We won’t go into how the government was up to no good here – just Google ‘Utegate’ and follow the dots…) and that he had seen the documentary evidence to prove it, documented evidence in the shape of an email which Abetz said he had heard about from a journalist, and which Mal said he has seen, and that was knocked up by a fevered Grech to curry favour with the new boss and save himself from the irrelevancy of opposition.
No matter – Grech’s Oscar™ level performance at the senate estimates committee was riveting as Abetz, staying true to the script, seemingly ripped this ‘admission’ from the very aching soul of a good, loyal and impartial treasury mandarin who could no longer sit by while the government funnelled tax-payer dollars to its special pals.
It ‘surprised’ Abetz no end, and Might Mal stormed onto the nightly news demanding the resignation of the Treasurer, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, each and every ALP representative alive or dead and the keys to the Lodge, thanks you very much, because it was, huffed Mal predicably, an outrage.
Ignoring the amusing contradictions brought up when remembering the extensive amount of fund-funnelling to business buddies committed by the previous Liberal government in general (and Mighty Mal in particular) because he could, Mighty Mal steamed ahead. The ALP had fucked up in some inevitable and irretrievable manner and they were going to pay, except for one simple thing – it was bollocks, and he knew it was bollocks because he helped make up the bollocks, knew full well that the email they were calling ‘documentary evidence’ was real live, made up, fully forged bollocks and that man he let sell him this pup was unwell of both mind and body.
Mal knew all this but without asking anyone else in his Party apart from, it would seem, Senator Abetz, he hurtled full length into the fray and asked questions he didn’t know the answer to. The fur flew, but only Might Mal is the one with nursing the bald spots because now the whole country knows it was bollocks, and that Mal is the kind of boofhead who will happily kick a clinically depressed and chronically ill man to the kerb via the wheels of the No. 46 to Bondi without a second thought, and so is it is that Mal is now toast.
Of course, Mighty Mal will tell you that he made up nothing, that he was sucked in by a, ahem, 'whistleblower' – one can always trust a conservative to twist a definition – eager to ingratiate himself with the New Order, that said 'whistleblower' had a 'legitimate complaint' and that, well, said whistleblower pwomised that the email was legitimate, really truly-ruly, double-dinks an' everyfing!
But this puts Mal in the uncomfortable position of being either a liar or an idiot, a unusual dilemma for him compounded by the fact he is trying to convince all and sundry of the latter when he has spent a lifetime convincing all comers of his superior intellect. Like all conservatives caught out being dishonest and/or stupid he is playing the victim card, saying that it was nothing to do with him, much, and that the buck stops over there in the psychiatric ward of the Canberra Hospital where Godwin Grech has been rubber-roomed for the duration.
What this petty little contretemps demonstrates is Mal''s monumental ego and lack of judgement. Either he lashed up the email and senate estimates committee script with Grech, Abetz and our old friend 'plausible deniability', or knocked up the senate estimates committee script with Grech and Abetz after he gratefully received Grech's email without too much questioning. Surely, as a barrister, he should know that fabricating evidence is not world's best practice? Does he think that the standard of evidence is lower for the senate, the parliament and the public at large?
Or is this business as usual? Does this kind of sleight of hand go on in the court system all the time? At,best, at the very best, Mighty Mal is guilty of rank opportunism and gullibility, that he wanted to believe that the email was genuine so much that he took Grech at his somewhat shaky word. After all, Grech had been supplying the Liberals with information for years, so why question him now?
Mal may hang on for a while as he is not given to hearing the word ‘No’ and will fight to the death until he wins, or gets bored and moves on – Mal always gets bored and finds something else to do – but right at the moment the future is not looking too chipper. Mighty Mal was always a bit of a risk for a divided and confused Liberal Party – way too wet for some, way too Mal for others – and it looks like they were right. Bull by name and nature he has rampaged through the China shop of political convention using a toxic brew of near complete inexperience and towering arrogance, but it looks like the old lags of the Libs have had enough – the phones, apparently, are ringing.
Including Tip’s! Tip always said he would never challenge for the leadership and that if the Liberals wanted him to do it they would have to give it to him, wrapped up, with a pretty pink bow and a cherry on top, but know that it looks like they will, is it too late? Have the good burghers of Higgins moved on? If only he’d waited a day! Oh, the irony! Poor Pete! His timing remains, as ever, interesting…
But if not he, who? The time ravaged Andrew Robb? Oh dear. The charm free Nick Minchin? Two oh dears. The Evil Ms Bishops? Eww. The avuncular Joe Hockey? Refuses point blank to take it, no matter how many cherries and bows. Tony ‘Mad Monk’ Abbott? Oh please! Wilson ‘Iron Bar’ Tuckey? Make my day!
Yes, the only reason Mal will stay on is there is no one else that could do the job or wants to. Welcome to the wilderness, Liberal Party of Australia! Long may you wander it.
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