Malcolm Turnbull And Andrew Bolt Are In The Middle Of A Very Public Fight Right Now

Bolt insinuates that the kettle is less than white. Amusement ensues.

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Act I

It all started yesterday on The Bolt Report, Andrew Bolt’s self-titled experiment in free-jazz journalism, during which he cranked up his free-associative innuendo generator and set it loose on Malcolm Turnbull, the Minister For Communication. Bolt revealed that Turnbull dined with Clive Palmer last week, and that he also formed a parliamentary group called ‘friends of the ABC’. Bolt wielded the above information as proof that Turnbull was plotting to usurp Abbott’s throne, a claim that he fleshed out in a rambling, stream-of-consciousness blog post this morning:

“Palmer now opposes everything controversial in Abbott’s Budget, including even things he once supported, such as deregulating university student fees.

And if Abbott or his ministers want to negotiate, forget it. Palmer has banned any talks unless Abbott gives him extra staff and offices to which his micro-party is not entitled.

Yet there he was this week dining in Canberra with Turnbull, his mate, in a very public restaurant on Turnbull’s invitation and without Abbott’s knowledge.

Pure coincidence, Turnbull protested. Yet this sent an unmistakable message to Liberal MPs — replace Abbott with Turnbull as prime minister and maybe Palmer will play ball.”

Bolt then took a break from all the wild conjecture, to finish with the following wigged-out metaphor:

It’s easy for Turnbull to recommend charming Palmer, but Abbott knows a hug from that blusterer just feels like someone searching for a soft place to stick his knife.

Now, some people would describe a meeting between a senior government figure and a belligerent, influential crossbencher as a sensible exercise in bridge-building amidst a difficult budget sell.

Some people would also describe the formation of a parliamentary group concerning the state-funded broadcaster as a pretty unremarkable aspect of the Communications Minister’s portfolio.

But Andrew Bolt is not some people.

Act II

Unusually, Turnbull saw fit to respond, and did so in surprisingly aggressive fashion. Speaking at a press conference outside parliament this morning, he described Bolt’s sleuthing thus: “It borders on the demented…it’s quite unhinged. Mr Bolt…proclaims loudly that he’s a friend of the government — well with friends like Bolt, we don’t need any enemies.”

It’s hard to imagine what Turnbull hoped to achieve with such a tanty, but who cares? It was entertaining.


Now, Bolt has responded to Turnbull’s response with a blog post entitled, Malcolm Turnbull calls me “unhinged”. Let’s now hear him call the Medicare co-payment great. You’re probably assuming that there’s some intermediate step, missing from the headline but present in the article, that draws a logical link between the ‘unhinged’ bit and the ‘Medicare’ bit. There isn’t, though. He just repeats his accusations, does that thing where he uses loaded prefixes and descriptors like ‘hungry’ (hungry?) and ‘on the far Left of the Liberal party’, and ends by demanding that Turnbull show his loyalty — to the coalition? to Bolt himself? It’s not completely clear.

Behold, Malcolm — this way lies the path to redemption:

I now look forward to Turnbull disproving me not with this showy abuse but with a vigorous public defence of the most controversial Budget measures – the $7 Medicare co-payment and the changes to university funding.

Question Time today would be good.

Andrew Bolt is speaking to Paul Bongiorno on Ten News tonight– and Act IV is expected any moment now.