Politics

Malcolm Turnbull: The Messiest Bitch

So much drama and before 9am on a Monday!

malcolm turnbull press conference libspill

Anyone in the Liberal party who thought Malcolm Turnbull would just quietly fade into the background following his political assassination is now learning the hard way that that’s not really Malcolm Turnbull’s style.

The former Prime Minister has made two extraordinary interventions into federal politics in the last 24 hours, openly defying his successor, Scott Morrison, and exposing a simmering feud between the party’s moderate and conservative factions.

Happy Monday ScoMo!

Turnbull Vs Craig Kelly

While you were out at the beach or enjoying some cheeky Sunday drinks yesterday afternoon, Malcolm Turnbull was on Twitter trying to make sure his old enemy, Liberal backbencher Craig Kelly, loses his job at the next election.

I don’t want to bore you with the details, but Craig Kelly sucks. He’s a climate change denying friend of Tony Abbott’s, and he led the backbench rebellion against Turnbull’s National Energy Guarantee that eventually ended Turnbull’s Prime Ministership —  so it’s fair to say the former PM is no fan of Kelly’s.

At the same time, Kelly has been fighting a pre-selection battle in his southern Sydney seat of Hughes. A moderate candidate, Kent Johns, has the numbers to topple Kelly and become the Liberals’ candidate at the next election.

Conservatives — who have been fighting for years to give grassroots members more of a say in pre-selections — are suddenly unhappy that grassroots members prefer Johns over Kelly. They’ve been trying every trick in the book to save Kelly, who is throwing his toys out of the cot and threatening to quit the party and sit on the crossbenches if he’s disendorsed.

That would mean Morrison would lose another MP, which he really can’t afford to do right now. So ScoMo hatched a plan to save Kelly by having the NSW Liberal Party executive intervene and overrule the wishes of local members. Democracy schmemocracy.

And the plan would have worked if it wasn’t for that meddling Turnbull.

He got wind of the plan, made some phone calls, then took to Twitter to let everyone know that he thinks saving Kelly is a Very Bad Idea. He even pinned the first tweet to the top of his profile.

According to the latest reports, Turnbull’s intervention worked. Several moderate members of the executive backflipped on their support for the idea, meaning Kelly will indeed have to face pre-selection, which he’ll almost certainly lose. This is no big loss to anyone except for Kelly, and ScoMo, who is just trying to hold the government together while Turnbull lobs bombs from the sidelines. Speaking of which…

Turnbull Vs ScoMo

Not content with sending sassy tweets, Turnbull popped up on ABC radio this morning to basically demand that Scott Morrison call an early election.

According to a News Corp report today, Turnbull has told colleagues that Morrison is trying to save Kelly because his only concern is “keeping his arse on C1”, a reference to the Prime Minister’s official car.

Last week, ScoMo hinted that the next federal election will be called at the last possible moment in late May. That plan doesn’t sit too well with Turnbull.

Speaking to the ABC’s Fran Kelly, the former PM revealed that when he was in office, he and Scott Morrison had agreed on a federal election date of March 2 next year so that the NSW government could have some clear air for their election, which is due to be held on March 23.

“My view is that it would be manifestly and in the best prospects of the Morrison Government to go to the polls as soon as it can after the summer break,” Turnbull said. “In fact my intention, and Scott’s intention for that matter, prior to my being removed as Prime Minister was to go to the polls on the second of March. That would be exactly three weeks before the New South Wales state election.”

Turnbull also elaborated on his thoughts on Kelly. “It’s not a question of knocking [Kelly] off, it’s a question that the democratic processes of the Liberal Party be allowed to operate,” Turnbull said. “What is being proposed to the State Executive is that the State Executive should re-endorse Mr Kelly, so that the Liberal Party members of Hughes do not have the opportunity to have their say. We’ve just had a very long debate in New South Wales, in the Liberal Party, about the importance of democracy and grassroots members’ participation.”

“In my view, the party should allow the preselection process to take its course, and then Mr Kelly will succeed or not.”

And all this happened before 9am on Monday morning. This week is going to be a shitshow for the government.