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This morning, we shook our fist at the possibility of Malcolm Turnbull ripping us off. Every time we see his face, it should serve as a warning – we’re being distracted.
This morning, we bristled at the news that Moneybags Malcolm would be soaring the jet stream on the taxpayer dime. The Sydney Morning Herald painted the towering letters in clickbait red: Malcolm Turnbull given a formal overseas travel entitlement not granted to other ex-PMs. Which is as true as it is false, in that the provision offered by Morrison is with precedence, but it’s not what you first assume.
Malcolm Turnbull given a formal overseas travel entitlement not granted to other ex-PMs https://t.co/OXpAS3BUYw
— Rowan (@FightingTories) 3 October 2018
The aforesaid provision will allow Mal to fly on the proviso that he’s representing the government, after Morrison gives him the green light. In response, Malcolm said no, flatly telling Fairfax that he didn’t ask for it, nor will he be accepting it. More to that point, when asked if he saw himself as a jetsetting international representative of the Morrison government, he gave the shortest, longest answer of his career: “no”
So, if Malcolm doesn’t want it, what’s the story?
Well, the entirety of the situation is subject to two very Australian conditions: The inability to let go, and the propensity to bag the ex in lieu of self-analysis. Malcolm quit politics back on August 31. The reason why it seems like yesterday, is because he hasn’t really left. We haven’t really let him.
Earlier this week, he shot back into prominence by virtue of his own low-rent Watergate tapes, where he spat fire, panning his contemporaries as a collection of “miserable ghosts”. Illustrating that Tony Abbott and Kevin Rudd were annoyances, haunting the halls of Canberra like some onion-eating/t-shirt manufacturing slain King of Denmark, casting smug dispersions and rattling ancient chains from the backbench or newspaper headline. Oh Malcolm, we cooed, shared and clicked our tongues, in a mood that’s not quite adulation, but not quite castigation either.
In his rants, Malcolm is absolutely correct. One’s exit is important as one’s entrance.
Everyone works with a macro version of this condition. That one person, that individual who will be there forever, not because they’re an asset, but because they’re not. No-one really wants them there, because they just fuck things up, but yet, they remain. They’re ‘the furniture’, alongside the grimy shared microwave and the cupboard that everyone doesn’t dare leave their mugs in. The point is, their ineptitude becomes their legacy. Tony Abbott has become a one-dimensional cut-out, a panto-villain, a victim of headbutts and unheard soundbite. There’s probably a portrait hanging in a guest room in Warringah growing relevant.
Conversely, Kevin Rudd almost did it correctly, as he anonymously busied himself, but now he’s back to hack op-eds and call for royal commissions without any real power to do so. I mean, I can do that. Hey, let’s have a royal commission into those white pages ads that start with AAAA Aaron A. Aardvark AAA Plumbing Inc, surely there’s not that many blue-collar Aardvarks, right?
My point, is that we all have a short memory. We only really remember what they did last. My memories of Tony Abbott’s Prime Ministership is a broken table and being poorly zinged by a sociology undergraduate at a ferry stop. Conversely, I remember Kevin’s as an apology and a reply to Malcolm’s tape, asking him to come around for tea. It’s the desert, as well as the pits. Malcolm Turnbull knows this; it’s why he’s flown the coop, and it’s why he’s holed up in his New York apartment.
Malcolm has another function, he’s a diversion. When you’re not doing so well as his replacement, rub some Malcolm on it. Why not? It absolutely works. Step to any inner-city suburb, stand on any corner and yell the words “Malcolm Turnbull”; the residents will cross themselves and shake their fists in unison. Malcolm is now the Emmanuel Goldstein of Auspol. No longer human, an unperson, merely a reason to be furious. All the current ministry needs to do is flash his face, and we’ll feel compelled get angry, we’ll yell at him instead of asking questions of Big Brother.
We are at war with Malcolm Turnbull, we have always been at war with Malcolm Turnbull.
We’re still very angry about the very vague, very subjective crime of him “letting us down”. But, we need to get over it. To many, Malcolm is that used car we bought, and can’t stand looking at. We felt mislead by the sales pitch, therefore we feel stupid, and therefore we tell everyone how bad the salesman was. We didn’t get it wrong, we were ripped off. It wasn’t the ride that was promised, or the mileage was lacking, it was our impulse on a Saturday morning.
Malcolm has let us go, it’s probably time we do the same.