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Polly Peck
27 November, 2007  
Capital Offences

The election outcome might mark an end to mean-spirited, small minded government … The “awesome” Malcolm Turnbull … Work ahead for 07’s new Attorney General … Thank God Ruddock’s gone

imageThe pint-sized Turnbull daughter, Pixie, or Daisy, or Petal, or some such, was on duty in the heavily gay polling precinct of Darlinghurst (a.k.a. Darling-It-Hurts) instructing the voters trapped in the rain and the long queue that the Liberal candidate is an “awesome” person.

“He’s my Dad, he’s awesome.”

Trunchbull himself was a little further down the line ambushing citizens with his awesome, re-varnished presence. The terrifying Mrs Hughes-Turnbull was marching up and down the queue barking information like a sergeant major. “Absentee voters can move to the front of the line.”

To be caught in the ruthless vortex of Turnbull Inc’s vote extracting machine is not a pretty experience.

Meanwhile, over the other side of the electorate at Bellevue Hill public school Oz reporter Caroline Overington was clocking Labor candidate Gorgeous George Newhouse.

Apparently he’d had the temerity to meekly turn-up at the very polling place where the Big O was casting her anti-Newhouse vote.

Several witness are reported to have seen the journalist swipe Newhouse across his gorgeous chops, but she said it didn’t happen and her editor-in-chief insists it didn’t happen.

That’s journalism for you.

Turnbull certainly deserves the prize for the most bizarre election night victory speech. He praised the “egalitarian” nature of Wentworth and how in the showers down at North Bondi Surf Club you could meet a “cross-section of society, QCs, judges and garbos”.

Five minutes after Costello said he was bringing his fabulous talents to the commercial world, Turnbull and his vaulting ambition were out the gate of his faux Tuscan villa declaring himself available as the saviour of his hapless party.

Let’s hope he gets it, because I’m scratching my head to remember an occasion when the leader of the loosing party immediately after an electoral rout goes on to become Prime Minister.

imageThe other factor about Mal (French for “bad”) is that he has a tendency to implode if someone rattles the well-furnished view he has of himself.

Not that the other Liberals busily displaying their bottoms to the party are much chop – Brendan Nelson and for deputy Christopher Pain and the peachy Julie Bronwyn-Bishop.

Somehow or other I mentally associate the new Bronwyn with a box of Cadbury’s Roses Assorted Creams.

It shows that despite all the braggadocios about the depth of the Coalition front bench, stripped to its rump it amounts to thin pickings.

* * *

But at least we’re rid of the frightful Howard and that surly thug Costello.

imageSo many of my lawyer friends got it hopelessly wrong. I sometimes wonder what planet they occupy. They couldn’t believe that their hero was sliding to oblivion. One was even heard to remark last week at the Lindfield cricket club that Maxine McKew “was not even on the radar”.

And there was Little Johnny was at the Wentworth Hotel on Saturday night making his concession speech alongside Janette, who after 11 and a half years on the public teat at Kirribilli House looks like an over-stuffed bush rat.

Many said it was a dignified, generous, concession speech. I didn’t find it so. His insistence that he’s left the country “prouder and more prosperous” said to me that he doesn’t regret a thing and that he regards his great legacy as the advancement of a materialistic jingoism.

I think Howard completely underestimated the effect on the electorate of his government’s accumulated nastiness.

Night after night you’d have transparently dreadful characters like Downer, Andrews, Ruddock and Abbott on the telly parading their collective smallness of mind and meanness of spirit.

There was never anything large about this lot. They reveled in their appalling abuses, whether it be Hicks, Haneef, boat people, treatment of refugees, children behind razor wire in detention centres, the Iraq war, or the “Pacific Solution”.

All were worn as badges of honour and ultimately Australian’s didn’t like it.

Howard dog-whistled the racists with his call to be rid of political correctness – so much so that his right-wing NSW faction got the idea that it was acceptable to distribute bile in the seat of Lindsay.

Then there were the phoney culture wars waged by Howard and his Tonton Macoute coagulated at various Daily Ruperts, QuadRant and now the board of the ABC.

“Culture war” was a shorthand term that meant the nation should be able to rejoice in its brand of small business, small vision. A celebration of latter-day Poujardism.

It got to the point that even global warming was matter of ideology, not scientific inquiry.

As Brian Toohey said in yesterday’s Financial Review (Monday, Nov. 26):

“No one seems to realise that the general public doesn’t care about the culture wars. Nor is it obvious why a conservative government should intervene in cultural issues best left to civil society.”

* * *

imageAnd in the moment of victory what did we get from 07 in Brisneyland? A dreary, leaden collection of stump clichés.

You’d think he could have got Graham Freudenberg (pic) out of the old peoples home to craft 500 inspiring words to elevate the nation’s spirits on Saturday night.

Right now 07 is working on the ministry. For our purposes the selection of the new Attorney General is of crucial importance, and he’s got a number of possibilities, including former NSW Attorney General “Balmain” Bob Debus, the new member for Macquarie, which includes Bathurst and Lithgow; Mark Dreyfus QC the new member for Isaacs in Victoria; and the existing shadow AG Senator Joe Ludwig from Queensland.

We’ll know on Thursday (Nov. 29) who gets the gig. Any or all of the above would have to be a vast improvement on Ruddock, who managed to convert wearing an Amnesty badge into a symbol of nut cracking reprisals for all sorts of concocted “enemies of the state”.

Dreyfus has well known human rights credentials and Debus has said he’s in favour of a Charter of Rights. Lugwig sees the Charter as a gentle-gently issue for the second term.

Then there’s the High Court. Gleeson is constitutionally senile next year and Kirby the year after – so there are two vacancies to fill in Rudd’s first term.

Maybe we’ll see a moderation of those bone dry appointments in which Howard rejoiced: Heydon, Crennan and Kiefel.

A number of other Coalition appointments have become partisans in the Howard-Ruddock terror campaigns. For instance, David Bennett, the Solicitor General, has taken up the cudgels beyond the courtroom. On March 24 he told a gathering of lawyers in Sydney:

”[There are] a lot of silly people around who engage in what I call September 10 thinking. They say things like: ‘Oh, we’ve always had terrorism and there is no real difference.’ That is just nonsense.”

Since some of those “silly” people are to be found in the parliamentary Labor Party, Bubbsy may think life less amenable under a regime with slightly softer rhetoric.

In the province of workers compo there may well be changes if ex-Slater & Gordon partner Julia Gillard stays in industrial relations.

It’s possible we’ll see a “cooperative” national workers compensation arrangement with the Commonwealth, States and Territories. However, the $15 billion in surplus funds in NSW’s WorkCover may be snaffled by Treasurer Costa before Gillard tries to get her hands on it.

As far as the “Pacific Solution” refugees are concerned the change is going to be awesome. They’ll be moved from Nauru to Christmas Island.

Bet they can’t wait.


Reader Comments

Posted by: Anonymous
Date: November 30, 2007, 12:03 am

The best part of Howard's speech on Saturday night was when he called the Missus a bag of cement.