Australian politics becomes a laughing stock

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Tony Abbott v Malcolm Turnbull

OPINION BY TROY DODDS

The Liberal Party displayed hypocrisy of the highest order on Monday night when it knifed a sitting Prime Minister, ending Tony Abbott’s two year reign in the top job and showing total disrespect to the Australian public who in their vast majority believe that Prime Ministers should see out their full term.

Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership will be forever tarnished by the actions of September 14, 2015. Like Julia Gillard, he will never escape the fact that he led a revolt against a sitting Prime Minister.

It is nothing short of embarrassing that Australia has not had a Prime Minister see out a full term since John Howard nearly a decade ago.

And the reason for that remains that politicians believe it is their right, and seemingly their priority, to pick the leader of the country.

Officially, that is true – after all we do vote for a local member on election day – but let’s not pretend for one moment that the leader of the party doesn’t play a significant role in determining who people vote for. If they didn’t, we wouldn’t be changing Prime Ministers as if we’re playing musical chairs at a six-year-old’s birthday party.

We now face the lead-up to the next election with two leaders who carry the stigma of overthrowing Prime Ministers that the public put their trust in.

Mr Turnbull, who I believe will lose an enormous amount of respect following his callous move on Mr Abbott on Monday, and Bill Shorten, who was the man pulling the strings when Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard were knifed – by each other.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a visit to Penrith
Prime Minister Tony Abbott during a visit to Penrith

How can either of them possibly go to the next election and legitimately ask for the trust and faith of the Australian people? How can either of them keep a straight face when promising stability and good government, which presumably they will. How can either of them be believed if they claim that the days of leadership rumblings are over?

This is a very sad time in Australian politics. A time that lacks true leadership and vision from either party and instead appears dominated by egotistical machine men (and women) in Canberra who fail to learn lessons of the past.

After the debacle of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years, how did we possibly end up here? How did we possibly reach a situation where the Liberal Party themselves dumped a sitting Prime Minister two years in?

This should not be what politics is about.

Mr Turnbull, of course, has always wanted to be Prime Minister. He is a successful Australian who has an impressive background and is obviously extremely ambitious. He is articulate, persuasive and has always presented as a man with strong leadership skills. To be honest, there is every indication he will make a bloody good Prime Minister.

Lindsay MP Fiona Scott with Malcolm Turnbull [File Photo]
Lindsay MP Fiona Scott with Malcolm Turnbull [File Photo]
But like Julia Gillard, he will never escape the stigma of how he got the job. It will dog him for as long as he is Prime Minister.

When Kevin Rudd was rolled as Prime Minister in the lead-up to the 2010 election, there was much empathy – particularly after his emotional farewell press conference at Parliament House.

Whether Tony Abbott receives the same level of support is yet to be seen. He did, however, sum it up best on Monday when he said this: “I firmly believe that our party is better than this, that our government is better than this and by God, that our country is so much better than this.”

Turns out his party, our government and our country wasn’t better than that.

We deserve so much more.

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