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Federal Government

TURNBULL: Ex-leader tries to limit and define Tony Abbott’s authority: “We are not a personality cult here”


Malcolm Turnbull is on a PR offensive of the Rudd kind. Tony Abbott would be wise to keep an eye on him.

The relationship between Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull will be critical to the success of the next government.

In a reasonably unhelpful interview with The Australian, Turnbull according to Paul Kelly:

said he and the Opposition Leader would “authentically be a team”, and if people voted for Mr Abbott at this year’s election then “I’m part of the team” in office.

The comments reveal the growing Abbott-Turnbull mutual self-interest but also Mr Turnbull’s determination to hold Mr Abbott to his word on full collective decision-making in office.
He intends to play an influential role at the cabinet table in an Abbott government.

The message from these comments is Mr Turnbull’s stake in the way an Abbott government functions and his ambition to ensure the cabinet delivers quality public policy.

Mmm. OK. And what did he say?

In an interview with The Weekend Australian, Mr Turnbull pledged to work in a team relationship with Tony Abbott and made it clear that proper cabinet decision-making would be critical in an Abbott government.

“Tony has made it clear, and I thoroughly endorse this, that the next Coalition government will be a traditional Westminster cabinet government,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Decisions will be taken collectively. We are not electing a president. There is no president Tony. Tony Abbott will be the prime minister. He will be, as all prime ministers are in Westminster systems, first among equals.

“Now that is absolutely critical. We are not running a personality cult here.”

While opposed to personality cults, he refers to his own, where he explains he gets hundreds of emails a week imploring him to regain his party’s leadership. He talks this down but never fails to mention it.

This is innocuous, up to a point. But Tony Abbott will need to be careful of his brilliant, inner-city popular, ambitious and possibly vengeful predecessor. He’s given this interview to The Australian and another one to men’s mag GQ that appears on Monday.

Is he up to something? Time will tell.

It’s truly fascinating to look back to immediately prior Tony Abbott’s unexpected party leadership win. Carbon was a winner for then PM Rudd. The Libs were hopelessly divided on it. Turnbull’s leadership was in trouble. Tony Abbott’s friends were urging Hockey to step up and take the leadership and fix the carbon policy. Ultimately, he squibbed it. Abbott ran, won by one vote, only because Hockey was eliminated in the first ballot, which only occurred because Abbott’s canny-counting backers Abetz and co. piled on Turnbull to keep him in it, correctly figuring they could win against Turnbull but not Hockey. The rest is history. But as Turnbull’s occasional acting-out reminds us, the flame of ambition still burns brightly. The competing ambitions of these three is – in the absence of genuine doubt about the federal election result – the next fascinating battleground in Australian politics.


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  1. I would never ever vote for UTEGATE Turnball, he is tarred with the same brush as the Abbottlah. Also he wants to rip up the NBN with his half baked plan that would put Aus back 80 years but yet he does’nt mind investiving in a french company that is rolling out FTTH,so it is OK for the frenchies but Aus can stay in the dark ages. People have been sucked in by this bloke all because they are to lazy to do some research on this bloke and have fallen in love with his voice..well I’m not one of them and fool anyone that has. The LNP have plenty of skeletons in the closet and Turnball has quite a few.

    Posted by Never Ever | March 2, 2013, 8:08
  2. Whene Malcolm Turnbull was the liberal leader his popularity was way down, and the liberals polls where always just about where Labor’s are now. The liberals vote went up strongly whene Tony Abbott became leader. Whene Tony Abbott took the leadership from Malcom Turnbull the drought was on, and many couldn’t tell the difference between a drought and the alarmists global warming . Some of Malcolm Turnbull supportes supported Malcolm instead of Tony whene the leadreship vote was taken mainly because they where panicing about global warming and Malcolm Turnbull was a believer of global warming, and Tony Abbott was a lot more cautious. otherwise Tony Abbott would had beaten Malcolm Turnbull by much more than one vote for the leadership . Tony Abbott was right in being very catious concerning the global warming scare campain by the alarmists but Malcolm Turnbull was wrong.The draught is now gone and there is water everywhere and the alarmists are still crying out global warming. OH now they changed the wording to climate change . they can’t be wrong now because the climate is always changes.This alone goes to prove that Tony Abbott has a much better judgment than Malcolm Turnbull

    Posted by Benson Kane | March 2, 2013, 10:46
  3. These days all we hear is that Malcolm Turnbull should be the leader of the liberals, and Kevin Rudd should be the leader off the labor party.And each time polls are taken to see who should lead both partys the polls shows that Rudd and Turnbull are the most popular. “But Hey! , We already had kevin Rudd as prime minister but whene his popularity slumped the unions panicked and sacked him.WHERE were all his supporters then? Because Whene Kevin Rudds was the prime minister the polls where telling us a very different story back then, and now look what we got running the country!. The same story goes for Malcolm Turnbull whene he was the liberal leader the liberals polls where just about where the labor polls are right now, and once again where were Malcolm Turnbull supporter back then? Isurley agree that Kevin Rudd is light years more better than Julia GAillard. But i totally disagree that Malcolm Turnbull can even come close to Tony Abbott. Too many people are judging books by their cover. We all now that both Kevin Rudd ,and Julia Gillard are incompetent to govern because we have over five years of proof. But we can’t tell if Tony Abbott is competent or not just yet. But we do know under the liberal we always had a good run, and the government was always stable.

    Posted by Benson Kane | March 2, 2013, 11:08
  4. I should make another youTube video. Yes. it will help.

    Posted by tommy tudehope burrrrrp | March 2, 2013, 13:13
  5. We’ve seen just what a light weight Malcolm is. During the republic he didn’t even cast a vote then whinged about the outcome.
    As leader of the Liberal party all he could do is agree with the Ruddbot. As for Utegate, he forever proved that for all the claims about his stela intellect he is stupid and has poor judgement. He’d be happier in the Labor party and, I’d be happy to see him there. That way I wouldn’t have to worry how he will try to undermine and waterdown the reforms we need to recover from the last 5 years of Labor screwups.

    Posted by Scott | March 2, 2013, 15:16
  6. How much crap, exactly, to you expect the general population to swallow???? Please!!Someone speak as if they are an authentic human being? Do any of you know what that means? Malcome Turnbull, you have degraded yourself by coming out with such nonsense. What are you getting out of this freewheeling of farcical self-indulgences?

    Posted by Agnes Macmillan | March 2, 2013, 19:15
  7. […] won't be worse off, Abbott saysCourier MailAbbott wants universities to move onlineABC OnlineVEXNEWS -Brisbane Times -The Australian Financial Reviewall 31 news […]

    Posted by Abbott to empower cabinet in Coalition govt: Turnbull – Business Spectator — Melbourne Links | March 2, 2013, 20:14
  8. […] won't be worse off, Abbott saysCourier MailAbbott wants universities to move onlineABC OnlineVEXNEWS -Brisbane Times -The Australian Financial Reviewall 31 news […]

    Posted by Abbott to empower cabinet in Coalition govt: Turnbull – Business Spectator | newzbuff.com | March 2, 2013, 21:11
  9. More like Turnbull is doing this under instruction. This is the Abbott softener, the vote for Abbott he wouldn’t get of some people if they thought he had full control. This whole thing is about addressing the concerns of those who are concerned that Abbott is wreckless, unpredictable, and if in conttol could start following faith based politics.

    I’d eat my hat if this isn’t an approved PR line to get Abbott passed the voters who see him as a risk. It just says vote for us and we’ll keep him in line.

    Posted by Jim | March 3, 2013, 6:56
  10. The leadership baton is truly in Malcolm’s genuine leather name brand briefcase. He usually only takes it out to put it on his bedside table so he can dream about it and see it when he wakes. But every now and then he shows it to a wavering Liberal parliamentarian to show him or her just how good he would be in the final leg of the relay race that is the Federal Election.

    Having dropped the baton so spectacularly in 2009, I suspect many of the parliamentarians might regard such spruiking as self-serving drivel.

    They’ve seen a true long distance super-fit athlete in Tony Abbott who makes Malcolm Turnbull look like an effeminate wimp.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | March 4, 2013, 9:43