Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist October 2012 Contents Australian Pharmacist October 2012 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd. 773
Just when everyone is thinking Australia's
political dialogue has reached rock bottom,
along comes Malcolm Turnbull, again, to
remind politicians what they are supposed
to be there for.
He's certainly an interesting character.
In the interests of good government he
periodically stands above party politics
and makes public statements calling for all
politicians, no matter what denomination,
to remember who they are, who they
represent, and who pays their salaries.
So it was early last month, during a speech
at the University of Western Australia, that
he delivered a broadside at his own party,
of which he is a former leader, saying that
thanks to the repetitive, one dimensional
behaviour of the Coalition during Question
Time, Australians have come to view the
Federal Parliament as 'nothing more than a
forum for abuse, catcalling and spin'.
Canberra Commentary couldn't have put
it better. Mr Turnbull said the Opposition's
questions for the past two years have
Watch this space...
By Mark Thornton
been almost entirely focused on people
smuggling and the carbon tax, and
questioned whether they were the only
important issues facing Australia.
'If you love your country, have an interest
in politics or policy, and care deeply about
our nation's future, there is nothing more
certain to arouse your fury and invite your
contempt than listening to an entire House
of Representatives Question Time,' he said.
'The politicians and parties that can
demonstrate they can be trusted, that they
will not insult the people with weasel
words and spin, that they will not promise
more than they can deliver, that they will
not dishonestly misrepresent either their
own or their opponents' policies -- those
politicians and parties will, I submit to you,
deserve and receive electoral success.'
What a breath of fresh air. Not for the
rst time has Canberra Commentary
wondered out loud just what would
happen if Mr Turnbull, a true Liberal in the
original sense of the word even if driven
by vaulting self-interest, decided to cross
the oor of the House and put himself up
as a contender for the leadership of the
Not that the ALP would welcome such
a move, but a great many free-thinking
Australians would. There again, perhaps
as many Australians would welcome him
at the helm of the Liberals, giving them a
sense of direction and leadership that the
current incumbent patently lacks.
These are the Australians who nd
themselves nodding in agreement with the
pronouncements of the former PM Malcolm
Fraser, who famously said in December
2009, shortly after the election of Tony
Abbott to the Liberal Party leadership,
'the party is no longer a liberal party'.
He also chided Labor for becoming more
reactionary, saying that if he still led the
Liberals, he would be to the left of the ALP.
So what is Mr Turnbull up to, chiding his
colleagues? He is of course a very ambitious
fellow. He is aware that there has been a
seismic shift in federal politics over the
past couple of months. Not only, as he
suggested, are the people becoming fed
up with Mr Abbott's shallow, repetitive
posturing, but the government under Julia
Gillard is not just doing, but is seen to be
doing, rather well thank you.
The government is pushing through one
popular policy after another and the
populace is beginning to realise that the
carbon tax is not the universal bogey the
Opposition claims it to be. Indeed, for
many businesses, including pharmacy,
it will have a limited e ect, while also
increasingly being appreciated as one of
the rst baby steps towards slowing down
Mr Turnbull would appear to be aware
the government is regaining the initiative.
He will also be aware the government
might even call an early election -- which is
not as daft as it sounds, even if Labor and
its associates are now only 5% or so behind
As the Sydney Morning Herald's Peter
Hartcher has observed, there would be no
half-Senate election with any early House
election. An early election would prevent
the Coalition gaining control of the Senate
and would lock a rst-term Coalition
government into an election in 2014,
perhaps even cutting short its second term.
Ah, politics. Mr Turnbull is a master at it.
By shaking up his Coalition colleagues,
he may in fact be positioning himself for
another tilt at the Liberal Party leadership.
Meanwhile, for the rst time in many, many
months, the government has found some
backbone and might, just might, be lining
itself up perfectly for the next big poll
Mark Thornton is a Canberra-based
journalist and was a member of
the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery
for many years.
Any opinions expressed are
not necessarily those of PSA,
its Board or staff.
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