Malcolm Turnbull’s strategy to constantly roast the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, has Jim Pembroke wondering whether the Prime Minister isn’t really lambasting himself.

Just to be clear – the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull won the election last year, right? We know it was a close run thing – only a thin fibre of his badass leather jacket in it, but he got over the line.

Then, why is he still going on about the bloke he beat – Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten ?

Ali Foreman
Via flickr

It’s a bit like, Muhammad Ali beating George Foreman for the heavyweight championship. But instead of enjoying his new title, he uses the next 12 months to denounce George, his range of outdoor grills and all those tasty meat filled recipes.

Malcolm Turnbull – you won. Find a way to act like a winner. Search through your government’s policy wasteland and stagger onto some moral and psychological high ground.

Could you imagine former prime minister Paul Keating, giving then opposition leader John Hewson, the sort of airtime that Turnbull gives Shorten? Keating was so dominant he would barely mention his opponent’s name, except to grind him further into irrelevance – “I want to do you slowly, mate.”

Every time Malcolm Turnbull has a press conference and uses it to highlight Bill Shorten, it’s like he’s firing up one of George Foreman’s cooking appliances and then sitting on the hot plate – frying himself slowly. When the Prime Minister constantly reminds us that he can’t manage his policy agenda because of the Opposition Leader — slowly but surely – it dawns on the electorate that maybe they should vote for someone who can.

And this whole strategy is starting to look like a bad, political barbecue anyway, with government ministers taking turns to burn themselves. There’s the likes of Treasurer Scott Morrison and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton reminding us, it’s still Labor’s fault that the government can’t sort out the budget mess – after four years of Coalition promises. But, you can bet they’ll keep chewing that old carcass – anyone know the use-buy date of overcooked bull?

Then, the Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce makes a disgraceful comment about the Beaconsfield mine disaster to mock Bill Shorten’s support for workers. Barnaby Joyce, red faced and setting himself on fire – what a cook up.

This is all starting to sound a little bit ridiculous – in the absence of any plan – attack Bill Shorten. Malcolm Turnbull looks at the opinion polls and he must feel like a dead man walking to the next election. He’s proving to be a massive disappointment to the electorate, his victim blaming policies are unpopular and he is being held hostage by the right-wing of his own party.

To quote Paul Keating in another context. “He’s like a shiver waiting for a spine.”

This ‘kill bill’ strategy is not likely to work anyway. We already know the Leader of the Opposition is behind in the polls. So, the marginal cost of any criticism has got to be pretty low for the Labor Party. If any of this mud is sticking, it’s having no effect on voter intentions.

But, in the absence of any smarter tactic, we’ll probably continue to see the Prime Minister’s “hysterical rants” at Bill Shorten, in parliament.

The problem is, Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t do ‘angry’ very well. His outrage looks confected – like someone who doesn’t know how to fight for a snag at a local barbecue. So, when the Prime Minister takes on the role of designated griller at his own Coalition cook-out – Mr Harbourside Mansion doesn’t realize, he’s actually roasting himself.

Published 30 May, 2017

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