The strangest story is unfolding in Conservative Australia over this week.
I, for one, am entirely baffled by it all and can only conclude that the right must have collectively failed at basic algebra. It serves as an excellent example of a fundamental flaw in the general ideology of the right, of which I've encountered previously on another subject; climate change.
As for the story...
For my international readers, here's the basic story.
– One senior minister, Malcolm Turnbull, of the main conservative party, Liberal Party of Australia, had dinner with another conservative minister of a minor party, Clive Palmer, the leader of PUP.
– Turnbull was then accused of destabilising the Libs for refuting Bolt's claim (ie. 'he should have ignored it if it wasn't true).
– A conservative shock jock, Alan Jones, interviewed Turnbull to challenge him on this and other claims. He refuted the arguments thrown at him.
– Turnbull was then accused of destabilising the Libs for refuting the claims made by Jones.
Can you see why I'm baffled?
A does not equal B
Here's where the very simply algebra comes into it; nothing adds up.
Sure, following a heated footy match, there may or may not be some pubs you should enter wearing a certain team's colours. But that doesn't go for politics.
Politicians get a nice share of the public purse – that's our money – to run the country. If this wasn't a democracy, then it's easy; what ruler says, ruler gets.
Not so when you're stuck in a house with people who disagree with you and also hold a vote on legislation.
While I don't agree with the far right – and I can only see conservative Australia trekking far off into that sunset at present – I understand the need to make peace with other parties for the sake of your political agenda. The Libs need the support of other parties and they have a better chance with PUP than they do with the left.
Being civil enough to share a meal with members of other parties, surely, isn't restricted to this one event. I think it's a safe bet to say that members of the left and right have done something so risky as to share a couple rounds of beer at one point or another.
This bizarre story gets even worse. Somehow Turnbull's defiance gives life to the claims.
Anyone who has bothered to challenge climate change deniers would have seen this before. Put simply, they will eventually get to the argument: “If the sceptics don't have a case, why do you challenge them, then?”
Some of us, as crazy as it sounds, have a problem when we spot others peddling horse manure as 'miracle face cream'.
You might ask; why should anyone bother, right? If someone is willing to wear that crap, be it on their own head.
I disagree, obviously. I don't like being taken for a ride and feel uncomfortable idly sitting back while I watch others being led on. I'm somewhat of a fan of reality.
Now, I can understand why Turnbull took these claims on; he's not about to sit back and enjoy a stinky face mask. He is in the public arena and he has two popular chaps from the media making challenges on his position. Who would he be doing any favours to by letting them slide? Are we so sure that his silence would have been seen as anything but an admission of guilt?
A dish too spicy
Turnbull, from what I can tell (noting that neither Bolt or Jones provided additional supportive information), has done nothing but have dinner with someone. How did this story even happen?
Listening to the interview with Jones and his near shrill insistence that Turnbull would never again be the leader of the Coalition, I came up with the only potential reason for all of this that I could fathom.
The budget has been a disaster for the Libs. Their popularity has crashed and regardless of their best efforts, large pockets of the community (myself included) deem the budget unfair and potentially damaging to the future equity of the two most fundamental aspects to our lives; health and education.
The Australian Labor Party have kept more or less quiet. It seems the Libs are doing enough damage to themselves.
People like Bolt and Jones did their bit to help Abbott rise to the top job and now it seems difficult to see how he can maintain it with such a public backlash. Of course, some people will be thinking a new face is needed and obviously Turnbull, who remains fairly popular, would be one person who jumps to mind.
From what I know of Bolt's writing and from Jones, with his Galileo Movement, when the choice is between Abbott and Turnbull, the selection is very clear. I might be wrong, but could all this madness be an attempt to nip that particular bud before it blooms?
Whatever the case may be, we must be thankful for the chance dinner for it gave us all something very special; it gave us great insight to the conservative mind.
Tim Lubcke blogs at New Anthropocene.