Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Malcolm Turnbull calls Peter Dutton a ‘thug’, Scott Morrison ‘duplicitous’ in ABC documentary Nemesis

“His people – six or seven, we think – voted for Dutton in that spill and that made Dutton’s numbers look better and, you know, increased the pressure on me.”

Morrison rejected the assertion that his supporters backed Dutton in the initial spill, arguing he and his allies had no knowledge of Turnbull’s decision to call a spill.

“I don’t run a faction in the Liberal Party. I don’t control numbers,” Morrison said. “We were very good friends. I sought to support his government right up to the end, and we got a lot of good things done together, and I’m saddened that those good things have now been overshadowed.”

Turnbull’s frequent criticisms of his former colleagues since leaving parliament have made him an unpopular figure inside the Liberal Party.

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Queensland senator James McGrath claimed in the documentary “Malcolm is one of the nastiest people I’ve come across in politics in how he speaks to people” while former minister Andrew Robb said the former prime minister could unload “the most very obscene invective”.

Turnbull said his major achievements included Snowy Hydro 2.0, commitments on infrastructure, the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, reinvestment in the defence forces and “making sure we stood up versus other big powers, whether it was Xi Jinping’s China or even Donald Trump’s America”.

Former attorney-general George Brandis said he believed Turnbull was one of the best leaders in the world at dealing with Trump, who famously blasted the prime minister over the phone about a refugee swap deal.

Coalition MPs who pushed for same-sex marriage made stinging criticisms of Turnbull’s alleged lack of enthusiasm for social reform.

 Warren Entsch said Turnbull did not invest a lot of political energy in same-sex marriage reform. Turnbull rejects this.

Warren Entsch said Turnbull did not invest a lot of political energy in same-sex marriage reform. Turnbull rejects this. Credit: Andrew Meares

Queensland MP Warren Entsch said Turnbull took credit for marriage equality – after a postal survey showed Australians backed the reform – even though he did not invest much political capital in the policy.

Gay former Liberal MP Trevor Evans added: “Malcolm would certainly describe marriage equality as one of the crowning achievements of his time as prime minister and indeed it is. But Malcolm was not the active participant in making it happen.”

Turnbull rejected these claims.

The episode dissected Turnbull’s contentious decision to call an eight-week election campaign in 2016, when Bill Shorten came close to snatching the election for Labor.

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Liberal MP Linda Reynolds said the long election campaign was “madness” and former prime minister John Howard argued Turnbull was not an effective campaigner.

Turnbull acknowledged the election result – the loss of 14 seats, leaving the government with a one-seat majority – diminished his authority but, in part, blamed Labor’s infamous “Medi-scare” campaign, which held that the Coalition was planning to privatise Australia’s healthcare system.

“I was very angry because I could see that we had lost a lot of seats and potentially lost the numbers in the House because of a lie,” Turnbull said.

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