I’m running a high fever here and a little hazy on details, so this may sound a little unusual…
Somewhat saddened to see Malcolm Turnbull go. Perhaps some believe he was more interested in securing his own job, or that he never stood for anything, constantly backtracking on policy to satisfy the demands of the various party factions. But he was appointed to lead a party already divided, torn between the centre-right politics the Liberal party has traditionally stood for, and the far-right conservative politics championed by the likes of Tony Abbott and practiced by a small but growing number of party members.
It wasn’t exactly the easiest position to be in, leading a nation and considering the needs of the public, rebuilding trust in the party amongst an electorate so thoroughly disillusioned with the conservative policies of the outgoing ministry, through maintaining a moderate political stance while at the same time maintaining support from the increasingly divided members and factions within your own party to, you know, govern. Someone had to do it.
Looking back now, that seems almost impossible, and if anything, it’s amazing he lasted as long as he did. (And if opinion polls are even somewhat accurate, I don’t believe he did such a bad job of it either. The Libs collectively trailed constantly on two-party preferred, yet Turnbull remained preferred prime minister, so it could seem unfair to attribute their bad fortunes solely to him as the party seemed hell-bent on doing.)
Sure, the Libs arguably delivered some dreadful policies under his leadership, not to mention the numerous issues surrounding the NBN when he served as communications minister under the Abbott government. But to call out Malcolm Turnbull, as some have suggested, as “the worst prime minister Australia has ever had”, is absurd, especially considering who he succeeded. He leveraged the voice of the Australian people to force the hand of traditional conservative MPs in legalising same-sex marriage, and he’s criticised for it because it “should never have needed a survey”, when the alternative, given the position of the party, was likely not legalising it at all. And the NBN, while mishandled, was at least continued, as opposed to abandoned entirely as Tony Abbott proposed in April 2010. (Almost five months before Turnbull was ever appointed as Shadow Minister for Communications.)
My political views and those of the Liberal party have never completely aligned, and they have never received my vote. (That said, my first election in which I was eligible to vote was between Gillard and Abbott in 2010, so I’m still rather new at this.)
But Malcolm Turnbull, as a leader - a calm, rational, well-spoken figurehead of the nation - had my respect.
(And before anyone asks, I’m a registered member of the ALP, and supported Anthony Albanese for the leadership in 2013 - ultimately it went to Bill Shorten.)