** Updated 25 October 2008
See the report. I won’t go into it all but just give a gut reaction, and it is this: I have never before really despised Malcolm Turnbull. Today I do. Just a bit too naked in its grandstanding in the circumstances, I would have thought. Good to see Rudd on fire.
24 hours later
Nothing since I wrote that has changed my gut reaction, except that I have deepened in my revulsion, extending it way beyond Turnbull himself to the whole pack of them and their various attempts to grab headlines during the course of the day. Yes, I know it’s tough for an Opposition, but I wish they had been less hypocritical with their mealy-mouthed “bipartisanship”. See RBA backed unlimited guarantee: Treasury head. In fact he said the reports that triggered the Turnbull shark impersonation — or should that be hyena? — were “Capital W Capital R Capital O Capital N Capital G Exclamation Mark WRONG!”
That’s not to say the government is perfect, but in this case they are the ones who appear responsible and honourable. Opposition: you have disgusted me, and I like to think I am FAR from alone.
Watching The 7.30 Report on ABC just now I see I have added the “capitals” to Ken Henry’s response, but his body language justifies them in spades. Rarely have I seen such ill-concealed fury on the face of such a senior public servant, appointed to his present position, I might add, by the Howard government! Particularly he bridled at that unctuous bigot Abetz. As one would. Transcript.
Turnbull is about to speak on The 7.30 Report. My response has been to turn off the TV and listen to some good jazz on 2MBS-FM. I just couldn’t stomach even the sight of Turnbull right now. Michael Brissenden on The 7.30 Report finished by saying the Opposition is determined to be noticed. Well, it has worked for me. I have noticed, but noticing and being impressed are clearly not the same. It’s one thing to point out practical or unforeseen problems with what the government has proposed in the national interest; it’s quite another to go in for the kill on the back of newspaper stories and rumours as this mob has done over the past day or so…
Here is what I couldn’t stomach watching.
KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: After an eventful day in various parts of the Federal Parliament as you just saw, I’m joined now by the Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull.
MALCOLM TURNBULL OPPOSITION LEADER: Good evening Kerry.
KERRY O’BRIEN, PRESENTER: Malcolm Turnbull, your claims that Kevin Rudd was out of step with the Reserve Bank governor in announcing his bank deposit guarantee package on October 12 have been refuted by the governor himself and by the Treasury Secretary.
Why won’t you accept now in good grace that you got it wrong?
MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well Kerry, I think… let’s just look at the facts…
Yeah, right! Do read on. Whereas once one even hoped that Turnbull would be the goose who laid the golden egg, it turns out he is just an ordinary goose after all.
Read Paul Kelly in the Oz Saturday 25 October
Again he has done a really cool assessment of the whole week’s shenanigans, in my view. Read it to moderate my pique.
…In the end, Swan has settled on a $1 million threshold, above which a fee will be charged to receive the benefits of the deposit guarantee. Swan says this will ensure the guarantee does not provide disincentives to operate in the short-term money market. It has been apparent all week the Government would not set the guarantee below $1 million.
Rudd and Swan superbly contained the politics of this diabolical problem. Consider Swan’s position. Desperate to have the regulators sort out the mess, he had to project a public aura of calm and control in the parliament this week while being utterly unable to provide material detail on any solution, given market sensitivities….
Turnbull’s fate was to spoil his excellent hand. The merit of the issue ran Turnbull’s way but he lost the politics. The Opposition’s mistake was to personalise the issue around Henry and Stevens. This was part accident, part madness.
The accident was Turnbull’s miscalculation at question time on Tuesday when he asked Rudd whether, if Henry had incorrectly conveyed the bank’s position on October 12, he would be sacked.
Turnbull was not calling for Henry’s dismissal. It was a barrister’s point and a political blunder. But there has been a history between Turnbull and Henry, and Rudd took the political opening he had been gifted.
It was reinforced by further Coalition follies. At the estimates committee on Wednesday, Senate Opposition deputy leader Eric Abetz questioned Henry’s integrity during a long, tedious and counter-productive performance by Coalition senators who seemed to have lost the plot. The next day, Liberal MP Don Randall attacked Stevens and then had to write an apology.
The Coalition compulsion to finger Henry and Stevens is irrational. They are public officials of unquestioned integrity and competence. Australia’s 17-year growth cycle that helped to keep the Howard government in office for so long was partly the product of official advice and decisions from the Treasury and Reserve Bank….