Jim Pembroke

Turnbull’s flat pack cabinet: Some reassembly required

If the Turnbull Government was a piece of furniture, I think it would be lying disassembled on the floor, with the user manual giving no clues. What it needs, is expert help.

 

Connect the pre-drilled, right peg to the centre left main support. Insert Bolt A and tighten slightly to the left with right-hand tool G…

Let’s face it, at the moment, even Ikea would be hard pressed designing a set of instructions that could assemble the Liberal/National Coalition into a coherent whole. Like a buffet cabinet that’s been purchased online, suddenly the warning –  ‘some assembly is required’ becomes ‘an impossible amount of reassembly required’.

To be fair to the Prime Minister, the government was in a million pieces when he got it. But like a cocky do-it-yourselfer who ignores the instruction manual, Malcolm Turnbull must sit back now, look at what he’s put together and think, “That looks nothing like the picture on the box.”

Furthermore, there’s a piece left over, lying on the floor. Tony Abbott.

But the real problem is the handyman trying to put the frame together – Malcolm Turnbull. His main drive gear seems stripped of all its teeth and spins pointlessly – the prime component grinding against the extreme right wing and only intermittently engaging with a misaligned Senate cross bench.

The ex-Prime Minister is the part, no one knows what to do with. At first glance, it looks like a replacement nut that the Liberal Party could happily leave out. But Tony Abbott has no intention of being left in the box and his undisguised criticism of the Turnbull government is really throwing a spanner in the works.

Then there’s Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce. After fights with Johnny Depp, linking refugees to terrorism and then terrorism to testicles, an online DIY forum might ask…

“Can anyone tell me what to do with this loose screw ?”

More recently, Barnaby Joyce was left in charge while the Prime Minister went to a G20 meeting in Germany. Malcolm had barely boarded the plane before the Acting PM suggested a trade war with China. That’s the point in the assembly process where you realise some sections of the cabinet have been installed upside down.

And what about Industry Defense Minister Christopher Pyne who dubbed himself, The Fixer.

“Why? Because I’m a fixer. So I fixed it,” the Manager of Government Business explained.

No, you didn’t, it’s still broken. Furthermore, according to his Liberal colleagues, Mr Pyne is the one who needs to be fixed. After offering a glimmer of hope on same-sex marriage recently, the Minister was well and truly hammered back into his slot.

Strangely, there might even be some bits that don’t belong in the flat pack at all. The Opposition has launched a High Court action against Assistant Health Minister David Gillespie believing that his election was invalid. Given the government’s wafer-thin majority, if the bid is successful, we might all be considering a parliamentary returns and exchanges policy.

And the damaged, parts list goes on. Energy and Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg has rebuked Tony Abbott and accused him of helping the Opposition. Liberal MP Andrew Hastie is hosting a fundraiser featuring Peta Credlin, an outspoken critic of the Prime Minister and National Senator John ‘Wacka’ Williams has declared, he’s just “fed up” with the whole mess.

But the real problem is the handyman trying to put the frame together – Malcolm Turnbull. His main drive gear seems stripped of all its teeth and spins pointlessly – the prime component grinding against the extreme right wing and only intermittently engaging with a misaligned Senate cross bench.

So, the government is looking increasingly like a cheap Scandinavian flat pack and the Prime Minister like a customer who has lost his cartoon book of instructions.  Reassembling a political machine is most certainly an intimidating prospect. Maybe it’s time Malcolm Turnbull admitted that he’s out of his depth – his efforts lacking strategy and purpose.

Maybe he needs to swallow his pride, rise above the pieces on the floor and phone the political equivalent of Ikea customer support.

 

Jim Pembroke

Jim Pembroke grew up in Brisbane, Queensland, where he learnt to sail, and got his B.Ed at QUT where he learnt to write, M.Ed at JCU, Townsville, where he learnt to think. He now lives permanently on his boat where he writes too much.

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