Malcolm Turnbull says Andrew Bolt’s speculation about his prime ministerial aspirations crazy and unhinged. Latika Bourke political reporter 2 June 2014. PHOTO: Malcolm Turnbull says Andrew Bolt’s commentary is incorrect. (AAP). Cabinet minister Malcolm Turnbull has hit out at conservative columnist Andrew Bolt, describing his latest commentary as “crazy”, “unhinged” and bordering on the “demented”. But the columnist says Mr Turnbull’s attack on him “fits the pattern” of targeting the wrong enemies.
Bolt’s latest column argues the former Liberal leader wants his old job back and is demonstrating his credentials by befriending the Prime Minister’s “natural predators”, including MP Clive Palmer and supporters of the ABC. Bolt wrote that Mr Turnbull’s dinner with Mr Palmer last week was designed to send an “unmistakable message” to Liberal MPs – “replace Abbott with Turnbull as prime minister and maybe Palmer will play ball”.
“This is Turnbull, on the far left of the Liberal Party, charming a constituency that hates Abbott and which would back Turnbull to replace him – even if it still wouldn’t vote Liberal.” On Sunday, Bolt interviewed Tony Abbott on his Channel Ten talk show and began by asking the Prime Minister: “Why is Malcolm Turnbull wooing Clive Palmer on his own? It looks like he’s got his eye on your job.”
Bolt’s piece was the first major piece of political commentary to argue that Mr Turnbull’s dinner with Mr Palmer, Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson, Liberal Party vice-president Tom Harley and his business partner John Fast may have been part of a leadership campaign. A former staffer to Mr Turnbull has told the ABC he and Mr Palmer have long been friends and their friendship predated Mr Turnbull’s leadership of the Liberal Party in 2009.
Mr Turnbull was met with a television camera leaving his Canberra residence for Parliament this morning and fielded questions about his leadership intentions. Those questions were repeated at a later media event at Parliament House where Mr Turnbull launched his unprompted attack on Bolt. “I saw the question that Andrew Bolt asked the Prime Minister on Sunday and I’ve seen his column in some of the News Limited papers today,” Mr Turnbull told reporters.
Malcolm Turnbull’s second coming. Liberal MPs would only turn to Malcolm Turnbull if there was complete voter rejection of Tony Abbott’s extreme right approach, writes Paula Matthewson. “It borders on the demented, to string together a dinner with Clive Palmer and my attending, as the Communications Minister, the launch by a cross-party group of friends of the ABC and say that that amounts to some sort of threat or challenge to the Prime Minister … it is quite unhinged. “Now Mr Bolt is fond of attacking what he regards as the Government’s enemies in the media, principal amongst whom of course he numbers the ABC.
“I don’t think you’d see anything as crazy as that on the ABC. “And I just have to say to Mr Bolt, he proclaims loudly that he’s a friend of the Government – well with friends like Bolt, we don’t need any enemies.” In a response to the ABC, Bolt said: “What a shame Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t attack the Government’s media enemies with the same vigour that he attacks what he calls the Government’s media friends – it just fits the pattern.”
Malcolm Turnbull says Andrew Bolt’s commentary about challenge to PM ‘unhinged’. THE AUSTRALIAN JUNE 02, 2014 Jared Owens Reporter Canberra. MALCOLM Turnbull says claims that he’s plotting to overthrow Tony Abbott are “unhinged”, “crazy” and bordering on the “demented”. The Communications Minister, who was toppled by Mr Abbott as Liberal leader in 2009, this morning responded to claims by News Corp Australia columnist Andrew Bolt that he had “lavished a lot of charm lately on Abbott’s natural predators” as a precursor to a leadership coup.
Mr Turnbull this morning rejected Bolt’s claims outright, saying: “It borders on the demented to string together a dinner with Clive Palmer and my attending, as the Communications Minister, the launch by a cross-party group of Friends of the ABC and say that that amounts to some kind of threat or challenge to the Prime Minister. It is quite unhinged.”
“Mr Bolt is fond of attacking what he regards as the government’s enemies in the media, principal amongst whom of course he numbers the ABC. I don’t think you’d see anything as crazy as that on the ABC. “I just have to say to Mr Bolt. He proclaims loudly that he is a friend of the government. Well with friends like Bolt, we don’t need any enemies.”
In his column published this morning, Bolt described Mr Turnbull as “a man whose strategic nous is so lousy that he last led the Liberals into the toilet”. Bolt claims Mr Turnbull’s meeting with Mr Palmer “sent an unmistakable message to Liberal MPs — replace Abbott with Turnbull as prime minister and maybe Palmer will play ball”.
“If only Turnbull had spent half this charm fighting for Abbott’s Budget. Instead, some of Abbott’s troops complain he’s almost gone missing in action. “That said, a disclaimer: I’m sure Turnbull isn’t contemplating any imminent challenge or is fostering destabilisation.” Bolt criticised Mr Turnbull for launching the Friends of the ABC parliamentary group, describing the broadcaster as “dangerously huge and biased, stifling competition and punishing conservatives”.
Bolt, interviewing the Prime Minister on Network Ten yesterday, began by suggesting Mr Turnbull’s “wooing” of Mr Palmer “looks like he’s got his eye on your job”. Bolt then said Mr Turnbull “made a sort of pitch … basically that he could talk to Clive Palmer to get things through the Senate, but you can’t”. Mr Abbott on Sunday played down Mr Turnbull’s actions, saying it was “perfectly reasonable” for senior members of the coalition to talk with crossbenchers to help get the budget passed.
In a response to the ABC today, Bolt said: “What a shame Malcolm Turnbull doesn’t attack the Government’s media enemies with the same vigour that he attacks what he calls the Government’s media friends — it just fits the pattern. ”Mr Abbott seized the Liberal leadership from Mr Turnbull by a single vote in December 2009 amid an acrimonious split in the party over whether to support the Rudd government’s ill-fated carbon pollution reduction scheme. Mr Abbott narrowly lost the 2010 federal election but won an emphatic victory last September.