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Turnbull eyes enemy within

05 Dec, 2012 07:21 AM
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Malcolm Turnbull.
Malcolm Turnbull.

MALCOLM TURNBULL has portrayed himself as the antithesis of Tony Abbott's political mentor, B.A. Santamaria, the staunch protectionsist and founder of the Democratic Labor Party.

Launching a new book about the late Bert Kelly, the South Australian Liberal MP who championed free trade after entering Parliament in 1958, Mr Turnbull positioned himself squarely with the traditional economic dries and warned that enemies of the Liberal ideal still existed within the Coalition, just as they did in Mr Kelly's day.

''We should not delude ourselves with political humbug into imagining the opponents of freedom - economic, social, political - are only to be found on what we like to call the left,'' he said. ''Nor should we imagine that there are no advocates of big government to be found on what is called the right.''

Mr Turnbull did not name names but invoked Mr Santamaria, a central influence on Mr Abbott during his formative political years and somebody whom he still mentions.

Mr Turnbull said Mr Kelly, who hailed from a farm in South Australia, championed consumer sovereignty and open markets and ''his many intellectual successors inside the Liberal Party sit at the very core of what our side of politics should stand for''.

''While Liberals, and certainly small-L liberals, should be proud of Kelly's legacy, it must not be forgotten that his greatest opponents were on his own side of the chamber,'' he said.

''The strongest advocate of protectionists and tariffs in his time was the leader of the Country Party, John 'Black Jack' McEwen.''

Mr Turnbull said himself, John Howard and Labor's Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, who in government opened the Australian economy in the 1980s, had more in common with Mr Kelly than Mr Santamaria, ''who was as appalled by globalisation and free trade as he was suspicious of markets''.

Mr Turnbull said Mr Santamaria and Mr McEwen ''are often held up as champions of the Right'' but this was only true insofar as they opposed communism and were socially conservative.

Mr Abbott's detractors have often accused him of not being Liberal enough and of having DLP tendencies, an accusation at which Mr Abbott bristles and rejects. Last year the former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello made the accusation in a column for Fairfax Media, sparked by Mr Abbott's reluctance to embrace industrial relations deregulation.

While the DLP was ''good on defence and the Cold War'', it was ''not much on economic issues'', Mr Costello wrote.

Launching the book by Hal Colebatch, entitled The Modest Member: The Life & Times of Bert Kelly, Mr Turnbull took aim at current Labor policies of subsidising industry and the national broadband network. ''While high tariffs are a thing of the past, we still spend billions supporting Australian industries with little analysis or understanding of the costs,'' he said.

''Politicians save jobs without any debate about how many other jobs are lost because of the public resources diverted.''

The shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, has been advocating a similar tough line against industry assistance in the car industry.

Mr Turnbull said the national broadband network was ''a breathtakingly reckless example of big government at its most profligate''.

Today Mr Abbott will start a two-day journey driving a semi-trailer 875 kilometres along the Pacific Highway from Brisbane to Terrigal.

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READER COMMENTS

Bushie Bill
5/12/2012 8:56:26 AM

Malcolm Turnbull, a once and future king; the only potential statesman on the Australian political scene today.
John Niven
5/12/2012 11:13:14 AM

I would'nt trust Turnbull with a note to the shop.
john from tamworth
5/12/2012 1:13:25 PM

Malcolm rolled over on the ETS and that cost him the leadership.This is the ultimate "big government" policy and he should have resisted it.
Bushie Bill
5/12/2012 1:53:24 PM

That's probably because your note would be confusing, John. Now, if you explained your problem to Malcolm, and he wrote the note for you, you would feel a lot better. Right?
Loc Hey
5/12/2012 5:37:59 PM

The problem with Mal is he cant decide which side of politics he belongs in.
Trugger
5/12/2012 5:50:04 PM

Wouldn't it be good if we had an opposition leader who was someone who was altruistic enough to take the job, intelligent enough to make their personal fortune by their own business skills, who could manage the diverse departments of government as a CEO would, remained reasonable in the face of the media and could knowledgeably produce policy and implement it? Over to the rednecks and Bushie, who would you suggest?
Bushie Bill
6/12/2012 1:13:48 PM

That's too easy Truggs! Anyone with an IQ greater than a pumpkin knows Malcolm Turnbull is a shoe-in for the role.
Ian Mott
7/12/2012 11:09:14 AM

Turbull IS the "enemy within". Always has been. He is the only Coalition leader to have spent his entire tenure campaigning for the Labor Party. And he is the kind of person that can win the approval of someone with the proven malevolence of BS Bill. Need one say more?
Vic Wilmot
7/12/2012 11:47:11 AM

Malcolm Turnbull is an extremely intelligent man who has the ability to be a truly great Prime Minister. My only concern is this: is he genuine or is he a socialst in disguise, just as Malcolm Fraser was said to be a member of the Fabian Socialists, a la Julia Gillard, Gough Whitlam. Tony does seem to be more genuine.
Trugger
7/12/2012 2:10:40 PM

Vic, Tony genuine? Yeah, about as genuine as a drunken yobbo in the public bar of a Saturday night and an intellect to match. I'll not vote for the coalition if he is leading it to the next election. I will support anyone else but the coalition and the ALP. Both sides have demonstrated their lack of ethics and morality enough for me. Cripes! I can't vote for the greens either! Hope there is a drover's dog standing in my electorate!
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