Christopher Pyne Tells the Truth
There have been a number of accounts of the demise of Malcolm Turnbull but only those by David Speers and Christopher Pyne have the feeling of objectivity about them. Malcolm Turnbull and Nikki Savva’s accounts are self- serving, while David Crowe’s account has an agenda. All of these accounts overstate the role of Tony Abbott in the final execution, whereas he had little to do with it.
Apart from Malcolm Turnbull, Christopher Pyne is the only author with the ability to write a first-hand account. He says emphatically.in his new memoir ‘The Insider’ that at the time of the coup against Turnbull, Abbott had no aspiration to challenge the Prime Minister, he just had an intense loathing for him and what he had done.
The Pynester admits that when he arrived in Canberra on Sunday, August 19, 2018, the Sunday before the coup, he was unaware that Peter Dutton was maneuvering for a challenge. He says that at the cabinet meeting that night Dutton endorsed the National Energy Guarantee along with all the other ministers.
Pyne says the coup was not well managed because there were no heavy hitters involved in promoting it. As he comments: “…the organisers of the coup that week were about as hopeless and inept as I have ever witnessed.”
He is of the view that Turnbull committed political suicide when he called on a vote on the leadership on Tuesday. He says he had no inkling he was going to do this but if he had been asked, he would have counseled against it. He said it was clear that the leader would have 40% of the party room against him: 30% of the party room didn’t like him and there were the conspirators on top of that.
When Turnbull pulled on the leadership vote on Tuesday he won by 48 to 35. According to Pyne everyone knew that this was not enough and the leader was gone.
Pyne says the follow-ups by the Dutton group “were an amateur hour operation. It was like an open mic at a Grahame Richardson, ‘Whatever it Takes’ karaoke night”.
He says that when on Wednesday, Senators Cormann, Cash, and Fifield told Malcolm Turnbull it was time to go this was a bad omen. They had voted for him in the Tuesday spill but had flipped overnight.
Christopher Pyne says that stories that Dutton was a stalking horse for Tony Abbott were untrue. Dutton didn’t want Abbott as part of his challenge because he thought it would cost him party room votes. He told Pyne that Abbott would not be part of his front bench.
He says that there is no evidence that Scott Morrison was plotting to take over from Turnbull. Until the end, Morrison was trying to protect his leader. On Thursday Malcolm Turnbull said that if there was another party meeting and the spill motion was successful, he would step down. He told Scott Morrison and Julie Bishop they should decide what to do in those circumstances. The implication was that they should unite to stop Peter Dutton from becoming Prime Minister.
Pyne says that when parliament rose on Thursday, Scott Morison told Turnbull to let members go home. He said after two weeks in their electorates they would probably be less inclined to change the leadership.
As Pyne says, far from wanting to change the leadership Scott Morrison was trying to protect. It is sad that in his memoir Malcolm Turnbull tells a different story.