The road to chaos

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Books -

ul­ti­mately pulled down by the com­bi­na­tion of his sup­port for tough ac­tion on cli­mate change and his mon­u­men­tal mis­judg­ment in the case of God­win Grech. The op­po­si­tion night­mare is a brief episode in this short­ish book but it of­fers an un­der­stand­ing of how much Turn­bull has changed and how much he has stayed the same.

The Turn­bull Gam­ble goes through those first heady months when Turn­bull was the most pop­u­lar prime min­is­ter since the hon­ey­moon­ing Rudd but, even then, we see how things started to go wrong. His de­ci­sion to act on the ad­vice of Fi­nance Min­is­ter Mathias Cor­mann to go to a dou­ble-dis­so­lu­tion elec­tion in July was prob­a­bly the cru­cial er­ror of judg­ment. But van Onse­len and Er­ring­ton sug­gest the com­pany Turn­bull keeps con­tin­ues to let him down. He has been more con­sul­ta­tive and less con­de­scend­ing to his col­leagues. His po­lit­i­cal judg­ment, though, re­mains flawed, and what ad­vice he is get­ting doesn’t seem to be im­prov­ing mat­ters. A dou­ble dis­so­lu­tion elec­tion with an in­ter­minable cam­paign was a poor de­ci­sion. Go­ing early would have been fine; go­ing late would have been fine; the long cam­paign made the mid­dle op­tion the worst op­tion. This is one mo­ment where Turn­bull’s in­stincts for a late elec­tion would have served him bet­ter than con­sult­ing with his team.

It’s one of the para­doxes of the Turn­bull govern­ment that this leader, no­to­ri­ous for his ver­tig­i­nous self-con­fi­dence and nasty tem­per, has been weak­ened by his ap­par­ent at­tempts to change, to in­clude peo­ple more in his de­ci­sion­mak­ing. The reader fin­ishes this book with a clearer idea of why that li­on­ess of a chief of staff Peta Credlin tried to keep these char­ac­ters out

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