By Andrew Bolt ~
I hope that Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull watched President Donald Trump on TV last weekend. He would have seen real leadership.
The Prime Minister could then have learned a lesson before it’s too late — if it isn’t too late already.
Turnbull would have seen Trump end his first hectic week as U.S. President with yet another round of executive orders, not just on the economy and trade, but on suspending immigration from seven troubled Middle Eastern and African nations and building his Mexican border wall.
What has Turnbull done in his 16 aimless months to match what Trump has done in one week?
But the lessons didn’t end there.
Turnbull would also have seen what a truly agile PM could do to cash in on the explosive Trump factor. In Washington on Saturday, British PM Theresa May gave a masterclass in nimble leadership.
May had defied her own media class — as determined as our own to portray Trump as a fascist — to fly over to get matey with the new President. And get a deal.
May did not harp on their differences, and agreed with Trump’s demand that other Western nations pay more to defend themselves rather than leaving the bill with the US.
She also made important common cause with Trump on a mission to resist the “eclipse of the West” by China, India and Russia. Yes, Russia.
Trump the billionaire understands deals, and gratefully gave May a beauty to repay her.
He backed her on Britain leaving the European Union, and let her seem to persuade him to support the NATO defence alliance which he’s attacked for bludging off the US.
Trump made May look like a tough world leader of great influence. Britain is back on the top table.
Now contrast May’s performance with Turnbull’s. Turnbull hasn’t merely failed to exploit the Trump revolution. He seems instead to resist it — even deny it.
When Trump won, our allegedly conservative PM looked shocked, even calling a press conference to reassure Australians he said had reacted with “awe and consternation” to a result he clearly hated.
His denialism since has been comic. When Trump said he’d take the US out of the Paris agreement to cut emissions, Turnbull promptly ratified this now dead-duck deal, which commits us to useless sacrifices not matched now by any of the world’s biggest emitters.
When Trump last week pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Turnbull suggested communist China could take America’s place — a harebrained idea promptly dismissed by Japan.
When Trump last week ordered a temporary ban on refugees from the Middle East, to keep the US safe from terrorism, Turnbull was nearly caught out again.
He insisted his people-swap deal with former president Barack Obama would still go ahead, with the US taking our own Middle Eastern boat people on Manus Island and Nauru in apparent exchange for “refugees” from Costa Rica.
“I am confident we will maintain the arrangements we have entered into with the previous administration,” he said — but only after a conversation with Trump yesterday did he get any assurance that some of our boat people could still be accepted.
Turnbull’s trouble is that his low-energy and low-imagination response to Trump is a perfect example of his wider leadership failures. He lost yet another minister when Sussan Ley had to quit this month over her expenses.
Meanwhile, gross debt is soaring towards $500 billion, and business leaders are publicly panicking that the government is doing little to reform the economy.
And the polls keep sliding.
Turnbull’s authority is now so shot that Senator Cory Bernardi, the high-profile conservative Liberal, is almost certain to soon quit the party and start his own.
And former prime minister Tony Abbott has all but declared open war on Turnbull, publicly telling him last week “not just to talk about agility but actually to be agile”.
True. Turnbull is flat-footed, and no one has exposed that so brutally as Trump. Did Turnbull watch TV last weekend? If he didn’t tune in and learn, his last hope is gone.
Andrew Bolt writes for the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, and The Advertiser and runs Australia’s most-read political blog. On week nights he hosts The Bolt Report on Sky News at 7pm and his Macquarie Radio show at 8pm with Steve Price.