Saturday, 20 June 2009

Book Review: Stop at Nothing: The Life and Adventures of Malcolm Turnbull

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To the Liberal Party of John Howard, Malcolm Turnbull is like a handsome stranger who turns up on a cruise boat. He’s charming, He’s witty, he’s erudite, and he’s happy to buy the drinks. So why, oh why do they hang back?
P62.

The above quote demonstrates the current dilemma of Malcolm Turnbull perfectly captured by political journalist Annabel Crabb in the latest volume of the Quarterly Essay. Appropriately titled Stop at Nothing this biographical account essentially argues, (like others before it) that the current Opposition Leader is an egomaniacal control freak whose sole purpose for entering Federal Parliament was to rise to the top job of becoming Prime Minister.

Whilst that may be true of the majority of Federal politicians, no one has gone quite of his way to explicitly demonstrate that more than Turnbull. The essay constantly demonstrates via a number of examples that Malcolm’s primarily concern is Malcolm, even when he his trying to be selfless. Yet, this is not a biased, investigative piece of ‘gotcha journalism’ such as was displayed by Four Corners last year when it did its own profile piece on Turnbull. What’s striking to me is in fact how objective Crabb was when chronicling the life of a thoroughly reprehensible man, who prospered at the University of Sydney, by attending no classes, and instead paying his friend $30 to take notes on his behalf in all of his classes.

Throughout the course of reading the book I asked myself repeatedly, do I want this man to become Prime Minister? The answer each time was a resounding no. There is no doubt that Turnbull is indeed a highly intelligent, well skilled and supremely motivated man. However, during the course of the one hundred pages the reader is left to ask one fundamental question. What does Malcolm Turnbull stand for? The only answer being of course, Malcolm Turnbull.

Even the most objective author can see this is a lasting problem not only for the Liberal Party but for Malcolm Turnbull himself. If the party has a leader that doesn’t believe in anything besides his own progress, then where do the party turn to when crafting policies to win over a jaded electorate? Its no wonder that the Liberal Party remain skeptical of his motives, when he is prepared to jettison their deeply held beliefs for the sake of his own personal progress.

Crabb’s work reminds the reader why the public at large give politicians a bad reputation. Turnbull embodies all that is good and bad about the hastened characterisation. Whether Turnbull is destined to become Prime Minister remains to be seen, but whether he is destined to become a great politician is already known. Vote for Turnbull at your own peril. He is a man that will indeed Stop at Nothing to become Prime Minister, even if it means destroying the Liberal Party in the process.

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