JOHN MENADUE. Prime Minister Trumpbull.

The styles of Donald Trump and Malcolm Turnbull may vary but on many important issues the substance is similar. 

Neither are business people in the traditional sense.  Donald Trump is a real estate speculator and Malcolm Turnbull is an investment banker.  If Malcolm Turnbull had a serious and successful business background, we would not have the fifth-rate NBN that he is responsible for. The NBN is probably the most disastrous infrastructure project in our history. No business person worth the name would have got us into this mess.

On climate change, they now have very similar views.  Despite what we thought were Malcolm Turnbull’s views on climate change he has turned out to be very flexible. He is now joined at the hip with Donald Trump as a climate sceptic.  Both of them are committed to underwriting and even subsidising coal-powered electricity generation . By failing to address climate change they are both imperilling our  planet. It is as serious as that

Both Turnbull and Trump are committed to the ‘trickle down’ approach of large corporate tax reductions that it is claimed will promote jobs and growth. Trump has put his company tax cuts in place, but Turnbull is struggling to get parliamentary approval.  But both Trump and Turnbull believe that substantial tax cuts for wealthy companies is good policy.

Both Trump and Turnbull also believe that tax cuts should favour  wealthy individual taxpayers despite all the global signs that it is bad for the economy and adds to inequality. Turnbull’s dismantling of our progressive tax system will add to inequality. People who live in harbour side mansions or grandiose hotel complexes just don’t get it.

Donald Trump both preaches and practices protection for industry as shown in his tariff increases.  Malcolm Turnbull preaches free trade but in practice, he is also protectionist.  As a result of his government’s policies we now have a 300% rate of protection for our ship-building industry in South Australia, a $12b annual subsidy for Private Health Insurance and an effective ban on imports of second hand cars.

Both Malcolm Turnbull and Donald Trump go out of their way to accommodate influential media companies.  Donald Trump has very close relations with Fox News in the US. It is his media base.  In Australia the Channel 9 takeover of Fairfax could not have occurred if the Turnbull government had not removed the restrictions on cross-media ownership laws last year.  In defending these changes in the law in support of the Channel 9 takeover, Malcolm Turnbull told us ‘all the media companies strongly support these [new] laws’.  This is no surprise . Turnbull used to work for Channel 9.  Turnbull  mimics Trump in wanting  to oblige particular media  and especially the Murdoch media .

Donald Trump rails against ‘false media’.  Malcolm Turnbull does it differently.  He attempts to intimidate the ABC and cut its funding to bring it into line.

Donald Trump is direct and racist in attacking Muslims, refugees and Mexicans coming across the border.  Malcolm Turnbull is more careful but his intent is the same.  Asked about ‘African gangs’ in Melbourne, Malcolm Turnbull gave us the typical dog-whistling approach.  He said ‘Well I’ve heard about [these gangs] from people in Melbourne … Well, I’ve heard it.  I’ve heard people, colleagues from Melbourne say that there is real anxiety about crime in Melbourne.  It is a real issue.’  Donald Trump would have put it more directly, but the result is the same. Both appeal to racism.

On foreign policy and defence issues, Malcolm Turnbull has quite deliberately linked himself and his government to Trump policies.

Malcolm Turnbull and Donald Trump have a lot in common.  The language may be different but the substance is very similar.

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7 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. Prime Minister Trumpbull.

  1. Joanne Horniman. says:

    And of course, there the famous assessment by Jim McLelland, made when the turd was still quite young, and which cannot be repeated often enough.
    “He’s a turd. He’s easy to loathe, he’s a shit, he’d devour anyone for breakfast, he’s on the make, he’s cynical, he’s offensive smug.”

    This is our self-assessed strong leader. I don’t think I’ve ever loathed a politician more. And no, I wasn’t one of those who became disappointed in him, thinking that he was different. But he has exceeded my expectations.

  2. Kien Choong says:

    My subjective impression is that Mr Turnbull has lost his courage to think independently, whereas Mr Trump is unafraid to think independently, even unconventionally (e.g. on Russia, immigration, trade, climate change) but we do not like his goals. So perhaps there is a difference there? (Just thinking aloud.)

  3. Andrew Farran says:

    Quite so. Riding the bull is very apt. Just hanging on whichever way the bull takes you.
    If Thrnbull had ever shown a modicum of statesmanship, things might have been different? Today he has abandoned climate change.

  4. Peter Sainsbury says:

    Except RNE, as I understand it, lawyers are not meant to knowingly mislead the court. I think a strong case can be made that on several occasions Turnbull has knowingly said things he knows to be untrue but have suited him politically at the time.
    Thanks, John, for those very useful and apt comparisons of Turnbull and Trump. For me, Turnbull’s principal failure as PM has been a moral failure. He is not a climate sceptic – he does understand the reality of climate change and what is needed to combat it and yet he has chosen to betray that knowledge and his previous solid commitment to meaningful action. He is a liberal (small l, true sense of the word) and a republican and yet he has chosen to betray those positions and his fellow citizens on many Indigenous and multicultural issues, most notably his shocking response to the Uluru Statement from the Heart, his support for the ongoing Northern Territory Intervention, and his demonization of certain migrant groups in Australia. The outrage he and his colleagues demonstrated earlier this week was nothing but hypocrisy. They have tilled the ground well for blatant racists to make divisive speeches and acts inside and outside parliament. And his treatment of refugees in offshore detention centres shows a complete lack of concern for fellow human beings. Politics and public policy require compromises – we all accept that. But in making compromises one does not have to move in with ones opponents and start singing their songs. This is what Turnbull has done. He has let down Australia and Australians. These are moral failures before they are policy failures and Turnbull will be remembered first and foremost for his many moral failings.

    • I strongly agree: the failure is a moral one – and all the more tragic for that. (John is absolutely right though in his column above that Turnbull is no business whizz – the irrationality of all their so-called economic policies could be proven in minutes on the back of a single envelope.)
      My sense is that Trump is actually clinically and also intellectually incapable of thinking through the consequences of anything he says or does. For him it appears to be all about his own frantic impulsivity and extreme narcissism. The tragedy there is the support that allows such pathological behaviours to flourish in the White House. With Turnbull, the tragedy is more personal. He surely could know better? He surely could have chosen to lead with some principles, but self-evidently has instead raced towards the path of appeasement and total loss of moral compass in order to…what? Saving his own skin? How fruitless that is. All he has done is given greater permission to a few ancient fantatics on the right flank of his party to destroy him. He’ll go down, but without dignity. And not because he fought for anything worth saving.
      This looks like being another win for the very worst elements in Australian politics. Actually, it’s a no-win – especially for this country and its people. My hope is that the LNP will be voted out at the next and many subsequent elections; they do not represent the Australia we have long been. However, even in opposition, they need to think beyond the politics of fear, divisiveness and destruction – and there are few signs they can do that.

  5. Kim Wingerei says:

    The irony of the NBN is that Turnbull made his fortune from Ozemail; an innovative and entrepreneurial company that successfully challenged a stale Telstra. During his time as Communications Minister he had a good network of Telco industry experts and even listened to some of them. When he became Prime Minister he dismissed all of it and offered himself up on the altar of political expediency.

  6. R. N. England says:

    Turnbull is a lawyer, trained to push the truth aside and argue whatever brief his clients demand. He has adapted this tradition to his present job of bull-riding the Liberal Party. There is no hope of guiding it anywhere. Staying on it is everything.

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