18 Nov. 2007

Implosion Week Day One: Malcolm In The Middle

Today's Daily Telegraph front page story:
Civil warfare threatens Liberals

JOHN Howard is battling to contain a Coalition civil war as tense MPs lash out at campaign tactics - and their own colleagues.

As Treasurer Peter Costello today refused to be drawn on his plans to make a bid for the Liberal Party leadership - win or lose this election - several ministers criticised "silly mistakes" made by senior figures, including Health Minister Tony Abbott.

High-profile Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also been singled out, amid concerns he privately has written off the Government's prospects.

Nationals maverick Barnaby Joyce has slammed the Government's campaign as dull, labelling it "dry and complicated", a description backed by some of his colleagues yesterday...

Coalition MPs are frustrated at the performance of senior figures, who they believe are undermining their campaign efforts.

That has spilled over into criticism of senior ministers, including Mr Turnbull, who is battling to retain his marginal seat of Wentworth in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs.

Reports have surfaced of Mr Turnbull being referred to senior Liberal figures following suggestions that he has criticised the Government's campaign.

"Complete and utter rubbish," Mr Turnbull's spokesman told The Daily Telegraph.

But the spate of attacks on Mr Turnbull suggest some in the Coalition are already engaged in post-election manoeuvring for future leadership posts.

"Malcolm's for Malcolm," one of his Cabinet colleagues said.

Another minister summed up a widespread view of Mr Turnbull: "His ambition exceeds the amount of support he's got, by a long way."
Turnbull denies the rumours:
"Those criticisms, so called, are attributed to anonymous sources. You know when journalists attribute things to anonymous sources they are really just relaying gossip," Mr Turnbull told ABC radio on Monday.
Hmmn, but wasn't it Turnbull who recently leaked a story about how he urged Howard to sign Kyoto? And suddenly today, guess what? NSW opposition energy spokesman Peter Debnam says Australia should have signed Kyoto long ago. Who's got yer back, Mal? Pencil Pete in for a Shadow Cabinet post, mate.