Jerusalem: a shemozzle

July 4, 2019 by Henry Benjamin
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Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has spoken about events which lead to his downfall at a function organised by the Wolper Jewish Hospital in Sydney.

John Mangos and Malcolm Turnbull

At the historical Swifts residence in Darling Point, it was standing room only.

In a frank conversation with journalist John Mangos, Malcolm Turnbull recalled the turbulent months before the spill which produced Scott Morrison as Prime Minister.

He said that “the fundamental problem that I faced was there was a group of people regrettably in the government who wanted to destroy me”.

He compared them with terrorists. He explained: “The technique of the terrorists is to say ‘if you don’t do what we want we will blow up another café, bus, bridge, building whatever…’. It is a form of intimidation.”

Malcolm Turnbull said the group was prepared to blow the government up saying that it was one thing having to deal with the Opposition in Parliament it had to deal with opposition within his own Liberal party.

He said that on the Tuesday of the coup when Dutton emerged as an opponent it could have been dealt with and “it should have been the end of the matter.”

Turnbull continued: “But on Wednesday, to his eternal shame, Mathias Cormann who had pledged his loyalty to me breathed life into a coup which had been basically deflated.”

He described the coup as having “so much treachery and so much destructiveness.”

He described how Cormann had sat in his office saying he should have handed the Government over to Peter Dutton.

Turnbull recalled: “This is madness. And he said ‘I know it’s madness’. I said this is terrorism. And he replied ‘I know it is terrorism’. He said I had to give in to terrorism.”

Malcolm Turnbull went on to say that “journalists in Australia have a problem. They record politics like a game. The real question is why did the Minister for Home Affairs conspire with other members in the government to overthrow the government of Australia.

When asked if there was truth in the story that Malcolm Turnbull had offered deputy leadership to Peter Dutton, Turnbull responded: “It is a complete lie.” He explained that Dutton was interested in it but it not the Prime Minister’s responsibility to choose the deputy. It is the duty of the membership.

Talking about the Wentworth by-election, Turnbull emphasised he did privately support Dave Sharma but he publicly stuck by his statement that he was now out of politics. He added that before the by-election”the government did a number of crazy things in the last week” citing the abandoning of a Snowy scheme and talk of coal-fired power station in the strong talk of climate change.

Then he spoke about moving the Australian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. He said: “Whatever your views or the merits of that I thought the timing of that was calculated to lose support.”

He added: “It was crazy. It showed a complete misunderstanding of the Jewish community. It was patronising and showed insensitivity Irrespective of the timing, it was a dumb thing.

It was a shemozzle, but nothing will be done about it.”

Wolper president Daniel Goulburn announced the hospital is donating much needed two-way communication equipment to Hatzolah, the Jewish first responder organisation.

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