What does former CPC General Secretary Hu Jintao think of the new Anglo-Nuclear Alliance? How does Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s unprecedented Vice President Vladimir Putin, feel about his successor’s efforts to tackle climate change? We will never know the answers to these questions. Both men have so far escaped the fate that traditionally befalls people unfit in their homelands; If they become vocal they will quickly disappear.
This was not the case for previous Australian prime ministers. As much as the guy currently on the job might wish he could take them to labor camps, the former teams are here to stay. Former prime ministers Paul Keating, Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull have become a kind of Greek chorus warning the public of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s failings. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott is less publicly critical, but his comments are likely to have a greater impact on Morrison’s fortunes.
Australia has a surplus of former prime ministers. This is partly due to our democratic system in which the past is always with us – heavily revised, but without awkwardness. In part, it’s the result of holding long knives. When the deputies realized that the premiership was technically the gift of the party room, they again and again emphatically re-established it. Without restating the past – we’ll leave that to previous prime ministers – we have an embarrassment to prime ministers who are embarrassed by the current one.
And former prime ministers Keating, Rudd and Turnbull are particularly angry. Keating, with a good dose of utopia that made him so beloved in the Wharf Review and so unpopular among the unwashed greats, Prime Minister Scott Morrison scornfully describes him as “the prophet of the Shire.” The Prophet failed to estimate our geostrategic position with the same accuracy as Oracle from Potts Point.
Meanwhile, Turnbull and Rodd have taken their frustration with Morrison one step further and decided to pursue the slump where they feel he is lacking. Rudd got the blow, as he likes to call it, to the head of Pfizer after “entrepreneurs” turned to him to speed up the supply of the next COVID-19 vaccine into the country. In fact, Australia received more doses from Pfizer, although there is still disagreement as to whether this is a result of Ruddish puffing. The Brisbane lover is sometimes accused of hiding his makeup behind a light.
Malcolm Turnbull is now also planning an international intervention. He is scheduled to take part in COP26, the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties on Climate Change in Glasgow this year. Turnbull, who is genuine in his climate concern and has repeatedly put his political destiny, including once and for all, on the line, will save carbon by pooling private jets with mining magnate Andrew Twiggy Forrest.
The former prime minister’s appearance at COP26 will help highlight the current prime minister’s absence, should Morrison choose not to attend. This puts Morrison in a bind. It recently confirmed its commitment to target net zero emissions. If he’s absent now, it seems inevitable that Turnbull will make his thoughts on Morrison’s lack of sincerity about the 2050 goal clear for the combined company. There will be headlines that will frighten Australians who fear losing face among their global peers, driving them into the arms of small climate-focused parties or even Labour.
Conversely, if Morrison made a last-minute decision to attend the convention, then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott would stay at home, and his blame would resonate with the conservative wing of the Liberal Party that is already turning all eyes on the freedom-friendly Liberals. Democrats or one nation focus on culture. This week Abbott concluded an opinion piece that set the election agenda that he believed Morrison could win by saying he hoped “To come from a former prime minister does not make it difficult to adopt.” This is a smart point. Abbott’s delivery is set to rally the Conservatives to whoever will present his ideas in the next election, while Turnbull’s planned trip has already backfired by turning coalition supporters back toward Morrison.