CRIME CULTURE: The former prime minister’s memoirs do stack up against the better political biographies in a torrid field but it shows a man forlornly in love with himself while ignoring the many calamities around him, writes Gary Johnston.
“After swimming at Bondi – which was a working class area then — honest – Malcolm, as I always referred to myself, repaired to my Vaucluse Mansion, the one I’d bought for a song when I was no more than a super confident, somewhat smug, but still much cleverer than you, boy of 12 short summers.
Luxuriating in the spa, happy in the knowledge I owned the most wonderful wife and family in the history of civilisation, I decided to broker a multi billion junk bond scheme using my innate skills of chicanry, double-dealing, sleight of hand and smarmy intelligence.
I had great chums back then: merchant bankers, investment fund executives, media moguls, potentates, drunks, drug addicts, philanderers; and many others who weren’t Kerry Packer.
Me, Malcolm, I, had the world at my feet.
As I studied an amazingly lifelike self portrait, I’d painted when I was no more than a foetus of 3 short months, I wanked myself into a self-satisfied frenzy.
Whatever happens, I panted, ‘I know I’ll always be rich.'”
Malcolm loves money, that’s a given. But He loves himself far more.
Before he talks about his political career, and how everyone either feared him, was jealous of his wealth, was intimated by his genius or just knew instinctively that he was far superior than any of them, Malcolm uses A Bigger Picture to build a bigger picture of himself he doesn’t seem to realise everyone in Australia already recognises.
He’s rich. He’s clever. He’s entrepreneurial.
Well, we already knew all that, Malcolm.
He loves himself.
Yes, we knew that, too.
What we didn’t know – but he tells us anyway – is He’s scrupulously honest, ethically pure, consider his word his bond, insists his foray into politics wasn’t for the sake of his ego but due to a self-stated fact that he intrinsically knows what would be good for us.
After all, He believes in a republic. He’s convinced by climate change. He strives for an equitable society. He’s one of us.
So, you might ask, what the fuck was he doing in the Liberal Party?
It’s not like He likes any of the big names any more than you or I do.
He despises them to another level altogether.
Tony Abbott? Mad as a meat axe and a drunk to boot.
Scott Morrison? A shifty, double dealing hypocrite who couldn’t lie straight in bed.
Peter Dutton. A neo-fascist who doesn’t believe in the rule of law.
Matthias Cormman? A back stabbing charlatan.
Believe me, Malcolm doesn’t hate the Labor Party half as much.
Though, heaven forfend he rates them in any way equal.
Julia Gillard he utterly patronises, writing her off as not being up to the job, sneakily commenting on her ‘pear shape figure’ and the size of her arse whilst at the same time self-righteously purporting to be highly supportive of a rise in the number of female politicians.
(Maybe they’re not keen because they don’t want blokes talking like you about what they look like, Mal.)
WATCH MALCOLM TELL YOU JUST HOW GREAT HE WAS (VIDEO: ABC TV)
Bill Shorten? Well, he was a non-entity. That’s probably true but He tells us anyway.
Kevin Rudd, he actually doesn’t mind because, as he says, “he’s clever” though obviously not as clever as Malcolm himself.
But then who is?
Of course we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, this is a man whose unauthorised biography was called Born to Rule.
It might not have been authorised but Malcolm definitely likes the title.
A Bigger Picture is described in its own blurb as: “exceptionally candid and compelling … the definitive narrative of Malcolm Turnbull’s prime ministership …how he legalised same-sex marriage, established Snowy Hydro 2.0, stood up to Donald Trump, rebooted Australia’s defence industry and…”
Malcolm might not have written the blurb himself though I’ve a strong feeling he did.
Okay, maybe we’ll give Malcolm just-pass marks on same-sex marriage, even though he publicly lobbied for a conscience vote in federal parliament for years and then when he was PM caved into the hypocritical right-wing nut jobs within his party like Dutton, Abbott and Barnaby and instead first offered some weird plebiscite obstacle which was smashed to smithereens by the voting public.
But same-sex marriage would have happened anyway and in fact should have happened much sooner and would have done, if it wasn’t for narrow-minded bigots like John Howard, the man who when not praising convicted paedophiles, incidentally, singlehandedly torpedoed the republican debate; amazingly, Malcolm recalls the old fraud and dessicated cocunut with real affection.
Oh, and of course Mal doesn’t claim to have fixed, or even considered, come to that, other pressing issues of national concern: the massive and shameful over-representation of Indigenous people in the criminal justice system, the absurd drug laws which ignore both logic and concern, the illegal detention of asylum-seekers and the growing disparity between the rich and poor, to mention only a few.
Maybe that last point is unfair.
Malcolm does talk about wealth. Endlessly.
A $10 million deal here, a nice little $5m tickle there, without ever once conceding the point that capitalism, the system he loves nearly as much as he loves his own shadow, is directly and unquestionably responsible for the fact that national, if not global poverty is probably the real Bigger Picture.
Though obviously, not for Mal.
As far as He’s concerned, The Bigger Picture is himself.
And if wasn’t for all those bastards, who he knew were bastards, that we all knew were bastards, he would still be doing us a great favour as our beloved Prime Minister, today.
You unlucky people, he tells us. ‘You could have had me’.
The Bigger Picture? Eminently readable and worthwhile, if only for the fact it kicks Tony Abbott well and truly in the guts, it’s essentially a 800-page billet-doux.
In fact, the first page dedication should read: ‘To Malcolm. Ever yours. With love x x x’.
“Now, back into the spa … Lucy, darling, where’s my self-portrait …?“