Turnbull – the contrarian indicator!

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Turnbull is a contrarian indicator. We were joking in the car this morning that in finance, such people were worth keeping such that their uncanny ability to call almost everything wrong proved an asset to clients who could take the opposite trade. Sadly in politics, bad decisions are just bad decisions and the consequences can end up dire.

PM Turnbull seems to have no judgement whatsoever and if he lasts 12 months in the top job I’d be surprised. When this detention centre scandal broke out in the Northern Territory last week, Turnbull decided to be decisive in part to fend off justified criticism of dithering. Without consulting his Consigliere who heads the Indigenous Advisory Council, Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO, Turnbull called a Royal Commission (RC) which was not what his advisor would have suggested had he been called upon. Without garnering all the facts he moved on a RC and appointed a Brian Martin AO to head it. Not one week later Martin has had to resign due to conflicts of interest.

You can’t make this stuff up. Why does Turnbull staff himself with the largest cabinet since the Whitlam era if he has no intention of seeking their advice? One answer is to protect his flank by having the taxpayers fund higher salaries to more of his party supporters by awarding ministries. The Rudd debacle once again shows his duplicity and the loss of another seat (Herbert) undermines Turnbull further. Yet he won’t acknowledge it. He knows best in his mind.

When I look abroad, I recall my visit to senior politicians in Japan who were utterly dismayed by the decision to axe Abbott, a PM who did more to restore Aussi-Japanese relations in almost half a century.

One wonders whether the Japanese subs deal was ditched for fear of having it look like another Abbott policy so he could appear in control. All Turnbull did was endanger a nation. A French submarine only in the design phase with no sea trials experience. The Japanese subs are already regarded as some of the best in class for their type and already operational not to mention the ability to encourage defence trials in Asia with an important neighbor. Fighting capability with allies is growing in relevance. Also upgrades to the Japanese  Soryu subs would be fitted to new and retrofitted to commissioned boats. So easy. Defence projects can’t be an old design stuck on a photocopier and zoomed 141% and expect the same dynamics. All the stealth characteristics change.

In my years of covering defence as an analyst I can’t count the plethora of programs that never saw the light of day because of cost overruns, delays, design flaws or obsolescence. The French have had their share of materiel failures. The deck of the carrier Charles de Gaulle was too short to fly or land the E2-C Hawkeye aircraft. It had to be extended. It was also  5 years late into service. So while we are expected to get our last sub in 2067 it might be 2072 or later. Utterly pointless. The Japanese could have sorted out subs hole by 2020 and they were happy to support local production not to mention training facilities after the first few were delivered.

The level of incompetence is exposed everyday. I have argued Turnbull is just like David Brent from The Office. A boss so out of touch with the people, his people and never seemingly able to come out with outcomes where people from every walk of life can say – “nailed it”. The only thing he seems to be nailing since he took over  is the nation’s and his own coffin.

I honestly hoped government incompetence had ended during the Rudd/Gillard years. Sadly it remains cloaked in an expensive suit.

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