Malcolm Turnbull has heaped praise on the Liberal rebel Julia Banks, who hopes to replace Greg Hunt. Picture: AAP
Malcolm Turnbull has heaped praise on the Liberal rebel Julia Banks, who hopes to replace Greg Hunt. Picture: AAP

Turnbull takes fresh swipe at enemies

ANALYSIS

Malcolm Turnbull has once again made it brutally clear that whatever his capacity for forgiveness, he is determined to not always remember kindly.

And Health Minister Greg Hunt now knows this better than most.

In brief but enthusiastic remarks made by Mr Turnbull today, the former PM indicated his forthcoming memoir - which he is now writing - will deal with more than his love for his Snowy 2.0 project.

He is expected to name and shame the knifers who brought an end to his leadership.

In Melbourne, Mr Turnbull took some of the blame for not calling a banking Royal Commission earlier than he did, and sheltered Scott Morrison, who replaced him, from major blame.

"I think we should have got on with it earlier," Mr Turnbull told reporters.

But it was his take on Liberal rebel Julia Banks that was most telling. Ms Banks plans to contest the seat of Flinders, held by Greg Hunt, and she was given a stout Turnbull reference for the job.

It should be remembered that Mr Hunt last August moved against Mr Turnbull in the hope of becoming deputy to an elevated Peter Dutton.

"Julia Banks is an outstanding parliamentarian," Mr Turnbull volunteered today, declining to balance his plaudits for Banks with praise for his former colleague.

"She came to parliament with a life of experience as a lawyer in the business world. She is really an outstanding representative. She's explained why she left the Liberal party and she's done so in her own words and I respect the decision she's taken.

"I believe that the people of Flinders will have a very stimulating contest between her and Greg Hunt and no doubt the other candidates."

 

Malcolm Turnbull was noticeably silent about Peter Dutton backer Greg Hunt. Picture: AAP
Malcolm Turnbull was noticeably silent about Peter Dutton backer Greg Hunt. Picture: AAP

 

Julia Banks will run against former Liberal colleague Greg Hunt. Picture: Kym Smith
Julia Banks will run against former Liberal colleague Greg Hunt. Picture: Kym Smith

 

That's one around the ears for Mr Hunt. What's in store for leadership coup instigator Mr Dutton?

In late December, Mr Dutton popped up with what at the time seemed to be a gratuitous shellacking of the man he couldn't replace as leader, which some saw as a bid to divert attention from the government's unhappy struggles at the time.

"Malcolm had a plan to become prime minister but no plan to be prime minister," Mr Dutton told his hometown newspaper, Brisbane's The Sunday Mail.

The flattery-free evaluation rolled on.

"Malcolm was strong on economic management, borders and national security, but Malcolm will trash his own legacy if he believes his position is strengthened by seeing us lose under Scott [Morrison].

"Walking away from [his former seat of] Wentworth and not working to have [Liberal by-election candidate] Dave Sharma elected was worse than any behavior we saw even under [former Labor prime minister Kevin] Rudd.

 

Peter Dutton, who led the ousting of Malcolm Turnbull, can expect to be lashed in the former PM’s upcoming memoir. Picture: AAP
Peter Dutton, who led the ousting of Malcolm Turnbull, can expect to be lashed in the former PM’s upcoming memoir. Picture: AAP

"We went from three-word slogans under Tony [Abbott] to 3000 under Malcolm and our achievements weren't effectively communicated as a result."

You don't prod Malcolm Turnbull without him jabbing a finger back.
And as Mr Dutton has indicated, his response will not be a three-word slogan, it will be somewhere within 30,000 words, all carefully crafted in what promises to be an explosive book.

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