All the Prime Minister's men

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A six to eight per cent swing in the North Sydney by-election is now inevitable as Brough, Pyne and Roy smirch the Turnbull Government with their "Ashbygate" involvement, says Bob Ellis.

BY A COINCIDENCE, I saw again last week, the Alan J Pakula film on the Watergate scandalAll The President’s Men.

There was a line in it about "these guys in the White House" being

"...nowhere near as smart as they’re supposed to be."

And I was reminded of this yesterday, when Mal Brough said, "No", in reply to a question to which he’d previously said, "Yes", on 60 Minutes. These guys in the Liberal Party are nowhere near as smart as they’re supposed to be, I thought — nowhere near.

One of them, Malcolm Turnbull, I’ve known for 42 years and he isn’t, in my view, that smart either. And he’s lately, not for the first time, in a fix of his own making.

By appointing his vulpine co-conspirator Brough to an "integrity" position, he’s endangered not just Brough, Wyatt Roy and Christopher Pyne but, in the long run, himself and his government.

He seems no longer – after this week – a calm, cleanskin, wise and thoughtful world statesman but the sleekly smirking rich mentor of some grimy, conniving provincial crooks.

What dare he do now? Standing Brough aside, as most of the pundits say he must, will put Pyne and Roy in the cross-hairs of history over Christmas. And Pyne thus pinioned, will grow spenetic and vengeful if he, too, is made to stand aside — which will happen if James Ashby fingers him as a late-night co-colluder in the framing, with sexual menace, of Peter Slipper, the second highest official in the land.

One way or another, these wriggling grubs will smirch Turnbull and his own tax-dodging in the Caymans, and the memory of "Utegate" and Godwin Grech will, once remembered, smirch him further.

A six or eight per cent swing against the Liberals on Saturday in the North Sydney by-election, is now inevitable. And this, if duplicated nationwide, would give Labor a majority of 20 or 40 seats.

Is the Turnbull honeymoon now defunct? It’s possible. Is the Coalition vote now 48 or 49? It’s possible.

And we will see what we shall see.

More of John Graham's artwork can be found for purchase on the IA store. You can also follow him on Facebook: John Graham Cartoons & Caricatures or on Twitter@JohnGrahamArt.

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