Malcolm offers Valium for our post Abbott stress

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The Malcolm Turnbull leadership swap is revealing itself to be no makeover; but more of a thinly disguised combover, writes Lyn Bender.

Malcolm Turnbull is basking in the temporary glory of not being Tony Abbott.

He has seized this accolade from Bill Shorten, the Opposition leader, who until now had to do nothing much to get a rise in the polls — except not be Tony Abbott.

Now, Malcolm is soaring as preferred prime minister.

But the proclaimed transformation of the Liberal leadership, is as bona fide as the marketing of low tar, low nicotine cigarettes. The cancerous policies remain.

Throughout the land, gladness and cheering has greeted Abbott’s deposition.

Tim Dunlop in The Drum pronounced this as

'... the post traumatic moment in Australian politics.'

Abbott was so traumatising, immature, abusive, insensitive and gaffe prone, that less shrill Malcolm looks and sounds amazing — in contrast.

But the Malcolm Turnbull leadership swap is revealing itself to be no makeover; but more of a thinly disguised combover.

This may seem to be playing the man not the ball, but there is no alternative as this man is better than Tony Abbott is all that is on offer.

Shortly after Malcolm’s triumph, Attorney-General Senator George Brandis on ABC 7.30  praised Turnbull as “a great persuader” who was able to win the election and defeat Bill Shorten. There was to be no change in policies.

On ABC Radio National, Brandis again sang Turnbull's praises:

“The fact is that we have in the new Prime Minister, Mr Turnbull, a person who has in my opinion far and away the best mind of anybody in this Parliament by a very long measure; somebody who, as I said before, is a superb persuader, somebody who in my view will be able to explain the economic narrative in particular and bring the country with him.”

This "renaissance man" PM is, apparently:

Highly intelligent

John Howard has praised Prime Minister Turnbull as “highly intelligent” and economically eloquent.

A handsome and sexy chick magnet

Turnbull has been dubbed Australia’s sexiest politician, and called handsome and good looking. Really?

Agile optimistic and so 21st century

He has vowed to consult, to display “emotional intelligence” and to understand the common people - as he rides the trains – despite his immense wealth.
A brilliant economic mind and businessman extraordinaire.

The business sector is reportedly delighted at Malcolm’s appointment. The National Broadband Network cost blowout mess under Malcolm as communications minister seems all but forgotten.

A sensitive new age man

Malcolm expressed sincere sadness regarding his grief for his father on Australian Story.

My god, a man who cries! Malcolm has more than doubled the women in cabinet from a puny two to a slightly less puny five.

Everybody loves unifying Malcolm

Except his own party, who laughed and jeered at his recent address.

But we need more than Mr Nice Guy for the climate emergency; 2014 was the hottest year on record.

But Malcolm continues to justify the hopeless and destructive climate policies established under the Abbott Government. Malcolm is the new old disaster. His agenda is to rebadge and sell the Coalition’s old agenda, and above all to win votes for the next election. His KPIs (key performance indicators) for those who backed him will be polls and votes and keeping backers policies. Meanwhile, the polls are surging in his favour.

However, Malcolm’s six weeks reign so far has:

  • Retained Peter Dutton as immigration minister and implementer of “harsh” cruel refugee policies. Appointed the Mr Cruel of immigration, Scott Morrison, as treasurer.
  • Endorsed the environmentally incompetent coal mine approving Greg Hunt as environment minister.
  • Is bringing woefully inadequate emissions cuts to the Paris Climate talks.  
  • Regected an open letter from scientists and well-known respected Australians to place a moratorium on coal.
  • Appointed new chief scientist, entrepreneur, neuroscientist Alan Finkel, who supports coal seam gas as safe and advocates nuclear power.
  • Spruiked for a global nuclear dump on Indigenous land in South Australia.

  • Ignored the abuse and neglect of offshore detention, as well as the fate of raped and impregnated Somalian refugee “Abyan”.
  • Endorsed the offshore detention policy and search for new poor countries – like dangerous Kyrgyzstan – in which to dump refugees.
  • Continued the bombing of Syria.
  • Failed to censure backbencher Tony Abbott for his London speech, in which he advocated that Europe adopt his inhumane treatment of refugees.   
  • Rejected the recent Amnesty International report that calls for a Royal Commission into the payment of people smugglers, saying:

"I can assure you that all of our agencies take great care to operate within the law. They operate within the law keeping our borders secure. We are quite satisfied that our agencies are operating within the law."

The psychology of the New Malcolm Syndrome

1. The repetition of abuse.

When an individual or group has been abused they inflate the positive contrast of a successor. Relieved to be treated with a modicum of kindness, the victims turn to anyone who, hopefull seems less abusive.

In Charles Dickens 19th Century novel, Oliver Twist easily falls prey to the villainous abuser Fagin after the horror of the poor house.

If Abbott was a Fagin, Turnbull is the artful dodger, picking us off stealthily. Turnbull does not inflame with anti-Muslim rhetoric, or invoke terror and fearful imagery. He implies that a new day is dawning. Everything will be all right. After the ebullient, fear arousing former pugilist, his successor is a relief. He dances verbosely around things like real action on climate, or repudiation of cruel refugee policies; but he makes us feel less aroused. We are becoming lulled once more. No longer harassed with stress hormone inducing regular terror announcements, we have been tranquilized.

After the daily dose of methamphetamine pumped into our cultural environment by Tony, we gratefully ingest Malcolm’s Valium. This new father figure is soothing and calming. The slow drone and espousing of motherhood ideology is pleasantly soporific by comparison to “the death cult is coming” screeching of his predecessor.

2. Countertransference

Freud proposed that emotions and responses – countertransference – aroused in the therapist by the client are revelatory. The impact of the client’s monologue may convey unconscious truths. Tony Abbott provoked rage, which was diagnostic of his – obvious – violence. He was perpetually provoking.

The fighter made us fight him.

By contrast, Malcolm induces slumber. He never gets to the point, making statements with qualifying, reducing, whimsical shrugs and provisos. He expounds simple inchoate ideas with profuse words. He pontificates and drones on. He skirts around issues, avoiding conflict, while smugly boring us into submission.

We are being sung a shallow lullaby while the earth is cooking, as Pacific Islands sink and refugees are tortured.

Mean, bad, Tony Abbott shouted his agenda. Nice Daddy Turnbull dissembles. Some NGO’s the media and environmentalists are tiptoeing around him in the hope that he might make some positive changes.

Don't hold your breath!

Forget that Malcolm used to say the Abbott climate change policy was “bullshit”. He currently has amnesia.

Protest! People’s Climate March, November 27thto 29th.

Lyn Bender is a professional psychologist. You can follow Lyn on Twitter @Lynestel.

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