Malcolm Turnbull is set to make a stunning return to federal politics and could very well be Prime Minister again by mid-May.
The Bug can reveal in this world exclusive that this almost unbelievable scenario is the brainchild of Australian Labor Party back room heavyweights from the party’s NSW Right faction who have hatched a cunning plan to return Turnbull to The Lodge – this time as a Labor Party PM!
The plan is expected to unfold in coming months as follows:
1. Turnbull resigns just before he can be expelled from the Liberal Party and joins the ALP.
2. The NSW Labor Party parachutes Turnbull into the supposedly safe Liberal seat of Cook on the Cronulla Peninsula, now held by current PM Scott Morrison.
3. Struggling current Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will spearhead the looming campaign as a sitting MP but has agreed under pressure from his party to immediately stand aside if Turnbull takes Cook and Labor wins the election.
An ALP insider told The Bug: “After more than five years as party leader who’s seen off two Liberal PMs and with a healthy two-party lead in the polls, Bill is naturally disappointed it’s had to turn out this way.
“Bill’s worked his heart out but he accepts he’s got the charisma of a cane toad squashed on a country road.
“He would have made a fine PM but people have just never seen him that way.
“On the other hand, Malcolm ticks just about every box in what the public thinks a PM should look and act like, even though he was an absolute fucking disaster in the role.
“Go figure. It’s that undefinable mystery factor X we talk about.”
Mr Shorten told The Bug he was disappointed with the party’s plan and said the prime ministership would have been his for the taking.
But under questioning he also admitted community apprehension about his character and sincerity.
He also admitted that the Coalition’s appalling performance in recent months meant voters were prepared to vote for anyone to replace Scott Morrison, even Jesus himself if he returned to earth in a second coming.
“OK, OK,” Mr Shorten said, “I admit Jehova’s sprog could win this election. But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have a crack at it.
“Did you get that? Do you want me to say it again? It’s a pretty good zinger isn’t it?
“I can say it with a few tears in my eyes if you give me a sec, and an onion.”
While the ALP has started field testing new posters and slogans (pictured) the party insider admitted the Turnbull plan was not without its risks.
“But we think he’ll be fine in the role where he’ll get to espouse policies that he might actually believe in …. for a change.”
Asked why party strategists had not turned to other senior Labor figures, the NSW Right official scoffed: “You’re kidding, right?
“Anthony Albanese is popular across the board, across party lines, across age groups, income levels, and across the city and regional divide.
“Albo would take the party into government in a landslide. We’d be entrenched in office for decades under Albo. But he’s from the party’s Left faction so we automatically excluded him.
“Tony Burke is a fine debater and tactician but with that speech impediment, no-one takes him seriously.
“And Chris Bowen is a nice enough guy but he looks like the love child of US actor David Paymer and Grandpa Munster.
“Seriously, could you see him on TV shaking hands with world leaders?”
Party officials are more excited about the looming clash in the southern Sydney seat of Cook between the current PM and the man whose job he took.
“The Happy Clapper holds Cook with 65.4% of the two-party-preferred vote last time but people are waiting with their cricket bats to give the Libs a thorough bashing next time round,” one official said.
“Add to that the fact that Turnbull is still seething about the way Morrison’s supporters stabbed him in the back and how the Happy Clapper has continually argued he had no blood on his hands and Morrison’s goose is well and truly Cooked!
“It’s going to be a humdinger. Our polling shows Malcolm will win the seat in a canter, even though we know he’s a truly shithouse performer on the hustings and turned out to be a totally fucking useless, direction-less, dithering and at times stuttering and stammering PM as a Liberal. But he always looks good, right? And politics is all about perception.
“We’re working on some campaign slogans already… ‘God versus the God-botherer’…and … ‘The Ire in the Shire’…are just a couple we’re working on.”