The Bug is proud to have been selected as one of very few outlets around the globe trusted to officially promote former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s latest memoir, A Blank Canvas, before its official launch on Monday.
In this initial extract, Mr Turnbull explains how he handled a sex scandal that threatened to derail his excellent government.
As God’s – and for a short time there Rupert Murdoch’s – gift to 21st Century Australian politics, I was slowly but surely turning the government’s fortunes around in early 2018 by sheer weight of my amazing work ethic, powered by charisma, personality and unbridled leadership skills of what was clearly a fairly mediocre ministry.
You can all understand my chagrin, then, when my insubordinates in the Prime Minister’s Office knocked nervously on my door late one evening to warn me of pending disclosures by the fourth estate of the sordid private life of my deputy prime minister and National Party leader Barnaby Joyce.
I immediately summoned to my PMO suite the Beetrooter as he was affectionately known around the Parliament at the time although that’s a sobriquet I had never warmed to because, quite frankly, I had never seen him sober.
I let him sweat it out in the reception area for a couple of hours to make him appreciate the seriousness of the problem facing both him, and for that matter me, as God’s – and for a short time there Rupert Murdoch’s – gift to 21st century Australian politics.
You’ve got to handle “Barnyard”, as I always preferred to call him, the right way.
He’s a mercurial and temperamental fellow and he can go off like a catharine wheel on a post on Guy Fawkes night.
I’m not sure where the anger comes from. I know he was only ever a chartered accountant so that must be hard thing to live with. And I know he has always struggled financially, making you wonder why anyone would ever go to him for financial advice but there you have it.
As angry as I was, I knew instinctively that nothing good could have come from two senior politicians – one brilliant; the other quite frankly a buffoon – both losing their cool and descending into an ugly shoutfest that would do no-one no good, not the least my current government that was shaping as arguably the best this nation had enjoyed since federation.
“So, what’s this I hear about you slipping young Vicki Campion a length and getting her up the duff,” I asked him the moment I beckoned him into my inner sanctum and made him stand at attention in front of my prime ministerial desk.
Now I know what many of my devoted readers will be thinking. Would a man of the world as erudite and sophisticated and silver-tongued as myself have used such vulgar and coarse language? But the simple answer is I had to.
As a man with an unsurpassed ability to quickly assess the truthfulness and decency in others, the ability to take a step or two down to their level is paramount in establishing an immediate rapport with your inferiors, which is just about everybody when you think about it.
Of course Barnyard still reacted in much the way I had anticipated. His face reddened further if that was at all possible and he spat “No fucking way!” with specks of phlegm actually hitting one of my favourite Ermenegildo Zegna outfits, the dark blue one that goes fabulously with my Salvatore Ferragamo tie of just that sufficient sky-blue hue to show I wasn’t then, never was and never will be, your typical Liberal.
My deputy slowly brought himself under control and added quietly: “Vicki’s a nice enough girl but honestly, Malcolm, you’ve seen her. I wouldn’t root her for practice.”
I took that statement as a categorical “No!” and for a short while there, I really thought such sordid, between-the-sheets troubles were behind the government lucky enough to be led by me.
To be continued….