Tuesday 30 August 2011

Confidential cable reveals resentment some Liberals felt towards Malcolm Turnbull

Malcolm Turnbull "cared only about Turnbull" and some Liberals supported his leadership only because they wanted to set him up to fail, Howard government minister Mal Brough told US officials.

Mr Brough, the former indigenous affairs minister, lost his seat in federal parliament at the 2007 election that swept Kevin Rudd to power.

But his electoral defeat did not stop him subsequently offering his political insights to the US embassy in Canberra.

A confidential cable - dated June 26, 2008, and provided to the WikiLeaks website - relates a conversation in Canberra between Mr Brough and the then US ambassador Robert McCallum.

Mr Brough told Mr McCallum that the then opposition leader Brendan Nelson was a good man but the public had not warmed to him and his poor polling was unlikely to improve.

He predicted that Mr Turnbull was likely to take over as Liberal leader but would ultimately fail.

“Turnbull was only interested in Turnbull and his constant undermining of Nelson had hurt him in the eyes of many of his colleagues,” the cable reads.

“Some in the Liberal caucus supported Turnbull as leader only because they wanted to put him in a position to fail, Brough declared.” Mr Turnbull was elected leader about three months later.

Another US embassy cable predicted the change would help the Coalition but described Mr Turnbull as “impatient” and “abrasive”.

Mr Brough, who had just become president of the Queensland Liberal Party at the time of his conversation with Mr McCallum, also predicted the end of the National Party federally in the near future.

“If you looked at the Nationals' federal MPs, they were mostly over 60,” the cable says. “Once they left, the Liberal Party or the ALP would win their seats.”

Mr Brough also took aim at then prime minister Kevin Rudd's obsession with control and micromanagement and predicted his popularity would soon fade.

Mr Brough bemoaned the Rudd government's moves to water down the Northern Territory intervention that he had begun and claimed Mr Rudd did not really care about Aborigines.


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