Culture

Malcolm Turnbull’s Already Having A Bit Of A Rough Time At This Whole ‘Prime Minister’ Thing

From Cabinet leaks to mansplaining, this ride ain't over yet.

Want more Junkee in your life? Sign up to our newsletter, and follow us on Instagram and Facebook so you always know where to find us.

Between his backflip on marriage equality yesterday that saw his original preference for a conscience vote on the issue change to a plebiscite, and his newly flexible position on climate change, which went from “Direct Action = bad” to “whatever Greg Hunt said”, it was pretty clear very early on that new Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wasn’t going to be given any breathing time. Labor’s called him a “sell-out”, which is only to be expected, but some members of his own team are already showing signs they’re not quite ready to board the Turnbull love train.

It appears Turnbull is already suffering from the same leaky cabinet problem Abbott did, with Sydney Morning Herald reporting this morning that a sensitive document leaked “to damage the newly minted Prime Minister” proves he was the worst-performing minister at giving women a go — of the 16 people he appointed to boards in his communications portfolio, only one was female. To put that in perspective, the internet’s punching bag and guy whose “private” casually racist joke about the Pacific Islands drowning due to climate change was picked up by a live mic and caused international outrage, Peter Dutton, appointed a whopping 36 women to various boards.

This news might come as a surprise to Mamamia‘s Mia Freedman, who gushingly described Turnbull as a feminist on The Drum on Tuesday night, and even Turnbull himself, who yesterday said he was a big fan of women in power. “There is no greater enthusiast than me for seeing more women in positions of power and influence in Parliament, in ministries right across the country, I can assure you of that,” he said. “I am very committed to that.”

Malcolm pls.

As well as copping it in the media, his political opponents have also been having some fun. Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek accused Turnbull of “mansplaining” in Question Time yesterday, which was brilliant both for proving Plibersek uses the internet/is not really old and for confusing an entire room of slightly silly middle-aged men. Apparently one bamboozled frontbencher even asked if she had said “manscaping” and “what on earth was her point”.

Plibersek asked: “Can the Prime Minister confirm how much he will restore to the foreign aid program after the cabinet he was part of cut the budget by $11.3 billion?” Turnbull ducked the question, in reply, saying that “if the honourable member wanted to get a serious answer she should ask a serious question. If all she’s interested in is making an allegation, making a political argument across the dispatch box, that is fine. But it’s a complete waste of Question Time.”

To which Plibersek responded: “Mr Speaker, I’d rather have an answer than the mansplaining by the Prime Minister.”

Additionally, Turnbull has had to deal with the awkward division his ascension to the Prime Ministership has created within the Liberal-National Coalition. Sure, he won the leadership challenge ballot, but 44 of his colleagues voted against him — some of which are staunch Abbott loyalists, or, even worse, longtime Turnbull-haters. And despite Turnbull cutting a deal that handed the Nationals responsibility of the ‘water’ part of Greg Hunt’s environment portfolio to win them over, National senators crossed the floor on Tuesday to side with the Greens and Labor on changing current competitive pricing laws.

There’s also the exceedingly frustrating part where he’s still blaming Labor, a party that hasn’t been in power for more than two years. It’s a tactic people are getting pretty tired of.

Poor Mal. He can’t even escape the wrath of Annabel Crabb’s daughter.