Malcolm Turnbull fronts the National Press Club at lunchtime today in one of the most anticipated Press Club events since John Howard had to turn his election address into an explanation of the Lindsay leaflet disaster.
Turnbull was conspicuously silent yesterday, which was about the smartest thing he could have done given the sh-tstorm unleashed by his errant email. Apparently unhappy that a day might go by without Liberal turmoil, Alexander Downer chipped long-time colleague Nick Minchin for daring to announce his retirement before Alexander himself had decided to go. Minchin was suitably apologetic, but don’t discount the possibility that Peter Costello and Michael Kroger aren’t the only factional allies with differing views over who should inherit a ministerial seat.
Even Janet Albrechtsen took a break from berating bill of rights enthusiasts to have a crack at the Liberals. It isn’t clear, however, that a sharp swing to the Right (which tends to be what reactionaries mean when they claim they don’t know what their preferred conservative party stands for) is going to be the solution to Brendan Nelson’s problems. It also ignores the basic problem that, after some 20 years of copping it in the neck from party conservatives, Liberal moderates are no longer of a mind to sit back and let it keep happening.
The Press Gallery will be lining up to try to extract something from Turnbull on the email, 5c a litre excise and his leadership ambitions – all of which Turnbull will presumably have a straight bat ready for. Rumours – or at least idle speculation – continue to spread about who leaked the email.
Crikey has variously heard that Tony Abbott, Peter Costello and Peter Costello via Christopher Pyne were responsible, all of which sound enjoyably Machiavellian but seem somewhat less likely than the view being put by the Nelson camp. However, it does beg the question of why Christopher Pyne always seems to get singled out for these things.