Jun 5, 2014

Razer’s Class Warfare: stop loving Malcolm Turnbull

So all you progressives love Malcolm Turnbull. Why, when he's destroying the NBN and represents the ruling class?

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

When performer Doc Neeson died at 67 yesterday morning in his sleep at a Sydney hospital, the nation farewelled the memory of a peculiar solidarity. The response "No way, get fucked, fuck off" to his rock liturgy Am I Ever Gonna See Your Face Again? has been mentioned in a hundred obituaries. As it should. Perhaps not since slogans like "unity is strength" fired up labourers in 19th-century trades halls have Australian men and women uttered something so fantastically cranky as one. Although never an Angels fan, I joined this vengeful Greek chorus once while in high school. It was great. No. It was fucking great. It beats Lord Hear Our Prayer and Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi hands down and even had Neeson not achieved legitimate greatness as a proto-punk hero, this moment alone was enough to elevate me from the class-based loathing of my teenage fellows and this son of Elizabeth to South Australian sainthood. It is quite easy to forget that Neeson was a punk. Just like Johnny Rotten, he was born of Irish migrants. Just like Malcolm McLaren, he was improved by access to art school. He was a working-class boy educated in the avant-garde in a time when such things were possible and it is hardly his fault that Triple M occluded his wild colonial spirit with its Coca Cola give-aways.  But it is our fault, I think, that we fail to see all that was good and important about such performers as we think of them these days as "bogan". For a time in Australia, it was not publicly acceptable to disparage others on the basis of their class. This may have been out of fear that someone who looked like Mark Latham would break your arm and but I suspect it was chiefly the result of social policy that allowed, for example, certain young migrants from Elizabeth to learn about Jean-Luc Godard at university and go on to form profitable punk bands. Whatever the case, there was a time, which coincided with my adolescence, where anyone who used a term like "westie" did so only in abject snobbery and the interests of the ruling class.
"[Turnbull] wants you to pay for a good road to your door."
Now, of course, it's fine not only to say "bogan" but to do so in the apparent interests of advancing progressive ideals. On Monday, Crikey's Bernard Keane analysed recent findings of the Essential Report on preferred political leaders. If we don't count the very popular "someone else" choice as prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull is the resolute fan favourite. He's really not a bogan. The man who likely gainsaid his own green credentials in a Solomon Islands logging deal and put an end to the great infrastructure build of the NBN  is beloved by Green and ALP voters. In an era of "check your privilege," it seems that the dapper Turnbull is far too well-groomed to be required to check his. While it is true that he chooses to accessorise with a few neutral items from a progressive grab-bag like the Republic and same-sex marriage, it is not true that he is a minister who gives half an apparent shit for making his portfolio work in the lives of non-corporate Australians. Let's set aside for the moment the sheer financial irresponsibility of a man whose policies will doom us to the expensive maintenance of copper wire and prevent a nation in industrial freefall from learning from the South Korean national program, and just think about the NBN in the most basic progressive terms. This guy wants you to pay for a good road to your door. Somehow, though, the silver fox is largely seen by progressives as a viable alternative to Abbott. This is despite the fact that he can claim no real ideological distinction and, in fact, should really -- given that he "invented" the internet in Australia -- should and does know better about the economic and social value of the abandoned NBN. What Greens voters are thinking is largely beyond me. As a progressive voter, I would certainly nominate Senator Cory Bernardi as my preferred Coalition leader. That guy, in advertising the contents of the stinking box, makes the buggers far less electable. But, in the eagerness progressive voters have to distance themselves from the "bogan", they are happy to embrace the ruling class. It has largely been older Australians eulogising Neeson best. These are people who can remember there being no distinction between The Angels and The Saints; for non-rock-snobs, the glorious Brisbane band who can lay claim to recording the world's first punk single. These are people who can remember the possibility of a nation which did not eschew the cultural traditions of the working class and was not so silly as to lay blame for ruling class ideology in the mouths of those who would shout "no way, get fucked, fuck off". The 2005 Cronulla riots were, of course, an atrocity. But the way in which these images still function to demonise the "bogan" rather than to illuminate the racist ideas absolutely manufactured by the political class allows an ongoing crisis evidenced in the Essential Poll and felt in every ALP branch meeting. In the absence of any other plan that would re-unify a party that cannot reconcile its trade union principles with its progressive ideals, I would suggest that at the next national conference that the idea of "bogan" as bad be done away with and they sing together as one, "unity is strength no way get fucked fuck off".

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52 thoughts on “Razer’s Class Warfare: stop loving Malcolm Turnbull

  1. klewso

    I can’t say as I ever started?

  2. grubbidok

    Thank you Helen for finally laying into the myth that Turnbull is interested in progressive ideals beyond gay marriage and republicanism.

    While people have been fawning over his fauxgressive ways (particularly the Bolt fight) he’s been supporting budget measures, said the ABC and SBS need more cuts and continued dismantling the NBN.

    Add to this Utegate, the fact that he utterly capitulate and voted against climate change action to remain ‘inline with the LNP’ and his merchant banker ideology I wonder how dire politics must be that people think he is the great last hope of progressive politics.

    I can’t see how he would be any better than what we currently have. The Greens and ALP should realise their Malcolm fantasies for what they are… Utter fantasy

  3. Joe Magill

    Although I’m a left of centre voter, I do not, as you suggest, have any time for Mr Turnbull. Here is a member of a government which trashes our international reputation, whether it relates to asylum seeker or climate change policies, which has an absolutley inhumane policy on the treatment of refugees, which abandons the motor vehicle manufacturing sector AND abandons the most urgent industry infrastructure program – the NBN – which is essential for an alternative manufacturing future. He’s a compliant member of a government which abandons science, picks winners by deciding that medical research will be our primary research endeavour leaving every other research field short of funds, and which creates huge uncertainty in education, the most important sector for long term social improvement. He is part of a government which in very short time has been able to destroy the relationship with our nearest neighbour and build a close relationship with the Sri Lankan government, regarded by many other countries as discredited given its human rights record. He is part of a government which cuts a couple of hundred thousand dollars from a largely volunteer asylum seeker support organisation while donating a million to a ballet school.

    Mr Turnbull is a member of this government, sits in cabinet and is party to all the decisions. His participation clearly declares his agreement. If he disagrees he can resign from parliament, sit on the backbench or on the cross benches. As long as he is a member of this government he will go down in history as an active participant. And for that reason I see no reason why anyone should consider him as somehow separate from this backward looking government.

  4. JennyWren

    Like Palmer, Turnbull is only in this parliament for personal gain, another notch to his belt so to speak. (Possibly competing with Lucy? Now there’s a thought!) Self interest is there is.
    Put into that context his actions are thoroughly in character. He doesn’t give a stuff about the big picture or where Australian society is heading.
    I am a Green and do not like him, never have and have no time for his ilk.

  5. cairns50

    fantastic article, thank you

  6. paddy

    Actually Helen, Malcolm Turnbull isn’t even vaguely dapper any more. As each day passes, he’s slowly morphing into a moth eaten version of the man he’ll eventually replace in the Liberal pantheon. Philip Ruddock.
    Alex Ellinghausen’s brilliant photo speaks volumes.

  7. zut alors

    He’s intelligent and has the skill to charm however Turnbull sold his soul by agreeing to [email protected] Rudd’s NBN which would’ve been to fellow Australians’ advantage in the long term.

    At the end of his ministerial communications career Turnbull will have nothing of which to boast but plenty to regret.

  8. klewso

    I just think it’s funny how he reacts to what Labor has been copping for years, while he’s been giggling and defending “Murdoch’s Right” to be so partisan with his dominance of our hard-copy media, feeding the trolls across the rest of the media, to spread his influence?
    And after the way Murdoch/Steve Lewis helped him out with Utegate?

  9. Recalcitrant.Rick

    I agree, the best leader of the Libs is clearly Corey Bernardi.
    As to Turnbull, again, I agree, He may have once appealed to me for his positioning on those things you mentioned, but he has soiled his pants completely with the NBN etc. and his complete capitulation/acceptance of the crap coming out of the mouths of this bunch of Randian Ratbags! So, Malcolm, in the spirit of the day, I’d like to say, no way. get fucked, FUCK OFF!

  10. klewso

    Then there was his largess with our $tax whilst Howard’s “Minister for Rain Dances” – giving a relative of Murdoch’s, and his Russian pals, 10 “limon” for a shower or two?

    He might be intelligent, under it all, but so much of him is so self-absorbed, it’s hard to tell?

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