Remember when Malcolm Turnbull “flirted” with Leigh Sales in an amicable interview “interspersed with laughter” just after deposing Tony Abbott? And remember when Turnbull called Alan Jones a “bomb thrower” and rebuked the right-wing shock jock sternly? “Alan, I am not going to take dictation from you. I am a cabinet minister,” he said.
How times have changed. Turnbull visited a delighted Jones for a warm sponge-bath interview yesterday morning, followed by a tough grilling from Sales in the evening.
This was Jones’ first question out of the gate, referring to an anti-Labor letter to a tabloid:
JONES: “Now I know that looks like a free kick, but people are worried about debt. What’s your response to that kind of letter?”
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TURNBULL: “The writer is absolutely correct … There is nothing less fair than putting up one billion dollar spending promise after another on the national credit card and leaving it to our grandchildren to pay it.”
JONES: “I agree with you.”
TURNBULL: “They don’t have a vote.”
JONES: “That’s the guts of this.”
TURNBULL: “They’re not voting. That’s the guts of it …”
And here is how Sales began:
SALES: “Why should Australians re-elect a government that considered its own performance so poor that it dumped a first term Prime Minister and on the economy has basically tread water for three years?”
TURNBULL: “Well we have a national economic plan Leigh for jobs and growth … [blah di blah]”
SALES: “You are talking about going forward. I was explicitly referring to your record in your three years in government?”
TURNBULL: “Our record is good. In 2015 we had 3% growth in GDP. It is now 3.1 per cent the last figures. We had over 300,000 jobs created – that’s the highest number of jobs created in Australia since before the GFC.
SALES: “But then you come up against this problem that if your record was so good, why did you have to dump a first-term prime minister?”
Whither the left-leaning Turnbull who stood up to shock jocks and could hold his own on the ABC?