Remember last year when we were talking about Malcolm Turnbull and not Richard Pratt? Well, he’s still not doing what he’s supposed to do in front of the joint federal and state representative committees. He won’t even appear in one of the first substantive Q&A sessions.
We noticed at the time the party room was set up as an option for the treasurer to appear. The treasurer had to be a governor in waiting. Before Turnbull hung up the tambourine and left the chamber in less than two hours after he was announced as auditor-general: Andrew Leigh won the race and stood as a Labor candidate on the Turnbull ticket.
Given the account by Andrew Leigh of what happened, it’s clear that no general election campaign has yet even started. The key thing to remember is that Leigh has spent years languishing in the shadow cabinet as the country struggles with high unemployment and sinking living standards. Leigh has overplayed his hand by giving up preselection for his Oatlands seat after less than a decade. If we knew where this would lead us, we would never have had the chance to get rid of Malcolm Turnbull. However, he has done an excellent job since being appointed auditor-general. After taking a lot of heat during the first term of government for not being able to cut spending, Leigh has turned out to be a superb budgeter. Leigh is also at the vanguard of reforming the way the parliamentary committee system operates.
But we should not be so quick to think that Leigh can be relegated to that role when Turnbull gets back. The treasurer is a free agent whose job is to continue to defend a political oracle like Turnbull. Turnbull will recover and Leigh will lose his position, and we would most certainly see a change of government sometime next year. Leigh has said he will only stand for the Liberal Party if he believes that his own achievements justify it.