Australian PM challenge: ‘Modern Turnbull vs. medieval Abbott’

Australian PM Tony Abbott and his challenger Malcolm Turnbull have much in common: they are Rhodes scholars, lawyers and journalists. But Turnbull, an antimonarchist and a modern man, is a better choice, says Bob Ellis, political commentator and writer.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been ousted in a leadership challenge. His challenger was Malcolm Turnbull, one of his senior cabinet members, who'll now become the next PM.

READ MORE: Abbott defrocked: Aussie PM ousted in leadership vote by longtime rival

RT:What is your reaction to Tony Abbott's defeat?

Bob Ellis: It was expected. He said that all the people coming to Lampedusa on boats as refugees should be sent back to Africa. He said that similar people coming to other part of the world on boats should be imprisoned for a hundred years and never-never allowed into Australia. He said that climate change was a myth and coal was a future, and wind power should be abolished because wind mills were ugly and that all public schools should no longer get any money from his government. Although, his sister was gay, he opposed gay marriage and believes his sister would fry a billion years in hell for her abominable, nocturnal pursuits. He is a very-very unlike a man of the 21 century or even the 20 century …

RT:Do you think that with Malcolm Turnbull in charge, the party's policies will shift significantly?

BE: I have known Malcolm since he was 19 and he was a friend of mine. And, yes, he is much more, like say, a liberal democrat in the English parliament. He is a republican; he is an antimonarchist, whereas Abbott was a monarchist. He believes profoundly in the crisis coming relating to the climate change. He believes and he passionately believes in gay marriage, his electorate is full of gay people. He is a modern man whereas Abbott is a medieval man. Although they’re both Rhodes scholars, and both lawyers, and both journalists and so on. And they have much in common. He’s a better choice, more dangerous choice for the opposition.

RT:What kind of public reaction do you expect to the change at the top?

BE: Well, it’s hard to say because he is very popular among labor voters who won’t change their vote. And he is very unpopular among liberal voters who won’t change their vote. But the shifting people in the middle, I’m just not sure. I mean, many of the votes he needs to win up people who are anti-gay marriage and so on. It’s just a little hard to see. I think, it will be a genuine election fought on policy and for the eloquence of the leaders.

RT:Do you think that there will be a change of leadership?

BE: I don’t think so. [Opposition leader Bill] is a very good negotiator and a former union negotiator. He has patched together a coalition of the various segments of his party. And I also know the folly of changing leaders midstream in a way that the liberals will soon find out. I think it will be a contest, close contest. And I’m not sure how it will go.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.