Malcolm Turnbull accuses his critics of “paranoia”


Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Malcolm Turnbull has struck back angrily at a report that he has been helping independent Kerryn Phelps, his successor in Wentworth, as chaos continues to fracture the Liberals.

Responding to a front page-lead story in The Australian headed
“Turnbull plays invisible hand”, the former prime minister tweeted,
“Attribution bias – blaming others for the consequences of your own
actions is a common symptom of paranoia.

“Imagining “invisible” people are out to get you is also a classic
symptom. Not often on the front page of course…“

The report said Turnbull had been in regular contact with Phelps and had had a former electorate office staffer work for the new member for three days to help in the transition.

It quoted a senior Liberal source saying they believed Turnbull was advising Phelps on strategy and that his hands were “all over” the defection of Liberal MP Julia Banks to the crossbench this weel.

The report also said that Phelps had counselled Banks before her defection.

The story was another manifestion of the deep bitterness still
consuming the Liberals from the leadership coup, which has been
reactivated by the Banks’ defection. Banks made a stinging attack on
those who ousted Turnbull in her speech to parliament.

Phelps said on Thursday that Turnbull had had no contact with her
during the Wentworth campaign. Afterwards he had offered assistance
for a smooth transition. She said she and Turnbull had not discussed
Banks.

She told Sky that Turnbull “was very kind in being able to allow a couple of his former staff members to come in to do a handover to my staff members to make sure that they understood which grant programs needed to be progressed and which organisations we needed to be in contact with.”

Phelps confirmed that Banks had approached her before defecting.

“Julia reached out to me for some consultation about what that process
might look and feel like, and I indicated that I would be there to
support her in that transition and the three female crossbenchers were
there to support her when she gave her statement,” she said.

Meanwhile embattled right wing Liberal Craig Kelly, who faces losing
preselection, has changed tactics in his fight to survive.

After earlier repeatedly refusing to rule out defecting to the
crossbench, Kelly – wearing a T-shirt with the face of Robert Menzies
on it – told the ABC he would not do so.

He said he had a contract with the people of his Hughes electorate to
serve through the term as a Liberal member.

He did not rule out running as an independent if he lost preselection,
saying “I haven’t considered that”. He claimed to be confident of being
re-endorsed – although the numbers are against him.

Posing with the T-shirt wearing Kelly, Tony Abbott tweeted, “Always
good to be with a real Liberal!”.

The Senate on Thursday voted to alter the government’s sitting
timetable for next year to ensure Senate estimates hearings will he
held on the April 2 budget before the election is called. The
timetable released earlier this week would not have had estimates
hearing before the poll.

Labor is also introducing in the Senate its own bill to protect LGBTI
students against discrimination, after negotiations between the
government and the opposition on a bill reached an impasse.The Conversation

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Paranoia and Purges For Venezuela As Oil Misery Continues


TIME

As the finances of Venezuela continue to deteriorate under the collapse of crude oil prices, the government of President Nicolas Maduro is becoming more paranoid and vindictive.

Venezuela derives the vast majority of its export earnings from sending oil overseas. With the largest endowment of crude oil reserves in the world, the oil-driven economy worked well for the late Hugo Chavez: he provided generous support for the poor, and built allies in the western hemisphere by dispensing cash and cheap oil in exchange for political allegiance.

But state-owned PDVSA has struggled to keep production up. Rather than using its earnings to develop more fields, much of its earnings have been diverted for political and social projects. Chavez also purged PDVSA of thousands of experienced workers, leaving the company short of well-trained staff.

Chavez could paper over the decay of PDVSA’s production base because oil prices were so high in his…

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