One of the first things new Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull heard after ousting Tony Abbott on Monday night was an angry staffer calling him a c**t.
A Liberal Party source said that Richard Dowdy, a junior staffer on Abbott’s team, called out to Turnbull immediately after the result was announced:
“He said, ‘Malcolm, Malcolm, Malcolm,’ and then Malcolm turned around and he yelled ‘you’re a c**t’.”
Dowdy has now becoming something of a legend in Liberal Party circles after insulting his new leader, the Sydney Morning Herald claims, as bitterness over Monday’s ‘spill’ vote continues to rile Australia’s ruling centre-right party.
The vote saw Abbott, a staunch conservative with strong pro-Britain and pro-US views, replaced by Turnbull, a republican who sits firmly on the left of his party. It was called after Turnbull resigned as Communications Minister and challenged Abbott for the Liberal Party leadership following months of low polling.
Australia’s establishment media has largely welcomed Turnbull’s appointment, emphasising his support for gay marriage and belief in man-made global warming.
As British journalist Brendan O’Neill writes in The Australian:
“There’s more to this than Liberal infighting; it also feels like a chattering-class coup, the exiling of a leader for daring to think things that opinion-shapers consider heretical.
“This has shaped the coverage of the coup around the world. Virtually every news piece on the drama Down Under prominently tells us that Turnbull supports gay marriage (though he seems keen to stick with Abbott’s idea of having a plebiscite) and that he is “far better” on climate change.”
Meanwhile, some of Tony Abbott’s staff are taking a very long time to leave their old premises, denying Turnbull access to the Prime Minister’s office.
“The Prime Minister can’t go into the prime minister’s office and can’t get access to the prime minister’s diary,” one minister said.