News Canberra insiders book trouble for Scott Morrison

Canberra insiders book trouble for Scott Morrison

Three Canberra insiders are about to release stories that could trouble Scott Morrison. Photo: Getty
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Just when the Prime Minister Scott Morrison is on the cusp of delivering his election centrepiece – a tax package – damaging revelations are set to rock his government.

Three insider accounts of the civil war that delivered three Liberal prime ministers in the past two terms will be unleashed in the next six months.

None will be more explosive than deposed prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s version of the treachery – as he sees it – that led to his dramatic toppling.

Turnbull’s tome The Bigger Picture has his publisher’s insurers so concerned they are reportedly reluctant to offer defamation cover. It is due to be published to coincide with the pre-Christmas gift buying season.

The cover of Niki Savva’s upcoming book.

One of the gifts he will be presenting to his erstwhile colleagues are a series of WhatsApp messages that lend weight to his assertion that Mathias Cormann and Peter Dutton, among others, played a double game against him from the beginning.

The former PM’s complaints will be supported when David Speers’ political documentary Bad Blood/New Blood is broadcast on Tuesday night on Sky News.

Close Turnbull ally, the now-retired cabinet minister Christopher Pyne unloads on Mr Dutton. And Mr Dutton doesn’t hold back on a very negative assessment of the Turnbull prime ministership.

The first of the three exposes to hit the bookshops is journalist Niki Savva’s Plots and Prayers.

It will be launched by the eminent Laurie Oakes on July 5, which is at the end of the first sitting week of Parliament.

Ms Savva is bracing for a backlash from still-serving senior ministers whose intrigues and ambitions she lays bare – as well as their none-too-flattering assessments of Mr Morrison.

Mr Cormann took out some pre-emptive defence in a weekend interview with his hometown paper The West Australian.

He denies plotting or number crunching in the lead up to the August 2018 coup and blames Mr Turnbull for being “increasingly reckless” in calling the spill that led to his downfall.

Ms Savva’s book reveals the finance minister had a very poor opinion of Mr Morrison’s job in the treasury portfolio, which gives an insight into why he backed Mr Dutton in the leadership vote.

Mr Cormann in the weekend interview described Mr Dutton as “a high-quality human being, with great integrity, personal warmth and strength.”

But Mr Cormann says he has “a very good relationship with Scott Morrison” and – perhaps ominously for Mr Morrison – speaks of his efforts to serve this prime minister in very similar terms to those as he used for his service to Mr Turnbull.

Mr Cormann says he has served Mr Morrison “loyally and done everything I could to help the government be successful”.

On the face of it Mr Morrison is in a much better position than his immediate predecessors. Neither Tony Abbott nor Malcolm Turnbull are in the Parliament. Another potential rival, Julie Bishop, has moved on as well.

A sneak peek of David Crowe’s book.

But Mr Dutton is still there and having put up his hand once for the top job, no doubt still has the “field marshal’s baton in his knapsack” to quote another ambitious politician from years past.

Whatever possums Niki Savva stirs, in August political journalist David Crowe’s book menacingly titled Venom comes out.

It is promising to shine a bright light on the “vendettas, betrayals and the price of power”.

The most avid reader of all this digging will be the new Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese.

He is determined not to let off the hook the warring Liberals still at the helm of the national government.

Mr Morrison will no doubt dismiss it all as “ancient history” and the voters have spoken.

They may have, but not as convincingly as he would like, something he admitted in the party room immediately after the election.

Keeping his government cohesive and credible in the months ahead will be a tough assignment.

Paul Bongiorno AM is a veteran of the Canberra Press Gallery, with 40 years’ experience covering Australian politics

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