In the wake of the Liberals’ “brutal” leadership spill, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has halted his zinger comebacks and shown deep respect for a Prime Minister who wasn’t afraid to use the word ‘love’.
In a statement titled ‘Malcolm Turnbull’, and two years since Mr Shorten lost the 2016 election to the axed prime minister, the Opposition Leader spoke of Mr Turnbull as a love-filled man.
“The final observation I would make may seem a small thing, but I believe it says a great deal,” Mr Shorten said in his statement.
“On many occasions, Malcolm and I would speak at the same events.
I don’t think any Australian Prime Minister has used the word ‘love’ more frequently in his public remarks.”
The Opposition Leader said anyone who listened to Mr Turnbull speak would always hear his deep and profound love for his wife Lucy, his children and grandchildren.
“But also his abiding love for our country,” Mr Shorten said.
In the wash of Mr Turnbull losing the leadership of the Liberal Party on Friday during a ballot he did not contest and won by former treasurer Scott Morrison, Mr Shorten called politics a “brutal business”.
“For Malcolm, for Lucy, for their family and for his personal staff, who are as loyal and as close as family, this is a very hard day indeed,” Mr Shorten said.
The Opposition Leader also spoke of his enduring respect for his “formidable opponent”, recognising Mr Turnbull as an “advocate of great intellect and eloquence” and a politician driven by a “desire to serve” considering his late entry into Parliament.
“Australian politics will always need people like that, on all sides.”
The Labor Party leader predicted Mr Turnbull’s ultimate fate as far back as December 2016, branding his opponent a “massive disappointment”, when interviewed on the ABC’s 7.30 program.
He added that he doubted he’d be facing the former Liberal Party leader at the next election, despite liking Mr Turnbull personally.
“The problem that he has got is that he can’t run the Liberal Party,” Mr Shorten said at the time.
“Do I like him personally? Yes,” he told 7.30 at the time.
Mr Shorten also spoke of the division in the Liberal Party hampering Mr Turnbull’s ability to lead the nation.
“There’s great division and dysfunction in the Liberal Party. The problem for Australia is that when Malcolm Turnbull’s always got to look over his shoulder, he can’t see where he’s going.
“Quite frankly, if I was to lay a bet on this matter, I don’t think I’ll be facing Malcolm Turnbull at the next election. I think the Liberal Party will move on to someone else.”