It’s the political equivalent of Stockholm syndrome, the propensity of Australian leaders to take comfort in the arms of their attackers after they are knifed by their own side.
Psychologists even have a name for it in real life, they call it “trauma bonding”.
Now, Malcolm Turnbull is accused of phone contact with Bill Shorten after he was rolled as leader, evidence according to his critics he is colluding with the Labor Party.
But the Labor leader turns out to be a willing ear for all sorts of Liberals in trouble including Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop.
Bill Shorten’s office said he spoke to both Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull after they lost the leadership insisting there is nothing sinister about his private chats.
“Bill reached out to both Mr Turnbull and Mr Abbott after they lost their prime ministerships to express his sympathy and thank them for their service,” a spokesman said.
“He has a great deal of respect for the office, whatever the politics of the occupant. “
Prime Minister Scott Morrison insisted today that he saw nothing sinister in the phone chats.
“Bill Shorten contacted Malcolm Turnbull to make sure he’s OK. That sounds like a good thing to do as far as I am concerned,” Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said.
“He is not colluding with Bill Shorten.”
Former Labor leader Kevin Rudd was known to enjoy a close relationship with Julie Bishop for many years confiding in her his pain after he was brutally knifed by his own colleagues.
The confidante relationship even led to speculation that it was the reason why Ms Bishop backed Mr Rudd’s bid to run the United Nations.
“Over a glass of wine together, we have shared some thoughts,” she said.
“I wouldn’t say he confides in me in this atmosphere within the Labor Party of leaks against prime ministers and people investigating the leaking.”
No surprise then that when she chose to step down from the job of foreign minister after the August coup, Mr Rudd had only kind words to day about his friend.
“Julie Bishop has been a highly effective Australian foreign minister. A hard job. Much harder than it looks. We may not have agreed on policy. That’s normal. But she has earned, absolutely, the respect of foreign ministers around the world.”