It took Malcolm Turnbull less than 10 seconds to start naming names.
The former prime minister, using his first chance to engage with the public — albeit through the medium of Q&A — identified the plotters for everyone to see. These, like Peter Dutton and Mathias Cormann and Greg Hunt, were people with “solemn responsibilities” but who had acted against him and were yet to explain their actions.
But raising internal opinion polls that suggested the Government was in a winning position, the former prime minister suggested the whole “madness” of August may have been due to something that scared conservative members of the Liberal Party.
“Maybe they were not worried we’d lose it — maybe they were worried we’d win it,” he said.
That argument, that members of the Liberal Party were so worried about victory under Turnbull that they were prepared to blow up the Government, is a major problem for Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
It suggests Morrison oversees a ministry and a backbench more worried about ideology than the interests of voters. That it can’t be trusted.
It’s the elephant in the party room which contains ministers who, in Turnbull’s view, have blood on their hands and are afraid to explain how it got there.
While Turnbull excused Morrison of any role in his downfall, the loss of Wentworth was sheeted home to the new Prime Minister.
In Turnbull’s view, Wentworth would have been held if voters had gone to the polls a week earlier. But over six days which included Morrison’s policy thought bubble on Australia’s embassy in Israel and the accidental support of a Pauline Hanson motion in the Senate, the Liberals’ chances were killed off.
Ultimately the buck stops with the new PM for that disaster. Perhaps it was better he was on a plane in Queensland last night and missed the show.