Malcolm Turnbull's Bali Trip Is Becoming A Political Nightmare
Jumping on a plane to Indonesia doesn't normally cause this much fuss.
But former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's planned trip to Bali is fast becoming a political headache for the government, with controversy over his use of taxpayer funds and talk it could be the end of his relationship with successor Scott Morrison.
So let's wind back a bit first. Turnbull has been in New York since being ousted as PM in August, relaxing and doing some shopping and keeping mostly quiet on the political front -- so much so, that former Liberal colleagues squarely blamed the Wentworth by-election loss on Point Piper's most famous resident.
Turnbull, they say, should have endorsed Dave Sharma as the man to replace him. Instead, Turnbull stayed quiet -- "did not even send a tweet", the Daily Telegraph lamented on Wednesday -- and Kerryn Phelps is almost sure to claim victory.
The former PM finally returned to Sydney earlier this week, after the by-election was done, but it's another overseas trip which is causing controversy this week. Turnbull, when he was still PM, had organised to attend a global conference on oceans in Bali next week -- but then, he was rolled.
Morrison would have been expected to go in his place, but the new PM said he was "unable" to make it, so Morrison said Turnbull had been asked to go anyway as a representative of Australia.
Turnbull won't be going on his own dime though, with flights and travel costs to be picked up by the taxpayer.
"This is Australia’s national interest, it’s no different to former Prime Ministers representing Australia at other events," Morrison said at a press conference on Wednesday.
"I believe he will make a positive contribution and continue to support the positive relationship we have with Indonesia."
However, the Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday that Morrison was "done" with Turnbull, after his reluctance to help out during the by-election.
But enemies inside and outside the party have rounded on the arrangement. Former deputy PM Barnaby Joyce said he didn't like it.
"There should have been a bit more thought put into this. I don't think it was the right move," he told 2GB.
"If it cost the majority in parliament, I’d say there’s a serious question to be asked, are you going to be rewarded with a position in going to Bali?"
While One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said she was "furious".
"I wouldn’t trust him at all to go over there and represent us. What’s he going to say or do?” she said, also on 2GB.
A Senate estimates hearing was also told this week that Turnbull has also been granted a unique international travel pass, that would technically allow him to fly anywhere, on public funds -- a decision which has raised the ire of the opposition and Greens.
So while he's out of parliament, and told us he's "out of partisan politics", Malcolm Turnbull is still making waves and upsetting people in the halls of power.