Queensland MP Clive Palmer on Thursday asked Malcolm Turnbull to hand over power to his predecessor, Tony Abbott. Taking a dig at “Australia’s third oldest prime minister,” the MP doubted the Liberal leader’s capability in serving a full term even if re-elected. He said handing back power to Tony Abbott would do better for Turnbull in taking good care of his vast overseas investments.
The Palmer United Party leader used the question time to the hilt to grill the 61-year-old leader. Palmer referred to former Prime Minister Tony Abbott as the “member for Warringah,” reports 9 News.
“As Australia’s third oldest prime minister, if you are still prime minister after the election, will you serve a full term in parliament or retire to your unit in New York and do a ‘switcheroo’ with the Member for Warringah, sustaining yourself with innovation and growth opportunities your investments have provided for the people of the Cayman Islands?” Palmer asked amidst laughter in the house.
“It has never been a more exciting time to be a Cayman Islander. Are you a seat warmer?” the MP queried.
Turnbull replied that the MP’s question was not audible to him as it was drowned in the laughter. “If he hadn’t found it so amusing as to be laughing right through it, we might have been able to hear most of it,” he said.
However, he thanked the “honourable member” for the concern on his health. “I can assure you, I’m in the very best of form,” Turnbull replied. Turnbull is used to the intense questioning by MPs over his personal wealth, including investments in tax haven Cayman Islands.
Informal estimates suggest Turnbull’s personal wealth is more than $200 million. Turnbull told the Senate in 2015 that he and wife Lucy have no control over the investments made in hedge funds.
Meanwhile, Labor leader Bill Shorten told his party caucus that Turnbull is “rattled” and Labor must hold its nerve in faing the scare campaign held out by the rivals. Shorten said the Government’s tax plans are in chaos and Turnbull is finding it difficult to come to terms with his declining popularity, reports The Australian Financial Review.
“He is quite a bright fellow but I think his fear of losing his popularity, his anxiety not to be, you know, clapped on the back, is dimming his mind and it means that he’s not doing what he said he would do,” Shorten told his MPs.