Veteran journalist Laurie Oakes spat out his coffee when he watched Malcolm Turnbull's viral smackdown of Bill Shorten last week, bewildered by the prime minister declaring "I'm my own man".
Oakes sat down with BuzzFeed Australia's political podcast "Is It On?" and said Turnbull's fiery speech was not all it was cracked up to be, citing the PM's reliance on support from the right wing of his party.
"When he stood up last week and said ‘I’m my own man’, I mean, I spluttered into my coffee because the problem is that he isn’t his own man," Oakes said.
The award-winning TV journalist, who has been reporting on Australian politics since 1966, said Turnbull has had to become someone else to lead his party and the country.
He said the PM will be a "sad figure" regardless of whether he wins the next election:
What I’ve learnt is that Malcolm Turnbull can’t do what he would want to do. He can’t be his own man. So it’s very sad watching him be someone else’s man. He is captive. He can’t help it because his party wouldn’t cop the things we all know he believes in. I think he’s a sad figure. I don’t think he’ll win another election, but if he does it won’t make him any less sad because he won’t have won it on his terms. He won’t be doing the things he wanted to do.
You can hear more of Oakes' thoughts – on the Turnbull government, the internet and political journalism – on the second episode of Is It On? this weekend.
The full interview with Laurie Oakes, including his thoughts on Paul Keating, political reporting, and the best sources for exclusive scoops, will feature in BuzzFeed Australia’s podcast ‘Is It On?’. You can listen to it from Saturday. View it on iTunes and subscribe here.
Mark Di Stefano is a political editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Mark Di Stefano at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.