Not my problem: Bill Shorten stiffs embattled Malcolm Turnbull

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arrives at 4 Treasury Place in Melbourne for a meeting with oppisition leader Bill Shorten. 8th November 2017 Fairfax Media The Age news Picture by Joe Armao
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull arrives at 4 Treasury Place in Melbourne for a meeting with oppisition leader Bill Shorten. 8th November 2017 Fairfax Media The Age news Picture by Joe Armao
Opposition leader Bill Shorten arrives at 4 Treasury Place in Melbourne for a meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull o. 8th November 2017 Fairfax Media The Age news Picture by Joe Armao

Opposition leader Bill Shorten arrives at 4 Treasury Place in Melbourne for a meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull o. 8th November 2017 Fairfax Media The Age news Picture by Joe Armao

"We just lost the initiative" concedes the commanding officer ominously in Black Hawk Down when one of his helicopters crashes in rebel-held territory.

When Malcolm Turnbull emerged empty-handed from extended talks with Bill Shorten on Wednesday, that same sense of reversal was faintly discernible.

Direct negotiations between the Prime Minister and the alternative prime minister are relatively rare. Why would a government leader, with all the advantages attaching to office, invite his usurper to the stage, to operate as if equal?

It is a mark of the uniqueness of this situation that such a meeting was deemed necessary. Doubtless, it was undertaken with the utmost reluctance.

It is also a mark of the defenceless position Turnbull has been put in by the abysmal behaviour of those beneath him - including ministers - that he has been forced to go to Labor cap-in-hand.

Politics being what it is, Turnbull emerged from the Melbourne talks indicating only that a fix for the dual citizenship crisis awaited further opposition consideration and approval - a deeply unhelpful optic for an embattled PM.

Shorten, who held his press conference immediately after, made clear that this is a "crisis" primarily of the government and for the government.

Clearly it is Turnbull who needed a swift result to maintain the initiative he seized on Monday through his chamber-wide Clayton's audit. Labor, despite urging haste, felt no such urgency.

Indeed, by slowing things up, Shorten was able look constructive while increasing the PM's pain.

This story Not my problem: Bill Shorten stiffs embattled Malcolm Turnbull first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.