Australia has seen three sitting prime ministers ousted via party coups since 2010. In the past eight years, we've enjoyed five PMs. Not to brag, but we're the Tiger Woods of political discontent—just without the whole disrespecting women thing—oh wait, no, with that.
This week we've welcomed lucky number five, Malcolm Turnbull, who, while being comparatively popular at home has none of his predecessor's infamy. Through a tendency to eat raw onions, wink at elderly sex-workers with cancer, and be lampooned by late-night programs, that predecessor, Tony Abbott, achieved the uneasy level of global fame typically reserved for reality TV stars.
With Mr. Turnbull's appointment, we wondered what the wider world thought of him—or if they thought of him at all. To get a better sense of his global profile, we reached out to our international offices for their thoughts on our shiny-new PM.
Is Malcolm Turnbull just Tony Abbott in a better flesh suit?
Like most people, I knew Tony Abbott from that time a reporter asked him a question and his human suit malfunctioned, and also that time his human food sensor mistook an onion for an apple. I studied those clips about 3,000 times, and learned a lot about Abbott's species—so it's good to see him finally vanquished. But your new guy Turnbull seems even less like an actual human, if that's even possible. That is to say, rather than looking evil or stupid, it seems like the pinkish suit he wears to mask his true reptilian form is top-of-the-line, and in good working order. It looks like the reptilians tried to make him look trustworthy and concerned, like Hugh Bonneville from Downton Abbey. But underneath that thing, I think he might actually be the exact same creature Abbott was. Not just the same species, but the same specimen. Be careful, Australia!
- Mike Pearl
Malcolm Turnbull is the kind of man who's all smiles and pats on the back until the moment he loses his temper, or can tell the wind isn't blowing his way. Looking at his face you sense a man who was once a temperamental child, the only thing stopping him from being among the most popular boys in school being his habit of periodically—and for no discernible reason— growing very angry at everyone around him, shouting about nonsense for a few minutes, and taking his ball home in a huff. That child has grown up but the urge to throw things and yell if he doesn't get his way is ever hidden just under the surface, waiting to overpower Malcolm's hard-won calm, adult demeanor. These don't necessarily seem like traits one would want in a national leader, but on the other hand, can anyone be worse than Tony Abbott?
No. They cannot.
- Tannara Yelland
Nobody ever knows what to buy Malcolm Turnbull for Christmas. His daughter is on the phone to her mom. "Does he like ties?" she's asking. "I'm in a tie shop, and I swear I've seen him wearing a tie." His wife does not know. He is essentially a gas that has been formed into the shape of an extremely by-the-numbers politician. "I have been married to him for 35 years," his wife is saying, "and I do not know his true feelings toward ties." Malcolm Turnbull is only able to make one man on earth laugh, and that is his pastor, Rick. He learns a single joke every week from a number of Joke-A-Day email newsletters, and he always hits Rick with a zinger when he's glad handing after Sunday prayers. "Got a good one for you this week, Rick," he's saying, and secretly Rick is thinking: please don't be another rude one. I cannot pretend to laugh at another blue joke. I love God, not this. "My motorcycle wouldn't start today," Malcolm's saying. "He was two-tired!" Rick smiles. "See you next week, Malcolm." His son's on the phone now. "What about belts?" he's saying. "Does Dad like belts?" Dad does not like belts. Dad likes tax loopholes, and the little click his BMW makes when he starts it up. He is absolutely fucking nothing at all. Looking at him is like looking at a cloud. It's like looking at a stock image of a plug. It's necessary, and it's there, but that's about all you can say about him. "Get him the tie," his wife's saying now. "He can always take it back if he doesn't like it." He will take it back. He will keep the money in his glovebox and, when necessary, spend it on parking. Malcolm Turnbull: the sure hand on the tiller of the good ship Anonymity.
- Joel Golby
Is the PM connected with the average person's expenses?
Coming from a country which has its fair share of political bigots, xenophobes, and opportunists, I've been feeling for you guys for some time. My Australian friend is struggling to have his Schengen visa extended right now, I always found that ironic in light of your country's tough stance on migrants. With the little information on Australia that gets through to the local news, I haven't had a chance to get to know your new PM. The fact he's been leading a liberal party doesn't say much these days—those who praise liberty often mean the liberty of money transfers rather than personal liberties. For all I see, this guy doesn't seem to be ethnically Australian, perhaps he'll be more sympathetic toward migrants than his predecessor? Quick research doesn't give me any coherent political program. It does tell me he's a millionaire. I don't know whether that's a good thing or not. He's not there for the money, apparently, but is he going to be helpful to people who aren't as well-off as himself? Does he know how much it costs to rent a room in Sydney? The price of an average lunch? I hope so!
- Maciek Piasecki
This guy reminds me of my high school headmaster, with such tight lips and an "I'm sorree" face. My headmaster never smiled, but this was because his teeth were like he was chewing glass. Hope this is not the case with Turnbull. These faces somehow don't seem very self-confident for someone who until two days ago has been a communication minister. Good luck!
- Aleksandra Niksic
VICE France doesn't know much about our politics, but they dig our horror movies.
To be honest, we don't know a lot about Australian politics, except that John Howard seemed to be a huge douche and that he forbid seropositive people to immigrate in your country—or something like that. To be completely honest, we don't know much about Australia either, except that you guys are great at making horror movies and producing hip indie-rock bands that everyone will have forgotten about a year after their inception. Same goes for Malcolm Turnbull—we don't know much about him, except that his name is the anagram of Ball Cunt Mum Roll and that he looks like the kind of guy who would cheat on his wife if every seductive attempt he made wasn't met with disdain and mockery.
- Julie Le Baron
With a name that conjures up images of a 19th century general store owner, we were surprised a superficial image search of "Turnbull" revealed nothing out of the ordinary. The bloke seems to be the human equivalent of The Avenger's Hawkeye: undeniably an entity that exists, but neither remarkable or repulsive in any way. Turnbull is a very Average Joe-looking salt-and-pepper-haired fellow, with the gusto of a man at the pinnacle of his ambitions—in a comfort zone in which he neither has to, nor is bothered to give a fuck about anything or anyone slightly outside his jurisdiction. His smug gaze tells the tale of a man who smiles, shares tedious limericks and shakes hands on cue, but has a constantly hateful Louis CK-style inner monologue, in which he berates and belittles those around him for sport. This primarily happens bumping into people at prestigious water polo events or while standing in line at artisanal cheese shops. He's also ballsy enough to just shrug off social slip-ups that would cripple lesser men, like farting loudly at scarcely populated urinals or fumbling a high-five—and he knows it.
- Alfred Maddox