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‘Undiagnosed narcissistic psychopath’: Dutton’s blunt assessment of Turnbull & Nemesis

Josh Zimmerman
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Malcolm Turnbull (left) and Peter Dutton in 2018.
Malcolm Turnbull (left) and Peter Dutton in 2018. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAPIMAGE

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has revived one-time colleague Brendan Nelson’s description of Malcolm Turnbull as an “undiagnosed narcissistic psychopath” in a withering assessment of the former prime minister.

The comment came during a Q&A session at Seven West Media’s Leadership Matters Breakfast on Wednesday when Mr Dutton was asked what it felt like watching ABC documentary Nemesis, which chronicled the Coalition’s decade in government between 2013 and 2022.

Nemesis focused in large part on in-fighting with the Liberal Party, with Mr Turnbull describing Mr Dutton as a “thug” following the challenge to his leadership in 2018 that ultimately resulted in Scott Morrison being installed as PM.

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Leadership Matters with Opposition Leader Peter Dutton:
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton on stage at Seven West Media’s Leadership Matters breakfast. Credit: Michael Wilson/The West Australian

Responding to that description, Mr Dutton said he had worked closely with Mr Turnbull and thought he had an “incredible skillset to offer the Liberal Party and the country”.

“Great capacity, very affable person, great business mind,” Mr Dutton said.

His undoing, according to Mr Dutton, was that “for all Malcolm’s qualities, he had no political judgement at all.”

He then referenced Mr Nelson’s assessment of the former Wentworth MP, who has remained an active political commentator — often criticising his own party — since resigning from Parliament shortly after being deposed as leader.

“Brendan Nelson I think it was… at one stage described him as an undiagnosed narcissistic psychopath,” Mr Dutton said.

“Now, that would be unkind.

“I think people should conduct themselves in a dignified way when they leave office. I think Julia Gillard has done that, I think Tony Abbott has done that, I think Scott Morrison had pledged to do that.

“Malcolm hasn’t done that, that is an issue for him.

“And talk of thug, that was the first time I’d heard him use that word.”

Director of the Australian War Memorial Dr Brendan Nelson poses for a portrait after a media doorstop at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Thursday, August 15, 2019. Australian War Memorial director Brendan Nelson is stepping down after seven years in the role. (AAP Image/Sean Davey) NO ARCHIVING
Peter Dutton has revived one-time colleague Brendan Nelson’s description of Malcolm Turnbull. Credit: SEAN DAVEY/AAPIMAGE

Mr Nelson was challenged by Mr Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party — then in opposition — in 2008, winning the spill 45-41.

Mr Nelson, who had replaced John Howard following the 2007 election, retired from politics the following year.

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