It’s been reported that then Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove did indeed speak with then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull during last year’s leadership crisis.
However, while word has it Mr Turnbull told senior colleagues that the governor-general would not swear in challenger Peter Dutton, the facts a different story entirely.
Mr Turnbull’s claim to his Attorney-General, Christian Porter, that “I know the governor-general” and “I know this would be his position” was not based on statements Sir Peter had made to Mr Turnbull.
It is now clear that Sir Peter would not have accepted the view that, acting on a section 44 (v) issue (the basis for Mr Turnbull’s beef with Mr Dutton), he should use his discretion not to commission a new leader.
In fact, Sir Peter’s view coincided with the argument put by Mr Porter: that Mr Turnbull was “wrong at law” and if the prime minister went public saying the governor-general could not commission Mr Dutton then Mr Porter as Attorney-General would publicly repudiate him.
Now whether Mr Turnbull would have given such advice cannot be known – Mr Dutton’s loss of the leadership ballot meant the jig was up.
But there’s no doubting our nation would have faced a certain constitutional crisis had the leadership ballot gone differently – had we lived to see Mr Turnbull insist the governor-general could not swear in Mr Dutton whilst Mr Dutton advised Sir Peter to commission him as prime minister.
Though it never came to pass, it has come to light.
Thanks to Mr Porter’s carefully documented trail, the Attorney General’s version of events and Mr Turnbull’s vehemence at the time is not in question.
Perhaps Turnbull’s father never told him, as mine so often did, “Be sure your sins will find you out”.