Turnbull: “It is a reminder, as Margaret Thatcher wisely said once: expect the unexpected.” Photo: Andrew Meares PM met Pat over a cup of tea at the Devonport golf club. Photo: Andrew Meares
PM Malcolm Turnbull arriving at a local event in Tasmania, as Britain votes to exit the EU. Photo: Andrew Meares
The PM campaigning in seat of Bass, held by Liberal MP Andrew Nikolic. Photo: Andrew Meares
Australia votes July 2: Full coverageBrexit campaign wins: Britain votes to leave EU$50b wiped off ASX, pound crashes
All politics, they say, is local.
And so it was that as the historic results came in showing the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, Malcolm Turnbull was in Devonport, Tasmania, announcing $3.5 million for a new function centre for the local golf club.
While it looks and sounds British, the lush lawns of Devonport are a world away from the UK. That’s certainly how it felt on Friday.
As global markets shook and the pound dived, the PM was talking up the importance of providing a new home for the golf club to merge with the nearby bowls and croquet clubs. Outside, a hardy local braved the cold to practice his drive.
Lest anyone suggest this was just pork-barrelling to save a marginal seat, Turnbull stressed this was about creating “jobs and growth” in the local area.
There was hardly a smart phone in sight among the mostly grey-haired crowd of locals gathered to hear the PM speak. So it came as a shock when he shifted from talking about the Tasmanian economy to provide a breaking news update on the Brexit results.
“The vote in Britain for Britain leaving the EU is very close,” he announced, sparking a gasp of surprise among the crowd.
“At this point the Vote Leave is ahead but it is probably too early to call one way or the other.
“If Britain were to vote to leave the EU, and the bookmakers apparently think that is likely, that will create uncertainty and somewhat of a shock.
“You have already seen the pound has lost a lot of value.
“It is a reminder, as Margaret Thatcher wisely said once: expect the unexpected.”
Asked if he was a remain or leave man, Irish expat Patrick Fennessy was cut off before he could answer.
“He already left,” his mate chimed in.
Devonport Bowls Club member Peter Businink, a Remain supporter, was thinking about the importance of unity.
“As a standalone club we’d have no future,” he said.
“By combining together as a we have a chance of survival.”
A powerful message to be sure, but a very different conclusion to that reached in the UK.
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