Tony Abbott giving his speech to the 55th Annual Liberal Party Federal Council, 2011
In the perpetual present that politics has become, worldwide, and especially in this country since Tony Abbott became Opposition Leader, where what happened and what was said yesterday is so last week, and as our Opposition Leader churns out speeches like butter to give to whoever will have him on their stage, like the journalist that he is, able to write a new story every day, we usually don't get the opportunity to analyse his words, so quickly do they pass us by in a blur, only to be replaced tomorrow by another set.
The tune remains the same but the words change. There are certain themes that are core but which get changed periodically as the Coalition Caravan moves on.
So I just thought that I would take the time that no one else seems willing or able to, and take one of Mr Abbott's speeches, which contain the 'Gospel Truth' I am to assume as it was written down, and analyse what he really means when he speaks those words.
Or does he? Because, like the journalist he used to be he is able to turn on a dime from one day to the next and write something completely different to what he has written in a previously written piece of work.
So, come with me as we explore the travesty for Australia contained in the speech given by Tony Abbott to the 55th Liberal Federal Council on the 25th of June, 2011
I will be starting at the beginning and going line by line through the whole speech adding my comments and pointing out implications of his words which he probably hoped we wouldn't go into too deeply. Which is exactly why I am doing it, because if the media is not willing to apply proper scrutiny to this man who wants to rule our country, who wishes to slide into the highest office in the land, based upon feel-good bromides that disguise a seamy underbelly of intent, and mindless slogans, then I feel honour-bound to do that which they will not.
Tony Abbott speaks with forked tongue, and I want to untangle the snake-tongued one's silkily delivered speeches from now until the next election. I think it will be fun, a worthwhile exercise, and hopefully enlightening for anyone reading it. So, here we go. Tony Abbott’s words are in italics
. “On this weekend exactly a year ago, when we last met, the Labor government was 10 points ahead in the Nielsen poll and Julia Gillard was 21 points ahead as preferred prime minister. “Some difference a year makes!
Which only goes to prove that opinion polls taken after a year of relentlessly negative posturing by Mr A and the media, which indulges him, do have an effect – on the opinion polls, such that they have begun to feed off each other. Tony Abbott and the opinion polls, that is.
Tony Abbott attacks and launches 'Suspension of Standing Order' motions in order to rail against the government, day after day in parliament, based on very little of real substance, which makes the TV News, the newspapers, and the ABC, which serves to continue to adversely colour people's perception of the government and means that any positive achievements are continually swamped by this never-ending negativity from Australia's 21st century 'Nattering Nabob of Negativism'. Then another poll is taken: by Newspoll
, or Nielson
, or Morgan
, or Galaxy
, or Essential
, or the plethora of media outlets, and, with no concurrent scrutiny or focus on Mr Abbott, the government again suffers in the polls. Especially when every minor detail of the Prime Minister's demeanour and anatomy is focused on with laser-like intensity, and every sexist slur is gleefully 'reported', and repeated, all the live long day, well, it's no surprise to me then that the polls are bad now for the government.
And yes, I admit, if they had delivered more in the last 12 months maybe things would be better for them in 'the polls'. However, only 1 year into a 3 year term I cannot see as how these polls should be taken as seriously as some, like Mr Abbott, would like them to be. I honestly don't remember the same portentous intensity being visited upon the poll numbers during the first year of any of John Howard's terms of government, and, in fact, I remember a benign indulgence by the media of his government being accorded to him if things had gotten a bit off-kilter for some reason.
Of course, however, it suits Tony Abbott and the media that is running his PR campaign to accord 'the polls' undue importance. Such importance that it was the first cab off the rank in his speech! “Over the past year, this great party has deprived a first term government of its majority, brought a returned government to its knees, and now has despairing Labor MPs thinking about Kevin 11.”
Even though 'this great party' of Tony Abbott's wasn't able to win the August 2010 election, or convince a couple of Conservative independent MPs to support it to form government in the post-election negotiations. Nor any independent MP, no matter how much money he threw at them. ‘...brought a returned government to its knees.’
Well, obviously Mr A has a very different interpretation of what that is to what I do. I suppose if he calls having a 151 to zero success rate in passing legislation in parliament being 'brought to its knees', then I, um, guess so. However, I think that what he means is that being indulged, facilitated, and enabled by a Conservative-owned media, which also seems to wag the dog of the ABC, such that he is giving the impression of successfully challenging the Minority Gillard government to the public-at-large, when he is, in fact, being entirely ineffectual where it should really count, in the Legislative Chambers of both Houses of Parliament, then, well, I have to agree with him. Let's just see how long he can keep that up for though before the scales start to fall off the eyes of the electorate and reality intrudes on his carefully crafted mirage, that is the All Attack 'Action Man' Abbott political persona. Tick, tick, tick Mr A. '...and now has despairing MPs thinking about Kevin 11.'
Erm, no, actually. From all credible reports, a return to Kevin Rudd as Labor leader is the last thing Labor MPs are considering. The truth is, bar a couple of minor niggles, they are happy with Julia Gillard. What made Kevin Rudd crumble, from Tony Abbott, the Coalition camp, and their camp followers in the media, is only making Julia Gillard stronger and more resolute. So, this is just another lie from the lips of TA. They trip off his lips so casually and so easily, don't they? "And Barry O’Farrell has won the biggest landslide in Australian history campaigning against the carbon tax."
No. Wrong again, T.A. Barry O'Farrell tacked the 'Anti Carbon Tax campaign' onto the end of the Coalition's NSW State election campaign, almost as an Abbott-directed afterthought, which it was. And that's the actual truth of the matter, isn't it, Mr A.?
Actually, truth be told, and I know that is an alien concept to Mr Abbott, but the venal behaviour of the NSW State Labor government lost them the election and delivered a massive mandate to Barry O'Farrell, who employed the smallest of small targets to face the electorate with, who made much of a gimmicky 'Contract With the People of NSW', wherein he promised to resign as Premier if he broke that contract, and which he already has (break the contract, that is), and which he hasn't done (resign, that is). He broke that contract almost on Day 1 with his retrospective Solar Feed-In Tariff legislation. I'm sure we'll find more examples of that broken contract as Premier O'Farrell goes on without resigning, no doubt. I seem to remember Mr Abbott had one of those 'Contract with the People' thingys too, before the last election. “If only we’d taken the advice of the pundits!”
Que? What advice? Which pundits, Mr A.? The ones that suit you to reference, no doubt! “The most positive thing we can do for our country right now is save Australia from a carbon tax; a carbon tax that will destroy jobs and the raise the cost of living for Australia’s forgotten families.”
No, the most mature and adult thing we can do for our country right now is to save Australia from the catastrophic effects upon it of Global Warming and Climate Change, not reduce such an important matter to an argument about tax. A 'Price on Carbon' that will not be paid by the 'Forgotten Families' but the biggest, dirtiest polluters, will not destroy jobs but create them as a result of the Decarbonised Economy and Green Industrial Revolution. Now, what WILL raise the Cost of Living for Australian Families is no jobs from the economic transformation of the future and no decent national income as Mining Boom Mark 2 goes bust as we fail to move with the times and the price for our Coal goes down as other base load power modalities and ways of stoking furnaces are developed and implemented in countries decarbonising their economies. Remember who used to sell lumps of Coal? The poorest of the poor. “And the best way to stop the carbon tax is to change the government.”
No, the best way to ensure that the sensible moves with respect to Global Warming are made is to NOT change the government to the 'Intelligent Sceptic', and master of Climate Change tokenism, Tony Abbott. Also to resist the world wide push back from the 'Business as Usual' Fossil Fuel industries trying to orchestrate, government by government, failure to take action on Global Warming. “I thank everyone in this room and Liberals right around Australia for your hard work to expose the faults of a monumentally bad government.”
I think Tony Abbott should be thanking the Murdoch media and their lapdogs in the ABC. They are the ones who continually give credence to Abbott's cockamamie 'policies', such as the 'More money for High Income Earners Paid Parental Leave Scheme', which even members of his own Coalition think is an irresponsible dog. Instead the media echo every condemnatory phrase uttered, generally hypocritically, by the Liberal Party leader, without question, or, if, on the rare occasion that they do try to probe behind the glib facade that Tony Abbott and his minders and handlers have constructed, they then allow the man to treat them with contempt, give them the kiss-off and just walk away from their questioning without a bye nor leave. “I thank my parliamentary colleagues especially my senior shadow ministers led by Julie Bishop and Joe Hockey.”
Don't. Make. Me. Laugh. Two more lightweight performers, who epitomise the phrase 'All style, no substance', I cannot think of. 'Helpmeet' Bishop and 'Haw Haw' Hockey. Both continually being found out to be fudgers of the first order. Both having only a passing acquaintance with a concept known as 'the Truth'. Bishop by not even being capable of penning her own contributions to Liberal policy debates (and yes, I know, 'Pot Kettle Black', but then I'm not Deputy Leader of a political party, and I'm not a serial offender), or making fundamental errors of fact when she does come up with a few original thoughts, and, last but not least, her idea to get the Coalition's election promises costed by Horwarth's Accounting firm over there in Perth, before the last election. Genius move, Jules. Not. Yes, it hid the $11 Billion Black Hole from the electorate, into which disappeared double counting and counting of things which didn't even exist in the Budget yet, or were 'Off Book', like the NBN, but, in the end, it just served to show her up, yet again, as an entirely unprincipled politician.
And Joe Hockey was the man who hawked it all around the country before the election and since, like some sort of Pyramid Investment Scheme-extolling 'Financial Guru' and carpetbagger. Just like we found out this past week from the 'Go Back to Where You Came From' show on SBS, that the Vice President of the Young Liberals was a Financial Planner. No wonder the Liberal Party fought so hard to get their cosy deal with the public preserved, as it seems they love nothing more than a bit of financial sleight of hand and a shell game to bamboozle the punters/electors.
So, in other words, TA, shonks from the top of the Liberal Party's pyramid, to the bottom. Not particularly fine and upstanding individuals at all. Yes, there are some in the Liberal Party who are, and, may I say, it appears to me they are hanging on by their fingernails, that are worthwhile individual MPs, Dr Mal Washer being one, but not the one's that you have singled out. “I thank Alan Stockdale for being the kind of president a parliamentary leader can normally only dream of...”
And I bet there was a ton o' political calculation involved in TA's vote for him, which revolved around the fact that Alan is now Tony's man, and he let him know it during the ballot. “…and Brian Loughnane for being the best political operator in our country.”
Mm, yes, the Coalition HAVE become better at the political operation of late than the ALP. It used to be the other way around, and weren't the Liberals twisted Kimbies a-go-go about that back then? No more, it seems. It's to be worn as a badge of honour now. Of course, Tony. And especially since you became Leader of the Liberal Party and policy became the Cinderella in the Liberal Party 'family'.
Even though, as we all know, playing politics isn't all there is. On the evidence, it seems to be the modus operandi
of the Liberal Party to play the politics hardest, scatter a few policies around in general terms and prior to elections to keep the naysayers about the Coalition's empty policy cupboard quieted, and generally hide their true light under a bushel until after they are elected. Whereupon they whip off the masks they have been hiding their true faces behind and, 'Whack!' they begin their Shock and Awe campaign of implementing what they truly believe in but failed to inform the electorate about, except in the most general of terms. A la Barry O'Farrell, Ted Baillieu, Colin Barnett, and no doubt, Isobel Redmond in SA, 'Can Do' can of production line Liberal soup, Campbell Newman in Queensland, and Michael Hodgeman (now, is he an example of Liberal nepotism and birth-right political hegemony, or what?), in Tasmania. “Most of all I thank the Australian people for keeping their faith that government doesn’t have to be as bad as this.”
Um, TA, it's the Labor Party that is in government and they have some pretty big reforms on the boil, despite your constant cavilling at minor inconsistencies that are thrown up in the dust they leave behind as they 'Move Forward' with their reformist agenda, all of which can be carefully explained and elucidated to the Australian people should the media so desire. Still, you don't really want to give that impression, do you? “On her first day as Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced that the government had lost its way and that she was taking control.”
And after a period of less than 1 year since the last election, Julia Gillard has sought to find a definitive solution to the Asylum Seeker issue which will encompass the entire region; she has modified the RSPT to become the MRRT, which mollified the Miners and their Anti-RSPT campaign, except for Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest and Big Gina Reinhart, whose core motivation appears to be becoming among the richest people in the world off the back of the profits from the resources which belong to all the Australian people and who should thus all benefit from them financially, with increased provision of infrastructure and real tax cuts and superannuation increases for those who need them most. Which doesn't equal Twiggy and Big Gina as it happens.
Julia Gillard has also taken the Climate Change policy bit between her teeth and is on the verge of nutting out the final details of the deal and announcing it to the Australian people. A deal which WILL pass parliament and which WILL actually see Australia, the highest per capita producer of Greenhouse Gases in the world, do its bit to reduce its CO2 emissions and thus force behavioural change upon the community and Industry.
And then there's the structural separation of Telstra and the implementation of the NBN.
Looks like control of a lot of balls in the air to me. “One year and one day later, the government is dying in a political desert and the transition from Rudd to Gillard has been as effective as changing from Burke to Wills. “
Still, when it comes to glib one-liners, Julia Gillard is no match for Mr Abbott. I have to admit that. “Some say that this government is the worst since Whitlam, but that’s unfair – to Whitlam – who was utterly incompetent but never sold Labor’s soul to the Greens.”
Um, much as Bob Brown would've liked it, The Greens didn't exist as a representative political entity in Whitlam's time. Did even the Australian Democrats? And actually, if selling one's political soul to The Greens involves compromising with them such that more humane political outcomes are the result, then, 'Bring It On!'. To which I will add that Mr Abbott doesn't have a political soul to lose, having sold it to the devil long since, in my humble opinion, in return for the power to mesmerise the gullible with fine-sounding sentiment. He truly has mastered the dark political art of speaking with a forked tongue. As this speech exemplifies in spades. “When a government loses its way, sooner or later the country loses its way too.”
Nope, sorry, TA. I think we're finally headed in the correct direction, not the 'Right' direction. The NBN, Health and Hospital reform, addressing Climate Change, Tasmanian Forest policy, Skills and Training for all our kids and anyone else who wants access to it, not just the ones who can afford to pay for it, combined with importing the rest of the workforce from other countries and paying them wages comparable to the countries they came from in many instances, since uncovered, and eventually dragging our own Unskilled and Semi-skilled workers' wages down with them. A definite 'fiscal drag', you could say, that was occurring under Howard's watch. While, at one and the same time Aussie workers missed out on those jobs. Or, worse still, those jobs were outsourced overseas. As Howard and Abbott, Hockey and Bishop et al
, encouraged enthusiastically.
Not to forget the glorious WorkChoices for those who weren't the much-lauded 'Small Business Owners', in that Liberal pantheon of ever-so-humble capitalist greats.
So that's the big N.O. To the assertion that the country has lost its way under Labor. I think that the Gillard government is just getting a head of steam up after heading in the wrong direction under Howard, and going off track and off the reservation under Kevin Rudd. Bless his over-achieving cotton socks. “That’s Australia’s problem right now.”
No, the problem is that you, Tony Abbott, want to take the country back to where it has just gotten itself away from, by dressing up Howard's tired old tracksuit in a new lycra bag of fruit.” The next part of the Abbott address gives his expert analysis of the Gillard Government, about which he insists there is “almost nothing right”. You will have to wait until next week for a forensic analysis of this