The accidental prime minister


Our current prime minister assumed office on 18 September 2013. He was elected as leader of the opposition on 1 December 2009, taking over from Malcolm Turnbull who lost the leadership spill by one vote. Joe Hockey, the current Australian treasurer, also stood for election as party leader and opposition leader in the internal Liberal Party election but was eliminated in the first round.

At the time of Abbott’s election, the ALP, with Kevin Rudd as prime minister, was planning the introduction of emissions’ trading legislation. Turnbull was intending to allow the legislation to pass, with amendments; a view that was not generally supported in the Liberal Party. The amendments had been negotiated with the ALP and were ready to be passed through the parliament.

As they say, the rest is history. Abbott became opposition leader and instituted a number of three word slogans such as ‘no new taxes’, which resonated with a significant proportion of the Australian public. Rudd subsequently was removed from office resulting in Julia Gillard becoming prime minister. She won the 2010 election with the assistance of some independent MPs but was subsequently replaced during the first half of 2013 by Rudd (whom she had deposed three years earlier) in a failed attempt by the ALP to retain power at the 2013 election.

This piece is not going to be another ‘where did the ALP go wrong’ monologue — rather it exists to ask the question: is Tony Abbott the accidental Prime Minister, due to not only the ALP’s ‘impressive’ ability to shoot itself in the foot, but a much better than expected reaction to Abbott’s slogan-based ‘promise the earth’ form of politics?

Abbott led the Liberal/National Party coalition to what could be called a thumping victory at the 2013 election. The LNP gained 18 seats with a swing of 3.61% of the vote and understandably, in the eyes of the LNP, Abbott could do no wrong. For a considerable period prior to the election, the polls suggested that the LNP would have received a higher vote than the reality on 18 September. The discussion on whether Rudd’s re-elevation reduced the margin can be had another day.

The Political Sword has commented before on the period of inaction immediately following the 2013 election. However, what we didn’t contemplate at the time was that, rather than attempting to reduce the heat and tension in Australian politics, there was actually a ‘we won — what do we do now?’ paralysis surrounding the newly minted Government, despite the probability suggested by pre-election polling that Abbott would walk into Kirribilli House — like Howard, Abbott prefers to live in Sydney.

Prior to the election, Abbott claimed repeatedly that he and his coalition was ‘ready to govern’. In this transcript of the ABC’s AM program, Abbott claims:

“Look, we are ready to govern. We've got a clear plan. On day one, there would be no mining tax, no carbon tax. In week one there'd be a debt and deficit reduction taskforce. In month one, we'd start the tax reform debate that Australia really needs and has substantially missed out on.

Within three months, we'd be looking at small business reforms. So look we've got a clear plan to get our country back on track.”

Without being too cynical, some ten months after the election the ‘mining tax’ and ‘carbon tax’ repeals still have to get through the parliament; the ‘debt and deficit reduction taskforce’ report is missing in action; and, there seems to be little if any headway on a ‘tax reform debate’ except for a bit of ‘kite flying’ about raising the level of the GST from 10% to 12.5%.

Soon after the election, the rhetoric started. Despite the public comments of Joe Hockey, Michael Pascoe wrote in a syndicated article across Fairfax media:

It's yet another case of politics overshadowing economics: while newbie Treasurer Joe Hockey insinuates otherwise, the final count for the 2012-13 federal budget is an outstanding achievement, a monument to a skilled Treasury performance in very difficult circumstances. No, seriously.

Pascoe went on to suggest:

After that exercise, the economy is not strong enough to handle further severe fiscal contraction just yet. And that's why Joe Hockey is letting the deficit run this year, never mind his political rants, announcing that he will trim the budget by all of 0.4 per cent. Big whoop.

Given the challenges facing us a little further down the track, the structural deficit does indeed have to be tamed with a mixture of genuine tax reform and entitlement restraint, but not just yet.

By the day of the federal budget, Hockey had again played the ‘budget emergency’ card — it’s a pity that he didn’t fool many, including Peter Martin, Fairfax’s Economics editor, who discussed the ‘entitlements’, from strategies such as clothing and vehicle expenses, work related expenses, donations, negative gearing and structuring income and taxation affairs after considerable advice from taxation and accounting professionals.

“Pain all round” will be the rallying cry of the night. Joe Hockey says his first budget ̶ tonight ̶ will hit everyone from high earners to politicians to Australians too poor to pay to see the doctor. All of us will have to “contribute budget repair”.

Except that we won’t.

Another one he didn’t convince was Greg Jericho, writing in his ‘Grogonomics’ series in The Guardian the day prior to the budget announcement that ‘Slamming on the fiscal brakes isn’t [a] smart way to keep the economy moving’. Jericho’s article (with the customary number of graphs) goes on to demonstrate the point, finishing with:

Last week in a photo-op with the secretary of the Treasury, Hockey suggested he did not think the budget would “detract from growth at all in the short-term”.

This would please the OECD which warned the government in its latest economic outlook, issued last week, that due to difficulties from the decline in the mining sector “heavy front loading of fiscal consolidation should be avoided”.

Pascoe, Martin and Jericho each state in their articles that various economists had advised the current Australian Government that severe budget cuts will weaken the Australian economy.

So, instead of altering existing arrangements, such as the apparent need to obtain a new general practitioner referral each year to see a medical specialist about a chronic condition, or looking at negative gearing, donation thresholds and so on, the government introduces a $7 co-payment on the ‘universal free heath care system’ known as Medicare. Hockey responded to criticism of the $7 co-payment for routine GP visits ‘by saying doctors could instead take a cut to their Medicare rebate without requiring patients to make up the shortfall.’

Despite the co-payment not being required until July 2015, the government’s lack of ability to actually sell a message without a three word slogan has ensured that general practitioners are already seeing significantly fewer patients.

Keperra Medical Centre practice manager Lisa Thorne said patient numbers had dropped by at least 100 per week — equivalent to the workload of one full-time doctor — since the Federal Government announced the introduction of the co-payment, despite it not due to take effect until July, 2015.

There is some other evidence of Hockey’s ‘budget emergency’ beginning to affect consumer spending with new car sales falling, house prices falling, and a significant drop in consumer confidence.

Hockey is not the only Minister that hasn’t changed approach from when he was in opposition. Let’s quickly look at Scott Morrison, responsible for ‘border protection’, amongst other things.

As early as October 2013, the ABC Fact Check unit was questioning Abbott and Morrison’s use of terminology in regard to refugee boats.

In January 2014, UNHCR was questioning the legality of the boat turn back policy.

Spokesman for the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Babar Baloch says the organisation is seeking an explanation from the Australian government over reports a number of asylum-seeker boats have been returned to Indonesian waters.

Mr Baloch said the UNHCR found a policy of "pushing" back asylum-seeker boats "very concerning".

"Any such approach would raise significant issues and potentially could place Australia in breach of its obligations under the Refugee Convention and international law," he told ABC radio on Saturday.

February saw headlines regarding claims that Australian Border Protection had forced refugees into lifeboats and ensured they returned to Indonesia. Morrison acknowledged the Australian government was behind the lifeboats turning up in Indonesia during March, around the time he stopped the regular press conferences regarding border protection issues.

UNHCR, through spokesman Thomas Vargas, told the Australian Government in April:

“There’s no reliable information that connects the drop in registration numbers at the UNHCR with the policy that Australia is implementing,” he told reporters in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The (people) smugglers are not going to go away, they may just find a different way of doing things.

That's why countries need to work together.

Unilateral solutions and even bilateral solutions are not going to solve the problem.”

The public relations disasters listed here by senior government ministers demonstrate that either they don’t follow the direction of the prime minister or the prime minister believes that his process of ‘promising the earth then delivering nothing like it’ is a valid process. Similar disasters have been made by other senior ministers and there are countless examples should an internet search be carried out in specific areas of federal government responsibility.

The rationale behind claiming that Abbott is the accidental prime minister is this. Clearly, he and his senior ministers still believe they are in opposition and are demonstrating they are great with the rhetoric but clearly don’t understand the ramifications of their statements — something best left for opposition parties that don’t have to implement their pronouncements.

Abbott left the country late in May for what was effectively a ‘round the world tour’, calling at Jakarta (to mend fences with the Indonesian President), attending the D-Day remembrance ceremonies in France (and generally reported as an afterthought in the Australian media as the conclusion to the reporting of a magnificent speech by Queen Elizabeth) and then to Washington DC where he cancelled meetings with economic leaders who will be in Brisbane during November for the G20 meeting. Abbott’s only ‘newsworthy’ input, apart from the obligatory shots showing him meeting foreign leaders and mangling the French language as expertly as he mangles his native English, was that he somehow linked D-Day to the rescinding of the ‘carbon tax’ rather than looking at the historical significance of the event.

Was it a coincidence that Turnbull (Abbott’s immediate predecessor as Opposition Leader who lost the 2009 leadership by one vote) was being accused of a leadership challenge while Abbott was out of the country? While the machinations of the removal of Gillard by Rudd occurred on live television immediately following an overseas trip, the conservative side of politics also has form in this area. NT Chief Minister Terry Mills was on a ‘trade mission’ in Asia during March 2013 when he was ‘sacked’ by his party room and told of the fact by telephone, and there was the resignation of Ted Ballieu as Victorian premier in the same month.

The LNP won the 2013 election with a two party preferred vote of 53.49%, but, if an election was held today, the polls are telling us (at the time this was being prepared) that the ALP would receive a similar level of support as the LNP did in 2013. Turnbull was more popular than Abbott in September 2012 and apparently still is.

No one apart from the LNP leadership can state with any certainty that Abbott was or was not ‘meant’ to lead them to power, but there seems to be a concerted effort to make his remaining time as Prime Minister as difficult as possible, with constant leadership speculation as well as a number of senior government ministers, including Abbott himself, ‘opening their mouth to change feet’. Both sides of politics have demonstrated they will sack a leader should they see a political advantage — and while Turnbull’s ‘popularity polling’ numbers are significantly higher than Abbott’s, it is reasonable to assume the speculation will continue.

Was Abbott meant to be the LNP’s choice and do they now realise they picked a lemon? Would Turnbull or anyone else be any better?

What do you think?

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TPS Team

13/07/2014This week we welcome 2353 back into the author's chair with a very insightful piece on the ascension of Tony Abbott to the leadership of the parliamentary Liberal Party and subsequently to the prime ministership. 2353 asks some interesting questions at the end - let us know your responses.

Ad astra

13/07/20142353 The core message of your interesting piece is in your penultimate paragraph. As a Prime Minister, Tony Abbott [b]is[/b] a lemon. He was widely lauded as an Opposition Leader by his supporters, the Murdoch media and many other parts of the MSM, as highly successful in countering the government at every step, and eventually displacing it. His destructive behaviour, his persistent use of three word slogans, his small target strategy, and his willingness to make promises irrespective of whether it was possible to honour them, were regarded as smart tactics, even though they were devoid of a long term vision for the nation. Superficiality and short-termism were applauded, all the more as the polls turned his way and stayed there to Election Day. In our society, winners are lauded; losers are also-rans. No matter how suspect the tactics, the winner always gets the crown. Abbott, supported by his sycophants, succeeded in his quest for power, but now that he has to govern, it is dawning on the electorate that what it thought was a pleasant dream with rosy promises has become a frightening prospect for the next three years. During the election campaign, a piece titled: [i]Say no, no, no to Tony Abbott[/i] was published on [i]TPS[/i]. It postulated that if elected Abbott would prove to be both vengeful and weak. http://www.thepoliticalsword.com/post/2013/08/25/Say-no-no-no-to-Tony-Abbott.aspx We quickly saw vengefulness emerge; now we can see the weakness of the man being exposed, day after day. In that piece there were these paragraphs: “[i]Abbott is a weak man who would not be able to resist the demands of powerful business and industry leaders. He would go wobbly at the knees and comply. He hasn’t got the ticker to stand firm. “Abbott has never acknowledged the reality of the global financial crisis and its ongoing sequelae; he has never acknowledged the ever-changing global economic circumstances and how Australia must adapt to them, even in his campaign launch today. It’s as if these situations never existed. Instead of giving voters a concrete ‘narrative’, the Holy Grail political journalists demanded of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, all he gave us today were his aspirations, some now stretched out over a decade. There were few concrete plans to achieve them, and no vision of what he wanted for this nation ten years from now. It’s so easy to mouth motherhood statements such his desire for ‘a stronger economy’, ‘more jobs’, ‘lower taxes’, ‘budget surpluses’, ‘better hospitals and schools’, and so on, but without concrete plans, they are just fine-sounding words, empty of substance. Why the paltry narrative? Is it because he awaits directives from the wealthy and the powerful? His creative slate looks blank, waiting, as it seems to be, for his mentors to write their narrative… [b]“Should he become PM, this weakness of character would be even more detrimental to good governance, more dangerous to equity and fairness than the vengefulness that he would parade against the weak, against those who have no defence. The wealthy and powerful would prevail. Abbott, the weak man, would not resist.”[/b] It does not take a Rhodes scholar to see this awful scenario playing out before the horrified eyes of the electorate. If you listened to Abbott’s half hour speech to the LNP Queensland annual conference yesterday, you would have heard a reprise of his pre-election speeches. There was nothing new except a few boasts about stopping boats. The Coalition’s ‘narrative for the nation’ was as paltry a before. He simply fell back on the Coalition’s dogma of Labor debt and deficit, a crisis that only the Coalition could remedy; he recited again that his government of ‘grown-ups’ was the one that would fix it, and shrugged off the embarrassing and chaotic events of last week as ‘situation normal’, reassuring us that his ‘adult’ government would fix everything next week by “carefully, purposefully, steadily and methodically getting on with the job of running the country”. How many times have we heard that self-satisfied mantra, and from how many Coalition lips? Bill Shorten’s assessment of the Abbott speech was spot on when he used the descriptor ‘delusional’. As indeed it was! So here’s the rub. Abbott is a lemon, and a fatter, juicier and tarter one than Rudd ever was. Using the definition that the term ‘lemon’ is used to denote a faulty or defective item, or simply used as a metaphor for something that "leaves a bad taste in one's mouth", how difficult is it to align Abbott with ‘lemon’? It is over ten months since Abbott took office, yet yesterday here he was using the same vague language, repeating the same slogans, making the same promises, sprucing the same ‘adult’ metaphor, yet as devoid as ever of a deep underlying vision that might inspire the electorate, and as devoid of a carefully scripted narrative about how he will achieve his purpose as it always has been. Apart from slowing boat arrivals, and concluding two free trade deals, he hasn’t advanced a jot. The repeal of the carbon and mineral taxes that were to have been legislated in his first week as PM, are still there. If he manages to have them repealed, it will be with many concessions. We said Abbott was a man of three word slogans. He still is. We heard that he would run an adult government. What we saw last week was a laughable schoolyard rabble, unable to negotiate their signature legislation through a new Senate, but still trying to play the schoolyard top dog, chest puffed out, muscles flexed. Politicians can withstand the stings and barbs of personal comments, and the reverses of political fortune, and still survive. But when they are subject to ridicule, when the people begin to laugh at them as they did during this past week, the end is usually not far away. We saw a glimpse of this on [i]Seven Sunday Sunrise[/i] this morning at the end of a segment titled [i]Climate Clive[/i], which morphed into [i]PM of promises[/i]. Andrew O’Keefe, Monique Wright and the panellists gave us a few verbal, and more importantly non-verbal signals, as they reflected briefly on ‘broken promises’. https://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/video/watch/24447241/say-what/ [b]If you are able to open the link, watch their non-verbals, and especially their eyes. Abbott’s minders would not be pleased that their man was becoming the subject of ridicule as he is exposed to the commentators and the voters alike that despite all the hype, this accidental PM is a just a lemon after all.[/b]

Ken

13/07/20142353 Yes, it makes one wonder what we would be like now if one person had changed their vote. We would have had an ETS of some sort. We probably wouldn't have witnessed the level of vindictiveness against Gillard. The LNP policies may have been a little 'softer' with more small 'L' liberal influence. The Liberals, however, would have been in disarray because the rabid conservative (extreme right) element would never have been content under that sort of leadership. And even with a different leader (whether Turnbull or someone else), there isn't a lot of decent talent from which to choose an effective Cabinet. I think it would have been a fascinating time but in a different way. As you and Ad both say, I think there are some in the Libs who know they have a lemon but two things will keep Abbott there. He did lead them to a big win and it is not a good look to dump such leaders (whoever took over from Abbott would have comparisons drawn with Gillard's take over from Rudd who similarly had led Labor to a big win). The other issue is that the Libs now seem to be dominated by the right wing and I don't think there are enough of the small 'L' liberals to mount an effective challenge. But unless the polling improves, particularly between January and June next year, the pressure for change will mount.

Casablanca

14/07/2014 2353 Thank you for another stimulating conversation starter. Here are three current articles that resonate with points that you made in your piece. 1. Andrew Denton's Advice for Tony Abbott: Duck! Chris Graham. 13 Jul 2014 Tony Abbott should duck. Labor is unelectable. The Greens are ineffective. And News Limited has no moral compass. Please welcome back to the stage, Mr Andrew Denton. http://newmatilda.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=bcde3b960b33e25d0c003ebc8&id=d450a38111&e=0a1e2bdeb8 2. Poor journalism is a crime Andrew Elder, 13 July 2014 Greed, incompetence (and the internet) are the least of our worries when it comes to public interest journalism. The main problem contemporary mainstream journalism has lies in its choice of stories, its sources for stories, and the depth to which it will go in explaining what the story is and why it matters. http://andrewelder.blogspot.com.au/ 3. Tony Abbott continues to trash Australia’s reputation abroad Alan Austin. 9 July, 2014 Australia's mainstream media failed to properly report on the extent of anti-Abbott protests last weekend, however the more honest overseas media succeeded. http://www.independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/abbott-continues-to-trash-australias-international-reputation,6652 Ad I watched the Sunrise video. Andrew O'Keefe commented that there were websites that were tracking broken promises and that he thought that the count was at about 23. He's way too forgiving! Sally McManus lists 265 broken promises as of 7 July and Matthew Davis lists 345 for the first 300 days. http://sallymcmanus.net/abbotts-wreckage/ https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/s/besbev4wbtq8glk/abbott.xhtml#

2353

14/07/2014Casablanca, Thanks for the followup articles. There does seem to be a level of concern with Australia's political leadership - something that Ken also comments on above. I really am concerned about our future - although Shorten is actually surprising me (in a good way). Somehow Shorten needs to keep the ALP Government policies (NDIS, NBN, Gonski etc) while showing the internal politics of the Rudd/Gillard Government years are behind them - as us. It would be nice if the only things we had to contribute to this website were the benefits of Government actions to our community. Ad Astra - I watched the video as well and Andrew O'Keefe's comment seemed to suggest there was 23 websites 'dedicated' to documenting Abbott's broken promises. As Casablanca points out he has broken far more than 23. This in itself proves the 'wisdom' in the political practice of breezing into a certain location and making a 'targeted' promise to shore up the voters that would be affected. Hopefully the next generation of political leaders will know better.

TalkTurkey

14/07/2014Greetings Swordsfolks, Cripes I'm listening to the Accidental Prime Minister's QT or at least,to the Q's but mostly not the "Answers" because they are yelled rants. Check this: http://www.theage.com.au/world/julie-bishop-a-complete-fool-australia-a-country-of-rascals-and-outlaws-says-chinese-paper-20140714-zt6w0.html No such comments were ever written by anyone in China whilst ever Rudd and then *J*U*L*I*A* were there. And it was our beloved 98-y-o Past Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, Father of Modern Australia, who of all Western nations first opened diplomatic relations with "Red China" and led a delegation there in the first months of taking office. Abborrrtt and his mob of goons have managed to destroy our reputation in China, not to mention Indonesia and the Middle East and Europe, all in well under a year. There will be a lot of wounds to heal when Labor again takes office. [i]But that won't be more than 2 years and 3 months![/i]

Ad astra

14/07/2014Folks We are now getting on the road to Melbourne for a week or two.

Ken

14/07/2014TT Agree. Australia under this mob is fast becoming an international pariah. They can't get the balance right in international diplomacy. I read somewhere that even Hilary Clinton had suggested we were 'two timing' the US in our relationship with China - but here is China saying what idiots we are. Austrlalia is in a unique position to be the 'honest broker', so to speak, between the two superpowers (US and China) who are still suspicious of each other. But that won't happen while Abbott is PM and Bishop is FM.

TalkTurkey

14/07/2014O My Comrades! What greater delight could there be than to see the enematic Pyne shat out from the blue-ribbon blue-rinse seat of Sturt, where I used to live and where once I managed the Labor campaign against the Liberal shinybum Ian Wilson. (We gave him some anxious moments.) But with a decent candidate and hard work we'll win it next time. AND we'll win back the seat I live in now, Hindmarsh, Steve Georganas' old seat, presently held by oncer Matt Williams. AND we'll also take neighbouring Boothby, where I worked last election, held for too long by Andrew "Softcock" Southcott. The last two are almost shoo-ins from here. The demography of Pyne's electorate makes it harder, but STUDENTS will give him hell now. https://newmatilda.com/2014/07/14/higher-ed-poll-predicts-pyne-gone-coalition-wiped-out Read it and weep Comrades! - Tears of merriment!

Casablanca

15/07/2014 4. Waiting For Lefty Edward Eastwood.13 July, 2014 This weeks Senate debacle was simply another of a long line marked by inept leadership which rests on a conceit that the government has carte blanche to mold Australian society ‘in their own image’ without opposition or accountability. The deciding blow fell far more quietly when a panel of leading economists who took part in Business Day’s mid-year survey rejected the government’s claims of ‘a budget emergency’ with former chief economist of ANZ and now senior economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch Saul Eslake, labelling the government’s claims as ‘an abuse of the English language.’ http://theaimn.com/waiting-lefty/ 5. Just how rubbery is Tony Abbott’s carbon saving pledge? Michelle Grattan. 14 July 2014 Even before the Senate has finally voted to repeal the carbon tax, the debate has moved to a new stage in which the government’s claims will be tested against what Julia Gillard would have called the “lived experience”. Will the average household really get to be $550 better off over the coming year, as Tony Abbott insists? And how will we know?.. The government behaves as if time divides into pre-repeal and post-repeal. But if it sees the end of the carbon tax as some sort of political circuit breaker, it is surely living in la-la land, especially given the doubt over the believability of the $550. http://theconversation.com/just-how-rubbery-is-tony-abbotts-carbon-saving-pledge-29182

2353`

15/07/2014Something to think about over the next few months thanks to Arthur Calwell [quote]It is better to be defeated on principle than to win on lies.[/quote]

2353`

15/07/2014By the way TT - nice to see Perrett ranks well in the poll - he's my local member.

DMW

15/07/2014Hi 2353, you mentioned [i]... Abbott’s slogan-based ‘promise the earth’ form of politics [/i] Dare I suggest that a better description could well be: [i]... Abbott’s slogan-based ‘promise of a Flat Earth’ form of politics[/i]

2353`

15/07/2014DMW - agreed & point taken. I will talk to myself severely :-)

Casablanca

15/07/2014 6. Carbon tax axed: how it affects you, Australia and our emissions Liz Minchin and Michael Hopkin. 15 July 2014 For a start, the carbon tax is not the main reason for your bigger power bills, as economist and former ACCC member Stephen King explains: in NSW average annual power bills more than doubled between 2007-08 and 2013-14, soaring from A$1013 to A$2073, with A$580 or more than half of that rise due to increased costs for the network of poles and wires. In comparison, the carbon tax added A$172...Yet less has been done to tackle the high network cost increases, known as “gold-plating”. And as the Australian Financial Review recently reported, the state-owned NSW network companies are seeking further price rises. http://theconversation.cmail2.com/t/r-l-mngkt-trhltityg-d/

Michael

16/07/2014John Garnaut at Fairfax has now learnt that even writing unctuous puff-pieces for Abbott ministers, in this case the continuously ridiculous Julie Bishop, won't do you any good when said ministers decide to deny they ever said what they said, was published verbatim all around the world, and is on Garnaut's audio recording machine. http://www.smh.com.au/world/china-julie-bishop-comments-that-sparked-beijings-rebuke-never-made-20140716-ztgwt.html?skin=text-only In short, after puffing her chest out like the "complete fool" she was characterised as in Chinese media, she's run for cover, accused (through her catspaw minister's-shit-carrying DFAT bureaucrats) Garnaut and Fairfax of misrepresentation and fabrication, and exposed this country once again to the continuingly mounting record of our government's elected representatives, at the highest level (Garnaut wrote that Bishop was third only to Abbott and Morrison in the rating of power in the gumnint) of incompetence, arrant stupidity when asked to comment on anything other that Canberra's weather, and a cowardly proclivity to hide behind denied language that the real world has punctured from bombast to pinpricked rubber kicked under the couch. Where the cat sooner or later drags it out for all to see.

2353`

16/07/2014[quote] Inspired by Ian Thorpe's courage and honesty, Tony Abbott has decided to 'come out' himself, not as a gay man, but as a dickhead. In an emotional, tell-all interview with Michael Parkinson, the Prime Minister explained that he had been carrying the burden of being a dickhead his entire life. “Even as a child, I knew I was different to the other kids,” the Prime Minister revealed. “For example, when foreign children tried to play in my sandbox, I would tow them back to other parts of the playground.” Mr. Abbott explained that coming out to his parents as a dickhead was the toughest moment of his life. “My parents had always been very open-minded, nice, compassionate people,” he stated. “When I told them that I was an egotistical right-wing dickhead with outdated, xenophobic views, they just smiled and said that they had already known it for years. It was such a relief.”[/quote] https://www.facebook.com/roundsquarescomedy

DMW

16/07/20142353, your find of the excellent quote from Calwell is highly appropriate. The danger of acting according to principle is that, because of the low rent politics of recent years and the often abysmal 'horse race' reporting of events, those that do, disappear, like the Democrats, or are pilloried, like the Greens. Pragmatism instead of principle, lies instead of leadership and the constant lust for power are dragging our society backwards toward some sort of country that could well end up like a certain European power in the 1930's.* Politics is often said to be [i]the art of the possible [/i] maintaining a credible balance between pragmatism and principle and, keeping the lust for power in check, seems to beyond too many of the current crop of politicians and the various operatives that seduce them. * I lose the internet today for almost invoking Godwin's Law :(

Casablanca

16/07/20147.[b] The Palmer pattern: cause maximum drama then support government[/b] Lenore Taylor. 15 Jul 2014 So much for red tape repeal day and the bonfire of regulations. So much for orderly decision-making and grown-up government...After six days of the new Senate a “Palmer pattern” is emerging and it looks like this – cause maximum drama and disruption and then support the government after extracting minimal cobbled-together concessions during chaotic backroom meetings from which all stakeholders are excluded. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/15/the-palmer-pattern-cause-maximum-drama-then-support-government 8. The Australian newspaper cleared way for Howard to be PM, says Abbott AAP. 16 July 2014 Tony Abbott payed tribute to 'one of the world's very best', as he joined Rupert Murdoch to celebrate the masthead’s 50th birthday. Former prime minister John Howard had the Australian newspaper to thank for his elevation to the nation's top job, Tony Abbott says. But the current prime minister has stopped short of crediting the News Corp publication, or any of its state-based stablemates, with his own success as he championed the masthead's objectivity.. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/16/the-australian-newspaper-helped-make-john-howard-pm-says-tony-abbott 9. Abbott's Tea Party and Australia’s true political spectrum Cathy McQueen. 16 July 2014 Tony Abbott leads the world's first Tea Party Government — something that simply does not fit into Australia's usual political spectrum...Because Prime Minister Tony Abbott has foisted something alien and foreign onto the Australian people — an American style lunar far right party, actively working to undermine the Australian way of life, to create greater inequality and an impoverished underclass. www.independentaustralia.net/.../abbotts-tea-party-and-australias-true-political-spectrum,6676

Casablanca

16/07/2014 10. Why an actual climate 'reform' is being axed Greg Jericho 16 July, 2014 The impending end of the carbon price highlights not only how political motives can trump good policy, but also how the word "reform" has evolved in meaning over the past decade or so. Where once it meant changes done to improve something, "reform" now simply means "policy that I agree with". http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-16/jericho-why-an-actual-climate-reform-is-being-axed/5597888 11. Hear us bark: the PUPs save the government on embattled FoFA changes Michelle Grattan. 15 July 2014. FoFA deal encourages government to humour Palmer http://theconversation.cmail2.com/t/r-l-mpilit-trhltityg-yh/

Casablanca

17/07/2014 12. Sunday roast was lamb to the slaughter of the carbon tax Peter Martin. July 17, 2014 The good news is that without the carbon tax you won’t be paying $100 for a Sunday roast. But you never did. Before the carbon tax in 2009 the present Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce said the carbon tax would be “the end of Australia’s sheep industry”. ‘‘I don’t think your working mothers are going to be very happy when they are paying over $100 for a roast,’’ he added. In Parliament this week, asked whether he had found a $100 leg of lamb, Mr Joyce dodged the question. At Woolworths this week a leg of lamb was on special for $15.10. It normally sells for $20.38. http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/sunday-roast-was-lamb-to-the-slaughter-of-the-carbon-tax-20140716-ztkd0.html

TalkTurkey

17/07/2014Greetings Comrades This article was on Twitter, with the question "Why is Marijuana still illegal?" [Notice the name of the author! I only focused on this dopey new "Liberal Democrat" Senator's name earlier this morning! - But the two DL's have seriously different outlooks I suspect.] http://www.afr.com/p/business/healthcare2-0/marijuana_is_just_good_medicine_ET2czXhdXPL1ZRyE4u4rAO?utm_source=outbrain&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=outbrain_amplify After watching with bemusement as the fawning Media fell all over themselves to weep tears of sympathy for that swimmer man Thorpe (I forget his given name) as he "came out" as a "Gay", any law-abiding dope smoker would be justified in feeling a little envious. Homosexual acts between consenting adults in private is not even a crime, hasn't been for decades, though note, it does involve at least two people. Cannabis use per se does not necessarily involve anyone else at all. One may - at multiple jeopardy - grow one's own, and use it all by oneself. It is classically a victimless crime. Yet if a celebrity were to announce publicly his regular habitual use of Cannabis, as Mr Thorpe has done re his homosexuality, he wouldn't get [i]There,there Darling Boy! [/i] and he sure wouldn't get paid $40,000 neither, (or was it $400,000 ?) - What he could expect would be potentially-violent home invasions by Police - or by hoodlums! If he were found to be in possession of any weed he'd have it stolen - the cops call it confiscated but it's still gone! - and if he were growing any he'd be charged with Cultivation and subject to being gaoled with a criminal record. So no user in his right mind dares speak his Truth, and so, decade after decade, this insane persecution of cannabis use continues. I'm sure if I were a user myself I would not drop the slightest breath of a whisper of a hint! ;-)

Michael

17/07/2014Mark Kenny in the Fairfax Press http://www.canberratimes.com.au/national/liberal-frontbenchers-sour-on-joe-hockey-after-threat-to-order-spending-cuts-20140716-3c1nw.html?skin=text-only displays his usual razorsharp reading of political events in Canberra in his story about Joe Hockey threatening non-legislated cuts to the Budget. And how peeved unidentified fellow Liberal frontbenchers are about Joe going off on his own, and giving 'free kicks' to Labor. Mark may have failed to notice - he may even have reported on and not made the connection! - a few days ago stories in the press, which were also put about a month or so back, that Tony Abbott sat in on all the major Budget discussions. In short, whatever one might think of the Budget, someone was making it very clear that it was not all Hockey's work, that he isn't the 'new Costello', the great (ha, on both counts) brain of government fiscal policy. Just a little reminder to Joe, perhaps, from the office he also missed out claiming at a certain election for Liberal leadership a few years back that the current office occupier only took by one vote. Anyone can do that sum. Joe might have felt just a little bit rankled to have his Shining Treasurership ever so slightly reduced by reports of direct prime ministerial involvement in shaping the Budget, which might make some see Joe as little more than a glorified mouthpiece. Might even make Joe see that others might see Joe as someone who might be seen as little more than a glorified mouthpiece. And how might a slightly peeved Treasurer address such a perception? He might just tell the world that as Treasurer he can always 'fix' Budgets without taking the fixes to Parliament. 'He can do that, he can, and you just watch anyone else try and take that laurel crown off his sweaty brow.' Pity is, Joe, you had no idea how to do that, except the idea that everybody else had once you opened your smirking chops - kicking the least able in the country to afford your fixes. Maybe you should just stick to being a glorified mouthpiece, Joe. You obviously relish the role on the floor or parliament - some like Mark Kenny even anoint you the 'best performer' down there. Perform away, Joe, just do it far away. Perhaps another holiday? You were overdue one the moment you shot your mouth off in that interview where you reclaimed your sole grasp on the Treasurership of the nation.

TalkTurkey

17/07/2014Bit o' FUN eh? Aussie Rules footballers say the darndest things ! Quotes from leading AFL footballers : "I owe a lot to my parents... especially my mother and father." "I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body." (This was said of James Hird by his coach) : "He's a guy who gets us up at 6 o'clock in the morning regardless of what time it is." (Said by an AFL captain to his team members) : "OK... you guys line up alphabetically by height.. and you guys over there, pair up in groups of three, then line up in a circle." (A question addressed to Wayne Carey - before he became a Crow) : "Tell me, Wayne, did you get your nickname, 'The Duck', because of your gait?" Wayne replied : "No, it's because of the way I walk." (Ron Barassi told of this comment he made to a player) : "I told him - Son, what is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?" The player replied : "Barass, I don't know and I don't care!

TalkTurkey

17/07/2014And further to matters Cannabinoid ... http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-16/tas-health-minister-michael-ferguson-challenged-to-debate-on-me/5602494

TalkTurkey

17/07/2014This is not funny at all. http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/us-state-department-blames-hamas-israels-murder-gaza-childrentedcsEU Swan

TalkTurkey

17/07/2014Sorry re failed link, Hope this works, it seems a weird link altogether. http://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/us-state-dephttp://electronicintifada.net/blogs/rania-khalek/us-state-department-blames-hamas-israels-murder-gaza-childrenartment-blames-hamas-israels-murder-gaza-children

Casablanca

17/07/2014 Well Abbott finally got his way and the Carbon Price has been repealed: this video echoes my response - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEX1dYyvmig

Casablanca

17/07/2014Abbott Axed The Tax, And With It What's Left Of His Credibility Ben Eltham The carbon tax was in place for scarcely 25 months. In that time, it lowered Australian carbon emissions by between 11 and 17 million tonnes, according to this ANU study...Price rises flowing from the carbon tax were negligible...So small was the impact of the carbon tax on prices, in October last year the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that it couldn’t measure it...As Fairfax’s Peter Martin reported last year, the ABS actually put out a statement saying that it was “not able to quantify the impact of the introduction of carbon pricing… and cannot produce estimates of price change exclusive of the carbon price”. https://newmatilda.com//2014/07/17/abbott-axed-tax-and-it-whats-left-his-credibility

Ken

17/07/2014Casablanca Goes to show, Australia has good scientists and a bad government (to put it in simplistic terms).

Ad astra

18/07/2014[b]Folks Casablanca’s creative brilliance is in evidence again with her latest innovation: CASABLANCA’S SPECIALS, which you will find permanently displayed in the Page List in the left panel. Under this heading she is progressively assembling clusters of links on a series of subjects. The concept is to enable readers to easily examine specific issues in great detail. No longer will they need to sort through many web pages to find links on the subject. They will be there in profusion in the one place, classified into logical categories, the headings of which are bookmarked to the corresponding place in the text. As is the case with CASABLANCA’S CACHE, you will see it as another great time saver. You will find it invaluable not only because it provides a detailed coverage of individual topics of major political importance, but also because it will be a priceless resource when you are writing comments on the subject, or original pieces. The first item in CASABLANCA’S SPECIALS is an item that has been featured in the Page List for some time: ‘ABBOTT'S REPORT CARDS: Lies & Unfair Policies’, one that invites regular additions! Recently she has added ‘Piketty Un-picked’, a collection of over a hundred items relating to Thomas Piketty’s bestseller: [i]Capital in the Twenty-First Century[/i], which highlights the genesis of inequality. This is an outstanding assembly of excellent links. She has also created ‘Co-Payment Cache’, which aggregates items about the $7 co-payment for medical services, which you will find informative. She is currently preparing a collection of items about climate change, to which we can look forward with keen anticipation at this crucial time as our government takes our nation backwards. Please join me in congratulating Casablanca on this significant innovation, which will be so useful to us all, and in thanking her for all the effort she has put into the initial collections.[/b]

42long

18/07/2014Happy to do that Ad . Good one Casa Blanca. What a crazy person is our beloved Leader. Facts don't feature in his mantra. How long can this farce continue? Just articulate something and it is a fact. Does this ???? think he's GOD?

Ad astra

18/07/2014[b]Folks The list of Senators has now been updated on [i]TPS M@IL[/i], and the Members of the House of Representatives is also up to date. Please notify any discrepancies.[/b]

TalkTurkey

19/07/2014Casablanca you are AMAZING! What you are embarking on is of course potentially infinite, and it resolves some of my long-term wonderments about how to cross-reference writings on given subjects, both current issues and ones over time. I thought about it a lot when I first started writing here, without thinking out anything useful - mainly because I'm too useless. But what you are doing is chronicalising chronicling of the chronicles! I look forward to the Climate Change collection. As someone else observed this morning, I think Abborrrttt's magnificent Win over the "Carbon Tax" will be his undoing. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Ad I haven't made use of your list of MHRs & Senators, Lazy-the-Pig that I am. We all should, it's a great thing you've done, begging appreciative use. Says he. As the next election draws closer, it will become more important. To users elsewhere too. As with Casablanca's work. Very Special, Both of You.

TalkTurkey

19/07/2014I am staggered at the propensity of the Media, the Government and even many of the Fifth Estate instantly to blame "Russian backed 'Rebels' against Ukraine" as if they KNEW who brought down CH17. To BELIEVE reports of rockets fired from 'rebel-held East Ukraine'. (Remember BS reports of WMDs in Iraq?) [I do not 'believe' Western Media reports so easily. From Watergate through Children Overboard to Everything the Right yells.] To SCREECH of "Crime against Humanity" as if shooting down of the civilian aircraft was deliberate - when it is highly probable it was a[i] mistake [/i]by a few twitchy lower-order soldiers of whichever side. And if the latter, then culpability is vastly less than if they did intend to kill uninvolved civilians. To CONDEMN Russia itself, and specifically Putin, when that is ludicrous, I won't even make the argument! Abborrrtt is the WORST of the LOT. And JBishop. No wonder Russians won't speak to them. If we (collectively) can so presume guilt of a whole nation without due evidence, imagine how Russians feel about Australians! The worst-affected - the Dutch - have [i]withheld[/i] judgment, just as they should until such time as the presumed Ground-to-air rocketeers may be exposed - (it's not even certain it wasn't a Ukrainian aircraft that shot it down, that's what some sources say, and that the Rebels then shot [i]that[/i] down! I'm not taking sides. I just want to know that if responsibility is being apportioned, it is apportioned to those responsible. And if it is a mistake, even an ignorant and blameworthy one, let not that blame be seen as in any way equivalent to that of say Israel's leaders, who are knowingly and deliberately killing civilians every day.

TalkTurkey

19/07/2014Oh and the other thing - Where's MOSSAD, the Israeli Secret Service, in all this? "Oh hang on never mind Gaza, look a plane blown apart!" There is nothing those evil bastards won't do.

Ad astra

19/07/2014TT Thank you for your kind comments. All strength to Casablanca, [i]TPS's[/i] supreme chronicler! You are right to question the instant condemnation of those suspected as being responsible for shooting down MH17. Waiting for the facts to emerge though will not curtail the denunciation of hairy-chested Abbott or his sharp-tongued Foreign Minister Bishop. Facts, what are they?

Ken

19/07/2014TT You might like this re Gaza. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/of-course-there-are-going-to-be-casualties-when-gazans-selfishly-insist-on-living-in-civilian-areas-9612620.html

Michael

19/07/2014Now, THIS is an Action Man Prime Minister talking!!! "Australia takes a very dim view of countries which facilitate the killing of Australians, as you'd expect." A "dim view" FFS!???!! The leader of this country talking about the murder of citizens of this country, and all he can manage, like a vicar in some English countryside-set TV comedy, is that this nation takes a "dim view" of the killers of Australians. He needn't roar bloody vengeance down the television news camera lenses, but he might have perhaps offered something that doesn't ring of a namby-pamby non-entity without the first idea of what to do whenever he's asked to do anything that's not all about beating up anyone weaker than him. Oh.

Ad astra

19/07/2014Michael The man is inept. He simply does not know what to do and what to say. When he opens his mouth he puts his foot in it. He's hopeless, literally.

Jason

19/07/2014I don't know about the claim only because Fran is useless! but I live in hope she may have done some research and ask questions that haven't been asked and answered already this week and as tragic as it is she doesn't spend to much time on MH17 Insiders ABC @InsidersABC · 5h A not to be missed #insiders tomorrow. @frankellyabc to interview PM @TonyAbbottMHR. Panel: @lenoretaylor, Gerard Henderson & @PhillipCoorey
How many oranges do I have if I have 3 oranges and take ONE away?