Who voted for this man?


T. Abbott, our illustrious PM, continues to embarrass us all.

On the Scottish independence referendum first he said he would not presume to tell Scottish voters which way they should vote. Then he said this:

“As a friend of Britain, as an observer from afar, it’s hard to see how the world would be helped by an independent Scotland.

“I think that the people who would like to see the break-up of the United Kingdom are not the friends of justice, the friends of freedom, and the countries that would cheer at the prospect … are not the countries whose company one would like to keep.”

No doubt we should invade Scotland, or bomb them into submission!

That was last month. Next Tuesday 125 world leaders including US president Barack Obama and UK prime minister David Cameron will attend the UN secretary-general’s Climate Summit in New York. Tony Abbott will not be one of them. Yet the very next day he will be in New York to attend a UN Security Council meeting. He says he has more important things to do in the Australian parliament early next week.

While the New York meeting has no formal part of the climate talks leading up to the preliminary commitments countries will be asked to make by next March leading to the formal renegotiation of the Kyoto treaty in Paris in December next year, when the UN Secretary General says, “Come to New York, the planet is in trouble and needs you”, normally you would go, unless you want to make a statement about how you view the talks. In this regard Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate supremo, said:

“At least 125 heads of state have sent a strong signal to the rest of the world that … climate change is important, and they know they have a role to play and a responsibility to take in order for the world to address climate change.

“I do not know what the reasons would be behind it, but, of course, the world will interpret who is showing up and who will not be showing up.

“So that’s for your Prime Minister and your government to decide, what kind of profile they want in this.”

Hedegaard counsels us not to make too much of the fact that the Indian and Chinese leaders won’t be there. We know they are taking climate change seriously. We know, however, that Stephen Harper of Canada, Abbott’s ideological soul mate, has similar views to Abbott’s and also won’t be there although he too will be in New York a couple of days later. We know that Abbott is smugly satisfied with our pathetic 5% reduction target by 2020. He doesn’t appear to understand that this is about post 2020. His vision is clouded by denialism and the coal lobby.

The Pedestrian laments the fact that we are not the slightest bit surprised – Abbott is running true to form.


Bernard Keane at Crikey finds that Abbott’s form is changing. He’s shedding the carefully scripted, softer-spoken persona he presented before the election and is returning to the more pugilistic Abbott of the Gillard years.

If you are not a Crikey subscriber but are on Facebook you might be able to read the piece here, courtesy of Mark. It begins:

“Tony Abbott is a man in a hurry. There’s a blue on, and he wants in. The Prime Minister has regressed from statesman to pugilist. He’s back to Punchy Tony, the Rocky of the Right, a bloke who’s up for any fight, even if he has to start it himself, the former boxing “blue” and front rower ready to deck anyone (including a young Joe Hockey), if they get in his way. Or even if they don’t.

Keane is speaking of Abbott’s statements hyping the terrorist threats:

But they also reflect Tony Abbott’s aggression, a trait he laboured hard to keep under wraps as opposition leader and harder still in his early days as Prime Minister—remember that parliamentary transition to the soft-voiced Prime Minister from the often shrill Abbott of the Gillard years.

But bit by bit it has re-emerged—the boyish grin sitting in the cockpit of a mocked-up F-35 (appropriately, on the ground, where the F-35s spend all of their time), the near-hysterical rhetoric about the threat of Islamic militants, and now dispatching tonnes of military hardware and some of our best troops to the United Arab Emirates, there to await whatever America wants them to do.

For a truly scathing assessment of the first year of the Abbott government, however, take a look at Nick Feik, the editor of The Monthly.

Feik says he’s passed six pieces of legislation and

After almost a year, the Abbott government has repealed one tax, a move that left the nation without a climate-change policy but had no discernible impact on prices, and implemented an increasingly inhumane, secretive and quite possibly illegal asylum-seeker regime designed in large part by the ALP.

And it has been good at undoing things:

It has cut funding to social, educational, health, research and advisory bodies. Any and every environmental action, movement, organisation or legislation has been made a permanent target.

Feik sees incompetence and incoherence everywhere. He concludes:

Beyond the budget, it’s unclear whether the government has a legislative agenda of any kind. Perhaps this explains recent efforts to reposition Abbott as an international statesman, in charge of keeping Islamic terrorism, Russian tyranny and Scottish independence at bay. He needs to be above the fray, because domestically his troops are stuck in the trenches, and they’re starting to turn on one another. They must be relieved the Opposition is showing no stomach for a fight.

I’ve used the cover image from The Monthly as the featured image on the home page.

16 thoughts on “Who voted for this man?”

  1. That’s a pretty spicy article Brian. Like many voters I was sufficiently disenchanted with Labor to vote elsewhere. I actually voted Labor out more than voted Abbott in.

    So who voted Abbott in? Well I guess it was me and the rest of the hoodwinked nation.
    Am I happy with the outcome and do I have a sense of optimism? Not at all – not at the Federal nor State levels.

    How will I vote next elections? My gut says just don’t vote and I don’t yet know what my head says.

  2. My take is that Gillard was one of the most effective prime ministers we have had in the 50 years of my adult life and Abbott is looking to be one of the worst.
    What Gillard achieved was amazing given that it all happened in a hung parliament.
    The depressing thing is that Abbott was put into power at the behest of the Tea Party faction. LNP MP’s might decide to dump Abbott if the alternative is a big loss. However, it seems unlikely that this will be accompanied by a radical change in the nature of the LNP.

  3. Jumpy @ 1, that’s strictly true, but in effect we have a presidential system and the appropriate answer is 6,908,710. That’s about 2 million who are not rusted on Tories who swallowed the snake-oil and slogans, ignoring the actual record as mentioned by John D.

  4. Geoff @ 2, IMHO the alarm bells were there for everyone to see. For example take the following issues:

    • It was clear that the LNP didn’t support Gonski, only committing to Gonski funding quantums and then only for four years.
    • The universality and equity of the NBN was going to be destroyed, which is happening
    • Climate change. Destroying carbon pricing and the institutional architecture such as the Climate Commission, the Climate Change Authority etc. Destroying ARENA and investment in new technology.
    • Reducing budget outlays by 1% of GDP and freaking out over debt. This was always going to mean unacceptable cuts in health, education and social security.
    • Infrastructure according to pork barrelling and electoral advantage rather than a rational assessment of need
    • Revenge on the ABC. The ALP actually increased their funding.

    And so on. Any one of these would make the LNP unelectable in my view. I’m sorry, you could only do it with eyes wide shut! And they are turning out worse than expected or feared.

  5. Brian @4

    but in effect we have a presidential system

    No, we do not.
    Gillard wasn’t elected PM when she became PM, she never got close to Abbotts votes in 2010 ( lower or upper ) and was never Opposition Leader ( yes I give that caps coz it’s the hardest job in politics )
    She gained her position through tactial manoeuvring, cunning dealing and position play.
    She promised to call out misogyny whenever she saw it but only against 1 man, been pretty quiet since on that.
    She made the ” Malaysia Solution ”
    Flipped from ” real Julia ” and back time after time.
    Never in her time presided over 1 single month of growth in the construction sector, all red ink, contraction every single month.
    Perhaps those unemployed brickies aught go to uni?
    National debt ballooned to records before not thought possible.
    Refugee detention centres overflowing with kids and how many drowned trying ?
    Education results continue to fall despite that being her ” speciality ”
    Foreign policy was not her passion apparently so she made room in the Senate for a man that never went to any Federal election.
    Did she do anything regarding our men and women fighting overseas one way or another ? No.
    Opposed gay marriage.
    Architected ” Slipper debacle “, shafted Wilkie, Oaky and Windsor.
    Through her partnership with the green past thousands of laws make criminals out of folk that were law-abiding beforehand.
    And now ride the taxpayers gravy train for the term of her natural.

    All never once winning first preference votes.

    Worst PM ever.

  6. Geoff: The prospect of an Abbott victory in 2010 inspired me to volunteer to help the Greens for that election and to actually join the party in time for the last Qld state election. The prospect of an Abbott and Newman victory at the next state and federal election is inspiring me to work harder for the Greens.
    While I don’t agree with everything the Greens say I do think they are helping to pull the country in a direction i approve of.
    Think about doing something more positive than simply complaining about the major parties.

  7. jumpy @ 6, has the construction industry improved under Abbott? I’d really like to know. If so, has Abbott done anything precisely to cause the change that Gillard didn’t do?

  8. Nick O’Brien
    Former head of International Counter Terrorism in Special Branch at New Scotland Yard
    thinks that ISIL wants to use terror in Aus to drive a wedge between Australian Muslims and the broader community. Makes sense given that ISIL is really about imposing its views on other Muslims rather than the rest of the world.
    The risk of ISIL driving a wedge in Aus is not helped by a prime minister whose “team Australia” and other comments can be easily seen as a way of seeking support from those voters who are hostile to Muslims.

  9. Brian @6

    …has the construction industry improved under Abbott? I’d really like to know.


    If so, has Abbott done anything precisely to cause the change that Gillard didn’t do?

    Every thing from Apprentices ( As Master Builders*points out ),

    “The Industry Minster has correctly focussed the Government’s reform of the VET sector to provide relevant training with a job as the outcome,” Wilhelm Harnisch, CEO of Master Builders Australia said.

    “The reforms elevate the trades and vocational education as an essential part of Australia’s economic future and of equal value to a tertiary degree,” he said.

    Gillards ” Trades training centres ” were a useless expensive excuse to boost education expenditure by giving schools another shed when they already have shop A and shop B building ( not to mention Tech Drawing )
    My industry ( sector ) is the third largest employer in the nation, red tape reductions, wage growth stabilisation, input cost rise moderation, union disruption minimised ( thank you RC, haven’t seen many strikes lately) trade barriers and excise on imported materials easing,….

    All these thing add confidence to builder, investors and flow though the economy.

    Can you point to anything Gillard did that wasn’t detrimental to construction ?

    ( Can I take it you agree with my other points @6 ? )

  10. Thanks, jumpy. In following your link I note that conditions were easing (ie. were increasingly less bad) from late in 2012. Even now the strength could be attributed to pent up demand for houses and apartments, as against weakening in the commercial sector, and especially in engineering and public tenders. So it would be interesting to know how much the sector is being driven by external factors.

    As to your full list, I would comment on most and flat out disagree with some, but I’m not going to go through them.

    Just to say that I think we have a quasi-presidential system where during the election most of the media focus is on the leader. You’ve also got the wrong handle on the demise of Rudd. I’ve just read Swannie’s book on this. He reckons if it had gone to the vote Rudd would have topped out at about 20 out of 114. Everyone on the inside knew that something needed to be done about Rudd. The problems started early and became impossible. Gillard and Swan spent much of their time propping him up and trying to persuade him to change his ways. Wong too. Tanner just gave up and refused to attend pointless meandering meetings.

    Swan himself did not want to move on Rudd before the 2010 election, and had no ambitions himself, but he was too busy to be involved in what happened until the end.

  11. Just to add, jumpy, I’ve never said the Gillard was perfect or that everything the LNP does is lousy. We got into trouble in some quarters at LP for criticising Gillard too much.

    I think she will go up in public end critical esteem as time goes by. I flat out disagree that she shafted Wilkie, Oaky and Windsor, and was not responsible for what happened to Slipper in the end, who, you will recall, was chosen by the LNP to be deputy speaker in the first place.

  12. Brian

    I’ve just read Swannie’s book on this. He reckons if it had gone to the vote Rudd would have topped out at about 20 out of 114

    Yet he won 57-45 in mid 2013 in a real ballot, not a made up Swan number ( sound familiar ? )
    I never said she shafted Slipper, struth no, she protected him and Thomson to the hilt till they didn’t matter any more.
    Oaky wanted the Speakership but Julias numbers on the floor were too important.
    Wilkies poke law fiasco, poor bastard, ended his second marriage that did.
    But you are correct that she never shafted Tony ” sold the farm to Whitehaven Coal ” Windsor, he even backed the co2 price/tax/thang.

    Anyway, they’re all gone now, all at once for some reason.

  13. jumpy @ 14, put it this way. Even when Abbott says something I agree with he’s so plastic and shallow I can’t get enthusiastic.

    @ 13, you are muddying the waters on Rudd’s support. On the night he got done over Swan was about right. Rudd didn’t run because Albanese told him he had no more than 25 supporting him. In February 2012 the vote was 71-31. That was when Swan said what he really thought about Rudd. Labor only turned to Rudd when it was clear Gillard was going to lead them over a cliff.

    On Slipper, Gillard was protecting due process. Abbott wanted to shaft Slipper through an urgency motion because of a smutty text. Gillard and three other Labor speakers called for a process that dealt with evidence and allowed the Speaker to defend himself. The indies supported her, so Abbott lost the vote. It was a stunt. Slipper then resigned when Windsor and Oakeshott told him he must.

    Gillard should have paid for his legal defense when it went legal, but she hung him out to dry. She wasn’t protecting him.

    Similarly with Craig Thomas, she first took the proper attitude and declared him innocent until proven guilty. But she lost her nerve and cut him loose.

    Kerry-Anne Walsh’s book The Stalking of Julia Gillard gives the real story on Wilkie and the pokies. Macklin and Gillard told him that he couldn’t have Plan A because Oakeshott and Windsor wouldn’t vote for it. So he agreed to Plan B. Then he held a press conference the morning after he had dinner with Gillard, saying she’d broken her promise and dudded him. Actually he dudded her after she’d worked her arse off trying to get a deal for him. In the end he accepted Plan B.

    I think you’ve been reading too many papers, or watching TV. The journos always got it wrong with Gillard.

  14. Jumpy: It is always difficult to separate out what has caused changes in the economy and what if anything was caused by political decisions.
    In terms of the part of the construction industry I worked in the dominant factors were the state of the Chinese economy and its effect on the mining boom. The associated skilled worker shortages were driven by the rapid growth of the boom and decisions made re training and graduate employment made many years before. (For example, there was a shortage of experienced project engineers in their late thirties that was caused by a failure to employ new graduates in the early nineties.) The rise and fall of this sector had nothing to do with

    red tape reductions, wage growth stabilisation, input cost rise moderation, union disruption minimised ( thank you RC, haven’t seen many strikes lately) trade barriers and excise on imported materials easing,….

    In terms of building construction the damage was done by Costello. His rule changes re negative gearing etc. meant that home prices surged because of rental and speculative investment. Investors in rental properties want to buy second hand houses that can be rented straight away. The surge in prices meant that the people who would have wanted to build new homes for themselves could no longer afford it.
    What I am seeing from the LNP at the moment has nothing smart about it. It is hard to take seriously a “budget emergency” when the action to date has been the removal of various taxes that were helping to reduce the crisis. In addition, the blatant unfairness of it all is hardly a smart way to get the population behind the budget.

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