Abbott has maintained on pollie travel entitlements that the system is broken, it’s not so much the actions of individuals. Bronwyn Bishop, however, erred and was Abbott’s pick. If the system is broken, then the party in government is held responsible. Either way Abbott can’t escape.
Abbott hung onto Bishop too long. By the time he forced her resignation, the damage was done. Even the revelation of Labor’s Tony Burke claiming $12,000 to pay for a family trip to Uluru didn’t change perceptions of a government with no connection to the reality of voters’ lives. The announcement of a “root and branch inquiry” came too late.
Newspoll apparently held back its otherwise fortnightly poll to coincide with the return of parliament. The news was bad. The primary LNP vote fell to 39%, below 40 again, with Labor ahead TPP 54-46. That’s the 28th consecutive Newspoll with Labor in front; the LNP would lose 35 seats and government. The situation is not as bad as it was in February, but bad and trending the wrong way.
Bernard Keane at Crikey:
- As Tony Abbott’s political recovery stalls and goes into reverse, his government is moving in ever-decreasing circles in an attempt to break out of a vicious spiral of political dysfunction and policy paralysis.
Laura Tingle in the AFR on the weekend has much the same view. Back in February Abbott promised good government.
- His problem now is that, six months on, he might have cleaned up some of the previous messes, but he has created a whole new set.
It is certainly hard to make the case that Tony Abbott has turned things around since February. In fact, it has got worse with the drift in policy and the mishandling of politics. Bad, even rash, political judgment has too often been mixed with a new caution on big-picture issues.
“Good government”, to most voters, seems like a sad joke.
She says that the government does have a story to tell.
- there has been a lot of stuff happening in the past six months: measures to boost child immunisation; white papers on Northern Australia and agriculture; a free-trade agreement with China; a well-accepted budget; initiatives on the ice epidemic, domestic violence and drought.
These have been crowded out by choppergate. Along the way
- there was the devastating and semi-public cabinet brawl over citizenship laws that not only showed the cabinet bitterly split, but once again showed the Prime Minister failing to consult, and most significantly, promoting legislation of highly questionable legal and constitutional standing.
Abbott’s involvement in a backbench letter backing him against the rest of the cabinet in this affair appalled many in the government.
Hockey has repeatedly spoken about the need for tax changes. Abbott has only been interested in the GST and won’t do anything before an election.
Even the superannuation industry knows there must be changes to super. Hockey spoke about it, so did Labor, then Abbott shut the conversation down.
The Productivity Commission suggested changes to penalty rates for work on Sunday in some sectors. Abtez started sruiking the changes. Abbott said it was a report to government, not a report of government, and again seemed to close discussion down.
People are starting to ask, says Tingle, “what is the actual point of this government, anyway?”
The travel entitlements issue has brought “the sense that this government just really doesn’t get it and are living on another planet.”
It’s hard to see what will change. Same sex marriage is likely to bring the Government grief, Labor has neutralised the asylum-seeker issue and outflanked the Government on renewables and climate change.
The politics reporter on the 7.30 Report said voters are starting to think the Government “doesn’t stand for much and achieves even less.”
So begins another exciting chapter in our politics! I suspect voters have stopped listening to Abbott the way they did to Julia Gillard in the end.
Much of Bernard Keane’s article was about Hockey and his call for lower taxes. Keane reckons he should have a beer with Wayne Swan. From the budget papers, it’s easy to pick the bigger spenders:
Finally an image of one backbencher not clapping the appointment of Tony Smith as the new speaker: