10 April 2013

A lesser future

I’m on the record as saying that Tony Abbott will never become Prime Minister, which is not a widely-held opinion. In recent weeks, however, we’ve seen a number of developments that cast doubt on Abbott’s ability to lead the Coalition to victory over the government. The Coalition really is offering a lesser future in terms of rail, roads, and telecommunications infrastructure, and these are the sorts of developments that affect polls.

Recent articles on Abbott's refusal to fund urban rail projects have been telling:
  • In Perth, Premier Barnett had been clever in branding Federal-State infrastructure initiatives as his alone, only to find that Abbott won't fund them and Gillard is unimpressed with his grandstanding. The possibility that they might not go ahead has brought him and his back to earth with a wet crunching sound;
  • In south-eastern Queensland, the disappointment in this is palpable;
  • In Sydney, we deep-sixed a government that used PR to paper over serious deficiencies in the rail network. The current government retains its credibility on the basis that it is doing something constructive about it. Much will be forgiven - dodgy casino work, national parks teeming with armed randoms - until some silly accountant decides to trim the rail upgrade budget;
  • In Melbourne there is a proposal to build a tunnel under the city, or not build it, and oh aren't Richmond doing well this year?

Playing silly-buggers over rail projects means that road projects won't have the desired effect in improving traffic flow. It means that the disruption that happens with big construction projects will be resented even more than usual, and that the grandstanding involved with ribbon-cutting will also be resented.

Politically, it's pointless for the Coalition to promise this. It might have been true in the 1970s that Labor voters used public transport and Liberals private, but the uptake of public transport in recent years of expensive petrol and traffic snarls simply does not correlate to rusted-on federal voting intentions. It looks like they are natives to Planet Canberra and have no idea what life is like in the suburbs.

When the Japanese bombed northern Australia during World War II, it was often difficult for those co-ordinating the war effort to contact affected sites to work out what happened, what the damage was, what assistance was required. Visiting US officials were appalled and impressed upon Australian politicians the need for a national telephone network. In both Labor and the Coalition, some understood the importance of a national telephone network delivered through copper wires, and others didn't. It was started under the Chifley government and completed under Menzies, it is a bipartisan achievement. When Telstra was sold the national telephone network was sold with it, and the Gillard government bought it for NBN at a cost of $11b.

The first major failing of the Coalition's broadband plan is that it assumes copper will provide a sustainable solution, and overestimates the degree to which it can provide current services, never mind upgrading to 25 megabits per second. It's part of the Coalition's theme of insisting The Old Ways Are Best, but this tactic simply doesn't work when dealing with technology.

Turnbull's rapid blinking at the launch could have been a function of bright studio lights, but he is accustomed to the media glare and more comfortable in it than his leader. Some say rapid blinking can be an indication of mendacity, but I'm not going there. At one point Turnbull frowned and turned to look at Abbott as though he thought his leader had said something quite mad. With his stern face and Abbott's sticky-out ears, they reminded me of the Sesame Street characters Ernie and Bert.

I get that Turnbull has to demonstrate being a team player, and that people who rail at him for not seeing the technical inadequacies of his plan don't understand why he can't break from the team-imposed ashes-and-sackcloth routine at this point. By the end of September he will almost certainly be leader once again, and I should be more pleased at that prospect than I am: Turnbull cavils before Murdoch as much as Abbott does, and that is a real worry.

The key measurements of a broadband network are how much data can be downloaded - and uploaded, thanks BigBob - and how quickly. The NBN promises much in changing the way health and education is delivered, changing the way that people work in those sectors - and changing the way people work outside those sectors, too (including transport policy, but here we run the risk of blowing the tiny minds of Coalition policy-makers). None of that was present in that announcement.

The vision of the Coalition's policy was limited to delivery of high-speed, high-definition video - but compression technologies make that less important. The sorts of high-definition images required in medicine, and the need to have those delivered in real time, would have been a better example. This would have provided a tangible vision for rural Australians, as access to health (and education) is one of the key reasons for the depletion of country towns, about which the Nationals in particular profess to care.

This leads us to the second major failing of that plan, which is that a speed on 25 megabits per second - a faster download speed than most people have in 2013 - is Good Enough For The Likes Of You. Given that their policy in 2010 cost $6b and that this one costs $29.5b (yeah right), they have no right to complain about cost blowouts under Labor.

Cost blowouts on a project is largely a function of competent project management within clearly defined scope. Despite the yearnings of some of the nuttier Libs competent project managers are not on strike until Tony Abbott moves into the Lodge, and the Opposition frontbench contains no more program management or scope-setting skill than is present in the Gillard government.

It was unutterably stupid of the Libs to schedule their policy launch at Fox Studios, to speak of the possibilities of broadband in line with News Ltd product offerings - and to hand out Daily Telegraph articles in lieu of press releases. This will make it difficult for the Libs to refute accusations that their policy is designed to avert the threat that the NBN poses to Foxtel and other Murdoch outlets, and that their interests and those of the nation are subsumed to those of News Ltd. Journalists from broadcast media other than News Ltd were meant to be, and probably were, slack-jawed with wonder at the Foxtel broadband - but no government will ever build the sort of connectivity that the world's largest media organisation has built for itself.

The Liberals' fawning to News Ltd reinforces the message in this phoneshot of Abbott, Murdoch and Rinehart, taken at the recent IPA dinner:

When I was a Young Liberal, I paid fealty to senior members of the organisation and parliamentary party in a similar manner to that. At a function full of essentially conservative people, someone should have given up their seat so that Abbott could take his seat at a table with Murdoch and Rinehart like an equal. Whatever office this man might hold, he will never exercise real power. It's every bit as bad a look as Calwell and Whitlam in 1963. Another Liberal weapon from 2010 is blunted: that image trumps any Liberal who rabbits on about Gillard and 'faceless' union leaders.

People who work in ICT regard it as maximising human potential; all that's good and bad about what humans do can potentially be made faster, cheaper, better by ICT. People who go into journalism and stay there tend not to see that. Almost all broadcast media journalists report on ICT issues from two contradictory perspectives:
  • ICT is overwhelming, e.g. BIG BROTHER READS YOUR BRAINWAVES! A FACEBOOK POST ON A DRUNKEN NIGHT OUT MIGHT STOP YOU GETTING A JOB YEARS FROM NOW! HI-TECH CHILD PORN RINGS! The square-eyed inactivity that was once sheeted home to television, etc.
  • ICT is irrelevant: boys' toys, phone apps built by teenagers that solve insignificant problems, gadgets that cause great excitement among certain people but who can't clearly explain why they feel that way, etc.
That disinterest about ICT should not be confused with journalistic distance and balance, however. The internet has diminished once-mighty organisations that employed thousands more journalists than they do today. The internet took their jerbs! To propose faster internet is to ask journalists to look upon the tides and rips that have drowned the careers of their colleagues and see a tsunami that will finish them off. Journalists who can cover a closed factory with a colder eye than a dead fish will wail and keen at a rumour of cutbacks at a media outlet where they've never worked.

Most of the Coalition's criticism of the NBN, with cost-benefit analyses and what have you, mainly involves failure to understand the possibilities of high-speed broadband, and what might flow from these. To give one example, policy-lightweight journalist Mark Simkin was ill-informed, and passed on that ill-information to ABC TV viewers, by claiming the NBN is a "rolled gold solution" (i.e., more than is required). Simkin usually dismisses policy detail with "the devil is in the detail", but by using the Coalition's frames to describe its own policy against that of the government Simkin shows that he lacks the ability to explain what is going on in politics, especially in actual what-it-means-to-you policy, and that his years of experience isn't helping him or us to that end.

Simkin is at his best when politics is at its most puerile. If you want a comparison of broadband policies go here, but if you want to know who farted during Question Time then Simkin is the go-to man. Whatever he puts out is no more than you deserve, ABC viewer. His employer, and organisations like it, employs journalists like him because, well, they have always employed people like him. This is not a sustainable business model, regardless of what broadband model we end up with.

Most of those whose job it is to provide information in a highly controlled way can't see a future for themselves in an age of uncontrolled information. Journalists who don't understand ICT issues but who are rattled by the disruption caused by broadband to their industry do, and can only, produce lousy reporting. The best analysis of the Coalition's broadband plan and the launch is not in the broadcast media; it is here, on a website that didn't exist a couple of months ago, or at Delimiter. On this issue, yet again, press-gallery "context" counts for fuck-all.

The cuts to urban rail projects and the cut-down broadband projects cast doubt over whether even the amounts cited in the policy will be spent. It shows people that no matter how hard you work, no matter whether you pay for private health insurance and private education for your kids, the Liberals really are offering less to the country's future than the incumbents, that will give us less to show for the prosperity coming from Asia at this point in history. Its role in creating that impression is why the Coalition broadband policy will cost it votes, not because Australia's notoriously hard-to-organise geeks have become some huge and strategic voting bloc.

Why not cut all government services? Why not restrict the age pension to those who make it past 100? Why not cut back the ADF until it would be flat out going nine rounds against Fiji? Imagine the tax cuts. Any fool can balance a limited budget, but governing Australia is another question altogether.

For three years now, Abbott and Joe Hockey and other Liberals have raised alarms about government spending and the state of the economy generally, and within that context have advocated cuts to spending. Kevin Rudd showed in 2007 that an opposition can win if it merely matches the government in areas that aren't central to their main message, as did Howard in 1996. Offering less is a real risk for oppositions, as Howard learnt in 1987.

The essential failure of John Howard is that his political instincts overrode his abstemious, low-risk rhetoric of the 1980s, warning against government bloat and centralisation, and welfare dependence. Strangely, he retained that reputation even after he led Australia's biggest-taxing, biggest-spending, highly centralised government which shovelled welfare at anyone who could whine at the right pitch. That failure must be resolved, not replicated, before by the Liberals get back into office.

Abbott is trying to get people to vote Liberal in the name of economic responsibility, while also retaining the belief that any spending cuts won't really affect them. This is a bit like selling lots of low-fat snack food rather than convincing people to buy fewer/no snack foods. It's a tricky balancing act, and others might think that Abbott can pull it off. The cuts to infrastructure (and the therefore suspect commitments on roads and to broadband that isn't broad enough) compounds all that no, no, no to create the negative impressions that stay with people and will only attract further evidence going forward: the Coalition is offering a lesser, scattershot version of the future compared to the incumbents.

Politically-savvy people study polling very carefully, and act on the basis of what they find in that data. For them, polling is a leading indicator. Yet for those who provide the data, polls are a lagging indicator of impressions formed up to the time they were asked. The idea that the Coalition are offering less and worse, not more and better, for Australia's future is taking root and polling will react accordingly. The most highly-respected poll, Newspoll, fluctuates erratically. The first paragraph of this story is, and will come to be seen, as risible as these statements. I struggle to take seriously those who are convinced that polls taken in April or earlier will reflect the result of the election to be held in September.

Even so, I've had my doubts. As a Young Liberal I was shattered when the Coalition lost the elections of 1987, 1990 and 1993. Am I kidding myself again when I say the Gillard government will be re-elected? Do I have some form of mental illness?

At the right time my Pandora feed threw out its version of this song: "Rudie can't fail", the commentator singer insists repeatedly, but if you listen to the song more closely, the Jamaican rude boys have failed already: drinking beer at breakfast and harassing morning commuters, those guys might think they're on their way but they are going nowhere. In the same way, the Coalition's policies and actions are leading them away from government office, at the very time when the broadcast media and other poll-jockeys agree they are inevitable. Look at the Coalition in Question Time and wonder whether their monkey-house antics are any more appropriate than harassment by rude-boys on a London bus. Joe Strummer (a man long and lamentedly dead, who never saw a Newspoll) is a more perceptive commentator on contemporary Australian politics than Mark Simkin, but who isn't?


  1. Yesterday's Broadband launch was just bizarre.

    Every policy launch/statement from the Opposition from now on will get much more scrutiny.

    1. That would be a great idea.

    2. so pleased to see some one agrees with me
      about now the so called policies will be looked at very closely by the voters who up to now have not been taking much notice

      makes you wonder about why they launched this now,, do they think people are not that interested in the future, well I think now they know better or where they actually taking notice their hubris is such that I don't think they care
      this is their down fall

  2. It was a bit like watching a rabbit in the spotlight launching a policy to bring back carrier pigeons.

    The NBN is the most popular and awaited plan ever in this country, to try to bastardise it to be second rate is madness.

    1. I think the Coalition completely mis-understand how the desire for the NBN transposes all sectors of society: the young, business, elderly and so on.

      And I think they are mistaken thinking the electorate really care about the cost. It's like saying let's stick to horse and buggy rather than build a rail line that may take decades to pay off.

      The launch yesterday was disastrous.

    2. To sum up the choice between policies, vote Labor and get a great system "free" or vote Liberal and pay $5000 for second rate performance, and those in the bush need not apply.

  3. Well, it's now clear that as a nation we have a very simple choice to make in September: do we want the best ICT infrastructure that will prepare us for the future? Or do we not?

    Pretty simple.

  4. Bushfire Bill10/4/13 4:04 pm

    They thought they could cobble together any old rubbish and pass it off as a futuristic solution to our internet problems.

    Instead, all we got was a solution that I was personally using in 1998 - FTTN - down the Foxtel cable.

    And there's the rub... a system that offers 25mbps down corroded copper twisted pairs has only one saving grace: it's slower than Foxtel.

    Boom, boom...

    Another thing: we're routinely promised 20mbps for ADSL, but it rarely gets above 5mbps. Why should a promise of 25mbps be any different?

    And we didn't even get to upload speeds. Don't have to. Fraudband is a dog, with fleas.

    But what a launch! Heath Aston in the SMH waxed lyrical about it, telling us that while Abbott & Mr. Broadband had lights, action and Rupert's cameras, plus his studio, plus his make up girls to dull out the shiny bits, Conroy looked like a goose actually BUILDING the NBN, rather than wrecking it.

    If you wanted an better example of the triumph of massage over message, you couldn't go far wrong reading Aston's complete crock of shit. It'll be in the journalism textbooks one day:


    It was a triumph of production values over substance: a journo's dream. Dress up Slipper as a real, live rat. Put a Stalin suit on Conroy. Make Gillard's nose stick out with Photoshop. Do anything you like as long as the production values are right.

    Aston told us that Labor's TRUE NBN was no good because, while Conroy was dressed up in a reflective vest with a hard hat, stuck in a hole in Canberra pulling optical cable, Turnbull and Abbott were standing next to a hologram of an NRL player, laid on by Rupert (who owns NRL, natch).

    Get it?

    Digging a ditch and rolling out real cable, to real households, in a real place, with real benefits to the nation is unfavourably compared with the hologram of a boofhead with a thick neck and cauliflower ears. Go figure.

    Since when aren't reflective vests and hard hats de rigeur? Since Tony went up market at Rupert's expense, it seems.

    Gee, I wonder why Mr. Murdoch offered his services to spruik something not even as good as his own cable service?

    And what was the rush? The gig was only announced on Sunday. Was it because the Boss was in town (no not that one, the OTHER one, the 83 year old codger who just won't lay down and die, or retire).

    But seriously, The Old Man must have been disappointed after all the effort.

    Malcolm and a strangely... leaning... Abbott came on late and blundered through their act but, on this episode of The Voice, no chairs turned around. Not even the Daily Telegraph could bring themselves to say anything other than "Mate, you've got a great Voice, and we wish you well in the future. Now piss off."

    By evening, "Fraudband" had been named... and dropped from the TV nightly news. It never happened. Nor should it have.

    Only Heath Aston was fooled by it, in the end, giving us the old media line that an ounce of production values and predictability equals a ton of policy and achievement... but who's Heath Aston when he's at home, anyway? A future retrenchment from Fairfax, I'd guess.

    What was supposed to have been a triumph of smooth production wrapped around empty space ended up being just... empty space.

    And rightly so.

    More please!

    I'll make sure I have a carton of popcorn ready.

    1. The NRL is no longer owned by Rupert.

      It is now run by an independent commission.

    2. I remember the moment when Obama was at a google conference and a random question was asked from their experts on a tricky technological model

      Obama nailed it!!

      There was instant applause from the surprised and excited crowd!!

      If only Uncle Tony could do that!!

    3. Lachlan Ridge11/4/13 1:23 pm

      Yes, the NRL is independent, and the Melbourne Storm and Rugby League would thrive in Victoria without News Limited how exactly?

      As an ex professional Rugby League player I can say that, without News Limited, League would be in deep financial doo-doo.

  5. One small thing is your mention of download speeds being the most important measure - somewhat untrue, it's the NBN's ability to provide both high upload and download speeds that is the key difference.

    There is no point building a high tech business model where you can only import data and not export it at equal rates.

    No matter how Abbott and Turnbull polish that turd, and system that has at it's root asynchronous data rates is always going to be brown and sticky.

  6. I left a comment on the Drum site, which has a 50% chance of being published in The Coalition has an elitist view of what the public need.

    I offer 2 scenarios of poorer people being forced to spend money on technology to cope with bracket creep caused by IT personnel designing hungry systems.

    The Victorian Education Department job application software was so bandwidth hungry I was blowing my UPLOAD limits. I was unemployed looking for a teaching job so I had to apply for jobs online. The software was so clunky that you would time out if you used a dial up connection so I was forced to install ADSL 2 and pay $50 per month when I was unemployed. Boarders are useful.

    on the other hand TAFE, in NSW & Vic, has had an online application process since 2004 that can be used from a dialup connection.

    My second example was about the extra RAM cookies use when you access internet pages like Fairfax which means you are forced to buy a new computer every 3 years to upgrade RAM and CPU chip.


  7. I wonder if the acronym FTTH is a poor choice?
    FTT "[H]OME"?
    Why not FTT [P]REMISE, or some such last word which generically includes the following places that are not 'homes' - factories, business offices, schools, hospitals etc
    By using FTTH the emphasis by the negative spinners is on the household video user rather than the array of commercial industrial educational and medical and ... applications.


  8. I do not believe for one second that Malcolm Turnbull wants to serve as a Minister in a government led by Tony Abbott, a man who has neither said nor written anything of interest. No, Turnbull must be as convinced as you are Andrew that the Opposition will lose the next election and he will be leader again. I was very struck by the photograph of Tony Abbott at the IPA, not because he was hanging around Murdoch and his daughter Prue but that Murdoch seemed to be gazing into the middle distance. After listening to that turgid speech Abbott made at the function he must have been wondering to himself. Well photos can lie but Murdoch's expression summed up what I would feel if Abbott headed my way. Poor Malcolm, how he must suffer.

  9. Narnia Business10/4/13 9:54 pm

    The PM Julia Gillard is good at playing the long game, perhaps Labor's long-term strategy is kicking in?

    - Work on a raft of policies that provide positive outcomes for all citizens.
    - Announce election date well in advance, putting pressure on the Opposition to release their policies (especially as they've been screaming for an election ever since the last one).
    - Announce changes to media laws which get the newspapers into a dither, unmasking once and for all where the MSM's interests really lie (especially after it is shown that the proposed changes were not draconian at all).
    - Remove instability and leaks from within Labor's own ranks, thereby removing gossip for the MSM to feed on and putting the political reporting back onto actual news.
    - Wait for the Opposition's policy announcements, knowing full well that they have nothing to offer but a wish-list as saying "No" for the last 3 years does not equal policy-work.
    - ...
    - Profit.

  10. Abbott has had the running in the polls by saying No to everything the government wants because that is wasteful spending.
    Yesterday Abbott said NO to the voter, still on his theme as wasteful spending. It will be interesting to see what the polls show from Abbott saying NO to what the voter wants and deserves but doesn't want to have to pay his own $5000 and his taxes

  11. That truly was a great piece. It gave me hope as I read it. I am a Labor supporter, but have lived through many Liberal governments and no harm done. I even like and respect some Liberals, e.g. Malcolm Fraser (gosh he's almost left of centre these days). But this LNP lot is really frightening me. It's not only issues like the NBN about which I am passionate, it is also their disdain for environmental issues that really has me in fear for Australia's future. Did the recent "Angry Summer' not register with them? Abbott has already indicated that he endorses 10 IPA policies, many of which are distinctly anti-environment, such as abolishing the Dept of Climate Change, the Clean Energy Fund, repeal the renewable energy target, repeal the mining tax, to name a few.
    Are we nuts Australia? Please don't let this happen.

  12. Very clever tactic by Abbott, make Turnbull look like a goose, =one less leadership challenger

  13. VoterBentleigh11/4/13 11:40 am

    A good point made in the comments about FFTP. In Victoria, the Coalition Government is altering the zones under the planning scheme to allow certain businesses and medical practices to operate within existing residential areas. Meanwhile, the Federal Coalition is saying that existing residential areas will generally be serviced by FTTN.

  14. Robert Doyles comments about the I.p.a function were hilarious!!

    The food was crap and Gina was a very thoughtful and considered person when I spoke to her briefly.....

    Speaks volumes about the old school libs...

    Murdoch had the best speech there and I respect his legacy especially that of his delightful mother...

    The rest of the crowd was an interesting bunch of white anglo men in their fifties with anarcho capitalism in their blood along with yuppy wankers waiting to put this event as their facebook status gig of the year!!!

    The place was buzzing....ahem,ahem!!

  15. As the old saying goes "if you want it quick and cheap it won't be good, but if you want it good it won't be quick or cheap." #FraudBand fits so nicely into this meme.

  16. The NBN cost the Coalition government in 2010 and may well do the same in 2013.

  17. There are actually some quite interesting points in regards to the Coalition's first real policy release:

    1. It was held in a Fox Sports studio, with copies of the Daily Telegraph front page handed out to journos in place of a press release. A truly bizarre strategy, it removes any doubt as to where the Coalition's allegiances really lie.

    2. Changing the Coalition's position from destroying the NBN to embracing it. A blatant backflip, rendering their "can't be trusted" mantra against the Gillard government useless.

    3. Abbott calling Turnbull Mr Broadband, immediately trying to deflect ownership of the policy away from him personally.

    4. Abbott telling us, the Australian public, that what they are going to offer is all we really need anyway. This shows a complete lack of vision as it ignores the basic fact that technology (in all its forms) is an enabler of productivity and efficiency. Abbott's statement also shows contempt in speaking down to the public, a big no-no in such an egalitarian society.

    5. Ignoring that the Internet has been around for decades, almost everyone uses it regularly, and they are acutely aware of its current shortcomings in terms of speed and access in using it. The public know what they can get and they want it.

    6. People know when they are being taken for a ride and could see through the charade straight away (see points 4. and 5.).

    7. Using the same off-budget model as Labor, confirming that Swan and Labor are going the right way about things economically.

    8. The strange body language being exhibited, showing that the Coalition themselves are not comfortable with the policy themselves, with Abbott's incessant nodding displaying that he is way out of his depth - completely uninspiring stuff for the leader of the alternative Government's first policy launch.

    9. The inability to clearly answer any questions regarding the policy. They were obviously expecting a free ride from a compliant press in a "safe" location, and were unprepared for what was asked to them. It demonstrated that the Coalition are not even across their own policies.

    10. The policy itself was not immediately available, showing a lack of planning and organisation.

  18. I understand where you are coming from, but I think you may end up being wrong and we will have Abbott as Prime Minister. It is getting increasingly difficult to see Labor getting out of this situation. I am not even talking polls, but rather the 5 and a bit years they have been in charge and the electorate's now entrenched view. This view is based on the leadership challenges, but also breaking the no carbon tax promise and high profile policy backflips on the media laws, asylum seekers etc.

    Queensland Observer

    1. Lachlan Ridge11/4/13 8:08 pm

      How's that Campbell Newman feller going?

    2. I really must take you to task Queensland observer. Precisely what backflips were there on media laws, asylum seekers and the ever intriguing etc? Please provide some specific backflips on these matters.

      Perhaps I can assist you on the matter of media laws as a starter. I will couch this in the sort of simple language that you will need to be able to get it : the Government ordered an enquiry into media practises following the disgracefull behaviour of the Murdoch press in Britain.The object of the enquiry was to ensure that this behaviour never happened and would never happen. To that end they proposed that their be a independent committee to ensure that their would be an oversite of the behaviour of the media,

      So what is the problem? Are you complaining that they didn't get that through the parliament, and they have therefor broken a promise?And please be more specific on your asylum seeker supposed backflip. it would appear to anyone who is even a little bit cogniscant with the goings on that the opposition refused to pass legislation that would have impacted the arrival of asylum seekers by boat.

      I do wish you anti-govt commentators would at least find out the facts before you come to this type of place and embarrass yourselves by displaying your ignorance.

    3. I am not stating an opinion on whether they are backflips or not. I am merely pointing out the media coverage has resulted in a perception that the government has backflipped in these areas. The narrative as journos call it has been about a government that backflips. Can you deny that?
      For example Conroy tries to push through media laws and in the end backs down because he can't pass them. He wasn't willing to negotiate but talked tough about passing the laws by a deadline. It looks like a policy failure when he can't get the laws through.
      On asylum seekers it is obvious policy, aka remove Howard government policy then bringback piece by piece after its other options do not work out.
      Anyway instead of acknowledging the problem keep being an anti Abbott cheer squad on the blog. I am sure that will really change the situation.
      Queensland Observer

    4. By the way, I will also add that how am I an anti-government commentator?

      I merely stated I think Abbott will win the election. I even started the post by stating I understand where Andrew is coming from. I know my post was a break from the claps on the back Andrew has received from the other replies, but to be attacked as embarrassing myself by displaying ignorance is pure rubbish.

      I am only saying I think Abbott will win the election. The poll numbers are not the problem, it is what is behind those poll numbers. I believe that perception is now entrenched and there is little Gillard and her colleagues can do.

      It doesn't make me an anti-government commentator. I am putting aside any prsonal view point and stating my opinion of what the electorate will do.

      If you want further evidence see my post about the Katter Party and vulnerable LNP rural seats in Qld.

      Queensland Observer

    5. The 'carbon tax promise' was not broken. Australia has a carbon price. Read this news story from The Australian before the election.


      If you are worried about the entrenched view of the electorate (as I am), try to at least get this message out, this news story is solid proof the media is lying.

  19. Thanks for the Sim[p]kin references; glad it's not just me

    1. I too thought I was the only one who noticed that until recently *every* story of his invariably included at least three (allegedly) verbatim comments from "anonymous Labor sources".

    2. not to mention a laboured [no pun intended] pun at the end

  20. anonymous

    sounds worried

    I think that the public will look at this rather

    dubious policy and now think very hard about any more that appear,

    this is making abbott look like a yesterdays man,
    there are very few people that want time to stand still'

    something abbot cannot understand, I was worried a while ago but now I firmly believe also abbott will not be pm


  21. Andrew a great article and it would be good to send this article to the management at the ABC because what we are witnessing with the ABC is a disgraceful bias in the reporting of politics under the management of Scot
    I have complained on numerous occasions but the reply is usually condescending waffle and will not recognise their failure to be balancedd.

  22. Seeing the Mad Monk gush at the hologram of the footy player was one of the funniest things I have seen in a long time.

    So the future will be a giant leap to 1977. Princess Leia's hologram was 'like, wow' exciting, but I'm nearly 40 years older now.

  23. As a number of builders have told me: You can have anything you want; all you need is time & money. Whe have time to do FTTP well, and we can afford it. What can't the Oppn accept?

  24. Meanwhile, the Fin ran a piece today (Friday 12/4) generally bagging High Speed Rail and saying that urban rail was a higher priority. Do you think it mentioned what Abbott thinks about the Commonwealth's role in funding urban rail?

  25. Everytime I look at the pic of abbott prostrating himself before the Murdoch it reminds me of the reason he is so unsuitable for the high office of PM.

    We deserve a leader who stands on their feet, not one who grovels on their knees to fawn attention and favour.

  26. It seemed to have escaped all you commentators that if you’ve been watching events – that Gillard has effectively handed the wingnut a free ride straight into the ‘primeministership’.

    From my view since the Rudd coup her faction has given traditional laborites literally millions of excuses and reasons to vote for the opposition.
    And even if they refuse to vote for the opposition their vote will be informal – or a blank form – or whatever.

    It WILL be a fiasco whichever way it unfolds with the record of outcome displaying any sort of high percentage formal votes at the ballot being nothing more than the continuum of lies our once pretend democracy has become.

    Abbot’s team will win the next election and we will have to endure the same sort of misery the UK had to suffer for so many years with Thatcher and her ilk.

    What will follow after that in SE Asia will probably inexorably follow.

    Be assured that any of you born in Australia, whether Black, White or Brindle will not have a ghost of a chance once the merciless moneygrubbing bastards have finished with your hopes and aspirations after, say, AD 2025.
    Best of luck to you youngsters.
    My time is almost past.

    I tried to my best in my small way to make a future for you – but the likes of the wingnut will prevail and make any of my plans look like the most abject futility.

    All I could advise is to bond together and plan a way to con the Air Force into taking all our politicians and aspirants on a flying tour of the South Pole.

    Just fly over that location and invite ‘em all to jump out without a parachute.
    At least we’d have a break from their mindless crap for about three days!

    1. OK, I'll bite, 'a free ride...' because what or how exactly?

  27. Andrew,

    With the recent passing of Thatcher, I assume the political class have had ample opportunity to celebrate the Tory legacy especially the coalition.

    I couldnt bear read The Herald Sun and their over the top coverage of the late Thatcher..

    Great to see repugnant fascism celebrated with such rigour

    May she rest in peace ,the late baroness

  28. Abbott is a disingenuous thug whose role is to pave the way for Rinehart, Murdoch et al to enrich themselves at our expense. His inadequacy when required to do more than recite the three word slogans he has learned off by heart is painful to behold. Australian voters don't like or trust him. However they will, in the words of one un-named Liberal front bencher hold their noses and vote for him in droves. I know how you feel about polls Andrew so I long ago stopped pointing out to you what they are saying. However the time has come. Poll Bludger currently has the coalition in front 56 - 44% with (assuming the uniform swing we never get) Labor claiming 44 lower house seats and the LNP claiming 97. Labor is now behind everywhere but in the Territories. No amount of desperate theorizing or loud chanting of 'la, la, la; I can't hear you, I CAN'T HEAR YOU' can alter the fact that (failing some sort of miracle) Australians are about to lurch violently, disastrously to the Right. Never, never, never underestimate the power of the cynical, disengaged, immature, self-absorbed Australian electorate to inflict damage on itself at the ballot box.

    Oh and while I'm at it; what happened to that other firmly stated Elder declaration that the loathsome Mirabella is finished?

    1. The mob in Melbourne despise Abbott

      Its the masses that will inflict that pain amongst the ignorant polity

      Thats why Melbourne is a great city

      Well educated and cultured...

      We are small l libs here

      The rest can dwell in their own ignorance and boganomics