07 August 2013

The gravity of The Situation

When he rolled Malcolm Turnbull for the Liberal leadership, Tony Abbott was less popular than the 'beleaguered' man he replaced. He is no more popular now than he was then, despite almost four years of please-like-me populism and unquestioning media coverage. He has released some policies but they don't really address the issues to which they relate, and people who are experts in particular policy areas are either indifferent to current Coalition policy or reject it outright.

Coalition strategists will claim that any day now, just you wait, Abbott will come out with something that decisively shifts the race in their favour - something unexpected but irrevocable, like the winged keel in the 1983 America's Cup, or the moment from Babe where a pig wins a sheepdog contest because there's no formal rule against it.

Part of that is Abbott's lunge for authority: have faith in The Leader, all will be well. He has brought you thus far and shall carry you further. Have the kind of faith in him that he has in himself. Liberals who grumbled that his no-better-than-Gillard approval would drag down the sky-high polls he "achieved" for his party were ignored. They will be ignored after they are vindicated too, because that's politics for ya.

The fact is that whenever Australia has changed governments, the opposition has gone into the campaign well ahead. This was the case in 2007 and 1996. In 1983, Malcolm Fraser called the election when Labor's policy-wonk leader was in place but damaged; Hayden was gone by the afternoon and Hawke lashed out at a journalist who implied he had "blood on his hands". Today, Labor has done its leadership change and the inexplicably popular leader can flick his fingers through his silver hair without leaving any trace of red. The mid-campaign pivot is a crock.

Ah, say the Abbott fans, what about 2010? In that election Abbott's momentum was gone after the first week, despite the leaks and The Real Julia, etc. All that momentum was negated by the groundswell of people who thought: if this keeps up Abbott is going to win! That's why the polls have evaporated for the Coalition now, and why Prime Minister Gillard would have been swinging it around like a gate had ... aargh, anyway.

The Coalition believed in the mid-campaign pivot last time, and the time before that too. Dennis Shanahan believed that the little master would pull it out of the bag one last time, right up until the removalist truck pulled up at Kirribilli House. Those who really believe the Coalition has a future as well as a past just have to snap out of that. There is no switch to flick, not now, not later.

To be fair to the Coalition, 50-50 or so is a pretty good place to be at this stage, and it's why they're not panicking. Then again Kim Beazley failed to step it up just that little bit extra in 1998 - and even he wouldn't have lacked the ticker to debate the incumbent anywhere, any time, for real.

Perhaps they should be more concerned than they are. Abbott's economic credentials will not see out the week. His policies on the environment, telecommunications and workplace relations are arrant garbage and nobody will change their vote on account of them. The education policy where Abbott promised to do bugger-all was actually more credible than his grudging admission that Gonski has a point. In every policy area, even in car donations - he is offering less, less, less, to a country with a promising future. What a fool.

Speaking of promising future, what was The Situation thinking?

Abbott doesn’t even know this woman. THE TIME FOR KEEPING CAL... on Twitpic
Copyright (c) Fairfax
In three words: hope, opportunity, reward. A milder version of what happened to Helen Wilson: the Liberals are fond of saying "a leopard can't change its spots", but that applies to their leader as much as Labor's. The reward is making it all about him rather than the complete scene, which could have been sweetly cliched if only Abbott could have tolerated others at the centre of it.

All that Margie-and-the-girls effort fails in the face of that. Four years of campaigning, and one unguarded moment says more than all of his words. Some have said that this particular piece of opportunism will do for Abbott what that crushing handshake did for Mark Latham nine years ago (!); I won't dispute it.

John Howard sculpted the wings that are slowly disintegrating from Abbott's back as he plummets to earth. Abbott was wrong to float along, leaving it all to the last minute. The Liberals were wrong to let him do so. Those who believed in them all have no excuse not to know better.

Journalists will take credit for that scrutiny but they won't take credit for its absence over the past four years, so stuff that, and them.

People with half a brain should be wondering when exactly the Abbott magic is going to kick in, and I expect the press gallery and the wider journosphere to be asking itself exactly that soon enough. People with a whole, functioning one know it never will, or can.


  1. Lachlan Ridge7/8/13 11:19 pm

    Has anyone compiled a "rap sheet" of Abbott's legal i8nfractions, those times when he has drawn the attention of the constabulary?

    1. Lachlan, try here: http://auspol.wikia.com/wiki/The_Tony_Abbott_Files


    2. Lachlan Ridge8/8/13 7:13 pm

      that link is Abbott gold! Almost worth AE republishing the lot in full. A copy should be sent to every Australian home and workplace.

  2. You are deranged. Get help. Quickly.

  3. campaigning to the node... don't try and take it off road..

  4. Yeah but ...
    With Murdoch and his mates onside who needs policy or integrity?


  5. That picture is incredible. I can't believe he did that. Creepy.

    For so long, Abbott was able to coast because he was up against Gillard, who was even less respected than he is. In that situation, policy and a coherent message didn't matter because people thought no matter how loose it was, it would be better than what Gillard was offering. All that's changed now and Abbott hasn't responded. The pure arithmetic still says that the Coalition are firm favourites because it's hard to see the ALP winning any, let along enough seats. But this is going to be much, much closer than the Coalition would like. Perhaps another hung parliament?

    1. Tony is terrified all the time. If anything goes off script, he's stuffed, 'cause all he can do is follow the script. He's not very bright, or very quick (he certainly wasn't at SU when I know him), just another privileged Anglo Catholic bully. His elevation to leader of the cult of Rupertarianism just demonstrates how dodgy the Rhodes Scholarship was in the 70's - his mentor, Costello, is credited by Louis Nowra, with ensuring that this academically second rate economics graduate who like punching people actually got to live the dominionist dream. Abbott is a News Ltd hack, and that is all he'll ever be. rhwombat

    2. I hope the majority of our fellow aust are brighter than abbott that means they want vote for him, Andrew has stuck all the way with his conviction and never wavered I believe him

    3. Only the media-owned Neilsen and Galaxy polls 2PP show the Libs well ahead of Labour by a big margin. The more reliable (because of their much wider demographic) Morgan polls have CONSISTENTLY shown the 2PP to be very close (often within 1 or 2 percentage points), even when Julia was PM. Of course, the mainstream media usually ignore Morgan polls.

  6. http://m.perthnow.com.au/news/pram-set-on-fire-and-fruit-thrown-at-iranian-couple-in-racist-attack/story-fnii5smr-1226692971691

    And anyone with half a brain could have foreseen this sort of putrid racism raised by both major parties with innocent victims of war and persecution again being persecuted here.

    A pox on them both.

    1. There is racism in every country, and many governments are pandering to it to win votes. Have a look at the record in some European countries (supposedly civilised) if you want to feel really depressed - 'burqa' laws, deportation of people of certain cultural backgrounds (eg Roma people) who have every right under EU law to be there. In Australia, we do not have a neo-fascist party, unlike many European countries. My 'favourite' incident was the German national who attacked a pregnant Turkish woman in court (with a knife, how did he get that into a court?), and when the police arrived guns blazing, they shot her husband who was UNARMED and trying to defend her.

      The anti-immigration/refugee attitude here seems to come more from recent immigrants than from people born in Australia (there's been some polls or studies, not sure of my sources there). Interestingly, the LNP candidate for Chisholm is a former refugee, and in his campaign pamphlet, supports Abbott's 'stop the boats' crap. Nice bit of irony.

      Labor's refugee policy includes a large increase in the number of refugees resettled (27,000) whereas the LNP propose to take it back to 13,000. I'm not thrilled with Labor's 'PNG solution', but it beats the LNP's policy hands down.

  7. This time next month, either Rudd or Abbott will still have a job, but they won't both have one.

    These are historic times and yet... it doesn't feel like it. It's as though 'the campaign' has really been going on since August 2010, so the next four weeks are just business as usual. Except it's not, and we're seeing the final days of something, we just don't know what yet.

  8. Lachlan Ridge8/8/13 8:26 pm

    Mirabella in trouble in Indi: http://nofibs.com.au/2013/08/07/mirabella-under-siege-in-indi/ and http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/1616162/poll-sophie-mirabella-to-give-forum-a-miss/?cs=11

    and http://media.crikey.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Letter-from-Sophie.pdf

    And from today's Border Mail (the comments are incrdible!): http://www.bordermail.com.au/story/1691699/sophie-mirabella-absolutely-not-worried-about-losing-indi-poll/?cs=53

    Mirabella is gawwwwn!

    1. I work in the same building as Cathy McGowan's Wodonga campaign office. Farmers are coming in to buy (!) signs to put up in their paddocks.

    2. Oh please let this be so

  9. I wonder if Murdy will give him a job after the election.

  10. Abbott was, more than now ; IS, a manufactured "product" of the MSM., Their cynical delinquency in giving him and the LNP."invisible men" a free ride while ripping into Gillard like the PM. was fresh-flesh for an isatiable beast has written their vile history with the indelible ink of the internet memory sticks attached to "everybody's" laptop!
    The filth of the MSM. journo's may yet try to redeem themselves with confected "investigative journalism" while the election is on (though I have yet to see ANY!) but it will never be enough to erase that gestapo look of "gas-chamber glee" on their faces that we saw with an "off-camera" sweep at the first concocted "Town Hall Debate" of Tony Abbott against Julia Gillard in 2010.
    The vile bastards!

  11. VoterBentleigh10/8/13 11:30 am

    Yesterday, the Opposition Leader claimed that the election is about the Australian people, not himself or the Prime Minister. Yet it is the Opposition Leader who has focussed incessantly upon the character, personal history and trustworthiness of his opponent.

    The Coalition (and the MSM) promote Abbott and his vacuity, not policy. The Coalition offer old, rehashed policies from more than half a decade ago, as if these will solve today's problems. Even when Abbott's speech is eulogistic about Australia and its people, or he speaks dreamily of a wonderful future, the only aim is to project a positive public persona of himself, thereby nullifying the accusation that he is negative. He paints on the cosmetic face of sensitivity and empathy, but below the skin still beats the pietistic hard heart of one who believes in devotion and obedience to the superior, seeing himself as the leader of this group. As a politician, he has proved himself as capricious and crafty, traits at odds with stability, although the Coalition's stability notion is useless if it fails to produce just policy and good governance.

    The only caring policies Abbott has taken up are ones which originated from the ALP. There is no benefit to the electorate in voting for replica policies when they could vote for the genuine, original invention.

    When Abbott told Tony Windsor that the only thing he would not sell was his “arse”, he was saying that he would sell anything except his own personal interests. Yes, it is all about the Opposition Leader.

  12. I don't think Rudd will win. I will be voting for the Informal candidate again this election. I am uninspired. I sense strongly though and have for some time that Kevin Rudd will lose.

    1. Lachlan Ridge11/8/13 2:34 am

      What do you think of race five at Randwick next Saturday?

  13. Lachlan just look for a meaningful name when you check the form guide. That's how I choose horses. I think it is easier to see that TA will win the election. That gives me no pleasure at all. He is as undeserving as KRudd in my opinion. I am pitifully choosing to vote informally because of both parties' policies on asylum seekers. Ordinarily I would vote for the ALP.