17 September 2015

Playing Canberra games

I just am not going to get caught up in Canberra gossip, I'm not going to play Canberra games.

- Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott (!), Monday
Tony Abbott had spent the better part of the last quarter-century doing little else but Canberra gossip and Canberra games. Even to the end, no press gallery stenographer called him on it, or had the humanity to laugh. He had his second-last photo op as Prime Minister in a traffic management centre in Adelaide, one of those strange places to which hidden-camera video goes to facilitate transactions the "controllers" can't possibly know - how emblematic of his Prime Ministership, a yen for control without any interest in understanding.

Thy rod and thy staff

Here was a man who had ascended to high office by ingratiating himself with the powerful. The powerful had to cover for him or look as though their judgment was off. When they departed the scene, when Abbott ascended to a ne plus ultra role he couldn't cope. There was always someone to keep Abbott in check - the Jesuits at Riverview, Kerry Packer, John Howard - until there was only Peta Credlin.

You can't tell the Abbott story without talking about Credlin. He was right to outsource the administration and the discipline for which he had no patience, wrong to rely on her so completely. She didn't have any special insights into the Australian people that real Prime Ministers only begin to glimpse toward the end of their careers, careers in which they have put themselves on the line and in people's faces more than any backroom operator ever dares. She wasn't a scapegoat or a martyr. Those who romanticise the Abbott government and her role in it have to admit she wasn't up to propping up and covering for such an inadequate man. Margie Abbott wasn't, and even John Howard couldn't keep up the fiction - once again, preserving his record of dumping on every Liberal leader but himself.

Credlin's successes were separable from his, while her failures were inseparably theirs. Mind you, she is the most substantial answer to the questions: what's the difference between Abbott and Mark Latham? Why was the latter so repulsive while the former was inevitable?

Abbott retreats to Forestville with Margie-and-the-girls. Credlin goes back to her husband, who is probably not up to the job of managing the re-election of the Turnbull Government.

Off the record

Those who thought Abbott was a capable fellow, or might become one, were mistaken. Same with those who thought he was a good guy, pleasant and amiable and intelligent when in safe, off-the-record company - they wanted to believe, and they were mistaken too. Samantha Maiden actually said Monday night on Lateline that "Tony Abbott isn't a wrecker" - one of those astonishing falsehoods that is so diametrically opposed to the truth it mocks the sheer futility of accurate reporting.

Tony Abbott is a wrecker, he's always been a wrecker; to deny that he's a wrecker is to fail even the most basic understanding of the man and his place in our politics. His assurance that he won't wreck or snipe or undermine has zero value. Abbott was and is a wrecker in the same way that the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge are palpably located in Sydney, and that to assert that they are somehow located in Geraldton would not be just a difference of opinion but flatly wrong. You can't even talk about this government without talking about basic truths and denials thereof.

Those who reported on that government thought we were being 'partisan' when we objected to the blatant falsehoods, not only for their falsity but their blatantness. Take, for example, this blog's official bunny: he was sent to report on something that actually happened (that Abbott sulked for almost a full day, and was ungracious when he did speak), and which has happened repeatedly. He then pretends that this reality is somehow out of character:
Even at its most benign, it was a parting non-decision, characteristic of his government's mostly hollow presentation as little more than a non-Labor government.

Regardless of intent, it conveyed an absence of grace which not only reflected poorly on Team-Abbott, but seemed at odds with Abbott's own more honourable style.

Abbott's departure should have been marked by the dignity of a swift exit, not a sullen vacuum.
He went out the way he went on. To the very end, press gallery journalists made Abbott out to be a better politician, a better man, than he ever was or could have been. When historians start to fossick through the wreckage of this government, Mark Kenny will still be trying to recover the sunk costs of his credibility by insisting his insider notions really are worth something, something more than what is obviously true.

It's amazing how those savvy insiders only found out after it was all over: if not this, etc. Paul Sheehan reckoned he knew two weeks ago and declined to let us in on it, which goes to his credentials as a journalist.

The Abbott government was a fake government, and the press gallery covered up for it until the loss of credibility began to bite them too. They never had any basis for their blithe assumption that Abbott would or could make a transition from wrecker to statesman, and it did them no good to re-state that he never made the transition. A dog might chase a car and even displace the driver, but it is never going to become a capable driver; everyone of the contrary opinion was kidding themselves. Decades of political judgment, before Abbott became Prime Minister and now since, count for nothing.

Not since Alfred Deakin have we had a Prime Minister so steeped in media training from early adulthood that he could only imagine politics through headlines and bylines. Abbott was Murdoch's Manchurian Candidate, which is why the old bastard had to come from New York to reverse-midwife him out of office. Abbott had entered politics as Hewson's press secretary, running his own agenda ahead of his boss and party even then. He replaced Reith as Howard's favoured leaker. Through this the press gallery grew to love him, and why their grief at his departure is genuine if not well-founded.

The real reason why his swipes at the media in his sooky, churlish farewell address are so unfair are not because any and all criticism of the media is unfair, but because he lived by the media cycle and assumed he was too clever to perish by it. Abbott's claim that he could calm the media was always Canute-like in its hubris. No conservative, nobody with any media experience, has any excuse for believing that or even playing along.

The press gallery couldn't believe their man would turn on them as he did - but by then his only alternative was to turn on himself, and nobody expected him to do that. If Tony Abbott was no good at media, what was he good at? What was he good for?

Permanent interests

The loyalties which centre upon [the leader] are enormous. If he trips, he must be sustained. If he make mistakes, they must be covered. If he sleeps, he must not be wantonly disturbed. If he is no good, he must be pole-axed.

- Winston Churchill
Liberals stagger and stumble under the demands of office, and look to a leader to make their lives easier. When Abbott didn't, and couldn't make their lives easier, when they spent more time covering for his missteps and misstatements, they got rid of him. They leaked to ensure they weren't entombed with him, like the entourage of a Pharaoh. They spent six hours meeting over same-sex marriage - not war, nor economic reform, nor Indigenous recognition - but because they were sure Abbott was wrong while lacking the ability to come up with and enact the right answer.

Howard, Fraser, and Menzies made their lives easier - they chafed and grumbled, but they accepted imperfect leadership over the hyper-engagement required in its absence. The Liberal Party got rid of Gorton, Snedden, Peacock (twice), Downer, Nelson, and 2009-model Turnbull for the same reason they got rid of Abbott; the leader supports the led, not the other way around. The Liberal Party is not a commune. They want leadership and they will pay for it in blood if that is its price.

The Liberal Party has failed as an organisation for electing and maintaining such an inadequate leader. It is one of only two political parties that leads governments, and its leaders must be Prime Ministerial timbre. The Liberal Party's three longest-serving leaders are three of the four longest-serving Prime Ministers. Abbott is their fourth-longest serving leader but has one of the shorter Prime Ministerial tenures. Claiming that Abbott was brilliant at media is like Labor claims that Evatt was a brilliant at law - all very well, but never sufficient for leading a government.

Having come to office with so little public goodwill, it was incumbent on Abbott to reach out, to flesh out the bare bones of the campaign offering, to take people into his confidence. Just because the sheep in the press gallery accepted "on-water matters" and other obfuscations, it didn't mean we all did. Abbott's "slowing down the media cycle" ensured we always remained suspicious about him, and denied the Liberals the honeymoon they had expected.

Washed up on the northern beaches

The 1960s TV series Skippy was filmed in Kuring-gai National Park, on Sydney's northern beaches. The area is notoriously parochial. Communities there have actually campaigned against better roads and public transport because they do not want to make it easier for interlopers. Yet, their two representatives in the House of Representatives, Abbott and Bronwyn Bishop, are from the upper North Shore - Killara may as well be Timbuktu for those on the insular peninsula.

Bishop has her branches sewn up. Insofar as she can conceive of her political extinguishment at all, she will probably be succeeded by her chief of staff Damien Jones, Kerry's husband. Abbott is likely to be succeeded by someone more like Mike Baird (Baird's state electorate lies within Abbott's) rather than a rock-ribbed conservative like himself.

To quote from Abbott's farewell speech:
In my maiden speech here in this Parliament, I quoted from the first Christian service ever preached here in Australia. The reverend Richard Johnson took as his text: "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his blessings to me?"

At this, my final statement as Prime Minister, I say: I have rendered all and I am proud of my service.
This is all very well if you see God as your personal service-provider. In his columns for The Sydney Morning Herald, Peter FitzSimons mocks award recipients in sports or showbusiness for thanking God for looking out for them while apparently neglecting so many and so much else. Here too Abbott's limited idea of his own piety must not be seen as compensating for, but instead compounding, his other shortcomings.

Conservatives demand that their opponents make a dignified exit but feel under no compunction to do so themselves. Peacock and Hewson departed after crashing while Howard and Downer did not. On Monday night, after all was lost, Kevin Andrews made a bid for the deputy leadership against Bishop that might have seemed laughably futile. Andrews' pluck/ doggedness, and that of Bishop, stands in stark contrast to the moderates-in-name-only who've made their peace with bad, right-wing policy for the tinkling bells and clattering cymbals of office.

Those who went along with Abbott in order to get along, like Joe Hockey, now look foolish for having done so. They should have known better, which goes to questions of judgment that apologias like this tend to avoid. As Treasurer Hockey meant well and was diligent, just as John Kerin or Les Bury were.

A coup?

What a lot of silly reporting has invoked this loaded word.

If Roman Quadvlieg or Angus Campbell were seizing the keys and passwords of government and suspending the Constitution, if leading figures in Abbott's government were dead or in prison, that would be a coup. What happened on Monday night was not a coup.

I still remember when John Howard conceded defeat at the Wentworth Hotel in 2007. He'd conceded defeat before; he plodded through his speech, in his way, with more good grace for Rudd than Abbott could muster for Turnbull - while the eyes of Jeanette Howard darted around the room, as though she feared they were going to rise up and strangle the Howard family, as though she felt they deserved no less.

I have been, and I remain, a Turnbull sceptic.

When all is said and done

There were a number of people who contacted me via social media to tell me that I should be posting - I'd just prioritised other things over the past few weeks. It's really touching, thank you all.

Because the press gallery coverage of the Abbott government from beginning to end has been such terrible shit, even the summaries by one of the better members of the gallery is barely competent.

Abbott had been looking ragged and I felt reluctant to fully cheer his defeat and subsequent silence. But no - he's just a sook and a churl, others will have to look out for him, and man the medicine cabinet in a way he never would or could.

For all the long-winded blather of this blog:
  • this is the best summary of Tony Abbott. It was written before just after he became PM and stands as a better obituary than all those catalogues of flags, onion-eating etc.
  • this is the best summary of Abbott's final speech, and what Abbott was about as a reactionary.
  • this is worth reading on what comes next.


  1. I agree that this was a fake government. It was elected on a fake platform of policies it either privately disagreed with but publicly supported for the sake of opposition (Fraudband, Direct Action) or publicly supported but privately disagreed with (Gonski, NDIS). Better people might have been able to muddle through.

  2. Thanks Andrew, I have always enjoyed reading your insights into what our leaders are or have been.

  3. Second last paragraph of Off The Record:
    "The real reason... are not ..."
    Can we have some verb agreement please?

    1. I'll add that one to my list of Elder's Apostrophe Abuses.

      Isn't he a damn fine writer though? I'm sure he understands terminology like 'verb agreement.'

    2. "swipes ... are not". Subject-verb agreement right there. Thanks though.

  4. Bushfire Bill17/9/15 8:13 am

    Abbott was so bad - and so predictably bad - as Opposition Leader and then PM that you start to think many supported him just for a laugh. Abbptt was the Comedy Candidate. And he delivered.

    He was fun to lampoon and fun to try to write up as a statesman. Any cartoonist or blogger could accomplish the former. If a journalist could pull off the latter, it was worth a round beers. What was sad, though, was that so many journalists seemed to convince themselves they were right.

    Note too, the sticking to the meme of how bad Labor was. Labor got rid of a sitting PM as a surprise, despite acres of newsprint devoted to party machinations in the lead-up to June 2010. Shanahan said it was all over red rover the day before Rudd got booted. If a "Surprise" hadn't existed, it had to be invented.

    But Abbott's demise is being portrayed almost as an orderly succession. Didn't Uhlmann courageously say "sometime in the next three months", the *day before* Abbott was levered out? Or was it the same day? There's Press Gallery genius for you.

    Somehow the ousting of a first-term PM, in record time, six months earlier than Rudd and a year earlier than Gillard went has become "move along now, nothing to see here".

    Hadley tried to keep the pot boiling yesterday, with an "I'll never vote Liberal again" session, but by the end of the program he was telling listeners it'd be back to normal next day - police reports, bail tantrums and traffic jams. He told his listeners because *he* had been told.

    Poor Turnbull. So much is expected of him. He thinks it's about governance. But all anyone wanted was for him to get rid of Abbott. Now that he's done that, *he* has to pretend to be a statesman. Good luck with that. The modern Libs don't do "statesman". They prefer raw meat, and if its not Labor rabbit, it's Liberal sirloin. The blood tastes the same.

  5. Actually felt that in the last 24 hours the media reported on Abbott-as-he-really-was, but by then he was gone.

    So much for Abbott, pity anyone had to write anything about such a useless person.

    What I fear now is that the media will start writing gushingly about Turnbott, about his wonderful new style and approach, all the while he runs a government with most of Abbott's policies still in place.

    1. My fear as well, although seismic forces may make that nigh impossible, even for this confabulating, crash-test-dummy Gallery.

  6. Thank for Andrew for your insistence that the truth be sought and told. You have been a thoughtful critic of the media hype and ignorance that gave us the Abbott disaster. Keep up the good work.

  7. I dunno, I still reckon Abbott will flick the switch and become a good PM.

    1. Widely held opinion, that. Spent a bit of time in the wilderness insisting it was wrong.

    2. ""Tony Abbott will never be Prime Minister." You were right Andrew. He never really was. Just an attack-dog leader of the opposition out of place.
      Rais, Perth.

  8. I'm so glad to read your commentary again.

    Although the prospect of Full Term Tony was looking increasingly unlikely, I always thought he'd see it coming and call an election - a terminal Captain's mayday.

    Still, knifing him a few days before he hits the two year mark seems to have the viciousness of a mafia execution complete with disfigurement to foreclose the possibility of an open casket.

    None more deserving, some may say, but I would have preferred it he was not put in a position where he'd become a problem to address.

    I think there's good reason to think that the Turnbull government will stink because I don't see a mandate within the party to purse things that are popular with the electorate but unpopular with sections of the party, and conversely, I don't think he's got the consent of the electorate to try to sell the 'reforms' that the Abbott government could not.


  9. Excellent as usual, Andrew.

    I've given a bit of thought as to what to comment here but you've said it all.

    I've previously wondered here at the perspicacity of those that installed Tones in the first place and haven't come up with a better answer than The Guardian's Jason Wilson's, or a more succinct and apposite description of Abbott than First Dog's “angry babbling man-sized toddler”.

    Anyway; enough already. All that remains to be said is “Goodbye fuckwit”

  10. I'm no fan of Julie Bishop, but I find it funny and telling that the frontbench of the Libs parliamentary party left it to the woman to go and tap Abbott on the shoulder. The same lot that were also too weak to tap Howard and give the 2007 election any serious go. These old Howard era Lib guys are all blusterers - all pride and swagger for the cameras, but not much there when the time comes to necessarily strike - hollow and weak. Surely, whatever else Turnball does, he will sweep a few of these old has beens, cluttering up governance, to the backbenches?

  11. “The dogs bark but the caravan moves on” is an old Arabic Proverb.

    It was apparently first used to refer to caravans traveling through the desert climate regions of the vast Middle East. Dogs barked as the caravan slowly prodded toward its destination, but their bark was not enough to stop it from reaching the end of its journey.

    “In most instances of this proverb, ‘caravan’ is in its original sense of ‘a company of people traveling together in the desert.’

    That description reminds me so much of what we have just been witnesses to. The dogs of the Press Gallery barked so loud about the Labor federal governments of Rudd & Gillard, encouraged by the Liberal Junkyard Dog, Tony Abbott, that their collective opinion became almost holy writ, despite evidence to the contrary demonstrating Labor's effectiveness at developing and implementing sound, progressive (in both senses of the word) and sensible, easily-implementable policy for the nation's benefit going forward (and I mean that not in the managerialese sense but the strictly literal sense). Sadly, they were bereft of a showboater of Hawke or Keating's talents to sell the stuff to the people and to counter the jeering from the cheap seats filled with the Liberal Opposition of Tony Abbott. Rudd did not suffice and Julia Gillard realised too late that in order to advance your cause you don't just do the backroom negotiating well but you also have to do the front-of-house well too. So the dogs barking distracted people too much and eventually the caravan moved on without Labor.

    Their position in the caravan was replaced by the dogs. Who kept barking about Labor, and that was enough for a while. Two years, to be precise. However, eventually people began to realise that the dogs were barking at shadows. You couldn't really get away with blaming Labor anymore for the state of the nation. So the Junkyard Dog was junked.

    And the caravan moves on.

    I still think the caravan is moving through the desert though and that we haven't reached the oasis yet. The Liberals may have changed the driver of the Caravanserai but they haven't changed the cargo. Turnbull is still piloting dodgy goods to market, even if he is a better salesman of them.

    Hopefully the dogs of the Press Gallery still on board the Caravanserai will use their supposedly superior sense of smell to alert the buyers at the next election if the product is off. As Working Dogs they need to earn their keep. Or they may be the next to be jettisoned as surplus to requirements. Because in the desert you need to travel as lightly as possible in order to be able to make it to the oasis. The Australian people deserve to have their leaders chart that path successfully and sensibly and then convince them of why it is the right path to take, even if it may not seem so to the casual observer who looks up to them for guidance and then back down again to their daily toil.

    And Labor need to work on their narrative. Or no one will buy their 'Bill' of goods. :)

    1. Both major parties elected a leader who wasn't PM material: Rudd with Labor in 2006, and now Abbott.

      Most of the senior press gallery people who were there in 2006 remain there today. They need to be moved on. They're a bottleneck to understanding how we are and might be governed.

      Shorten has played by the rules all the way along, with the union movement and the ALP and what have you. It isn't enough though, and nobody inside his office or outside can quite put their finger on why. This is where things get interesting.

    2. I wouldn't underestimate Bill Shorten, he is an incredibly organised, strategic thinker. Labor are concentrating on the political fundamentals - developing policy and getting ready to govern. Question time makes good political theater but a government is made or destroyed in the party room. Howard understood this, he unified and managed his party room brilliantly. Without Howard behind them both Abbott and Turnbull are hollow men, both political babes in the woods.

      I get the feeling from reading between the lines of Niki Savva's partisan hackery that the Liberal party hard heads have given up on Abbott & Turnbull. If Turnbull can win the election, well and good, they'll shaft him within 18 months and install Scott Morrison - he is the anointed heir. ScoMo's probably the only Liberal in parliament presently with the political skill and intelligence to unite the party, but they don't want to waste him in an election campaign he could well lose. The press gallery can write off Shorten but he is a formidable political opponent. Turnbull is so far up his own brilliance he can't believe anybody could be smarter than him. But it's game on for Shorten, as he told the party room when Abbott was deposed one down and one to go

  12. Dear Andrew,

    When you're right, you're right, and as you said all along, Abbott was never fit for the highest office.

    He was ill suited by nature, a social conservative, essentially fixated on identifying social trends he was opposed to in post 1945 Anglo-sphere society. That is not the makings for a cohesive, modern, economic driven, centre based national leader, who can offer something to the majority.

    When you're right, you're right. It was just a sorry saga that the nation had endure, with the non governance of the past two years. The LNP must surely be relieved at heart themselves, that it is finally over, and beyond fighting fires, some actual substance might, just might, be allowed to slowly permeate back into the federal arena.

    Thanks for all your heads up's throughout the whole tragicomedy.

  13. I love your work Andrew & have visited this blog repeatedly this month looking in vain for a post. So thanks for this one. I'm glad you let a bit of time go past before providing us with this interest & accurate view of the Abbott experiment. I would note 2 things:

    I think you're a bit harsh on Laura Tingle in her summation of Abbott's period. she was the 1st serious journalist who called Abbott back on March 19 when she wrote "BEING GOVERNED BY FOOLS IS NOT FUNNY"

    She went on to write "A bit like the old story of the frog that gets boiled alive because the temperature of the water in which it sits rises only gradually, we don't seem to quite be able to take in the growing realisation that we actually are being governed by idiots and fools, or that this actually has real-world consequences.

    "We finish the week with a Prime Minister who has lost his bundle and is making policy and political calls that go beyond reckless in an increasingly panicked and desperate attempt to save himself; a government that has not just utterly lost its way but its authority; and important policy debates left either as smouldering wrecks or unprosecuted."

    I have real respect for her decision to stand aside from the sycophants & be the 1st in the MSM to bell the cat.

    My second point goes to a tweet I read but can't find, which asked "What is the common factor of the [apparent] turmoil of the last 6 or so years?" - Answer Abbott. I think history needs to examine the total bastardy wreaked on Aust politics and our nation by this man. It is wrong to talk about any Labor dysfunction without noting the bullying, uncouth "take no prisoners regardless of the consequences" dog whistling of Abbott who has lowered the tone of our nation. Mind you he got some good lessons in this from his mentor Howard, who appealed to personal greed and xenophobia to shore up his blighted time in office.

    Please keep contributing to the national conversation - your blog is a "must read"

    1. I took pains to point out how good Tingle is - the other consistently good one is Lenore Taylor - because they relate goings-on in Parliament with objective realities beyond it.

      Experienced journalists should have been awake to the idea of what a good government looks like, and measure Abbott and his crew against that experience before September 2013. It's too late now. Better reporting might have yielded better government.

      I am sick to death of this pantomime whereby press gallery journalists suddenly remember there's such a thing as good government, and that Abbott & co. aren't providing it. How could we have known? Oh please, piss off the lot of you.

      You're right about the limitations of simply reporting what was said, because it cheapens debate and limits the options up for debate. We need more and better information about how we are governed, and how we might be governed; the press gallery won't lift their game because they can't.

    2. Katharine Murphy called Abbott out six months ago with a strong piece about 'how the Abbott I knew' disappeared. But in general, all broadcast media bunnies [to coin a phrase?] have a contextual memory extending back to breakfast.

    3. Murphy should have been awake to Abbott years ago.

  14. Bere Farno17/9/15 1:51 pm

    Please don't stop posting now, your commentary has been sustaining throughout, and your quotable quotes have peppered my emails.

    I wasn't worried you would no longer be politically homeless as you were also about the only person not drinking the Turnbull Kool-Aid. He chief talent was being urbane and polite, and not being Rudd/Gillard/Abbott I have said myself that Turnbull has what people cleverer than me have called "2iC Syndrome" - where a charismatic successful public figure has been maintained by people with better judgement. The only time he led on his own merits he lost a generation the Australian Republic.And the last time he was leader we got Utegate.

  15. Thanks Andrew (again!) for a too the point column. My gripe with Turnbull is his complete mismanagement of the NBN. To destroy obviously superior technology just because your ego wouldn't allow it, surely says something about what sort of PM he will be.

    1. He wrecked the NBN to show he could be a good boy to the powerbrokers - inside and outside the Liberal party.

      Now he gets to do what Malcolm does best, move on before the edifice collapses with him inside.

      Unfortunately, as PM -as Abbott and Rudd found, you can't leave the mess behind.

    2. The destruction of the NBN isn't incompetence, it's business - knobble the competitor.

  16. "Regardless of intent, it conveyed an absence of grace which not only reflected poorly on Team-Abbott, but seemed at odds with Abbott's own more honourable style."

    It really is beyond belief that at the very same time Kenny is faced with evidence of how dishonourable Abbot is, at the very same time he is actually writing about it, he still can't admit it. That's some serious mental anguish going on right there.

  17. A Turnbull sceptic, as we all should be.

    The man who let Howard run rings round him on the republic.
    The man who believed Godwin Grech.
    The man whose oversight of the communications portfolio can reasonably be described as disgraceful.

    But he looks good in a leather jacket apparently

    1. No Anon, Malcolm does not look good in a leather jacket. Very few men do.

      He looked good in his nice suit yesterday and orange tie. Abbott always looked as if he was wrestling his suit. One of the buttons always seemed to be under severe strain. As he was. As we all were.

      And then the button popped and here we are. A deposed first time leader. A newly installed recycled party leader. A disappointed slump off to the backbench by the former incumbent. Rumblings of discontent. An earnest vow by the ex-PM not to cause trouble. Where have we heard it all before?

      And Malcolm is making big promises of golden days ahead if we are nimble and spry.

      He did not say how though.

      All he has said so far is that he is going to explain Abbott's policies better.

      Well I would like to use this space to inform Mr Turnbull that excellent products do not require much salesmanship. Dud products require the contortions of a spruiker outside a two-dollar shop.

      All the honeyed words in the world are not going to convince a person subsisting on part-time or casual work that they will be better off without their weekend penalty rates.

      Good luck Mr T!

  18. Hi Andrew. Thanks for the thoughts and the links. BTW..Jane Gilmore's article was written after Abbott became PM, no?

  19. Reportedly, Abbott resigned by fax to the GG!! But this is par for the course for this man. Hooray he is gone.

    1. No class at all, can't get over himself.

    2. I bet he got someone else to do it - he has always looked to me like a man who can't operate the fax machined and takes it out on the world

  20. Lachlan Ridge17/9/15 7:21 pm


    And thank you.

  21. Glad to read this; sanity in an insane media environment.

    The press gallery still haven't learned. Before a new cabinet is set or a new policy announced they are more interested in setting the "Turnbull is the ALP's worst nightmare" / "Turnbull is smart and moderate" narratives without even waiting to see what he does. Any memory of his unsuccessful stint as opposition leader is hand waved by calling him a changed man....just like with Abbott.

    I'd love for Turnbull to prove us sceptics wrong and restore some sanity to Federal politics, but he hasn't earned a free pass just as Abbott hadn't, and it's worrying to see the same mistake repeated. It's also noticeable that Shorten didn't get such benefit of the doubt (yet Abbott dared complain about the media, as Dutton had).

  22. The new adventure has began, with the realisation that Turnbull sold his soul for the job, like most of the rest.

    He sold out on water policy for the Nats and god knows what poor choices for cabinet and ministry places for the powerbrokers and their lackeys. Major policies that people found so offensive and wasteful under Abbott appear to be being left in place, such as further hounding of the young unemployed.

    If he has no room to move as to policy, how long before the public wakes up to him, or is msm too deeply under the control of his supporters?

  23. Laura Tingle more than makes up for her effort of earlier this week here:

  24. Abbott's extended sulk off and apparent resignation by fax are entirely consistent with his previous behaviour toward federal institutions. During both his opposition and government leaderships, Abbott displayed no respect or discipline toward the constitution or its resultant major institutions. Throughout his PM tenure he violated basic protocols at every level and in all matters. He consistently threw our institutions under the bus - from micromanaging of judiciary affairs (think enviro laws) to vilifying public servants (think Triggs) and everything in-between.
    Abbott is not the Burke style traditional conservative he has often claimed himself to be, he is far more a DLP laced radical conservative, and as such was ill prepared to occupy the nations highest office. His apparent and unpredictable disrespect for institutions is remarkable, outstripping any federal politician in recent memory.
    Keeping Cosgrove waiting to accept his resignation was just the last of many such acts as PM, and in doing so rang true to form, of trashing the protocols and requirements of federal political behaviour.
    Remember the LNP's 'the adults are in charge again' mantra after winning, that was sure some comedy gold.

  25. He was unfit for purpose. The whole thing was a mistake.

  26. James Hill18/9/15 6:40 am

    Almost half a century after Harold Holt disappeared at sea, Tony Abbott seems to have been swallowed up, we won't say died of shame ( that would be very nasty), in a pool of his own excrement.

    With the exception of the efforts of such as Andrew Elder, this "tragedy" occurred because the journosphere failed in its duty to bring Abbott's dilemma to his attention, failed to induce Abbott to drain the political latrine of self-generated negativity in which he wallowed.

    At present he seems to have disappeared into this sea of "crap", of his own making, though the dangers of sewer surfing must have been very clear to him from the absence of others joining him in his mire.

    Will he ever re-emerge?

  27. Interesting views - not sure what is meant by "the Abbott government was a fake government, and the press gallery covered up for it". I have never had any trouble finding out about the government's incompetence from the media - there are plenty of competent journalists (contrary to your slights against them) and other published sources e.g. Lenore Taylor, The Saturday Paper.

    Also 'Skippy' was made at Waratah Wildlife Park at Terrey Hills, not in Ku-ring-gai [Chase] National Park - no doubt some scenes e.g. helicopter footage were over the park. (I work for the National Parks & Wildlife Service).

    1. If you go back through this blog you'll see that I was always sure that an Abbott government would be a disaster, and that journalists who blithely took him at his words were derelict in their duty. The media then went through this pantomime about being shocked, who could have foreseen it, etc. I agree with you about Taylor but the rest of them have let us down.

      The setting for 'Skippy' was "Waratah National Park", and yes they did use a fair bit of footage from Kuring-gai. Is it true that they carved Waratah Wildlife Park out of the NP?

  28. thanks for this post as usual spot on danny jackson

  29. Pugilist Abbott, who more than any politician turned politics into an unedifying version of cage fighting went out crying about how uncivil it had all become, and then blamed that on the media?

    Here was a man who never once looked in a mirror, but lapped up the reflected glow of a parade of petty scribblers and powerful supporters like Murdoch to convince himself he was conservatism's great white hope.

    Andrew, you've been calling this guy out from day one, along with the scribblers and camp followers who've enabled this one dimensional clown all the way to the top.

    Well done, and thank you.

  30. Andrew,
    The only analysis of the whole thing worth reading. Well done. I'd be interested to hear your take on Sheridan's farewell love letter to Abbott. I am constantly gobsmacked as to how much idiots like him are out of touch with the views of mainstream Australia. He and so many of the Press Gallery bunnies need to be put out to pasture and shot!

    1. I had a takedown half prepared, until I realised that Sheridan is a man whose time has passed. He's watching himself become D D McNicoll and there's nothing he can do.

      As a foreign policy journalist his skills do not extend beyond snagging a lunch date with Richard Armitage. When the Oz does serious foreign policy pieces, Rowan Callick does it or they wheel in someone from a thinktank.

      His friendship with Abbott was everything, and now it's nothing. To borrow from Clive Palmer: goodbye, Greg Sheridan, goodbye.

  31. What happens to Tim Wilson and the Institute of Public Affairs now?

    Their an ideological joke surely and must start their own Freedom Party somewhere. ..

    Thoughts Andrew?

    1. I think it will have to wait until Labor gets back in, unless he drops off like a suffused leech in the meantime.

    2. More importantly what about his gay sister Christine Forster...?

      What a weird sister to have your d....head brother screw you for his own political ambitions..

      I know many in the glbti community who despise her faux sincerity of playing identity politics as a gay liberal

      I have no sympathy for this disfunctional family and their princess daughters

      Do Victorians get their money for that dodgy scholarship eh Franny Abbott? ?

      Ridiculous sense of entitlement that's passed to the next generation.

      Speaks volumes how nasty these Ugly Anglo Aussies really are...off with their heads

  32. Thanks Andrew - this is the one must-read blog I'd been waiting on since Monday. Keep up the great work!

  33. I wouldn't be surprised if Abbott hangs around. He is an incredibly stubborn fellow, convinced of his righteousness, and he has seen three remarkable political comebacks: Howard, Rudd, and Turnbull. While Rudd II was just damage control, and Turnbull is untested as PM, Howard was very successful. Abbott is still the preferred choice of the Liberal right, even if the more sensible conservatives look to Morrison. If the Coalition loses the next election, they might want their trusty rottweiler on the attack again.

  34. Lachlan Ridge18/9/15 4:55 pm

    The one redeeming feature of the last government is that we finally got to see what a DLP administration would have looked like.

    Puts all the last years Santamaria hagiography in perspective.

  35. Andrew, a penny has dropped.
    It clink-clanked to the floor this morn when I saw a short video on line of TA greeting former classmates at Kirribilli arriving for their 40th school anniversary.
    I suddenly realised why Abbott is beloved by right-wing columnists of a certain age.
    IMO Abbott is a boy at heart. That can be an attractive trait but not in a PM.
    I reckon Abbott's enthusiasm, hi-jinks etc etc makes them feel young again. Virile. Full of hope and dash.

    1. Or are emotionally stunted creeps Anon.

      No thanks we're so over career politicians

      It's interesting Tim Wilson visited a Brighton school in Melbourne recently?

      He does the same things to middle aged middle class women...

      Watch The Drum and body language between some of the panelists

      It's hilarious yet sad.

  36. Reading all the gleefully negative comments from the Abbott haters in this post, it makes me wonder if they realise he was a leader that won government by a huge margin at the last election, when Labor were thrown out.
    One would be forgiven for thinking the people who are commenting here, actually represented the majority of Australians.
    They don't.

    1. The polling said that the majority of people wanted the Coalition out, and the vast majority disliked Abbott (even many people who would still vote for the Coalition), so in this case at least commenters here represent the majority.

      The fact that the electorate wanted the ALP gone at the last election doesn't magically transform Abbott into a good prime minister - it doesn't even mean the majority really wanted Abbott in 2013, they just wanted the ALP less at the time.

    2. Not so much 'haters' - just responsible participants in political society, who saw a national train wreck for what it was. "Haters' is just more divisive hyperbole, the likes of which the Abbott administration lived upon as its daily creed and cover.

  37. You sound very unhappy Jack.
    I would like to know why Abbott impressed you so.

  38. Abbott and bulk of his vast chosen cabinet simply were the playing out of ambitious mediocrity. No one pointed this out in their party or the media. Sadly.