So this is the week where the rubber hits the road, where the going gets tough (and the tough get going), where talking-the-talk becomes walking-the-walk, where the shit hits the fan and the kitchen gets hot, where we run it up the flagpole and see who salutes.
This is the week where we find out just how big a train wreck the new Abbott government has become.
It’s the week where Reality meets Slogans.
For a supposedly natural diplomat, one who uses charm and blokey bonhomie, a hearty hand shake and a pat on the back to change the fates of nations, who (according to himself) has a netball team’s worth of Best Friends stretching in a magnificent geopolitical crescent from Jakarta to Japan, Tony Abbott sure looks lonely today.
Even his fawning hagiographer, Mark Kenny, the man who told us that in one hot Jakarta afternoon Abbott had single-handedly turned the tide of Indonesian skepticism into a tsunami of co-operation and love, allowed himself some doubt in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald.
Gone was the first flush of passion for a new government doing new things in brilliant and exciting ways. Instead it was revealed that:
Abbott’s super-simple boats fix convinced some, but it was always too easy.
Who knew… until Mark told us?
Thank God for our perceptive Press Gallery. It’s stuff like Mark’s stunning observation that should silence any doubters, those who reckon the Gallery is a bunch of scribbling, nodding hacks, obsessed with color and movement and who wouldn’t know a policy if one crawled into their underpants and bit them on the kahoonies.
Mind you, it took him a while to work it out… three years to be precise; three years of ceaseless, relentless heckling from Mark and his mates, directed at the Gillard government for being unable to Stop The Boats when it really wasn’t so difficult at all. All they had to do was turn a couple around (when safe to do so, of course), sweet talk the darkies into recognizing that our problem was their problem as well, rant a little about the bamboo cane torture and corrupt police forces and Voila!
Although we were told everything was sweetness and light between Jakarta and Canberra (and sorry for that klutzy Gillard stuffing things up), it seems the REAL story was this:
It’s not Indonesia that has the problem.
It’s Australia that has the problem.
Oh dear, all those huddled millions in Western Sydney who thought all we needed to do was wave the Big Stick, threaten to reduce aid (and megaphone it loudly all over Shock-Jock Radio), utter a few Hail-Fellow-Well-Mets and then have the Daily Telegraph (and Mark Kenny, let’s not forget him) write it up as a “Diplomatic Triumph”, “The-Adults-Are-In-Charge” etc. and there we have it: “Peace In Our Time”.
(Plus an instant solution to traffic jams on the M4… and all credit to the sexy piece who pointed that out).
But there is one small other problem… the more the Abbott-Loving Murdoch media and the Ray Hadley crowd keep insulting the Indonesians, the more the Indonesians will be convinced that not only does Abbott talk out of both sides of his mouth, but that he hasn’t learned his lesson yet.
The brazen denial of a connection between the Indonesian hating media and Tony Abbott, the plonking dismissals of even the possibility of it, may go down a treat locally, here in Australia, but the Indonesians are entitled to have their own opinion of the truth of that (laughingly called) “argument”. And their opinion, in the matter of Stopping The Boats, is the only one that matters.
UPDATE: Editorials, like today’s in The Abbott-Lovin’ Australian won’t help:
For domestic political reasons, the Indonesian government played upon the knowledge that we value human life more than they do, and was praised by local commentators in the Indonesian media for taking a “stern stand”.
“See more”? I think the Indonesians will have seen enough.
What a disgusting piece of Australian exceptionalism. This is what is at the heart of our attitude towards Indonesia, and theirs towards us: we think we are better than they are.
And then there’s Jolly Joe Hockey…
…the man who reacted to the Budget Emergency by doing nothing about it; the man who’s in charge of talking up our economy, but can’t stop whingeing and moaning and forecasting doom.
Yes, I know, you have to fight fire with fire (ask Tony about back-burning), so why not borrow even MORE money ($24 billion at last count, since the election), and raise the credit card limit (Joe’s words, not mine) by 67%?
Joe’s got some splainin’ to do about just why he’s reneged on and reversed just about everything he spoke about and promised before the election… except for his glib line of patter about how dreadful everything is. At least that hasn’t changed.
I thought there weren’t going to be any excuses?
So I guess Baby-Face Greg Hunt has no excuse for not turning up to the UN Climate Summit in Warsaw?
I mean, it’s not as if Australia can achieve much… we’re only the world’s richest per capita country, and its biggest per capita polluters – by a factor of three times our population – who supply the other Big Two – China and India – with polluting fossil fuels… but thank the Lord for The Polls. They tell us that because we think we’re poor, and don’t care much about the Dreaded Carbon Tax, then Global Warming will probably just go away. There won’t be any of those bolshie CSIRO scientists, talking through their hats, left to tell us otherwise (Tony has taken care of that, too).
Hell’s bells… why don’t we have a poll on cancer? Maybe that will “just go away” too?
After all, we’ve not only had bushfires and cyclones before, but life itself has gone extinct on this planet lots of times. It’s no biggy, really. Ask Jesus. Christ! Was it HOT in his day!
What’s important is the touch-feely stuff, the kind of thing Conviction Politicians do so well…
“Climate Change: we feel in our guts that it’s just not that important.”
(cf. J. Howard)
As to other matters, there is a veritable grab bag of potential for the new parliament. So many promises made and then broken. Mark Kenny knew all about a couple of them. It’s just that he didn’t bother telling us. Neither did Haystacks Laurie Oakes. Or Man-Love Peter Hartcher, or Saint Paul Kelly, or the well-connected Phil Coorey.
Where to start on “other matters”? There are so many of them, one suspects the new government is deliberately telling lies of such gargantuan proportions and such panoramically wide scope that they’re hoping we won’t know where to start.
OK, so let’s try a few: the NBN, the NDIS, superannuation… oh stuff it, there are too many.
A few months ago I did the Twitter graphic below, predicting some of the issues that would be front and centre at the “September 15th” [sic] election. I present it here unchanged.
Seems I got just about everything right except the date.
I’m sure youse all can fill in a few other blanks as the Hard Reality Special hurtles towards the All Stations to Sloganville.
UPDATE: Day #2 of Parliament, debate begins.
The Australian voting public (including the rural voting public) have been comprehensively swindled by the Coalition: committments on debt ceilings, debt itself, boats, international relations, policies ready to go, parliamentary procedure, coal seam gas, the NBN, global warming, education, the NDIS, tax policy, open government, “No surprises, no excuses”, rorting entitlements… the list is long and shameful… all changed, forgotten, ignored, reversed, manipulated and battered to within an inch of their political lives.
We could see it all coming, yet somehow one “lie”, half a statement in an obscure interview, taken out of context, gave birth to a festival of sexism, nastiness, vindictiveness and base hypocrisy. It was a kind of mass hysteria.
The voting public (or enough of them) trotted off to the polling booths and voted with the emotional maturity of a lynch mob. Even when it was against their own interests, they willingly complied with their shock jock and tabloid media urgers.
Our relations with Indonesia are in tatters. Our reputation as a responsible international citizen is a joke. The huddled masses of tradies, forkies, pensioners, lefties who felt they had been left out, battlers and assorted aspirationals have dug the hole for themselves, and then jumped in gleefully, crowing at their own self-imposed misfortune.
Each and every one of them thought they had outwitted Tony Abbott and his gang of wreckers, and that only other mugs would be disadvantaged. It was what every con man dreams of, but rarely sees: a nation in denial.
What a farce.