Just who DO you trust?

Nikki Savva feels betrayed, poor kid.

Abbott ET Savva

While her old boss, Peter Costello, has ratted on his mates, it looks like he’s not alone.

After writing this, just before Christmas, Savva must be feeling slightly foolish today:

 The government also needs to follow a few other simple rules. First it has to keep its promises. The try-on over Gonski education funding, which fell into the “what on earth were they thinking” category, showed once again how swiftly and how severely voters punish politicians for even looking like reneging on commitments.

And this too, from Nikki’s very own Boulevard Of Broken Dreams:

… with the appointment of Peter Costello as acting chairman of the Future Fund (he will be confirmed as permanent chairman by cabinet early next year), the more rational business observers were again reassured.

Reassured in vain, it seems.

But Tony Abbott, always a cheap chancer, a back alley tout, who loves to push the envelope of credibility further and further, extending it each time he gets away with a new whopper, challenging his audience with his carnival barker laugh,  has finally gone too far. The “bull in his own china shop” image is so apt, I can’t resist using it again (forgive the indulgence).

In the meantime, though, I DID love this by Savva about Costello’s motives, from today’s Murdoch fish-wrapper:

Inside the government, they questioned the wisdom of someone on the commonwealth payroll being paid to write regular newspaper columns and to ­appear often on television on ­political panels (The Bolt Report) to pass judgment on the politics of the week.

Do tell!

I don’t remember seeing Nikki questioning the wisdom of Costello (then a mere board member of the Future Fund, but pissed off he wasn’t in charge of it) writing nasty articles in the Fairfax papers and going on TV to criticise the Gillard government, even though he was on the public tit at all relevant times then, too.

Perhaps she was too obsessed over Julia’s earlobes to notice?

Fair dinkum, these guys and gals have hides thicker than Jesse the Elephant. Like all bullies, they can dish it out, but they start squealing when some of it comes back their way.

Savva also considers that Peter might have an ego problem, and that it might be partly behind Costello’s stated attitude.

Inside the government, there was speculation about Costello’s motives: jealousy, ego, relevance deprivation.

… a telling blow, after they had quoted Costello’s own 1996 Budgetary style – swingeing cuts and mass sackings – as the guideline for their own. How ungrateful of Peter to bite the hand that has fed him with a $200,000 per annum sinecure!

Maybe he’s jealous. Even a hapless gofer like poor Artie Sinodinos scored $200-large. And that was only for 10 days’ work!  But I digress…

I was pretty pissed off myself when Costello went snarky against the Labor government, and for the same reasons Savva has expressed: if you’re in receipt of government largesse, then you shouldn’t go public criticising it.

But I, and many others who shared the outrage, was ruled out of order. This was the new media style: insiders, government employees, and other associated hangers-on, qango lurkers, special advisors and sinecured ambassadors at large sucking greedily from the government udders, were off the leash.

All I can say is that while I don’t like the new paradigm of Costello types going public, I’ve been over-ruled. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander (please don’t expect me to go all pious and mutter about two wrongs not making a right, either).

In other words: serves ’em bloody right!

Savva does highlight one interesting aspect of the Costello Betrayal…

Those in the government more relaxed about Costello ­exercising his right to express himself, in the same way that Monday morning full forwards find irresistible, are not particularly exercised by a levy on the rich.

In other words: there is a significant amount of dissent within government ranks concerning the coming Budget apocalypse. They know what was promised, and they know the Deficit Levy and all the rest – pensions, disability, education – are broken promises. But it’s the Levy that hurts… their pockets.

In answer to this, Abbott does refers to his over-arching promise to get the Budget back into shape (leaving aside the question as to whether it is even out of shape now).

However, he doesn’t refer to the other part of the promise: that to get the Budget ticketty-boo again, would require NO new taxes. That was how Labor did things – tax and spend, indeed gouge and piss it all up against the wall – not how the Coalition would do things.

By some mysterious process that involved eating Magic Pudding, sheer economic competence would see the economy through under Abbott. People would be walking with a fiscal spring in their step simply because Tony and Joe were in charge. They would amble up to strangers and just, y’know… do business… with them, they felt so happy. I’m sure Savva said this, or similar, too, probably on Insiders (I’m not that much of a masochist to go back and check).

Alas it has all come to nought.

As Latham opines (and as countless writers here and elsewhere warned) Abbott has shown himself to be just another political bullshit artist, good at wrecking, bad at governing, parsing his own words, telling people what they thought they heard him say, or just simply lying. Latham is blunt:

A man who put everything on the line by promising to keep each and every one of his election promises has crashed at the first honesty hurdle.

Abbott hasn’t turned into a bullshit artist, propelled by the irresistable force of events. He was always a bullshit artist. Bullshit and weasel talk are his stock in trade. Always have been.

Bullshit artists thank their lucky stars if they make it to the end of the day, ready to do some more dissembling and outright lying on the morrow.

Meanwhile, back at Nikki’s place, she even uses the “C” word to describe what it’s like inside the Credlin-Abbott bunker:

Externally, the language remains loose, even bizarre, ensuring what is a normally messy pre-budget period stays chaotic.

Gee, Nikki, don’t you think it’s because they’re making things up as they go along, do you?

You’d have thought someone like the savvy Savva would have twigged to that by now: Abbott is all about chaos.

He’s never happier than when he’s in the thick of things, stirring them up. A long term decision for Tony Abbott is one that survives beyond lunchtime the next day.

The entire nation is bewildered and close to up in political arms. The polls are tanking. The natives are restless. The Budget is still a brain fart, not even printed yet, mere days before the Big Day.

They’re still having water cooler arguments in the government wing of Parliament House, and they’re going public about them.

As Abbott has become a disappointment to the public, he is becoming a disappointment to his own mob too.

Abbott Trust

OK, so there’s no excuse for his perennial pop-up dummy, Hockey. Hockey has been Abbott’s punching bag since uni days. Maybe if Joe went and ate a cream bun it’d put a smile back on his face?

But you’d have thought some of the Coalition’s soberer and wiser heads (not hard when Joe’s in the mix) might have cottoned onto the fact that their leader is a penny-ante, common or garden con-man, with a penchant for taking risks with other peoples’ careers, livelihoods and aspirations, in order to further his own, or simply just to save his own hide.

To tell the Australian people – while he is flogging them as if they were dead horse – that they will thank him for the discipline later on is wishful thinking writ large, a kind of BDSM wet dream, a circe-and-hair-shirt Jesuit rapture.

Pretty cheeky too.

Problem is:  the punters aren’t his doting relatives, or Father Costello, or even Bob Santamaria (oh alright… I’ll throw in Greg Sheridan too!)… swooning over how clever he is, telling everyone he’ll be PM one day (Popedom is out of the question by now… George Pell has climbed near to the top and sent word back to his spiritual ward, to quote Kerry Packer… “There’s nothing fucking there,”… for Tony at least).

Well, he is PM now, and he’s making a right, royal botch of it.

Abbott has neither the political nouse of a John Howard, nor the style and grace of a Peter Costello when it comes to selling a message.  Yes, we have a pretty low bar set here, but Abbott still can’t jump it.

Wayne Swan put it well this morning: Abbott is a professional wrecking ball. But you can’t go on demolishing forever. Eventually you have to build something on the vacant lot. And for that you need solid foundations, not smarmy talk, weasel words, arrogance and snake oil. Telling the truth is advisable, too.

A government headed by a narcissistic egomaniac who spends the first part of the day getting himself and his colleagues into the shit, then uses the second half to get himself (colleagues, optional) out of it, is never going to go far in the “trust” stakes.

Matthias Cormann’s pathetic plea to “just trust us” will fall on deaf ears. On the other hand, you don’t need a cochlear implant to hear the nervous rumbling from the peanut gallery, aka “the public”.

Something was needed to break the “Ju-Liar” spell that held the punters in its thrall for three years, and Savva is correct to see (and to report that even some members of the government believe) that this Budget could well be the first pop in a whole bunch of bubbles bursting.

The media class in general still don’t seem to get it. First, forget shills like Kenny and Hartcher, they’re too far gone. But when articles advertising the infrastructure “boom” about to hit us, a brain-fart if ever there was one, start making it to front page status – another Abbott promise about to be kept, no doubt – you know that yesterday’s sackings at Fairfax are, in the end, the most merciful option.

Sure, once again they sacked the wrong people (and isn’t there an irony in all the union bashers going on strike?) and kept the dregs. The artisans are gone while the bum-lickers remain behind. All in all, the spiral downwards of the mass media has to be welcomed.

Those who have lectured governments as regards spending beyond their means, running chaotic administrations, not consulting with stakeholders and generally stuffing things up for the people that they are supposed to be elevating to a higher plane… are going broke themselves. That’s gotta be worth more than a LOL. An ROTFL hardly does it justice.

Savva, of course, is working in a sheltered workshop. News has to stay alive because it needs to be upright when the rivers of gold promised it, prior to the election, come its way. They don’t sell any newspapers to speak of but, barely surviving on a life support machine plugged into old technology like print and Pay TV, but they’ll keep on churning out garbage like Savva’s until there’s no-one else around to claim the goodies.

There is only one thing that gives me hope, and I do admit it is a slim hope.

In among all this turmoil, hokum and spin, and despite all his brilliance, Rupert Murdoch made what might turn out to be a big mistake.

He trusted Tony Abbott, too.

189 thoughts on “Just who DO you trust?

  1. Will Scotty get a spiffy new uniform for his new position of Head of the Australian Border Force? Something like this, perhaps –

  2. Green Army, Australian Border Force – we are becoming very militarised. What next? Hockey’s Tax Collecting Tank Corps? Ficarra’s Dog Squad?

  3. Looks like Mr Owen will be spending his time out of Parliament

  4. gigilene

    Re cricket in Germany. Good timing , an article from yesterday.

    When England’s cricketers took on the Nazis

    Despite Hitler’s loathing of cricket, in 1937 an English team was invited to Nazi Berlin to play a series of matches against a select German XI. Dan Waddell explains what happened ……………………………………The Berliners also upset their guests by appealing for everything. “We only appealed for certainties,” explained one of the Gents. But the hosts arms went up whenever the ball struck the pads, regardless of line or height, to try and unsettle the batsman. “Eleven men shouting ‘Aus!’ was certainly unnerving,” Major Jewell said later. …………………
    At the end of the war, Menzel led a band of bedraggled men out of the rubble of Berlin towards a group of English soldiers. The Brits were used to Berliners asking them for water, cigarettes or medicines. This request was different, however.

    “Can we help?” the officer in charge asked.

    “Yes,” Menzel replied. “Could we play a game of cricket against you?”


  5. Could I have a better blowup of ICAC’s victims next week, please? Dynamite!!

  6. Kate McClymont

    “Further things have come to light,” says Watson SC ominously about McConnell’s helping Arthur Sinodinos in his quest for $$$ with AWH

  7. lro,

    Open it in a new tab and increase the zoom by hitting Ctrl+

  8. LRO


    Raymond Carter
    Darren Webber


    Christopher Spence
    Timothy Koelma


    Nathan Tinkler
    Christopher Hartcher

  9. You can just go straight to the ICAC site and link to the witness list – it’s not secret and they change things constantly. The list given at 11.30 today could be very different by Monday morning.

  10. Debt watch – another $700 million borrowed today, that $1.9 billion for the week. It makes Wayne Swan’s $100 million a day look verr frugal.

  11. IT’S tempting to see some kind of Svengali-like master plan in the chaos surrounding the Budget, but nowadays I confine my conspiracy theories to the whereabouts of flight MH-370.

    The Budget business is simply a monumental cock-up.

    I dunno where the impression came from that Joe Hockey was competent. He’s stuffed up every ministry he’s ever touched. He’s a cheap amateur actor who only has two poses to strike: happy and grumpy. And he doesn’t do those all that well, either.

    Abbott is a mucker-upper from WAY back. He likes to get himself into trouble so he can show how clever he is at getting out of it.

    Combine the two (always remembering that Joe often plays the role of Tony’s fall guy) and you have the really embarrassing performance we have seen this week from them.

    The weasel words have come full circle: from earnest pleas to support a broken promise in the name of the nation, to a levy not being a tax, to the word “tax” itself redefined as something permanent (the Levy, incidentally, would be in effect for longer than the Carbon Tax, four years as opposed to three), to now denying they ever said there wouldn’tbe any new taxes.

    It’s not only embarrassing… it’s insulting to the intelligence (admittedly lumpy in spots) of the Australian people.

    I know Abbott loves chaos, but this is too much.

    However, when I woke up this morning I found myself counter-intuitively thinking to myself: “Perhaps they CAN pull it off. Perhaps there’s SO much chaos that the punters’ minds will go into shutdown from too much contradictory input.”

    It was then that I saw Joe’s latest justification for the Levy: that because the PPL was a tax (a tax he always insisted was a levy, by the way), the voters voted for new taxes, so they couldn’t complain now.

    In other words, “We were bullshitting you then, and you should have realized that the ‘No New Taxes’ thing was bullshit.”

    Even shorter: “Never believe a bullshitter.”

    And the shortest: “Ha! Ha! Fooled yer!”

    Which is so close to Abbott’s “Never trust a politician,” from Republic Referendum days as to be essentially the same concept.

    They make all these promises, and then, as an overarching promise, promise to keep every one of them (to contrast themselves against Gillard, who allegedly broke every promise she was supposed have made), and then it turns out they’re just words that popped out of Abbott’s mouth, signifying nothing.

    Abbott warned us about that too, when interviewed by Kerry O’Brien. He TOLD us he was a liar. It was a challenge.

    He likes to seek forgiveness, rather than permission, but forgiveness requires a certain amount of goodwill from the person doing the forgiving, and I’m not so sure there’s a lot of love around for Abbott at the moment.

    As for Avuncular Joe, Hapless Hockey, he wouldn’t last five minutes against an opponent who didn’t have one arm tied behind his or her back.

    Abbott only survived because Labor gifted him a divided party, one that stayed divided right up to the death.

    With a united party against him, Abbott’s having a tougher fight, and Hockey would be a KO in the first round. He’s too impressionable. He gives the feeling that his “End Of The Age Of Entitlement” schtik has been whispered into his ear by someone. It doesn’t sound original. Perhaps his wife was the flea?

    Abbott is a perennial, compulsive liar, and Joe is incompetent and rather too soft. Together they don’t make up much of a team. If you needed proof, consider this: they even make Turnbull look attractive.


    Joe is in this pool full of sharks way out of his depth. Abbott is history due to one (or two) too many lies.

    It’s downhill all the way from here for both of them.

    And if you don’t believe me, try a thought experiment: try imagining their next big promise being taken seriously… by anyone.


  12. Right, well I wouldn’t get too excited about there being a turning of the tide for the MSM – or about Sky being in any way interested in impartiality. Just saw an ad for whatever show PVO hosts on there. It went something like this:

    “Tony Abbott wants to see himself as the Infrastructure Prime Minister, and in the budget there’s an infrastructure bonanza. We’ll be talking to Jamie Briggs about that. And we’ll be having a look at this deficit tax, whatever that is.”

    Whatever that is. Spare me.

    So they’ll be talking about what Abbott wants them to talk about, and downplaying the stuff people are actually interested in. And that’s PVO, who does at least make a pretence at being even-handed now and then.

  13. What bothers me about them is that they’re the ones that road-test the spin that everyone else finally goes with. Get set for a massive “infrastructure PM” blitz across the media between now and Tuesday.

    But it doesn’t matter. Abbott could stand up on Sydney Harbour Bridge and piss dollar coins down onto the city all week and still nobody would like him.

  14. I guess if you aren’t nearby to one of his new roads, then you wouldn’t care less.

    Up our way (where they want to build a tunnel to link the M7 to the F1 – cutting out horrendous jams on Pennant Hills Rd.), it’s all Liberal electorates… and they HATE the idea of a tunnel.

    Go figure.

    I’m not so sure that infrastructure spending is the be-all and end-all it’s cracked up to be.

    Now, if they built the NBN infrastructure properly, it might be a different matter. I DO wish Labor would pound Turnbull’s NBN cock-up more.

  15. BB
    I agree. Labor should have leapt onto that stupid ‘I wanna be the infrastructure prime minister’ garbage and demanded why the most vital bit of infrastructure – the NBN – was being trashed. It wouldn’t have hurt to point out that a true infrastructure PM would have completed the roll-out as it was originally planned.

    The Liberals don’t like tunnels for two reasons –
    1 – They need great big ventilation structures and the voters love to whinge about those. Just take a look at the whining about WestConnex.
    2 – No-one can see a tunnel apart from the ventilation thingies and the entrances and exits. it’s not like a whopping huge freeway, a constant, visible reminder of how much money the Liberals pump into ‘infrastructure’. Let’s not mention trivia like tolls…..

  16. My control group are hilarious. There’s one guy there who’s been hammering anyone from the left for about 3-4 years, possibly longer, and has been positively revelling in the ALP=dysfunctional debating point. I’ve copped my fair share from him over the years. Well, he’s just come out swinging against Abbott. He’s furious at the lies and at what’s in the budget. And he’s even more furious with anyone who dares point him towards his previous comments. Other than that there’s a lot of pox-on-both-their houses comments, people who say they’re not going to vote for anyone next time. In amongst that there’s one of them who claims that you know what you’re going to get with Abbott even if it’s bad, but Shorten and Albanese are sneaky, so it’s best to go with what you can be sure of. It puts me in mind that the electorate are currently divided into four types:

    1. Those who saw through Abbott all along.
    2. Those who have learnt the hard lesson since the election.
    3. Those who can’t face up to it yet and are willingly letting the wool be pulled over their eyes.
    4. Rusted on Libs who will never change their minds.

    It’s the third category I have the most contempt for. They’re a salient reminder that ego/pride are even stronger than self-interest.

  17. I’m keeping an eye on them though, because in amongst the boneheadedness there’s lots of interesting political discussion. Some of them know what they’re talking about.

  18. In amongst that there’s one of them who claims that you know what you’re going to get with Abbott even if it’s bad,

    In other words: better the devil we know. I wish he had thought the same before the election and given Labor another chance.

  19. His thinking appeared to be that Abbott is too stupid (or socially hopeless) to be anything other than he appears to be. And that that is somehow trustable. It’s a bit like BB’s pea and thimble trick, I suppose. The old, “Oh, yes, we knew he was a liar and would break all his promises, so it’s all right that he has. Anyway, the other mob would have done the same thing.”

    Anyone who ever uses the “pox on both their houses” argument earns my immediate contempt. If you’re too lazy to do a simple comparison of major parties and work out which one you prefer, you’re too stupid to vote in my opinion. If you’re Greens or Palmer or Family First or whatever, you should still have a think about who’s ultimately going to pull the levers, because it will affect your life directly.

  20. Aguirre

    Your control group will give us a better gauge than the polls. Thanks for the updates and look forward to more later.

  21. Gee, if Nicky diG gets another Premier’s scalp, the rest of the Libs will be crawling to his door offering him anything he wants.

  22. Fiona,
    Post this here or on the Friday Raffles.

    To Aguirre,
    My feedback is a bit different.
    One who is very pro Lib is complaining. That’s a genuine shock to me.
    Another calls himself a swinging voter but I think he votes more Lib than ALP. He hasn’t stopped bagging Hockey and to a lesser extent Abbott.
    And on the role that Shorten and ALP should play:
    I think Shorten is adopting the right tactic.Polls are saying basically not sure about him but I put that down to him adopting a low profile. There’s 2 years to build that profile but in the meantime I think he should stand back and let the Libs implode.
    What is the saying about getting on stage with someone who’s being pelted with rotten fruit?

Comments are closed.