Nikki Savva feels betrayed, poor kid.
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.
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.
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.