Shorten Playing a Blinder


Well, I think the jury’s in.

Bill Shorten has played a blinder. He’s written the text book, or at least Volume I of it, on how to counter Abbott’s maniacal mis-government.

Shorten is way ahead in the polls now, leaving Abbott behind. Abbott’s shot off just about the last bullet in the bandolier – anti-Red hysteria – along with all the usual suspects – Debt & Deficit, Royal Commissions, Evil Millennial Apocalyptic Death Cult Jihadis (and massive police raids to match, which netted one suspect and a plastic sword), Shirtfronting, Team Australia (heard that used lately?), anti-Obamaism (who ever told him that would work? Australians love Obama!), Dole Bludgers, Entitlement Mentalities, Knighthoods, a poncy “bizoid” comb-over, Blue Ties and has repealed the dreaded Carbon Tax (as well as Stopping the Boats…ho hum).

If 55-45 to Labor is the result of this, Abbott had better hope that asteroid the Euro spacecraft is on changes course and heads for planet Earth. Because salvation from the heavens themselves is about all that’ll help him now.

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He has no ideas, and no idea that he has no ideas. He’s got a dud in a Treasurer, a Nazi as Immigration Minister, a half passable Trade and Foreign Affairs combo, and dunderheads for the rest of the ministry. Unemployment is up, the economy is in the doldrums (and sinking lower), the dollar is down but there are far fewer exporters to take advantage of it, our telecommunications network is ratshit, R&D is gutted, growth industries are in hibernation and may not ever wake up, and those old 3-word slogans just don’t have the elan they used to have.

None of the above will create one nett job or put dinner on the table for the unemployed. None of the above will revive a defunct manufacturing industry. Digging holes and milking cows certainly won’t, either.

Frankly, except for Big Dairy (now substantially owned by another usual suspect, Gina Rinehart), who gives a shit about the Dairy Industry being the big winner from an FTA with China? I mean, who really cares? It’s embarrassing. Other countries do FTAs and hi-tech is the big winner, or aeronautical manufacturing or some other sophisticated secondary industry.

What do we get?

Contented cows.

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Good on ‘em for trying, and good luck to our tenacious milkos, but it’s hardly the thing that’s going to lead the recovery we need. The Budget is blocked, locked and stonewalled in the Senate with a maddie running around vowing she’ll never pass another government bill until they give the ADF a proper pay-rise (I forgot… so much for our brave troops).

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Meanwhile the Quiet Australian, Bill Shorten, has scored big in the polls without hardly lifting a finger in dispute. He has stuck to Abbott like a limpet, but he’s only stuck to him in things that can easily become unstuck once Labor wins back government. Troops in Iraq? Pull them out. Jihadi Laws? Repeal them. Same for the journo laws. On the latter, once he does that, or even hints at it, will Billy be the darling of the media or what?

OK, OK, I know that the fearless Fourth Estate is only whingeing about something they’ll never do, and wouldn’t recognize if they trod in it – investigative journalism – but you never know, promising to repeal an anti-media law can’t possibly be a negative, can it? Would even The Australian write an editorial denouncing a freeing-up of reporting on security matters by thundering that what we need now is MORE censorship? Yeah, well, maybe they would, but I don’t think it’d stand the laugh test. And that’s if they have any readers left.

Where we are now is that the government is coming up to Christmas and a rumoured ministerial reshuffle. Even Bolt has chimed in on that, telling Abbott to clean out the deadwood, with Joe Hockey first up the 13 steps to the gibbet,whimpering “Why me?”

Why not you, Joe. You’ve done eff-all and wasted our precious time doing it.

You can’t cancel Christmas – or in journo parlance… “The Killing Zone” – and Abbott can’t squib the hard yards for much longer. One is reminded of deck chairs and the Titanic, for all the choice he’s got.


Sailor” and shuffleboard competitions, rather than actually doing anything. Promotion has triumphed over perspiration. And there’s an iceberg ahead.

This farce cannot go on for much longer. Australia is essentially un-governed. While the Captain is in his stateroom preening himself, hair-spraying that cowlick back off his forehead and adjusting his Windsor knot, working out which side makes him look more statesmanlike, the ship of state drifts rudderless. As does its cargo… the Economy… and its passengers… us.

Cleaning out the deadwood will be like those guys with a screwdriver and a bleak look on their faces that you get out of the Yellow Pages to come and inspect your floor joists for termites. “Geez mate, it just goes deeper and deeper.” It’s why those other bringers of bad news, dentists, commit suicide so much more than the rest of us: the more they drill, the more rot they find. What’s the point of capping teeth and putting in implants if your paying customers hate your guts and fear you like nothing else?

“This won’t hurt a bit,” say Tony and Joe.

“Yeah, sure,” say the voters. “We’ve heard that story before.”

Elected to govern, Abbott’s mob are not governing. It can’t be put simpler than that. They have a few ideas, but nobody likes them, because most of the ideas they have are either broken promises, or promises they were too gutless to make in the first place.

The crew have deserted their posts, more interested in running “Best Dressed


Captain Smith went down with his ship, but you can bet Abbott will be looking for a lifeboat. Unfortunately there are none left. It’s time for Tony to put up, or piss off.

He wanted the job, and now he’s got to do it. But we know he can’t.

Exeunt, stage right, Tony Abbott.

Hello Little Bill Shorten, the man who everyone said was a boring wimp, but who has slain the mighty dragon by essentially doing nothing except staying right behind him, in his blind spot. You have to take your hat off to Shorten. He has shown remarkable cleverness is NOT doing the bleedin’ obvious and is now reaping a just reward for it.

323 thoughts on “Shorten Playing a Blinder

  1. Julie Bishop has said she was not embarrassed by a speech Barack Obama gave at the G20 in Brisbane that urged prompt action to protect the Great Barrier Reef – but the Australian foreign minister confirmed her office sent the White House a briefing after the comments.

    Bishop said on Friday the government did not believe the reef was in danger – a comment that contradicts the scientific consensus that it is.

    The 2014 outlook report from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority said: “Climate change remains the most serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef. It is already affecting the reef and is likely to have far-reaching consequences in the decades to come.”

    Unesco will consider next year whether to list the reef as officially in danger.

    Bishop has taken the unusual step of pushing back publicly against the Obama administration in an effort to minimise the domestic political fallout from the recent step-change on climate action by the US.

    Bishop told the ABC on Friday morning her office had sent a briefing to the White House after Obama’s speech in which he highlighted the vulnerability of the reef to the effects of climate change.

    The foreign minister said she had met the US secretary of the interior, Sally Jewell, in Sydney before the G20 and outlined “in considerable detail Australia’s commitment and capacity to preserve the Great Barrier Reef”.

    “And I pointed out that we were working with the heritage committee and with Unesco to ensure that the barrier reef remains as healthy and protected as is humanly possible,” Bishop told the ABC.

    “I pointed out that mining and drilling and gas exploration are banned by law from the Great Barrier Reef region and that we had acted to prevent the dumping of capital dredge waste in the marine park. Indeed, [environment] minister Greg Hunt announced that during the World Parks Congress, that we will ban that by law.”

    Bishop said the briefing went to specific policy actions Canberra was taking with Queensland “to not only halt but reverse the decline in the quality of water entering the Great Barrier Reef, which is one of the causes of coral degradation”.

    She said the Abbott government was very confident current policies would preserve and conserve the reef for generations to come and that was the message she had conveyed during her meeting with Jewell.

    Bishop said she was “surprised that it appeared President Obama hadn’t been briefed on that”.

    Unlike some, Mesma, The POTUS does not go off half-cocked.

  2. Jeez – Abbott being likened to Billy McMahon by Bernard Keane – it’s long, it’s paywalled so you might as well have it all.

    Coalition’s mid-term blues deepen as Abbott looks back to McMahon

    The government’s domestic woes deepened this week, and a focus on foreign policy won’t salvage its fortunes.

    The Abbott government is in deep, deep trouble. With just two weeks remaining in the parliamentary year, it faces ending 2014 on an even lower note than last year, when its poor start to government was put down to early nerves. As the year draws to a close, the talk will be of a turnaround in 2015, just as 12 months ago we were hearing how the new year was going to bring a better performance. “Mid-term blues” will be cited. A reshuffle will again be speculated upon, with the hope it can spark a turnaround. But whether this outfit is good enough to deliver a turnaround is unclear.

    The problem is, there are no longer easy options for a political recovery. The government has played the national security card already, without great success, and as a result has now embarked on a seemingly futile, endless military campaign abroad and a debate at home to convince Australians to let it tax them in order to spy on them.

    Last week was intended to showcase what is supposed to be Abbott’s other strong suit, foreign policy. But the denialist corner Abbott has painted himself into on climate change and his self-inflicted defeat in trying to keep it off the G20 agenda left the government embarrassed. Its pain over Barack Obama’s speech was palpable — some state and federal Coalition MPs ran to the in-house newsletter The Australian to whine about how mean the President had been to them. Thus, the side of politics that even more cravenly kowtows to the United States than Labor was suddenly grumpy that our feudal overlord had mistreated them. What a pity none of that scepticism applied to the US invitation to return to Iraq.

    And there was that bizarre opening speech Abbott delivered to the leader’s retreat last Saturday, in which someone appeared to have given him the notes for an LNP fundraiser speech over prawn cocktails and XXXX at a Sunshine Coast RSL. Boasting of how he had repealed the carbon tax and stopped the “illegal boats”, Abbott spoke of how he was “building roads in particular” and had got the budget “back under control” — about 72 hours after his Treasurer had admitted the deficit was blowing out again — before complaining about being unable to get his GP co-payment through the Senate.

    Abbott at that point was nearing the McMahon Moment — the point in Australian politics when someone becomes a figure of open ridicule, their unfitness for the job exposed, their pretensions to leadership mocked. It is a moment from which few ever recover. Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett did — “Boofhead”, universally mocked after his first stint as opposition leader, returned as a kind of conservative Keating, hellbent on delivering major reform as both good policy and good politics. John Howard sort of did; “why on earth does this man bother?” The Bulletin mocked in 1988, and we got the answer eight years later, in spades. Such periods of derision, followed by a spell in the wilderness, can be seen as Churchill-style preludes to greatness, if only for those willing to stick it out.

    But not so if you’re already prime minister.

    This week, at least there were no Billy McMahon moments: instead, three international visitors, all handled competently by Abbott, and a free trade agreement with China that impressed the press gallery despite the dearth of detail or evidence of its economic benefits. But this foreign policy idyll was ruined by a rude eruption of domestic politics, via a truly dire Newspoll and a major body blow on Wednesday over FOFA, delivered by Senators Jacqui Lambie and Ricky Muir. That coincided with Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull being sent out to announce punitive cuts to the ABC and SBS and explain away a blatant lie by the Coalition as something taken out of “context”. Labor will be suitably grateful to Turnbull — the word “context” will be heard a lot at the next election campaign.

    The week also saw a noticeable adjustment in language on climate change, as if his APEC-G20 mugging had prompted a re-evaluation of how Abbott — a point-blank denialist using the figleaf of “Direct Action” as electoral protection on the issue — should play the politics of climate action. After his meeting with French President Francois Hollande, he declared a wish for next year’s Paris conference to produce binding agreements and claimed that “Australia has a very good story to tell on climate change”, a claim true up until this year. He even boasted about the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which it is still government policy to abolish.

    But Abbott has nowhere to go on climate action. His entire path to the prime ministership, first in destroying Malcolm Turnbull over an emissions trading scheme, then destroying Julia Gillard over a carbon price, has been shaped around a rejection of the existence of climate change or the need to do anything serious about it. He is Australian climate denialism’s standard-bearer, and the reason Obama’s speech so infuriated Liberals is because the President shone a spotlight on Abbott, mid-stride, flag of irrationality held high, as he sought to prevent the G20 from discussing climate change (it’s not an economic issue, apparently). Even a determined effort by Abbott to play catch-up on the issue is unlikely to get traction with voters — he has devoted too much energy previously to explaining how opposed he is to climate action to now successfully pretend he gives a damn.

    So where does Abbott go from here? The budget, long since a political albatross around his neck, is deteriorating — this week, the iron ore price fell to $70 a tonne, half its level at the start of the year and, like thermal coal, back to its 2009 price, meaning the government’s two favourite industries are likely to further exacerbate Joe “surpluses are in our DNA” Hockey’s deficit blowout. Voters seem either unhappy with Abbott’s international performance or, more likely, simply not interested in it — on the list of issues that voters rank as important to them, foreign policy barely features. And the knack the government has recently acquired of securing legislative deals with PUP leader Clive Palmer now counts for nought with Jacqui Lambie on the loose.

    Effective leaders — a Hawke, a Keating, a Howard — turn adversity into opportunity. But at the moment Abbott’s prime ministerial precedent appears drawn from a little earlier than those men. 1971-72, to be specific. At some point, all that jockeying to replace Hockey as Abbott’s heir apparent might take on a much more immediate significance

  3. “I don’t wanna say goodbye mama
    But look at the way you made me cry
    Every way that’s nice you show
    You’ve got a heart that’s made of ice
    And I know”

  4. “” A Volkswagen with both doors open …”…and engine in the rear and brought to the people by an antidemocratic tyrant.

  5. Bernard Keane (via Leone):

    The Abbott government is in deep, deep trouble. With just two weeks remaining in the parliamentary year, it faces ending 2014 on an even lower note than last year, when its poor start to government was put down to early nerves. As the year draws to a close, the talk will be of a turnaround in 2015, just as 12 months ago we were hearing how the new year was going to bring a better performance. “Mid-term blues” will be cited. A reshuffle will again be speculated upon, with the hope it can spark a turnaround. But whether this outfit is good enough to deliver a turnaround is unclear.

    Oh, I think we can answer that one. We heard the same crap every year Abbott was in opposition as well – all the talk about how next year he would “flick the switch” to policy. And early the following year he’d give us some speech that outlined some of his aspirations, and by the end of the questions he’d have gone back on all of them. The crowning glory of course being the blue book full of platitudes and empty promises with not even a pretence of detail as to how they could be effected.

    The Liberals under Abbott don’t do policy. They do the blame game, they do mud-slinging, they do excuses, they do backgrounding on opponents, they do a bit of PR. But they don’t do policy. Somebody from the IPA tells them what they’d like to see put into action, and some legislation full of holes is whipped up and presented as a kind of fait accompli – not to be discussed, not to be debated, not even to be explained by whichever minister is given the job of defending it, just rushed through the lower house and (usually) blocked in the Senate. Then they spend most of their energy inventing reasons why it’s Labor’s fault.

    I don’t see why 2015 would be any different to 2014 or 2013. They might talk themselves up a bit more, but they’re not going to do anything. Somebody recently described the current Liberals as a bunch of people who know they’ve only got three years to loot as much of the country as they can. I’d go along with that.

  6. While it is good to see so many journalists and commentators finally having a go at Abbott and finally realising that he tells lies and his government is a policy-free zone I can’t help saying the same thing every time I read some new piece. Why didn’t you say that before? Why did it take you so long to wake up? What have you done to us and this country?

    Here’s another one – too late Lenore, too late.

    Tony Abbott keeps digging himself in deeper, and it makes no sense

  7. I have just come back from handing out How To Votes at a Prepoll Voting station for the Victorian election on Saturday November 29th.

    The cash strapped Victorian Electoral Commission is marking people off an electronic roll. It has a few teething problems being slow to start up this morning, and the electoral officers are one finger typists. I recommend that Victorian pubketeers vote early, especially if they are frail as I expect the system may break down under election day volumes. Some electoral officers are on the ball and other electoral officers have to be told there are frail people in the queue.

    A Labor organiser pointed out to me that the VEC is cash strapped because they rented a small dilapidated shop front on the eastern side of the street when there is also available a larger shop front opposite in much cleaner condition. We wondered whether it had been an open process as the Liberals had managed to put overhead shop signs up that the voters had to look at when queuing and could see Liberal signs when they looked out the door of the polling booth.

    Have to say Lying is in the Liberal DNA, even at state level.

  8. Yeah..I remember..Abbott and the LNP. were going to be the engine of commerce!…driving a re-invigorated economy…rivers of money pouring into the country from an effusive world!….and he had the business council backing him!..and the mining sector and energy sector and the media..Oh how he had the media…had them right up to their colon!…the “little blue book” of promises…the “adults in charge”..the “honest guy” for once….What a laugh!!…what a joke!!..what a bunch of jerks!!….couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery!!…”I want to be known as the Infrastructure Prime Minister”….more like “the fractured Prime Monster”…anyone who promoed this bunch of carrots, anyone who voted forthem, anyone who spruiks their inepness , has to wear some of the responsibility for the worst govt’ that ever pulled on a “…in-charge” sweater.

    Oh, the mockery, oh , the foolishness, oh , the lamentable, lacrimonious parody of it all!

    Nothing. nothing at all but a tragic bunch of bums.

  9. Leone,
    My reaction to these ‘enlightened’ journalists is the same as yours. They chose to ignore the blatant lying and bullshit the abbott uttered prior to the election, obviously stupidly thinking he’d be different when in power; that leopards change their spots every day and that mongrel scoundrels suddenly find integrity, compassion and selflessness when they get what they want.

  10. Mesma doesn’t care. For her it’s simply a PR job – cloud the picture re what Obama said, try to shift the narrative to ‘those meddling Yanks’. Wipe hands, move on.

    If any of them were ever held to account for the things they say, we might get somewhere. But of course the story is not, “Bishop makes up shit about the Great Barrier Reef”, but “Bishop stands up to Obama.”

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