Keep Abbott in Play

My thoughts exactly. This piece by John Kelly was published by The Australian Independent Media earlier today, and is republished here with permission. Many thanks to John Kelly and Michael Taylor.

(Please note: I couldn’t find the excellent image John Lord had at the beginning of his article, so I substituted something appropriate – and I’m pretty sure it is Alex Ellinghausen’s work, although all the images in The Age’s article have shrunk.)

(Image Credit: Alex Ellinghausen; The Age)

The Victorian State Election has become a defining moment for the LNP, whether they like it or not. The burning question on most Liberal minds right now is what to do with the dear leader, Tony Abbott.

On the one hand it is difficult to see the Liberals allowing Abbott to lead them to the next election. His propensity for appearing dysfunctional cannot be tolerated indefinitely. The odds that he will continue to embarrass his government in one way or another are very short. The likelihood he will change and assume statesman-like characteristics is a pipe dream. He is just so far out of his depth a submarine would struggle to find him.

And, historically the Liberals have limited patience for those who become an impediment to the image they have of themselves; an image of ‘born to rule’, of continued, ongoing governance of the peasantry. They know that sooner or later Abbott is going to drop another clanger either domestically, or on the international stage.

They also know the nation is, in effect, on 24 hour alert steeling itself as it waits for the next big blunder. The hope might be, within Liberal minds that as each blunder comes along we might start getting used to them and even become immune to them.

Not likely.

(Image Credit: The Age)

On the other hand, if the Liberals leave him there, keep him out of harm’s way and try to create a troika around Bishop, Hockey and Turnbull, it won’t be long before confusion, contradiction and back bench dissatisfaction cause a parliamentary meltdown. Whatever they do, Abbott will remain an electoral liability so toxic, the majority know it will send them back into opposition after one term.

But, by removing him they also paint themselves with the same brush they so savagely slapped over Labor when Julia Gillard replaced Kevin Rudd. The only difference is, we can all see Abbott’s dysfunctional nature. We would understand why he had to go and that might work in their favour. That small positive, however, is unlikely to work. The reason is that the options for a new leader are pretty ordinary. Whichever way they go, they are on a hiding to nothing.

At the beginning of the year Hockey looked the goods but it wasn’t long before he started suffering from foot in mouth disease and then, of course, he delivered his first budget, which turned out to be a self-inflicted blight on his aspirations for future leadership.

More recently, Julie Bishop has been seen as leadership material as she strutted the international stage, turning heads and getting pasted up in Harper’s Bazaar. However, we have not forgotten her foray as shadow treasurer at the beginning of the Rudd administration which saw her out of her depth too.

As Foreign Affairs minister we only get to see her in ten second bites shaking hands with other world dignitaries. It is difficult to see her holding up to the close scrutiny of national leader if she couldn’t cut it as an alternative treasurer. One thing is for certain: she is no Julia Gillard and that, sadly for her, is the current benchmark.

Which leaves us with the only other possibility, Malcolm Turnbull. While there are plenty in the party who would back him, there are more who simply won’t. It is questionable that he shares their ideology; many fear he might drag them, kicking and screaming, to the centre, away from Murdochism. That would leave them without a narrative.

And therein lies their dilemma, made even more difficult as their ideological approach to government continues to hit brick walls in the Senate. Who would have thought twelve months ago that it would come to this ; the quickest act of political self-destruction in our history.

And how deserving of it they are.

(Image Credit: Daily Mail)

As I watched these pretenders parading themselves up and down the lower house chamber one day last week, I was reminded of the stench of arrogant superiority I witnessed in St. Peter’s Square in Rome some years ago watching the red hats of the Vatican do much the same thing.

And that, it seems to me, is who these ideologically recalcitrant adolescents think they are. These pompous overlords of Neo-liberal macroeconomics, these Reaganists and Thatcherites, the ‘trickle down’ team of wealth distribution. Only in the Senate do they display themselves with any degree of humility and respect for the office they hold; a measure of their uncertainty and reliance on others beyond their control.

So, I say, let them continue to self-destruct and display themselves as they really are to those who voted for them; not their loyal members, their ideological clones, but the swinging voters who were sucked in by their lies, their spin, their false promises.

Let those who voted for them see what they got for their money. Let the 6-10 per cent of the electorate who decide elections squirm a little longer. Keep the dear leader in play for another two years as we watch the economy go headlong into recession and the false debt continue to grow.

Whichever way they go, we can be sure self-preservation will trump national interest and that, ultimately, will be their undoing.


539 thoughts on “Keep Abbott in Play

  1. “Former” Senior ABC journalist Sarah Ferguson delivers a punchy opening speech at the Walkley awards for excellence in journalism in Sydney.

    Managing Director Mark Scott was incensed at her speech and advised Ms Ferguson that her “Shark Pool” decided to part company with her!

    Not true so far, but I bet Scott would have liked to have given her the bullet straight after the Walkley Awards ceremony!

  2. Govt Cuts :

    The Integrated Cargo System (‘ICS’) crashed an hour or so ago. So no freight is moving – both sea and air.

    Custom and AQIS staff trying to find someone who knows how it works.

  3. Ron Tandberg won a Walkley last night for this cartoon.

    The judges’ comments –

    “This cartoon is classic Tandberg – so simply drawn, sharply captioned and funny, but also heartbreaking. It neatly marries two of the government’s most notorious assertions: Treasurer Joe Hockey’s “the poor don’t drive” and Senator Abetz’s requirement that the unemployed will need to make 40 job applications per month. Tandberg’s genius is to make a cartoon look so simple. The image is clean and impactful without needing explanation.”

    All the winners –

  4. Scorpio,
    Abbott may well not be around to make that call on Jovial Joe. The killing season is never far away in politics. If – and it’s a fair if – the 2PP vote shows a consistent four to six point lead at mid next year, just wait for Fairfax, Essential, Newscorp to run polls comparing Abbott,Bishop and Turnbull against Shorten as PPM. It will be the only game in town. And fun. The Gallery won’t let go. It will add to the instability meme and, as we know, can be self serving.

  5. While Embattled Defence Minister Johnston enjoys long lunches and 190 bottles of wine defence underlings are reduced to using newspaper as toilet paper. Well, someone has to pay for all those dinner bills.

    Defence in an awkward position. It’s never a good feeling to be sitting in a toilet cubicle and realise just too late that there is no toilet paper to use, and we hear that this could be an increasingly common occurrence for some employees in Defence:

    “At Defence Science Technology Organisation, Salisbury, SA, toilet paper has been cut to one roll per cubicle per day and one roll of hand towel per dispenser per day. In one section, 4 cubicles for 70 workers. Hundreds of workers in total. As trades people and technicians, frequent hand washing is required. Workers are now using torn up newspaper in the cubicles. How does this sit with the Minister’s $190 bottles of wine?”

    We put this to Defence media and will update when we receive a response

  6. Leone,
    Tories never change when it comes to stupidity and finding savings in expediture. The Defence toilet paper restriction reminds me of the Menzies Govt issuing an order for all govt. departments to decrease their spending – there was no sewerage system at the time so the toilets were nightcart pans and some bright costsaving person came up with the following: that it had been noted that toilet pans were being changed on a daily basis whether the pans were full or not. Therefore, only full pans would be changed daily. The Dept Head sent a notice out to his Admin section to appoint someone to calibrate the pans daily and place a large “tick” on the toilet flap to indicate to the nightcart operator which pans needed changing.

    Needless to say there was a lot of gleeful memos going to and fro within the Department which culminated in a comedy strip in the form of a serious letter to Head Office to the effect that the particular savings measure would result in more expenditure because a ‘dip stick’ would have to be purchased and an extra officer employed to carry out the calibration. Re-usable stickers would also need to be purchased to place on the toilet flap doors to indicate which pans were to be changed by the nightcart operator…..Since there was no return order from Head Office, their silence was taken as permission to ignore the directive.

  7. Reading an obituary for Jeremy Thorpe I came across this. Couldn’t help but think it would also apply to young Chrissy Pyne..

    he was brought up as the cynosure of his parents’ eyes. “It never occurred to him,” his mother remarked of his early days in Kensington, “that anybody might not be glad to see him.”

  8. Hello all.

    The Friday evening post will be up as soon as I can find the cartoon of Tony trying to work out which of the Reset or Self-destruct buttons he should press.

    Can anyone help?


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