Abbott out; Turnbull buys in as Coalition heads toward civil war

The inimitable Urbanwronski has done it again. Many thanks as always.

Andrew Meares/Fairfax

Father of the house, Kevin Andrews conceived crackdown on pensioners.

Tasmanian senator Eric Abetz fearlessly leads the charge of the right brigade this week into a stoush between his beloved team Abbott and the Pollyanna faction led by tub-thumping, sub-stumping $50 billion dollar man Christopher Pyne. Eric is out to keep the bastards honest

Abetz takes a pot-shot at the Turnbull’s government’s legitimacy, the issue of the political week if not the forty-fifth parliament’s lifetime, after sub-Marathon Mal’s hamstrung election performance, which saw the PM forced to fund his party’s manifest destiny to the tune of a million dollars.

Can he just do that? Millionaire Mal’s DIY fund-raising does not raise an eyebrow on ABC Insiders Sunday. Fran Kelly, Nikki Sava, Karen Middleton, all senior journos, see no problem posed to our democratic processes by a rich man buying a prime ministership. If Laura Tingle has reservations she keeps them to herself. “Do I look bothered?” Catherine Tate would say.

“He’s done it before,” Karen Middleton sighs, “and he’ll do it again.” Perhaps she recalls Turnbull’s desperate battle for Liberal preselection for the blue-ribbon seat of Wentworth thirteen years ago, when his opponent, Peter King, says Turnbull told him to “fuck off and get out of my way.”

Money talks – and often – in the Turnbull story. In 2003, Turnbull paid Alan Jones $5000 a plug to support him on radio, and won. Perhaps this time, too, his million dollar investment may help to stem rising Liberal Party disquiet. The election’s cost him too much personal authority to do it any other way.

. . . wept on camera . . .

Some say millionaire MPs do this sort of thing. Queensland Nickel donated $288,516 to PUP last December, a fortnight before sacking staff at the Yabulu refinery near Townsville. Nothing was left in the kitty to pay wages. Ewen Jones, then member for Herbert, wept on camera.

Pity us poor Liberals, Julie Bishop pleads on ABC’s Insiders, “we don’t have the rivers of gold that come from the union movement.” AEC ALP records do not match the Foreign Minister’s fantasy, showing instead a broad set of donors. In 2015, the CFMEU donated $50,000, yet WestPac gave $1.5 million. No-one challenges Bishop.

Most likely, however, Turnbull’s party was just caught short as its uber-rich supporters; fearing penury if super rules were to change, withheld donations.

A $500,000 lifetime limit on how much of one’s after-tax contributions one can make to one’s super is at issue. Currently the limit is $180,000 a year.

The IPA opposes the “diabolical” changes along with Coalition plans to impose 15% tax on income generated by balances above $1.6m. Director, John Roskam, says the changes are also clearly retrospective. So central is the IPA to controlling Liberal policy, this means the government is at war with its own brain stem.

Its civil war with the IPA aside, most of the Liberals’ pain is self-inflicted.

. . . Arthur is unable to recall.

In March the NSW Electoral Commission denied the party $4.389m in public funding because it accepted illegal developer donations for the 2011 NSW election via its “Free Enterprise Foundation”, a matter the ICAC needs expert help to sort out, hence its request to then Liberal Party Treasurer and President, now Coalition Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos. As yet, Arthur is unable to recall.

No big fan of Arthur, who was numbers man in Turnbull’s coup, an ear to the ground Abetz reckons the super changes were never properly ventilated and massively cost Liberal votes in Tasmania, an insight he has gained by door-knocking and national report.

“From right around Australia I got very strong feedback that that was not the way to go forth and I trust that we will revisit aspects of that policy.”

Can a party change its policy after the campaign? Abetz seems to think so. He’s not alone. Mad Dog Morrison, our reverse Robin Hood Treasurer, is on standby with a solution which may see the super changes watered down. Protect the rich.

In the real world over 31,000 people have lost their disability support pension in the past year, the biggest annual drop on record as several years’ worth of government crackdowns begin to bite. 90,000 may expect to undergo a medical review in the next three years. More “savings” are promised as Mad Dog Morrison has promised to find another $3.5 billion.

Don’t expect schools or hospitals . . .

It costs money to keep negative gearing for speculators and then there’s the cost involved in “fine-tuning” its super changes to protect the wealthy. Don’t expect schools or hospitals from this mob.

All of this challenges the notion of a mandate on policy his party took to the election; the current Liberal Party mandate mantra. “What mandate?” says Eric.

Unhappy Abbott camper Eric is bucking his party’s line on its campaign, a failed gamble on an early election double dissolution which has left its PM’s authority in tatters; its future on a knife edge.

“A lot of our colleagues see the election result as the barest of victories, if we can a call it a victory having declared victory two weeks out,” he growls.

For Turnbull toy dog Christopher Gertrude Stein Pyne, however, “a win is a win, is a win” and the whole election thing is just a game of footie, really. Bugger what the people actually wanted or what they thought they were voting for.
Mincing poodle, as Julia Gillard so aptly dubbed Pyne for his performances as Abbott’s yap dog in three years of relentless negativity in opposition, has done well out of our defence policy.

Pyne’s SA seat of Sturt is now secure thanks to the government’s astonishing flip-flop on protectionism to the tune of a $50 billion industry subsidy. The ASC will assemble a dozen frog submarines in the SA rust belt state, when it would be so much cheaper to have them made in France.

For half the price we could have had them made in Japan. and Germany quoted $20 billion and the subs to be delivered six years earlier.

. . . $490,000 for every vote . . .

Winning has not come cheaply. The $50 billion amounts to $468,000 per potential vote in Hindmarsh, $490,000 for every vote in Pyne’s Sturt and $480,000 for each potential Boothby vote.

It may sound expensive but it’s an investment not just in Pyne’s seat but in the democratic pork barrel itself, so vital to mandate creation. And it’s not a subsidy to car-makers, a prospect former Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey, amen, hated.
For one per cent of the sub investment, car manufacturing would still be able to employ 200,000 Australian workers, directly and indirectly.

To be fair it wasn’t all about boats. Pyne does admit, along with dog-catcher Barnaby Joyce and other National Party campaigners, that they threw campaign talking points away – departing from the official script. Yet, although success came from not plugging policy, he does not hesitate to claim a mandate.

Also leading the charge in the battle of the mandate is lynx-eyed Attorney-General George Brandis, a chap who may have failed to explain metadata and who was unable to open a spreadsheet warning of a terrorist threat but who has got a safe pair of hands on everyone’s metadata, nevertheless.

. . . signed letter of permission . . .

Just in case, four days before the election, Brandis elevated the attorney general’s status. Anyone, including the PM, who needs to see Justin Gleeson, the Solicitor-General, now has to get a signed letter of permission from himself, a move which has legal experts legal experts describe as an “unnecessary impediment” to expert advice.

Members of the legal community point to a growing tension between the nation’s first and second law officers over various matters, including the 2013 same-sex marriage High Court case, the 2015 advice Mr Gleeson provided over changes to citizenship laws, and over the drafting of same-sex marriage plebiscite legislation, a matter which Brandis is overdue to report back to government on.

One of the new Cabinet’s first tasks after Governor General returns from France to swear them in after arranging armed transport and a special security detail for Mitch Fifield’s massive family Bible will be the wording of the plebiscite so that it is unlikely to succeed.

Of course, it may be that we never see the plebiscite at all – just as we will never see the secret agreement between the Liberal Party and the Nationals. It may request the government not to budge on same sex marriage, given that it can lead to polyamory, as Eric Abetz attests, or to bestiality, one of Cory Bernardi’s big bugbears. There is no mandate for a secret coalition agreement.

What the secret agreement is also likely to reflect is a Nationals push to nudge the Coalition even further towards Hansonism, given that One Nation’s support base comprises a fair muster of alienated single fathers who blame their marriage and relationship breakdowns on the Family Court.

. . . a kangaroo court . . .

One Nation which, apart from its familiar figurehead, is now a blokes’ party, attracts such voters with its policy of abolishing the Family Court and replacing it with a kangaroo court which it calls a community panel.

A mandate man, Brandis was under the illusion on Monday’s Q&A that this is Turnbull’s second term as elected PM. His memory lapses are eclipsed, however, in the company of Cabinet secretary Sir Arthur Sinodinos, who is appearing all over the media to talk up his government’s mandate while awaiting a call back from ICAC on Australian Water Holdings and the Free Enterprise foundation.

Now that the Turnbull government may attain a whopping seventy-seven seats in the House of Representatives of the forty-fifth parliament while the vote count continues in the Townsville-based seat of Herbert, shows Labor’s candidate Cathy O’Toole behind the LNP’s Ewen Jones by only a dozen votes, Liberals have been vigorously pumping the handle of the mandate organ.

Soon hagiographers rewriting the history of Australia Pty Ltd will be telling us this is Chairman Mal’s finest hour. Expect ballet and epic theatre to be commissioned in the Great Helmsman’s honour.

Mandate? Michaelia Cash is dashing into TV studios to madly impress us with her claim that the government has 700,000 more votes than Labor. Yet it is only true as a Coalition. Labor’s 4.3 million first preferences put it ahead while, if you total all minority parties, the government is outstripped.

As Guy Rundle points out, the mandate issue becomes even more vexed if you consider the fundamentally flawed nature of our democratic voting process where the Nationals with one million votes get 23 seats while the Greens get one seat after receiving 1.2 million.

. . . almost another million dollar man . . .

Amazingly making the same claim to a mandate is a pin-striped Malcolm Turnbull who is careful to be photographed with Martin Parkinson, Head of Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet and on $860,000 PA – almost another million dollar man proving to all Australians that because they are both using iPads this whole 21st Century innovation thing will be just a doddle.

What they are doing is not revealed because like the Coalition agreement it is secret and like our imports of asbestos in portables from China none of our business. What is likely to be on the iPad, however, will include the promotion of Zed Seselja whose opposition to same sex marriage is but a small element of his valuable contribution to good government in the forty-fifth parliament.

Team player and good captain, Tony Abbott will not be attending The Lodge for pre-blood-letting drinks Sunday night, says Julie Bishop. Nor will he find himself back in the cabinet, in a welcome sign that some sanity at least has prevailed in Mr Harbourside Mansion’s Point Piper decision making processes. Expect press releases to tell us he has a contribution to make in other areas.

Expect to hear a lot about the Coalition’s mandate to provide stable government; how we must knuckle under; pull together; go without to get us all on a “credible path back to surplus” and other unreal stuff. Watch out when Eric, Tony and Kevin find themselves surplus to requirements.

What is real is that the first shot in the Turnbull government’s war with itself has just been fired.

399 thoughts on “Abbott out; Turnbull buys in as Coalition heads toward civil war

  1. The biggest fail on Shaun Micallef’s program is the canned laughter.

    Some very good stuff. Still, a turn-off.

  2. Looking at the latest pics of George Christensen , never a ‘Twiggy, Iit looks like his inner ‘Mr Creosote’ has won out.

  3. Georgie Porgie has started a civil war withing the government.

    Joyce defends right to block super laws

    Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has defended MPs’ right to vote against laws, as a Queensland coalition member says he’d cross the floor on superannuation policy.
    Nationals MP George Christensen wrote on his Facebook page on Wednesday the government needed to change the proposed $500,000 non-concessional lifetime cap and its “retrospectivity”, along with the $1.6 million pension fund transfer balance cap, he said.
    “If the government’s superannuation policy does not change, I will be crossing the floor and voting against these measures,” Mr Christensen said

    And –

  4. Kirsdarke

    With the nat primary vote did you use the figures from the AEC site or the ABC’s (where they consider 2013 Liberal votes in seats with only a Nat candidate as Nat votes and vice versa)

  5. I used the AEC figures. The Nat vote in those 5 seats was about 56,000.

    But yeah, I was just mainly pointing out that Barnaby can have a National candidate in all 150 seats and of course the Nationals would get a boost to their primary vote, that’s not a measure of success though. I’m just sick of the crowing about it.

    • You’re right there, I had a look and the only nat incumbent that had a real increase in their vote (i.e. not one resulting from gaining 2013 lib votes either as a result of a redistribution (Lyne or Riverina) or due a lack of a lib candidate this time (Mallee)) was Darren Chester in Gippsland.

  6. Today if my memory does not fail me is the anniversary of the failed assassination of Hitler back in 44, seeing GC in QLD is making noises about crossing the floor over superanuation could this be the start date for some action against Malware, the other action did not turn to good for those concerned did it.

    • Absolutely nailed it!

      Luke Hatsuyker – Minister for Assisting the Deputy Prime Minister. What sort of a useless, make-work, pointless title is that? Pruneface says his job will be “basically assisting the Deputy Prime Minister with his huge workload”.

      “We have discussed various areas but we are still refining it and nothing has been decided as yet.”

      Translated that means “I have no fracking idea what I’m supposed to do, neither does Barnaby, but the pay increase is very welcome”. He will probably spend his time sharpening pencils – if he can work out which end you stick in the sharpener. I have my doubts …………

      Note the usual Nats crowing about their ‘excellent’ election result in this as well.

      I find Pruneface’s comments about his election campaign highly amusing. His ‘campaign’, directed from the Nats NSW headquarters in Sydney because that way none of the millions spent has to be declared by Pruneface, consisted of smear, sleaze and lies all aimed at Oakeshott. But that’s all the Nats ever do when they have a decent opponent.

  7. This is what happens to Australian women who dare criticise old white men.
    (Hidden away by Fairfax in the ‘just for the ladies’ Daily Life, not on the front page, where it should be.)

    Feminists rescue Van Badham’s Twitter account from an abusive hacker

    Late on Tuesday night, while most of Twitter was reacting to Waleed Aly’s call to #sendforgivenessviral, writer and activist Van Badham appeared to begin “tweeting” some rather out-of-character material.

    The tweets were a mix of NSFW, abusive, incoherent and had terrible spelling. Badham’s followers knew it couldn’t possibly be her, and when an Australian mobile phone number was posted, they kicked into action.

    While some frantically tweeted at Twitter support, others knew from experience that the platform was unlikely to react with the necessary urgency.

    Within around half an hour, however, the “young gentleman” had been kicked out of Badham’s account

    Odd that The Guardian, for which Van Badham writes, did not mention this.

    • I saw those tweets, they were foul. Van was lucky someone knew how to recover her account so quickly..

  8. 2gravel
    The Census story is well worth a link.

    I’m not happy about having to give my name, and I’m not at all happy about doing the census online. I was happy to do it online in 2011, but not this time, not if the ABS is going to demand my name, not with the government now being so keen on storing metadata, not with this government looking at cross-matching information with my name. I just don’t believe them when they say our names will be stored separately and never released.

    I’ll be asking for a paper form, because being old, and female, I can’t possibly understand how to fill in an online form.

    Whether or not I actually fill in that form, mail it back blank, or simply pretend I wasn’t home on census night is something I still have to decide.

    This was written in March, when people began to notice what was involved in this year’s census.
    View at

    • L2
      I’m with you – I’ve always been a big supporter of the ABS and the census, Disagreed when someone (Libs?) suggested changing it to 10 yr intervals as many data items go out of date well within the current 5yr interval. (My team used the data for needs analysis when working in Disability Programs a couple of lifetimes ago). I did the on-line one in 2011 too, but with the new metadata laws and assuming the on-line version will not allow you to submit without your name, then I’ll be asking for a paper form also.

  9. I don’t think Sonia Kruger realises it, but these are the people she is pandering to with her ‘stop Muslim immigration’ rubbish. I don’t think she will be finding any of them in the Emirates tent at this year’s spring racing carnival though. Because she has made such a big deal about her concern with a Muslim invasion being all about being a mother, I suppose she would be perfectly happy to have her little daughter hang out with these chaps – after all, they do share Sonia’s views.

    Furore as Buchanan mosque is approved in NSW Hunter Valley

    • If they do find themselves in the Emirates tent with Sonia, there won’t be any soft food available; not with the lack of teef that this guy seems to favour.

  10. Leone

    Thinking about the census thing. We did the last one online by receiving a login in the mail, so they already have our names and addresses. I remember from the previous manual one, the online one had many things already filled out. As we had moved early 2011 we just had to delete Razz’s Mum, they didn’t include her Dad as he passed away approx 2 years before, so they must do that as well, and had little to fill in after that.

  11. Another thought on the census. They must have got names and addresses from the electoral roll, otherwise they wouldn’t know our new address.

  12. Another thing I’ve been hearing from right wing reactionaries is how they want to bring back First past the Post voting (thankfully just from nutters in the media, and not any politicians so far).

    Doing a bit of counting with the AEC numbers, I can see why. The coalition would have won another 15 seats under FPTP (assuming it would just go by primary votes) so the parliament would have been 91 coalition, 54 Labor, 2 Green and 3 independent.

    I expect they’ll try to do something dirty with the electoral system this term. And since the Greens would have won Batman under FPTP, they might just try to enable them to do that with the senate. So we should watch out for that.

  13. Insanity in Your Nation’s capital

    ACT public servants will soon be gagged from criticising the government and legally compelled to dob in colleagues they find doing the same.

    New laws governing the territory’s public sector workers are now before the ACT parliament, which would restrict how bureaucrats can behave outside office hours.

    • 2gravel

      Unfortunately (for this particular issue) it is Labor, with 1 green in a coalition. The Green has a ministry and seems to be marginally more sensible than his Fed counterparts.

      ALP has been in power in ACT Assembly since 2001, election due in Oct.

      I had much the same reaction as TBLD, disappointment that ACT labor would follow line of Fed libs on this issue. Fed APS are not allowed to have opinions, let alone express them even outside of work hours on an issue (for example) that has nothing to do with their agency/area of responsibility. its draconian and creeping fascism.

  14. Thanks for your responses. I would like to think Bill or someone has a word in their ear. This is not what I’d expect from a Labor government. It makes me feel sick.

  15. Tlbd

    Insanity in Your Nation’s capital

    I’ve voted for a Tory local government guy in London local elections before (decidedly better than the rest).

    At home I’ve chosen once to cop the fine for not voting.

    This coming up Legislative Assembly I’m feeling forced to vote for the Liberal’s who are saying they promise to do nothing other than not build a tramway.

    • That tram is Fiddler on the roof material

      “There would be one long staircase just going up, another even longer coming down, and one more leading nowhere, just for show.”

  16. Fiona

    Do you have that promise written in blood and appropriately executed?

    As you fully know no such thing exists.

    But the ‘not build’ option is not able to be smudged.

  17. Someone had to do a study to work this out?


    Self-service checkouts normalise, excuse supermarket stealing, research shows

    I just refuse to use the damn things. The staff at my preferred supermarket are delightful, and I’m not going to do something that might see some of them put out of work.

    Being an older shopper has advantages – no-one tries to push me into the self-service area, I’m left in peace to queue up at a proper checkout with all the other rebellious oldies. We all pretend we just can’t get the hang of this new-fangled techie stuff.

  18. Leone,

    Agreed on all points. Fortunately my favourite supermarket doesn’t have self-service. What’s more, if not all checkouts are open, one will be opened as soon as there is a queue of more than three people. Nice place.

    I only shop at Colesworth when there is no other option.

  19. I recently had the misfortune to need to shop at KMart they were the only close store that had the kids sheet set we needed for our grandson. Early in the morning, 9:30ish we went looking for a checkout, none open, the only way you could get out was through the self service checkouts, no staffed checkouts until 10:00. The armful of odds and sods we had picked up were left sitting on the checkout as we walked out.
    We picked up the sheets at a small retailer later.
    I have walked out of Colesworths and left a full trolley sitting there when they have had queues down the aisles at their checkouts. Yes I much prefer the German supermarket, they just don’t let their checkout queues grow to more than three or four.

  20. So where are we on the SSM plebiscite now?

    If I’m following the progress correctly, it started with Turnbull insisting that we had to have a plebiscite rather than just let MPs have a conscience vote on it, because it would properly reflect the will of the people, and on such an ‘important issue’ you have to have public consultation.

    Then we found out that the will of the people was so important that Parliament wouldn’t consider itself bound by the result of the plebiscite, and could do as it wished. So that negates Turnbull’s initial argument rather nicely.

    Nevertheless, Turnbull promised during the campaign that the plebiscite (for what it’s now worth) would be held this year. But a few Coalition MPs stated outright that they wouldn’t regard the result of the plebiscite as of any consequence, as they would vote with their consciences on it. Which is right back where we started, except that they planned to waste a whole lot of money in the interim.

    And then we find out just after the election that the plebiscite won’t even be held this year as promised, and we don’t know when it will be.

    Turnbull gave a number of speeches in Parliament this year on the importance of a plebiscite – it was his only justification for not dealing with SSM immediately. It was a threadbare argument at the time, and now it’s completely fallen apart. What a bunch of scam artists.


  22. Paul,

    Nice to see you at The Pub.

    I can’t remember whether you have visited in person before – either way, you are most welcome!

  23. I can’t remember an investiture of our ministers that has had less msm coverage than this one.

    Embarrassment much?

    • They just don’t want us to noticethe biggest ministry in decades, or how many Mickey Mouse appointments Fizza has made in an attempt to keep everyone happy – the Nats, the loony right wing, his loyal supporters, the Monkey Pod crowd ……..

  24. That Cruz speech is very interesting. He said so many things which could be taken every which way.

    It was perfect for a run in 2020.

  25. Another giant intellect at work –
    On MH370 and the searching in the wrong place for two years (at huge cost to Australian Taxpayers).

    “If it’s not there, it means it’s somewhere else,” Fugro project director Paul Kennedy told Reuters.

    Well, Derr! Fancy that! Who would ever have thought if something isn’t where you are looking it must be somewhere else. What a brilliant discovery! Now we can all be assured that when we can’t find that missing sock in the laundry it must be somewhere else, and when the car keys are not in the usual spot on the bench they too are ‘somewhere else’.

    Like Corningware being an important product of the space program, we now have the knowledge that missing objects must be ‘somewhere else’ as a terribly important product of the pointless search for a dead plane. It’s so nice to know that all the billions frittered away on the stupid search have in some small way had some benefit for humankind.

    Can’t the powers in charge just admit the aircraft will never be found and leave it at that?

    • It never was a fair dinkum search. It was all about politics.

      We are all the poorer for it, monetarily and humanitarily.

  26. On something different. There are so many recipes that say you should use, say, one tablespoon of coriander.

    Coriander is a very gentle herb and you need to use lots of it, lots.

    And, I’m sorry, Ms Lawson, you just don’t combine it with a handful of mint.

    • Doesn’t it depend on whether you are using fresh or ground coriander? If fresh, I agree: lots. If ground, imo it’s a matter of tasting and adding with discretion.

    • As with all herbs, the dried version is more intense and the flavours definitely are different. The drying seems to add a sweetness and leaves behind the freshness.

  27. Erdogan is becoming another tyrant. Ever was, I suppose.

    Turkey relies quite a bit on tourism ….

  28. The Liberal Half-hour is revealing the teaser from last night.

    So, the catholic hierarchy demands celibacy of their tormentors and the Anglicans do not.

    So, I could say “each is not as bad as the other”? It seems there is evidence otherwise.

    • What’s the matter with these people? Can they not provide a pre-poll for them, or a postal vote? It’s the kind of thing pre-polling was designed for, surely?

    • Leonetwo

      Pseph.William Bowe’s take on that issue.

      “William Bowe
      Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      No doubt those Liberals who are circulating this story about Herbert have fond memories of the state by-election for the Townsville seat of Mundingburra in 1996. The situation on that occasion was that postal votes from soldiers serving in Rwanda failed to arrive before the deadline, which affected 22 personnel based in Townsville. The challenge was upheld and the Liberals won the by-election, which directly resulted in the fall of Wayne Goss’s government. This claim seems a fair bit more adventurous, since the votes were never cast in the first place. The soldiers presumably knew they would have a hard time voting on the day, and for such reasons do postal and pre-poll voting exist. On top of which, I think the Liberals are fooling themselves if they think they want a re-run.”

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