Tony Abbott hoped for a fresh start in 2015.
Instead, it’s rather rancid.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten leads Mr. Abbott 43% to 41% as preferred PM, according to the latest Roy Morgan poll.
Yes, you read that right. Shifty Bill, who shafted two Labor prime ministers, is suddenly seen as a saviour. People have short memories.
But it’s worse within his own party: both Malcolm Turnbull, at 36%, and Julie Bishop, at 26%, are preferred Liberal leaders over Abbott, who is at 14%.
Despite winning a venal victory by one vote in 2009, the Mad Monk led the party to win the 2013 election, promising a government of “no surprises”.
So, what went wrong?
Knights and dames, proposed cuts to pensions, prevarication over paid parental leave, and hijinks over health care. It’s like watching episodes of Rocky and Bullwinkle, as Mr Abbott tries to pull a rabbit out his hat, time and again: “That trick never works!”
One trick he has perfected is the disappearing act. The PM hasn’t been seen during the Queensland election campaign, South Australian bushfires, Victorian university protests Bali Forum, and UN Climate Summit.
These are yellow acts for an Oxford blue.
Tony Abbott believes in equality for all, as long as you’re a white male from a privileged background. The majority of his Ministers and their advisors fit this mould. Much is made of the power of Peta Credlin and Julie Bishop. But women are the exception, rather than the rule. Sussan Ley’s first job, as the second woman in Cabinet, was to clean up the Medicare mess, left by the boys.
Howard’s battlers feel affronted by the lack of consultation with the community – about everything. The pig-headed plan to deregulate university fees, accompanied by an expensiveadvertising campaign, is an example of this.
Proposed cuts to Medicare and family tax benefits hurt the most vulnerable. Nobody wants to see kids hurt. It’s now been revealed the Prime Minister argued for medical cuts, which werereportedly opposed by the Treasurer and Health Minister.
Tony Abbott is disenfranchising the young by supporting a review of penalty rates. The Essential Report, released last week, reveals 81% of Australians think people who work outside normal hours should receive higher pay. Many of these are young people, working in hospitality or retail.
We all know the big ones, but did you know his office tells little ones, as well? At Kirribilli House, the PM was filmed telling cricketer David Warner he’d “sorted out that park which you were anxious about”. After being quizzed by journalists, his staff said:
- a) it was a private matter (it’s not)
- b) Warner was a constituent (he’s not)
- c) it was raised by the local member (who’s Labor)
Turns out it’s all above board, as part of a funding boost for Heffron Park, where a young Warner fine-tuned his skills as a batsman. There was no impropriety. So, why leap to lies instead of telling the truth?
Respected economist Saul Eslake put it best, describing Tony Abbot as a, “leader who distrusts markets, has little interest in economics, and is actually contemptuous of economists”. Mr. Abbott later claimed an Emissions Trading Scheme was a, “so-called market in the non-delivery of an invisible substance to no one”. Deliberate ignorance is dangerous.
Clearly, people don’t mind a bit of cruelty when it comes to asylum seekers. Fear of the other is deep within us. But when Australia becomes an international pariah as evidence is leaked from detention centres, something within our psyches tells us this is, “extremely harsh and egregious”, to use the words of the government’s nemesis, Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs.
It’s like watching Maxwell Smart speaking into his shoe phone to try to defeat KAOS. But it always ends in chaos. A classic example is the metadata retention laws: The Prime Minister, his cabinet and internet companies can’t agree on what is meant by ‘metadata’, how much will be kept, and what it reveals. The PM tried to allay concerns by saying, “metadata is the material on the front of the envelope, and the contents of the letter will remain private”. This is not true. The lesson? Don’t f*#k with people’s privacy.
Why do you think Tony Abbot is on the nose?