I can’t think of anything that Tony Abbott has going for him

Public service cuts

I don’t remember too much about Paul Keating. I do remember his arrogance, which many argue was the driving force behind his 1996 election loss. Nobody likes an arrogant politician. But I will say this about him: he was a brilliant economist and outside of politics a straight forward, normal bloke. No pretenses. You got what you saw. He had a lot going for him and his legacy is being widely hailed.

John Howard, well, I remember too much about him. What sticks in my mind the most was that he was a mean-spirited, lying little prick. I’m being honest here. But I will say one thing about him: he had some dignity. There was no way that he would have allowed his senior ministers to stand under “Ditch the Witch”signs at public rallies. He would have been silently appalled at the behavior we’ve seen from Abbott et al on that occasion.

I worked under Kevin Rudd and he was a hard task-master, verging on being a control freak. And he had difficulty grasping the concept that not everyone was as brilliant as him. But he was only doing what he thought was best – in the long run – for society’s battlers. He also had the strength to stand firm and stand by his convictions. A couple of his political decisions were monumental stuff-ups but all in all, he did try very hard to understand and deal with other people. And he listened to them.

Julia Gillard should be ashamed of whoever headed up her public relations department. She, personally, gave the impression that she was above all the criticism that she and her government faced. However, there was no way that she was above it. It was a misconception. But I’ll give her lots of credit where it’s due: she had guts and she had dignity. And having also worked for her I can vouch that she worked diligently to improve the lives of all Australians.

Tony Abbott. Well, he has nothing at all going for him. He has nothing in the bank. He is devoid of any of the good human qualities that the above are remembered for.

Good luck

Good luck to whoever wins the election.

Most people know I support Labor but if Tony Abbott wins, as he has been tipped to do, then I wish him all the best. Whilst I can’t imagine how horrible this country might become under his leadership I hope, sincerely, that he serves us well.

All he needs to do to become a good Prime Minister is to finish the great work Labor has done for six years. In Government he does not need to be a wrecker. He won’t need to say “No” to everything, good or bad.

He won’t lose any friends if he keeps the NBN. Most voters want it even though they’ll most likely vote for the man who threatens to demolish it.

He won’t lose any friends either if he changes his antiquated views on same-sex marriage. Again, most voters approve of same-sex marriage even though they’ll most likely vote for the man who wants to close the door on it.

Neither will he lose any friends if he continues with the Gonski reforms. Again, funnily, most people want a good education for their children yet they’ll most likely vote for the man who will ignore their wants.

I doubt he’ll lose any friends if he doesn’t stop the boats, though he will definitely lose credibility because of it. Many people in this country don’t mind the boats coming. They’d rather see them drift safely to our shores than be turned around at sea.

He definitely won’t lose any friends if he keeps to his word and not reintroduce WorkChoices. Dare I say it again, but funnily enough the strugglers who will suffer most under WorkChoices will most likely vote for the man who probably can’t wait to rob them of their rights at work.

I could go on and on, but my main point is that if Mr Abbott wins then I wish him well. And he would be wise to remember what John Howard said in 1996 that he inherited a good economy from Paul Keating. Tony Abbott will be doing the same: inheriting a good economy. No, a great economy.

He would be wise not to stuff it up.

We’ll be watching him. Closely. We’d be happy to turn him into target practice if he ruins this great country.

If Kevin Rudd defies the odds and pulls off a surprise win then good luck to him too. His predecessor has left him some of the greatest reforms of the last decades to build upon. He has been part of a team that has seen Australia leap to the top as one of the most economically sound countries in the world.

I hope he is rewarded with another term. This photo (origin unknown) succinctly sums up why I want his team rewarded.

I'm voting for

All of a sudden everybody loves Malcolm

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve argued (literally) that the LNP should replace Tony Abbott with Malcolm Turnbull. It’s not because I like Turnbull, but because I dread the thought of Abbott leading this country. I won’t go over my reasons; they’ve been given currency on this site enough over the last three years.

Just recently there has been similar talk all over the social media about replacing Abbott, albeit because the polls have turned pear-shaped for him. There are serious concerns about him leading the Coalition to victory in September and unsurprisingly, Malcolm Turnbull is touted as a genuine replacement. Now the mainstream media, for so long content to guide Abbott into the Lodge, have come to the realisation that they might have been holding the wrong hand. From The Age this morning comes Liberal Party’s best bet: switch to Turnbull. I’ve picked out a few telling sentences:

Tony Abbott now looks an even bet to emulate his former boss John Hewson (Abbott was Hewson’s media adviser), who in 1993 lost what was widely considered an unloseable ballot against Paul Keating.

In their own self-interest, the Liberals would be wise to at least consider replacing Tony Abbott with Malcolm Turnbull. It has long been clear the two leaders Australian voters would like to choose between are Rudd and Turnbull.

But the pivotal assessment is which leader would maximise the Coalition’s prospects of winning office. Many Liberals must be thinking their chances of winning a seat or holding on to one would be better were Turnbull reinstalled in the position he only lost by one vote to Abbott, primarily because Turnbull supported a market-based system to put a price on carbon emissions.

Once the election campaign proper begins, it is hoped there will be increasing focus throughout the community on policy rather than politics, and on ideas rather than ideology. Abbott has excelled in opposing, but has not inspired voters with policy ideas.

So, if Abbott is to win this election, he will need to convince voters he has the policies that will improve their lives. A large part of that will be determined by the substance and detail of the policies. But much, too, will depend on sales skills, and it appears Turnbull cuts through better than Abbott. Outside of the corridors of Canberra, people like Turnbull. There is a lingering, almost intangible, hesitation about Abbott, if the polls are to be given credence.

Elections are won at the margin; they are decided by swinging voters in tight seats. I suspect there are many who will not vote Liberal with Abbott at the helm but who would readily support the party were Turnbull leader.

This prospect might well become increasingly enticing should the Coalition continue to see polls telling it that it may be poised to lose an unloseable election primarily because its leader lacks appeal.

There is an X-factor in political leadership. Turnbull has it. Rudd has it. Julia Gillard lost it. And Abbott probably does not have it.

Well, I certainly agree with most of that. Do you?

Photograph of Malcolm Turnbull, New South Wale...

Malcolm Turnbull (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Come back, Paul!

Are there any retired politicians you’d like to see back in the halls of Parliament?

I’d love to see a return of Paul Keating; in my opinion one of our best Prime Ministers, Treasurers and Parliamentary performers we’ve had the pleasure to witness. And silly me voted against him in both 1993 and 1996. Just goes to show how politically ignorant I once was.

History has shown the extent of my ignorance.

Australia’s booming economy owes much to him, for example. By introducing compulsory employer based superannuation in the early 1990s he has now added over $1Trillion dollars into our economy.

But despite his previous accomplishments, more than anything I’d just love to see him hanging the likes of Abbott out to dry during Question Time. 😉

Which (living) politician would you like back?

English: Paul Keating in 2007.

Paul Keating in 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Open forum: the sweetest victory

Which federal election victory was the sweetest for you? Or conversely, which one left the sourest taste?

I remember how I felt about a few of them.

I was too young to vote for Gough Whitlam and until then I had no interest in politics, but it wasn’t hard to get swept up in the wave of excitement of his anticipated victory. I would have voted for him. The Vietnam War was still raging and kids my age and older were dreading their 20th birthday and the subsequent prospect of conscription. We didn’t like the idea of fighting another senseless war. I think we were the first generation to take that stand.

I stayed with Labor until the early nineties when I voted for Hewson and then Howard. Hewson’s loss disappointed me, probably because at the time I was not a big fan of Keating’s, while Howard’s victory brought out the champagne, as by this time I quite despised Keating. In my eyes Howard couldn’t do anything wrong.

In 2001 I went back to Labor as I considered that Howard’s politicisation of boat people was terribly wrong and I have stayed with Labor ever since.

After working closely with the Howard Government as a Public Servant I saw first hand what a mean-spirited, conniving, lying bunch of pricks they really were. Policies were formulated to ensure their own political survival while ignoring the needs of wider Australians. Lies were told to the media about how successful their policies were when in fact they were failing miserably. Public Servants were bullied into providing them with confidential information in order to secure a political advantage over the then Opposition.

His loss in 2007 was by far the sweetest victory. And capped off with him losing his seat.

On the Monday morning after he lost office, the sight of public servants going about their business with a spring in their steps and a smile on their faces gave Canberra a good feel about it.

I’d be disappointed if Abbott won this year but I’d still get on with life. I’d be disappointed for a few reasons: I don’t believe he would make a good PM and I don’t believe he has the policies that will move this country forward (which is what the current Government are doing). I also believe he has been given an easy ride by the media. Given that, a Labor win against a media determined to see the end of them will be exceptionally sweet. It will be just as sweet as 2007.

Photo courtesy of www.xenoxnews.com

Mungo’s best

A few days ago, listening to political journalist and commentator Mungo MacCallum chatting to Phillip Adams on Radio National’s Late Night Live, Mungo was asked who he considered to be the best Australian Prime Ministers in his lifetime. He nominated three: Gough Whitlam, Paul Keating and John Gorton.

I imagine both sides of the political divide will be surprised at one, some, or all of his choices. The spectacular ends to their prime ministerships were inconsequential to Mungo. He was judging them on the jobs they’d done. Simply, their achievements.

I do not remember Mungo’s justifications, so I thought I’d Google them and list them here.

Gough Whitlam

  • 1972 – ended conscription during Vietnam War.
  • 1973: created new government departments including Aboriginal Affairs, Environment and amalgamation of armed forces into Defence.
  • 1974: Aboriginal Land Fund Commission, Australian Legal Aid Office, National Employment and Training Scheme.
  • The Health Insurance Act 1973 established ‘Medibank’, a national health scheme funded by levy which provided free public hospital treatment and medical benefits totaling at least 85 per cent of the cost of doctor and hospital services.
  • The Trade Practices Act 1974 outlawed restrictive trade practices and ensured consumer protection and product and manufacturing liability.
  • The National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 1975 established a service to plan and manage national parks in line with international standards.
  • The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 enabled Australia to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination.
  • The Family Law Act 1975 replaced the existing grounds for divorce with a single ground, irretrievable breakdown of marriage (for example, having separated and lived apart for 12 months or more) and the extension of federal jurisdiction to maintenance, custody and property matters.

Paul Keating

  • As Treasurer in the Hawke government, Keating was the architect of the deregulation of the Australian economy.
  • The government floated the Australian currency and allowed foreign banks to operate in Australia from 1983.
  • Removed direct government controls from interest rates which had helped create a competitive disadvantage for Australian companies.
  • Abolished the two-airline policy and achieved a general lowering of tariff levels.
  • As prime minister, built strong bilateral links with Australia’s Asia-Pacific neighbours, particularly Indonesia.
  • Was a driving force in establishing the Asia Pacific Economic forum (APEC) heads of government meeting with its commitment to regional free trade.
  • Responded to the High Court decision in the Mabo case 1992 and enacted the Native Title Act 1993 and the Land Fund Act 1994, which was the first national recognition of indigenous occupation and title to land.
  • In April 1993 he appointed a Republic Advisory Committee to examine options to make Australia a republic.
  • Established the National Training Act 1992, presented the White Paper Working Nation in 1994 to combat rising unemployment. Proposed a national superannuation scheme to redress low national savings.

John Gorton

  • Established National Film and Television Training School and Australia Council for the Arts. As Minister for Education and Science, laid groundwork for government assistance to independent schools.
  • Initiated reform to Commonwealth law that led to decriminalising homosexual acts between consenting adults in private.
  • Rates of pay were standardised between the sexes.

That is just a brief look as time was against me, but it gives you a fair idea of their achievements. Based on what I’ve found though, I can’t say I agree with Gorton as a choice. Perhaps you will know something that I don’t.

Do you agree with his list? What would your list be?

Through the eye of a camel

As the Federal Election looms it is time to take a look at some of the campaign issues which are going to be centre stage.

This election will be unique in that this is the first hung Parliament since the Menzies Government of 1940 and the first time the governing party in a hung Parliament has gone to an election after serving a full term (the minority Fadden Government was defeated on the floor of the House when the two independents crossed the floor and voted against the 1941 Budget)

It will also be unique in that we have a female Prime Minister leading her party for a second term of government.

The unique circumstances will be reflected in the shape of the campaign. We can expect the Coalition to attack the government on the issue of its “legitimacy” given its somewhat precarious numbers situation, we can expect attacks from the crypt by the masters of voodoo economics on government spending and presumably we are going to be treated yet again to the rehash of the Coalition’s favourite bogeyman of “failed” big-ticket government programmes which actually worked the NBN, the BER and the solar rebate.

However expect a new and nasty dimension to be added to the campaign if this propaganda currently circulating via e mails and through social media is typical of what is to come.

This anonymous contribution to what will be an ever-growing tide of disinformation between now and election day came from an e mail sent to a friend of ours.

coalition garbagebig

Whoever put this together using Excel and a couple of media shots basically sets out its creator’s odd notions of what constitutes an ideal PM.

Apparently a “good” Prime minister is a volunteer.  According to Anonymous Creator, referred to from now on as AC, volunteering is the most important attribute someone aspiring to be PM can possess. That’s why it gives volunteering three mentions and puts it up the top of the list

In fact since it is so obviously important to AC that we are now trying strenuously, albeit with with great difficulty, to recall if John Howard was actually a volunteer anywhere while he was Prime Minister.

So just watch all those Pink Ladies, Men’s Shedders and primary school reading tutors heading off to Canberra to lead the nation.

Julia Gillard sadly loses out yet again because she doesn’t have an Economics degree.

We are hoping that (again) John Howard (Law) and Kevin Rudd (Arts) will not be feeling too put out at this stage as they await the argus-eyed gaze of AC to sweep across their qualifications. Peter Costello (Law) and Joe Hockey (Arts/Law) should  be a tad nervous as well. After all both have had more than a fleeting aspiration to be leader of their party at some stage.

So would AC like to explain how to judge one of Australia’s most successful PMs and  Treasurers, Paul Keating, who has but a NSW Intermediate Certificate?

Now AC, having dismissed the PM’s very respectable arts/law degree and subsequent substantial legal practice (Abbott has never either practised law nor worked as an economist) then ventures into the murky waters of people’s private lives to declare that the PM has – gasp – had affairs with married men.

We suspect that this statement may border on defamation, but having read the whole of the laughably loopy presentation we will treat the statement with a corresponding amount of contempt.

(By the way  how’s your sex life going AC? Found out how to do it yet? Nudge nudge saynomore )

Flailing about like a chocolate frog in a bushfire, AC now traverses the fertile landscape of Australia’s favourite obsession – real estate – specifically the domiciliary status of the two Leaders.

We are informed that Tony Abbott has three children and a mortgage. Just what this fact is supposed to convey we are not sure. Might one expect that a politician earning $342,250 a year plus the odd perfectly legal perk, with a working spouse and adult children might be doing just a little better on the mortgage front? Does the word overcapitalise peek over the horizon at any stage here?

The PM on the other hand has done far better. It is tough for a single woman, even one on a good salary, to pay off a mortgage, but she has done so. And probably well before she became PM

AC then passes with some effort through the eye of a camel from the reality of realty to more spiritual realms to reveal excitedly that Tony Abbott is a Christian.

Yet nobody else would share his excitement. Nor is most of Australia excited by the PM’s atheism. In a secular country non-belief is surely the default setting.

And we might take this opportunity to remind both Tony Abbott and AC at this point that Australia is not a Christian country thanks to Section 116 of the Australian Constitution or a country which mandates any other variety of religion for that matter.

For which we should probably thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Whether Tony Abbott was a successful Health Minister is open to much speculation. Current Health Minister Tanya Plibersek questions his attitude to RU486. Anne Summers does likewise as she outlines the proposed cuts in acess to Medicare benefits to IVF and the subsequent ducking and weaving of Abbott, his colleague and Shadow Minister Christopher Pyne and his ever-loyal staffer Peta Credlin.

Summers writes:

As Health Minister in 2005, Tony Abbott proposed cutting back government subsidies for IVF treatments. Interestingly, one backbencher who urged him to reconsider this decision was the member for Fisher, Peter Slipper.

Slipper’s representations were successful and the measure did not proceed. Contrary to assertions quoted in today’s Australian newspaper by shadow education minister Christopher Pyne, Mr Abbott proposed and defended these measures.

So women’s reproductive health was to bear the main burden of a future Abbott Government’s eagerly sought budget cuts. What was that about Abbott being a successful health Minister? What was that about Abbott not being woman-averse again?

AC then dips into the realm of the silly by reassuring us that Abbott supported his Prime Minister. We have to assume AC is referring to events around the time of  the APEC Leaders’ Week meeting in 2007 but we would not be surprised if AC’s recollection was faulty – often the case when someone is so strongly attached to the right that he/she perceives them as doing no wrong.

Here’s Paul Kelly on the topic.

And what Abbott conveyed, perhaps subconsciously?

Open to the option that Howard might go and struck by the firmness of Downer’s position, Abbott left the impression he favoured a change. Perhaps Abbott, the Howard loyalist, was wavering. That was Downer’s conclusion; he noted that Abbott wanted a change as well. But Abbott said later there was a difference between being aware that Howard might resign and supporting his resignation, which he did not.

Loyalty? Or Abbott’s realisation that he might be on the stairway to heaven?

And did Julia Gillard really “knife” Kevin Rudd? Perhaps the most objective analysis comes from James Button, bringing as it does to the memories of old Labor hands the long-ago spectre of the brilliant but erratic H V Evatt:

Rudd’s prime ministership failed, and the failure was above all his own. The story of his government, and of its end, has still not been fully told.


However the departure of Kevin Rudd revved up yet another bandwagon for AC and its audience to leap on – the fallacy that in Australia we elect our Prime Ministers.

A whole raft of people who in normal times would never vote for anyone to the left of Pauline Hanson could be heard wailing and gnashing their teeth because somehow their Prime Minister had been deprived of his rightful office by a dastardly Shakespearean coup, complete with a rich layer-cake of factional conspiracies.

Sorry to puncture illusions people, but it’s the way we do things under the Westminster system. It is much the same in the UK, New Zealand and Canada.

So are you sitting comfortably?

Now slowly and simply so even AC will get it –

when you go to the polls you vote for a person to represent you in Canberra. You do not decide who the Prime Minister is. The party who wins the most seats in the election does that. Parties can and do  remove leaders and replace them any time they feel it necessary to do so, whether you like it or not.

And for Tony Abbott to have stopped the boats he would have had to have been Prime Minister at the very least. Or Moses. Going to sea in a patrol boat Steven Seagal style with a pump action rampant smuggled budgie and his best Vlad Putin persona on will not do it.

Asylum seekers, boat arrivals and the whole sorry saga of the refugee crisis in our region takes far more diplomacy, awareness and subtlety than has been exhibited by either major party so far, though the potential is there for Labor to educate the electorate and to bring it with them if they can stop being timid when faced with the raucous minority – the raucous minority that the junk e mail is meant for.

And I do wish my de facto would do my hair. Save me a bucketful on hairdressers.