Thursday, January 29, 2015

Mr Abbott's terminal political illness

Given my views, I had no particular problem with Mr Abbott's award of a knighthood to the Duke of Edinburgh. Measured objectively, and you don't have to agree with all the Duke's opinions to accept this, he has made a major contribution to aspects of Australian life over a very long period.

I had a much bigger problem with the vitriol heaped on the Duke in some writing I saw. That was simply ungracious. I had the same problem with the populist little Australian response from some. Barnaby, do you really feel that Australian honours must only and always be awarded to Australians, no exceptions?

My biggest problem lay with Mr Abbott's gross blind political misjudgment. Thinking of yesterday's post, Bridget Griffen-Foley and A Companion to the Australian Media, one of the changes in the Australian media landscape lies in the way that speed of communications facilitates instant responses. One side effect is less tolerance for mistakes because of the way a swooping and swirling media and broader commentariat all linked in real time means the creation and expression of instant views.

As I write discussion centers on succession. I really hope that Malcolm Turnbull does not become PM. I think that he will fail in that role.But that's a subject for another post.


It appears from reports in today's press that Mr Abbott has been given six months to get his act into gear. Meantime, Waleed Aly argues that Mr Abbott's problem's date back to his time in opposition. I have argued something of the same myself.

The Queensland elections are tomorrow. While the latest poll from Essential Research had the LNP and Labor effectively 50:50 making it all too close to call, the small sample size raises some doubts. Based solely on the pattern of polls, my best guess remains that the LNP will be returned with a small majority, with the Premier losing his seat. However, it will be a fascinating election.  


Anonymous said...

I thought WA's article quite good, as was Annabel Crabbe's comment on personality. Re the QLD election, it would not surprise me if the LNP got beaten.

But I'm more interested in your lack of regard for Mr Turnbull? Not a fan either, but much less adamant than your comment would suggest, Jim. I will await any follow-up with great interest.

Anyway, pass the popcorn; an interesting next few weeks.


Jim Belshaw said...

Good afternoon, kvd. Popcorn in microwave! On Mr Turnbull, and accepting that I may be wrong, I think that he is a bit too much of an Eastern Suburbs silver tail. But more on that later.

2 tanners said...

IMHO, the only way Malcolm could win the next election is to move the party to the left (i.e. centre) with policies that many existing Ministers would find unpalatable. If Mr Abbott is being given 6 months (a pretty conceit but not much more) that puts the Government close enough to the next election for him to argue that a change would be political suicide. I don't see it, and certainly don't see toecutters flagging their moves in public in such a way. In short, I think that regardless of anyone's opinion about the man or his performance, the Coalition is going to the next election with Mr Abbott leading it.

Jim Belshaw said...

I agree with you on the six months, point, 2T. If that were the case, we would have a PM just on probation, but on a timed probation! Can't see it.

Anonymous said...

Just judging by the sweat on the top lips of the Sky election panel, I'm now thinking Qld will go to Lab, but possibly with one or two indeps, to form government.

Funny to watch the punditry 'close but comfortable' margin disappear like water through desert sand :)


of course, have been wrong b4

Jim Belshaw said...

It was quite an amazing result, kvd!

Anonymous said...

Jim, this is my theory and I'm sticking to it:

What we are seeing in recent political times is a move from collegiate-style cabinet government to a presidential-style expression.

This is quite dangerous in the long term, because any one person, right or left, will always have faults and stumbles - and it is those stumbles which come to be (mis)represented as the sum of the whole.

I thought it was very telling that in Qld Campbell Newman came to personify his whole government's fortunes. Can't count the number of times that voters were quoted as "voting in protest against Newman" - completely disregarding the qualities of the actual candidates in their particular electorate. The result is that many sound candidates/members were lost.

Translating to the federal sphere, I think there are many policy successes the Libs can claim, and they have many competent men and women in their ranks. But we are now fixated on "the president". Whether this is an outgrowth of the way the media works (with their need for a talking head) I don't know - but I think we were much better served when Cabinet members were the spokespersons for their particular area of responsibility, and the PM was simply the 'chairman', the 'first among equals'.

I don't vote for Tony Abbott as he is not my federal member, but that is the way we have now set up our political system. And it's a shame.


2 tanners said...


I agree on your presidential point. Although you say that you didn't vote for Mr Abbott, he personally contradicted you this week: "Australia voted for me as PM".
Now this may be shoring up his position in a country where winning the national elections does not guarantee you a crack at the next ones. Apparently our Parliament's proclivity for knifing sitting PM'd is the source of some international bemusement.

But one can't deny the presidntial assumptions behind such a statement - perhaps a little ironic for the person who had just knighted our monarch's husband.

Winton Bates said...

When Tony Abbott claims that those who voted for Coalitions candidates were voting for him to be prime minister, he is correct, in my view. Many voters will be angry if he is deposed. At this moment he should be looking for a plausible excuse to fall on his sword.

Regarding Prince Phillip, Abbott should have been more careful not to have embroiled him in Australian politics. I write that as a republican. Prince Phillip deserves respect for his work for the Prince of Edinburgh awards etc.

Jim Belshaw said...

While I agree with and have bemoaned kvd's point about the growth of presidential style politics, I have no sympathy with voters who thought that they were choosing him as PM. That's not our system.

Now those views can affect elections. I think that was the initial case with Mr Rudd. I don't think that this is the case with Mr Abbott.

Perhaps Mr Abbott should fall on his word. But will that fix things?