Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Mr Abbott and the sclerotic whirly gig of current Australian politics

Overnight, the Country Liberal Party in the Northern Territory  continued its revolving door policy by replacing  previous Chief Minister Adam Giles with Willem Westra van Holthe, 52. Attorney-General John Elferink is the new deputy, replacing Peter Chandler. Mr Westra van Holthe is on the right, Mr Elferink left in this photo from the ABC.
Speaking from a prepared statement Mr Westra van Holte said the government "could have done things better in the past". 
"Under my leadership, this government will be more consultative with Territorians and engage with them before we make important and crucial decisions to the future of the Territory. Mr Westra van Holte said his government wanted to provide "stability and confidence for all Territorians, especially our public service". 
"We acknowledge that we must work more closely with the community as we move forward and make the Territory a better place to live."
Sound familiar?

Meantime, counting continues in Queensland, with seats still moving around. One unexpected result is that One Nation's Pauline Hanson might now be returned to Parliament as the Member for Lockyer.

Down in Canberra, Mr Abbott has delivered his speech to the National Press Club, resetting Government directions. You will find the speech here. I dislike one sentence paragraphs.This is the world of simplification, of one-liners.

I was prepared to engage with the speech as a statement of  future directions. Sadly no. Mr Abbott continues to be locked in to a method of political discourse and indeed public administration that has become sclerotic. the veins heavily coated, allowing fewer and fewer new ideas to pass. He is not alone, of course..

Ah well.


The Northern Territory imbroglio has developed into a constitutional crisis with former Chief Minister Giles refusing to resign. Law professor Anne Twomey has a very sensible piece on the constitutional issues raised by the crisis.

Essential Research has released some rather devastating poll results on changing public perceptions of Mr Abbott. I don't want to comment further at this point, including commenting on the on-going public discussion. What will be will be, and I really have no further value that I can add to the discussion.

I do wish to comment, however, at a later point, on what I perceive to be some of the sillier conclusions being drawn from the whole thing.  

Postscript 2

Twenty four hours is indeed a long time in Australian politics. Up in the Northern Territory, Adam Giles is back as Chief Minister with Willem Westra van Holthe as his deputy!  .


Anonymous said...

One sentence paras are pretty normal for speeches I would think. But I do like the "sclerotic whirly gig" phrase :)


Anonymous said...

A good example of the one sentence paragraph is "Just a few years back, under the Howard government, we were quite literally the envy of the world." No evidence of a world response is presented and the succeeding paragraph is merely a rehash of the 'debt and deficit' slogan.

Jim Belshaw said...

Thank you, kvd! I don't think one sentence paras are normal for speeches, although short paras are. The problem with one sentence paras is that they give each sentence equal weight. It leads to a staccato delivery, an inability to build an argument.

President Obama, a far better speaker than Mr Abbott sometimes suffers from the same problem.

None of the really good speakers that we remember, at least none that I am aware of, used one sentence paras. Try reading Mr Abbott's speech out aloud to see what I mean.

Jim Belshaw said...

A good example, anon.

Anonymous said...

Sclerotic? I can't believe you are not a Latin language maven!

I know. Irrelevant.



Jim Belshaw said...

Relevance has never been a special feature of this blog, Sue. I had yo look maven up. A Latin language maven, and you know my exam results in Latin!

Anonymous said...

On the PM's NPC address, I cannot find any transcript of the ensuing Q&A session? While it is unfair to nail anyone for off the cuff remarks, I was hoping to see the record of one particular remark he made - something like "I trust my colleagues to do the right thing by themselves, by the party, by the government, and by Australia"

The ordered priority of interests stuck in my mind as true but jarring. Anyway, can't find a record, so possibly incorrect.


Jim Belshaw said...

I can't find it either, kvd. Interesting order!