In his first interview after losing the Liberal leadership, Tony Abbott gives us his take on how his government performed with him as Prime Minister. “What we have given the new Prime Minister and the new Treasurer is a very strong foundation.”
This is sheer hubris.
Paul Kelly’s interview in The Weekend Australian and republished here on Facebook, reveals as much as you could expect from a wounded politician trying to salvage some form of legacy for his two years as PM.
His self-proclaimed achievements are pitiful. His obsession with boats, carbon taxes and national security exposes his cold-war approach to modern day politics. One old enough can easily imagine his flawed motivation to be something along the lines of ‘What would Santamaria have done’.
He is understandably proud of achieving the top job but ignores the reality that his accession to the Liberal leadership was more a reflection of the discord in the Liberal Party than any personal qualifications he might have had.
His approach to economics, ISIS and his moralistic feet-dragging attitudes toward social issues, put him out of mainstream thinking and out of place in a 21st century setting. Not that he would realise this.
On policy implementation, he claims with some pride that everything he did is still intact, “Border protection policy the same, national security policy the same, economic policy the same, even same-sex marriage policy the same, and climate change policy the same. In fact, the rhetoric is the same.”
Can he really believe that? The new cabinet has been in the job one week and he thinks everything will remain the same?
While no policy changes have yet been announced, it is only a matter of time. The polls were the driving issue that saw him removed but with a fairly modest bounce in the party’s electoral hopes since his dumping, Abbott is somewhat premature in concluding that nothing will change.
The excuses he offers for the party’s poor showing since the 2014 budget ring of déjà vu.
“We had an obdurate Labor party, a feckless Senate and a very difficult media culture,” Abbott said. “I’m not complaining,” he said. “This is the world in which we live.” Nor indeed should he complain.
His strategy as opposition leader was no less obdurate, during which time the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard performed much better. As for the so called media culture, surely he must be referring to social media. The MSM and his radio shock jock mates gave him a free ride, no matter how feckless he was.
He said, “The 2014 budget was a very serious structural attempt to tackle our long-term spending problems.” It was nothing of the sort. It was a thinly veiled attack on the weak, the tired and the hungry; easy targets in the high powered world of focus groups, lobbyists and media barons who have your back.
But he then went on and said, “In the end, what counts is what the government decides not how it arrives at the decision.” If this is suggesting that the outcome was more important than the means to achieve it, it was arrogant, without compassion for the most affected and so typical of those in positions of privilege who might well echo the classic line misattributed to Marie Antoinette, “let them eat cake.”
Abbott’s subsequent comment, “I think from all participants in the national conversation there has been an obsession with the trivial rather than the substantial and the long-term,” is, again, a clear indication of his own hubris. We never knew what the substantial was, or the long term.
There was no long term plan. There was a great deal of rhetoric about forging a ‘credible path back to surplus’ despite unemployment increasing.
In effect, they were using rubbery figures in an effort to manufacture a balanced budget, against a deficit that was getting bigger and a ballooning debt that, if it were occurring while they were in opposition, would bring forth screams, renting of clothing and bursting of blood vessels as they squealed for the heads of anyone in charge.
The image of failure tends to stick, no matter what the mitigating circumstances are, or how they are expressed.