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2015, Abbott’s ‘Annus Horribilus’

If Labor had ‘lost its way’ under Kevin Rudd, as Julia Gillard stated in parliament the day she became prime minister, then what can we say of the Liberals under Tony Abbott, today?

Abbott’s quite pathetic suggestion that criticism of his chief of staff, Peta Credlin was about gender has infuriated many of his parliamentary members and seriously weakened his leadership.

Queensland MP Warren Entsch is the latest to openly criticised the prime minister and the way in which the Office of the Prime Minister is managed. “It’s not about her bloody gender for God’s sake. Let me tell you. It doesn’t matter if her name is H-A-R-R-Y or D-I-C-K,” Entsch told News Corp.

entsch “He needs to be very careful because there’s a lot of cabinet ministers who have a problem with how the Prime Minister’s Office is operating. It’s as bad as it’s ever been,” he said.

Although rumours were spreading, prior to Kevin Rudd’s resignation in 2010, there were no public comments from Labor members suggesting there was a problem with his management style. So well, in fact, did government members keep their thoughts ‘in house’ that his subsequent coup came as a complete shock to the media and to the country.

Not so, Tony Abbott. His now public stoush with his own party members is there for all to see and will be micro-analysed by the media from this point on. When government members start openly criticising their leader, directly or indirectly, history shows us that it doesn’t end well.

Just as the media pursued Gillard and Labor relentlessly when Kevin Rudd was being accused of undermining her leadership, they now have the scent of blood in their nostrils and will, in 2015, be singularly attentive to any comments by government members, either openly or covertly. They will concentrate their efforts on finding cracks in the wall and hone in on any suggestion of disunity or disquiet.

That means Abbott’s unavoidable and inevitable displacement is going to be messy; very messy indeed. It is now likely that by June 2015 we will have a new prime minister, most likely, either Julie Bishop or Malcolm Turnbull. Deciding between the popularity of Bishop and the practicality of Turnbull, no matter how unpopular within Liberal ranks, will be interesting to watch.

credlin1Abbott’s suggestion that sexism was behind criticism of Credlin was a strange way to hit back at those who were voicing concern. Firstly, he was putting the conflict out into the public arena; something Labor avoided. And secondly, in his own inimitable, blundering style, he chose a less than professional way to do it. Making Credlin the focus of the issue was a mistake.

A wiser move would have been to nominate some minor administrative matter as being the problem, which would have deflected attention away from the real issue and given them time to talk about Credlin privately. But he didn’t.

A deflection would have given them time to develop a defensive strategy and hit back at the media in unison. Abbott has not only made the situation worse with his sexism defence, he has alienated his office and exacerbated the matter in a way that now makes a retreat very difficult.

Even without internal squabbling, 2015 looms as an ‘annus horribilus’ for the government. The unresolved budget savings measures, a storm brewing with the bank’s treatment of displaced Queensland and New South Wales farmers, climate change talks in Paris, but most of all, rising unemployment, will be front and centre. And then there is the matter of ‘unknown events’, something all politicians fear.

The deteriorating state of the economy is going to bring enormous pressure to introduce stimulus spending measures that will require increasing the deficit, whether they like it or not. Both Abbott and Hockey will hate that. It is counter to everything they consider fiscally sound. Mind you, their idea of fiscally sound leaves a lot to be desired anyway.

shortenThese issues, however, will create further tensions internally as polling continues to show their parlous position in the eyes of voters. Bill Shorten’s performance, in the meantime, has been improving gradually over the second half of 2014 and his minders will further refine his public image in 2015.

That too, will be a problem.

Putting it all together, 2015 does not bode well for the government, or Tony Abbott in particular.

53 comments

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  1. John Kelly

    You may be right, Rob Hood, but that would further impact negatively on the polls.

  2. Pingback: 2015, Abbott’s ‘Annus Horribilus’ | THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN

  3. John Fraser

    <

    Hockey's MYEFO is already in trouble and he hasn't released it.

    No matter how long Hockey leaves his calculator out in the wind its never going to recharge and return him to his previous low stocks.

    No matter how much Pyne blathers Churchillian crap ole Joe's gotta be seriously contemplating resigning from politics, because where he's at there's no coming back.

    The disintegration of "Team Australia" is happening before our eyes and no media can halt it.

    It now remains to be seen if the "Liberal" party will act before the N.S.W. State election & the Qld State election … both of which are due around march 2015.

    If they don't act they will likely lose more than just a Federal election.

  4. HEATHER FORWARD

    Good. Bring it on, I say. If it wasn’t doing so much damage to this country, one could almost laugh at the shenanagins.

  5. Kyran

    Does this mean we may finally be rid of this horrible anus? Hope does spring eternal.

  6. Kerri

    I wish people wouldn’t post that particular photo of Abbott. I know he looks silly in the rainbow hairnet but there are plenty of other pictures of him looking silly where he is not wearing a hairnet that is the symbol of an Organ Donation Charity started in honour of the youngest Victorian person to donate her organs for the year 2004 and one of the youngest Australians ever to donate her organs.
    The hairnet is worn annually by the workers in Shepparton’s fruit canning industries to remind us of the importance of organ donation and the need to have that conversation with our loved one before it is too late.
    Yes the same fruit canning industries Tony and Joe refused to help.
    And Shepparton was the home town of Zaidee Turner.
    http://www.zaidee.org/about/zaidees-story/

  7. Kerri

    Sorry John! Good article! Apart from the picture!

  8. Joe Banks

    Destiny is dragging Tony Abbott towards political oblivion. Soon, many on the front bench will avoid media questioning about their now deranged and embarrassing leader, because they have their own agendas which no longer include Abbott. Murdoch will not save him, because Abbott is no further use to him – an instrument exploited and then callously discarded. Murdoch will soon find a new beneficiary to grace with his vast media support and the front bench will be preening themselves, vying to become the chosen one. If Tony Abbott had any sense (but, of course, his reasoning powers have become impaired) he would feign illness and retreat gracefully, salvaging what little apparent self respect remains. But that is not his way. He will thrash around hopelessly with no support from his colleagues or the media until his crackpot reign ends in utter despair. And a new hero of the ‘right’ will emerge to continue the battle – the battle against the disadvantaged, against traumatised boat people fleeing their oppressors, against the environment, against fairness and equality for everybody…

  9. Jexpat

    Aside from the fact that Credlin is obviously being set up as a scapegoat, when are progressive writers going to stop using Liberal frames like “budget savings” when, among other things, these sorts of ill conceived cuts have been shown to create a death spiral of declining revenue and austerity?

  10. eli nes

    The annus horribilis has been constant since the nasty vindictive misogynist drove the media frenzy against gillard and labor acquiesced. Sadly Labor is steadfastly avoiding the commercial MEDIA road, hoping for osmosis from the ABC.
    Spot on ‘hood’ the praise for robb is due to his rise after illness rather than his FTA skills.
    Labor has chosen not to take an aggressive approach on FTA. Is it because of secrecy or sympathy for a colleague?.
    It is lucky that Alan Jones, the farmers and Heffernan seemed informed enough to be able to offer some opposition.
    The sweetest image is a fairy tale ending of the next election, with the liberal party suffering a humiliating first term defeat with tonie and one or more of hockey, pyne or morrison doing a ‘Benelong’.

  11. John Citizen

    The Coalition’s “Operation Inoculation” is unfolding beautifully – as I suggested here back in early August. I wonder what the polls will say tomorrow and the next day; and if they go down again, what will be the Coalition’s next inoculative move?

  12. John Kelly

    Sorry Kerri, I had no idea that particular photo had any meaningful significance. I’m happy to replace it here, but we won’t be able to replace the existing images already posted on Facebook.

  13. Kaye Lee

    I too am grateful for Kerri’s information. As an aside, has anyone noticed that Tony no longer wears a hairnet when visiting factories….he puts on a baseball cap because he does not want to look silly presumably. He doesn’t seem to realise it isn’t the hat that is the problem ( as he fillets fish and tosses ice bags and tries to plane wood ).

  14. Loz

    What an utter disaster of a government.

  15. Scott

    Remember that Abbott won the Liberal leadership with one vote; his own. If Abbott had not voted for himself, Malcolm Turnbull would now be Prime Minister.

  16. john o'callaghan

    To use a boxing parlance,Abbott is on the ropes and the knock out punch is close at hand.”’

  17. patriciawa

    Kyran – you beat me to it. Tony Abbott is indeed an “anus horribilis” and we should keep reminding ourselves of that until he is entirely gone from from our public life.

    I am not given to abusive verse, which, I think, is why I have written so little throughout 2014, but somehow that “anus horribilis” seems to translate into a title for a pome.

    How about “Tony Abbott – Arsehole Extraordinaire” for a start?

  18. DSanDark

    Its all heading south for the fascist liberal Party, and when people say there is no difference between Libs and Labs the difference would of been,
    We would have Gonski, we would have NDIS and policies that actually help people, kids and the disabled we would have a party working on prosperity, the big polluters would be paying not the people,
    the mining tax would be being collected because all Aussies own the resources not foreign companies

    oh yes things would of been way different if this pack of angry old men wernt running the joint
    we would be prospering unlike the austerity the Lying LIbs are trying to force on the country when we don’t need this forced recession they are purposely working on,

    Captain Chaos and his crew are elitists and fascists and think everyone else should be living on the bread line, us plebs are at the bottom of the elitists rung and they are going to make sure we are pushed down and austerity is how they do it.
    This lot have to go and go they will, down the slippery slope and pushed into oblivion, never to be heard or seen from again ever 🙂

  19. Garth

    What gives me so much pleasure is that they have done it all to themselves. Labor and Bill shorten have hardly had to lift a finger since the election. Everything that has gone wrong is their own incompetence, or past opportunistic political mud slinging coming back to bite them. I don’t like to see anyone in pain or a difficult situation but when someone’s own lack of humanity and deviousness comes back at them, there is always a certain satisfaction for those that railed against them. I really don’t like the feeling but I’m enjoying this immensely (apart from the fact these idiots are destroying our country in the process).

  20. David

    On top of the already thriving chaos within the Govt ranks, the dawn of this Sunday brought even more proof Abbott has either no control over his Ministers and there daily ‘stuff ups byway of more attacks on the lower and bottom end of middle class Australians, or he approves their absurd legislation which, in the current political climate are more own goals. Hockey that’s Hockey who? is supposed to be the Treasurer and so ticks off these new cuts. This fool, who dared accuse Wayne Swan of incompetency, now treads a self made mine field, any day it will finish him and rightly so.

    http://news.theage.com.au/breaking-news-national/govt-agencies-to-be-axed-with-job-losses-20141213-3mh1k.html

  21. Mike1

    I think the LNP are at wits end with Tony and his crew of ragamuffins. He has bought it all on himself with all the lies and 3 word slogans. He was doomed when he first took the job of PM. Now we have to pay for his ideology and fibs.

  22. DanDark

    And here is some advice to the feral pack of lying lib politicians how to get back on the track,
    oh lordy geeezuz there are some twats out there and Bolt the Dolt is one of them…..
    who is running the Gov, the Gov or the Bolts of the country,
    but its good to see the tide has turned and The Captain and his crew of knobs are sinking
    and Bolt cannot stop it, dosnt matter what shit he writes now….

    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/the_good_news_for_liberals_is_its_pr_problem_can_be_easily_fixed_heres_how/

  23. KenMewha

    The only hope this country has is a Citizens Initiated Referendum where politicians can be held to account otherwise we are doomed, 4 years labour or 4 years liberal it means nothing unless we have the CIR process in place line in Switzerland! its call direct democracy for a reason… http://direct-democracy.geschichte-schweiz.ch/

  24. Jaia Brunt

    Lets face it, like all operating systems, once its badly corrupted all you can really do is wipe the drive and start again. Regrettably that’s unlikely to happen. Yet does it really matter which flavour is in power? Not when the operating system is corrupted. Yes, a way to clean up politiks is to have Citizen Initiated Referendums or Citizen Deliberative Councils (read Tom Atlee’s ‘Empowering Public Wisdom – A Practical Vision of Citizen-led Politics’ and ‘The Tao of Democracy” ) In the end, it is up to us voters to bring about real change because those who hold the power develop an iron grip.

  25. Möbius Ecko

    Yep Abbott’s in the shit, he’s back doing stunts. At a Sydney surf lifesaving event to praise surf lifesavers.

    Watch the stunts ramp up from here, that and three word slogans is all he knows.

  26. Margaret McMillan

    As far as I can see, we will still have enormous problems in this country even if Abbott goes down as leader. Do we really believe that either Turnbull or Bishop would be all that different? They would still be in thrall to the IPA and it’s demands, still subject to King Murdoch’s agenda.

    Both Turnbull and Bishop have shown themselves to be very much on the same page as Abbott. Turnbull particularly is prepared to do or say anything to remain on side (climate action, NBN) and Bishop, although she gets good press from Murdoch has still done some desperately silly and narrow-minded things since she has been FM.

    The sad truth is that if the LNP gets a new leader, it will make it more difficult to ‘throw this mob out’. They’ll still have the same disgraceful agenda, but perhaps a better salesperson up front. The problem is the government as a whole and not just TA.

  27. Garth

    Margaret… Agreed. Regarding Julie B, in addition to her appalling history in her legal profession, I can’t see how anyone thinks she would be any better than Abbott. Listening to her when she’s talking off script she really sounds like a dolt. If anything I think she would be more ideological and prone to idiocy than most on the front bench (and that’s saying something!).

  28. Bob Parker

    Credlin acts in every way as though she was a conscientious minder of a seriously brain damaged client. I think that this is the real situation.

  29. mars08

    Möbius Ecko:

    Yep Abbott’s in the shit, he’s back doing stunts. At a Sydney surf lifesaving event to praise surf lifesavers..

    We should be keeping an eye on Credlin this summer. I expect to see her skulking around the dry bush with some lighter fluid and a box of matches.

    Queue… Major-General Brainfart in orange overalls, steering a firetruck!

  30. Garth

    Dandark …. I followed the link you provided to Bolt’s ‘article’ (spit, vomit, wretch !!). What I found most amusing was there are 15 articles of Bolt’s recent history on the RHS of the page …. none of them have comments. I can only hope that means no-one is reading them, or, if they are, they don’t see any value in commenting. I have seen many articles in many blogs/media sites and rarely do they not have any comments. 15 without any comments …. my heart swells with hope. This man is surely one of the most destructive forces in recent Australian media memory (second only to his boss with Jones tied for second) and I can only hope that people are starting to see his consistent right-wing hysteria for the trash it is.

  31. Matthew Oborne

    Abbott has mentioned the stability of the Liberal leadership quite a few times, It was obvious to me in the context that he was talking about his own position. Clearly some Liberals knew Abbott was a mistake from the beginning. When talk about Turnbull taking over came up he trotted out the stability line, when he is in trouble he trotts out the stability line. They are in a tough position – god bless them.

  32. Michael Taylor

    Sometimes I think Bolt just talks to himself.

  33. mars08

    Margaret McMillan:

    As far as I can see, we will still have enormous problems in this country even if Abbott goes down as leader. Do we really believe that either Turnbull or Bishop would be all that different?

    What troubles me… deeply… is the unabated lowering of the bar by Abbott and his slimy mob of thugs. They never pause… it’s unrelenting. Seems that every day they set a new low. Not a week goes by that they don’t set a precedent for inhumane policies and shameless, nasty behaviour.

    Quite apart from the damage these goons are doing right now… they are establishing a standard for this nation’s future governments.

    And THAT is what REALLY frightens me!!! That is what is TRULY disturbing!!!

    By the time these knuckle-draggers are done, the Australian electorate will be partly habituated and desensitised to their cruelty.

    Should that be the case… it’s quite easy to imagine the public voting for ANY potential leader who seems even a tiny bit more humane. Then what do we have? One step back for every five steps forward… but still being pushed up the same grim, terrible path.

  34. DanDark

    Garth too funny LOL
    Yes I did notice the lack of comments on Dolts rabid rantings
    Not one, I couldn’t find one comment either, all that puff and wind to who, no one is listening by the looks
    No one cares about the Bolt, too busy reading all the other screw loose journos in the other rags 🙂
    If he walked off the side of the falt earth he still believes in, I don’t even reckon an Ant would miss that Dolt….

  35. xiaoecho

    Whoa everybody! Margaret McMillan is right. Be careful what you wish for. Does anybody want to see Prime Minister Morrison? It is more likely than Prime Minister Turnbull. I would like to see Tony Abbott turning on the spit for the next two years. The worst could happen and a smooth talking LNP leader could see them do even more damage over a longer period. Morrison scares the bejeesus out of me.

  36. OzFenric

    Prophesying (or wishing) the dethronement of Tony Abbott is likely to be unprofitable. It seems highly unlikely that there will be any kind of leadership change in the near future – either Abbott himself, or his top echelon. There are some people in the press corps who would know if anything like this was likely to happen, and they’re saying clearly that it’s not. Have you ever known a journalist to opine that there’s “nothing to see here”? Despite the fact that most of the scuttlebutt around Labor leadership tensions was creative interpretation of fortune cookies, there are a few senior journalists with significant contacts into Coalition ranks.

    As Abbott himself said in a recent interview, “you don’t lightly change leaders”. And we’re still a way off kicking out Joe Hockey; apart from anything else, who would want that job? The Coalition probably thinks that a lot can happen in two years, and they still have time; and that might even be true. The Coalition’s position is not, yet, beyond salvage.

    I think it likely that 2015 will see modest improvements for the government. Bolt’s recommendations make sense; if the coalition wants to convince the electorate of the merits of their policies, a well-oiled snake-oil machine is required and I think we’ll see significant investment in that area. Abbott’s phenomenal success in 2013 came about because of incessant, unrelenting three-word slogans and sound bites; expect a return to that form of “communication”. I would think that Abbott and co. will do that long before they consider the electoral poison of removing a prime minister.

    That said, to this point Labor hasn’t really taken the gloves off; they haven’t needed to. The profile in the Age this weekend on Bill Shorten gives me hope that he’s got the strategic nous to know when Labor needs to really go on the offensive. If the Coalition starts to make headway in fooling the electorate – again – that time will certainly have come.

  37. dennis

    There really could be a coup d’état and Morrison seizures power, wouldn’t that send a cold shiver down your spine, it’s on the cards.

  38. Kaye Lee

    Morrison is a Murdoch creation.

    Morrison sought Liberal preselection for the Division of Cook in the 2007 election following the retirement of Bruce Baird, who had served as the member since 1998. He lost in the ballot 82 votes to 8 to Michael Towke, a telecommunications engineer and the candidate of the Liberals’ right faction. However, allegations surfaced that Towke had engaged in branch stacking and had embellished his resume. The state executive of the New South Wales Liberal Party disendorsed Towke and held a new preselection ballot, which Morrison won. The allegations against Towke were subsequently proved to be false, and The Daily Telegraph was forced to pay an undisclosed amount to settle a defamation suit filed by Towke

  39. corvus boreus

    Cheers Kaye Lee, I didn’t know that gem.
    Another case of the (discredited) Murdoch media manipulating public attitudes and political outcomes though misinformation, this time by circulating libelous falsehoods about Michael Towke.
    I really do hope someone somewhere is keeping a tally of the confirmed ‘mistakes’, lies and slanders published by Rupert and his minions(aka Newscorp/limited) over the years. It would be a useful list to have lying around when the time comes and the right questions start getting asked.
    Rupert Murdoch is a man very badly in need of a hell of a lot more humbling days throughout what remains of his life.

  40. David K

    Dan, all one needs to do is look up Morrison’s maiden speech to know what a mealy-mouthed hypocritical prick he is….

    “From my faith I derive the values of loving-kindness, justice and righteousness, to act with compassion and kindness, acknowledging our common humanity and to consider the welfare of others; to fight for a fair go for everyone to fulfil their human potential and to remove whatever unjust obstacles stand in their way, including diminishing their personal responsibility for their own wellbeing; and to do what is right, to respect the rule of law, the sanctity of human life and the moral integrity of marriage and the family. We must recognise an unchanging and absolute standard of what is good and what is evil. Desmond Tutu put it this way:

    … we expect Christians … to be those who stand up for the truth, to stand up for justice, to stand on the side of the poor and the hungry, the homeless and the naked, and when that happens, then Christians will be trustworthy believable witnesses.”

  41. John Kelly

    Ozfenric, there is a lot of common sense in what you say, however, there is still the “unknown events” factor, the deteriorating economy and the probability of more embarrassing gaffes, blunders and blatant lying that will dominate the next two years.

  42. John Kelly

    David K, do you have a link to that speech?

  43. David K

    Actually, on re-reading it, I think I should have included this gem…

    “These are my principles. My vision for Australia is for a nation that is strong, prosperous and generous: strong in our values and our freedoms, strong in our family and community life, strong in our sense of nationhood and in the institutions that protect and preserve our democracy; prosperous in our enterprise and the careful stewardship of our opportunities, our natural environment and our resources; and, above all, generous in spirit, to share our good fortune with others, both at home and overseas, out of compassion and a desire for justice.”

    “generous in spirit, to share our good fortune with others, both at home and overseas, out of compassion and a desire for justice.”? Pass the sick bag.

  44. Kyran

    Whilst re-reading this article and the many comments, I was listening to Turnbull on AM trying to explain WTF he is doing with NBN. Due entirely to the inept and incompetent interviewer, he was allowed to repeat numerous lies without challenge. Oh, and it was all Labor’s fault.
    Paraphrasing many of the comments above, it would appear many think nothing will save the government.
    This leaves the commentariat and, as noted by many, they don’t appear to be read by many. Why is it, then, that so many of them have disproportionate influence? The IPA have been regular “guest” presenters on the ABC (at least in Melbourne) for years. We know who they represent, but how big is the IPA? Our government has been replacing many senior “public service” positions with idealogues from day one of their tenure. Not to mention the dozens of “special” enquiries and commissions, headed by conflicted individuals, ie they have had a clear conflict of interest before they even started their “enquiries”.
    Just thinking out loud here, but it seems to me the IPA and their ilk know they would never be electable. So they get a grossly incompetent government to appoint their members to positions of power and influence outside the “political” system. The government get’s tossed, with any luck, and they will still have undue influence in any future governments.
    Ok, maybe I have gone too far. Take care

  45. John Kelly

    Another gem from Morrison’s maiden speech….

    “We have all heard the call to make poverty history. Let us do this by first making poverty our own personal business.
    The Howard government increased annual spending on foreign aid to $3.2 billion. The new government has committed to continue to increase this investment and I commend it for doing so. However, we still must go further. If we doubt the need, let us note that in 2007 the total world budget for global aid accounted for only one-third of basic global needs in areas such as education, general health, HIV-AIDS, water treatment and sanitation. This leaves a sizeable gap. The need is not diminishing, nor can our support. It is the Australian thing to do.”

    I wonder how he feels today now that our foreign aid budget has been decimated. Perhaps he could take over Julie Bishop’s role when she becomes prime minister?

  46. Kerri

    Thanks John Kelly. I kinda wish that picture wasn’t so readily available online because he does look a goose!
    Thanks for removing it.

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