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A different drummer

Photo: ABC Net

Photo: ABC Net

In the lead-up to the 2013 election, I don’t know how many times I cringed at the thought of Tony Abbott as President of the G20, and now he is there and it is even worse than I anticipated.

The ceremonies at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland opened with words sent by Pope Francis where he implored the elite in business and politics to exert their influence to reform economic policy with the poor and disadvantaged in mind.

“Those who have demonstrated their ability to be innovative and improve the lives of many people by their ingenuity and professional expertise can further contribute by putting their skills at the service of those who are living in dire poverty.”

In the Davos message he referred to his treatise Evangelii Gaudium, where he said the challenge of the world today is economics and inequality. In an era of considerable change and progress in areas like technology he said, “We must praise the steps being taken to improve people’s welfare in areas such as health care, education and communications.”

An annual risk report compiled by the World Economic Forum queried its members about what they think is the most pressing problem threatening the global economy in the next decade. They responded with inequality as the most likely risk.

The creator of the Davos Summit, Klaus Schwab, was pleased with the inequality finding because his philosophy is that capitalism cannot survive if income and wealth are concentrated in the control of a few, which is confirmed by the US Census Bureau statistics.

Oxfam executive director Winnie Byanyima, who will attend the Davos meetings, said: “It is staggering that in the 21st century, half of the world’s population — that’s three and a half billion people — own no more than a tiny elite (85 individuals).” The wealth of the 1 percent richest people in the world is 65 times as much as the poorest half of the world.

These fears are palpable and the concentration of economic resources is threatening political stability and driving social tensions and unrest globally. The pope’s message echoes concerns by others as well.

Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, is concerned that the fruits of economic activity in many countries are not being widely shared. Likewise, the humanitarian organization CARE says inequality around the world centres on lack of access to education, public health, chronic diseases, income gaps, and social inequalities such as gender discrimination.

A World Economic Forum report says the failure to mitigate and adapt to climate change is one of the top 10 risks facing the world in 2014.

Scientists say man-made climate change is likely to worsen starvation, poverty, lack of water, flooding, heat waves, droughts and diseases, raising the specter of more conflict and war, unless drastic action is taken to lower emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of coal, oil and gas from their current trajectories

The global economy may continue to grow, scientists say, but if the global temperature reaches about 3 degrees F warmer than now, it could lead to worldwide economic losses between 0.2 and 2.0 percent of income.

Lord Stern, former World Bank chief economist and author of the key 2006 Stern review on the economics of climate change, also warned that scientific projections and economic predictions were underestimating the risks of global warming. He will be addressing the meeting this year and speak on topics related to the economics of climate change.

Saadia Zahidi, Head of Gender Parity and Human Capital at the WEF said:

“This year is very relevant because we have collaboration with the United Nations Secretary General and the UNFCC, to try to build up towards the UN Climate Change Summit in September and use Davos to try to spark off a very large number of public-private collaborations. That’s going to be happen through approximately 35 climate change and sustainability sessions. We’re going to be looking at themes as diverse as scaling energy efficiency, reducing deforestation, looking at resilient cities and scaling investment for green energy.”

Al Gore spoke at a private session on how leaders can help prevent – and better communicate – catastrophic effects on public health, anti-poverty efforts, clean water and energy supplies from a rise in global temperatures above 4 degrees F.

“The climate conversation has to be won by those who are willing to speak up,” Gore told them. “It is a race against time, but we are going to win.”

The World Wildlife Fund joined many other groups calling on governments to commit to action.

“There’s a rising recognition that we simply have to find a way to break through,” Jim Leape, director general of Geneva-based WWF International, told AP. “The big governments each need to renew their commitment.”

South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye told the forum “the world must act as one” to tackle climate and environmental challenges.

The meeting was dominated last year by the Euro-crisis, but this year Schwab says will be different. “It will be an exciting meeting and it will be different from the last year’s because it will not be overshadowed by one single crisis.”

There will be a number of topics addressed including social inclusion and job creation. He did not elaborate on “social inclusion,” but this could suggest the social and economic inequality the members believe is a global concern.

Other topics are the war in Syria, structural changes in China’s economy, building resistance to natural disasters.

“What we want to do in Davos this year in this respect, is to push the reset button. Let me explain. The world is much too much still caught in a crisis management mode, and we forget that we should take ‘now’ into our hands and we should look for solutions to the really fundamental issues. We should look at our future in a much more constructive, in a much more strategic way. And that’s what Davos is about.”

Tony Abbott has used his opening address to the G20 Economic Forum in Switzerland to advertise that Australia is “open for business”, a line he apparently stole from David Cameron. He has stressed that the private sector should lead the way to prosperity while governments clear the path by removing regulations and lowering taxation. In fact, his speech was almost exactly the same as his election speeches, even to the point of criticising our previous government, something usually avoided on the international stage.

Abbott has had meetings with Australian big business people, who presumably accompanied him, and avoided any discussion of ‘unpleasantness’ like Syria or whales. He has stressed that the focus for the G20 under his presidency will be how governments can facilitate big business and free trade.

It was interesting to read a tweet by Chris Giles, Economics Editor for the Financial Times UK, who said

“Sign of the times. Rouhani packed out the hall. everyone is leaving before Tony Abbott explains Australia’s ambitions for the G20 in 2014″

So why the walkout? Were they not interested in our fearless leader’s economic guidance? Or is his agenda so far removed from the rest of the world that they just couldn’t be bothered wasting their time.

I think our Tony may be feeling a little out of his depth and somewhat alone, or he is purposely marching to the beat of a different drummer.

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34 comments

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  1. scotchmistery

    Be interesting to see what the LNP cheerios have to say about your views, researched as well as they are. With the enormous number of big words I guess it will be a trial for them.

  2. doctorrob54

    Your last four lines explains it all.Australia is now a laughing stock to the rest of the world and deserve to be.
    There is nothing to celebrate about come this Australia Day.We have become a nation to be ridiculed and
    worse not trusted,not just for the way we treat bona fide refugees,our subservience to the US,Britain and selective Middle East nation with worse track records regarding freedom of civil rights and expression than those we chose to condemn,but look at what we are doing right now in East Timor,and Brandis using ASIO
    to try and cover up a corrupted trade deal that went down with the Howard/Costello/Downer pack of lying thieves.Nothing to celebrate this Australia Day.Think I’ll go fishing.

  3. doctorrob54

    Mountains ffs,this man many voted for is a complete f’ken idiot.My case rests.God please help us.

  4. Kaye Lee

    I suspect Tony is in a hole so deep over there that an anthill would seem like a mountain. His whole economic premise is just so wrong.

  5. Fiona

    Just speculating, but is Our Dear Leader PM Blood Oaf displaying symptoms of early onset Alzheimer’s?

  6. diannaart

    With Tony Abbott still holding the belief that what worked to get him elected will work on the world stage, leaves me wondering WTF his advisers are doing – or were they part of the 12,000 public servants who had to go?

    No wonder people are walking out – nothing to see here, move on.

  7. allenmcmahon

    Was there a typo in the heading – probably spell checker substituting ‘drummer’ for ‘dumber’.

  8. Kaye Lee

    Tony sacked all advisers and replaced them with Peta Credlin, Mark Textor, Maurice Newman, Cardinal Pell, Tony Shepherd, Lord Monckton, Gina Rinehart, Rupert Murdoch, and the IPA. (and no doubt many others from big business like the people he is meeting with in Davos).

  9. diannaart

    Kaye Lee, with the possible exception of Murdoch, none of the Rabbott’s advisers are exactly wordsmiths – at the very least he could employ someone to make him sound intelligent – oops, I should not of mentioned that, these wing-nuts might think sounding intelligent actually has some merit – we want Tony to continue looking like the complete ignoramus he is.

    While I live in hope, I just don’t know if my health will hold out to the next election.

  10. jasonblog

    Another great article! (I actually had paper-work I had to finish this morning but I keep getting side-tracked by AIMN)

    It seems a no-brainer doesn’t it. A greater divide in global equity results in greater chaos. Well golly gosh before you know it we’ll have more pesky asylum seekers turning up.

    The tweet from Chris Giles is interesting. I was actually thinking last night Abbott is a relatively young man (mid-fifties I believe) with a conservative world-view of somebody much, much, older. He has nothing of insight, relevance, or innovation to speak of. He is an anachronism and his government is so regressive and backward looking it makes you wonder if the LNP have become intellectually inbred. Are they that tied to dogma and ideology that they can’t quite fathom how global events impact upon Australia?

    What is fascinating is that Abbott as a Catholic is utterly at odds with the Pope… I suspect that Pope Frank is a bit more clued on and worldly wise than Mr Abbott. Whereas Tony seems to be the man stuck in a time warp with fundamentalist beliefs and inability to fully grasp the complexities of the challenges that the globe faces. Abbott instead relies on simplistic sloganeering and misguided optimism. His recent ‘impersonation’ of Ronald Reagan at Davos is in a way deeply embarrassing. It is as if he hasn’t fully grasped what happened over the last ten years to the global economy because of runaway bankster capitalism. He doesn’t seem to comprehend that where austerity has been applied as a solution it has failed.

    The world actually requires greater accountability from capitalism. That’s what Pope Frank is saying but it’s not what Abbott wants to hear.

  11. Eileen Naseby

    I could hardly read your article. It just breaks my heart to watch Australia’s clock to pre 1972 (or even before). I cried with joy when Gough got elected (remember that night anyone?) Now I cry as I see everything we had since gained in terms of social welfare, healthcare, environmental policy, climate change policy being threatened in the interests of big global business interests. What sort of a world am I leaving my grandchildren?

  12. jasonblog

    Climbing mountains is a marvellous thing!

  13. ron

    Yes Tony is out of his depth & a huge embarrassment to Australia. His script is so small & meaningless that I am glad that everyone had left before he began his constantly repeated slogans. How could we allow him to make such a fool of himself & us

  14. Marg

    He is such an embarrassment, no vision or insight, so petty. I despair for Australia and the world with one such as him in charge.

  15. allenmcmahon

    @ Ross Sharp
    Under Athenian democracy the person considered worst politician in any given year was exiled from Athens for ten years. If only it applied in Australia and we could take an early ballot.

  16. Ross Sharp

    What a great idea.

  17. scotchmistery

    @Diannaart – (m)urdoch is not a wordsmith. He is the paymaster for a large number of typists.

  18. diannaart

    @scotchmistery

    I happen to agree with you – however compared to the company he keeps, he can actually string words together. Does my memory serve me correctly that Abbott used to be on the debating team at Uni? How on earth did he manage?

    I guess the far-right believe that they have attained such power that it no longer matters how stupid they sound.

  19. Buff McMenis

    BRAVO!!! BRAVO! I’ve been searching for these comments to find out how the rest of the world accepted the nasty little (emphasis on “little”!) man that we Australians are forced to call PM! And behold, you tell us they walked out! Goody! I feel better now. Now, how do we make the rest of the population, especially the lowest common denominator, to take this worm to be the pest and untruthful wind-bag he is and also that the rag-taggle brigade of incompetent ideologues he leads are not worthy of the positions they currently hold? Someone in this country must have the journalistic ethics to be able to pass the message on and keep passing it on until even the Murdochracy is over-ridden in their spiteful and manipulative malice.

  20. Geoff Of Epping

    TinEar Tony…what a laugh he surely is.

  21. Buff McMenis

    By the way, where’s Margie and The Girls? Other than the odd jaunt to the French Alps for a spot of snow skiing (didn’t know he could and amazed there were no Channel 7, 9, or 10 camera-crews in attendance!) and some French fashions for The Girls, the only woman I’ve seen him with lately is the tired-looking “Junior” Bishop and an almost inconspicuous tall, dark-haired woman who precedes him up the aircraft steps so rapidly she cannot quite been seen. I feel I have seen her before .. wasn’t she present in a Park on one of his overseas jaunts whilst still LOTO?

  22. scotchmistery

    The question then arises, who to dispense with; should we get rid of Pell’s little sweetie with his mouthful of ummms, ahhhs, and boiled lollies or get rid of that shit for brain South Australian fmuscle, (b)ernardi?

  23. scotchmistery

    Diannaart – there is a certain truth. He was on the debating team. He actually won a couple by groping the female parts of the leads of the other team(s) then having it written off by the judges as “youthful prank”.

    In fact then like now, they weren’t so much youthful pranks as useless wanks, and little changed twixt then and now apart from the MSM (read murdoch press)(I cannot bring myself to put a capital on that degenerate old slug’s name), failed to report it, hence my reference to the large numbers of “typists” and the incredibly low number of “ethical journalists” employed there, or anywhere else for that matter, in terms of our dearth of “news” papers.

    Someone from the LNP cheerios was whimpering like sad little turd the other day about the naughty ABC talking down the clown and how Mark should resign in disgrace. But without the ABC, we wouldn’t hear of the boiled lolly munchers’ efforts, in terms of his muck-ups, of which there are plenty.

    I must confess I have had a vision of him as a 16 year old seminarian sitting on Pells lap and being fed the lollies as he got warmer in terms of searching for the truth. I looked around my dream for Alexander and Kwistoffer but neither were to be seen.

  24. abbienoiraude

    As usual I love your pieces ( was just busy caring for my husband, but, hey I am just a ‘housewife/carer’) but needed to read you.

    I did not cry when Gough was elected ( I was naive then) but cried when Rudd was voted in. I walked the streets of my little village with a feeling like…..like…HOPE. I thought after 11 1/2 years of crushing, threatening ( Centreliink induced) living there was light.
    And now?
    Back we go.
    We who are (under the auspices of Andrews et al) on disability/carers pensions are once again in the cross-hairs of the cuts deemed ‘necessary’ by the Conservatives.
    And here is Abbott strutting his hour upon the stage, the stage that should have been for a person who had more diplomacy in a hair than Abbott could possible imagine.

    I despair. I cringe. I worry. I care.

  25. MargL

    The ABC are a bit scared to report much these days scotchmistery, try The Guardian.

  26. diannaart

    @MargL

    While the ABC is forced to make a show of paying the piper – it is still worth keeping a track of – I do believe they try to publish under the radar just enough to give me hope. If they can manage to survive to the next election…

    One thing I do know, Murdoch is not getting any younger – he looks far older than his sadly missed mother, Elisabeth when she reached her century. The one thing we can be sure of, in this world, is change.

  27. Kate Rose

    I would really, really, really like to know who writes his speeches. They are so cringeworthy. Preaching to the converted. Simplistic slogans. Plagiarised phrases. And,lots of spaces for ummms and aaahs.

    Did anyone else notice the greeting to Tony Blair – he encroached so far into Blair’s personal space he threw his head back and then had to grin and bear the handshake. Very embarrassing to see. It is one of his ‘bullying’ tactics to be ‘in yer face’

    I despair.

  28. Terry2

    Something strange going on ?

    Tony Abbott delivered his keynote speech as incoming President of the G20 and then promptly left Davos declining to give a press conference to the waiting world media.

    What’s going on here; was he embarrassed about the parochial nature of his speech where he introduced his campaigning slogans and had a poke at the Labor party in what should have been a visionary and inspirational introductory speech on a global platform.

    Who is writing his material and why would he avoid an opportunity to tell the world press about his hopes and expectations of the Brisbane G20: very strange.

  29. Möbius Ecko

    …he encroached so far into Blair’s personal space he threw his head back and then had to grin and bear the handshake.

    I’ve bought this up before with Abbott and how he tries to dominate handshakes with other high ranking leaders, which sometimes visibly upsets those leaders. His double handed shake or grabbing the elbow of the person he’s shaking hands are examples.

    The double-clasped handshake (or a handshake accompanied by an elbow or arm grab) indicates that the person is desperate for the other individual to like him/her. In doing this, the opposite can occur as this handshake is generally seen to be over-familiar, leaving the recipient feeling uncomfortable.

    Abbott is not liked, even by many of those on his own side, as has been reported in the internal party rifts going on to get rid of him, and he knows he’s not liked so desperately attempts to ingratiate himself on others. More often than not this turns others off him rather than enamours them to him.

  30. MargL

    @diannaart yes you are right re: the ABC – sad to see. I do hope you are right re: Murdoch and he and his ilk shuffle off as soon as possible, he is just a waste of space.

  31. Amanda

    He is absolutely floundering, as we knew he would. what an embarrassment. And the thing which is every bit as frightening as Abbott being our PM is that there are more Australians who voted for him than not. More Australians who rallied at the thought of stopping the boats, cutting foreign aid, obliterating the environment – what a country of backward, heartless bogans. So now as I cringe watching the worlds greatest nufty address the global stage, and as the fear breeds in my belly that this idiotic moron will sign us up to a global trade agreement that will see corporations take an even more powerful position, I wonder, where are those people who voted him in? Are they watching? Do they care?

    I used to love travelling, but if I go while this imbecile represents us, I’m telling everyone I’m from NZ.

  32. scotchmistery

    @Amanda we are seen as we deserve to be seen. Our politics are driven by folk without the ability to think or reason. We change our “leader” for no good reason. We are a country represented by people you would not feed.

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