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A Tenure without Substance

“Daesh is coming, if it can, for every person and for every government with a simple message: submit or die.”

In his recent oratorical delivery, the Prime Minister, Tony Abbott seemed determined to adopt a siege mentality on the issue of terrorism. Legislation on the cancellation of citizenship of those who fight for ISIS in Syria and Iraq is immanent.

At the same time, Attorney-General George Brandis is giving us notice of upcoming counter-terrorism legislation to extend the use of control orders. By these and other measures the government seems intent on ramping up the threat level to ensure it stays firmly in the forefront of our minds.

In that same speech to a regional summit on countering terrorist propaganda last week. Abbott said, “We have all seen on our screens the beheadings, the crucifixions, the mass executions and the sexual slavery that the Daesh death cult has inflicted, mostly on Muslims, in the Middle East. That is what the death cult has in store for everyone if it has its way.”

When I was a young boy still in primary school, the brothers taught us that if we were ever to deny our Catholic faith under threat of torture or death, we would be guilty of a mortal sin and, should we die in that state, we would burn in Hell, forever.

Tony Abbott was probably taught something similar before Vatican 2 hosed things down and reading from his speech, I sensed a certain nexus between the wickedness of Satan and his condemnation of ISIS.

In primary school the brothers were very good at creating scenarios where Satan would carry out the most horrific acts possible and remind us of what he had in store for us.

All of which leads me to think that much of this latest scare-mongering is no more than a thinly veiled attempt to regain the political initiative using a tactic taught in Catholic schools in the 1950s and 60s.

isis We are already aware of ISIS, and its manifesto. Those involved in our national security defences are highly trained and deployed, monitoring those suspected of links to ISIS and are taking action when considered appropriate. So what is the purpose of all this fear-driven rhetoric? Why is Abbott so obsessed with national security?

My theory is that he has nothing else to offer. His obsession with stopping the boats took a new twist last week when we learned of allegations that our government authorised payments to have the people smugglers turn their boat around and take their passengers back to Indonesia.

The way in which Abbott answered the yes or no question gave every indication that the allegations were true.

There is an ever-mounting cache of disorder and negative governing that is defining this administration’s tenure. From a litany of broken promises to its economic failures; from its relentless persecution of Human Rights Commission head, Gillian Triggs, to its brutal approach to the treatment of asylum seekers; and now from suspected payments to people smugglers, to its attempts to strip Australians of their citizenship without reference to a court.

Abbott himself has said that some things will be done, “by hook or by crook.” One can only take the “crook” reference to mean they will even break the law if they deem it necessary.

I remember well the three years of the Whitlam government who were utterly savaged by a relentless media for decisions that were minor blemishes compared with what the Abbott government is doing in our name. And yet, little by way of mass protest is apparent.

But let us go back to my earlier question: why is Abbott so obsessed with national security? My feeling is that he knows his administration is chaotic and botched and he is deflecting to the one area where he thinks he cannot realistically be challenged.

This week, however, he was challenged on radio about his continued reference to the phrase, ‘death cult’. He was warned that ISIL sympathisers enjoyed hearing it and took pride in it but he flatly refused to stop using it.

Might it be that he has realised his tenure as prime minister might be limited to one term? If so, is he searching for some event, or moment in history, he might call his own and be remembered for; a legacy that is important enough for us to rise above and overlook his chaotic mismanagement? Something that might just turn things around?

boats Tony Abbott acts as if he really believes he was elected to stop the boats. He refers to it monotonously. But his claim that they have stopped is just plain false.

His favourite mantra has been blown out of the water this week. The alleged deal done last month to turn a boat around reminds us that the boats haven’t stopped at all. They are still coming. They are just being prevented from arriving.

One could well argue that if people smugglers get wise to the possibility that we are paying them to turn boats around, they will start coming in droves to get the money, thus rendering the lives of more asylum seekers at risk.

Might Abbott be searching for relevance in a tenure that has been devoid of substance and will, “by hook or by crook” do anything to achieve it?

counter Has he chosen counter-terrorism in the forlorn hope, perhaps, that in an otherwise failed leadership, if he can’t turn things around, he might be remembered in history for something worthwhile?

Only he has the answers, but in the final analysis, we will judge him by his words and actions and at the moment he comes up short on both substance and form.


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  1. Loz

    I am extremely fearful that Abbott will stop at nothing to enhance his political career. With his obsessive rhetoric about ISIS and terrorists is he bent on inciting a terrorist attack? If this is so, it is an evil intention.

  2. Aortic

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the “death cult” come by boat. They can get paid mid ocean turn around and do it all over again next week. No need to threaten us “with knives and guns” they can send us broke while having ocean cruises at the same time. Wonderful policy that.

  3. Steve Laing

    The problem with relying on counter terrorism as a vote grabber, is that without terrorism occurring, the work done behind the scenes goes unrecognised. Hence Abbott’s constant desire to ramp it up. His approach is to actually encourage terrorism, so that he can help solve it and thus gain kudos for doing so, hence his refusal to take the advice of specialists in the field of deradicalisation.

    It reminds me of a manager I once worked for whose MO was exactly the same – “she is such a great problem solver” – whilst forgetting to note that she had created the problem in the first place!! I remember that she was more than happy for the rest of us to work the extra hours needed to resolve the problem, at additional cost to the client.

  4. darrel nay

    reply for Steve Laing,
    the following post is quoted from

    “All the world’s a stage…”~ Shakespeare


    also known as
    from the Latin

    The puppetmasters create “dis order” so the people will demand “order”. The price of “order” always entails a handing over of control and loss of freedom on the part of the citizenry. Out of “chaos” comes “order” – THEIR order – their new WORLD order.

    Orwell Today will list some historical and present-day examples of chaotic events that achieve the aims desired by the powers-that-be. This list is by no means complete but should give people the general idea.

    The trick of creating chaos and then seizing power under the pretense of putting things back in order is a tried and true method of deception and manipulation. It’s the meaning behind the Latin motto: ORDO AB CHAO meaning ORDER OUT OF CHAOS.

    It’s also referred to as the Hegelian Dialect after the philosopher Georg Hegel who wrote about its effectiveness. He described it as: THESIS — ANTI-THESIS — SYN-THESIS.

    Others have described it as: PROBLEM — REACTION — SOLUTION in that firstly you create the problem; then secondly you fan the flames to get a reaction; then thirdly (like Johnny-on-the-spot) you provide a solution. The solution is what you were wanting to achieve in the first place, but wouldn’t have been able to achieve under normal circumstances.

    Orwell described it as REALITY CONTROL.

    There are literally HUNDREDS of examples of this method being used effectively throughout the course of history. A well-known example is the bombing of Pearl Harbor which resulted in the United States entering the Second World War. Chaos was required and so chaos was created. That’s how it works. ~ Jackie Jura


  5. Anomander

    Every time Abbott opens his mouth nothing but shit pours out.

    I often wonder if his digestive tract has been installed the wrong way around. If that is the case, I’d hate to see how he eats.

  6. Lee

    I doubt it it just a theory John. If Abbott had any policies of substance he would be honestly telling us all about them to make himself look good, rather than continually bashing Labor. He’s done nothing useful and he hasn’t stopped the boats either.

  7. bobrafto

    My take on when Abbott said by hook or by crook is that he was letting the electorate know he will do whatever lawful or unlawful action to achieve the S.T. B. and I believe that he thought he was on solid ground pandering to the racist anti refugee voter and who appear in a poll to be over 60% of the population and some of them wish the navy would just blow them out of the water.

    We need a new hippie generation to go forth and protest against Abbott the last one it appears all need palliative care. The mind yells out in protest but the body couldn’t care less.

  8. mars08

    Keeping Australia safe from democracy!

  9. Andreas Bimba

    Why is Abbott so obsessed with national security?
    Just a step along the path to the loss of all democratic power from citizens toward an Orwellian corporate plutocracy.

  10. donwreford

    The wounds and injuries sustained by the population of the Middle East inflicted by Allied forces on excursions of a dubious nature would make beheading a relative insignificant act of cruelty compared with the forces of Western militarism.

  11. mars08

    @donwreford… oh dear…. you have kicked the hornet’s nest with that comment. It’s bound to annoy the “patriotic” wingnuts.

    So let me get the ball rolling with this simple question… “why do you hate Australia so much?”

  12. bobrafto

    So let me get the ball rolling with this simple question… “why do you hate Australia so much?”

    Why do you ask such a question?

    I agree with don, I would have thought it was a statement of fact and I don’t hate Australia.

    Hiroshima, Nagasaki.

    Was it the first or second Iraqi war that we were treated in our LIVING ROOMS in front of the tele watching bombs and missiles raining down on Baghdad.

    Torture anyone?

    Terrorists scoreboard
    There’s a few that someone can list
    A few beheadings

    The terrorists don’t even come within cooee of western aggression.

    If any of you folk think the terrorists or ISIS have any chance of world domination, one should remember the Yanks will nuke them before that happens, they have form.

  13. kerri

    I believe he is following the tried and true US model. He is, of course, following the US of the 1950s 60s reds under the beds etc. The model being, that you have to have an enemy! Remember how it was Breznev, or Gaddafi, or Hussein or later Bin Laden and lately China appears next in line. Simple Tony wants this model because if you keep people scared of something that is not a real threat, you can control them! Whenever there is a possibility that your leadership or ethics are in question, drag out the old enemy. Link the boats to Daesh! Tell everyone that “they are coming to get us!” and before long people have stopped noticing domestic violence or cuts to the Arts and the almost closing of anything scientific!!! It’s a simple model for a simple …. Mmm can’t say leader!!! Liarder!!!
    And yes Loz you are right he will incite an attack so that he can be our saviour!! If only we could crucify him?

  14. kerri

    Did everyone see the superb David Marr on The Drum tonight?? He voiced exactly what I was thinking. If I were an Indonesian? Get a boat. Fill it with people. Motor out to near Australian waters. Collect the $5,000. Motor back home. No need to work for the next few months!!
    I don’t think it matters too much whether Abbott admits to bribing Indonesian fishermen as so many will now line up and his plan will be exposed. Full marks to the Indonesians for not rolling over!

  15. mars08

    @bobrafto… er… ooops. Seems i left my sarcasm set on high again. Sorry. I’m on your side. Really… just ask around…

  16. bobrafto

    No need to oops.

    I knew you were shit stirring and I obliged.

  17. Florence nee Fedup

    Menzies and Howard use fear. Abbott is just following in their wake.

  18. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    One policy Abbott claims is to create employment – yet it seems he is creating unemployment.

  19. Andreas Bimba

    Neo-liberalism as practiced by the ALP and the Conservatives has a big disconnect between the claims and the facts. We get massive contraction of the manufacturing industry, the loss of millions of jobs yet these parties continuously claim their free trade agenda will create jobs. Yes they create some jobs but we lose at least 10 times more and have done so for the last 30 years.

  20. Kyran

    The most unsubtle of ironies is the prime miniature’s ramping up of his own personal security, presumably to demonstrate the ‘clear and present danger’, whilst he lectures all and sundry “Daesh is coming”. The irony is that he is totally safe from them. They are hardly going to harm their greatest ally, their greatest spruiker, the promoter of the fear they rely on for their very existence. Take care

  21. Harquebus

    ISIS is only a symptom of the underlying cause. Religion.
    Religion is a curse on humanity and it is this that must be destroyed or at the very least, discouraged.
    Once religion is destroyed even relegated to the lunatic fringe where it belongs, a lot of problems will disappear, including our Abbott problem.

    “This second map is what ISIS claims belongs to them”

  22. John Kelly

    Harquebus, I’m not sure if I have ever agreed with you before, but on the question of religion, yes, I do. I suspect, however, that if there was no religion, then something else would take its place. Humans like to cling to anything that they think gives them meaning and security.

  23. Lee

    “I suspect, however, that if there was no religion, then something else would take its place. ”

    Righteous eating is being touted to take the place of religion. We’re seeing a proliferation of woo meisters in the form of Food Babe, Sarah Wilson, Pete Evans, Nutritarian Nancy and numerous other quacks, peddling their own brand of woo with religious fervour.

  24. Pingback: A Tenure without Substance | THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN

  25. Harquebus

    @John Kelly.
    You will be agreeing with me on other things as well soon enough. A pity that it will be too late to do anything about them.

    Humanity is being distorted and corrupted by religion and will replace it if, we are ever fortunate enough to rid ourselves of it.

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