In a speech to the Western Australia Liberal Party last weekend Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised a “respectful” new parliament when it assembles for the first time on Tuesday 12 November, promising the Labor years will soon fade like “a bad memory”.
Here are some other snippets from his speech:
Mr Abbott pledged a parliament that “discusses the issues, rather than abuses individuals”.
The prime minister said the parliament wouldn’t impugn the motives of opponents or trash their reputations.
If anyone tried to go over the top, new Speaker Bronwyn Bishop would sort them out.
“And I am confident that after just a few weeks of the new parliament – that parliament that diminished our policy and embarrassed our citizens over the last three years – will soon seem like just a bad dream’’.
“I want to say that we have made a good start, that the adults are back in charge and that strong, stable, methodical and purposeful government is once more the rule in our national capital”.
“I think all of you will have noticed that there is a new tone and a new style in Canberra”.
“Yes, we will speak when we need to speak. But we won’t speak for the sake of speaking and we won’t bang on things for the purposes of a PR gesture”.
He is also on the record as saying this:
“We will restore accountability and improve transparency measures to be more accountable to the public”.
Sometimes I have to pinch myself in order to know that what I am reading, seeing and hearing is in fact real.
Let’s backtrack to Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader.
During his tenure as opposition leader he used colourful aggressive language. He was bullish in his attitude to others, particularly to the female Prime Minister of the day. His negativity was legendary. He was a repetitive liar by evidence and by his own admission. He held in contempt procedures of the House of Representatives and the conventions it upheld.
There has been no other Opposition Leader in my memory who has held the institution of Parliament in contempt to the degree Abbott has. He was the leader intent on creating a sense of crisis, of disorder and dysfunction. His sole aim was the forcing of an early election at which he failed miserably.
His appalling parliamentary behavior was on show for all to see. The abuse of Question Time and the endless suspension of standing orders. The constant refusal of pairs. The over use of censure motions and calls for quorums were all designed to distract the minority Labor Government.
The demeanor of him and his parliamentary colleagues (particularly Christopher Pyne) over the period of the Gillard/Rudd Governments was disgraceful and a blight on our parliamentary democracy. It is true that Abbott found a formula (or was the formula) in Opposition that was suited for the political circumstances of the time. The formula will probably never be repeated because it is unique to certain personalities. There are not many who could play the unconscionable bastardy role that he did. Although his gutter mentality was profoundly suited to it.
And now he wants us to believe that after his attempt at the willful destruction and exploitation of our Parliament (including an attempt to overthrow it), and he now expects us to believe all the bullshit at the beginning of this article.
There is something fundamentally wrong with the character of a person who behaves in such a belligerent manner in opposition and then sees no fault in it. Instead he places all fault at the foot of his opponents. It takes a deluded personality to do so.
Now no one can deny that the behavior of our politicians needs an urgent makeover and we will find it to some degree in this Parliament. However the reasons will not be of the Government’s making. It will be because on the floor the Government has a sizable majority which takes the tone down. Tony Abbott, the new one that is, will as Prime Minister take on a more dignified persona and Bill Shorten is not a negative personality.
Christopher Pyne as the new Leader of the House has already indicated a more reasoned approach to debate despite holding the record as the most ejected politician in Parliamentary history. No one has ever feigned indignation better than the most disliked politician in Australia.
And as Speaker of the House, Bronwyn Bishop will preside over the Standing Orders she so often abused.
If the first few weeks of the Abbott led Government have shown anything, it is the contempt with which they hold the Australian people. We are not fools. We know that a politician whose grounding in politics is adversarial cannot simply change from gutter politician to reasoned leader without taking some slime from the residue of his past with him.
If it’s one thing I dislike, it’s politicians who try to con me. This attempt to eliminate facts, science and knowledge in the information age is ignorance that only a Luddite of Abbott’s technological illiteracy could display. I can acknowledge the reasoning of over exposure but I fear the real one is the suppression of material that may affect opinion. Or it is just lying by omission?
Thus far he has shown a propensity to run from questions, avoid criticism, shut down debate and shut the mouths of ministers. He is fast becoming confused by his own cleverness. An attitude born from his period as Opposition Leader where he came to believe his own bullshit. He is like a very bad actor in a performance of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He is not in control of what personality he wants to be and reverts from one to the other without thinking.
And it’s all contrary to this statement:
‘’We will restore accountability and improve transparency measures to be more accountable to the public’’.
Tony Abbott should be judged by his own standards and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.