Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott spoke at CPAC Australia recently, and his remarks deserve some deconstruction. His level of self-awareness is as high as ever, and he continues to live in a parallel universe from the rest of reality.
First, Some Framing: The Media
The opening lines of the sourced piece aptly reflect the state of the Australian media
At the first-ever Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Australia, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that what enabled the right-leaning Liberal Party of Australia to win the recent federal election is that they were “less ideological” than their left-leaning Australian Labor Party opponents
What utterly garbage framing. There is an amazing false equivalence here: the Liberals are ‘right-leaning’ and the Labor Party are ‘left-leaning’, so it is all a wash. No. The Liberals do not ‘lean right’, they are far-right ideologues determined to create a neo-feudal society of lords and serfs. The Labor party are only marginally better, being centre-right in their politics.
As for ideological motivation, the Liberal National Party (LNP) is quite possibly the most ideological government in recent memory. The party views every issue through the lenses of politics and personal gain. But the bigger issue here is the media framing. To portray the Australian Labor Party as ‘left-leaning’ is laughable. They are centre-right at best. Now, in fairness to the media, centre-right when compared to the hard-right LNP must look like ‘left-leaning’, but please be honest in your framing. The Labor party are not really left-leaning: the reality is that the LNP have shifted the conversation so far to the right that the tepid, centre-right Labor party looks left-leaning. But I digress from ranting about the media, and move on to Mr. Abbott.
Abbott Speaks, Part One: Delusion
Mr Abbott took an interview at the conference and said the following
Look at the recent election campaign here in Australia. The Labor Party went into that election with a highly ideological agenda on tax, on climate, on unions, and on big government. We won the election because we said, ‘We’re not that,’ and because we weren’t obsessed with climate. We were able to address more meaningfully the cost of living pressures that people faced
The ALP went to the election with an ideological agenda? As opposed to the LNP who went to the election with nothing but complaints about the fact that the Labor party still existed? As for the issues he mentioned, tax reform and a climate policy are necessary. I know you will be dead before the most destructive impacts of climate change hit, Tone, but you could show some empathy for future generations. Your daughters have to live on this dying planet – do you not care for them and their future? Sociopath.
There was one element of truth in what he said, even if it was unintentional. He said that the LNP won the election ‘because we said we’re not that’. Indeed. The relentless message of ‘vote for us because we are not Labor’ was part of the reason you won the election. That, and brazen media bias, the power of incumbency, and the fact that Bill Shorten did not have good answers to some legitimate questions. The point is that he is right when he says ‘we’re not that’ was part of their election victory. But not for the reasons he says.
Abbott Speaks, Part Two: Lies and Spin
Abbott went on to say the following – sigh
Because we are not ideologically geared toward big government, we are able to reduce taxes and reduce regulations in ways that make our economy stronger. And because we’re not obsessed with gender and identity, we are actually able to bring Australians together in a way that our opponents simply can’t.
Reduce taxes, you say? Notably, Mr. Abbott does not say for whom taxes will be reduced. An analysis penned in the Fin Review states the following ‘In pure dollar terms, people earning $200,000 and above will be the biggest winners’ out of this package. So, the well to do are the main beneficiaries of conservative tax policy – just for something different.
Reduce regulations, you say as if it is a good thing. Regulations in this context refers to environmental, wage, health and safety laws as applied to business. These inconveniences tend to get in the way of profits, you see. Forcing the Holy Big Business Conglomerate to not pollute the environment, to pay their workers adequately and ensure their health and safety is just such a burden. The Liberals believe in lifting burdens for business (while imposing them on the people – cashless welfare card anyone?).
The gender and identity bit does not deserve much attention, other than to note the amazing hypocrisy on display. The Liberals are not obsessed with gender and identity? Using Senator Cory Bernardi as but one example, the LNP has been all over these ‘cultural issues’ for a long time. You know we can see you in there, right Tone? Liar
Abbott Speaks, Part Three: Seriously!
Abbott also added this
As Liberals, I like to say we support smaller government, greater freedom, lower taxes. As conservatives, I love to say we support the family, small business, and institutions that stood the test of time. But above all else we are patriots. We love our country [cheers and applause]
None of these terms has any meaning attached to it whatsoever. Just a series of meaningless buzzwords that make the sheep bleat. Some translations though: when he says ‘we support the family’, that has a very precise meaning. It means the traditional (read heterosexual) family and nothing else. When he says they support ‘institutions that have stood the test of time’ I suspect he means religion (by which he means christianity). Finally, he actually appealed to patriotism, which, as Samuel Johnson said, is the last refuge of the scoundrel.
Conclusion: Lack of Self-Awareness on Display
To end on a lighter note, Abbott said this in the same interview
If we are true to our instincts and beliefs, there’s no reason why we can’t be wonderfully successful
This from a guy who lost his seat at the last election. Sideshow Bob – meet rake.
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