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Abbott is hiding from the future

My definition of maturity is the ability to be resolute in doing something challenging now which will improve our lives in the future.

Unfortunately for future Australians, Abbott’s Liberal-National government is completely lacking in this maturity. In opposition, Abbott’s team spent six years bashing Labor for taking on challenges, to improve our future.

In government, they have advocated a ‘me, me, me, now, now, now’ approach to their policy agenda, appealing to the electorate’s most selfish, short-sighted, immature instincts.

Abbott is no doubt pleased today to find that this approach has got him into power. Becoming PM was all he ever wanted. But what about the future? Whether he likes it or not, while he stands still and looks back, time rolls on towards the future.

The problem for Abbott is he’s only ever thought as far as the election. As far as the moment where he could display his daughters dressed in white and declare himself Prime Minister. But what next? Next, I’m interested to see how Australia’s future will judge the Abbott government. A future he apparently gave no thought to.

An immature government that only thinks of itself and seems incapable of worrying about anything that might happen more than a week in advance is a very dangerous government.

Josh Bornstein suggested in the Guardian this week that Abbott won the support of the electorate by scaring them into believing Australia was facing many crises.

But these crises were concocted. I think he makes a good point. Unfortunately, the Labor Government failed not only to play down Abbott’s boy-who-cried-wolf-claims but even backed some of them up by going along with the idea that there was a cost of living crisis (when there wasn’t).

On top of this, Labor failed to back up its own economic credentials in delivering an economic success story, not a crisis. And Labor also failed to persuade the easily frightened electorate of the long-term benefits of the Carbon Price, while Abbott successfully persuaded them of the short-term costs (which didn’t eventuate).

Of course, it wasn’t exactly easy for Labor to get their positive message across, given the barrage of publicity, Abbott was gifted from every news outlet in the country, including the ABC, while so-called-journalists offered zero scrutiny, of Abbott’s messages of doom. The media loves a crisis, whether the crisis exists or not.

The ridiculous and tragic part of this tale of ‘crisis’ propagated by Abbott is that there is a real crisis looming. Climate change. Yet Abbott convinced people who were all too willing to be deceived, that climate change is just a big over-reaction by alarmists, and that the Carbon Price hit on their electricity bills was the only thing they had to fear.

But what now? The future is still coming, and climate change isn’t going away. Abbott is still promising to replace Labor’s Carbon Price with the unpopular Direct Action policy – the world’s most expensive government tree planting exercise, which no expert has been able to prove will have any discernable impact of Australia’s carbon emissions.

Labor’s Carbon Price is reducing emissions, and Abbott is scrapping it, without even explaining first how, logistically, his government will plant 20 million trees with a 15,000 strong ‘Green Army’.

This lack of foresight into the future is going to become a huge political mess for Abbott. And covering it all up isn’t going to help either. Not when the Climate Commission is now an independently funded Climate Council, which is dedicated to keeping reports like the latest climate predictions from the IPCC front and centre in the community’s mind.

Abbott might like to think his buddies in the media will cover up climate change for him, but what happens when more and more engaged Australians flood to social media, independent Australian media and international press to find out the truth for themselves?

What happens when even the doubters and deniers start to notice temperature records being broken on a monthly basis? When the predicted sea rises start to affect beachside property in Sydney, and not just small islands which are currently out of sight and out of mind? Abbott can’t hide from the future forever.

It’s actually difficult to find a policy area where Abbott and his colleagues have given any thought to the future. But what happens when they have to come face to face with this future? A future just around the corner?

In 1943, Thomas Watson, the chairman of IBM, said: “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers”. ‘

This is the sort of future thinking that Malcolm Turnbull deployed when he said: “25 megabits per second will enable anybody in residential situations to do everything they want to do or need to do in terms of applications and services”.

He should have added another word to that sentence. Today. But what about tomorrow Turnbull? Wouldn’t the best idea be to future-proof Australia’s broadband network, so that it doesn’t rely on old rotting copper infrastructure?

Shouldn’t you look to the future and expect megabit needs to increase exponentially as technology improves? Or is the future not of your concern?

This week Pyne floated the suggestion that he will again cap university places, and he would also like to see the removal of the student amenities fee. (Abbott has backed quickly away, although it’s clear the policy change is still on the table).

Characteristically, Pyne explained his concerns were that Labor’s demand-driven tertiary education sector (in other words, a huge increase in the number of Australians with a tertiary education, many first in their family to gain a degree) was going to have a negative influence on the ‘quality’ of Australia’s tertiary education sector.

Apart from the fact that Pyne is breaking a pre-election promise to not re-introduce caps, it’s clear his perception of a ‘quality’ education is a ‘scarce’ education.

Like a Porsche owner bemoaning the number of other Porsches, he sees on the road, as evidence of the lack of ‘status’ accorded to him by spending a small fortune on a car.

Pyne doesn’t want just ‘anybody’ to have a tertiary education. Especially not those who are first in their family. No, only the privileged few should have access to a quality education, presumably to maintain their privilege and to squash social mobility and aspiration.

But this sort of thinking reveals the lack of foresight Pyne has about the benefits to Australia of lifting the number of the population with tertiary degrees.

Pyne needs to understand that the point of a university degree is not to add a qualification to your resume, to frame a piece of paper on your wall, a piece of paper lots of other people don’t have.

The point of educating more Australians is to have more educated Australians. To have a highly skilled population. To improve productivity. To increase innovation. To better Australia’s competitive advantage against other developed economies with ever increasing numbers of educated adults. But this is a future goal, something Pyne obviously cares little about.

And what about Abbott and Bishop claiming for years that they can turn around asylum seeker boats and send them back to Indonesia? Did they consider what they might do in the eventuality where the Indonesian government won’t have a bar of this reckless plan? Or did they just think they’d worry about that later? Later is here.

Or look at Abbott’s cutting of Australian Research Council funding, which will stifle Australia’s future scientific advancements and strangle the economic benefits of a high-tech economy.

How about Abbott’s preferences for road infrastructure, over funding for renewable energy technologies to eventually replace polluting vehicles. It’s all about now and what Abbott thinks he needs to do now, to win power now.

Abbott cares only about himself. He doesn’t even seem to care about his daughters’ futures. It’s fairly clear even the election in 2016 is way too far away to have any effect on Abbott’s current behaviour.

This is good news for those hoping for a #OneTermTony. The future is not going to look kindly on Abbott’s government. Abbott should have thought about this. But thankfully, he and his team don’t have the maturity, nor the intelligence, to notice.


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  1. mikestasse

    Atually, there are TWO crises heading our way……. Climate Change, as you rightly pointed out, and Limits to Growth, which will be here before the next election. Thankfully, the latter may fix the former, but because nobody is ready for this, it will get ugly. And the best part of Toned Abs becoming the PM, is that he will get all the blame, and will only be a one term PM…..

    Read this…

    Mineral resources and the limits to growth

  2. Fed up

    What has to be got across, is the fact that Abbott is repealing much more that a a tax. The so called tax is not about making electricity dearer.

    What is being tax, is the pollutant fossil fueled power stations, forcing them to charge the full cost of the electricity they produces.

    This makes an even playing field for the renewals to enter and thrive.

    The CEF consists of a suite of legislation, that does include the price on emissions, but also mechanism to distribute that money, to enable such things as solar and wind power. Along givens firms the ability to move onto new technology, that lowers their power bills, now and long into the future.

    Not sure if they are looking at tree planting or soil sequestration, but I believe that could also occur under CEF legislation.

    The biggest difference in theory with the two options, if one accepts what Hunt is saying, is the way they are funded.

    CEF the big emitters pay. DA, you do.

    CEF, by it’s set up, is at arms length of political interference. DA, the minister makes all the decisions.

    All I ask, that one is taken in by “I am getting rid of that tax” Abbott is getting rid of much more.

  3. Fed up

    One can hope, that one trick Tony, becomes one term Tony.

  4. whatismore

    Great article, thanks. I have emailed Turnbull with my concerns as follow and hope the tweeters will do like wise. Even it starts a rift in the Coalition . The best thing is to prevail on Coalition members who might have some decency:
    Hon. Malcolm Turnbull,

    Congratulations on your recent appointment as Communications Minister. I take this opportunity to express my and those of many friends’ alarm at the Government’s scrapping of climate bodies and its intention to repeal the price on carbon. Many of us are also concerned about the Government’s national broadband network.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report must be taken seriously so we strongly urge you in your role as a senior government minster and former leader to withstand the new PM’s indefensible move to disband the climate bodies and repeal carbon pricing. Good politicians must take heed of the dire warnings from the IPCC and stand up against the appalling acts of recklessness by the PM. Future generations will hold politicians culpable for not addressing global warming in defiance of all the scientific evidence. The Coalition’s Direct Action plan has been criticised by many scientists whose names I can provide as ineffectual in addressing global emissions.

    So many people are extremely concerned that the New Coalition government would condemn our future economic development and growth to be impeded by the inferior broadband proposal. Many of my daughter’s friends are circulating this YouTube video. I urge you to watch and take note because this is coming from young people.


  5. J.Fraser

    It was always a fear campaign.

    The one certainty of a fear campaign is that uninformed people will always think the worst and act to protect themselves.

    One piece of the “Slick” Abbott campaign that he quickly dropped is the one that newman’s LNP in Queensland is stuck with … “lower the cost of living” … when it became obvious that Australia’s economy was in good shape “slick” Abbott’s mob moved to attacking the public service.

    Throughout “Slick” Abbott’s campaign he constantly denigrated Australia in every way shape and form.

    Good article Victoria Rollinson.

  6. deknarf

    To see the Tony ‘Jubya’ Abbott & the NO Coalition future you only have to look at the Howard era past!

  7. Fed up

    Well Mr Abbott said, the country was now open for business.

    He did not say, it was the business pf plundering, that it is open for.

  8. jeninorton

    Perhaps another reason Pyne wants to reduce university places is so that the population doesn’t get “too” educated. Then they might start to question, ah, everything the Abbott Gov’t is doing.

  9. Marion Ivanic

    One of the best articles I have read – echoes my sentiments exactly. I keep reading articles like this but where were all of you before the election – now we have a government that I do not believe is democratic – it was not a free, fair an unbiased election. The techniques used were in fact brain washing techniques carefully planned right from the beginning, not unlike Scientology. Repeating, re-enforcing, causing fear and panic, then portraying himself as Australia’s only saviour – negative labor – positive Tony – man of the people – good man – charity work – a mans man – vital, athletic, why are people being nasty about him, charity work. You expect any party to stand up in the face of that, hate, abuse, sexism, good man Tony, everyone’s friend, wife loves him, three fine looking daughters, women surrounding him, women supporting him. Only one woman stands in his way, one woman! Will the real Julia stand up. Well now the real Tony has stood up and we don’t like what we see.

  10. direct current

    Payne is so concerned about the ‘quality’ of our uni students education which is being adversely affected by the ‘quantity’ of students. I find it interesting to remember that this is the same man who stated that the number of students in public school classes would have no impact on the quality of the students education. So which is it, numbnuts? A grade 3 teacher with 27 to 30 kids in a class; including those who have English as a second language, kids with learning difficulties and really bright kids who need to be extended to remain engaged; must be VERY impressed with his statement on the importance of controlling the quantity of uni placements so as not to lower the quality of education.

  11. Graeme Rust

    when will turncoat get rid of the worst PM in history ? shouldn’t be to hard to get a doctor to declare him off his nut .

  12. Brian

    Abbott’s a dog that chased a train, caught it and now doesn’t know what to do with it. I’m sure he’ll work that out before the next farce, erm, election.

  13. richo

    Abbott and his croneys are just an utter disgrace. Thank for another great article Victoria.

  14. Pingback: New Australian Government Cancels the Future | Café Whispers

  15. Caroline Downs

    great stuff …hear hear………’s to hoping his real agenda will reach the public and that he won’t be able to hide with the help of the mainstream media and that ultimately he will be a one term wonder. Gee i hope so………… because if isn’t…..god help this country.

  16. Ronald

    The Labor government hasn’t actually delivered on even half of what they promised… the ‘education revolution’, not even half of that has been delivered. The carbon tax does not work due to the fact that businesses are rational profit maximisers and will simply pass their increased costs of production on to the consumer rather than paying them out of their own pockets. Labor’s NBN, apart from being too expensive, will take so much time to deliver that Australia will anyways be behind in technology

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