By Ad astra
Tony Abbott has been on the way down for years.
His time in the sun began unexpectedly on the 1st of December 2009 when he became Leader of the Opposition after toppling Malcolm Turnbull in a spill brought about by Turnbull’s support for Kevin Rudd’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Abbott had the backing of many Liberal members who were climate change sceptics and opposed the ETS.
You will recall the astonishment he expressed at his first press conference where he said that if he won the coming election he would be seen as a genius, but “if we don’t win I’ll probably be political road kill at some point in time.”
He lead the Coalition in the 2010 election which resulted in a hung parliament, and a Labor government under Julia Gillard, supported by two rural independents. He lost the contest for their support, and thereafter set himself on a course of destructiveness the like of which we have not seen in recent times. I will not bore you with the details; I’m sure you’ll remember his deliberately ineffectual action on climate change, his ‘axe the tax’ and ‘ditch the witch’ rhetoric, his ‘demolition’ of the NBN, and his opposition to marriage equality.
Although he did win the 2013 election for the Coalition, his performance as PM was so bad, his behaviour so destructive, and his management of the economy so poor, that the electorate turned against him and after thirty negative Newspolls in a row, Turnbull upended him on 15 September 2015 in a spectacular coup.
At that time, as he recoiled to the backbench with no prospect of a cabinet position, he could have been classified as road kill, but he loitered around looking for ways he could sabotage Turnbull and seize the reins of power again. His promise: “There will be no wrecking, no undermining, no sniping” proved to be like most of Abbott’s promises. He went about doing all three, overtly and repeatedly.
Abbott chose marriage equality as a movement he could readily sabotage because he strongly opposed it personally. He chose to make it as difficult as possible for the cause to be advanced. As a delaying tactic, he insisted on it being put to a plebiscite, to which Turnbull agreed when he toppled Abbott as part of his deal with the conservative clique in his party to gain their support. It morphed into the ‘voluntary postal survey’, just completed.
Abbott campaigned vigorously for the No campaign, and tried to divert attention by associating irrelevant issues with marriage equality: ‘And I say to you, if you don’t like same-sex marriage, vote no. If you’re worried about religious freedom, and freedom of speech, vote no. If you don’t like political correctness, vote no – because voting no will help to stop political correctness in its tracks.”
The results came in Thursday November 15. His electorate did not listen to his poisoned rhetoric. Abbott found himself defeated once more. Not only did the nation return a decisive Yes vote of 61.6% and a No vote of 38.4%, but his own electorate of Warringah returned a 75% Yes vote, the tenth highest in the nation. What a telling slap in the face this was for Abbott, who found himself the MP most out of touch with local and national views on marriage equality. Is he now road kill?
After he realized that only 25 per cent of his electorate voted ‘No’, he adopted a more conciliatory tone, and in an interview on 2GB he was at pains to mention no less than three times that the original plebiscite was ‘his idea’, adding: “It’s a vindication of the process that was put in place by my government and continued by the Turnbull government”.
He said he would not attempt to “frustrate the will of the public”, adding that the bill should now be passed as quickly as possible. Time will tell whether this dishonest, destructive man has more nasty tricks up his sleeve.
Abbott must be near the end of his tether. Will his electorate reject him at the next election as decisively at it has rejected his No rhetoric?
He is down but is he out? Time will tell!
What do you think?
This article was originally published on TPS Extra.
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