As is usual when a Government celebrates the first birthday of its first term a media frenzy of judgement scrambles to make comment its performance. I have done so myself.
What follows here is a random selection of comments from both mainstream media, web sites, journals and blogs. I advise the reading the full text of any article that interests you least you accuse me of selective bias. Having said that I think the reader will find a common thread in all the pieces but you be the judge. What I did find astonishing, but perhaps not surprising was that syndicated Murdoch commentator and writer Andrew Bolt couldn’t find a word of criticism about Abbott and the governments first year in office.
Peter Hartcher writing for The Sydney Morning Herald; “Abbott unmasked: ideological warrior marches to the right”:
“Abbott and Hockey intend not just to end the ‘age of entitlement’ but to intensify market forces in Australian life and to shrink the government. The Prime Minister intends to move Australia decisively to the right”.
“The government promotes this project as pro-growth; it also carries the unspoken social cost of being pro-inequality”.
“But in two essentials Abbott is still Abbott. First, he remains unpopular. Indeed, he is Australia’s uniquely unpopular prime minister of the past 40 years”.
Michael Gordon of The Melbourne Age; “Happy birthday, Prime Minister?”:
“So what happened? How did the Abbott government end up having the worst start of any new government in 40 years? And what prospect is there of the tentative recovery of recent weeks transforming its fortunes?”
Peter Van Onselen from The Australian; “Tony Abbott must be careful not to become another Malcolm Fraser (it has a paywall so I couldn’t read the full text):
“HISTORY has a way of repeating itself, but there are always departures from the script. There have been tangible similarities between the prosperity and longevity of the Howard years as a precursor to the dysfunction of the Rudd and Gillard governments, and the Menzies years, which predated the Whitlam -government. Gough Whitlam was soon replaced by a Fraser administration that underwhelmed many. Will Abbott’s government depart from the historical comparison or will it also underwhelm?”
Lenore Taylor for The Guardian; “Tony Abbott one year on: how the trust was won and lost”:
“But we do have even more evidence that voters react viciously when they feel they have been deceived. The question now is whether it is possible for a leader, and a party, to recover after breaching the trust of the electorate, whether voters, faced with an underwhelming opposition, can be persuaded to take untrustworthiness as a given”.
Jessica Sier and Vanessa Desloires writing for The Financial Review; “Abbott government breaks more promises than it keeps”:
“The Abbott government has broken more key promises than it has kept during the Coalition’s first year of power, an analysis by The Australian Financial Review has found”.
“The government has delivered on 13 promises and is making progress on 11 others – but has broken its word on 14 pre-election pledges”.
“Nielsen pollster John Stirton has pointed out that the Coalition enjoyed no honeymoon after the election and got off to the worst start, in polling terms, of any government in the last 40 years”.
“Voters were not happy with the May budget either, rating it the least popular budget in two decades”.
University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor Stephen Parker and Professorial Fellow Michelle Grattan discuss the week in politics and the year in review for Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Has he shown his true colors or is there more to the ‘real’ Tony?
Niki Savva for The Australian; “Tony Abbott’s early report card doesn’t quite match John Howard’s”:
“TONY Abbott was not responsible for the timing or the nature of the latest security threats, but his actions have shown he is both up for it and has risen to the challenge. A conservative government has to reign supreme on national security, so it is just as well the Prime Minister has demonstrated the strength and aptitude to deal first with the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, then the threats posed by the Islamic State. He must continue to explain fully what Australia is doing and why, and to tread carefully”.
And this from Buzz feed; “The 30 Most Important Moments Of Tony Abbott’s First Year As Prime Minister”.
Andrew Bolt writing for Melbourne’s Herald Sun; “Tony Abbott has arrived as a true leader”:
“In fact, a brake is just what Abbott promised a year ago next Sunday in claiming victory: I now look forward to forming a government that is competent, that is trustworthy and which purposefully and steadfastly and methodically sets about delivering on our commitments”.
Writing for the Union blog Working Life, Angelo Gavrielatos, Federal President, Australian Education Union had this to say:
“The Abbott Government has chosen to spend its first year entrenching inequality in schools by abandoning needs-based Gonski funding agreements with the states”.
“Schools will miss out on two-thirds of the extra funding that would have been provided under Gonski and all schools will get a cut in real terms from 2018”.
“That means fewer teachers, less support for students and bigger gaps between rich and poor schools”.
“The Abbott Government also broke its election promise to introduce extra funding for students with disabilities in 2015, and will effectively cut $100 million from disability education next year”.
Stephanie Anderson from the SBS on line site says:
‘”It’s been a year of both triumph and trouble for the Abbott Government”.
Dennis Atkins in The Courier-Mail; “One year in office: Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s mixed fortunes”:
“What Abbott didn’t do was reinvent himself as PM, use the office and its bully pulpit to reintroduce himself and colour in the other side of his character, the governing Abbott who had a vision for where he wanted the country to go and an explanation for how he would take it there”.
Mark Kenny of The Sydney Morning Herald; “Tony Abbott has two weeks to fix 12 months”:
“Over the next two weeks, leading to his September 7 anniversary, he must find the right tone for communicating his government’s economic plan – and build the parliamentary case needed to make it happen”.
“In its first year in office, the Abbott Government has failed its responsibility as steward of our natural environment,” said ACF CEO Kelly O’Shanassy”.
“It has taken Australia in the wrong direction, damaging nature and our fragile climate”.
“It has thrown out our most effective measures for cutting pollution, letting mining and energy companies pollute for free, causing climate change and ill health”.
“It has weakened our environmental laws – nature’s vital safeguards – to pave the way for big business profits”.
The ABC’s Barrie Cassidy said this; “Report card: strong ambassador, dud budget”:
“That record ensures that while for a time the polls demonstrated the new Government was one of the most unpopular in modern times, it has bounced back and remains in touch”.
“The downside is obvious. The Government botched the budget and the way back won’t be easy”.
“Despite delusional claims to the contrary, the problem was not the salesman; well, not entirely. The major problem is the product. The country has made up its collective mind. It’s unfair. DiCaprio couldn’t sell it”.
News.com.au: “Tony Abbott’s first year as Prime Minister: Report card on Canberra’s politicians”:
“On its first birthday the Abbott Government will be pondering its most painful lesson: Voters grateful for removal of the Labor turmoil don’t stay grateful forever”.
“Prime Minister Tony Abbott — and in particular his Treasurer Joe Hockey — have been chastened by this crash course in the difference between Opposition and Government”.
“The Coalition changed roles without changing behaviour”.
“The new Government ditched promises — such as a pledge for wide consultation on matters, and introduced new measures — such as the revival of knighthoods, with the arrogance of a big election winner”.
Macro Business reports; “A stocktake of Abbott’s first year”:
“Tony Abbott promised a government of no surprises but has delivered a year chock-full of them”.
“A prime minister expected to lean to caution has thrown it to the winds. A leader without a cushion of popularity has taken big political risks. A man who campaigned on trust has squandered much of that precious political commodity”.
“Tribal, ideological, arrogant and over-centralised – these have been Abbott government faults in its first 12 months. It has often presented an unattractive canvas, desperately needing more subtle hues”.
YOU BE THE JUDGE. That’s about the best cross section of commentary I could find.