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Day to Day Politics: Was Abbott right?

Sunday 28 February 20161

1 Who said this?

‘I am a reformer by nature, very much so’

‘Everything, every single element, is on the table. And I know that always means that someone can then run a scare campaign, but I’m sorry, we’ve got to stop [this]. This is part of the political tradition I’m determined to end. We have got to be able to consider policy options in an unfettered way. We’ve got to have the maturity to have a debate that is not throwing things off the table …’

Malcolm Turnbull.

There’s the problem. Tony Abbott has said on a few occasions that he couldn’t work out why the government had changed leaders when it had not changed any of his policies.

Tanya Plibersek made the point ‘All of those people were sitting in middle Australia thinking, ‘Thank God Tony Abbott is gone.’ What have they been left with? They have been left with Tony Abbott in a different suit’.

’Because what happens is politicians who get intimidated by their opponents or by the media or whatever, they say, ‘Oh that’s off the table, that’s off the table, that’s off the table’ and suddenly there’s nothing left on the table’.

Malcolm Turnbull.

Those who were thankful and delighted in the demise of Abbott are entitled to think they have been let down. Even people of the opposite ideology felt that Turnbull would bring a new era of public discourse.

But today, Turnbull is the man taking options off the table in a piecemeal, panicky kind of way.

I have said it before that new Prime Ministers generally try to make their mark on the party they lead by implementing their own policies. Putting their stamp on their leadership. Turnbull, in spite of saying all the afore-mentioned has chosen to rubber stamp all of Abbotts policies.

He has reaffirmed Abbott’s policies on same-sex marriage, direct action on climate change, his monarchist stance, border protection and foreign policy.

‘We need a style of leadership that explains those challenges and opportunities, explains the challenges and how to seize the opportunities. A style of leadership that respects the people’s intelligence, that explains these complex issues and then sets out the course of action we believe we should take and makes a case for it. We need advocacy, not slogans’.

Peter Hartcher of Fairfax put it this way:

‘Two weeks ago he decided that he would not support raising the GST, that “big bang” tax reform was off the table, and since that moment he has transformed.

From explaining the challenges and opportunities, he has transformed into a politician who instead explains why he is not pursuing challenges and opportunities.

First he explained why he was not going to raise the GST. Then he explained why he will reject Labor’s ideas on negative gearing and capital gains tax. And then he launched into a full-throated scare campaign against Labor’s proposals without advocating any alternative.

On tax reform, he is now heading to exactly where Abbott said he was likely to have been: “At a minimum” Abbott told me last November, “we would have had modest tax cuts based on spending restraints’.

Abbott is right to ask why they changed leaders but is wrong to assume he would have won the next election.

2 The poll aggregate from Crickey moves in Labor’s favour for the fourth week in a row, this time rather sharply in the wake of Newspoll’s surprise result. Coalition 52 Labor 48.

Newspoll’s surprise this week has caused a minor landslip in the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, which moves 0.8% to Labor on two-party preferred, while delivering only a modest gain of three on the seat projection (one each in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia). The leadership results from the poll have also caused Malcolm Turnbull’s net approval rating to continue its downward trajectory, and given a very slight impression of Bill Shorten pulling out of his slump. Also in the mix this week were results from Roy Morgan and Essential Research, neither of which recorded much movement, although the former found Labor hanging on to a big gain the previous fortnight.

3 A headline in The Australian quoted John Howard as saying that ‘People were afraid to speak’. Without reading the piece (firewall) I assume he is saying that people are afraid to speak their minds because they perceive the criticism they may get is unwarranted or unfair. What he and others of his political persuasion forget is that they have so distorted truth with their lies that the general public distrusts everything politicians say.

His answer lays in the fact that only 13% of people trust politicians.

So badly has the truth been damaged by the likes of Abbott that people immediately recognise the spin and counter it, calling it for what it is. Free speech of the reasoned kind is still alive and well in this country. All they have to do is use it.

An observation

‘Free speech does not mean it should be free from ethics. Like truth for example’.

4 It is good to see that Tony Winsor is more than a 50/50 chance of recontesting the seat of New England. Recent polling shows that he has more than an even chance of winning.

5 The fascinating thing I find with George Christiansen’s objection to the very worthwhile anti bullying programme is his obsession with the term penis tucking. I mean isn’t that what he practices himself.

6 So Mal Brough has decided to give the next election a miss. Can he see the writing on the wall? Has he received the nod that charges maybe pending? Whatever, this sordid period in Australia’s political history will not be over until a Royal Commission is held

I am still seething at this outrageous attempt to eject the speaker of the House of Representatives and in so doing attempt to overthrow the government of the day. The case brought by Ashby, and the political involvement of Abbott, Pyne, Brough, Roy and undoubtedly many others, was an affront to our system of government. Our democracy. And the Murdoch media were complicit in the sordid affair.

And the AFP are taking far too long. It needs to be cleared up before the next election.

My thought for the day.

‘Sometimes I allow myself the indulgence of thinking I know a lot. Then I realise that in the totality of things, I know little. One thing I am certain of however is that there are known facts in the world because science proves them’.


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  1. Deidre Zanker

    Great article John. I agree with everything you have so clearly articulated.

  2. stephentardrew

    Morning John. Good article.

  3. babyjewels10

    I have been wondering why the AFP has been so slow to conclude their investigation…I don’t trust them any more than politicians.

  4. Terry2

    Being fair to Turnbull, he took on a Herculean task akin to cleaning out the Augean stables but it may be that there is just too much BS to shift, and it keeps coming.

    At least Hercules didn’t have News Corp feeding the cattle laxatives !

  5. Salstarat

    When one stands back and has a good, long look at the catastrophic legacy of this horrendous fascist government, the ONLY diabolical things they have actually managed to do are:
    – tear down any semblance of democracy, equality and do everything in their power to stomp on free speech or, with the help of the despicably biased Murdoch press, try to shut down all debate and opposition to their fascist, cold blooded ideology,
    – defund the ABC/SBS and stack the ABC Board with a range of ex-LNP politicians and Murdoch journalists who will endeavour to mute and silence any opposition to the LNP and control every aspect of our media to ensure that the people of Australia only get to hear what THEY want us to hear!
    – vilify, target and demonise the poorest, most vulnerable people in our society,
    – encourage, foster and increase their savage, brutal inhumanity against innocent, vulnerable asylum seekers. Turning a blind eye to the torture, rape and assaults inflicted upon them and their children by LNP delegated thugs that has caused the complete traumatisation of little children. The LNP go on and on defending their appalling fascism and stone cold cruelty that has caused Australia to become one of the most despised, condemned western countries in the world;
    – the LNP have managed, in just over two years, to completely DEVASTATE our international reputation. It will literally take DECADES to recover and undo what they have done;
    – in just over two years, the reckless mismanagement of the LNP, in every facet of government, has QUADRUPLED our national deficit from only $24 billion to a whopping $100+ Billion and yet they STILL keep lying and lying about the economic “mess”” bequeathed to them by the Labor Party which, in REALITY, was the THIRD LOWEST DEFICIT in the world (only Estonia and Chile were behind us)!
    – pander to the relentless rapacity of the greediest, most predatory multinational corporations in the world allowing them free reign to vandalise every inch of our environment,
    – sell off EVERY taxpayer-owned asset they can get their claws on for a quick, transient profit that was expended within 2 months on their OWN self serving agenda,
    – spending countless BILLIONS and BILLIONS of dollars on ramped up terror campaigns, war and weapons of war,
    – use their political power to benefit their personal bank accounts and feather the professional and financial nests of their families and cronies. Abbott’s relentless NEPOTISM in relation to the corrupt abuse of his power to favour his daughters was blatantly apparent over and over again and SHOULD be the subject of criminal investigation!
    – Abbott’s appalling obsequious subservience to British imperialism and elitism with his nauseating reintroduction of knighthoods and, shockingly, a sickening nod to a vile, unpopular Prince Philip – a man whose hatred of Australia and Australians is well documented;
    – Abbott and his band of bible thumping, pseudo Christian hypocrites standing by and defending their never ending homophobia and outrageous misogyny yet protecting and defending paedophiles like George Pell!
    – the LNP have managed to DEFUND just about EVERYTHING that is of any benefit to Australians and the future of our children: defunded and dumbed down our children’s education into obsolescence yet spent BILLIONS on a mind numbing, regressive chaplaincy program that NOBODY wanted (except the bible thumping rednecks on the lunatic fringe of Abbott’s Flat Earth Society); sacked every scientific researcher on climate control in the CSIRO; defunded scientific and medical research to the point where Australia is now labouring under the biggest BRAIN DRAIN in our history with outstanding, talented scientists rushing overseas because they know that the new, DUMBED DOWN Australia will not tolerate any factual research or finding that goes against the Neanderthal, regressive views of the most stilted, primitive government in our history;
    – The LNP have proven over and over again that they are nothing but WHORES to Murdoch and the unelected swill of dangerous, neoconservative Oligarchs in the IPA – following the IPA agenda to the letter, trying to tear down our unions, get rid of penalty rates, desperately endeavouring to enslave unprotected workers, getting rid of their benefits and forcing them to work for a pittance so the employers represented in the IPA, eg the mining, tobacco, oil, power, gas industries can go from being billionaires to becoming OBSCENELY rich at the expense of the working class who will no longer have union representation to protect them! And WHO else are signed-up members of the IPA? Gina Rinehart who earns $680+ for EVERY minute yet pays ZERO tax and none other than the notorious George Pell!

    There are other ignominious, horrendously shameful things that the Abbott/Turnbull/Murdoch/IPA Alliance have undertaken – too numerous to list here – and NONE of them good. In fact in 29 months of staggering destruction, annihilation and vandalism, the LNP have not achieved ONE SINGLE THING to benefit the ordinary people of Australia who are, in fact, their REAL employers! This unholy alliance has made Australia the object of scorn and derision throughout the world and has changed our once friendly, intelligent, progressive country into a national haven for screaming, crass, parochial, xenophobic BOGANS! The Lying Nazi Party has made Australia almost UNRECOGNISABLE to what it was only 30 short months ago … how far we have deteriorated. God help us if these repugnant, morally bankrupt, self serving fascists win the next election … what they have not had time to destroy, defund, annihilate and vandalise …. they will finish off over the next four years – you can count on it!

  6. Shazz

    Wow Salstarat …that’s the best vent/rant summary I’ve read to date that abbottsoturnthebull nails it …cheers!!!

  7. metadatalata

    If Turnbull was half the man he could have been, he would not have torched the NBN. This was entirely his project. Why would he shit in his own bed? And he has agilely back-flipped on every other policy he has previously stood for such as RET, marriage equality, media reform, tax reform and his long-held public views on monarchy for Australia. He probably feels clever at befriending the likes of crooks like Sinodinos to help him get elected as PM but his decisions will come back to bite him.

  8. mars08

    “…reaffirmed Abbott’s policies on same-sex marriage, direct action on climate change, his monarchist stance, border protection and foreign policy…”

    John Lord goes on to explain Turnbull’s gymnastics around tax reform. The “flexibility” of the current government can… mostly, be explained as a response to the voter’s self interest.

    I suggest that Turnbull’s endorsement of the Abbottian position on border protection, same-sex marriage etc can be explained by something Salstarat posted above:

    … changed our once friendly, intelligent, progressive country into a national haven for screaming, crass, parochial, xenophobic BOGANS! The Lying Nazi Party has made Australia almost UNRECOGNISABLE to what it was only 30 short months ago … how far we have deteriorated…

    I believe the rot goes back much further. For two decades our patronising, pandering, lazy, chauvinist, timid, populist, dishonest politicians have sowed the seeds of what we now reap. They (with the help of a sensationalist media) changed the way Australia looked at itself and the world. They encouraged ignorance, xenophobia, anger and selfishness. They validated the irrational fears felt be certain sections of the electorate.

    That is the political landscape today. Certainly the Abbott government did all it could to accelerate the decay. It would take a brave, strong and determined leader to even begin to heal all that damage. Unfortunately for Australia, our ruling class can’t provide such leadership.

  9. Poss

    Well said Salstarat you nailed it

  10. Michael

    Re 5 – and obsession with the term penis tucking – do you think that praps young George would like an introduction to Mrs Palmer and her five daughters? – could open up a whole new world for him.

    Now that we have well and truly moved into the “Royal Commission” phase of our “democracy” – if I won government I would be very tempted to apply The Shock Doctrine a la Naomi Klein to break down the barriers of and expose the poxy cronyism, vested interests, lies, lack of transparency and accountability with the way our public assets are being held in trust for all of us, etc (please feel free to add/expand) – even better let’s start a list of charges/accusations to clean up the excuse for a democracy we have sunk to.

    Can’t wait.

  11. Jaquix

    I like that someone called him Tony Turnbull !

  12. John Fraser


    Yes?No Brough "sees the writing on the wall" ……. but continues collecting a taxpayer funded wage until the election is decided.

    Pyne and Wyatt Roy still have questions to answer about Ashbygate.

    Gary Grey starts rewriting his own history after sitting on his arse for years while Abbott rorted his expense account ( read "rorted the taxpayer) with his claiming expenses for pollies pedal, book signing etc

  13. Kaye Lee

    John Howard’s article….

    “John Howard has sounded an alarm about the culture war in Australia — warning that people are being “cowed” against stating their views on issues and that a dangerous anti-religious push has emerged — and branded as “pernicious­” the Victorian government’s hostility to religious connections in schools.

    Mr Howard said there was a “get Pell” mentality in “some sections of the media”.

    “It seems as if Cardinal Pell is being singled out to take the rap for the misdeeds of a whole lot of people and the evidence is that he was more active in trying to do something about it.”

    In relation to gay marriage, Mr Howard said: “There is nothing homophobic about supporting traditional marriage. Everybody did in the parliament in 2004. You ought to be able to have sensible discussion on these sorts of things. And you should be able to express a view on these things. But there is a sense in which people are so frightened of being accused of being discriminatory or intolerant that they don’t speak the common­sense view.”

    Mr Howard said he would not have chosen a plebiscite. He felt the issue should be decided in parliament by a free vote.

    Mr Howard said the standards of civil society in Australia were being undermined by a growing intolerance towards people who did not subscribe to a range of progressive views.

    He said there was a new form of “minority fundamentalism” emerging, typified by the use of the anti-discrimination law in Tasmania to silence the Catholic Church from stating its position on marriage.

    He said the situation in Victoria under new guidelines for religious instruction was that “from now on you can sing Jingle Bells in schools but not Once in Royal David’s City or Silent Night”.

    “This is pernicious,” he said. “I’m surprised there hasn’t been a greater outcry about it. Nobody is forced to believe in God. Nobody’s forced to follow Christianity. The observance of Christmas and all that goes with it is part of our culture. I must say I have never come across a person of the Jewish faith or of the Muslim faith who has complained that they have had Christianity forced upon them.”

    Mr Howard expressed disappointment that the Abbott government had abandoned its proposed free speech changes to section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act after winning an election mandate on the issue. He said it was probably only with the Andrew Bolt case that people realised the application of this provision “was as spiteful as it turned out to be”.

    Branding the climate of repression as “pernicious”, Mr Howard said there was “almost a fear” among people to articulate the views he was expressing because of concern they would “offend our multicultural ethos” or be “branded as intolerant”.

    “If I were an American, I would feel that it didn’t matter who you voted for because essentially the people you vote for can’t do anything, with gay marriage and Obamacare being decided by the courts,” he said. “ I would be very concerned if we went down the American path and we gave to judges a power to determine these things.”

  14. Kaye Lee

    Ya gotta love the conservative mindset that can allow you to brand as “pernicious­” opposition to religious connections in schools.while saying nobody is having Christianity forced upon them.

    And anyone who doesn’t agree with his views on same sex marriage is just too scared to speak the “commonsense view”.

    What an arrogant little man.

  15. John Fraser


    More than happy to let Howard assist the digging of the Liberal Parties grave.

  16. mars08

    @Kaye Lee…

    Howard is still at it. His attitude continues to influence political discourse in this trembling, narrow-minded country. He still plays the victim. He still wants Australians to be “comfortable and relaxed” in their hatred and ignorance.

    Oh how i detest that smug, craven, sleazy little grub! Abbott was an altar boy compared to that vile creature.

  17. Michael Taylor

    After Howard lost his seat I remember his promise to stay out of politics.

    That didn’t last long.

    He hasn’t shut up since.

  18. cornlegend

    Let’s all back Abbott and the monkey pod in overthrowing that usurper to the job, Turnbull.
    Tones knows his rightful place as the peoples choice

  19. Kaye Lee

    I have just had a horrible thought. Tony Abbott is the same age as me and a hell of a lot fitter. That means I may well have to listen to his advice from the age of 18 when we started uni together until I die. People of Warringah….I am pleading with you. World speaking tour….surely you can do better? Louise Adler…STOP encouraging him to write.

  20. Michael Taylor

    Salstarat, we might turn your comment into an article, if that’s OK with you. I’ll see if someone from our admin team can put something together.

  21. Michael Taylor

    Big difference, Kaye, is that a long, long time in the future you’ll be going to Heaven. Abbott won’t. He’s going to that other place.

  22. Kaye Lee

    Ahhhhh the old double yonk. Sorry cornie, I couldn’t bring myself to say anything good about that bunch of miscreants. You ask too much.

  23. jim

    WOW , I was wondering where all the good men and ladies where well, I found some right here thanks to all for making my Sunday a little bit better Cheers, never vote for the right wing LNP a,holes the whole damn party,

  24. cornlegend

    Kaye Lee,
    I send him emails regularly telling him he was robbed of his rightful role, like he said “the people elected him” and that forelock tugger Turnbull stabbed him in the back and robbed us of his talents .
    I encourage him to stage a Palace coup , but no luck yet .
    I’m thinking next, T Shirts and caps 😀

  25. cornlegend

    Michael Taylor
    thanks Michael :-{
    “He’s going to that other place.”
    Bugger it, that means I’ll be stuck with him

  26. Rdodgson

    Go Salatarat

  27. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I agree Salstarat’s spray is admirable. Thanks Michael for saying you’ll get admin to make a separate article of it.

    Might I suggest one thing?

    Please number Salstarat’s observations and criticisms so that it is easier for us to identify and refer to them when we are making recommendations on how we can change the LNP destruction that Salstarat so deftly describes.


    one advantage you have over Rabid is that he’s already in Purgatory: the middle place of frustration, disappointment and not-knowing who his ‘friends’ are. That’s a terrible fate for a narcissist such as Abbott. 🙂

  28. Sunday

    I think there is a lot of work is going on behind the scenes at 2GB to get Tony Abbott back into power. Jones and all the Ockers at 2GB want him back in control big time.

  29. Salstarat

    You are welcome to use my comment as an article, Michael and use Jennifer’s advice about enumerating each observation. Cheers xx

  30. John Lord

    Great idea.

  31. Linda

    Salstarat…..thank you so much, I look forward to reading your comments, you say it all.

  32. Sunday

    Dear Mr Howard Political correctness means I can’t call someone a Black Cxxt in public. Only the stubborn uneducated neandothals are feeling the fear. Because they are incapable of reviewing their old prejudices or having a rational discussion without getting offensive.

  33. Nick Chugg

    Great Article John. Thankyou.
    Amazing comments. Salstarat, that was brilliant.

  34. Alan Baird

    As David Michael Green said, “If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Sophists like John Howard initially pose an isolated little falsehood and then carefully construct a huge hulking great papier-mache statement on a sandy foundation in a tsunami, and this is followed by the Murdochracy gravely intoning, “Yea, He speaks the Truth!” And they call themselves a news (?) service (?). The fact that they THEN take Abbottt seriously (or at least affect to) on anything he says (or even writes, which apparently IS meant in Tony’s parallel universe) utterly condemns them. The ALP is as helpless as it is due to this insane political discourse in this country (assisted quite a bit by itself). I can see a Donald Trump in Australia’s future. We’ve got all the raw materials.

  35. Michael

    We aim at Howard et al for doing what they figure is clever for their self interest by playing tricks with innocent voters to vote for them – should we be using the tricks to educate and make the people who so vote realise how they are being played – a vote is too powerful to be used through deception?

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