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Dear Mr Abbott, unlike God, the people are not infinitely forgiving

Good government starts today promised Prime Minister Tony Abbott, fresh from his party’s first failed spill motion this morning in which 39 members of his team turned against him, and one of them cast an informal vote. We are moving on, the difficulties are now behind us, is the vein in which he continued.

All of which begs the question, what kind of government does he think we’ve we been enduring since the LNP won power in September 2013? Many of us already sensed it wasn’t a good one, and it’s reassuring to have this view validated by our PM, who is, after all, responsible for its lack of substance and quality.

These last seventeen months, as Bill Shorten remarked in a splendidly energetic display during Question Time this afternoon, are seventeen months of the nation’s life it will never get back, and what has it been good for?

Abbott’s determination to put all this behind him and make a fresh start reminded me that he is a Catholic, and so is very used to making fresh starts and putting awkward things behind him.

This is one of the many things I fail to understand about the Christian god. He is, apparently, infinitely forgiving and that to my mind is just plain stupid. Generous human beings will forgive much, but we have the sense to know when forgiveness is a waste of time and the offender has no intention of changing his or her behaviour.

One of the many problems in believing in a god who will forgive infinitely is that it can make you morally sluggish. It doesn’t actually matter what you do, you can count on being forgiven. We’ve seen this played out a million times in the Catholic priest pedophilia scandal, for example. Those priests surely confessed their crimes against children and were forgiven every time, then went right out and did it again, because why not?

And didn’t Abbott give one of them a reference once?

The concept of putting things behind one has much to be said for it, on the proviso that one has learned the lessons to be learned first. To be honest, I don’t have much trust in a government that admits it’s only starting good governance today, seventeen months after it took office. That’s a little long to stay on the training wheels, and they weren’t actually out of office long enough to forget how to govern.

I am also becoming more than a little aggravated with mainstream media commentators who are busily writing a new narrative about volatile, over-sensitive voters causing leaders to crash and governments to fall. This is codswallop. With the advent of social media and the twenty-four hour news cycle, voters are more engaged and more vocal than at any time in our history and we often do not like what we see. Politicians are more scrutinised than ever before, and we all too often and with very good reason take a set against what our scrutiny reveals.

The problem lies not with an hysterical (and therefore feminised, don’t you love it) electorate, but with the lack of substance and integrity of many of those who seek high office. The Abbott government (and the Newman government in Queensland) attempted to inflict its pathological ideology of inequality on a nation whose general ethos is still, miraculously, the fair go. We’ve turned on them. We’ve done this because we are largely a decent people who don’t believe those at the bottom of the food chain should be ground even further into misery, while those at the top profit obscenely. We haven’t done it because we are volatile, over-sensitive and hysterical.

Politicians and mainstream media can find democracy a struggle.

Abbott is on notice, from his party and from the electorate. Not only does he have 39 home-grown dissidents to contend with, his personal polling figures are abysmal. I have no idea what the PM’s idea of “good government” might be, but I do think it is an admission of grotesque failure that he is promising the electorate good government from today, when he’s been in office all this time and only now because of a revolt and attempted coup. In other words, Abbott has been forced to consider “good government.” It hasn’t come to him naturally.

Prime Minister Abbott might well be about to learn the hard way that unlike god, we the voters are not infinitely forgiving, and he’s likely had his one and only shot at reforming himself and his ideologically driven party.

This article was first published on No Place For Sheep.

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  1. Ricardo29

    Well said. As Bill Shorten said, and I think said very well, it’s not the salesperson it’s the content. I see some in the MSM are starting to concede this point but when you have drongoes like Cormann blindly trying to insist the budget isn’t the problem it’s getting it understood, then these idiots will only go on digging themselves a deeper hole. Good government starts today? What sort of fools does he take us for?

  2. Loz

    Good article. Tony Abbott on the 7.30 report tonight was repeating the same mantra that we have heard over the last 17 months. Nothing will change whilst this useless man holds the position of PM.

  3. lawrencewinder

    It was obvious in 2012 that Rabid-the-Hun and his foetid rabble were a policy free zone.
    It was obvious in the unseemly viciousness of their personalized attacks on anyone deemed an enemy that the Liarbril Party and its aspirational bogan supporters had become a Mongrel pack.
    It was obvious that The Coots-With-Queer-Ideas-From-a-Parallel-Universe (IPA) led by “Le Jongleur” Roskam were writing the script, and that was being published by their mentor “The Ugly American” Murdoch.
    Today, Leigh Sales, (7.30 Report) a simpering, fawning girly-girly to Prime Miniature, Rabid-the-Hun who evidenced he still hasn’t a clue! Stock phrases, slogans, couched aggression; but now that the confidence of the hubris stuffing has been well and truly knocked out of him is utterly bereft of an idea, policy or imagination.
    The Chinese are buying 50 dairy farms in Victoria and Rabid only wants to talk of his own survival…. what about the Nations?
    An election is too far away for this ruling rabble of IPA Office Boys to be allowed any more time to wreak the IPA’s right-wing agenda any further.

  4. Kerri

    I disagree that Abbott has had a shock!! His reaction after the ballot? That same smug smile! The same old lines! He won’t change! He can’t! He hasn’t had a shock! He has had an affirming experience! He won’t see this as how close he came to political death? He will see this as yet another example of why he is right and everyone else is wrong!! The only poll Abbott will understand in an election and only because he will be tossed from that seat in the parliament! At home? In the morning mirror he will still crack that smile and tell himself they are all wrong and you are right! “Ting!”

  5. Debi Robinson

    I can’t help but see the similarities within a dysfunctional abusive relationship. Where the abusive spouse promises to change and do better just as the abused partner threatens to throw them out. They will do and say anything to avoid being thrown out into the street. So, the abused partner, taking them on face value believe the lies and give them another chance. Hopefully the Australian people and the Liberal Party members won’t be as gullible to give him more than this one chance.
    It’s quite obvious that Tony has narcissistic personality disorder, and will never change regardless of how many times he promises that he will.

  6. paul walter

    Sales won, 4-0.

    No, it’s all a bit like a murderer saying, “well, the last one was a bit unfortunate, but she’ll be right now”.

  7. Annie B

    Great article Jennifer … well done …….

    @Kerri … of all the comments here ( all good and spot on ) yours rings the bells.

    It might be possible for a person to learn to control certain aspects of his nature / personality – but that takes a looong long time to achieve – with the help of a professsional ( psych. ). Abbott ain’t about to go there. … Waaay too demeaning.

    There is no way this person who heads the current Government will learn – quite simply because he doesn’t WANT to …….. his ego would not allow that.

    And so it will go on – and on – and on. …. He has already begun his first half day back from the brink, by repeating worn out old statements about Labor and how he ( note HE ) does not want to go down that track. … He may have mentioned in passing that ‘we’ ( Libs ) don’t want to be like ‘them’ ( Labor ) , also ??? Can’t recall.

    But it’s always … me, me, me …. where Abbott is concerned. … that is not about to change.

    He literally cannot help himself – and thus he cannot POSSIBLY help our country, his Party, or anyone else for that matter.

  8. Sad sack

    If you consider it important politically to call on his Catholicism. Perhaps you could narrow that further to ‘Jesuit’ education? Then consider, shorten, hockey, pyne, Joyce, bullock(at least) all had the same ‘Jesuit’ education. It may help if you consider, albo, robb, Andrews are Catholics and Turnbull is a convert.
    Do what you like and be forgiven is the norm at the top but any danger is debatable.
    Abbutt is Opus Dei and no matter what he does it is ‘the work of god’ that is danger!
    (The favoured ABC Abbutt interview technique ‘mr Abbutt you talk and I will listen!’

  9. Annie B

    @Sad Sack ………. do you have any evidence that Abbott is part of, or belongs to, Opus Dei ?

    I ask the question seriously, and would appreciate a serious answer. … if there is one.

    Mind you, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

  10. Anomander

    Abbott clearly hasn’t learnt a thing and is unlikely to learn.

    One of the first things he stated was a need to reduce the size of government to make it “more efficient”.

    Effectively he intends to sack thousands more hard working people and throw them onto the welfare scrapheap or to have to compete for an ever diminishing pool of available jobs, because this government is damaging confidence to such an extent that job creation is falling well behind the number of people entering the job market.

    It’s far less about YOU Tony – it’s your slavish commitment to the IPA’s unfair and inequitable programme that has failed us miserably.

    We don’t want more cuts, we want more jobs, more employment, more expenditure on services, better availability to education and opportunities, innovation and a vision to lead us into the future. We don’t just want these things, we NEED them, and we are prepared to pay for them, rather than following your aimless belief that the free market will solve all our problems, because it simply won’t – all the market does is create more profit for the already wealthy, at the expense of our people and our society.

    THAT is why people despise you and want to see an end to you and your feckless government.

  11. Kerri

    Anomander you are so right and I really don’t get how they figure sacking more people, closing down more industires is going to help with their bid to cut back on welfare? But I guess I never understood how you can tax less and spend more either. Magic Pudding economics. They believe if they say it! It WILL happen!

  12. Matters Not

    As Abbott puts its, there are four “pretty serious Catholics” sitting around the cabinet table: himself, the Education Minister, Brendan Nelson, the Trade Minister, Mark Vaile, and the Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews. Then there is also the Deputy Prime Minister, John Anderson, who is described as “a pretty serious Anglican”.

    “This is a cabinet which is conscious of our Christian heritage, many of whose members are fairly enthusiastic practising members of one or other faith,” says Abbott.

    He says he was never a member of Opus Dei and does not know of any of his federal or state parliamentary Liberal colleagues who are

    He says he was never a member. Even given his track record, I think on that occasion he was telling the truth.

  13. Graeme Henchel

    They’ve lied in the past and they’re still lying now
    They’ll lie in the future, it’s all they know how
    Distraction, distortion, deceit and derision
    Falsehoods to hide their complete lack of a vision

    “Debt and deficit” and “Stop the boats”
    “Team Australia” the lead liar gloats
    Pithy slogans and glib one liners
    These people aren’t adults they’re mendacious minors

    They don’t want to govern they just want the perks
    They outsource their ideas from the IPA jerks
    but now it’s all gone in the shape of a pear
    The public are saying “you’re being unfair”

    The backbench are nervous, shaking with fear
    Their leaders a dud with terminal tin ear
    “The people aren’t listening we’re down in the polls
    They think we’re a bunch of lying arseholes”

    So Tony’s got problems and Peta as well
    get rid of them and all will be swell
    It’s not the policy just the way it is said
    get a new leader or we’ll all be dead

    But a slight problem, there’s no-one to stand
    They needed a spill to force someone’s hand
    But Tony was sneaky he got in early
    Saved, but now hanging by the short and curly

    For now we continue the same tired routine
    Blame labor, more slogans, just like we’ve seen
    Lip service to listening and cosmetic change
    Not even a thought of deck chair re-arrange

    But there’s nary a chance that they’ll see the light
    This ship has shifted too far to the right
    It’s not just the captain, it’s all of the crew
    They’ve gone up shit creek in a barbed wire canoe

  14. Steve Hampton

    First off, thank you very much for such an insightful & honest article. Your point about the admission by Abbott that “good government starting today” meaning that prior to now they’ve failed to provide good government is excellent.

    I just wanted to reference what you said about it seeming stupid that God is infinitely forgiving. If it really worked that way, where God would forgive based off of a simple apology, it would be insane & even foolish. But it’s pointed out that forgiveness is for those who repent & it isn’t given if one’s apology isn’t marked by actual change. It’s even expressed that just giving lip service to get forgiveness & then returning to the same activities means you never actually repented & never honestly looked for forgiveness.

    Thank you again for the article!
    Have a fantastic day!

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