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The government you have when you don’t have a government

Is anybody still listening to Tony Abbott? Jennifer Wilson doubts it very much, and with good reason.

I woke up this morning thinking that I don’t feel as if we actually have a real government, or a real Prime Minster.

Tony Abbott seems to be increasingly decompensating under the stress of discovering he’s so unpopular with his party he had to face the prospect of a spill motion without even a challenger for his leadership, and that must be a rare political event just about anywhere.

(Decompensation, psychology: the inability to maintain defense mechanisms in response to stress, resulting in personality disturbance or psychological imbalance).

After the acute trauma of the spill motion passed, everyone involved needed a little time to collect themselves, pass around the talking stick, and begin the process of healing. Instead, Abbott went right out and sacked Philip Ruddock as his Chief Government Whip, on the grounds that Ruddock had not adequately warned him of growing backbench discontent.

This is amazing. The rest of us knew all about it, but the PM’s office didn’t?

I’ve had doubts about the efficiency of this office for quite some time, after all, they’re supposed to be there for Tony yet every day since he took office things for him have traveled increasingly south. At first blush, it appears the PM’s staff are incompetent on a Monty Python scale.

Perhaps their secret agenda is to ruin him, or I have been watching too much In the thick of it. Either way he should sack somebody in that office and hire Malcolm Tucker, but instead he went after Ruddock.

I don’t care much what happens to Ruddock: I will never forget his days as Immigration Minister in the Howard government during which he instigated a powerfully successful campaign to demonise and criminalise asylum seekers arriving by boat, largely through the use of language he adopted from Nazi anti semitic propaganda of the 1930’s. Without Ruddock we would have no Morrison. He might look like a hurt old man, but I’m not fooled.

Then there were Abbott’s belligerent attacks on President of the Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, after the Commission’s report on children in detention was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday. In a typical conservative shoot the messenger and make so much noise that everybody will forget the message tactic, Abbott railed long and hard about Professor Triggs, while entirely disregarding the appalling findings of her report.

With the stubborn determination of the utterly cloth-eared stupid, Abbott keeps the three-word slogans hiccoughing off his far too evident, lizard-like tongue: boats, mining tax, carbon tax, boats, carbon tax, mining tax; we are open for business but not for boats, carbon tax, mining tax. I wonder to myself, does he or anyone in his office really think there are still people out here even listening to this drivel?

It is a measure of the collective desperation of Abbott and his staff that they continue to cling to this cringe-worthy robotic recitation: they have totally failed to come up with anything new, for all the millions of tax payer dollars we’ve spent on them.

The zeitgeist as far as I can tell is one of trembling, panicked uncertainty: what will their leader say next, how much longer can this go on, how can they make it better without looking like the ALP. This latter possibility seems to be the very worst thing they fear could happen to them.

It isn’t, though. Worse things are happening every time their leader opens his mouth and puts both feet in it. But hey, it’s good for the ALP.

There’s been a cute white rabbit appearing in our garden for the last few days, and like Alice in the wonderland, I’m thinking of drinking the potion to make me oh so tiny, then I can follow White Rabbit down his hole.

But wait! I’m already there!

The final straw is the sudden wheeling out of Margie. You know he’s a dead man walking when he rolls out the wife.

Tony & Margie Abbott

Tony and Margie (image from

This article was first published on Jennifer’s blog No Place For Sheep.


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  1. Kerri

    Normally for someone so publicly disintegrating I would have some concern for their psyche!
    But given what Abbott has done to our collective psyche, I have no sympathy.

  2. oldfart

    I wish they would lock him and his family up in villawood and ship the lot of them back to england

  3. winstonclose


  4. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Tony Abbott should concede defeat as a failed PM, or his imminent disgrace will only look worse when the day comes.

  5. Ricardo29

    I do some work with people with diminished intellectual capacity and a recurring theme from medical people is “has no insight into his/her condition” I think this describes Tony Abbott perfectly, especially in the rationale for sacking Ruddock.

  6. macesatire

    The clock is ticking, Tony, and it’s a minute to midnight. Tick tock.

  7. bilko

    I stopped listening years ago my TV remote mute button is almost worn out

    “oldfartFebruary 16, 2015 at 9:48 am

    I wish they would lock him and his family up in villawood and ship the lot of them back to england”

    as an ex pom,and recent return visitor there I can confirm England have enough problems at the moment (at least their trains run on time) that would be the final straw or he could bunk in with his latest Knight that would be a hoot.

    According to his latest security scare brainfart is “All we have to fear now is fear itself”.

  8. Graham Houghton

    He’s clearly punch-drunk and lashing out wildly at anything he perceives to be the enemy. You can see the paranoia in his eyes even through the television screen. It’s now that he’s at his most unpredictable (and we thought he was unpredictable before!) and dangerous state of mind. He is a danger to this country. His sacking of Ruddock, for whom I have no time either, and his stated reason for doing it was an act worthy of comparison with any of the weirdest behaviour of Kim Jong Un. And there’s another dear leader who loves having his photo taken in factories and nursing homes and leaning out of the cockpit of fighter aircraft. This nation is now ungovernable, not because of the electorate, but because of the government. They have to go.

  9. Florence nee Fedup

    I am sure one of his daughters can do the right thing, and provide a wedding to divert attention.

  10. Jexpat

    “His sacking of Ruddock, for whom I have no time either, and his stated reason for doing it was an act worthy of comparison with any of the weirdest behaviour of Kim Jong Un.”

    In terms of realpolitik, someone had to pay.

    Credlin wasn’t going to take the fall, so the axe fell on Ruddick.

  11. Loz

    How long can Australians put up with this idiot of a PM. His latest racist rant can only incite young muslims some of whom feel they are outside of society looking in. Does this pathetic man really want to stir up trouble in order to keep his position. Unfortunately I think he does despite the consequences to all the people of Australia. I too have no sympathy for Ruddock who was happy to be involved with this despicable government and their policies. Great article Jennifer.

  12. Kerri

    Loz I agree with what you say about the trouble the Village Idiot stirs up every time he uses racism to “strike fear into our hearts”, but I also have serious concerns for how many damaged people who will ultimately be found as genuine refugees will then be amongst us as a consequence of his and the previous several governments actions. How will our society cope with people we have driven to mental illness in indefinite detention for no crime. that the redneck Abbott fans will simply see as being Muslims.

  13. Kaye Lee

    From the government website….

    Government whips

    The Chief Government Whip assists the Leader of the House in the responsibilities outlined above, and has particular responsibility for the programming of Federation Chamber business (that is, matters referred to the House’s second debating chamber). The Chief Government Whip may also move procedural motions and programming declarations in the House on behalf of the Government. The Chief Government Whip and the Chief Opposition Whip are both members of the Selection Committee, which allocates priority and times for private Members’ business and committee and delegation business.

    The whips of each party are responsible for the arrangement of the number and order of their party’s speakers in debates (although not binding, lists of intending speakers assist the Chair in allocating the call to speak). The whips also ensure the attendance of party members for divisions and quorum calls, and act as tellers (record the votes) in divisions.

    I don’t see anything there about controlling insurrection from the backbench.

    Considering the countless articles written about the backbencher’s growing dissatisfaction, the lack of consultation prior to policy announcements where even ministers found out from Credlin press releases, the accusations that staffing was centrally controlled and that all approvals had to go through the PMO, Abbott’s staff and media watchdogs were extremely remiss not to pass this on, and Tony must be living in some sort of bubble if he hadn’t heard the rumblings himself.

  14. paul walter

    He is digging in and will drag any one down with him he can, by whatever dirty means possible.

  15. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    Please can Labor draw attention in Parliament to the derision with which Abbott, and by association Australia (for allowing him to become PM) is regarded in the developed world.

  16. Lyle Upson.

    it sure is great comedy

  17. Graeme Henchel

    It was 2013, I remember
    Sometime in September
    When Abbott and his lying mates took over
    They’d defeated Kevin Rudd
    With lots of help from Murdoch’s mud
    While Abbott was the dog of the drover

    Tony had gone in hard
    On Julia Gillard
    Earning himself the title Dr No
    With Rupert on his side
    He just sloganeered and lied
    And got in with no policies to show

    And so began the tale
    Of Abbott’s mammoth fail
    A story that was never a surprise
    Cos Abbott and his crew
    Had no clue of what to do
    Once the public stopped believing all their lies

    It didn’t take too long
    When things started to go wrong
    promises were broken from the start
    Then Mathias and Joe Hockey
    Smoking cigars and feeling cocky
    dropped a budget that stunk worse than a fart

    What followed was a disaster
    We’d never seen it happen faster
    As polls went into terminal decline
    From Abbott’s Dames and Knights
    To the Egghead’s “Bigots rights”
    And the backflips of perfidious Pyne

    Though it was the Captain of team Australia
    That led his team to failure
    With his lies and his stupid captain’s picks
    All his crew were just as weak
    As he took them up shit creek
    A party of pernicious lying pricks

    Things went from bad to worse
    As they flogged a dying horse
    Till the backbench thought the jockey was to blame
    So they tried to call a spill
    But did not complete the kill
    So for now it’s just some more of the same

    But Tony’s die is cast
    His use by date has passed
    Soon we’ll see another chapter in this farce
    They’ll be hoping Malcolm’s words
    Can polish their policy turds
    In a desperate last attempt to save their arse

  18. CMMC

    Ruddock told Abbott that the spill was supported by only 16 -18 membrrs.

    He appears to have been relying on #Libspill for these numbers.

  19. diannaart

    LNP federal government cabinet – not a place to turn your back.

  20. Win jeavons

    I agree, but you left out “debt and deficit”.

  21. donwreford

    Tony Abottoir, has killed another messenger.

  22. Brian Albion

    The description of Ruddock is such a wonderful piece of writing and is one I have been searching for for years.

  23. Aortic

    Tony who?

  24. FreeThinker

    Your comments on Ruddock as so apt Jennifer.

    He holds a special place in my memory, such was his appalling demonisation of asylum seekers, a stance consistent with that of his political leader, John Winston Howard.

    This quietly spoken suburban lawyer, adopting hyper-rational utterances in relation to asylum seekers, totally devoid of empathic understanding, helped me appreciate how Germany, a nation with such a rich cultural, artistic and intellectual tradition, in another era could produce people such as Adolf Eichmann.
    He is no loss, this being an absolute irony resulting from the erratic Abbott’s vindictive actions.

  25. Michael Taylor

    Ruddock did one good thing. Just one, mind you.

    I was working for ATSIC when he was our Minister (under Howard). It was obvious to everyone – staff, public, media – that Howard wanted ATSIC closed.

    One person in his Cabinet stood up to him. Ruddock.

    Howard waited until after he removed ATSIC from Ruddock before he closed us down.

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