When one is speaking about hypotheticals, I’m always reminded of the fact that hypothetically nothing is impossible, so, hypothetically speaking, I may be Prime Minister after the next election.
Granted, I’m not planning to stand for election, but why should I let a little thing like that stop me. Who knows – this piece may go viral and something I write in the next few minutes is so clear, so articulate, so innovative, that both Liberal and Labor decide that they need to put aside their differences and both support me to be PM because only a man of my genius, my insight, my charisma…
Ok, I better stop before I start to sound like Tony Abbott.
Yes, we’ve all had a good laugh about his little piece in Quadrant defending his achievements and complaining that he had a hostile media, as well as “a hysterical opposition” and an uncooperative Senate and disloyalty within his own party. I’m glad he stopped short of actually suggesting that Julia Gillard never had to deal with these things, because then we’d have been sure that he was auditioning for a role as a scriptwriter for Clarke and Dawe and not just someone still going through Denial in one of the stages of grieving!
Reading Abbott’s latest foray into the public arena, I couldn’t help but remember watching the results of the 2002 Victorian election. Labor had managed to depose Jeff Kennett at the previous election by forming a minority government with three Independents. A few months before the election, Robert Doyle had successfully challenged the Liberal Opposition leader, arguing that under Dennis Napthine, the Liberals were heading for an annihilation. When the results came in and the Liberals had their worst Victorian election result ever and Labor were elected in a landslide, I remarked to my wife, “Lucky Doyle took over, because imagine how bad the result would have been if Napthine was still leader!”
Of course my comment was ridiculous, and meant to highlight the pomposity of Doyle’s earlier assertion that he’d be able to save the party. There was no way anybody could have done any worse, given the Liberals were struggling to hold on to “safe” seats. But that’s the thing when you comparing what might have happened with what actually happened, you can say anything you like because nobody can prove you wrong no matter how silly you’re assertion is.
Whatever your feelings about Julia Gillard, you have to give her credit for not staying around like Banquo’s ghost. Neither has she announced that had they not replaced her with Rudd before the 2013 election, she would have won. And, if at any time she lists the achievements of her government, she’s comparing them to an incoming Liberal government, not her own party.
Abbott, however, is implying that there was no need to have replaced him. While he promised not to snipe or undermine, he seems to have just as much trouble keeping that promise as the promises he never intended to keep. He refuses to gracefully move on to the job offered to him, prefering, like the dumped ex-boyfriend, to hang around outside the house of his beloved waiting till she comes to her senses and realises that what he was doing was for her benefit too – even if she didn’t like it at the time.
Unable to accept that anything he did was wrong, he argues that his achievements will be judged correct by history, completely overlooking the fact that there were none. And when he said, “Overall, it was a fundamentally fair budget because it sought to end the inter-generational theft involved in piling up debts for our children and grandchildren to meet”, he overlooks that failing to spend on infrastructure or education merely piles up future bills for our children and grandchildren to meet. It’s like not spending borrowing to spend money to repair the hole in the roof because you don’t want your kids to have debt and just leaving it for them to pay for when your gone. I suppose they could just learn to live in a leaky house, but let’s not get too bogged down in analogies.
Abbott then goes on to demonstrate a rather strange world view by suggesting that he and Smoking Joe had been “careful not to break promises” (?!?!), and that one of the difficulties was his “no surprises” commitment given there had been no pre-election debate about university deregulation or the Medicare co-payment. I guess when you do something like simultaneously promise no surprises and no changes to things that you intend to make changes to, then it’s hard to keep both promises but, hey, Tony thinks that he did it!
When he first became PM, I wrote a piece talking about Tony Abbott and the poem “Ozymandias”. The poem concerns a once mighty ruler whose statue has been reduced by the passage of time to just his legs and the inscription: “Look upon my works, ye mighty, and despair.” Given that this is all that’s left, then the inscription is ironic. However, thinking back on it, it’s a strangely appropriate poem, given that now Abbott is saying much the same thing, but sadly for him, there are no works of greatness, no achievements. He’s not only left nothing of value like some of Whitlam’s achievements or even Gillard’s NDIS, but it’s hard to think of anything that was worth talking about at the time.
So now we’re left with Turnbull who is likely to be one of a great prime ministers and reign longer than Howard, according to a columnist a few weeks ago. As I wrote the other day, Turnbull’s supposed popularity seems a triumph of shiny shoes over substance. So far, he’s achieved nothing and even his timid toe in the water on tax reform is met with a sudden withdrawal and a whine that the water’s too cold.
“Removing negative gearing will wreck values,” he screeches, without explaining why.
I would have thought that if the market relies on such artificial tax concessions then it’s not the sort of free market that we expected to know and love. I mean, surely the market will adjust so that the values are more realistic.
Or do the Liberals only believe in markets when it suits them?
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