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That was then…this is now

In 2011 Joe Hockey said “No qualifications, all the excuses that Wayne Swan talks about – falling commodity prices, a high Australian dollar, nominal growth not being up to standard. Somehow the GFC is ongoing all the time. So yes, we are upset about this … they think the Australian people over summer will forget the solemn promises.”

This week, when admitting that MYEFO will show the deficit has deepened and the promise of a surplus in 2018-19 has been abandoned, Hockey said “We have faced some significant headwinds this year. Obviously the global economy has come off a bit, iron ore prices have dropped dramatically and we have had some opposition in the Senate that has made it harder.”

After rubbishing the Rudd government’s stimulus spending, Hockey now says the delayed surplus was a deliberate measure to avoid dampening economic activity with a sharp withdrawal of public money.

“We want to keep the economy going, we want to keep it strong …we want to keep that momentum going.”

And he isn’t the only one finding governing is a tad harder than bagging out the other guy.

When the Labor government sought a seat on the UN Security Council, Julie Bishop said “There really has been no justification for the benefit that will accrue to Australia by pursuing a seat at this time.”

Then, in a press conference in New York in November, Ms Bishop delighted in taking an extra minute to remind journalists who’d failed to ask about Australia’s achievements on the Security Council of the “successful two years” our membership had delivered.

Julie has rather enjoyed basking in the limelight but she has also had her problems.

In an interview with the ABC in 2012 while in opposition, Ms Bishop said climate change funding should not be “disguised as foreign aid funding”.

“We would certainly not spend our foreign aid budget on climate change programs,” she said.

In an interview with the Australian in November last year, Mr Abbott said “We are committed to dismantling the Bob Brown bank [the Clean Energy Finance Corporation] at home so it would be impossible for us to support a Bob Brown bank on an international scale.”

After a meeting with Angela Merkel in November this year, Tony Abbott said of the Green Climate Fund “We also have a Clean Energy Finance Corporation which was established by the former government and there is $10bn in capital which has been allocated to this. In addition to those two funds a proportion of our overseas aid, particularly in the Pacific, is allocated for various environmental schemes including schemes to deal with climate change. So, we are doing a very great deal and I suppose given what we are doing we don’t intend, at this time, to do more.”

Less than a month later, Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said the government would take $200 million from Australia’s foreign aid budget over four years to put into the Green Climate Fund.

“I think it’s now fair and reasonable for the government to make a modest, prudent and proportionate commitment to this climate mitigation fund,” he said, adding that the $200 million would be “strictly” invested in “practical” projects in the Asia Pacific region, even though he has no part in the administration of the fund.

Keeping up with Christopher Pyne on education funding is harder than working out Dutton’s GP co-payment or Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.

One thing Pyne has continually stressed is the need to improve teacher quality yet the budget tends to indicate he only wants to do that in private schools.

“The Government will achieve savings of $19.9 million over five years from 2013‑14 through efficiencies in the operations of the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) including a refocus on core priorities. This includes savings of $9.5 million over five years from 2013‑14 from funding allocated to AITSL by the former Government for its National Plan for School Improvement.

The savings from this measure will be redirected by the Government to repair the Budget and fund policy priorities.

The Government will provide $4.9 million over two years from 2013‑14 to the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership for the continuation of the Australian Government Quality Teacher Programme (AGQTP). The AGQTP provides funding to non‑government education authorities in each state and territory to improve the quality of education through projects and activities that offer teachers and school leaders opportunities to develop their skills.”

If I was to try to list all the inconsistencies, backflips, and hypocrisies being committed on a daily basis by this government it would be a full-time job requiring daily updates. And they will be forced into more because their entire approach to governing has been just wrong.

Tony Abbott sees negotiation as weakness and compromise as failure. He is utterly incapable of admitting to being wrong – “We had a good policy, now we have a better one”. He must blame others for any problems because it couldn’t possibly be that he is doing anything amiss, even as we have Hockey now grudgingly realising the benefits of stimulus spending.

Tony Abbott is so woeful even his most ardent admirers are forced to report their disappointment. Fluff pieces with morning show hosts even turn into fiascos as Ben Jenkins reports.

It’s actually just a case of the PM suffering from a phenomenon political scientists call “being extremely shithouse at interviews”.

While Abbott tries valiantly to smash the ship of state through the iceberg of public opinion, it’s easy to forget that our prime minister is, and always has been, a terrible interviewee. His complete inability to change tack renders any interview a stilted exchange with a distressingly sinewy random word generator, in which an answer matching a question is purely a matter of chance.

True, it’s better than his previous strategy of “wordlessly stare into Mark Riley’s soul until he leaves you alone out of pure awkwardness”, but not by a huge margin. Abbott is so unwilling to back down on any matter at all that when he calls David Koch “Chris” for a second time during the interview, the PM doesn’t even acknowledge it, let alone apologise.

When the script stinks and the lead actor is a ham who cannot improvise who is supported by a cast of theatrical sycophants directed by Rasputin in animal print our government is now a farce waiting to become a tragedy.


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  1. Florence nee Fedup

    I think Pyne believes the feds should only fund private schools. Responsibility for public education belongs to the state.

    Dutton has same attitude when it comes to health., Has cut funding to ,many preventive and community programmes. Says it is up to state government to fund, if they want them.

  2. DanDark

    “While Abbott tries valiantly to smash the ship of state through the iceberg of public opinion,”
    they are looking more and more like “village” idiots…….:)

  3. Möbius Ecko

    Don’t forget another then and now is that the Abbott opposition blocked several of Swan’s key saving and revenue measures that would have improved the economic situation for the government. Now in government they are complaining about being blocked on economic policy. Difference is the Abbott opposition blocked purely for the sake of making it hard for the government and damn the consequences for Australia and the people, and the current opposition and Senate are blocking because the economic policies are truly terrible.

    The other then and now was their stance in blocking Gillard’s Malaysia solution for reasoning they now not only ignore but is far worse.

    And don’t forget their biggest then and now. Then the opposition’s sole job was to oppose, no reason or alternate, just oppose. Now the opposition should be bipartisan and its job is to rubber stamp government policy whilst giving alternatives at every turn.

    As you point out the political landscape is currently littered with things they opposed then and endorse now, the concrete promises made and now broken.

  4. John Kelly

    “..our government is now a farce waiting to become a tragedy.” There are moments when I feel embarrassed that I once gave Joe Hockey a tick as the only minister in the government worth his salt. I have since come to see him as incompetent as the rest of them. Mea Culpa for that. As an economic adviser he would have made a good Cossack dancer. As a fiscal manager he makes a good street cleaner. I don’t know how much advice he gets from his wife, but I’m guessing she hasn’t told him that banks create their own money. As for Julie Bishop, she failed as a shadow treasurer and as you have demonstrated, she also suffers from selective memory recall. But Abbott is the true prince of darkness. How many of the 43 who voted him leader over Turnbull knew him as we know him today? Or, did they hate Turnbull so much that even Satan herself would have been preferable?

  5. Pingback: That was then…this is now | THE VIEW FROM MY GARDEN

  6. la_lasciata

    @John Kelly
    Answer: yes, they hate Malcolm like they hate common sense. They hate him like they hate anything but their own twisted payback policies. And frankly, so do I: Malcolm is not the answer.
    Unhappily, neither is Shorten. Give me Chris Bowen or I’ll be tearing my hair out (again).

  7. Florence nee Fedup

    ME Abbott blocked because he knew what Gillard was doing, would work. When it came to refugees, he blocked, everything, absolutely everything the government put forwarded. Is singularly responsible for the boats keep coming. Not only blocked, was out every day, encouraging the boats to keep coming.

    He blocked regardless of the consequences. Abbott has no concept that every action, does indeed have consequences, not always what one intended.

    Attempting to put ones own extreme dogma in place, in spite of the economy is terrifying. This is what Abbott is doing. He has an agenda, that if he revealed, would not be accepted by most.

  8. john owen

    Then there is the deliberate opposition to the price on carbon, once coalition policy that he advocated himself, also for the sake of opposing. It was how he beat Turnbull to start with, and he knows it won’t work.

  9. Kaye Lee

    I have come to the conclusion that Tony Abbott had absolutely no agenda other than being captain and now that he is there it is obvious he has never learned the rules of the game.

    He has always had an inflated opinion of his ability which is perhaps not his fault when his parents were telling him from childhood he would be pope or prime minister. He blamed the selectors when not picked in the First XV at school. He punched walls and kicked in doors when he lost an election at university. His reference from Emmet Costello that secured his Rhodes Scholarship exaggerated his abilities and he was dropped from their rugby team after one game. When Tony was at the seminary he wrote at length about how disappointed he was with the Church. He “was seeking a spiritual and human excellence to which the Church is no longer sure she aspires.” The bishop suggested he see a psychologist but Tony said “it was really the seminary staff who needed psychological investigation”.

    Tony has, all his life, used his connections to play the system for his own benefit. That is his only agenda – what’s in it for me. To use his own words “We are all promoted to our own level of incompetence so sooner or later mine will be reached.”

  10. stephentardrew

    The thing that really frightens me is the complete lack of moral responsibility and willingness to do substantial harm, not only to refugees, but, to our fellow citizens for no other reason than to follow a thoroughly discredited conservative economic rationalist, Social Darwinist misrepresentation by twisting the facts to fit with ideological absolutism. Don’t think that Abbot is an exception they all went into this game knowing full well what dear leader is about. Hockey is his complicit sidekick full of bluster and incoherent drivel which makes no logical sense. Once a party loses a handle on even the rudiments of logic and rationality they are lost to all types of irrational nonsense. Look at the rot setting in rural Australia.

    There is no use being temperate with this lot as they will just chew you up and spit you out. The only thing Abbott’s crowd understand is ideological head kicking and damn the rational causes, consequential thinking, or need for coherent solutions. The only way they will shift course is through public pressure and dishonest pretense. Their inflexibility will destroy this country before they admittedly move away from their jaundiced interpretation of Christianity.

    They are too old and ossified to realign their thinking and if they did it would merely be a temporary move through a desperate grasp at survival.

    It is time to reduce the LNP to a minor party of dystopian backward thinking, ethically challenged, dinosaurs.

  11. Moira

    I think we can agree that Tony Abbott is exceptional in at least this; he has not only been promoted to his level of incompetence, he has been promoted well beyond it.

  12. Matthew Oborne

    They are convinced now all they need to do is explain themselves properly and not make stupid comments about the poor and they will have ticked all the boxes to impose bad measures – they still are not getting it.

    Abbott did his confessional even if it was all labors fault the buck stops with him. Yet a week later Chris Ulhman cant get abbott to repeat any of it, as if Abbott has said we have admitted some problems lets never mention them again because I didnt really mean someone told me I should do it.

    What could have been a turning point became another farce.

    The Abbott Government still have not figured it out.
    Australians have.

  13. mars08

    I work with a bloke who believed that the ALP had to tossed our of government based ENTIRELY on the “fact” that the carbon tax was costing his family too much. Bloody moron!

  14. Kaye Lee

    So how does he feel about spending billions on wars and the toys that go with it? Or more for his petrol or to go to the doctor? How does he feel about working till he is 70? Is he perturbed about the huge hit to his superannuation by stopping the increase to the superannuation guarantee? Is he happy that pensioners will fall further behind the standard of living due to changes in indexation? Is he pleased to see unemployment at a 12 year high while the mining companies and banks continue to make record profits?

  15. Blanik

    A wise person once said to me, “you can only do so much with plasticene” and I suspect that she was correct.

  16. Anomander

    Kaye, I suspect mars colleague would be too ignorant and too stupid to comprehend the impact because he gets his news direct from the Merde-och press and don’t like to think too hard about the future, ’cause that kinda thinkin’ only leads to trouble. Best to leave the decisions to the adults in charge. /s

    BTW, your assessment of Tony above is near flawless. Tony only ever wanted to be team captain. He never wanted the responsibility of leadership, to put in all the study and hard work, nor did he want the challenge, nah! – for him it was all about the glory. That was his by divine right – his parents and friends told him he’d be great and he never once doubted it.

    Any time he failed was clearly someone else’s fault, like the petulant child he is, fully justified in his own mind with lying, threatening and bullying because he thoroughly believes if deserves to be in change. And if he can’t be in charge then he’ll spoil everyone’s game and break their toys.

  17. Kaye Lee

    In May the Coalition announced $68m in new funding in the budget for Australia’s Antarctic presence (although much of this is support for the crucial air link to the frozen continent).

    Today we hear a committee advising the Australian Government on science and logistics in the Antarctic region is set to be cut as part of the Government’s budget update on Monday.

    The Federal Government is planning to axe another 175 agencies in a bid to save more than half a billion dollars over four years.

    Among those agencies set to be abolished are the Diabetes Advisory Group, Anzac Centenary Public Fund Board and the Local Government Ministers Forum.

    Other agencies including the Australian Government Solicitor, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Advisory Group, the Professional Services Review, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Australian Office of Financial Management and Cancer Australia will be merged into Government departments.

  18. Kaye Lee

    And in another sterling decision by our Minister for Indigenous Affairs…

    Hundreds of country Australians will be condemned to blindness by a short-sighted Federal Government decision to axe funding for a path-breaking eye health service for people in remote and Indigenous communities, ophthalmologists have warned.

    The Government has ceased funding the Indigenous and Remote Eye Health Service (IRIS), an initiative of the Australian Society of Ophthalmologists that was established with a $5 million outlay by the-then Labor Government.”

  19. Letitia McQuade

    nailed it again Kay Lee, how grateful I am for your continuing great work!

  20. Letitia McQuade

    OH, did I get your name wrong… my apologies!!! thank you Kaye Lee 😉

  21. stephentardrew

    The cool nastiness of this government is absolutely mind-boggling. This goes against every moral precept and set of values I learned when growing, up whether religious or secular. These bastards are truly a cruel bunch of psychotics with not an ounce of decency.

    The point t is they just do not know when to stop. Do they really think they are impressing the majority of people in this country.

    Let’s make people suffer for a hand full of bogon votes.

    The cynicism of this lot is unbelievable.

    What a horror show.

    Each time I think they have hit the wall they come up with another piece of damnable cruelty.

  22. Florence nee Fedup

    Kaye sometimes I believe with Abbott, it was only about winning, nothing else. I then recall that at one time, him and Costello put themselves up as a team. Costello to be PM. Both dropped the action quickly.

    I am of the opinion, Abbott was happy to coast along with being Howard chief head kicker and dirt digger. In fact enjoyed the role.

    That is until Turnbull refused to put him on the shadow front bench, telling him he did not have what it took.

    Now one does tell Tony this, as his history over time tells us.

    I have this theory that Abbott set out to get even, destroying Turnbull, then the Labor government, Like the dog that caught the car it was chasing, Abbott has no idea what to do with the prize.

    Abbott’s political growth is stunted struck back in his teens. Yes, he was easily captured and manipulated by those on the far right, of Tea Party alliances. Their narrow and petty politics fitted in with his simple black and white view of the world, Abbott is not the worse in this government. he is a puppet of many that are worse, knowing what their agenda is.

    Yes, if Abbott was given a shadow portfolio, he would have been happy coast along, as before.

    Personally, I do not believe that Abbott understands the harm he is doing.

  23. Florence nee Fedup

    ” He is utterly incapable of admitting to being wrong ”

    He is incapable of knowing when he is wrong. Incapable of knowing why? Incapable of looking at possible consequences of is action.

    He honestly believes e has performed wonders over the last 16 months.

  24. John Lord

    Joe Hockey gave Wayne Swam absolute hell as shadow treasure, ridiculing him endlessly.Now he is using the very same reasons for his own inadequacies. Economics is not a finite science. They should all just tell the truth.

  25. Florence nee Fedup

    I see this morning, public schools are once again out performing private. Thanks Julia.

  26. Florence nee Fedup

    Except Hockey does not have extra high dollar to deal with. It was the dollar remaining high for so long, that helped to throw budget predictions out of wack. Hockey was well aware of that the economy would be facing lower ore prices. Ignored warnings given to Labor. Labor pulled back on their fiscal consolidation for this reason. Hockey criticised Swan at the time. Treasury is still issuing warnings but us being ignored. Too obsessed with putting in place, their dogma of minute public services and minuscule small government. one must not forget with the aim of lowering taxes for business.

    They are not interested or concerned about the economy.,

  27. Kaye Lee

    Iron ore prices have dropped to $60 a tonne, halving in a year. The resultant fall in the terms of trade is the largest since records were first kept in 1959, Mr Hockey said.

    ‘If we don’t use the budget as a shock absorber for this extraordinary fall in the terms of trade, then Australians will lose jobs and we will lose our prosperity,’ he told reporters in Sydney.

    Economists say the mid-year economic outlook could reveal a deficit for 2014/15 upwards of $35 billion, much worse than the $29.8 billion shortfall forecast in the May budget.

    Mr Hockey has laid the blame for the growing deficit with Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers, who have blocked billions in budget savings in the Senate.

    And a few more of the 175 agencies to be cut….

    Those slated for the chop include the Vietnam Veterans’ Education Centre Advisory Panel, Expert Advisory Panel on Northern Australia, Australia in the Asian Century Advisory Board and World Parks Congress National Steering Committee.

    – See more at:–shock-absorber-.html#sthash.M6xyhHVN.dpuf

  28. mars08

    John Lord:

    Joe Hockey gave Wayne Swam absolute hell as shadow treasure, ridiculing him endlessly.Now he is using the very same reasons for his own inadequacies. Economics is not a finite science. They should all just tell the truth.

    Fair enough. But who gets to go first? Who will have the courage to keep the public updated with the facts?

    “He who rides the tiger can never dismount”

    For years both major parties have used simplistic arguments about deficits and debt as a blunt weapon the clobber the other side. Both sides have used silly slogans and economic “fairy tales” to score easy points with the voters.

    Which of those parties would have the courage to dismiss the myths and engage in the truth?

  29. O'Bleak

    I hold this fat palooka to the standard he set for himself. NO EXCUSES HOCKEY. Deliver the goods and shut up while you do it because every time you open your mouth it’s another frigging whinge about how tough it all is.

  30. Kaye Lee

    FEDERAL Education Minister Julie Bishop has accused Deputy Opposition Leader Julia Gillard of behaving like a “fashion model or TV star” rather than a politician.

    “I don’t think it’s necessary to get dressed up in designer clothing and borrow clothing and make-up to grace the cover of magazines,” Ms Bishop told The Sunday Times.

    “You’re not a celebrity, you’re an elected representative, you’re a member of parliament. You’re not Hollywood and I think that when people overstep that line they miss the whole point of that public role.”

    Julie Bishop has plenty of labels already: foreign affairs minister, deputy Liberal leader, sole female cabinet member. Now she has another. Harper’s Bazaar has named her Australia’s woman of the year.

    Bishop, who is in China for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting, features in a black-and-white photo spread in the magazine, which honours her political career and the work she is doing on the international stage as foreign affairs minister.

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