Wedge politics is the new game and some say Abbott is good at it. But the trouble with playing that sort of politics is you can find yourself painted into a corner.
Everyone knows that Abbott is on the nose but they have to run with his chosen attack line – would you trust the man who knifed two Prime Ministers? Which is why no-one is formally challenging what is patently an inept leader. The contenders are ready and jockeying for pole position. They are waiting to be dragged unwillingly by backbenchers to the leader’s chair.
We have Scott Morrison having dinner with Rupert Murdoch – an unexpected request which delighted ScoMo. Malcolm is catching trains everywhere and openly supporting marriage equality. Joe has given up on the economy and hitched his wagon to the Republic. Julie is being a very supportive team player by sticking to the talking points whilst taking credit for everything from climate change to the war in the Ukraine.
So who is still on Team Abbott?
He has thrown his hat in with the monarchists, the homophobes, the racists, the misogynists, and the climate change deniers. He has chosen the hard right with people like Eric Abetz and Kevin Andrews as well as senators Cory Bernardi and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. Others like George Christensen and Andrew Nikolic and James McGrath are willing head nodders.
This group of pseudo libertarians are happy to abandon all pretence of helping the disadvantaged under the guise of “personal responsibility” but when it comes to matters of conscience they adopt a very authoritarian approach in dictating their views on things like homosexuality, marriage, divorce, abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research.
They cry freedom while introducing the most tyrannical attack on our liberties with their anti-terror, citizenship and data retention laws.
Abbott also chooses favourites and gives and demands loyalty – up to a point. He has had to learn how to distance himself from some of his Captain’s picks in light of recent events. He doesn’t do it well.
Because Abbott is all about the politics, we end up with some very perplexing paradoxes.
Compare the treatment of Gillian Triggs and Kathy Jackson. Both were whistleblowers.
Jackson was important to Abbott, and lauded by him, because she was instrumental in bringing down Craig Thomson thus weakening the Gillard government. As we now know, Thomson committed some petty misdemeanours. Jackson committed fraud on a grand scale but is still acting like she is immune.
Triggs, on the other hand, was mercilessly attacked for doing her job of bringing to the government’s attention human rights abuses involving the sexual, physical and mental abuse of children in our care. Even though Tony and that fool we now have as an immigration minister keep insisting that they are the responsibility of the countries we dumped them on this is crap, as is so much of what they say.
Compare the treatment of Peter Slipper and Bronwyn Bishop.
Slipper was crucified for $900 worth of cab charges. When he offered to pay them back he was refused as the matter had been referred to the police. His prosecution cost millions of dollars.
Bronwyn Bishop, on the other hand, was allowed to pay back $5,000 for using a helicopter to pick up her dry-cleaning – ok that’s not quite true but near enough. When referred to the police they flicked it straight back to the finance department.
That’s the difference between accepting the role of Speaker in opposition to when in government apparently.
Compare the fury about the carbon tax and renewable energy target against the amount spent on fossil fuel subsidies. The $5.3tn global subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.
Compare the treatment of environmentalists protesting against mining the Galilee Basin to the whackos who are protesting against wind farms.
One group went through the courts using legitimate laws to show that the Environment Minister had stuffed up his paperwork. Rather than just fixing the mistake and resubmitting for approval, Abbott has sent out the attack dogs – lawfare, vigilantism, vexatious litigation. It should be pointed out that the court action contained far more substantive objections about the mine. That the court chose the reptiles is the fault of Hunt, not the litigants. Abbott’s reaction – get rid of environmental protection laws.
And then we have the wind farm objectors. They are “concerned citizens with legitimate complaints”. They didn’t need these complaints to be tested in a court of law for Abbott to act. Wind Commissioner? Sure thing. Ban the CEFC from investing in wind energy? You got it. And let’s have another ‘scientific’ study into how bad you can make yourself feel when you get cross.
Compare how corruption in unions is dealt with against corruption in political parties.
The Royal Commission into Trade Unions has definitely exposed some shady dealings which will result in prosecutions. Unfortunately, the focus has been on taking down Labor leaders and tainting and undermining all unions.
But when you look at what the ICAC in NSW has exposed, there is corruption on a grand scale in party politics. In nine months, 11 Liberal politicians resigned, stepped down or moved to the back/cross bench. Damien Mantach, after having to pay back almost $50,000 for misuse of a party credit card in Tasmania, was promoted to head the Victorian branch where he promptly stole another $1.5 million.
Compare the treatment of the ABC with that of the Murdoch media.
The ABC had its funding slashed. It has been castigated for telling the truth about what our government is doing like spying on the Indonesian president’s wife, paying people smugglers, and abuse of asylum seekers. They have had political interference in their shows and right wing warriors appointed to the board.
The Murdoch media is being protected by suggested changes to media ownership laws, making it harder to access movies from other sources, and the destruction of FttP broadband. While the ABC is investigated for bias, the misinformation and manipulation by the Murdoch papers goes unchecked.
Another glaring paradox that Abbott chooses to ignore is Philip Morris suing us as a result of a free trade agreement. They are saying that plain packaging of cigarettes has not had a beneficial health outcome whilst suing us for loss of profits, and Tony seems unable to see the danger in this madness, instead crowing about signing more free trade agreements that he refuses to show us the details of. While Abbott and his stormtroopers spend billions on Operation Sovereign Borders, we are signing away our sovereignty to global corporations.
There can’t be many people left on Abbott’s Team Australia and those that are are probably not the people you want making decisions for you.