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Planes, trains, and automobiles

In September 2008, the Daily Telegraph blared:

“Kevin Rudd should ask himself: am I the Prime Minister or the Foreign Minister? Kevin 07 has become Departure Gate 08.”

In 2009, newly crowned LOTO Tony Abbott said:

“Kevin Rudd loves a crisis to give him an excuse to run to the airport and jump on a 747 and go off and do photo ops with [then British prime minister] Gordon Brown and Barack Obama. I accept that Australia’s voice should be heard in the councils of the world, but it would be nice to hear the prime minister’s voice at home occasionally.”

Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop accused Mr Rudd of harbouring an “obsession with chasing the global limelight”.

Tony picked up the criticism again when Rudd resumed the leadership in June 2013, saying:

“I think he wants to campaign for the prime ministership of this country from the front of a 747. I don’t think the Australian public are going to really warm to that but I think that’s the temptation before him now, to not only be Kevin 747 but maybe Kevin A380 and spend most of the next few months out of the country.”

In contrast to his rhetoric in opposition, since getting the keys to the plane, it is hardly any surprise to hear that Abbott has made 11 international trips, the same number as Mr Rudd made during his first 12 months in office.

At the beginning of this year it was briefly reported that:

“The $600 million lease on the current RAAF fleet of two Boeing 737 business jets and three smaller Challenger 604 aircraft will expire next year and the government will seek agreement from media companies to limit criticism of any decision to opt for bigger planes. Any negative publicity would be limited to plush add ons such as gold taps or marble sinks.”

This report is disturbing for a number of reasons. Tony wants bigger planes fitted out in VIP luxury so he can fly his media pack around with him, along with hundreds of businessmen, whilst directing the media to not criticise the decision or presumably risk losing their free ride.

Every major media outlet has correspondents in other countries. If Rupert wants to fly extra people in I am sure he could afford to do so. After all, the ATO just gave him $882 million for being good at shifting money around. (One wonders why they chose not to appeal that decision).

Tony Abbott paid a visit to China last April, accompanied by a record number of over 700 businessmen who together represented over half the value of the Australian stock exchange. Few realise that this was the first ‘outing’ of the REAL ‘Team Australia”.

“Five state premiers, along with 700 business leaders, including three billionaires are with the prime minister. The government has dubbed it “team Australia“.”

There was also a trip to Indonesia immediately after Tony’s coronation where he hosted 20 business heavyweights including the big banks, mining companies, and health care companies. Among them was Anthony Pratt, CEO of Visy, and Australian’s second wealthiest person according to BRW. Surely he owns his own jet. Must we fly James Packer around the world when he wants to land deals to build more casinos?

In August it was revealed that:

“DEFENCE Minister David Johnston has blown more than $100,000 sending empty VIP air force jets across the Nullarbor to pick up colleagues from WA, including Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.… the VIP planes (RAAF Boeing 737) fly 3000km to Perth empty of passengers. The “ghost flights’’ cost up to $16,000 each, ­excluding wages. On the return trip, MPs and their wives enjoy fine wine, craft beers, cocktails and gourmet hot meals. MPs’ children have also taken the flights, ­according to passenger lists.”

Perhaps our airlines would be doing a bit better if they were supported by our politicians. It is also rather incongruous that government representatives attending conferences get bumped from Tony’s flying circus to make way for photographers and billionaires.

No discussion of planes would be complete without a mention of our squadrons of fighter jets that we may or may not see in a decade or two. As I have said before, I consider this an enormous waste of money as what we need most are planes that can do humanitarian drops or disaster relief or evacuations or search and rescue. We will not be engaging in dog fights and to waste tens of billions on a training jet to play war games in is a ridiculous waste of resources.

Trains don’t get much of a run with the Abbott government. Despite Infrastructure Australia identifying the Melbourne Metro rail tunnel as a project of national significance and placing it at the top of its priority list (the board was subsequently replaced), despite the Gillard government offering funding for the project that was marked ready to go, Tony Abbott is determined to build roads instead. If states want public transport they will have to sell assets because Tony wants thousands of kilometres of pollution-producing bitumen heat islands to be his legacy.

Australia and Antarctica are now the only two continents in the world where there is no high speed rail project underway, though we have no hope of the discussion to progress under this government even though the reasons for it seem compelling. Traditional rail lines could be opened up for freight and fuel guzzling planes would largely be replaced for the trip between Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane. Regional areas could be revitalised giving the option for people to relocate with an easy commute when necessary without having to queue up at airports or joust with trucks on our congested highways.

Not content with buying himself some new planes, Tony Abbott has also just bought a new fleet of bombproof BMWs. The $6.2 million fleet can withstand AK47 fire, attacks with explosive devices or armour-piercing weapons. I’m just wondering how many AK47s and armour-piercing weapons are in circulation in Australia. I hope they have special resistant paint because they are far more likely to get egged which is a real bugger to get off if you don’t do it straight away.

One wonders why we are paying the money to a German company when Holden won the tender process. Abbott said Holden had not even submitted a bid for the tender, something the company says is incorrect. Abbott’s critics claim opting for BMW was all part of discrediting Holden around the time it announced it would cease Australian operations.

We have been assured that it had nothing to do with Bridget Abbott being given a gig as a “brand ambassador” for the BMW Sydney Carnival in 2012. Just as Louise Abbott got the job in the UN and Frances Abbott got the $60,000 scholarship, she was no doubt chosen on merit. Successful accreditation of courses and extension of fee loans to colleges such as the one that offered Ms Abbott the scholarship are also entirely unrelated events. But I digress into murky waters.

As well as Tony’s new fleet of BMWs, we have the endless use of comcars by MPs. Unless a very ‘helpful’ employee steals your diary and goes to the trouble of matching your movements to your cab dockets going back over several years, who would know what the cars are being used for? Apparently if you need to justify claiming travel and accommodation, just get your photo taken visiting something even if it DOES mean keeping all your colleagues waiting.

I have suggested before how much we could save by building an accommodation wing at Parliament House. Those who choose not to stay there pay for their own accommodation and travel to and from work. Those who make appointments during sitting time for places outside Canberra should also pay for travel out of their generous electoral allowance or use the private vehicle provided to all MPs. Not having free RAAF jets and chauffeured limousines at their disposal might make them a little more circumspect about dashing off for parties and sporting events.

Most of the criticisms I have made in this article could be directed at either of the major parties, though some are unique to Tony. But it is Tony who has been lamenting waste and Labor’s debt and deficit, Tony that has mercilessly attacked the most vulnerable for the sake of a number on a piece of paper, Tony that has been telling us that nothing is free and we all must help to fix the problem.

All of us except Tony, that is.

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  1. davidgrayling

    So quickly do the pigs at the trough demand the very best that life has to offer be it pearls or other adornments and perks.

    Tony once was going to live a life of self-sacrifice serving his Savior. Now he thinks he is our Savior.

    Perhaps, soon, he will find a throne and force those around him to bow.

    A crown will surely follow and a military uniform!

  2. Jeanette

    Great article and I am sickened at such waste. I live in a relatively comfortable part of Australia but just a short distance away a public kitchen feeds the homeless. A bullet proof German car won’t save him from rotten tomatoes or eggs. It will happen it’s just a matter of time

  3. Judith

    I feel like ignorance is bliss when it comes to TA. The truth is so abhorrent. Thanks for your articles. Together they chart the depravity of this homogenous group of suits.

  4. mars08

    Hey!! Did you hear what Bill Shorten had to say about Abbott’s overseas travel binge…? Oh well, neither did I…

  5. Roswell

    Love your wit, mars08. Pity it had the ring of truth about it.

  6. dafid linehan

    i was going to respond with all manner of criticisms of the warmongering, intellectually debauched idiot that tries to run this country. However I now get so so angry at the thought of words I would like to write, I wont.
    Suffice to agree with you Kaye Lee and mars response brought a smile.

    I have waited two days now for Mr Shorten or his Immigration Shadow to comment about the tragic imminent death of Iranian Asylum Seeker Hamid kehazaei

    I wait, but nothing, as the embarrassment and shame of Labors off shore detention instigation turns to manure. Obviously silence comes before humanitarian concern.

    Tonight my family gathered to hold our own candlelight memorial for Hamid, the least we could do for an innocent man who came to us for protection and instead sent to his God by a Government who are devoid of a drop of care and respect.

    I fear for this country and its families, we are in a dark place.

  7. Kaye Lee

    In QT today, Greg Hunt was going on about the findings of the RC into pink batts. He said “these deaths were preventable and if the RC can help prevent one more death then it was worth every cent.”

    How many people have committed suicide in detention? How many have died of illnesses that may have been avoided if given adequate medical attention? How many have been murdered? How many unborn babies have been lost? How many will bear the mental scars for life?

  8. Ranger Ginger

    Tony the Unseen in 14!

  9. Ian Joyner

    Abbott should be dubbed ‘Abbott A380’.

    Hasn’t Hockey explained to them the age of entitlement is over.

  10. keerti

    let’s buy tony a cessna! send him………………………………..

  11. I Am God

    I created Tony Abbott for the comic effect. Seems my sense of humour isn’t being appreciated.

  12. stephentardrew

    El Dicpotato’s gravy train.
    Poor people. Wassat?
    Stuff the little children.
    Iraq 30 years later. Let’s do it again.
    Get rida the car makers. Grand victory.
    Cook the planet. Fry eggs on your car.
    Chase the dead planes. Bugga the Super.
    Feed the billionaires. Starve the needy.
    Rig the education. Fix the bad history.
    Team the wealthy Australians. Vilify the marginalized.
    Get the fast jetty lemons. Play the cowards warrior.
    I gotta Bullet proof BMW. Build more highways.
    Come fly with me. Businessmen’s perky plane.
    Humiliate the Aborigines. Sticking the Marbo man.
    Imprison the refos. Impoverish em in Thailand.
    Cut of the head. Rattle the saber.
    Crucify the language. Welcome the sound-bite.
    Elite the wealthy. Kick the poor.
    Religion the eduction. Destroy the logic whats more.
    Undermine the science. Pay out the magic men.
    Fantasize the big bad debty thing. Lie like a weasel.
    Toxify the media. Pray to the fascist IAP.
    Murdoch the media. Kill off dissent.
    Godify the Abbott for he is hell-bent.
    On living the good life to never repent.
    Take all the wealth.
    Through lying an stealth
    Greed is my God money my right.
    Glorifying this odious Satanic Knight.
    Hypocrisy the religion.
    Play the false profit.
    Ruin the Country.
    Just for bloody profit.
    Profit the profit of incurable lies.
    Let’s hope this Demon soon…..
    Joins his unmaker.

  13. abbienoiraude

    Trying to create friendships, trying to mend bridges is different for the hellbent arse who has been hankering with his handmaiden for war.
    And now he has found it…the boy and his toy..the little man and his tiny brain anxious for his place in the history books he has never read…and will never read. His bike, his super cars and his whizzing jets make up his little ego to the size of the pain of mothers wanting to bring their babies safe to Australia and create a new life.
    We are lost. We are less. We are poorer for this thing and his ambition. His vaulting ambition belittles us all.

  14. feelin sick


  15. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Thanks Kaye, for your eloquent overview of Tony Abbott and his band of merry sycophants in their first year of bringing misery into our lives.

    Like all the above comments, I am appalled at Tony Abbott’s blatant (and deceptive) abuse of his position for introducing policies and measures that threaten our combined standard of living by kicking the vulnerable, as well as the frightening threats to the environment.

    Nonetheless, our discussion is a good thing because while we have voices, we can use them and these provide the records that will weed this ugly little feral man named Tony Abbott out.

    When he goes, the Liberal National Party conglomerate will suffer their mortal wound.

    I only hope Labor, the Greens and sane people on the Crossbench can forge an effective alliance that will reverse all the misery Tony Abbott and his cohorts are creating, while introducing innovative, reformist policies that put social considerations first before economic pros and cons.

  16. Dave Woodward

    Useful information shared..I am very happy to read this article..Thanks for giving us nice info. Fantastic walk-through. I appreciate this post.

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