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.