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Tag Archives: Michael Kroger

An Abbott in the Lodge: “NEVER” (Part four)

lodge 4

The Lodge – the official residence of the Prime Minister

But what if.

Tony Abbott is often touted as being the most effective opposition leader this country has ever had. What criteria people use to reach this conclusion is I am unsure. However it seems to me that it is flawed. Why? Well it’s rather simple really. For almost three years the polls have given the LNP an unassailable lead over the Labor Party. So why the overkill? Obviously both the MSM and Abbott were eager to be rid of the Prime Minister. Did they show good judgement in hounding her out of office in the knowledge that a more formidable and popular opponent would replace her. Why do it when it would have been easier over the past twelve months to let political nature take its course and assume office with little effort. Everyone agreed that the populace had stopped listening to her in spite of her policy success. They needed to do everything possible to see her remain in office. It would guarantee them victory. So what was to be gained by applying the blow torch?

It goes without saying that Julia Gillard was subjected to the most contemptible and at times depraved attacks that in a political sense were unnecessary if just gaining office was the only objective. However, it seems that men cannot help themselves so they went for the jugular and in so doing put Abbott’s election at risk. But they did achieve one objective and set back the political aspirations of women for generations.

If Abbott does lose this election then he could be rightly accused of losing an unlosable one.

Tony Abbott if nothing else is a very colourful character. He is aggressive both physically and in the use of language. His negativity is legendary and he has little consideration for any ideas other than his own and says NO to his opponents policies regardless of their worthiness. He is by evidence and his own admission a liar of some regularity. Added to that he has a political gutter mentality and little respect for the institution of parliament and its conventions.

My personal desire is that Labor wins the forthcoming election. Firstly because it’s the party I support ideologically and at this point in time has the best policies to take this country forward. Secondly because I would prefer never to again see the negative often hateful style of opposition that Mr Abbott has foisted on the Australian people. It may be a way to win office but the country pays a price.

But what if he does win.

He would face governing the country (Perhaps even implementing Labor policies) against a backdrop of unsavoury personal and party distractions. All of these distractions regardless of merit would create major diversions not withstanding constant public intrigue and judgement. He would be a Prime Minister like no other facing constant involvement in court proceedings or by association being on the edge of them.

There is the law suit he is facing in relation to David Ettridge and One Nation. He is being sued by Ettridge for for $1.5 million. His expenses are being looked after by a legal firm of Liberal supporters. Now it is not for me to judge the veracity of Mr Ettridge’s claims (the courts will do that) however, I would just point that firstly Abbott established a slush fund to bring down Pauline Hansen and then lied about its existence on the ABC Late Line program. He would have to explain this to the public. Not a good look for newly elected a Prime Minister. I dare say we could expect a plethora of journalists all chaffing at the bit to fill a few tabloid pages.

Then of course we have the Ashby/Slipper affair and we are awaiting the courts appeal decision. It is difficult to imagine whatever the outcome that there would not be some residual flak that Abbott would have to face. He has said that he had no direct knowledge of the proceedings. He has never explained what knowledge he did have. And if Ashby was granted his day in court it would involve members of his party and he could not escape the obvious implications. He may be able to explain his involvement but he would have to explain the involvement of his colleagues and that would be difficult. If on the other hand the ruling vindicates Justice Rare’s original verdict and an investigation is warranted. Would Prime Minister Abbott have to stand aside? After all, he was suggesting that the Prime Minister Gillard and Craig Thompson do just that under similar circumstances.

Early next year Barbara Ramjan sues Michael Kroger for defamation. Remember she accused Abbott of punching a wall either side of her head during a university altercation. Tony Abbott is not directly involved in this case although he might have to explain the fact that he reckons the event never took place in spite of witnesses saying it did. You might also recall that upon finding out Ramjan’”s standing in the community Alan Jones apologised to her. And she is married to a Supreme Court judge. All in all again not a good look for a new PM.

And Peter Slipper will front court to answer Cab Charge charges. On the surface this might seem trivial but it is still to be explained as to why the matter was not dwelt with in the normal parliamentary manner instead of having to go to court. Again Abbott is not directly involved but he would have to explain his party’s complicity.

And of course, unionist John Setka is also suing Abbott for defamation.

I can think of no person ever running for the position of Prime Minister who would take with them so much personal and party scandal into the office.

Black Swans and Narratives

Black Swan

Photo: Fairfax media

We’re natural story making machines. We like to give our universe a sense of order and reason, so when something happens, we like to create a plausible narrative on this. Of course, sometimes the narrative is just plain wrong, but if enough people repeat it, it seems to make sense.

For example, many people have talked about “that handshake” as being the defining moment in the 2004 election. Mark Latham’s aggressive handshake with John Howard made the electorate think of him as a bully and not controlled enough to be PM. Of course, this completely overlooks the fact that the handshake probably had little effect on the vast majority of the electorate. If a mistake by Howard or one of his front bench had led to a Latham victory, then commentators would be suggesting that the handshake was the moment where Latham defined himself as a younger, more appealing candidate and made Howard look old and past it.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book, “The Black Swan” talks about the dangers of retrospective analysis. He argues “almost all consequential events in history come from the unexpected—yet humans later convince themselves that these events are explainable in hindsight.” That we, for example, respond as though the events leading up to the collapse of the Soviet Union were obvious and Reagan’s decisions were part of a brilliant strategy.

Apple’s resurgence under Steve Jobs is well documented. With Jobs’ death, Apple may continue to thrive or may be overtaken by a more creative company. Whatever, the narrative may have Jobs as the guru who was irreplaceable, as someone who imposed such a strong culture that Apple continues to thrive or even as someone whose importance was exaggerated. With hindsight, one of those will be an obvious narrative, but which will it be? That’s the interesting question.

And so with Labor’s leadership change. Will the media begin to speculate about a Turnbull challenge if the polls are poor?

A few people have suggested that Shorten has done himself no favours. Of course, that may well be the case. In five years time – if anyone cares – we may be writing that Shorten destroyed his chances of ever being PM when he publicly backed Rudd. But there are many potential narratives. If Rudd goes close or wins (amazing!), then Shorten will be able to paint his “difficult decision” as what saved the ALP from an electoral wipeout. Rather than be the pariah, he can be the “hero” of the narrative. His ambition is obvious, but whether his decision to back Rudd hinders or helps that decision only time will tell.

At the moment, there is a lot of anger from Gillard supporters. Some feel that Rudd’s negativity and treachery shouldn’t be rewarded. I’ve heard more than one person declare that they’ll never vote Labor again. But when it comes to election day, how many will actually preference the Abbott led Liberals above the ALP? Abbott’s negativity or Rudd’s undermining? Mm, if the Greens don’t get a boost, they may as well give up politics and create a real “Direct Action” plan for the environment.

Rudd may not be the messiah. (“He’s just a naughty boy!”) Last night, Michael Kroger was saying that he was the “worst Prime Minister we’d ever had”! (Where have I heard that before?) He also said that Labor all hated each other. No-one asked him if he’d had lunch with Costello lately, or whether he’d like to provide a reference for Jeff Kennett to take over at Melbourne.

But apart from Kroger, the Liberal’s narrative is now looking more inconsistent than ever. “Rudd was replaced by the ‘faceless men’ – outrageous!” becomes “Rudd was restored by the ‘faceless men’ – outrageous!” Except that in recent ballot it was the actual party that voted for Rudd – no suggestion of external union interference. If anything, the unions backed Gillard.

Similarly, the ad that the Liberals have ready, using quotes from Gillard, Latham, Garrett, Emerson and others, doesn’t quite make sense. Aren’t these the people who the Liberals have told us aren’t worth listening to? But how can they work together? Aren’t these people leaving Parliament? 

Even the idea that Julia lied about the Carbon tax and needs to be punished is being blunted by the media. Headlines like “Rudd’s Revenge” may actually help Labor. I know that they’re not intended to. But for some, it’ll be Rudd who got rid of “that woman”, after Abbott was too ineffectual to do it.

How it actually pans out is guesswork. I’m sure that some of the comments will tell me that they know that Labor are still heading for oblivion and that others will tell me that it’s all ok, now Kevin’s back in charge. And some people will be right, but beware the retrospective narrative. Beware the “Of course, Shorten had to do what he did – he saved them!” or “If only they’d stuck with Julia – it’d have be ok!” Some people have announced with certainty that Labor would be thrown out on September 14th and the Liberals had a countdown clock – neither, whichever way it goes, will be true. (Unless Rudd does hold it on September 14th, and loses badly!).

Gillard has done an extraordinary job, under impossible circumstances; history should be kinder to her than the media criticism over the past few years would suggest. But then no-one ever points out that Whitlam left almost no Government debt. Or that “Blue Poles” is now worth many, many more times what we paid for it.

History, someone once said, is written by the winners. Actually, it’s written by the writers. Let’s make sure that the “official” version is not the only voice being heard.

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