The Abbott Government must now change or die.
Following on from the grilling Alan Jones gave Tony Abbott on his talkback program. Andrew Bolt decided on Tuesday to weigh into the discussion about the poor performance of the government. At first glance one might say, fair enough. Putting aside the fact that Bolt and Jones write on the basis of payment for controversy, Bolt does make some valid points. He covers a wide range of topics from foreign policy to media bias. I think I agree more often than not. Did I just say that?
But there is one glaring omission. The Prime Minister seems to be responsible for nothing. It’s everyone’s fault but Abbott’s. How can this be?
What follows is a transcript from Bolt’s blog. My comments are in italics.
The Abbott Government falls further behind in Newspoll:
In two-party-preferred terms, based on preference flows from last year’s election, Labor leads by 55 per cent to 45 per cent. The ALP’s third consecutive rise in two-party terms means the opposition has been in front of the -Coalition on this measure for 14 successive Newspolls.
I still believe this overstates the margin, and the reality is somewhere between Newspoll and Essential Media’s 48 to 52 per cent. But there is no disputing the Government has a serious problem.
At this stage in the election cycle polls are meaningless as to a pointer to who might win. However as a current form guide of performance they are illuminating. Why all of a sudden Newspoll is shadowing Morgan is a mystery. Perhaps they are calling mobiles. Given there will not be much joy in any LNP future announcements these figures will continue for months to come.
So to repeat:
– the Government’s foreign policy successes don’t much impress voters. They are important, some critical, but they will increasingly look to voters like evasive action. A smokescreen from what they’d consider their most immediate concerns.
Bolt is correct here. Abbott has looked as though he has vacated domestic policy in favour of the perception he is some sort of international statesman. Which he aint. THE G20 meeting gave him a powerful stage to articulate his vision for Australia. So he spoke about his inability to pass his unfair budget. Now that’s statesmanship for you.
And what intelligent Prime Minister PM would say.
“As for Australia, I’m focusing not on what might happen in 16 years’ time, I’m focusing on what we’re
doing now and we’re not talking, we’re acting,”
What would an intelligent 18-year-old about to vote for the first time think of this statement by the PM.
As Malcolm Farr said on insiders. ‘’He shouldn’t be left in charge of his own mouth’’
– the domestic issues, especially Budget cuts and broken promises, continue to kill the Government.
In trying to sell the perception that the budget was in crisis while adding to the deficit (they are still doing it) themselves only served to highlight Abbott’s capacity for lying. If things continue the deficit will double by the time of next year’s budget. Whatever spin Abbott and his ministers put on it, he told lies to gain power and is now suffering credibility deficiency syndrome.
– weak economic growth and Budget blowouts undermine the Government’s entire argument for being.
There are reasons for the weak economic growth resulting in a drop in revenues. These could be addressed but for Abbott’s blind ideological political philosophy. Its better that the poor should pay.
– a ferocious onslaught by the media Left, especially the ABC behemoth, against the Government generally and Abbott personally, means the Government struggles to sell even its strengths.
What a ridiculously incoherent argument. The right control the vast bulk of media influence. The left have no shock jocks like Jones, Hadley, Smith and others. They have no journalists of the venom of Piers Akerman, Janet Albrechtson, Miranda Devine, Dennis Shanahan, Paul Kelly, Chris Kenny and Tom Switzer.Gerard Henderson Paul Sheehan, Miranda Divine.
They control 70% of the distribution of newspapers in the major cities. The ABC is not biased. It has a charter to uphold and is always under scrutiny to do so. Commercial stations don’t have one. It is but one TV channel against many. Given that the commercial media has vacated truthful reporting in favour of biased opinion. It is a bit rich for the most biased journalist in Australia to accuse the ABC of anything let alone bias. In any case 70% of Australians think it trustworthy. Ever watched the Bolt report?
– the Government’s media strategy is poor, too often defensive and reactive. Abbott still lacks a senior media strategist in his office – a critical and telling absence.
A media strategist will not resolve the issue of Abbott’s lying directly and by omission. Here is an example from Wednesday. When asked about the Green Fund at a joint press conference with French President Hollande the PM said that we already had a Direct Action fund of 2.5 Billion and a Clean Energy Finance Corp 10 Billion fund. The only thing wrong with the answer was that the first won’t work and it is Government policy to abolish the second. His lying knows no bounds.
– the Government has bought the myth that deeds speak for themselves and playing nice wins respect. A cameo: Tony Abbott in welcoming President Xi Jinping to Parliament yesterday praised Labor leaders Gough Whitlam and Neville Wran for fostering China ties; Bill Shorten in his welcome praised Whitlam, noted Labor leaders had worked on the free trade deal before Abbott and praised China for its global warming “deal” and the sending of doctors to treat ebola patients – all digs at bipartisan Abbott and his policies. The Government is getting killed in bare-knuckle politics.
What gratuitous nonsense. Trying to make out that Abbott is the personification of niceness when in fact he is a gutter politician of many years standing. A political thug who the pubic, it would seem, have finally woken up to. A man who has broken every parliamentary convention when it comes to the niceties of diplomacy. For a person such as Abbott, with his record, to solicit bipartisan cooperation is hypocrisy in the extreme.
– Treasurer Joe Hockey isn’t getting cut-through in the most important portfolio. A Treasurer who can’t dominate the agenda leaves a Government fatally weakened.
Totality correct Andrew. What a terrible indictment of the Treasurer of the country. Of course when he said that Global Warming and Economics don’t co-exist it was like saying blood has nothing to do with bodily function .He has no creditability what so ever. On the plus side you have to give him credit for owning up to the fact that the GFC did actually happen.
– the Government doesn’t have an effective headkicker. It lacks mongrel. Another cameo: Barack Obama won huge and positive coverage in the media for belting Abbott over global warming. The Government looked properly reprimanded, a punching bag, when it should have blasted back and won points for at least seeming tough.
The headkicker they had as Opposition Leader was good at it. As PM it is now not the done thing. All Obama did was to raise an issue of vital importance to the world. He was supported by the President of the world’s most populous nation. I think they made their point. Is Andrew suggesting our PM should have shirtfronted both of them.
– internal jealousies mean the Government’s most successful minister, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison, has been given not a single new problem to solve since stopping the boats, while strugglers are pushed in front of the TV cameras week after week.
(a single new problem to solve) Is there a daily list? Morrison’s appeal is to those in the community who are sympathetic to the demonization of people and would probably favor no immigration at all. There is nothing to suggest he would be popular in another ministry. Maybe Tourism, or perhaps I’d better not go there.
– the Government’s second most successor minister, Julie Bishop, is in a portfolio which lets her shine but does not win the government any votes.
True. Remember she had another portfolio once and got the sack for incompetence.
– the minister most admired by the Left-wing media, Malcolm Turnbull, is in a portfolio in which there is little call for him to use his undoubted influence and charm to sell the Government to its media critics. Instead, as Communications Minister he is more likely to protect the media critics from the Government.
Malcolm might have made a decent Treasurer but he is unlikely to be given the job because it comes with too much influence and power. Consequently it would make Abbott vulnerable.
– the Government has not developed a moral message – an inspiring cause – other than the constitutional recognition of Aborigines, which will actually prove marginal and divisive, not least with its own base. That agenda will also be thankless: witness Mick Dodson’s mean-spirited attack on Abbott last week. Where is the evangelism?
There he goes on the aboriginal thing again. The rotating writer. Global warming, asylum seekers, Muslims and Labor in whatever order. Abbott was the most successful Opposition Leader this country has ever seen.(depending on your mode of measurement) He won office by lying and barking negativity like a mad dog for four years. During that time he never ventured into the formulation of good public policy. As a consequence he came to power with a zeal for undoing, not doing.
– the Government has been poor in developing the “Greek chorus” effect that collectivists like Labor do so well. Too often it seems friendless. Business is slow to support it, and too rarely are the Prime Minister and his ministers seen surrounded by happy supporters. Obvious example?: the Government couldn’t or wouldn’t find hundreds of scientists and medicos to even back its huge medical research fund.
The ‘’Greek Chorus’’ or collective voices saw the total unfairness of everything conservative. Why would you expect scientists to support a medical research program while he was denouncing science with a vengeance and ridiculing it in terms of the Climate? A determination by government to limit the amount of sugar, fat and salt in processed food would achieve a similar outcome as a research fund.
– the Government can’t or won’t even energize its base with some signature campaigns and successes. It gave up the free speech fight, gave up on workplace reform and dares not challenge the global warming hysteria (indeed, its lacks the people, conviction and strategy to even attempt it). Where are the inspiring reforms – ones that its supporters will gladly man the election booths to defend?
1. Why is it that the Murdoch Press is the main agitator for more free speech? They are the pedlars of verbal violence and dishonesty .The most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate-mongerers like Bolt seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded. 2. workplace reform is happening. Wages are in reverse. 3. You can believe the likes of Abbott and Bolt on Climate Change but I will stick with the evidence. 4. If Andrew can name a conservative reform in the name of the common good then do so.
– the Government too often radiates a lack of conviction. It often dares not dare name the cause in which it fights: it cuts (barely) the ABC without explaining that it’s too big and biased; it slashes at global warming programs without explaining why they are a useless fix to a non-problem, it resists Obama’s global warming evangelism without explaining he’s a fraud.
Perhaps the facts get in the road and are difficult to move.
– the Government has picked too many fights it cannot win, not just with the Senate but more especially with the public. It must ditch the undoable, argue only for what it can win and avoid the Senate bloc wherever possible. Bye-bye Medicare co-payment and parental leave scheme.
It was only Tuesday that Abbott told the Indian PM that he, Abbott, was a ‘’can do’’ person. And yes he should consign the co-payment and PPL to the rubbish bin. But there will be a residual price to pay for his ineptness.
– the Government seems out of synch with the times. Younger and fresher faces – women particularly – are needed in the lineup. Some of the Coalition’s most appealing talent is not in the Ministry.
Ah women. That’s always been the problem. Hasn’t it. The polls show that women and young people loath the man.
– the Liberals have never prospered without senior ministers in Victoria arguing the case, leading the charge, imposing themselves on the debate. Where are they?
That’s true. Victorians seem to have always been the more level-headed and of the ‘’small L’’ variety.
– a small point now, but why do Ministers go onto big set-piece interviews, especially with the ABC, without something new to reveal or announce? Why sit there passively while the interviewer asks the gotcha questions they’ve been working on for hours, hoping to have found the weakness?
What a silly question. The answer is obvious. There aren’t any.
True, I have listed here the Government’s shortcomings but not its strengths and virtues. And if I were to list Labor’s failings, the list would be much longer.
But the Government cannot just motor on as Julia Gillard fatally tried, arguing that voters will eventually come around and see the gain for the pain, or see through the Opposition’s alleged failings. The polls today have a reality. Something is not working and must be fixed.
Labor lost the last election principally because of its leadership problems but the Gillard minority government never defeated on the floor of the house while at the same time passing some major reforms. Gillard could negotiate, Abbott cannot.
That fixing must start over the Christmas break. The planned minor reshuffle must be expanded. A new start must be signaled with new faces and an act of repentance. An aggressive, positive and confident media strategy must be adopted.
Get sharp. Get tough. Get assertive. Get confident. Offer inspiration. And fight.
One could argue that the damage has already been done. The electorate has labelled the Prime Minister a liar.
As I said at the start. Andrew Bolt raised a number of issues that are relevant to the LNP’s current predicament. He does not seem to apportion blame for anything to the party leader.