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They don’t instil confidence any more than they display it

In 2012 Tony Abbott said “Imagine the reaction, for instance, had the Howard government sought to gag naval personnel after ‘children overboard’. But the principle of free speech badly needs reaffirmation now, because of the current government’s attempts to bully critics into silence.”

Yes, he truly said that!

This from the man who has been so highly critical of the ABC and the Guardian for revealing allegations of animal abuse in live exports, abuse of asylum seekers by naval and security personnel , spying on foreign leaders, and the payment of people smugglers by our government. Q&A has evoked hysterical overreaction and government interference with the independence of the national broadcaster.

This from the man who has silenced his own Ministers. He has gagged the public service, journalists, border force personnel, and all people who deal with asylum seekers under threat of gaol time. He has defunded the Freedom of Information Office which is now run by one man working from home. Whole departments no longer answer requests from the media. Reports paid for by us are not released. Advice that does not support the government’s political view is rejected. The phrases “operational matter” and “commercial in confidence” are flung around with gay abandon to stop stakeholders from having any input and the public from having information.

If you are so sure you are right, why keep information secret?

The Abbott government tells us that the adults are in charge but they have veiled their governing in secrecy and reacted ferociously to any criticism. Instead of confidently answering legitimate concerns, they dismiss, attack or ridicule the questioner.

When Obama spoke about the need to protect the Great Barrier Reef our Treasurer responded that Obama “hasn’t had great success” so far with his own plans to cut carbon emissions. Julie Bishop inferred that he didn’t know what he was talking about.

When the executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres, suggested that bushfires would get worse due to climate change and that Direct Action was a very expensive way to address it, Tony Abbott said she was “talking through her hat”.

When Gillian Triggs produced the Forgotten Children Report, she was mercilessly attacked as a partisan hack and her resignation was sought by the Attorney General.

“The Human Rights Commission, in my view, is an important national institution, but it has to be like Caesar’s wife, it must both be and be seen to be above partisan politics,” Senator Brandis said.

One wonders if he feels the same about Dyson Heydon and the TURC.

When Sarah Hansen-Young expressed alarm at allegations in a submission to a Senate inquiry that she was spied on by security guards at the Australian-run detention centre on Nauru, Peter Dutton slammed her as an attention-seeking “embarrassment to our country” with a record of making unsubstantiated claims that inevitably were proved to be wrong. We are still waiting for his apology.

When the Mackay Conservation Group were successful in court action delaying the approval of the Adani mine, they were labelled as traitors and called every name under the sun, my favourite being “vigilante litigants” – an oxymoron from the moron who holds the position of our highest legal officer in the country and who is now seeking to take away the right of citizens to object to developments on environmental grounds.

When East Timor sought to take the Australian government to court for bugging their parliamentary offices to gain commercial advantage for a private company, George Brandis authorised ASIO officers to raid the offices of East Timor’s lawyer and confiscated the passport of the key witness. This landed Australia in the dock at the International Court of Justice and dealt a serious blow to Australia’s global reputation as a nation that respects the rule of law.

When Tanya Plibersek drew attention to the plight of displaced people in Syria, suggesting we should be providing humanitarian aid, our Foreign Minister accused her of advocating for a “terrorists’ picnic” in Syria.

When the Labor Party sought to ensure that there would be mandatory labour market testing for developments under the Chinese Free Trade Agreement, they were called “racist” and “xenophobes”.

When they questioned the legality of stripping citizenship, Abbott accused them of “rolling out a red carpet for terrorists” whilst refusing to make public the legal advice he had received.

When his own colleagues complain about the excessive control by the unelected Peta Credlin, Abbott calls them sexist.

They even refuse to debate in Parliament the decision to go to war.

Calm confidence is something we should expect from our leader. It is their job to reassure us that everything is under control.

But misplaced confidence can be a very destructive thing.

An increasing trend towards secrecy and virulent attacks on anyone who dares to question does not instil confidence any more than it displays it.

Bravado is no replacement for convincing argument that can bear scrutiny.


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  1. Douglas Evans

    Very well said but calm confidence we will never get from Abbott or any of this misbegotten rabble. The more desperate they get the deeper the holes get that they keep digging for themselves. This is surely by any measure the least competent, least trustworthy ‘government’ we have ever inflicted on ourselves. They will do/say/try anything to save themselves.

  2. mars08

    In asking the US to “request” Australian participation in bombing Syria… Tiny Abbott has shown that the is willing and eager to kill innocent people in order to remain in power. Utterly shameless….

  3. Kaye Lee

    Tony Windsor said “I’ve got no doubt that some of these people in Abbott’s government hope that something goes wrong domestically. That they can taunt a Muslim into doing something so that they can say that we’re the only ones that can protect you, the Labor party are too weak to protect you, vote for us,” he said, adding, “I think that’s an extraordinary agenda to go to an election on.”

  4. Möbius Ecko

    Everything this government is doing at the moment has nothing to do with governing and everything to do with attacking or wedging Labor, and the real gall of it is they are wasting hundreds of millions, if not way more, of public money attempting it whilst totally stuffing up.

    How anyone thought they were a good opposition has me beat. You need only look at how badly they are screwing up as an opposition now to realise Abbott and his cohorts weren’t a good opposition when Labor was in power, it was more a fact that Labor handed them power than they in anyway won it.

  5. Kaye Lee

    How the Liberal Party thought Abbott would be a good leader is the thing that has me flummoxed. He had been there long enough for them to know what he was like. Did they really think being an “attack dog” or good sledger was the most important attribute for leadership? As I watch the girls lined up behind the dispatch box in question time snarling and pointing and shouting abuse, giggling at every nasty putdown, it seems that is the image they want to portray.

    Tony Abbott himself said that “Sooner or later we are all promoted to our own level of incompetence.” He hit his in student politics but no-one told him. Well that’s not true….a lot of us told him…. but the good citizens of Warringah and the Liberal Party room thought otherwise.

  6. Neil of Sydney

    Rudd was a shocking leader but he had sex appeal. That is why Labor picked him as leader. And voters like leaders with sex appeal. But Rudd was so bad as leader they got rid of him. Everybody knew what Rudd was like but they picked him anyway.

    The fact is Abbott has not trashed anything like Labor did.

    Rudd/Gillard trashed our budget, trashed our borders, exploded our unemployment rate and destroyed our auto industry.

    When Abbott does things like that then i will condemn him.

  7. Jexpat

    Neil of Sydney:

    Aside from having difficulty grasping the difference between fact and opinion, you also seem to have difficutly with facts themselves (honesty generally being the best policy, regardless of one’s political affiliation, unless indicated otherwise with a sarcasm tag).

  8. Roswell

    He might have had sex appeal to you, Neil, as I’m sure Abbott has.

    But you’re on your own there.

  9. Diane

    Sorry Neil, reading between the lines, are you saying Abbott has sex appeal?? I wouldn’t let him hear you say that…. Not to mention the fact that you’re blaming Rudd/Gillard for a ‘trashed’ budget and ignoring all evidence as to what the LNP have done to it since!

  10. Kaye Lee

    Every economic indicator has got worse under Abbott – debt and unemployment are much higher.

    Abbott has destroyed the renewable energy industry.

    Abbott has done NOTHING to help the growing global refugee crisis and earned the world’s condemnation for an asylum seeker policy that is illegal.

  11. Neil of Sydney

    No. Labor tends to elect leaders with sex appeal/charisma rather than pick someone who would do a good job.

    you’re blaming Rudd/Gillard for a ‘trashed’ budget and ignoring all evidence as to what the LNP have done to it since!

    Results for Hockeys first budget come out next month. For him to trash the budget like Labor did he would have to double the projected deficit. We will find out soon but i suspect his prediction for the deficit will be close to what was forecast.

  12. Douglas Evans

    Before we get too deeply into listing the failings of this atrocious government I reckon we should not lose sight of the baggage weighing down the opposition. Two little items doing the rounds today worth bearing in mind. Despite Shorten’s expressed desire to get more Labor women into Parliament, the Unions have just trashed a well liked (by rank and file members), and apparently effective, sitting Tasmanian Senator Lisa Singh by ensuring that she is relegated to an unwinnable fourth place on the Ticket in favor of an outright Union hack whose time has apparently arrived. So much for ‘New’ Labor and its reformed, transparent and democratic internal processes.

    Also as Scott Ludlam is reminding all with a neat little graphic, Paul Keating invented off-shore processing of asylum seekers, Julia Gllard commenced our involvement with Nauru and Manus island processing centres and Kevin Rudd was the genius who dreamt up the P{NG solution. Still a way to go for Labor too.

  13. corvus boreus

    Douglas Evans,
    Votes for mandatory offshore detention have all too frequently been bipartisan.

  14. Kaye Lee

    Offshore detention makes no sense. It is one issue that shows in a harsh light the cowardice of both major parties and their inability to be proactive in finding solutions. Politicians are reactionary, too scared to have an idea.

  15. diannaart

    At least Albo has been paying attention:

    Anthony Albanese @AlboMP Outrageous proposal for Border Force on streets of Melbourne has been withdrawn – should never have been proposed in the 1st place 4:18 PM – 28 Aug 2015

  16. corvus boreus

    I think Bill Shorten was chosen as opposition leader on account of his sex appeal.

  17. Kaye Lee

    Could you men who are talking about sex appeal please stop it. You are making me feel nauseous. And could I say, your judgement stinks. It was Tony Abbott who, when asked about a candidate’s credentials, pointed to her sex appeal. It is skin crawly. That is not how work colleagues should be viewing you.

  18. susan

    I think the LNP have Abbott as their leader because they understand that being PM should be hard work and they themselves are all inherently lazy. Each and every one of them seems anti- intellectual and only too satisfied to get facts wrong. Conscientious public service would require too much of their time and they would rather concentrate on collecting donations.

  19. Kaye Lee


    Their idea of hard work is having to attend weddings and the opera and football grand finals and the Melbourne Cup. It’s so hard being a celebrity…far too many free tickets and dinners – just ask Barnaby.

  20. corvus boreus

    Rules and advice for doing the Limbo (how low can you go?).

    When you manage to pass under the currently set level, lower the bar by a slightly optimistic increment.

    If you dislocate the bar by failing to pass under it without rattling it to perceptible disturbance, line up for another try (with the option of raising the bar slightly).

    Persist until disqualified.

  21. RosemaryJ36

    Please Albo. Tap Bill on the shoulder and tell him it is time to go. We need an alternative to the stupid mob currently in power and the ALP in its present form is not in the running!

  22. Kaye Lee

    I hope all of you who derided this debacle are now feeling just a little bit ashamed of yourselves. Tony says you should. Border Farce are there to Advance Australia Fair – (those of you who are not fair, one cross each, line on the left)

  23. Aortic

    Great stuff again Kaye, well done. I think the great danger (amongst many others I might add) is that in the feverish pursuit by the Libs to keep this klutz Abbott in power something like the Melbourne farce wiil actually go horrendously wrong and innocent peple will actually get hurt. I agree Albo would give Abbott a more aggressive opponent but whether they are prepared to move while the LNP have the Rudd/Gillard thing up their sleeve is a moot point.

  24. stephengb2014

    When Bill Shorten supported the Data Retention, I felt betrayed, then every time Labor supported reductions in our freedoms has been a disappointment.
    I understand that Labor could get wedged on national security if they do npt support security measures but it is none the less a problem for Labor suppprters.
    I see that Jeremy Corbyn in the UK is showing all of the signs of absolute conviction to Labor ideals. A bravery that more than a year ago I urged Bill Shorten to display.
    however I recognise that the Australian Labor Party, is gin shy anoit changing leadership and now it is too late. And yes I did implore Bill Shorten, over a year ago, to step down in favour of Albo, for the sake of the Party, but of course he hasn’t.
    I do not at this stage think that Bill Shorten will make a good PM but I trust that he proves me wrong.

    Kaye Lea’s article above just goes to demonstrate what a god awful government the Abbott government is, but I am under no elusion that Abbott will hit the hustings sich a force of lies and misinformation, that will give Bill Shorten a serious run and may well even secure a second term.

  25. Wally

    Abbott is already at war with anyone who is not a LNP voter or an elitist, the question is who will he target next?

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