Tony Abbott is being widely dismissed in the media as having little influence in the Liberal Party today but I beg to differ.
Abbott is, in fact, very much the architect of today’s Liberal Party strategy.
Malcolm had a go at telling us there was never a more exciting time to be us and that innovation would solve all our problems.
But he failed dismally to excite the nation. Talk of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists and innovation hubs meant nothing to an electorate struggling to get by with stagnant wages, insecure employment and inadequate welfare.
So Malcolm ripped up the science playbook and adopted the well-honed Abbott strategy of going for character assassination instead, with a fishing expedition hoping to find some mud that would stick.
After all, Tony got Pauline sent to jail when she first posed a threat to siphon off the bigot vote. He destroyed Thomson and Slipper, and did his durnedest to get something on Rudd, Gillard and Shorten at his royal commissions.
Turnbull, thinking he’d try his hand, sets Michaelia Cash the task to Kill Bill. Except that didn’t go so well as it is now her office under investigation for illegally tipping off the media about police raids.
In a gutsy play today, Michaelia said testily that she was “not a party to the proceedings, not under investigation.” But she “would like to know why the AWU does not want to show the Australian people, but in particular the members of the AWU, that the money they were spending on their behalf was properly authorised.”
Considering the questions being asked about the gift of almost half a billion dollars to the GBRF, Michaelia is on very shaky ground to try to keep flogging that dead horse.
Page 2 of Tony’s playbook was what his chief of staff called “brutal retail politics” where he adopted a deliberate strategy to fire up anger about power prices by lying about the nature of the carbon price and the impact of renewable energy on price increases.
After several years of rising prices, Malcolm has come up with his own version of Direct Inaction, now known as the NEG. And by coincidence, we will all save just as much as Tony promised us when he axed the tax.
Tony’s other big one was “stop the boats”.
Since we now turn them around, Malcolm has to find some other way to make us scared of foreigners so he has opted for African gangs, Muslims not integrating, and flags being waved about reducing immigration.
But someone always takes it just that bit too far, trying to be the loudest dog whistler, which makes it hard to push that one now though I am sure Dutton will give it his best shot.
Today in QT, P Duddy was smiling and upbeat – always a worrying sign because it usually means he has one of his excruciatingly weird jokes to tell or some personal slur he thinks is particularly clever. This time it was directed at Shayne Neumann:
He has been the Shadow Minister for immigration for 120 question times. Now, Mr Speaker, he has not asked any questions on boats or immigration. Mr Speaker, I have got a soft spot for the Member for Blair and, Mr Speaker, I have got to say I have just been advised that after all of this period of time, the Member for Blair has asked for his first briefing from my department on operation sovereign borders. I feel almost, Mr Speaker, like a proud father, you know when your child takes a first step or milestone. Is not yet speaking, he is a little slow at speaking but he has taken one baby step.”
Which is interesting since Perth Now reported Dutton’s time as shadow health minister this way:
Like a commando in deep camouflage entering enemy territory, Peter Dutton’s first task as opposition health spokesman was to shut the health debate down. Health Minister Tanya Plibersek lampooned him for not asking a single question about health in question time.
“Lower company taxes” doesn’t quite have the same punch as “axe the tax”, but Scott is doing his best with “jobs and growth” after they took “debt and deficit disaster” off the play list.
(For the record, gross debt is now over $530 billion and net debt at the end of May was over $336.5 billion)
Turnbull may be standing in front of the orchestra pit but Abbott composed the cacophony they are playing.