I know it’s going to be really hard for most of Australia to be convinced that Tony Abbott has done us a favour, because everything so far that he has done for Australia since becoming Prime Minister has been the opposite of a favour. However, it has occurred to me that Abbott, unbeknownst to himself, has, through being the worst Prime Minister we have ever had, done us the favour of teaching us some lessons that I hope are taught well enough that we won’t forget. So that we don’t go and make the same mistake twice in 2016. Here are some of the key lessons Abbott has imparted so far in his first shambolic, chaotic term:
Conservative Liberals are conservative Liberals.
If it walks like a conservative Liberal, talks like a conservative Liberal and quacks like a conservative Liberal, I hope we have all learned that it’s a duck. Seriously folks, I know you all feel like there’s not much point us all saying this over and over again, but sometimes I feel I need to say it just a few more times quietly to myself to keep from going insane and screaming from the roof tops with the scale of my ‘I told you so’ impulse. But yeah, I did tell everyone and not enough of the people who needed to listen listened. Yet, perhaps they are listening now?
Abbott has always been a conservative. No matter what way you ‘spin’ it, none of his behaviour whilst in Howard’s government for all those years told us anything more than we already knew about how right-wing-fanatical-conservative Liberals behave. It has always be thus.
You only have to know their two favourite words to understand Abbott and his government’s entire ideology, which drives their entire raison d’être. User pays. The likes of Abbott’s have a subconscious thought process that goes something like this: those who are born poor and haven’t worked hard enough are too lazy to stop being poor and are lazy and dependant on hard working rich people who pay taxes. Rich people who pay taxes shouldn’t be relied on to fund the lives of lazy, immoral poor people who are too lazy to get rich and pay taxes. It’s immoral to let people be dependent on the government and a big government encourages people to be lazy and to depend on the government. Big government should be destroyed in preference for a small, useless, and not able to be dependable government. Users should pay their way, so user pays is the best system for funding everything including health, education, infrastructure, community, everything. If user can’t afford to pay, user doesn’t get and user should stop being so lazy and hungry and in need of shelter and should go and get rich so they’re not reliant on the rich people who have to pay tax to support them.
Get it? This is the way conservative Liberals like Abbott have always seen the world, and always will see the world. Once you recognise this mentality, you can see it in everything Abbott does and in all his policies and of course all over his budget. We should never ever forget this. Abbott and his ilk will always be this way. A fair chunk of the voting public also think like this. But those who don’t share this attitude shouldn’t vote for Abbott, and if they do vote for Abbott and they’re surprised that they get a duck for a Prime Minister, they should learn from their mistake and never do it again.
Running the country takes more than a 3 word slogan.
You know how it was really fashionable and mainstream over the last six years to run with the line that the Labor government was chaotic and dysfunctional and needed to be voted out for this reason, especially after Labor formed a minority government in 2010? Abbott’s government has proven, through a continuous barrage of chaotic mistakes, missteps, scandals, embarrassments, tragedies, ships pinging themselves, diplomatic rows with Indonesia, a murdered asylum seeker, lobbyist chiefs of staff, expense scandals, a biased Speaker, back-bench revolts, the c-bomb in Parliament, the shutting down of an industry, scholarship nepotism, senior leaders not knowing details about the budget, wink gaffes, that it’s not as easy as it looks to run a country. Note that this list is long enough, without also including two nationwide marches of tens of thousands disgruntled voters, or any of the policy horror stories included in the most unpopular budget of all time. So we have learned that three word slogans count for less than nothing. And the outcome of this is that Abbott’s government has shown the previous Labor government to be the policy-successful, cohesive, on-message, highly professional and well-oiled machine that I always said they were, despite Rudd’s white-anting. I told you so. Oops, another one slipped out.
The mainstream media is terrible at reporting politics and covering political campaigns.
I’m clearly not the only person at the moment who has noticed that the mainstream media isn’t wearing any clothes. Not only did they completely fail to scrutinise Abbott’s character and policy plans before the election, but now they are floundering around, failing to adequately explain what it is that Abbott is trying to do to the country. How many times do we have to hear a political journalist say that Abbott needs to ‘improve his message’ before these so-called professional journalists understand that you can’t just spit on and polish this turd of a budget?
Abbott’s polling problems have nothing to do with ‘message’ or the ‘sales job’ and everything to do with the actual policies contained within the budget papers. Policies. You know, those things that decide how the wealth of the country will be distributed, who will pay what tax, who will receive what services and who has access to what support? This is seriously important stuff for political journalists to be looking at, but every time they get paid to open their mouths or to put pen to paper, all we hear commentary about is Abbott’s spin-job. It’s a disgrace. And it’s this disgrace that enabled Abbott to get the job in the first place. Shame on you all.
Here’s a couple of tips for journalists who are trying to work out where they’ve gone wrong at doing their really important jobs. The first thing they need to understand is that Australians didn’t need to hear them discuss how Hockey sold the budget, because we were listening to Hockey and we heard exactly what he said. We speak English just as well as journalists do, and our ears and eyes function in exactly the same way. The second thing they need to know is that the Liberal government’s polls are bad because the budget is a horror movie for the Australian community. Not because it was sold badly. How about putting that objective perspective out there, just for a change? This is not a two-horse spin race. This is people’s lives. This is everyone’s lives.
There were more than one or two progressive policies worth defending in the election.
The fate of our community is our own fate.
Abbott’s budget proved that the community does care about the community. And isn’t that what being a progressive is all about?
Sometimes it’s not until the values of a community are so blatantly threatened like they have been by Abbott’s budget that people realise even if these policies aren’t going to be personally detrimental to them, they are going to be detrimental to lots of other people in the community and that this is not fair. When voters start to think about what is fair and how they want their country to be fairer, progressives are bred in huge numbers. So perhaps the community has learned that they do care about their community. And perhaps this is Abbott’s most important legacy that we should be most grateful for. Abbott is breeding progressives. And progressives don’t vote for Abbott.
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