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Whose fault is it?

I once observed that it’d benefit a lot of organizations if someone was paid to take the blame when things go wrong.

“We’ve overestimated/underestimated/overspent/missed the deadline/blah/blah/etc.”

“Oh, sorry, that was my fault.”

“Well, we’re in terrible trouble, what are you going to do about it?”

“Nothing. I’m not paid to solve problems – I’m just paid to take the blame, now I’ve done that the rest of you can work out what to do instead of spending all that time justifying yourselves.”

I think of this now, because I can’t help but feel we’re going to be spending a disproportionate amount of time talking about “blame” in the next year or so.

Reflection and working out what went wrong has its merits, but “blame” is something else altogether.

For example, I notice various letters in the papers blaming Bill Shorten for backing Gillard, for changing back to Rudd, for being a “faceless” man and for being too ambitious. (I still maintain that a Minister cannot be “one of Labor’s faceless men” no matter how much he wheels and deals; it’s an oxymoron.)

Whatever your views on Bill Shorten, I suspect that the more he’s blamed, the more he’ll seek to deflect blame, so while it may feel good to find a villain or a scapegoat, things are rarely one person’s fault.

However, I don’t want to concentrate on Labor’s soul-searching. My purpose here is to look to the future and to remind everyone that Abbott was elected to deal with the Labor Government’s perceived shortcomings.

I use the word “perceived” not to suggest that they had none, but because, clearly, no-one voted for Tony Abbott because of a problem that Labor had, but no-one was aware of.

For the past few years, Abbott has been an attack dog. Laying the blame, always, squarely at Labor’s door. Never mind that some of his complaints lacked any rational arguments to back them up.

Never mind that sometimes future events justified what Labor did, rather than what Liberals suggested. (“We’re spending too much stimulus money now, we need to save some for when we go into recession, which is inevitable!” became “We didn’t go into recession, so we didn’t need to spend any money at all.”)

Never mind the times – as with the Carbon Tax – where Labor were doing what the Liberals suggested. (“If you want to put a price on carbon, why not just do it with a simple tax?” Tony Abbott in 2009). He’s been relentless. And the temptation is to give him a taste of his own medicine. “Let’s make it hard for him. Let’s be negative about everything he does.”

Instead, let’s claim the high moral ground here. Let’s not – as some on social media have done – rejoice in Mirabella’s potential defeat using words like “bitch” and making nasty comments on her personal life.

Let’s not indulge in rumours about Abbott, which even if true, do not diminish his capacity as leader. After all, people objected to such things when the Jones, the Bolts, the Liberals trolls, the Limited Media of Murdoch, all did it.

Let’s not let such people get us on the ropes, where the head-kickers and the body punchers are at their best. Let’s instead hold Abbott to this one standard: “We don’t care who’s to blame, you were elected to fix it! If you can’t do that, you’d better step aside and let someone who can. After all, we have a contract.”

“Yeah but unemployment’s rising/there’s no surplus/we’re in recession because of Labor!!!”

“We don’t care who’s to blame, you were elected to fix it! What’s your answer?”

I suspect that it may be far more effective to do that than to let them deflect blame.

Not to mention, more satisfying!


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  1. hilderombout

    Wow Ross, what a great article, and of course i absolutely agree with you. If we fall into the blame game then that is exactly what the lieberals are good at. Hold them to account is entirely another punch that they might not be so comfortable with. For us, this strategie allows us to keep our selfrespect in our fight to the next election. Well done!!! And thank you!

  2. David

    Admirable sentiments Ross, however we are dealing in Abbott-liar an animal who only plays by one rule, his. After 3 years as you so rightly point out, of his relentless attack (negative) tactic, without policy or costings, indicates he will not change in Govt, nay unable to change.
    To point out his shortcomings in Govt will be met by the same scorn and ridicule he thrived on in Opposition and I should point out with Murdochs empire, helped him win.
    I will wait until the Labor leadership team has been decided. I suspect that will tell us in what direction our party in Opposition will take. Personally I fear a Shorten involvement, fear it very much. That will not be a new direction, a revival, a regime change, but that’s just me, I know others disagree.
    Enjoy your thoughts, thanks.

  3. Dan Rowden

    It’s somewhat irrelevant who is the interim Labor leader, insofar as they won’t be there for the next election. History tells us that unequivocally. What’s interesting is who will volunteer for the suicide mission. Whomever it is they will deserve a goodly amount of kudos for putting their hand up. I guess the important thing in terms of them choosing their next leader will be to minimise the bad press for the next few months. For that reason they really should opt for a clean skin. Personally, just to stick it in Murdoch’s face, I’d go with Plibersek, but that’s just me being indulgent. But it will have to be someone with some guts who knows they won’t be the next PM. Who can Labor afford to sacrifice?

  4. cassilva48

    My view is ‘give em enough rope and they will hang themselves’. I see Brack’s head has already been guillotined!

  5. archiearchive FCD

    That is the most constructive and imaginative idea I have seen in Australian politics for a number of years. I shall certainly attempt to live up to the ideal shown here. I may not write much about politics for a few months. But when I start again it will be to hold Mr Abbott to this standard.

  6. Wen

    Really, really good points, and from experience your proposal to not listen to the excuses and blame game actually works. If you refuse to listen to the whining of the ‘everyone else is to blame’ brigade and as you say consistently (and forcefully might I add) reiterate that we don’t care what the excuses are, get on and fix it, that was the deal after all. The LNP said they could ‘fix’ everything, so let’s hold them to it.

  7. dave the brickie

    whilst I have been guilty of using the “bitch” word regards J Bishop and co,I do feel that being vindictive is not constructive.I do,however,feel that there was never enough “mongrel”in the Labor campaign.There was nobody of the Keating ilk to give as good as was given by Abbort,and to take back the agenda.It was difficult to get any MSM traction.I know this as I tried to get the messages about Labor’s good government on local talkback radio,only to be talked down and cut off on more than one occasion.They didn’t want to know anything about Tony’s million dollar travel rorts,or pollie pedal ripoff.

  8. CMMC

    Something to consider, the ugly Right that control the Abbott and State Liberal regimes have pissed off old-fashioned conservative voters, that is why the swing wasso piss weak.

  9. doctorrob54

    Time for the Labor party to remember what they stood for.Bill Shorten had nothing to do with the demise of JG.
    Rudd was replaced to start of with because because he was and is an arrogant,self centered arse hole that nobody could work with.
    Julia Gillard was replaced due to the convincing power of a corrupted MSM being
    fueled by the termite behaviour of Rudd.
    Don’t ever expect the media to be on side,they never have and no matter what they never will.Why in no interview did any Labor senator stand before the camera and call
    Hockey a filthy lying grub,and explain the difference between net debt and gross debt
    for example.
    Can you imagine field day the media will have for the next 3 years if Rudd isn’t put out to pasture,I can.

  10. dafid1

    I have a problem doctorrob with your ascertain “Shorten had nothing to do with the demise of Julia Gillard”.
    You describe Rudd as ‘an arrogant,self centered arse hole that nobody could work with.’. So were my eyes and ears deceiving me when just before the ballot to decide the leadership between Julia and Rudd, Bill Shorten fronted the nation TV Cameras and declared he was supporting Rudd. How many votes on the right do you think he swayed by making that declaration? Out of the blue without discussion with his supporters/ I doubt it, Shorten is a cunning calculating man , that was no last minute decision. He doesn’t operate that way.
    However that is history, its the future that is important and I note this morning, Conroy who did a runner from the front bench now joins those who cant shut up and give the Tory media more ammunition to blast Labor. He is all over the treacherous ABC this morning every bulletin. Abbott-Liar barely a mention, he is protected species.
    Some of them just don’t get it.

  11. kayelee1

    Tony Abbott (dancing to Credlin’s tune), ably abetted by the media, was extremely successful in setting us against each other. Labor factions started listening to polls rather than providing a united front to rebuff the lies that were being told. The achievements of their time in government were ignored. Their obviously better policies were not promoted. No-one seemed to have the guts to call BS. They were even successful in dividing the progressive parties by setting Labor and the Greens against each other. We allowed ourselves to be distracted and the public to be duped. The media was promoted to a level they did not deserve to hold because individuals would rather talk to journalists than each other. I long for someone with the courage and strength to stop the rot and to stand up for the truth and what is right rather than reacting to an insidious misinformation campaign. Personal ambition has replaced public service.

  12. dafid1

    Enjoyed your post kayelee…may I add Julia tried to change the norm and stop the rot, majority of my fellow males couldn’t accept that, to my shame

  13. kayelee1

    I agree about Julia but I cannot blame men for it. It was a concerted campaign to frame her. She tried valiantly to ignore it and just get on with the job but the lies and spin and image and branding drowned her out. We hung her out to dry and for that I am ashamed. We should have been louder in our praise and more active in our support.

  14. doctorrob54

    Brilliant kayelee 1,couldn’t have put it much better myself,but agree to a point with
    dafid 1,some men just don’t seem to appreciate having a brilliant woman on top.I
    also understand how you perceive Shorten,but feel sure Julia was gone before he opened his mouth,maybe by not as many votes,but gone.I think he was trying to be
    honest.Did not look like he enjoyed it to me.
    But mate you hit the nail on the head with Conroy,and I feel the same about Paul
    Howse,will never trust one that runs a right wing union.

  15. dafid1

    Thanks for reply DocRobb, good points

  16. Fed up

    We all know whose fault it was. It is the fault of those, that did not get behind when the elected her. It is time for all members of the party, to elect a leader, stand behind who they select, and get on with calling Abbott to account.

    We cannot undo the past, but we can sure work together, to get back into government, as soon as possible.

    As Gillard said, it was not even about policies. I will go further, it was not even about how the policies were implemented.

    One good thing I have heard over the last few days, is that the new Opposition do not in rend to trash what Gillard did, as they did Keating.

    Seems they have learnt something.

    There is still much for them to be proud of. Time to reassessed what is important, and stick ti the agenda.

    Time to move away from personalities.

    There if fertile ground to attack much of the new government. Most new people that came in, in this election, are not known by the public. Time Liberal machine kept them hidden.

    The election was all about “Tony” and nothing more. Time to expose all that sit on the Government side.

    Forget about Abbott, and concentrate on all that sit behind him. Forget personalities and concentrate on the Coalition’s policies, and how they intend to implement them.

    We have Abbott going overseas, in October and November. Will be interesting how he performs.

    Listening to Albanese. Still has not said what he intends to do. I do feel that leadership is not the top of his list. I would love to see him stay as leader of the Opposition in the house. He is needed in that role.

    I believe there are better options than Shorten

    Would not to see a completely new line up for Labor. They will be opposing 15 members, from the Howard ministry. Yes, new opposing old, would be a strong statement.

    We know Labor has much depth of talent. This has been proven by the fact, that the move from Rudd to Gillard and back to Rudd, occurred, while the parliament got on with it’s work. Yes, we know there is two teams available, and much talent, on the back bench, that have not had a turn yet.

    What is a shame, is the talent that has left the parliament, I suspect in disgrace at what has occurred. These will be missed.

  17. richo

    Love that line, You were elected … what are you doing to fix it ….

    Well it seems so far the negativity just continues, Sackings and closures. what is next

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