All hail Prime Minister Abbott

Today’s Newspoll is fascinating. From The Cupboard:

IN the middle of a bitter leadership battle, Labor’s voting support has risen to its highest in a year and Julia Gillard’s personal standing has fallen to six-month lows.

…In three-way comparisons, Ms Gillard finishes behind both Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott as preferred prime minister. According to the latest Newspoll survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian last weekend, Labor’s primary vote has risen only slightly but to a significant 12-month high of 35 per cent after being in the 20s and low 30s since March last year.

Labor’s flatlining in the polls at a disastrous level has been one of the driving forces behind despair among ALP backbenchers and criticism of the Prime Minister’s leadership. In the past six weeks, Labor’s primary vote has risen in Newspoll from 30 per cent to 35 per cent. Based on preference flows at the 2010 election, the Coalition has a two-party-preferred lead over the ALP of 53 per cent to 47 per cent, compared with 55 per cent to 45 per cent two weeks ago.

During the three days of the official challenge for the Labor leadership, Mr Rudd has continued to outpoint Ms Gillard. Over the weekend, Mr Rudd was preferred to Ms Gillard as Labor leader by 53 per cent to 28 per cent of voters. Mr Rudd also led Mr Abbott as preferred prime minister but with a narrower margin of 53 per cent to 34 per cent.

Satisfaction with Mr Abbott’s job as Opposition Leader also fell during the same period, going from 36 per cent two weeks ago to 31 per cent last weekend, while dissatisfaction rose five points from 52 per cent to 57 per cent.

God knows whether these polls matter but some of the dynamics are what you’d expect. Once a succession struggle passes a certain point, even one as bizarre as this one, the methods are pretty straight forward and the incumbent is at a distinct disadvantage. The challenger simply has to destabilse the Party until the polls for the incumbent turn decisively south. The Party ultimately panics and installs the insurgent as the new leader. Paul Keating laid this path out clearly in his assassination of Bob Hawke.

Kevin Rudd is not Paul Keating and Julia Gillard is not Bob Hawke. And this may make a difference. In the case of the Hawke/Keating stoush, the context was one of needed renewal, just as it was in 2007 with Costello/Howard. Had Costello had an ounce of political courage, he would most likely have become Prime Minister.  On both occasions, it was easier for the new generation leader to push aside the old. Not so this time with Rudd older than Gillard and no particular reason needed for change beyond Rudd’s ego.

So when Gillard wins, Rudd won’t go away. He has resigned as Foreign Minister. It’s now death or glory for him. But, for the Government it’ll become a choice between a hobbled Gillard and a Kevin Rudd very few inside the Party seem to want and are prepared to walk out on. It’s bitterness, weakness and division either way.

That leaves only one winner in this debacle. And despite Abbott’s poor personal ratings in the circumstances, he looks set to become our next Prime Minister (but frankly, who the hell knows in this circus!).


    • As many have said here, if it were Turnbull, I’d be in the stampede. But Abbott’s economic populism and links to George Pell make me fell queasy. Can’t even go donkey with Latham having spoilt that. May have to vote in the US election instead…

      • i must be in the minority, i think Turnbull is dangerous.

        Then again i think the whole lot needs to be cleared out so we can start again…

        • I’m a bit surprised by the romanticising of Malcolm Turnbull. For he was leader at one stage and split his party down the middle. He also didn’t do due diligence when some guy was peddling a forged document to him. He didn’t have the patience or the leadership skills for politics then. Paul Keating got it right when he said Turnbull lacks judgement.

          • There’s no doubt Turnbull’s political judgement leaves something to be desired, but who do you want leading the country, a skillful politician and political opportunist, or someone with moderate views who is strong on policy?

          • I suspect Turnbull has learnt the most of any of the prospective leaders over the last 3 years, and I would not be suprised to see him pull a drovers dog on Abbott particularly if Abbott puts his foot in it.
            The liberal party always has a fracture in it between the progressives and the die hard conservatives and elites. Malcolm turnbull is an elite but the backers and the far right hate him. He would secure the middle ground of the Australian Electorate which is what Howard successfuly did

          • Turnbull can’t deliver a shedload of unearned gratuity like Howard could afford.

            Australia was gifted the calibre of Hawke/Keating because public sentiment at the time realised we needed drastic change and had to ensure some pain to achieve it.

            However, two classes of people, the old aged pensioner and the Family Tax Act B recipient will consist too large a voting block for any change to happen in the foreseeable future.

        • Turnbull is a shill for the investment banks for carbon trading and all the associated derivatives that would bring in.
          They were positively gaga for it back when he was leader.

  1. Her Majesty’s loyal Opposition will be crowing over the Gillard/Rudd division. I remind all Malcolm Turnbull remains more popular with voters that that reptile Abbott.

    • Turbull is like Rudd, he has had a chance and stuffed it, he divided his party and is not a team player.
      If he challenges, like Rudd he will loose, but if he wins the Libs will loose an election.

      Abbott works very hard and don’t forget one man does not make a government.

      • Still remember the week I spent with Krudd and Jokey on the kokoda track, AJ my son insisted on calling Rudd Kelvin got him all wound up I

  2. I am new to Australia. What the effin ef is the obsession with daily polls here? Seems like everyone is in the election mode all the efin time!

      • Of course H&H, not at all criticising you about posting this. MB is not MSM and that is why I am here.

        I am no fan of most of the leaders, but you have to wonder about MSM’s role in keeping the issue alive. It seems to me atleast that most of the media decided Julia is not up for the job the day she became the PM. What about the much-vaunted fair-go? Or that only applies to men? Another issue that bothers me is this: If you look at daily polls you’d think that ours is a presidential democracy, but it is not—that Rudd guy cannot even command the support of more than one third of his own party members and apparently he never had. And he is everywhere!

    • coolnik, these polls are remarkably consistent and have been since before the last election ~18 months ago. Voters prefer Kevin Rudd and prefer Malcolm Turnbull to the incumbents.

      We know Abbott would like to reverse many hard-won social liberties and is an unabashed elitist (though not himself part of that elite, which is a sad spot for him). We regard Gillard as promoted beyond her ability.

      • True. But giving any importance to the poll numbers at any time except just before the elections is idiotic; it deflects the attention to elections from what is supposed to be the most important thing—governance and policies.

      • dumb_non_economist

        The polls were pretty consistent for Howard before he became Leader of the Op then PM. Most people hated him, but soon changed minds once the bribes started rolling in.
        With regard to Gillard being promoted beyond her ability, I’d disagree, I think given the situation the Gov is she has performed okay, but not as well as I first thought she would.

    • Haha Coolnik.
      Welcome to Australia. :).
      Pollie bashing, is just above bank bashing, petrol company bashing and supermarket bashing .
      In fact, we Aussies like bashing everybody that we think isnt giving us a fair go.

      Again, welcome to Australia. Hope you brought your hard hat.

  3. I beleive the independents have a moral obligation to their electorates to dissolve the government. I know they wont (self interest), but it is about time. Give us an election.

    • “Moral obligation to their electorates”? Oh how you make me laugh. When’s the last time a politician acted in the interest of their electorate?

      • +1

        order of interest:

        1. self interest

        2. party interest

        3. day light

        6. national interest

    • Moral obligation to dissolve the government ?

      Horse Hockey.

      Tories will just have to wait like everybody else for the next election. Enough of this confected outrage about not forming government. Your monkey-boy Abbott will be there soon enough to let those wrecking balls out of the Speedos.

  4. The Liberals under Abbott are as “liberal” (in the John S. Mills sense) as the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea is “democratic”.

    I despair that modern politics has no real parties that represent economic AND social liberty.
    Some kind of amalgam of the Greens (without the watermelon socialists) and the Liberal “wets” would win my vote in perpetuity.

    • Phil the engineer

      We could call it the Malcolm Turnbull party. I agree it’s a shame it doesn’t exist.

      Maybe a greens/ liberal minority government?

      • The democrats potentially fit your needs but they are not really an alternative thanks to the wonderful electoral system.

        So only 3 or 4% of punters would vote for these tossers an it is the electoral systems fault!!!

        The democrats have, over a couple of decades, gradually eroded their support to the point where they are now irrelevant. That came about through their own actions. Whatever faults the electoral system have didn’t cause it. The electoral system actually gave them a disproportionate amount of power for ~ 3 decades.

        • I have no opinion about the democrats as they seem to gone into oblivion, probably for the reason you have just mentioned.

          However, the electoral first-past-the-post system very much has a bias against smaller parties, which is well researched and widely acknowledged. Why do you think Labor or Libs dominate politics like they do?

          Many people I talked to feel that voting for anyone else is like throwing away their vote!

          • Erhh, we don’t have first past-the-post.

            And IMO, people who feel they are throwing their vote away feel so because they don’t understand the real strength of preferrential voting.

          • as per Rusty Penny, we don’t have first past the post!!

            Many people I talked to feel that voting for anyone else is like throwing away their vote!

            As Kodos said to those considering Ross Perot when he was running against Kang, “go ahead, throw your vote away”

          • Apologies you are right. Not that it matters for my argument, preferential voting favours large parties over minor parties almost as much as FPP does.

          • Well in a system where elected members are voted as zonal representatives, they are the only two options.

            Preferential suits smaller parties, ala Adam Brandt.

          • Not necessarily RP. Mixed-Member Proportional, the system adopted in new-Zealand and Germany, provides a hybrid system which results in proportional representation while maintaining local representatives (to some extend).

            I hear so many people (justifiably) complaining about a lack of options that I do feel that Australia could benefit of a different electoral system.

      • The Australian democracts?

        God they haven’t been a responsible party since Janine Haines. Then they kow-towed to rampant socialst softcockery.

        Stott-Despoja was a perfect fit to shunt them into oblivion. All it cost the country was 20 or so lifetime parliamentary pensions.

    • George, the Liberals were centre right under Menzies et al. Howard dragged them so far right they need narnesses to stop falling off. Now stocked with populist right wing loons that GW Bush would be proud of.

      In fact GWB was…
      Award 1

      Award 2


  5. If you think the leader of the party matters when it comes to policy then you are kidding yourself.
    It doesn’t matter if its Rudd, Gillard, Abbott or Turnbull. They all simply tow the party line and roll out the parties policies.

    I’m sick of listening to your average Joe by the water cooler talking about how they aren’t going to vote for Tony Abbott or Julia Gillard. My answer to them is always “Of course your not you clown! You don’t live in their electorate! Find out who your local member is and see what they have to offer. Failing that, find out what the parties stand for and cast your vote that way, this isn’t a two horse race”

    Unfortunately i think only about 1 in 10 actually understands what im saying and about 1 in 20 will actually change their misguided view point.

    • dumb_non_economist

      I have to laugh when people talk about a benevolent(or otherwise) dictatorship. Dictatorships get their power through the barrel of a gun, and that gun is paid for by position, power and money in the regime.
      Point out a dictatorship which has done well economically for its people and country.
      Yes, I realise you are joking, well, partly joking, okay then, but you’d better watch for ASIS!

      • well firstly who said benevolent. Secondly while I might be a sterotypical south american leader who derives power via muscle you seem to have had a bit of a mental blank when it comes to dictatorships that depart from this stereotype.

        Point out a dictatorship which has done well economically for its people and country.

        Singapore. You probably even use their state owned phone carrier, Optus!

        Yes, I realise you are joking, well, partly joking, okay then, but you’d better watch for ASIS!

        Not joking when I believe that the current model of democracy has run its course and something else needs to be developed. Joking in so far as a military strongman being the replacement but as above Singapore has done very well via its (non military) strong arm model.

        • darklydrawlMEMBER

          Call me crazy, but I think there is something in the Singapore model.

          I would much rather the dude (or dudette) who is made Minister for “X” actually has some skills and experience in “X”, rather than just being given the role as a favour for supporting their leader etc.

          Look at Victoria for example. Those useless [email protected] in the (state) Labor party have ruined this state with their inadquate skills and dodgy deals. Kosky, Bachelor et al should all be in prison along with the rest of them for what they did to this place. Kosky was a JOKE. The minister for transport who *hated* her role – didn’t want to run a public transport system. She managed to run it into the ground and ironically got herself and her pathetic government kicked out of office.

          The other huge failing of ‘democracy’ seems to be our complete inability to choose between what is right vs what is popular. Hell, what is popular is often the wrong decision.

          I would be happy to vote for a party and leader with guts, vision and ball – but hell – there really is no-one there to choose.

          Jeuz.. they have gotten me annoyed today!

          • Don’t get me started on Victoria. I have voted ALP federally at times but never at the state level due to the levels of incompetence and corruption within the ALP that seem to know no bounds. Cain/Kirner and then wind forward and they do it all over again with Bracks/Brumby. FFS!! It was only a 10 year gap but they learnt nothing.

          • darklydrawlMEMBER

            Hugo: Totally agreed – Hell, I never voted for them. I cannot believe the shepple where so stupid as to repeat the cycle again after Cain/Kirner. Once again we are left with a state that is close to ruin and a whole stack of projects that are hopelessly managed and way over budget.

            Seeing Brumby and Bachelors face on election night as they realised they were getting kicked out of office was one of my happier TV moments.

        • I’ll add South Korea before 1988 as another example of a dictatorship that managed to provide economic benefits to the populace. A lot worse in terms of freedoms, but certainly not failing on the economic front.

        • dumb_non_economist

          I’m sorry, I disagree. May not be military, but the result is just the same. Do as you’re told, or else. Instead a compliant judiciary will see you locked up and economically ruined, family and friends as well if they rock the boat to support you. Best you be connected to make the big money.
          With regards to Minister X having experience, please, Singapore has made as many mistakes as any other “investment” group. How long has it taken them to get a decent return from Optus, and how much did they overpay for it (not my carrier)?

          • Swings and rounds abouts. They have managed to build a vibrant economy and run perpetual current account surpluses from which they fund a sovereign wealth fund. So they might have bought a dud with Optus but against that but that is more than offset by caning people who chew gum. We need some of that.

  6. For real change and improvement we need to vote out all sitting members. This is done by voting against your sitting member, regardless of political stripe.

  7. Its extraordinary how weak Abbott’s personal ratings are in the polls. Despite the ALP self-destructing, and the Coalition being miles ahead in the two-party preferred comparison, Abbott is behind Gillard in the preferred Prime Minster polls!

    If the people elect Abbott in 2013, they’ll be doing it holding their nose.

    • I don’t see why it is extraordinary. Abbott has been in politics for a long time and has always had a lot of baggage to deal with. Hugo Chavez could be leading the ALP and it wouldn’t make Abbott any more popular. Abbott’s primary (sole?) appeal is that he is not the ALP.

    • The ‘preferred PM’ rating is always a dubious measure, its very unusual for a current PM to be outpolled by the opposition leader unless it is very close to an election.

      • I believe Howard out-polled Keating for a long time before the 1996 election, and Rudd out-polled Howard before the 2007 election.

    • Abbot’s problem is that he is an attack dog (useful as a party whip) and not a leader and it shows.

      • Once the media spotlight starts to shine on Abbott and Hockey, they’ll melt under the heat. They’re incapable of synchronising policy statements and answering even the most simple of questions from a unified position. They’ll survive a while but as an election gets closer, more attention will be paid to these two and they will be found wanting.

  8. In my opinion, this leadership tussle will only boost ALP standings in the next election. Right now, there is Julia-Kevin struggle, Kev- apparently is ppl’s fav while Julia is caucus fav. She will win the leadership ballet. And Kev will keep his flame burning, come next election, Julia down with the polls, bring back ppl’s fav-battler-the-hard-done-by-guy Kev, suddenly ALP wins election!

    However, on the liberal side, i truly believe that they want to do as much damage to ALP as possible using Tony-Babbot and come election time will probably switch to Turnbull. Seriously, if this is not their plan then certainly they have their grey-cells in the wrong place!

  9. Regardless of the outcome we as a nation come second to these power hungry individuals. Poor leadership, even less on “good policy”, and a total disconnect from our concerns regardless of what they say. The Libs are a joke, but I expect they’ll spend less than this lot. Come election time they’ll promise to spend more money on buying our vote “which we then need to pay back”.

    There are so many issues that this government have screwed up, and can’t even see what they need to do to have a non mining only economy. No vision, and I have no hope they any of them will deliver good governance. Without mining we’d be screwed, and they take the credit for it while loathing it. How is all this possible??

    • How is all this possible?

      Because hypocrisy and self-interest know no bounds. A disgusting debacle. Shameful beyond belief.

      • time to abolish democracy. It has been captured by political apparatchiks — join young labor, young liberal, work for a union, become a staffer, get a safe seat. Frackkin joke. Give me dictatorship please.

        • For the record, we do not live in a “Democracy”. We live in a system of “representative government”.

          If you want Democracy, move to Bavaria, Liechtenstein, Uruguay or Switzerland.

          • well that is true of course so +1

            what we have in western “democracies” is various shades of oligarchic rule in which joe sixpack foolishly thinks he has a voice. In extreme circumstances joe sixpack can have a voice, e.g. fall of the berlin wall, but these are once a generation occurrences. For the most part government everywhere is via different shades of oligarchic rule.

        • It has been captured, and can only be captured, because of the apathy of the elctorate.

          Readin up on the likes of Alex Hawke in NSW shows why it gets captured.

          20 religious fundies rock up to a party meeting and capture a majority voting block during preselection.

          That’s because the electorate thinks their vigilance for sound democracy only requires tickin a box once every 3 years.

          If 5,000 were a party member in every electorate, then self interest cuold never capture any seat.

          Democracy isn’t at fault, the lack of involvement is.

          Though you must not despair, historically all resource extracting economy’s slip into increaasing lelves of corruption, the response to the RSPT and it’s result in undermining our democracy showed that even here.

        • And you feel dictatorships are not marred by oligarchs? Would you like to live in Russia? North Korea?

      • Agree, and it’s easy to lie, and to put your political career before anything else. It’s only the truth until we find out it’s a lie as well. I was hoping for a general election, but will have to wait now and endure more of the same. There is nothing this lot could do to get my vote now.

      • What did it for me was listening to Laurie Ferguson on AM this morning on why he supported Rudd. There was little, actually none that I can remember, on why Rudd would a better PM but about what’s best for “the Party”. He came across as: Rudd is popular; Gillard is not; I’m in a marginal seat and will go with whoever can get me re-elected….oh and it’s all for “the Party”. Hats of to those MPs in marginal seat who backed Gillard in the face of certain electoral defeat. They have more dignity than those simply chasing re-election by supporting who ever can get them across the line.

  10. Several commentators here speak of “social liberty”. Yet if one steps back for a second, one can see liberty does not operate ‘asymmetrically’ – that is without any externalities whatsoever.

    But as the great Ronald Coase every action imposes an external cost on someone else – otherwise there would never be any disagreement. For example, both sides of the abortion debate can claim to be protecting “liberty”: the putative freedom to terminate a fetus denies others the putative freedom to adopt a child, to nurture it, or for the fetus to potentially enjoy an average of 79 years of life if a man, or 83 if a women (and of course, there is also disagreement where one should terminate a child – is it when they can move and respond to pain, which occurs roughly from 8-13 weeks? or when it can survive outside the womb? – roughly at 19-25 weeks when they are actually born?) Liberty is a nice amorphous word, but tell us very little in drawing nitty-gritty first order decision making.

    One usually responds here by making an reductio ad absurdum, choosing an extreme example that initially appears “self-evident”: by your logic a putative right to murder denies others the putative right not to be murdered! Indeed it does! Because the question arises: is self-defense illiberal? Are ‘victim rights’ illiberal? Is ‘retributive justice’ illiberal? What about people like Charles Manson or Martin Byrant? Does this justify a ‘few innocent mistakes’ (curiously, this is more of an American issue, rather than a Japanese one where you require mass atrocity to be committed and overwhelming evidence)? This involves the weighing of subjective preferences to reach an outcome best protects justice and liberty. Usually, and possibly, naturally people choose conditions conducive of peace and stability.

    So we see the rhetorical power of using the word ‘liberty’. The trick is:

    a) to pretend that certain liberties exist “asymmetrically” (by ignoring corresponding loss of liberty);

    b) to give certain allocations emotive labels such “Freedom”, “Liberty” or “Right to xyz”;

    c) to choose examples where the liberty is concentrated on an (innocent) individual or small group, and the symmetrical denial of liberty is indirect, or spread over a large group, or both, so it is easy to overlook its existence; and

    d) to carefully choose examples likely to meet with the approval of the target audience – so that they appear at first sight to be self-evidently “correct”.

    The moment any attempt is made to apply apparently self-evident “liberties” in a practical context, it collapses – must always collapse – into an assertion of individual preferences – their conception of the way liberty is allocated, i.e. there personal preferences wrapped up in subjective preferences. If these preferences can be privileged a priori over the preferences of anyone else, please “show us this Charter From Heaven and let us see…”

    So in future, please do not insult my intelligence by claiming Abbott denies us “liberty”: they may simply be so solipsistically narrow-minded that they genuinely cannot conceive that their own private personal preferences could be anything other than universal truths.

  11. “The greatest argument against democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average voter”
    – Winston Churchill

  12. the whole political landscape in the country is a joke, a continuous election cycle, the major roles for parliamentarians is doing under the table powerplays for leadership and portfolios, when was the last time we had a proper debate on policy? Not the name slinging matches in Question Time… when was the last time we had a proper ‘debate’ on the role of government?

    if we actually had some proper hardship during the GFC maby a few of these issues would come to the fore, im afraid we will only get real change, ‘leadership’ when we are standing on the precipices

  13. In Australia we have government of the people by politicians for politicians and their parties. Forget about democracy or even ‘representative’ democracy.

  14. God help us if we ever get at lower house proportional representation system.

    Remember the horse trading and shameless policy bribery to get the Independents support in 2010? Can you imagine going through that every 3 years? No thanks.

    The current compulsory Alternative Vote system is one of the things we’ve managed to get right IMHO.

    I wouldnt blame the electoral system for killing off the Democrats. It was more a case of bad leadership after Meg Lees and the party drifting too far to the left so they became indistinguishable from the Greens.

    In my wildest dreams I imagine Malcomm Turnbull doing a Don Chipp and forging a splinter group party of Social Liberals, taking the ‘wet’ branch of the Parlimentary Libs with him.

  15. “I have become disenchanted with party politics as they are practised in this country and with the pressure groups which have an undue influence on the major political parties. The parties seem to polarise on almost every issue, sometimes seemingly just for the sake of it, and I wonder if the ordinary voter is not becoming sick and tired of the vested interests which unduly influence political parties and yearns for the emergence of a third political force, representing middle-of-the-road policies which would owe allegiance to no outside pressure group. Perhaps it may be the right time to test that proposition.”

    – Don Chipp’s speech on resigning from the Liberal Party.

    Maybe time to test the proposition again?

  16. Why would anyone want to be politician?

    -Compared to some lower middle management roles, the pay is rubbish.

    -Everyone thinks you are stupid/corrupt/(insert pejorative).

    -The family disruption, travel & hours are shocking.

    -Personal lives (including families) are no longer ‘off limits’ to the media.

    -Managing to ‘succeed’ usually means there’s somebody gunning for you, either within your own party,MSM or the opposition.

    -For all the time spent in Parl’t there’s all the local ‘community action group’ meetings (complete with crap coffee and waistline swelling cakes etc). All held after hours and as boring as hell.

    Ego and hidden agenda are all I can see motivating anyone to stay in politics.

    Ask yourself:
    Would I like to do the job?
    Could I hack the job?
    Would I give up what I’m doing now for the good of the country?

    I know I wouldn’t and I guess most of us wouldn’t either.

    Australians (present company excluded in the main) don’t think it important enough to take the time to consider reasoned argument about issues that matter and vote accordingly. Bribes, catchy slogans and ‘charisma’ win elections.

    Gillard won the poison chalice because we as a nation couldn’t make up our collective mind. To my mind, if you’ve ever tried to run anything by committee, you’ll have an idea what it’s like trying to govern right now, with a similar “camel” outcome.

    It’s a bit ‘chicken and egg’ but until the position of MP is again respected then we will keep getting the same/worse ‘applicants’.
    The talent pool looks a lot like Lake Eyre at the moment.

    We keep voting for the same sort of candidates (regardless of party) and expecting a different outcome.
    Doesn’t that fits a popular definition of insanity?

  17. Essential has it 45:55 to the Coalition. Newspoll has has a string of rogue polls lately and I suspect that this is exactly that.

    It could also be that people are ‘voting’ for an ALP with K Rudd in charge instead of Julia “there will be no carbon tax” Gillard.

    In regards to Abbott’s low ratings, Howard polled the same. In fact, opposition leaders typically don’t poll that well. It’s the 2PP preferred that counts at the end of the day. If the opposition leader is preferred leader it’s just a bonus but doesn’t mean all that much at the end of the day.