The Abbott Government is falling apart

ScreenHunter_03 Mar. 23 10.42

By Leith van Onselen

The Abbott Government appears to be coming apart at the seams. Wit the Budget in tatters, infighting about Tony Abbott’s paid parental leave (PPL) scheme took hold, and now the Government’s flawed data retention plan – which will require telecommunications companies to store detailed information about the calls and internet use of its customers for two years – is causing considerable further angst in the party room.

Most livid is communications minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is reportedly “angry and frustrated” and had “forcefully warned Tony Abbott and his cabinet colleagues yesterday that they risked being embarrassed over the new terror provisions ­because they had taken a decision without full knowledge of the repercussions for internet service providers and the public”.

Turnbull, of course, was a harsh critic of the former Labor Government’s data retention plan, whereby he recorded “very grave misgivings about the proposal” as shadow communications minister in 2012:

“It seems to be heading in precisely the wrong direction. Surely as we reflect on the consequences of the digital shift from a default of forgetting to one of perpetual memory we should be seeking to restore as far as possible the individual’s right not simply to their privacy but to having the right to delete that which they have created in the same way as can be done in the analogue world”…

“While the purported intent is that only metadata – data about data – will be available to law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies, there is no explanation of how metadata will be distinguished from data (the two are often commingled, as in the ‘subject’ line of emails), why both would not be readily available once a message has been handed over and decrypted, and indeed how readily in an IP world it is possible to keep a record of the time, date, size, sender, receiver and possibly subject of an email without also retaining the contents.”

Neither, said Turnbull, had there been any explanation given by the policy’s backers (principally the Attorney-General’s Department and law enforcement agencies) as to what costs and benefits have been estimated for what the Liberal MP said was a “sweeping and intrusive new power”, or how such costs and benefits were arrived at, what (if any) cost was ascribed to “its chilling effect on free speech”, and whether any gains in national security or law enforcement outcomes would be monitored and verified, should the proposal be enacted…

“Leaving aside the central issue of the right to privacy, there are formidable practical objections. The carriers, including Telstra, have argued that the cost of complying with a new data retention regime would be very considerable with the consequence of higher charges for their customers”.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Steve Ciobo, has also spoken out against data retention stating that it was “not the right approach to have mass surveillance of the Australian population”. In 2012, Ciobo also strongly criticised Labor’s plans for mandatory data retention as “akin to tactics that we would have seen utilised by the Gestapo”.

Meanwhile, a think tank closely aligned to the Liberal Party – the Institute for Public Affairs (IPA) – has called on Coalition members to stand up for their values, warning that mandatory data retention would represent an “incredible invasion of privacy” and add significant costs to internet service providers:

“There are definitely people within the Coalition that have pretty serious reservations about it,” said Simon Breheny, director of the thinktank’s legal rights project.

“There’s a misconception that metadata is not something that we need to protect, that having internet service providers collect this kind of data isn’t going to mean a real invasion of privacy that we should be concerned with, when in fact the collection of metadata is just as bad as the collection of the content of communications.

“A very significant picture can be put together just by examining metadata over the course of two years.”

The IPA is also fighting the Abbott Government on another front, raising $45,000 to fund an attack ad on Prime Minister Tony Abbott:

IPA Director John Roskam on Wednesday warned the government not to “underestimate the white-hot anger” of Liberals dismayed by the Prime Minister’s decision to back down from repealing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Now it appears that anger has been converted into cash with the appeal topping $45,000 as of this morning, according to Mr Roskam…

He said dozens of Liberal party members had threatened to quit because of the broken promise.

The Abbott Government seems to be fighting battles everywhere: internally, amongst key supporters, and in parliament.

The only way to stop the rot is to craft a consistent message and, more importantly, take the necessary care in formulating policy, including consulting with key stakeholders and ensuring proposals are based primarily on evidence rather than ideology. Only then can they rightfully claim that “the adults are back in charge”.

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Leith van Onselen

Comments

      • He’ll have to say at least something during the election campaign. Enough to show they’re still the same greedy and incompetent unionist slime.

        Turnbull for next PM I reckon.

      • BTW what metric is used to delineate Union scum from C – suite scum…. ummm…. uniforms or hangouts?

        skippy… so hard to tell these days… eh…

      • Did you notice that his response to the proposed Data retention policy was a 3 word slogan

        No Internet TAX !!

        Seems like he learned something from our glorious leader

      • The female vote is 50%, so the women have to work out if they’re banging someone who needs welfare or not.

        Atm the electorate is definitely pro hand out. Jaxxon doesn’t look nearly so sexy without his $200 a week family tax benefits. He’s got tatts and everything, he goes for Paramatta. Wtf. He’s such an Aussie he should be immutable.

        I kind of feel sorry for the Libs. These poor waspy guys needing the votes of a wasteland of trash, yet they know they very much helped to create it.

        To make things worse, they’re on borrowed time, it’s only the boomers who love them, the ones who got houses for two bucks that are now worth a million. It’s so easy to be snobby, so hard to warrant being so.

      • The LNP have a plan for that – the Royal Commission into Union corruption is due to report shortly before the next election is due. As secretary of the National Workers Union the LNP hope he will be seen as associated with Union corruption.

  1. Nice pic of George Brandis for this article,UE.

    You know the adults are in charge; they can’t work the video.

  2. GunnamattaMEMBER

    The one thing we dont want from here is for the Tories to somehow come through a period of intense public ridicule and rebuild themselves as a credible political force (which in comparison with the ALParatchiks they could quite conceivably be) – for generally it is when this type of experience occurs to a government, particularly early, they turn into right loons.

    I think it would be far better for Australia to spend a couple more years in the leadup to the next federal election getting that intense loathing of the LNP (and the Torynuffs in particular) to a nice sharpened and pointed hatred with a view to consigning them to the historical toilet pan as the worst government this nation has ever seen.

    ……and then making sure that the ALParatchiks dont get any sense whatsoever of simply sailing back into office with half baked vested interest fellating ideas that dont address the economic reform agenda this nation needs.


    • ……and then making sure that the ALParatchiks dont get any sense whatsoever of simply sailing back into office with half baked vested interest fellating ideas that dont address the economic reform agenda this nation needs.

      Good luck with that …in the absence of a requirement to win future elections based on anything than the government being a complete joke.

  3. Uranium GeoMEMBER

    Tony wouldn’t have to look any further than QLD to see an ideological LNP analogue for his thought bubbles.

    Are you suffering post electoral jock rot in those budgie smugglers yet Phones?

  4. “IPA Director John Roskam on Wednesday warned the government not to “underestimate the white-hot anger” of Liberals dismayed by the Prime Minister’s decision to back down from repealing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.”

    I dont understand the pushback on shelving these changes. They are minor as i see and whether they are passed or not i cant see a big difference. So why are people getting so hot under the collar on this.

    • The repeal of 18C was a huge totemic issue for some people because their hero, Andrew Bolt, was the victim. Bolt being sued under 18C was the personification of that abstract concept so favoured by the Right, “political correctness gone mad”. They hang on his every word and the fact that his word in that case had been found in the Federal Court, – and by a Labor appointed judge into the bargain – to be unlawful, was intolerable.

      (And of course the fact that he had been beaten in court by a bunch of Aboriginals made it much worse).

      So it wasn’t really a matter of principle, it was personal, even for those Liberals who had never even met Bolt.

      They thought that their boy, Tony Abbott, was going to put things right. And now he’s betrayed them.

      This is why they are white hot with anger.

      • It is a measure of these people that they were unconcerned with the determination that Bolt’s words were factually incorrect, and that Bolt didn’t necessarily believe them.

      • The IPA and their ‘Be like Gough: 75 radical ideas to transform Australia’ playbook is one of the main reasons the LNP are in the mess!

        The document is such a mean spirited, narrow minded, ‘lets take power & money away from the Australian public and give it to Big Business and rich’ approach. The LNP are following it almost to the letter and are surprised that Australians are rejecting them!!

    • KlimashkinaSydney

      I think as others on this site have mentioned, it might be a grousing-up-to-the-US (and the NSA) play. It’s hard to see anything else it could be.

      Very disappointing whatever the reason. I thought I lived in Australia, not China (or the US for that matter).

    • The 18C repeal was one of the hot-button issues of the hard-right faction of the LNP, while the centre-right (lol) faction largely holds most of the cabinet positions and power in the parliamentary party effectively abandoning it there is the potential for the factionals put offside to start disrupting the Govt.

  5. “He said dozens of Liberal party members had threatened to quit because of the broken promise.”

    Well if dozens of Liberal party members are upset then he better change his mind and rush it through.

    • Mark HeydonMEMBER

      Dozens of Liberal party members may well be a significant fraction of the party membership.

  6. isn’t it amazing that in politics your credibility can soar by simply not being a dickhead. Turnbull will be in charge within 6 months at this rate.

    We might get some real reform then…he doesn’t have a mortgage!

    • Perhaps he pushes housing reform measures through just to spite IP happy coalition members.

    • Not being a dickhead in politics is like land on Sydney Harbour. There’s genuine scarcity value there.

    • I dont agree.
      I think it will be Julie Bishop, with Turnbull as treasurer.

      Actually im wondering, does the treasurer need to be an elected representative ??

      I mean could the govt bring Costello back and hire him as treasurer ?

      • migtronixMEMBER

        Hahahaha I can just imagine the party room of the PM that tried that stunt!

        Hockey would, literally, eat him alive lol

        EDIT: BTW I think I probably agree with you re Bishop

      • In theory yes. Someone must vacate a senate seat. And then LNP could fill that spot with Costello, and then make him a minister.

      • I like Jules. But that may be a particularly Western Australian thing. She’d be a terrific antidote the spectre of female Prime Ministership left by the Gillard.

  7. The next round of polls are going to be an absolute beauty to behold. After the shamble of the Rudd government culminating in the Gillard coup, I didn’t think anyone could do any worse, and yet here we are. And a year hasn’t even passed yet!

    The question is how stubborn can the Coalition possibly be in the face of such poor public opinion?

  8. Jason, they think they are the “natural government” so there is no need to bother what the little people think.
    The subbornness just comes with this attitude.

  9. Cracking speech today by Mark Dreyfus at the Free Speech conference. He tore Brandis a new one.

  10. “The Abbott Government seems to be fighting battles everywhere: internally, amongst key supporters, and in parliament.”

    Well, Abbott appears addicted to fighting. He cannot suddenly stop now simply because he is in the Lodge.

  11. Leith it would be nice if you had a balance view on politics for a change.

    I thought you would have been above the lefty lib-bashing cohort

    • If they weren’t a bunch of incompetents then I’m sure they’d be reported in a more favorable light.

    • sydboy007MEMBER

      Seriously. I think the staff at MB provide a balanced source of info. They criticise bad policy whoever comes up with it.

      The fact the current Govt has for some reason decided to start so many fires and wasted precious political capital while the economy tanks is amazing. They’re the ones who told us for years there was a budget crisis yet don’t offer any meaningful reform in the budget.

      Hopefully the scarily bad unemployment figures will help to focus them onto what’s important. Running around protecting bigots and trying to provide the surveillance state wet dream of ASIO / AFP isn’t the main game. It’s the economy stoopid

    • Well Labor aren’t in government anymore, they aren’t the ones calling the shots, it seems only natural that whoever is in the current Government cops most of the criticism – particularly as Labor are running the same ‘say nothing do nothing ‘ strategy the Coalition ran last term.

      Leith was fast to criticise Labor for opposing fuel excise and pension changes. Blind Freddy could see the incompetence in this government, even 3d1k has been reserving his praise lately. Methinks you may be the one looking through polarised glasses.

  12. General Disarray

    The only way to stop the rot is to craft a consistent message and, more importantly, take the necessary care in formulating policy, including consulting with key stakeholders and ensuring proposals are based primarily on evidence rather than ideology.

    The ideology is so deeply held that there is little hope for that. A reshuffle with more moderate and considered voices is required.

  13. The LNP falls apart and what are we left with? We still have the self serving scum in the ALP. Australia is doomed, doomed I say!

    • nexus789MEMBER

      As opposed to those who bend over to business interests at the expense of the rest of us.

  14. Stephen Morris

    It might sound an odd comparison but the Abbott government reminds me of nothing more than the Whitlam government.

    In both cases the federal government was taken over by ideologues determined to radically re-shape the country.

    In both cases they were amateurish when it came to actually governing.

    In both cases a hostile Senate made life impossible for them.

    In both cases they were crippled by scandals and the grandstanding of individual Ministers. The ICAC investigations and other suggestions of corruption grind on. And how could any disciplined government have allowed Joe Hockey’s biography to be published?? It beggars belief.

    In both cases they were undermined by their “natural constituency”, Whitlam being betrayed by ACTU leader Bob Hawke who pursued his own aggressive industrial relations agenda without concern for the damage it was doing to the ALP, Abbott being betrayed by the IPA pursuing its own right-wing agenda without concern for the damage it is doing to the Coalition.

    In both cases as discipline collapsed they lost the confidence of the voters. The People hate Politicians at the best of times. When public confidence is lost it is all but impossible to regain.

    Looking back, we can see the Whitlam era as the high point of socialism in Australia before the worldwide swing back to the right in the 1980s.

    I wonder if the Abbott government might prove to be the high point of right-wing extremism.

    • migtronixMEMBER

      One f#cking massive difference Steven, Whitlam’s mob had been out of power for decades!

    • +10 Stephen

      “I wonder if the Abbott government might prove to be the high point of right-wing extremism.”

      Very likely.

      See how the pendulum had swung in the USA in 2008. We are just several years behind…..

      • migtronixMEMBER

        Well…. unless of course it gets much more extreme! Hello Ukraine *waves goodbye*

      • PS

        Another similarity between Abbott and Dubya is how they came to power.

        Dubya won the 2000 election in the closest presidential election in history. Abbott took the leadership over Turnbull by the narrowest possible margin.

    • I wonder if the Abbott government might prove to be the high point of right-wing extremism.

      F*ck I hope so mate, but my studies of the past have shown that almost without exception (French revolution) economic hardship tends to bring out the fascists in droves. Politics, like business, is a cycle and I fear that this one has a while to run yet.

      • With sincere apologies to Mr Simon and Mr Garfunkel… but it would appear this LNP-infighting mess was predicted over four decades ago – including the broken promises (see chorus):

        In the clearing stands a boxer,
        And a fighter by his trade
        And he carries the reminders
        Of ev’ry glove that laid him down
        Or cut him till he cried out
        In his anger and his shame,
        “I am leaving, I am leaving.”
        But the fighter still remains

        Lie-la-lie…

      • Dimethyltryptamine

        ;o)
        It’s always time for that Migtronix.
        Enjoying the theatre of their decline ?

      • Unfortunately for me the only enjoyment i have left in this life is watching the misery of others

  15. I think the LNP has adopted the old BeeGees song “I started a Joke”.

    I’m just hanging my head in disbelief and despair.

    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      …..Bee Gees

      The Torynuffs would like some Bee Gees right now

      But this is what they want

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MSVTOMkJdqs

      TestosterTone could croon this

      “Tragedy”

      Here we lie
      in a lost and lonely poll result
      Held in time
      In a world of jeers we slowly fault
      Goin’down
      we just can’t make intelligent sounds
      we really should be hidden from view
      not seen by you
      heard by you noticed by you

      Tragedy
      When Brandis is on 15 seconds is too long
      It’s tragedy
      When the morning moan brings up Testostertone
      It’s hard to bear
      With no-one who loves us we
      govern in fear
      Tragedy
      When you gain control but you got no soul
      It’s tragedy
      When the morning moan brings up Testostertone
      It’s hard to bear
      With no-one who loves us we
      Govern in fear
      When the electorate’s gone and we must go on

      After budget day
      The public’s burning effigies
      Burning hate
      With a yearning flay us alive
      Down we go
      and we can take the economy as we go
      we really should be smeared in pooh
      hoisted in plain view
      flayed and booed

      Tragedy
      When Bariatric Joe needs to stare at his toes
      It’s tragedy
      When the cabinet cries and leaks little white lies
      It’s hard to care
      When the party room is sweating
      heading for the exit
      Tragedy
      Do we have the cojones to knife Testostertone?
      It’s tragedy
      When Eric Abetz is as good as we get
      It’s hard to care
      As the public despise us we’re
      goin’ nowhere

      Tragedy…

  16. GunnamattaMEMBER

    Hey boys and girls

    not to be outdone………..

    http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/eric-abetz-draws-link-between-abortion-and-breast-cancer-before-world-congress-of-families-20140807-101p60.html

    Heeeeerress Eric!

    I a starting to wonder, maybe we have had them all wrong….

    Maybe they arent really a government and never really intended to be one……Because they are

    The finest political comic farce the world has ever seen.

    and that one woman in cabinet routine, simply juts the glass jaw out doesnt it….

    • ‘In 2004, the Collaborative Group on Hormonal Factors in Breast Cancer, based out of Oxford University in England, put together the results of many studies that looked at abortion and breast cancer risk. It looked at both cohort and case-control studies. When the studies that gathered information retrospectively (case-control studies) were looked at together, there were about 39,000 women with breast cancer (the cases) that were compared to about 48,000 women who hadn’t had breast cancer (the controls). They found about an 11% increased risk of breast cancer in women who reported having an induced abortion.
      Some other retrospective studies published since then have also found an increased risk, including a case-control study of about 1,300 women from China (published in 2012) and a case-control study of 300 women in Iran (published in 2011).’

      A highly emotive subject, not one I am sure Abetz should be opining on – cohort studies show no link, retrospective studies do. As we are informed length of lactation apparently effects breast cancer rates (a terminated pregnancy guarantees no lactation) as bottle feeding ensures short term lactation and fewer children less lactation overall (I recall reading ovulation rates also play a role) – more research required.

      Probably need to see the entirety of Abetz’s contribution.

      • GunnamattaMEMBER

        ‘A highly emotive subject, not one I am sure Abetz should be opining on ‘

        Especially with that women in cabinet glass jaw now…….

        So far we have had TestosterTone’s wink at aged phonesex workers

        and Eric poking around in that para science world of links between a womans right to determine whether she conceives or not, and whether this may in fact be drawing some form of natural negative impact in the form of breast cancer….

        Couldnt you get through to some of them and tell them to treat anything relating to women fairly carefully?

        I must confess I have no time for them whatsoever but even I wince and hold my hands up to my face whenever I see one of the current cabinet before a microphone

      • “Couldnt you get through to some of them and tell them to treat anything relating to women fairly carefully?”

        That’s what gets me Gunna. They just don’t take a hint. Not just relating to women. On anything.

        They may not be the brightest folk around, but nor are they likely to be lacking on a scale of IQ. They are just completely out of touch and completely wrapped up in what is good for them. You would swear that there is no public service aspect to the job they do.

        Basically, they don’t have an effing clue, don’t even know that they need one, and don’t care regardless because they’re quite happy with their own cushy little bubble of existence thankyou.

      • If they were mine they’d be on a tighter leash. Crafted from the artisans of yore and engineered by the bright young things. And they’d enjoy it.

      • Oh, what a surprise. 3d1k completely ignoring SCIENCE and cherry picking stuff from loonies.

        The study you are referring to (and obviously haven’t read) is about age of woman beast cancer. There no mention of abortion – it is not a meta-tag. The loonies say that because because having an abortion will delay having babies their risk of cancer will increase. But it is age, not the abortion that is the correlation!!!

        It has beyond doubt that there is no correlation between abortion and cancer. It is just religious BS.

        It is not a highly emotive subject. It is just another example of fringe groups ignoring science for their own agenda.

  17. Penny for PM!

    What this country really needs right now is an intelligent angry Asian lesbian to run it.

    I wonder how the IPA would cope with that?

    • GunnamattaMEMBER

      I could go Penny as PM. I am not sure the country would be ready for it, but I kind of think it would be a good move, and she is certainly no dill

      • She could be a f..g genius saint, it does not change that she is still the sales patsy for a party cabal that does not have the national interest at heart.

        The party structures are the problem, she has a job to do to keep her job, and it not looking at, or fixing, the structural problems we discuss every day on this site.

      • Is the country ready? Hell no and certainly not so soon after Gillard.

        I’d love to see the Libs face off against her as PM.

        And right now, Bluebird and 3d’s faces are turning a delicate shade of puce at the idea.

      • Bubbles – I’m on record as a Wong admirer,as long as she doesn’t do the negative where she comes across far less well.

        That smile, the gender, the orientation, the global mix – could get you far.

    • That is gold Bubbley! 😀

      Picturing the IPA catatonic was just the chuckle I need to end my day on…