The Abbottalypse simmers

From Peter Hartcher, the media outlet of choice for so much Capital Hill destabilisation:

“In February he asked for time,” as he pleaded for his job in the party room, says one Liberal MP. “He asked many of us for six months.” It’s been six months, a deadline that expired this week.

“The reality is that nothing’s changed and nothing’s improved. He asked some people to give him to the end of the year. Well, we aren’t quite there yet.

“This government is doing some good things. But there isn’t anyone who thinks this is a good government.” The Abbott government is approaching an existential moment. The existential question: What is the point of the Abbott government?

…The reform phobia “boils down to Tony and Joe having no capacity to project a vision or an economic narrative,” the minister despairs. “They are useless advocates. Tony’s just a wrecker.”

…”The government has become a preservation society to get Abbott from week to week” is the acid summary of one Coalition MP.

…As one of his ministers put it this week:

“Some people say we can’t win an election with him. That’s not true,” because while it’s hard to name any convincing purpose for the Abbott government it’s just as hard to name one for Bill Shorten’s opposition.

“But what’s the point of winning another election with Abbott?”

A good question and one that undermines the assumption that Labor can’t win. As I recall, “unelectable” was what they used to call Tony Abbott.

Although I have little time for The Kingslayer, his team is offering a platform of reform that if not aggressive at least addresses the issues of the day in climate change and negative gearing reform. On super reform they have missed the boat and the bigger narrative on the economy is still missing but it can be added.

Meanwhile, according to ReachTel, choppergate has hammered the PM:

A ReachTEL poll conducted exclusively for Fairfax Media ahead of Parliament’s return shows almost half of voters are less likely to support Mr Abbott following the expenses scandal that sparked public fury and led to his hand-picked Speaker’s downfall.

More worrying still for the Prime Minister, almost a quarter – 22.2 per cent – of Coalition voters say they are less likely to support him, according to the national poll of 2543 people.

Six months to the day since he barely survived a leadership spill motion and declared “good government starts today”, Mr Abbott is fast losing ground as preferred prime minister. Mr Shorten is preferred by 58.5 per cent of voters to Mr Abbott’s 41.5, despite the Labor leader’s recent Royal Commission appearance and the fireworks at ALP National Conference.

…The new poll conducted on Thursday – three weeks after the Bishop scandal first broke and five days after she announced her resignation – finds the two-party preferred vote unchanged with Labor still comfortably ahead 53 per cent to 47 per cent based on 2013 preference flows.

And from Newspoll via The Australian:

As Tony Abbott tried to play down the intense scrutiny of MPs’ entitlements as “a distraction” that he insisted was not affecting the job of governing, the latest Newspoll reveals the Coalition’s primary vote has fallen one point to 39 per cent — the first time it has been below 40 per cent since the budget. The poll of 1727 people taken exclusively for The Australian at the weekend — on the eve of MPs’ return to parliament today after the long winter break — shows Labor’s core support was unchanged at 39 per cent. The Greens gained one point to 13 per cent and support for other parties and independents was steady at 9 per cent. Based on preference flows from the last election, Labor has extended its two-party-preferred lead over the Coalition to 54-46 — the government’s worst result since March.

If the above string of quotes is coming from Abbott’s own team then I would not expect the punters to be kind at the ballot box. Laura Tingle continues the heat today:

Sources say despair over the affair, and perceptions that the prime minister has both lost control of the political agenda and is failing to move on major policy reforms, has led “rusted on” supporters to withhold donations in local MPs’ seats.

Amid the caution, cabinet minister Malcolm Turnbull – who leads Mr Abbott as the preferred Liberal leader in published opinion polls – told a closed door meeting of the Australian American leadership dialogue in Melbourne on the weekend that “appealing to people’s fear and anxiety is a low road that leaders should never go down”.

“We have to stop talking down to people and talking to them like they’re dumb and idiots”, sources at the function said, as part of a wide ranging speech which considered Australia’s relationships with the United States and China, the rise of  China and the outlook for commodity prices.

The Coalition has clearly buried Joe Hockey in recent weeks following his blundering and Peta Credlin has been buried in recent months. Sadly that has meant more Tony Abbott off the leash and the more freedom you give an incompetent the more incompetent you will become.

Comments

  1. Tony Abbott runs with blind man in Sydney City-to-Surf. Blind man says he is proud to act as guide for man with no vision.

  2. So today we have Dutton flying his family to Cairns for $7K, and Erica and Cory claiming $2K to attend an anti-government waste event.

    • And this week we apparently have the announcement for long-term carbon reduction targets. No doubt the government will be winners on that front.

      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/aug/09/australians-fear-coalition-is-not-taking-climate-change-seriously-poll-shows

      Edit: From the Herald-Sun.

      “The PM’s own family has racked up a travel bill of more than $74,000 since he became Liberal leader in 2009.

      This includes flights for his wife, Margie, and two of his daughters from Sydney to ­attend the Melbourne Cup and Derby Day on a number of ­occasions.

      Mr Dutton has charged taxpayers almost $140,000 for his family to fly business class — predominantly return from Brisbane to Canberra — during the past five years.”

      • Try and look on the bright side- imagine how big these travel bills would be if they were leaners and not lifters.

  3. Terror Australis

    The grassroots party members are even more hard-right crazy than the parliamentary party.
    Turnbull or even J.Bishop are anathema.
    At a pinch, they might be persuaded to swing behind Morrison though. The Womens Weekly #ScoMo spread was no coincidence.

    As I’ve said before, Abbotts fate hangs on the Canning by-election. If the Libs get smacked hard, that will concentrate many minds.
    And end of 2015 is really last chance for #libspill2.
    It’s time to either piss or get off the pot.

      • Terror Australis

        True but popularity in the wider public doesn’t necessarily mean much inside the party room.
        The LNP hard right MAY throw Abbott overboard and support a Morrison/Turnbull ticket but i can’t see them ever giving Malcolm the top job again.

      • “True but popularity in the wider public doesn’t necessarily mean much inside the party room.”

        Yeah, you’re right. Must admit that I’m surprised Morrison doesn’t have more support though I’d guess that the vast majority of idiots who support Abbott would flock to him if Abbott was no longer acceptable.

      • “In the race of life, always back self-interest; at least you know its trying.” — PJK, passed onto him by Jack Lang.

    • As we saw with Rudd/Gillard in 2013 politicians will cling to a loser they like (rather than a winner they hate) until the very last moment and only when their own political death is imminent will they switch. I forecast a switch to Turnbull about this time next year.

      • “As we saw with Rudd/Gillard in 2013 politicians will cling to a loser they like…”

        Agreed. And unlike with Rudd/Gillard, this time there’s a dramatic difference between the policies that an Abbott government has and one that a Turnbull government will likely have.

      • And I will vote Lib (actually national) because I want them to reap all of the credit due to them, for the predicament we are in!

      • My money is on a Turnbull challenge before year end, Morrison installed as Treasurer, then off to an early election. Abbott, Hockey and Shorten into the dustbin of history.

      • There is an element of schadenfreude if the Libs, who gave Labour such a hard time for bouncing Rudd, end up chucking their own leader.

        And time to que the music, today we’re going retro with a number from Split Enz “History Never Repeats….”

    • You know things are out of control when Morrison looks like a reasonable option.
      With Malcolm as leader the Liberals would win the next election in a canter – but it wouldn’t take long before the party tore itself apart.

      • “With Malcolm as leader the Liberals would win the next election in a canter – but it wouldn’t take long before the party tore itself apart”
        Turnbull – – a dangerous smartie & a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He won’t get my vote!

  4. TailorTrashMEMBER

    Know many many rusted on liberal supporters ….all have decided that if Abbott gets to the next election they will vote for any alternative but him and LNP ( or labor)
    Seen as clueless ……and occupying the big chair with out doing the job …..no vision ….no direction ….no story …….they see their country and children’s future slipping away….(or being sold away ) …….and all very angry ….

  5. Choppergate is drop in the ocean compared to the biggest rort of all by politicians which is the future fund. Why should these guys get a gold plated pension way above the average annual wage or pension well before they reached retirement age. The $80 billion should be used to pay down the government debt, help set up the disability scheme and aid returned soldiers with PTSD.

    • The Future Fund doesn’t fund political pensions – it funds superannuation for retired public servants.

      What’s the point of paying down debt with it when it’s earning far more than the long-term bond rate and the liabilities will still exist? That would be a financial step backwards.

      • AB – why should public servants of any distinction get a gold plate pension – also the earnings from the future fund go the public servants while the interest is paid by the taxpayer – so there’s a mismatch of risk there I’m afraid – public servants get the upside while the taxpayer gets the downside. Nice try but no cigar.

      • “why should public servants of any distinction get a gold plate pension”

        Not saying I agree with it, but it is in their employment contract. Taxpayers have to pay for it somehow.

      • Those pension schemes were closed to new members in the eighties.

        They were never funded properly, which was fine when public servants were young and kicking part of their salary into the scheme…which was then used by governments…nice.

        However, now those public servants are retiring en masse, the Commonwealth needs to find the money to not only replace the money public servants put in, but also the contributions it never put in itself.

  6. More good news for Abbott this morning. He may actually feel some pressure to perform now that Pyne’s Puppet no longer runs Parliament.

    And who doesn’t enjoy seeing just how pissed off Bronnie is. She didn’t even applaud when Smith was elected.

    http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/live/2015/aug/10/liberals-to-elect-a-new-speaker-as-parliament-resumes-politics-live?CMP=share_btn_tw#block-55c7f2c5e4b0ae6e92d43c45

    Tony Smith is signalling more balanced times in the House. Perhaps the mere hint of a sea-change is sufficient to explain Abbott’s incredibly down beat body language in the chamber this morning – but I think not. The prime minister looked terrible. Did the prime minister look terrible because he understands a shift is underway in his day-to-day operations or did he look terrible because Smith represents a modest uprising of sorts within government ranks. Smith represents, to some degree, the power of non-Abbott forces inside the government. Abbott had no control at all over the outcome of this process for one reason: his internal authority is diminished, and Tony Smith sitting in that chair is a symbol of it.

    • Spot on AB.

      As MB have opined time and again, the time to for the LNP to punt Abbott was in February. Since then, we’ve had nothing but failed Captains Calls and nothing remotely resembling necessary reform or direction from a government that by all appearances is hamstrung by the ineptness of its leader.Alas, It’s far too late to replace him now so close to an election year. All that is left is to make an attempt to force Abbott to perform.

      Bronnie’s removal from the speakers chair was clearly orchestrated from within the party. Almost certainly, her unseating was the most thinly disguised shot across Abbott’s bow.

      • “Bronnie’s removal from the speakers chair was clearly orchestrated from within the party. ”

        I’m surprised that their hasn’t been more attention paid to this. It was clearly a destabilisation move and one that couldn’t possibly have worked any better thanks to Abbott’s tin ear and pathetic loyalty to Bishop rather than to the country and Parliament.

        Even today Pyne and Abbott can’t admit that she screwed up and deserved to go. They really should just shut the hell up no matter what they think…except that both are highly dependent on the massive power that Bishop still has within the Liberal Party.

        Someone (Turnbull surely?) must be struggling to keep the Cheshire Cat grin off their face.

      • “Bronnie’s removal from the speakers chair was clearly orchestrated from within the party. Almost certainly, her unseating was the most thinly disguised shot across Abbott’s bow.”
        Agreed. Remember Tony was elected as Liberal leader by one vote; hardly a ringing endorsement by the party. That he has been tolerated until now suggests to me how beholden they are to their own mythology that they are a party of stability, lest they look like the previous rabble. It will soon dawn on some of them that they’re even worse than their mortal enemy.

      • Joe’s moves are no doubt to put some space between himself and Abbot as he is dumped into the sh*t can precisely where he belongs.

      • @tonydd – I’d be willing to bet that Joe’s future is likely to be just as dismal as Tony’s. He’s done and his arse will hit the backbench at the same time as his boss’.

  7. Anyone have any idea where Malcolm Turnbull sits in relation to negative gearing, reduced capital gains, and immigration matters, such as big Australia and work visas?

  8. They had the chance almost a year ago to replace Abbott and Hockey. It was obviously that neither were succeeding in establishing agenda and driving narrative – due in varying degrees to self aggrandizement in the Senate, widespread hostility in the media and personality foibles of the abovementioned.

    Obviously the opportunity to cement new leadership was ignored. Obviously nothing has changed; same Senate, same media, Abbott and Hockey. Same inability (or intent) to initiate meaningful change except when it came to Bronny – then the media went into overdrive, Abbott too complacent. Wtf, I thought Bronny should step aside in what seems a clear case of excess, however, the Libs should’ve exposed Tony Burke’s hypocrisy (little point exposing the media’s, it just moves on to next confected outrage) when it came to his $225,000 travel expenses in one year and particularly the $40K first class trip with to Europe with his staff (now partner). Frankly, Barnaby was right, political entitlements are not a safe battleground for any side.

    That any could be seriously contemplating a return to Labor surely tells the Libs what they must do.

    • “That any could be seriously contemplating a return to Labor surely tells the Libs what they must do.”

      The majority of the country has been contemplating that continuously since about a month after the election when the complete incompetence of the Coalition started to become clear.

      Edit: “the Libs should’ve exposed Tony Burke’s hypocrisy”

      Probably a reason they didn’t go there.

      http://www.skynews.com.au/news/politics/national/2015/08/10/newscorp-apologises-to-burke-over-expenses.html

      “News Corp has been forced to apologise over an article about Labor frontbencher Tony Burke’s expenses.

      The article published last week on their popular site, news.com.au, alleged that Mr Burke misused his ministerial office to grant travel privileges to former staffer Skye Laris.”

      • Yes, it took no time at all for the ABCGuardian strikeforce to attack with long withheld spying allegations against Indonesia. Events that transpired under another government, miraculously not slated for revelation until the new government sworn in, and had Libs not won, probably would never have seen daylight.

        Set the tone for media attack from the get-go.

      • So other travel arrangements hold?

        ‘Ms Laris was responding to a report in The Australian that revealed how she joined Mr Burke for the bulk of an overseas travel blitz that cost taxpayers $225,000 in 2008-09 alone.

        She accompanied him in the first class cabin on a return trip to Barcelona to attend a “Food Security for All” forum, which involved six days of travel.

        Ms Laris also accompanied Mr Burke in April 2009 on a 14-day trip to China and Italy to attend the Boao Forum for Asia and the “G8+G5 Outreach session” of the G8 Agriculture Ministers’ meeting. Mr Burke billed the taxpayer $58,722 for this extended tour.

        Mr Burke’s travel claims have come under scrutiny because the finance spokesman has led the attack on former speaker Bronwyn Bishop.

        Ms Laris said the report erred in saying “my linked in profile does not include that I was an adviser prior to being chief of staff in Tony’s office, when in fact it does, if you click on the entry”. In fact the reference to being an adviser is mentioned under the heading of “Chief of Staff — Minister Tony Burke … January 2008 — March 2011 (3 years 3 months)”.

        Mr Burke was married to Cathy Bresnan-Burke, his partner of more than 20 years, at the time of this travel, although Ms Laris split from her husband in late 2009.’

        .

      • “So other travel arrangements hold?”

        I’m not saying that. I’m saying that Bishop’s penchant for using chartered helicopters and planes to get to Liberal party fundraisers is clearly different to Burke taking along an advisor/COS on an overseas trip that falls within the pathetic travel guidelines.

        Burke’s travel isn’t what I’d like my taxes to be spent on, but neither is:

        “The PM’s own family has racked up a travel bill of more than $74,000 since he became Liberal leader in 2009.

        This includes flights for his wife, Margie, and two of his daughters from Sydney to ­attend the Melbourne Cup and Derby Day on a number of ­occasions.

        Mr Dutton has charged taxpayers almost $140,000 for his family to fly business class — predominantly return from Brisbane to Canberra — during the past five years.”

      • Laris was staff at the time, so there is some justification for it.

        What business would pay for wives and children to accompany employee’s on business trips? Very few.

        And travelling business class on trips under 4 hours is insane. On most domestic flights, B/C is just the front row of seats and a bigger packet of crisps. Utter waste of money.

  9. If it wasn’t already the case there is now zero chance of any meaningful economic reform by this government.

    • re. politicians’ travel entitlements issue: PM Abbott has made comments in the past week that he likens a politicians consideration of future travel costs to those in business. I say crap to that! These politicians are not in business and certainly not running a business! They are ‘in-service’ to the public of Australia and they are in their position of entitlement to ‘serve’. All future costs incurred while in-service, including travel should be frugal. Economy class not business/first class-unless the member chooses to pay the difference. All costs are for the individual serving member and perhaps a 2IC or secretary. Travel and accomodation costs for family members of serving politicians not included. Greedy grubs.
      It should be mandatory, in 2015 and onwards, that all these serving members should be flat-tack teleconferencing……no travel required for majority of ‘face-to-face’ discussions and meetings.

  10. Economic “Adult” to Lame Duck PM in less than two years.

    (…shakes head and quietly walks away from political discussions due to nausea. )