Monday, December 9, 2013

Shit keeps happening to Tony Abbott

There is no greater illustration of the Abbott government than the building in Shanghai that fell over in 2009. Non-existent foundations, shoddy workmanship, embarrassingly cheap construction, shortcuts taken everywhere leading to complete disaster. This is the Abbott administration in miniature.

Pundits ruminated that last week was terrible for the Libs - Gonski, Graincorp, Holden, Philippines, China and four more boats - and that November should have been taken out the back and shot. Sounds like Gillard-era apologists calling for "clear air". Gillard never got it, and Abbott doesn't seem like he will either because shit continues to happen. But what would he do with it, even if he got it?

This lack of vision and direction should not be at all surprising to anyone who has been paying attention. Abbott's reign never had any blueprint of policy. There were no intellectual foundations for this government. Like Howard before him, Abbott is relying on being able to react to things once in office, because he has no agenda of his own. Howard was a past master at latching onto issues floating through the media and taking the most populist stance to maximise political point scoring. Abbott has a tin ear for this sort of thing, on evidence to date.

Is he going to last long enough to find his SIEV-X, his GST and his republic referendum? Laura Tingle set a modern record for earliest leadership speculation over a new Prime Minister with this piece spruiking for Turnbull a few weeks ago. No one treated it seriously, and there has been no follow up. Nevertheless, the situation is not helped by his chief of staff Peta Cruddlin Credlin channelling Rudd with obsessive micromanagement of the caucus. That's just the sort of thing that starts genuine leadership destabilisation down the track.

Meanwhile, if Abbott is no Howard, the audition of Cory "Two Dogs" Bernardi to fill the attack mutt role previously filled by Abbott when in opposition is also going poorly. His barking at the ABC and his growls on euthanasia and abortion have fallen on deaf ears. As Andrew Elder rightly points out, the likes of Mike Carlton lifting the cudgel and re-enacting old battles from the 1990s culture wars only highlights how out of touch those old grizzled journos are. One should not treat what the Australian newspaper has to say on this issue with any seriousness whatsoever. Out in the actual electorate, the ABC is wildly popular, and the one-man-Tea-Party flailings of Bernardi are ignored as they should be.

The contrast with the boldness of the Keating era could not be more stark.

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