About Tony Abbott: We hate to say 'we told you so', but...

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You can trust Rupert Murdoch's Brisbane tabloid to always get it right

Australia’s newspapers now effectively admit the alternative media were right and they were wrong. Seventeen months too late. Alan Austin reports.

THAT FOUL SMELL is not coming from the Liberal Party. The stench of hypocrisy, worsening by the hour, is from Australia’s mainstream media — newspapers and electronic media run by Fairfax, Murdoch and the ABC.

Those "news" outlets are now telling their customers what alternative publications have been saying for years — that the Federal Coalition does not have the leader, the team, the vision, the policies or competence in economics to govern.

Since December 2009, when Tony Abbott beat Malcolm Turnbull for the Liberal leadership in a tawdry display of opportunism, the alternative media has sounded warnings. Those were based on solid information available at the time.

Articles here at Independent Australia documented the history of Abbott’s callous treatment of people he should have cared for, his misogyny, episodes of obstructing the course of justice, expenses rorts, the long string of embarrassing gaffes, and the many blatant lies by both Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey.

Other new media to alert voters to Abbott’s character were Crikey, The Guardian, New Matilda and The AIM Network.

Lenore Taylor wrote in The Guardian, before the September 2013 election:

‘Abbott wants to be a prime minister known for both truthfulness and economic management. But he's busy making promises that bring the first intention into direct conflict with the second.’

New Matilda warned of ‘the economic fantasy-land inhabited by the Coalition’ and noted that

‘... the Coalition struggles to separate partisan politics from sound economic policy.’

The AIM Network was blunt:

‘... because we are looking at a litany of instances of lying, deception and bad behaviour over a long period of time, he [Abbott] simply doesn’t have the essence of character which is one of the main ingredients in the recipe of leadership.’

The mainstream media, in contrast, ignored the evidence and spread the lies their wealthy backers wanted voters to believe.

The ABC deployed Fairfax chairman Roger Corbett to tell the opposite of the truth, just three days before the election:

“I think he will probably be a pretty good PM because he's a very sincere, nice type of human being and I think he will be very dedicated, focused in the job. And we certainly need in the economic times we're about to go into some really clear and good leadership.”

The Sydney Morning Herald agreed:

‘The Coalition under Tony Abbott deserves the opportunity to return trust to politics.’

Sydney’s Daily Telegraph was more gung-ho, with the huge front page banner: ‘AUSTRALIA NEEDS TONY’.

Now, at last, they admit they all got it wrong.

The Daily Telegraph and Melbourne sister publication The Herald Sun ran Laurie Oakes’ analysis on Friday of:

‘... a deep feeling of hopelessness among Liberals about the hole the government finds itself in under Abbott.'

Much of ‘Abbott’s plight’, Oakes now laments,

‘... is due to his own bungles and misjudgements, but his Ministers bear some responsibility. Members of Cabinet’s Expenditure Review Committee had a big hand in producing a shocker of a Budget.’

Exactly. But if you are so astute, Laurie, why did you not predict this earlier?

On the Coalition’s lack of vision, the mainstream media before the election failed utterly to report the obvious.

The Age acknowledges now, however, that:

‘If Abbott has a successor, that person has to give this government a clear, agreeable organising principle ... It needs an overarching story of the world that makes sense of the pain we're being asked to wear.’ 

On economic management, the mainstream media praised fulsomely the Coalition’s credentials.

An Australian Financial Review election eve editorial soothed:

‘A strong mandate at the top, especially for a government getting a grip on its own finances, will lift business resolve. That by itself is a good reason for The Australian Financial Review to conclude Australia’s prosperity would be better served by a Coalition government.’

The Daily Telegraph concurred:

‘Abbott’s campaign shows a party and a leader advancing confidently and with calm authority towards power. A Coalition win on Saturday should immediately lead to action, especially by providing a shot in the arm for business and investment ... But the men and women who are best able to deliver it come from the Coalition.’

Well, suck it up, sweetheart. Totally wrong. The new media got it right.

Crikey warned before the election that the Coalition could not

‘... resolve the tension between Joe Hockey’s insistence on fiscal rigour and Tony Abbott’s “everyone comes out ahead” magic pudding approach to the budget.'

Independent Australia alerted its readers to the specific risks:

‘There are seven compelling reasons why handing the economy over to Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey will almost certainly see a dramatic deterioration in Australia’s fortunes.’

Six out of those seven threats to Australia’s economic wellbeing have come to pass. Already. After just one budget. (Fortunately, the global recovery has continued and Australia has not slipped into recession — although growth is now slowing alarmingly.)

Here, also, the mainstream media are grinding their gears into reverse. Friday’s editorial in The Australian conceded:

‘Joe Hockey’s first budget is in tatters, drained of blood and purpose in the Senate, a casualty of political sloppiness, poor preparatory messaging and internal inconsistencies. The Treasurer is neither a skilled policy expert nor a fierce advocate, so has struggled to make the case to voters or the business community about the government’s overarching fiscal strategy.’

On other policy matters, the alternative media belled warnings for years which the mainstream denied.

Now, The Australian finally acknowledges:

‘The Medicare co-payment has gone through a series of rapid and bewildering changes. The government may have to sacrifice the lion’s share of the savings promised by its higher education package if it is to secure fee deregulation ... The result is a sense of confusion and policy backlog ...’

Well, what can we say? We told you so.

You can follow Alan Austin on Twitter @alantheamazing.

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