News Corp boosts return of Tony Abbott

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Tony is News Corp's preferred Liberal leader. Note the above gushing Daily Telegraph article published soon after Abbott was elected PM in 2013 (Image via @Thefinnigans)

The Murdoch media have gone the full Abbott this week with multiple articles spruiking a comeback for the disgraced former PM. In the spirit of Tony, they are riddled with hypocrisies, distortions and lies.

In an extraordinary lament for her fallen hero, Miranda Devine wrote yesterday:

‘The Liberal Party should never have toppled Abbott … The coup was a breach of trust with the electorate, an admission of catastrophic failure where none existed … All of which I wrote at the time, although without anticipating just how profoundly Abbott would break his promise of “no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping”.’

Breaches of trust

Abbott’s administration dudded the electorate from the outset. Of the myriad specific election promises, all but a few were trashed in the early weeks. The broken promises and backflips – which tallied 85 well before he was ousted – were breaches of trust with the electorate. But so were many promises kept.

He fulfilled virtually all his promises to enrich the rapacious big corporations. He ended the carbon and mining taxes, let them pay only what they wanted in company tax, reduced wages, cut regulations and allowed the rates of worker deaths and corporate rorts to escalate.

Yes, he promised to stop the boats. Labor, however, had already accomplished this, as John Menadue has shown convincingly.

Multiple failures

There most certainly was "catastrophic failure" under Abbott.

These included:

  • increasing budget deficits by 298 per cent over Treasury’s 2013 PEFO estimates;
  • increasing net debt by $126.3 billion in two years — after promising to reduce it by $30 billion;
  • failed border security with its murderous detention regime, payments to people smugglers and cost explosions;
  • setting a new Westminster world record of 65 blatant lies — one unlikely ever to be broken;
  • making Australia the world’s laughing stock with his climate science denial, attacks on Labor while overseas, restoration of knights and dames, chomping on raw unpeeled onions, and countless other cringeworthy gaffes.

From the Coalition’s viewpoint, the 30 consecutive negative opinion polls was emphatic evidence of failure.

This has not changed. A poll this week in the popular youth media asked, ‘Who was Australia’s worst prime minister’ and offered nine options, from Whitlam to Turnbull. A staggering 62% voted for Abbott. Turnbull and Howard were a distant second and third at 18 and 15 per cent respectively.

Wrecking and sniping

Devine should have known

‘... Abbott would break his promise of “no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping”.’

Everyone else did.

Christopher Pyne

Devine’s anger was vented primarily at defence industry minister Christopher Pyne, who mocked Abbott this week.

She wrote:

And now the boasting of his once closest ally Christopher Pyne has laid bare the rot at the heart of the Liberal Party … Pyne represents everything that is wrong with the Liberal Party.

“He’s a cancer,” says one of his conservative colleagues.

Senator Cory Bernardi, who quit the Liberals this year to start his own Australian Conservatives party, says his fellow South Australian is “the most untrustworthy person I’ve ever met in this business”.

(Image screenshot dailytelegraph.com.au)

No, the ‘rot at the heart of the Liberal Party’ has been evident from 2010, soon after Abbott was elected leader. This led directly to the abandonment of bipartisanship in defence, border security, foreign affairs and trade. Trashing this cherished Westminster tradition helped Abbott get elected, but did enormous damage to Australia’s economy, refugee policy and standing in the world.

No, Bernardi is wrong to claim Pyne is “the most untrustworthy”. That would be the guy who quit to start his own party a few months after being elected as a Liberal for a six-year term.

Blueprint of betrayal

The Australian ran another puff piece on Tuesday headed:

‘Abbott delivers stinging rebuke to the Turnbull Government’.

This promoted Abbott’s

'... sharpened alternative policy manifesto ... [in a bid to] ... rally conservatives around the battleground issues of energy policy, immigration levels, budget repair, Senate reform and national security.’

The “reporters” seemed blissfully oblivious to the screaming hypocrisies they were defending.

They started with this (guess who said it?):

“We have an abundance of energy – but the world’s highest power prices; an abundance of land – and property prices to rival Hong Kong’s; some of the world’s smartest people – yet with school rankings behind Kazakhstan. We need to make Australia work again.”

Yes, it was Tony Abbott — who in four years as Opposition leader and two as PM, did more than anyone in recent history to encourage the predatory profiteering of the power companies, cut incomes of the lowest-paid, stymie renewable energy, protect negative gearing and other rorts distorting the property market, and impede education reforms.

Budget repair

Abbott’s recipe for the economy was epic do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do:

“The best way to get federal spending under control … is to avoid all new spending other than on national security or economic infrastructure. It can be done. In two elections 2010, 2013, the Liberal National coalition made big gains promising spending cuts, tax cuts and regulation cuts.”

Yes, Abbott made big gains with promises. But after four years trying to thwart Labor’s sound management, he delivered the opposite in Government.

The Senate

Herein lies arguably Abbott’s most nauseating hypocrisy:

"The Senate has become a house of rejection, not a house of review. This is a recipe for gridlock, not government, and it must end ..."

That was true when Abbott was Opposition leader. It is not true now.

Yes, some legislation has stalled in the Senate, but only those that were:

  • broken commitments to the electorate,
  • bad for the economy,
  • destructive of a functioning society, and
  • serving the interests of the wealthy foreign tax-dodging donors to the Liberal Party.

Fortunately, we don’t have to worry. Abbott’s return won’t happen. Can’t happen.

Miranda Devine quoted an unnamed “colleague” (usually News Corp code for a straight concoction) as saying

"Abbott’s numbers in the party room have dwindled from the size of a phone box to 'a batman suit'."

Let’s hope she is correct there.

You can follow Alan Austin on Twitter @AlanAustin001.

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