The Abbott gang's damaging war on the ABC

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(Art by John Graham / @JohnGrahamArt)

Tony Abbott's war on the public broadcaster will cause him far more hurt than it will cause the ABC, says Bob Ellis.

It was wise of the ABC to have rebroadcast this particular Q&AIt showed that Mallah said two unremarkable things, both true and Ciobo reacted like an authoritarian martinet, threatening him with death, or something close to it. What happened after that did Abbott a lot of damage.

Abbott demanded "heads should roll" and Dutton that the ABC be deconstructed and reassembled from the ground up. Mark Scott said this was not North Korea, it was Australia. Hinch on Sky Agenda supported him: we're here to be agin the government, he said, not to be its mouthpiece. We're journalists, that what we do. He said this on Sky Agenda.

All over, this threat to the ABC went down badly. Eighty-eight percent of people say it does a good job. Twice as many people support it as support the Liberal Party. Seventy-eight percent don't want any part of it changed. Many noted Abbott's praise of it – on the floor of the House, hands beseeching the heavens – for The Killing Season. This was ten days ago. And they note now his preference that it be mutilated and reassembled.

Some thought it utterly contradictory that he did not arrest, or decitizenise, Zaki Mallah or threaten to. To some it seemed he wasn't serious about it, he just wanted to screw the ABC.

Every few days it becomes clear, or clear to some of us, that Abbott is a bit mad. A week ago he said paying people smugglers to smuggle people into a country they didn't want to be in was fine, whatever it takes, by hook or by crook. Yesterday he had to cobble up a new law into being because his detention policy was illegal and he had to make it legal retrospectively. A while back he knighted the Duke of Edinburgh. On the Queen's Birthday he didn't knight anybody. Last Saturday he found himself cursed by the Pope for his views on climate change. Today he woke up to the news that gay marriage is legal everywhere in the United States, though he believes his own sister will burn in hell for her 'lifestyle choice' which he, Andrew and Morrison find an abomination.

And this has been another mad-dog reaction, to an utterly unremarkable statement, that if you threaten Muslim kids with eternal exile, as Ciobo just did, they'll turn against you. That was all Mallah said. That was all.

And because he said it Abbott wants "heads to roll" at the ABC. He doesn't want to do anything to the "terrorist sympathiser", put him in gaol or anything, just wreck the careers of the holders of his microphone.

An honest poll in Monday would show Abbott behind Shorten again, as preferred prime minister. If Morgan addresses this question, which it usually doesn't, we would get that answer. If it is asked by only Newspoll, the dishonest poll, we will see Abbott way ahead, and the party vote 50-50. On Morgan, the accurate poll, it will be 55-45, Labor's way. This is greater than any margin at any election since 1931.

Critical to this latest Abbott cock-up is Turnbull's august reaction to it.

Asked if he thought heads should roll, he said, amusedly:

"I will choose what metaphors I use, and the manner in which I use them."

This lofty regal response showed he was getting close to the numbers, I think, and a move against Abbott would happen soon, and this was why he and Credlin were in a flurry of new rumours of an early election, in July perhaps, before the parliament reassembled, an election he is bound to lose.

He is bound to lose it because he opposes gay marriage, rewards people smugglers, covers up the buggery of children, is cutting the money to the disabled, wants to end public education, is at war with the Pope, wants to hobble the ABC, believes five tiny Nettletons should be punished for assisting terrorism, "whatever age they are" and shows himself, every three days or so, to be a fumbling nutter.

And we will see what we shall see.

The original John Graham cartoon featured in this piece may be purchased from the IA store by clicking here.

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