Tuesday, 9th of April 2013, was the day it all began to fall apart for Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party, says Bob Ellis.
ON TUESDAY, April 9, the Liberals began to lose the election. Their NBN (cheap, slow, gimcrack, cities only) proved strictly Amateur Hour, and John Howard defended his WMD war (everybody believed in those big bombs except the weapons inspectors) and Thatcher, dying, showed again the world-view Howard stood for and Abbott, a Howardite, now had to defend.
This latter task will be hard for him. Thatcher’s war on coal miners, who wanted only to feed their families and dig up coal that China might still be buying, resembled closely Holden’s war on its workers, also announced that day. And her invention of the word ‘privatisation’ brought back how much Australians hate all that, and Abbott’s plans to privatise all the schools ‒ every one of them ‒ which has not sunk in yet.
He is done for now, I think.
On the day that Gillard brought back a deal with China, he unveiled a machine which, burping, fizzing and upside down with its legs in the air, would not pay its way in seats he needed to win. And on the day that Howard, who wanted Mandela hanged, spoke for his catastrophic war on A-bombs that weren’t there, Thatcher, who wanted Mandela hanged, died mad and Mandela got a bit better. This will mean Gillard will be preferred PM next time, Katter gaining, and Turnbull intriguing against his leader. And by the time someone raises his own sexual history against him in the House, he, Abbott, will already be on the slide.
And all this shows McTernan’s wisdom in recommending an early announcement of September 14, the election date. It forced the Liberals to proffer, four months before they wanted to, policies. This one has guaranteed Oakeshott and Windsor keep their seats, and six seats fall in Queensland to Katter or Labor, and Labor holds on in Tasmania. And Labor, therefore, wins, or Katter holds the balance of power.
On April 9 too, a boat got into Geraldton. This raised again the ‘turn back the boats’ question, and how much Navy would be henceforth having to do little else, and how much that would cost us. The NBN cock-up showed how bad Abbott was at practical things (his try at Vatican Roulette springs to mind, his late arrival at the Roxon debate, his standing up of Bernie Banton, his running out of the chamber) and what naval personnel would tow a boat with a pregnant woman on it five thousand miles to Sri Lanka, and whether Sri Lanka would then turn it back, in our direction.
The Liberals do not deal with the real world a lot, they speak mostly of dreams and legends, like the WMD, and mother’s hurling their babies into the sea.
And April 9 showed how impractical they are. How amateur. And stupid. And, probably, doomed.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License