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The rise and fall of Tony Abbott: The man from yesterday

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(Image via @unionsaustralia)

So, Tony Abbott has survived the spill — but even having a spill seems to have truly mystified the PM, so how did it get so bad so quickly?

Well it all really started with the prime minister and his party completely misunderstanding why they were elected in the first place.

When elected in 2013, a large part of the electorate weren't actually voting for Tony Abbott, they were actually voting for "not Kevin Rudd".

The previous Labor Government had been riven with leadership doubt and changed back and forth twice — first, Rudd was ousted by Julia Gillard, Rudd then went to the back bench and it seems, began destabilising Julia Gillard's leadership. Then, despite Gillard's famous Misogyny Speech and a generally perceived good performance as PM, the Labor party room decided that Julia couldn't win an election, so they brought Rudd back.

Tony Abbott, for his part, seized on this and, in a truly unholy level of hypocrisy, made statements along the lines of:

"How can Labor govern the country if they can't even govern themselves?"

So, Australia went to the election and voted: [1] Not Rudd, as opposed to: [1] Tony Abbott.

Then, once in power, Tony Abbott latched onto Julia Gillard's so-called "lie" of "no carbon tax".

Tony Abbott took this to mean that the Australian people, definitely – utterly, totally and for all time – just wanted money and jobs, and no action at all on climate change.

However, almost from the day of the election, the pace of climate change began to quicken and almost immediately the Australian people began to be more, and increasingly more, concerned about global warming.

But Tony Abbott and his fossil fuel loving Government members couldn't, or wouldn't, see this, and so went about demolishing any and all of Australia's currently modest action on climate change. So upon assuming power, they straight away abolished the Climate Change Commission as a sure and certain indicator of starting as you mean to go on.

Tim Flannery, the highest profile member of this Commission, then put it out to the Australian People for funding, and they raised a million odd dollars in a week and reformed as the Climate Council, enabling it to continue its work.

Then the Liberal Government set to work to remove the carbon tax and the mining tax, which they achieved after some effort and have been crowing about ever since.

Even now, a year-and-a-half later, the Abbott Government is still pointing to how the scrapping of the carbon tax has meant that the Australian people now have so much money in their pockets. Nonsense.

Then Tony Abbott put Scott Morrison, in charge of "stopping the boats". Australia was, apparently, being "swamped" by "hordes" of, mainly sub-continental, refugees, seeking asylum from persecution in their home land.

So, Morrison then began locating the boats on which these asylum seekers were floating upon precariously, in Torres Strait, to the north of Australia and setting them adrift, back toward Indonesia, where many of these voyages originated from. He then brought down a security clamp, meaning no journalist could get any verifiable information as to what was actually going on north of Australia.

The Government reported that twelve boats had been turned around in the first year of the Abbott's time in power and that no asylum seekers had landed, thus making the score: Abbott Government 12 — Asylum Seekers 0.

End of story, as Morrison would have it. However, no one knows if these figures are accurate to this day. Were twelve boats stopped? One hundred? None? Who knows?

However, even this success began to exude a whiff of the rancid and, once again, the Abbott Government failed to understand that the hearts and minds of the electorate can and do change. For now an undercurrent of doubt began to assail the Australian voter, while many – even LNP voters – were happy that the boats had been stopped, even right wing voters seemed to become worried about the harshness of the techniques that had to be applied to do it.

The nadir of Australia’s image was certainly Scott Morrison celebrating the dumping of asylum seekers in Cambodia by sharing a glass of champagne with the Cambodian foreign minister.

And backgrounding most of this, was the hideous, creaking, confusing, staggering mess that was the 2014 Budget.

Conservative governments, state and federal, then and now, constantly parrot the line that only they are the party of jobs and money. Only they can get everyone back to work and only they can see that all Australians have a bucket of money in their pockets. However, this budget showed that nothing could be further than the truth.

First it was a budget emergency, where the Government announced that it must bring in an incredibly harsh, nay brutal, budget to save Australia from itself. 

The most unpopular and clearly unconsidered measure of which was the Medicare Co-payment, making it cost more to see the doctor. However, the problem was that while instituting this measure to charge an extra $7 dollars to see their doctor, slated to raise $1 billion, the Government then joined the military presence in the gulf to fight ISIS, at an approximate cost $0.6 billion. And at the same time, PM Abbott wasn’t prepared to give up his "billionaires baby bonus" — the Paid Parental Leave Policy, budgeted to cost $2.2 billion.

Thus the voter saw through this double standard and said:

“Tony, either we have a budget emergency or we don’t. If we do, then your Paid Parental Leave scheme has to go, if we haven’t got a budget emergency, then the Medicare Co-payment has to go. You can’t have it both ways.”

The Budget from last year still hasn’t been sorted out, yet the next one is less than three short months away.

Will measures from last year now have to be accommodated in this year’s? Presumably, but again, who knows — such is the confusion and lack of consistency of the Government.

Thus the ultimate problem for Tony Abbott has been that he is still acting like it is still election day, September 2013. Well, if a week is a long time in politics, clearly a year-and-a-half is longer and Tony Abbott hasn’t been able to do is look to the future, he is still firmly and fixedly living in the past.

It’s 2015 now and things have changed — yet the Tony Abbott's inability to do likewise is why the leadership spill occurred so unprecedentedly soon after a prime minister had assumed office in this nation.

Yet even this spill has seemingly taught Abbott nothing about being a real prime minister.

After suffering his "near death experience". this week the PM said this:

"If we focus on the ALP, we'll win the next election. If not, we'll get a very different result."

Well the frustrated voter in me screams:

“Tony! Your job is not to focus on the opposition, your job is to govern the country with sensible policies. You’re not the opposition anymore, you’re the Prime Minister and your party is in government!"

Sadly, the prime minister is a fighter, not a builder and so he feels more comfortable attacking and tearing down, than negotiating and building. Tony is, perhaps, still reliving his glory days of 2009, when he stabbed Malcolm Turnbull in the back to become Opposition Leader.

So it seems certain that for our living in the past leader, his lot seems certain to be another leadership spill — and very soon. And the sooner the better, for all Australians.

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