Tony Abbott and the Age of Stupid

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The death of Gough Whitlam reminds us that the great man was everything our new prime minister is not, writes Lyn Bender.

A GIANT EXITS AND A PYGMY ENTERS. Let the booing go on.

The results are in. Tony Abbott is a colossal non-hero and Gough Whitlam’s evil twin.

He is a master promoter of folly and disaster. Now languishing on the sidelines, as China and the United States do a deal on big emissions cuts, he is left with only his feeble impotent direct action as his climate plan.

Meanwhile, the Russians are ship-fronting Australia as he postures ineffectually on the bridge. Abbott is exposed as the inept captain of a floundering vessel.

Tony Abbott is our modern Les Patterson abroad; he is as excruciating as any Barry Humphries caricature. Abbott is our own you bet, Putin defying shirt fronting, suppository of wisdom. He is very good at being deeply and undisguisedly bad.

He is our salutary lesson; he shows us where we must not go.

Abbott attacks science, supports the rich elites, and increases the hardships of the young, elderly, and the most vulnerable. He is as vividly explicit as the portrait of Dorian Gray in the attic, except his gruesome moral failings are on display for all to see.

In just a little over a year in power, Tony Abbott has

  • turned a blind eye to human rights abuses, in Sri Lanka;
  • returned refugees to potential danger in defiance of the Refugees Convention;
  • repealed the price on carbon, and other effective measures, when other nations like China and the US, are ramping up climate action;
  • put in place a worse than useless climate program called ‘Direct Action’, that pays polluters ‒ with taxpayer’s money ‒ to please pollute less, but only if they feel like it;
  • doubled the deficit;
  • increased Australia’s terror threat, arguably, by hastily ‒ without parliamentary debate ‒ sending Australian forces to another war in the Middle East;
  • made cuts to the CSIRO and science funding, including crucial climate science.

All this is terrible for Australians and the planet, but at least it is unequivocal.

Abbott tells us many lies, but it is his superficial selfies that truly demonstrate his narcissism.

Here is a sample:

  • Lifesaving Tony in red speedos — showing us he is physically fit to rule.
  • Lycra Tony on his bike —don’t look at my policies, look at my pins!
  • G.I. Tony, working out with the troops — but don’t expect good pay and benefits, veterans!
  • Fireman Tony, doing his bit to help fight fires — but not to fight climate change and reduce their risk.
  • Fighter Pilot Tony in a Striker Jet cockpit — can’t wait to use those on a “humanitarian” bombing mission.
  • Coal miner Tony, opening a “good for humanity” coal mine while stifling renewables — no worries, Gina!

When it comes to talk about increased fire prevalence and intensity being induced by climate change, Tony will have none of it.  UN Climate negotiator Christiana Figueres, was ‘talking through her hat’, he declared.

Abbott has almost entirely dismantled or reduced investment confidence in climate change action and renewables. This is a disaster but he has never pretended to care about climate change. His position has wafted from pronouncing it to be ‘crap,’ to a grudging acknowledgement of climate change being ‘real’. But Tony has stuck by his position of supporting fossil fuels, recently declaring that coal is good for humanity.

With Tony Abbott we should no longer be under any illusion. He is in the pocket of his fossil fuel backers and has no interest in the well being of Australians or future generations. In psychiatric terms, his actions would be analysed as psychopathic.

Writes clinical psychologist Lisa Johnson:

‘If the Abbott government was an individual, he would be a psychopath.’

In the opinion of this psychologist, if the Abbott government were your boyfriend it would be time to dump him and take out an apprehended violence order.

The Institute of Public Affairs ‒ IPA‒ has even anointed Tony Abbott to be Gough Whitlam’s [evil twin] successor, instructing Tony Abbott to emulate Whitlam’s transformation of Australia; but in the opposite direction. It delineates Whitlam’s ‘most left wing’ reforms in education, health, social justice, welfare, women’s and indigenous rights, proposing that Tony reverse them — and fast. It lists 75 radical ideas to transform Australia — Tony has already embarked upon these.

Bob Ellis writes of Gough’s memorial

Farewell to a giant’.

But we could add:

Moral pygmy enters stage right.

Or even:

As the pygmy arrived, the crowd booed.

Paul Keating has said, Whitlam changed the country’s idea of itself and changed its destiny.

Now Abbott wants to create an Australia with a new mean spirited self-destructive idea of itself and a new and terrible destiny — its own extinction.

His goal is to transform Australia into a country that is mean, inequitable, and an irresponsible global citizen.

None of us can claim that we don’t know. Unlike the German citizens in denial, who were marched past the corpses in the concentration camps by the conquering allies — we know.

Tony Abbott is destroying our children’s inheritance.

David Suzuki regards climate change denial as extremely dangerous. He has accused Abbott of willful blindness and criminal negligence.

Coal is not the future. Coal is not ‘good for humanity’. Coal is not ‘the foundation of prosperity for the foreseeable future’

Abbott is brutally and methodically dismantling much that has made this nation progress towards equity prosperity and fairness.

When he said that he is a PM of no surprises, he was declaring his gotcha moment. He will consistently lie and cheat, whenever it suits him. He will implement the agenda of big coal. He will keep his promises to his backers and friends - including Gina Rinehart and Rupert Murdoch - and the right wing think tank - The Institute of Public Affairs.

That is why Abbott was heartily and deservedly booed at the Gough Whitlam Memorial service. We all know what Tony Abbott is on about, now.

He is no role model for the future. He is no hero. He is part of what has been dubbed The age of stupid’ — the age that jeopardizes its own survival. In this paradoxical way Tony Abbott reminds us to:

Remember Gough. Maintain the protest. Maintain the scorn. Maintain the rage.

Maintain the booing!

You can follow Lyn Bender on Twitter @Lynestel.

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