Tony Abbott is a reckless gambler — and likewise the Australian people would be taking a huge punt by allowing him to become Prime Minister. Peter Wicks checks the form guide.
DURING the campaign for the NSW State election in March 2010, I often referred to Barry O’Farrell as the Steven Bradbury of politics. My reasons for giving Barry this dubious honour was because Barry chose to use what is known as the “small target” approach to campaigning. This basically means sitting back with your mouth shut and waiting for your opposition to fall over.
Barry chose to do this because he figured that Labor was so down in the polls in NSW, he didn’t need to win, he thought he could just stay down and let them lose. After all Labor had been in power for so long people wanted a change, if Barry had made his intentions known it would have only cost him votes, not gained any. Seeing the aftermath of his win at the polls, I can understand why he kept his cards tight to his chest.
I have found myself wondering lately if Tony Abbott wishes he had chosen the same option.
The polls have been consistently bad for Labor for at least a year now — there is no escaping that fact. Another fact – and one that is often ignored in the main stream media – is that in the same polls, Gillard and Abbott are quite level in the preferred Prime Minister polling numbers, often with Gillard leading Abbott.
Many times I have heard debates over why the preferred PM numbers are so close, but the answer is really quite simple in my mind. People don’t trust Tony Abbott. The famous "In your guts, you know he's nuts" theory.
I know many friends, family, and other acquaintances who are Liberal voters of old. It seems, however, many of them have doubts when it comes to Tony Abbott. Many view him as bordering on extreme. Many have commented that they simply don’t trust him.
I believe that the Liberal spin doctors are aware of this and this is why the Coalition have been so keen to paint Julia Gillard as a liar and not to be trusted. It seems, to date, they have been getting away with it as well.
In Australia, I don’t believe the vast majority of the population put 100 per cent faith in everything a politician tells us. I believe that most of us expect a bit of political spin — and therefore accept it to a certain point.
What I don’t think people like to see in a potential Prime Minister, however, is someone who is willing to take huge risks to score cheap points.
Tony Abbott has shown his hand, so to speak, and what is fast becoming apparent is that Abbott is a gambler playing for the highest of stakes.
When I talk about Abbott’s gambling, I am not talking about the Coalitions blocking of any reform on Poker Machine regulations, although it can be used as an example. What I am referring to is Abbott’s seeming belief or “sense of entitlement” as Joe Hockey would put it, that he was born to be Prime Minister. This belief, it appears, means he will seemingly risk all that is not his to fulfil his destiny. Happy for others to risk their careers and credibility for him, happy to risk the Australian economy, happy to risk the integrity of the parliament, and of course more than glad to risk your standard of living. Whatever it takes…
If you have been following my posts lately, or been following the news, you would have seen that there are Liberal Party fingerprints all over the James Ashby case against speaker Peter Slipper. This has seen Christopher Pyne and Mal Brough risking their credibility and their careers on trying to embarrass or bring down the government — and to alter the number of votes in the House of Representatives by one vote.
Some would call it a scandal, others may call it an attempted coup.
Why would you stick your neck out this far if you were so ahead in the polls? All this dodgy behind the scenes carry on to publicly humiliate and ruin someone who was recently one of your team? In fact, Slipper’s vote was the single vote that got Abbott over the line when he took a gamble and challenged Malcolm Turnbull for the Liberal leadership.
The more that surfaces on this matter, the more it shows just how big Abbott’s gamble is. He is risking his Party’s lead in the polls for an act of revenge. That, to me, sounds unnecessary to the point of being reckless — not exactly prime ministerial.
You may have also noticed that as the HSU saga has come under more scrutiny, once again there are Liberal fingerprints starting to show up, particularly with the so called “whistle-blower”, Kathy Jackson, and her partner Michael Lawler, vice president of Fair Work Australia — and Tony Abbott appointee.
Jackson seems to have found a great deal of new Liberal party buddies lately, which some would say is odd given that she is a trade union leader. Now she makes speeches at the anti-union HR Nicholls Society and receives hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of free legal support from Liberal Party connected lawyers.
Fancy Abbott gambling his credibility on a union leader like Kathy Jackson. Seems a bit crazy and reckless to me. Still, at least we know the type of woman that Abbott respects at last — until this, I thought he had no respect for them at all.
Some would say Tony Abbott’s willingness to take wild risks explains some of his decisions as the Health Minister under John Howard. Some of these risks would include the public berating of national hero and campaigner for those suffering the effects of asbestosis , Bernie Banton, shortly before his death from asbestos poisoning. Abbott was forced into a public apology eventually.
Then there was his failure to show up until the end of a debate he was supposed to be having with Nicola Roxon during the 2007 election campaign. And of course his decision as Health Minister to ban the abortion pill RU486, thus ensuring invasive medical procedures for victims of rape, and women placed in the awful position of making this choice. Abbott’s choice to make this process as punishing, as mentally devastating, and as humiliating as possible for women, had nothing at all to do with his friends in the Catholic Church I’m sure, however unlike most western countries, RU486 remained banned in Australia; I guess Abbott thought he could gamble with the female vote.
Speaking of his Catholic pals, record numbers of victims of paedophile abuse are emerging, causing public outrage. Tony would like to ensure the Catholic Church is not targeted in any parliamentary enquiry he says.
Why? They have the greatest number of complaints against them. Not focusing on Catholics would be like giving the Nazi’s an exemption from War Crimes investigations, a totally offensive notion. Once again Tony is gambling that we will understand him putting his religion ahead of the protection of our children from rape and sexual abuse.
Tony Abbott has also risked his own political career to destroy another’s. When it looked like One Nation may make an impact on the political landscape, Abbott decided that Australian’s could not be trusted with democracy — he knew better. To say that Abbott used every vile tactic at his disposal, and invented a few more to boot, would be an understatement. Abbott went after Pauline Hanson like a rabid Rottweiler going after a stray cat. So little respect did Abbott have for democracy, that he would not rest until Pauline ended up in jail under false circumstances. Interestingly also, Hanson was a former John Howard staffer. I’m glad none of my friends or colleagues are from the Liberal Party; I'd be watching my back if they were.
Abbotts own words on the matter are nothing short of pure arrogance.
"Obviously in hindsight I shouldn't have done it. But if I had my time again and it was necessary to make an alliance with some pretty unusual people to stop a very serious threat to the social cohesion of the country, well, I would do it. I mean, how else were we going to stop One Nation at the time?"
How about letting the people make that decision Tony, it’s called a democracy — you may want to Google it.
Looking at the current debate on Climate Change, Abbott has chosen to gamble on our economy, and our children’s future. Tony Abbott clearly thinks that his arrogance, his persistence, and his clear belief in the public’s stupidity, will carry him through.
Nobody likes a new tax, that is clearly true, and the Labor Party is totally to blame for allowing the Carbon Price to be called a “Carbon Tax”. They are made to look even more foolish when Christine Milne of the Greens is about the only one who doesn’t refer to it as a tax, fair play to her.
What Abbott is gambling on here are three main things. That people will believe that Australia has become a place too expensive to live in now the Carbon Price is in place. Much better to love somewhere like Greece, Spain or Ireland. That people ignore what is going on around the world, as other nations start to make drastic changes. Lastly, that people don’t believe in Climate Change, preferring not to listen to scientists but to take the word of people like Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt, and bizarre blow-ins like Angry Anderson.
The economists agree, for the most part, in the Carbon Price model that is now in place as the most economical way to tackle the issue in Australia. Yes, there are some that disagree, but go back a few years and you will find they agreed with the remarkably similar scheme John Howard had as his policy; that would seem to indicate their true reasoning.
But why would Abbott listen to the country’s leading economists anyway? His economic team would know better apparently. After all when it comes to money, they know how to find the real experts. Just like the team that put together the costings for the Liberals last election campaign, the ones that had to balance the Coalitions $11 billion black hole. Well, they succeeded apparently, and the Coalition rejoiced at the superb audit of their figures. That was until each of the accountants who worked on the shady figures were fined by the industry watchdog for the work they performed for the Coalition, apparently bringing the industry into disrepute. Nice work. I guess that gamble didn’t pay off real well for those guys….
Abbott is also gambling that the people of Australia have a love affair going with those big rich polluters. He must think that. He believes that people would rather see compensation for action on climate change go to polluters rather than those struggling with the household budget. I’m not so sure on that wager, Tony, I think people would be enraged at your policy of paying people like Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer compensation, instead of families. Mainly because it’s idiotic.
As for Australia making a bold leap ahead of anybody else, once again Abbott takes a gamble on the public being stupid. Below is a chart that is taken from the Coalitions own policy document the “Direct Action Plan”. The chart shows which of the world’s economies are moving on climate change.
|Climate Change Policies of Major Economies in 2009|
|Country||National Emissions Trading (Y/N)||Emissions Taxes (Y/N)|
|USA||Power Stations Only||Y|
|Source: Parliamentary Library December 2009|