Since bringing down the budget a consensus has developed that even
includes right wing journalists, with all agreeing that Tony Abbott has
been an abject disaster as Prime Minister.
In little under a month the ‘’adults’’ will have been in charge for a
year. Abbott is a visionless leader lacking a narrative for our
country; a leader unable to shake off a dour, negative, pessimistic
personality, and someone who has never been held in high regard.
After four years of daily abuse, distortion and outright dishonesty,
he forgot that once elected you are expected to come up with ideas and
actually have policies that take the nation forward.
Paul Kelly of The Australian newspaper said this;
“Abbott is governing yet he is not persuading. So far. As
Prime Minister he seems unable to replicate his success as Opposition
leader: mobilising opinion behind his causes. The forces arrayed against
Abbott, on issue after issue, seem more formidable than the weight the
prime minister can muster.”
In this statement Kelly assumes that Abbott was a success as
Opposition Leader. If one assumes that gaining office by deliberately
lying to your fellow Australians and later denying it equates to
successful persuasion, then he is correct.
Take this recent comment by Lenore Taylor;
“In the final sitting weeks of the winter session, Tony
Abbott held an unusual meeting of his full ministry during which he was
asked by a junior minister how the government was intending to deal with
the widespread view that it had broken election promises. The prime
minister’s response was forceful and absolute. The government had not
broken a single promise, he insisted. There was nothing to deal with, no
case to answer.”
Australia has never elected a Prime Minister so ignorant of
technology, the environment and science, nor so oblivious to the needs
of women. He is a man blind to inequality, and so out of touch with
transparency, truth and decency. A man remote from a changing world in
which answers to complex problems are more likely to be provided by
science and logical critical reason than a belief that change should
only ever be incremental at best.
Abbott is a man who seems isolated in a time warp, hungering for a
past world long forgotten. He is driven by elitist, privileged ideology,
the intent of which is vindictive punishment rather than inspirational
leadership and governance for the common good. He is a man who only
takes advice from those who agree and treats with disdain those who
don’t. He appoints as heads of enquiries those who acquiesce the same
view, thus divorcing the process from any real objectivity?
Abbott is a man with rich and influential friends, and it is from
them that he seeks advice. Advice is a necessary function of competent
leadership but when it only comes from those with wealthy vested
interests, or from those who see life through the prism of a cash
register, then it is born of self-interest and cannot express a common
good. The same goes for those who seek power with manipulative words.
Last week we had an appalling example of this. In giving into public
opinion on Free Speech legislation the Prime Minister at the same time
found it obligatory to ring a Murdoch journalist, Andrew Bolt, to inform
him that the legalisation would not proceed. It was as if Bolt was owed
some sort of apology, needed to be pacified in some way, or was owed
something for his biased support.
Abbott leads a men’s club who can be divided into four groups: the
religious right; the corporatist dealmakers; those who resemble the
American Tea Party; and the technological luddites who deny science.
They are a ministry of aging men with little practical work life
experience and obscure views often deep-seated in neoconservative
principles. Conservative men who can speak at will about what they
oppose but have difficulty articulating what it is they believe in, or
when they do it is clouded in the hue of feral, often hysterical,
extremist privileged morality.
What is our democracy coming to?
The first requirement of any Government is that it be transparent,
because secrecy makes us less free. When politicians lie they deny us
The right to vote is the gift that democracy gives. When a political
party deliberately withholds information that the voter needs to make an
informed, balanced and reasoned assessment of how it is being governed,
it is lying by omission. It is also tantamount to the manipulation of
our democracy or, more bluntly, it is destroying the very democracy that
enables it to exist.
This of course requires trust. “You can trust us” was Abbott’s
frequent mantra during the election, but events since would suggest that
the Prime Minister and his government can be far from trusted. It is a
sad reflection on our country when its citizens cannot expect that their
parliament will govern with trustworthiness.
We have seen what Rob Oakeshott calls “conflict theory”
used by big business to destabilise government by creating the
perception that the government is undemocratic. ‘We will decide how much
tax we pay’ said the big miners, and daily the billionaires protested,
supported by the Murdoch Empire, in turn subverting our democracy – and
the conservatives acquiesced.
According to a recent survey
by the ANU, most Australians no longer think it matters which major
party is in government. It also revealed a significant decline in
support for democracy over the past seven years. Nearly 20 per cent of
eligible voters, about 3 million Australians, effectively opted out of
the last federal election by either failing to enrol to vote, not
showing up to vote, or voting informally.
(with questions one would think most Australians should know) on the
link provided highlights the political ignorance of voters and the
Coalition have an interest in keeping it that way. Less informed voters
unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware, and therefore the
conservatives feed them all the bullshit they need. The menu generally
contains a fair portion of fabrication.
If our democracy is not in crisis it is fast approaching it. All
parties are responsible, but none more so than the Prime Minister who
has sought to trash the parliament and its institutions.
Having said that, and if the Polls are to be believed, around 48% of
Australians are happy to see the poor supplement the advantaged rich and
be governed by a group of middle aged men whose sole aim is
People no longer trust political parties and the parliament. A Monash
University survey found that trust in the Federal Parliament has fallen
from 48% in 2009 to 27% in this year.
Is it any wonder? Politics is rife with scandal and corruption, and
rorting of expenses is commonplace: particularly by a Prime Minister who
thinks he and his ministers should be immune to such things.
To quote Mark Latham;
“The famous formulation of ‘government of the people for
the people, of the people’ has been replaced by ‘government versus the
The malaise in Australian politics is comprehensively demonstrated by
the fact that after three years of insisting he would restore popular
trust, after Abbott was elected leader the polls very quickly reflected
the fact that the people recognised they had voted for a dud. He never
had the honeymoon period usually given to incoming leaders.
Whilst in opposition, Abbott could have formulated some policy
instead of spreading negative propaganda. However, he has shown by the
frequency and blatancy of his lying that it was all about self-interest.