Being the True History Of The Abbott Gang
by David Archibald, author of Australia’s Defence (Connor Court)
9 March 2016
When an influential conservative visited Western Australia recently, he and I agreed that Mr Abbott could possibly be made Prime Minister again but he would have to issue a mea culpa as part of the process.
Instead Abbott has gone the other way, laying claim to achievements that never occurred. You will find the benefit of a selective memory displayed in The Economic Case for the Abbott Government, by Tony Abbott.
To provide some context, let’s go back to 1996. We all remember the joy of the defeat of the Keating government. The incoming Howard regime flopped about early on but then settled into mostly sensible stewardship. But Mr Howard squandered the mining boom and increased social service spending by 25% in an attempt to be re-elected.
Mr Costello wanted his turn as PM but was too lazy to do anything to that end, besides pouting. And after Mr Howard’s denouement, when the Liberal Party and the nation needed a leader, Mr Costello resigned rather than work at setting the nation to rights. The leadership vacuum was eventually filled by Mr Turnbull, in 2009.
Mr Turnbull came with a fatal flaw though. He believed in man-made global warming. Mr Turnbull did once say though that if global warming wasn’t real, it was the biggest con job in history. This is strange for a man whose profession is based on seeking the truth of a matter, because he didn’t seek the truth of the matter and we are still paying billions a year due to that lack of curiosity.
Mr Turnbull’s man-made global warming belief was diametrically opposed to that of the Liberal Party’s base, which came agitated. Mr Turnbull’s denouement came when he verballed the results of a party room meeting. Shadow parliamentary secretaries started resigning and the spill was on. Mr Abbott filled the leadership vacuum, mainly on the strength of a negative comment on global warming in a far western Victorian branch meeting.
The election the following year was a tie. Mr Abbott thought the Prime Ministership should be his by right and he sat around waiting for it to fall into his lap. But, to paraphrase Shakespeare, Labor found a nest of hollow bosoms and two unpleasant men, Tony Windsor of New England and Rob Oakeschott of Lyne. Both formerly of the National Party, they supported the urban socialists this time. Mr Abbott could have, and should have, publicly driven up to Lyne and New England and stroked the egos of these little men. Alas, we had to endure another three years of Labor’s loathing of Australia.
Come the 2013 election and the nation was heartily sick of Labor. Mr Abbott and the Liberal Party won in a 1996-like landslide. Mr Abbott took a very leisurely three weeks to form the new government though. It seems that there were no pressing issues to set to rights. Then he and his family went on a skiing holiday in France. Being in opposition, being in government – just a continuum really.
It was easy enough for some to predict that the Abbott regime would be a continual disappointment. And why? Because after the 2007 election Mr Abbott complained publicly that he couldn’t adjust to living on a backbencher’s salary after having been on a minister’s salary. He and his treasurer didn’t have the stomach for reigning in spending once the mining boom was over.
Like Mr Turnbull before him, Mr Abbott wasn’t a consultative leader. Thus the paid parental leave scheme, which he dreamed up himself, unaided. And then he clung so tightly to the wreckage of his failed policy when in government.
When as PM he wanted to connect with the backbench, he invited 40 of them to dinner. After the first attempted spill, that was reduced to three at a time. Promises which should have been abandoned, such as not touching the funding of the ABC, were kept, while policies which should have been kept, including the repeal of 18C, were abandoned so casually. The nesting sites of the lefties were left undisturbed, and they became emboldened.
We are currently feeling the results of that neglect, in things like the Safe Schools program — in which 11 year olds are taught about “penis binding”. This being a family-oriented website, we can’t describe what that practice entails, but it may be something like the penis gourds of Irian Jaya.
But it was worse than that, in a fundamental way. In May 2014, the then Transport Minister, Mr Warren Truss, closed Darwin Airport because of the supposed danger of dust from a volcano 1,373 km away in Indonesia. He talked of closing Brisbane Airport too. He would have done that on the advice of his department. What were the Indonesians doing about their exploding volcanoes? And the Filipinos? And the Japanese? They simply fly around them.
After the debacle in Europe in 2010 from the reaction to the Eyjafjallajokull eruption, the aviation authorities there adopted a safe upper limit of 4 mg of volcanic dust per cubic meter. There was no pretence of science in the Darwin Airport closure – it was just pure hysterical schoolgirl stuff.
The rest of Government is now like that too — no grip on how the world works. It’s hysterical schoolgirls all the way down. Mr Abbott, or any other member of cabinet or beyond, could have phoned Mr Truss and said, “Wazza, don’t be so stupid. Let my people fly.” But nobody picked up the phone and it seems that nobody cares about needlessly disrupting the lives of ordinary Australians.
Mr Turnbull’s usurpation of the crown was a mercy killing, really. Which brings us to the current day, and Mr Abbott’s statement of achievements. No, Mr Abbott didn’t make “a determined effort” to balance the budget. He wanted to bring in the paid parental leave scheme while reducing the pay in the armed services in real terms.
Yes the carbon tax was repealed, but the auditing basis of that tax, the NGER, was kept so that the carbon tax could morph into Direct Action. So taxes are raised to give money to charlatans who promise to not burn grass and so on. That is what Direct Action is, and no fiscal rectitude is evident.
Now let’s skip a lot and get to Mr Abbott’s final whine, in which he quotes Jean-Claude Juncker, current President of the morally bankrupt European Commission, the executive branch of the morally bankrupt European Union, as saying “We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we have done it.”
That’s the trouble. Mr Abbott thinks he is part of an elite entitled to determine what is good for people, and that the voters are just greedy peasants who want goodies showered on them.
That is the attitude that has led to the rise of Mr Trump, who seems set to become president despite so many failings, because he promises to fix the one problem imposed by the elite of the United States that no one else will.
And one more thing. Mr Abbott upped the number of F-35s that Australia was set to get from 14 to 72, increasing our outlay on that piece of junk by $12.4 billion and putting the nation at existential risk.
One previous Liberal Prime Minister lost an election because of trouble with airplanes. Robert Menzies, then of the United Australia Party, lost the 1941 election because he had fluffed the acquisition of fighter aircraft. The ones we had were easily shot down by the Japanese. At the time we could have had better American aircraft, but plenty of Australian pilots died because of Mr Menzies’ choice.
This time it is reversed. We have to eschew the American product and get the far more agile European stuff to avoid being shot out of the sky by Chinese Flankers and Su-35s. In terms of history rhyming, the threat comes from the north, always. We have to choose our fighter aircraft wisely, always.