Tag Archives: Tony Abbott

Medals for our suffering journo’s-now!


The late, great comedian John Clarke always said that the best actors he had ever heard, were sports commentators. The reason, he explained, was that they were able to convey the impression, with the utmost conviction, that the outcome of a football match was crucial, almost a matter of life or death. And then, suddenly, the game was over, and life resumed.

Spare a thought for our mainstream political journalists then, who deserve a collective medal, as they struggle on, from day to day, covering absolute nonentities, who are almost universally tribal, colourless, elitist, unoriginal and indescribably dull. They speak, as if in unison, from prepared notes, about ‘talking points’, and they will swear, on a stack of bibles, that black is actually, after looking at all the facts, and taking into account a multiplicity of factors, white.

Trying to write something new and fresh about politics in Australia, and about our politicians, is like trying to make boiled cabbage exciting. To try and do it every day is beyond heroic, it actually verges on masochistic.

Although the country heaved a huge sigh of relief when Tony Abbott was finally ejected from power, I am beginning to miss him. Looking at the other clowns on display is just depressing. They lack his mad smile, his earnest and innocent fustiness, his anti-social beliefs stated so disarmingly. They instead display a cagey quality which makes their utterances generally lacking in – interest.

Craig Kelly tried out for the part, but he just lacks commitment. His misunderstanding of the facts, his tortuous use of English is just not in Abbott’s class. He could no more eat an onion without a hint of self-consciousness, than he could order an electric vehicle. And his climate change denialism, although monumentally stupid, never hits the rhetorical heights that Abbott did. Remember climate change being described as crap, and a cult. And he never talks about suppositories.

Pauline Hanson was another wannabe, but recently she seems to have removed herself from the public gaze. Perhaps it is disenchantment with her hand-picked minions, or is it an attack of self-awareness, of shame, licking at her confidence? Nothing is so debilitating as discovering that no-one likes you anymore.

Michaelia Cash might become mildly interesting, but on reflection anyone who models her hair on Maggie Thatcher’s ‘do’ is struggling. She wants to present like her, but maybe she needs a couple of seasons more, of classic neoliberal orthodoxy. I suspect she needs to lose some more of whatever humanity remains, and toughen up.

The Party Boys, Tudge and Porter, looked promising for a moment, but who can tell. Bob Hawke had their spirit on the dance floor, but he also had ideas, and charisma, and heart. The Party Boys just seem to parrot their leader, and to hide behind his avuncular protection. They would be more newsworthy if they were to shout, from the top of a roof-top bar, “Take me, or leave me, suckers. This is me!” That won’t happen. They have gone into ‘weasel in a burrow saving his arse’ mode.

They have shown some mongrel, I will admit. Tudge promising to hunt down, and even jail, those targeted by Robodebt, was sort of interesting, but his recent begging for mercy after his affair was made public brought him back to the pack, as he was shown to be just another religious, family -values hack. Hypocrisy is interesting, but there is a lot of it around.

Porter is the Attorney General, as well as Minister for Industrial Relations, and Leader of the House. His outing as something of a loose cannon when he has been ‘on the town’ suggests he might need to lose a couple of the big jobs he is signed up for. Big jobs require a big effort.

Currently he is ‘looking’ at an Integrity Bill, which I suspect none of his colleagues want, which would explain the go-slow tactics he has employed. Usually a man who likes to party should provide some interest, but the public are not that interested in arcane matters such as holding secret trials, destroying legal careers, not reporting to Parliament on time. He is no Lionel Murphy, although he does love a drink, we hear. He also wants to look at his legal options regarding the Four Corners revelations, but he seems to have backed off a bit. He recently ‘looked at’ Defamation Law.

That leaves us with Mr Charisma himself. Scotty from Marketing could talk the leg off a piano, he is adept at saying, “Look, over there”, or “Labor did the same thing”, or “nothing to see here”. Sometimes he even tries to save us from boredom, by claiming that he has “already answered that question”. Which is decent of him. My favourite is “I reject the premise of your question”, which is gaining some currency. That grand old vaudevillian Michael McCormack used a variant of the phrase a couple of days ago.

This Government seems to be prone to disastrous incompetence, dishonesty, failure to meet obligations, and outstanding secrecy. Recently it was discovered that the Prime Minister’s Office met its Freedom of Information deadlines in 7.5% of requests. I’m not sure if the PM counts well, but that meant they missed the deadline 92.5% of the time.

That fact is interesting, and indeed damning enough, but it suffers from ‘boiled cabbage syndrome’. It shows what we all know, day in and day out. They are dishonest, chronically breaking the law, with seemingly no consequences. So you can see why journalists deserve those medals.

Abbott – a man for all tastes


Back in September 2020, Tony Abbott was back in the news. This time he was in the U.K., where the Brits were about to make a monumental mistake. They wanted to appoint him as a ‘trade envoy’. This deal has now been done.

He will be advising them on matters of trade. This is something of a risk, as Mr Abbott is known for many things, but commercial deal making is not one of them. He is renowned as more of a head kicker, really.

It has been said that Boris Johnson just wants him ‘on board’, because he is a strong supporter of a ‘no-deal Brexit’. He is a supporter now, but as is often the case with Mr Abbott, he was a ‘remainer’ before he was a ‘leaver’.

The British are keen to get any sort of trade deal they can, as they are about to crash out of the EU, without a deal. In attempting to secure a trade deal for the British, Mr Abbott will be competing against us, (Australia) for the same types of deal. So is he loyal? And to whom? He was born in the U.K. but he gets his pension from us. Decisions, decisions.

One must question whether Australia should permit such behaviour, in a citizen, as it appears that he has been privy to uniquely privileged information. He would be in a position to use that information against Australia’s national interests. That does not sound in any way morally sustainable, let alone from a national security perspective. Should Mr Dutton be ‘on the job’ protecting us from potentially conflicted ex-Prime Ministers?

How did Abbott get to the U.K.?

He got a special exemption. Although many families have been unable to obtain an exemption to leave the country, mainly for compassionate or family reasons, Abbott was able to obtain one. Mr Abbott said his exemption from the ban on Australians travelling was obtained “in the normal way”.

He wanted to go for a job interview, it seems, and also to attend a golf tournament. He was also travelling on a diplomatic passport, which ex Prime Ministers can obtain, it seems. He also knew the Minister, which appears to be as unfair as it sounds.

And if you thought having him out of Australia at all was a bit of a win for us, think again. He is coming back. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, because so many Australians are stranded overseas, unable to return. But Tony can come back whenever he wants to. We do not know whether he is flying on Australia’s tab, but if he can get something for free, he will.

Is he travelling by a commercial flight, or will we send a VIP jet? The ramifications and costs of this jaunt are endless. Not to mention the trashing of Australia’s reputation. He is seen as a distinguished representative of our country, at the same time that the British opposition has called him out as, amongst other things: offensive, aggressive, leering, gaffe-prone, homophobic, misogynistic, climate denying and divisive.

Did Abbott need the work?

This was also at a time when hundreds of thousands of Australians were being laid off, or having their hours cut. Abbott receives around $300,000 per year already. It is the parliamentary pension he supposedly earned, while wrecking everything he touched, during twenty five years of public life. It seems that there are two sets of rules. Quelle surprise, as they say in the EU.

Any other developments?

Well, he did use the opportunity of a platform, at a right wing think tank, to sabotage both Britain’s future trade prospects, and Australia’s fight to contain the coronavirus. The Policy Exchange, where he made the speech, lapped it up, although even they were surprised by some of what Mr Abbott said.

He described himself as a man who got things done, and that he would essentially ignore any environmental and labour concerns when negotiating any trade deals. This of course contradicted Mr Johnson’s stated position on the environment and also labour relations. There seems to be very little upside to Britain’s plans to use Mr Abbott as a representative.

On the Australian side of the ledger, he attacked the Victorian Premier, describing the lock-down there as a health dictatorship at its worst. He went on to extol the virtues of letting your loved ones die. Their lives do actually have a monetary value, it seems, and sometimes the cure is more costly than the disease. He stated that, “some elderly Covid patients could be left to die naturally.”

That is exact opposite of the argument Abbott used in 2009, when he actually spoke out against euthanasia. He even warned us about greedy and impatient relatives pulling the plug, in order to get the inheritance.

The Morrison Government said that his views are his own, ducking and weaving around the suggestion that they were enabling Abbott, or endorsing his views. This is awkward, because of their constant harping about throwing open our states’ borders. Many in the community consider such language as doublespeak for “put the economy first.”

“Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest is a quote attributed to Henry II of England preceding the death of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. I think I know how the King felt.

Barnaby Joyce is a disaster


Barnaby Joyce has had a reasonably long career in Parliament, now heading towards 15 years. His career is one which has had a number of very public setbacks, and he is generally dismissed by what he would call the ‘inner city elites’. He remains popular, however, and always newsworthy. He appears to have the ability to ‘bounce back’.

Many outstanding politicians are remembered for doing something special for their country, or perhaps for a lifetime of sustained effort for the country’s benefit. Barnaby Joyce was named “Australia’s best retail politician” by Tony Abbott. Now that endorsement does muddy the waters somewhat, but a reference from a former Prime Minister is still a reference.

He has also ‘served’ as Deputy Prime Minister of the country, which in itself is an achievement. It also illustrates the point that our system elevates the leaders of political parties to positions that are sometimes beyond their capabilities. It is arguable as to whether Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce are two such examples, but it also points to the problem of having a junior coalition partner. The leader of the National Party automatically becomes Deputy PM if the coalition is in power. This is problematic if the person in the role is, for any number of reasons, not a good fit.

These reasons might range from any ongoing scandals, to a lack of suitable ‘gravitas’ in the candidate. The expectations on a Deputy PM would be that he, or she, is an acceptable stand-in for the Prime Minister, should the Prime Minister be overseas, or ill, or even deceased.

Resignation and return to the back bench

In February 2018 Malcolm Turnbull was scheduled to go to the U.S. and he flagged that Mr Joyce would be acting Prime Minister in his absence. Unfortunately Mr Joyce was at that time embroiled in a personal crisis, which included the very public end of his marriage. Mr Turnbull, in what amounted to an expression of no-confidence in his deputy, appointed someone else to stand in for him. Barnaby Joyce was sent on a week’s leave. 

Obviously that was an uncomfortable set of circumstances, and within a week Mr Joyce resigned from the leadership of the National Party, and consequently lost his position as Deputy Prime Minister.

A look at his ‘annus horribilis’

It would not be unreasonable to expect that Mr Joyce might have called time on his career at that time, as his personal and political reputations were at an all-time low. But no, he had several more struggles to contend with.

There was that television interview, for which he was paid $150,000. There was talk that it was against the rules for Parliamentarians to take remuneration for appearing in the media, but that appeared to be incorrect. It is a convention, which is not binding, and so moot.

Joyce and Ms Campion arranged that lawyers were to establish a trust fund for their son, Sebastian, to set aside the $150,000 to pay for future expenses like school fees. Apparently the payment was to be made into a family trust, which is also a way to avoid a significant tax bill. So much for lifters and leaners.

His next mis-step was when he made the extraordinary claim that he might not be the expected baby’s father. He framed it as a ‘grey area’ which surely failed on every measure of chivalry, if such a thing still exists.

The next bombshell in the ‘annus horribilis’ for Mr Joyce was that he was found to be a dual New Zealand and Australian citizen. Under S44 of the Constitution, he was obliged to resign from Parliament, and to re-contest his seat. He won the by-election, against low profile candidates, but nevertheless he improved his margin.

As if that was not enough he was next found to be living, at no expense, in a friend’s apartment in Armidale. He declared the ‘gift’ of free rental, but again he was pilloried by many in the Press. He even made the comment that he needed the assistance, because he was living on a reduced wage, of over $211,000 per annum. But he was supporting six children, and two households.

Why is he so popular, when his every act seems to be career damaging at the least, career-ending at worst? When looking at his career, and notwithstanding his rise to near the top, one struggles to find the signature ‘big’ achievement. He does have a singular talent for making outlandish statements, which immediately gathers media attention, and he has made something of a reputation for speaking the ‘unvarnished truth’.

This has been gradually whittled away, mainly due to his own efforts, where onlookers or listeners are often left questioning whether he is affected by drink, or perhaps having a psychotic break of sorts. Perhaps it is just bad luck.

Some of his disasters

Mr Joyce continues to have many faithful followers, despite some stumbles along the way. Some of them are shown below:

The radio interview with Patricia Karvelas springs to mind, listen here https://www.theguardian.com/global/video/2019/apr/23/labor-labor-labor-labor-barnaby-joyces-bizarre-interview-on-rn-drive-video

You could also watch his Facebook post late last year, here: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/dec/25/barnaby-joyce-sick-government-being-in-my-life-taxes-climate-change

It could be argued that he has been forever oafish, but not particularly harmful. Jenna Price, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, thinks otherwise https://www.smh.com.au/lifestyle/barnaby-joyces-other-betrayal-20180209-h0vurf.html 

Weighing it all up

He has been called the world’s worst ever Agricultural Minister. He has overseen the Watergate purchase, of seemingly illusory floodwaters, for close to double the asking price. He did say that his department made the decisions; he was presumably absent, because it shows a level of mismanagement not commensurate with a Minister, or on a humbler level, an accountant.

He has been condemned for moving the pesticides regulator from Canberra to his own electorate, at huge expense, and with no discernable upside. He has apparently saved Australia from an environmental hazard, by threatening to euthanase Johnny Depp’s small dogs. Partly for this reason, he was presented with the 2015 Froggatt Award. I cannot tell if the award was ironic, or not.

More recently he completed his term as Special Drought Envoy, where he managed to spend $675,000 and ‘produced’ a report, sent by text messages, which the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, was too busy to read.

These are just some examples of how genuinely he has been found wanting in his role as a Parliamentarian, and Cabinet Minister. Think of an issue, and he will have likely taken the renegade position, and as likely as not, reversed his stance at some point. It is plain that he sees himself as a born leader, and his recent tilt at the leadership of the National Party, after the ignominy of the past year, has not dampened his ardour for a life at the top.

He continues to be reasonably popular, which is totally unbelievable, but true. He is a phenomenon.

Three Rich White Guys From Sydney – 1. Tony Abbott


I contend that this country has been cheapened, degraded and trivialised by the three individuals who have occupied the Big Chair over the last 8 years.

But first of all we had Tony Abbott. That sentence is almost enough, because we all roll our eyes, and we have visions of the guy in his tiny bathing costumes, the rictus of his smile, him eating an onion like an apple. But these are relatively benign matters, of taste rather than substance.

His transgressions against the body politic are beyond mere actions which can be reversed one day – they are of the soul, of the health of our collective psyches, of our belief in decency and truth. They are the sickness of seeing someone who cannot possibly believe what he says, and yet he says it. Even if he is contradicting himself. Even if he is arguing that he never said it, when we have definitive proof.

“No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions,no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.” Jan 30, 2014.

That seems to be fairly clear. But his successor (Malcolm Turnbull) claimed that he did not say it, of if he did, he didn’t mean it. I am paraphrasing, but to quote Malcolm Turnbull is a tedious process, because after he has covered any and all possible contingencies in the statement, one is in danger of expiring due to old age, or boredom, or possibly both.

Tony Abbott led the least successful government since the 1960s, if we judge governments by their ONE JOB, passing legislation. He also forced his successor to take the issue of same sex marriage to an expensive plebiscite, thus again forcing the government to avoid their ONE AND ONLY JOB!

Tony Abbott’s failures are so numerous that we forget how terrible he was, and embarrassing. Remember his comment where he confused “suppositories” with “depository”; why did he make that mistake? He is a Rhodes Scholar, with degrees in Economics and Law, and a Master of Arts from Oxford. One can only ask who was on that selection panel.

And don’t forget Prince Philip as an Australian knight. As I said in an earlier post, Abbott is the gift who keeps on giving.