Sunday, September 5, 2010

Election 2010: Extra Time (or, Who is he talking to? Who is listening?)

Well it looks like we’ll all find out tomorrow who will govern the nation.

Tony Abbott has taken the rather bizarre step of writing an open letter to the three independents in The Sunday Telegraph. It is a letter that smacks of utter desperation, as he suggests an ALP-Green alliance will lead to just about everything up to an including the exhumation of Karl Marx.

Take this little assertion:

A Labor/Green alliance spells doom for regional Australia's economic base. The slightest move towards Green defence and foreign policies would put the American alliance at risk.

Hey doofus, Australia currently has troops in Afghanistan, and the ALP has stated ad nauseam that they’re staying there. So yeah, the alliance is really in danger. What a fool. I mean if you are going to scare the horses, at least try something remotely plausible.

He keeps going:

By cutting funding for independent schools, abolishing the private health insurance rebate, and ending offshore processing of illegal boat people it would damage the social fabric too.

To the first two, does anyone seriously think the private health insurance rebate will be abolished? Means tested yes – and so it bloody well should be – the amount of middle-class welfare still carried over from the Howard years is disgraceful – but Abbott is just spinning lies here by talking about it being abolished. Oh and cutting funding to independent schools? Sigh. Once again Abbot displays his belief that education should be privatised. Reviewing the pie of funding to private schools does not mean the pie will shrink, but it may mean schools that actually need the funding will get more of it. But of course Abbott will never admit that – he’ll just throw out his usual pabulum.

And please explain to me how the end of offshore processing is going to damage the social fabric of the nation? Are we such a pathetic people that a couple thousand people are going to destroy the way of life of 22 million? Explain that to me Abbott – why is our way of life so fragile?

The letter is just hollow spin – not an ounce of substance gets anywhere near it.

You see Abbott is the master of spin – as good (or as bad) as Rudd ever was.

Just look at his election campaign: he spent 5 weeks repeating four ultra-focus-group-tested slogans. Whenever things got tough – like when he went on the 7:30 Report, he went belly up. A straight talker? Don’t make me vomit. The guy gets through his political life by telling you what you want to hear, and then the next day explaining that he may have pushed the limits of truth a bit too far when he promised certain things. And as for things he wrote in a book where he stated his political beliefs? Oh sorry that was just floating some ideas – he didn't really mean them.

This open letter is him dipping into his Liberal Party meets Glenn Beck bag of tricks and doing all he can to scare us about the Greens and Andrew Wilkie. Yes even Wilkie. Take this line for example:

So far, the caretaker prime minister has won the support of one Green MP and one former Green who is now an independent.

Nice of Abbott to forget to mention that Wilkie was also a former member of the Liberal Party. He was also a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army – he went to that well known lefty-loving institution Duntroon, and he was then in the National Kumbaya Singing Group – otherwise known as the Office of National Assessments – yes, hippies the lot of them those intelligence guys.

But the poor boy is getting desperate.

And there’s good reason for him to be desperate – things are unravelling fast. Take for example his line about NATSEM having modelled the Libs’ costings. On Friday it came out that they had done no such thing. But how did Chris Pyne on Meet the Press deal with that?

The Coalition has also come under attack following Mr Abbott's claim that its policies had been carefully modelled by the University of Canberra-affiliated NATSEM.

The economic body has since claimed it never spoke to the Coalition.

Mr Pyne maintained that if Mr Abbott said it, "well, it must be true".

Yes, because it’s not like Abbott has a history of being liberal with the truth…

Abbott in his open letter also keeps spinning numbers:

Fourteen million Australians have given the Coalition the most seats and the most votes but the election now turns on the decision of just three country independent MPs.

Really, the most seats? I must have been asleep the day Troy Crook come out and said he considered himself a part of the Coalition. You’d think a bigger deal would have been made of it. Oh wait…

The fact is the ALP and LNP were on 72 all. The ALP got the Greens on side and went to 73. I’ll be generous and let Abbott have Crook’s vote, so that makes it 73 all. The other 4 votes are there to be won. There’s no “most seats” or “most votes” to worry about. All that matter is 76 bums on seats. Being in front prior to that number is irrelevant – kind of like saying you were the first to win 5 games in a set of tennis.

Abbott also tries to convince us that his theory is true by showing us how the ALP-Greens alliance has already changed policy:

The Greens have already changed Labor's climate policy from a 150 person citizens' assembly with no predetermined outcome to a parliamentary committee dedicated to setting a carbon price.

The next task for Abbott is to find someone who is sad that 150 person citizen's’ assembly is dead. I thought he believed it was a dumb idea – I’m sure he said as much during the campaign. Now he seems its biggest supporter! Poor boy, he’s getting confused. And then this:

International investors will continue to worry about sovereign risk.

Yeah, sure they are. I guess that’s why the All Ordinaries has increased from 4460.5 on 22 August to 4577.6 on Friday. I also guess that’s why the Aussie dollar has risen since the election – because investors worried about the sovereign risk of a nation always seek to buy more of that nation's currency.




And also odd, because who is his audience?

Tony Windsor had previously stated that he wasn’t going to be guided by anything in the Daily Telegraph, and all three had also made it pretty obvious that they’re pretty comfortable with the Greens and Wilkie supporting the ALP – mostly because they (like everyone else) expected Bandt and Wilkie to side with the ALP.

So to whom is Abbott talking? It appears he has just about given up hope of getting two of the three and is trying to fight the election again – or possibly laying the groundwork for the next election.

I am still not sure which way it will go, but I’ll say this: if the ALP “lose” they’ll indulge in a long period of self-hatred; if the Libs lose, the will engage in a long period of hatred towards all those who denied them victory.

In this they will be ably assisted by many in the media – many sections of the The Oz seem already to be geared this way – Dennis Shanahan for example soon after the election was already writing:

IT'S getting to the stage where Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and the nation would actually be better off if we just went back to the polls.

Shanahan yesterday also displayed he has swallowed the whole Abbott bull in one tasty gulp, writing:

This week he is, at least, Australia's most successful Opposition Leader, and has cemented his place as Liberal leader and Leader of the Opposition.

Really? I would have thought Gough, Fraser, Hawke, Howard or Rudd would be ahead in that race given they actually did win outright a federal election as opposition leader. Abbott has done so well that he garnered a 2.71% swing. Well here are the swings by some other leaders of the opposition:

  • in 2007 Rudd – 5.44%;
  • in 1998, Beazley – 4.61%;
  • in 1996 Howard – 5.07%;
  • in 1983 Hawke – 3.6%,
  • in 1980 Hayden – 4.2%,
  • in 1975 Fraser – 7.4%,
  • in 1972 Whitlam – 2.5%
  • in 1969 Whitlam – 7.1%

So yeah Abbott did well – he got the Libs back in the game. But let’s not forget history in our desire to praise him.

Given, however that this is now how some in the stable want to view Abbott, expect lots of articles and opining pieces questioning the legitimacy of  Gillard Prime Ministership should that occur.

There’ll also be barely a word of criticism of the Senate between now and June 30 being negligently obstructionist; but should Abbott get up, from July 1 next year, anytime the Greens block a Bill there’ll be calls for their heads, and also numerous articles suggesting Abbott would be perfectly within his rights to go to the polls.

If the three independents choose Abbott, I will bet neither Julia Gillard nor anyone senior in the ALP will throw mud their way. They will take the defeat with humility, followed by a massive internal bloodletting. If the three independents choose Gillard, the Libs won’t be slinging mud, but something all the more suitable for fertiliser.

We wait and see. I would not bet either way. I’ll be shattered if the 3 do put Abbott and his bumbling second banana Hockey in power. I think such a decision will be disastrous. But I won’t attack them for it.


Bleeter said...

On this 'most seats/most votes' claim, I've already seen some party-member like tweeps talking about how this election's been 'stolen' (direct quote) before the outcome's been decided. I have trouble comprehending the manner in which I should bother to combat such an opinion, but I do fear a little for the fabric of our society if such rot is allowed to get around.

Jaime [SWHHW] said...

...not an ounce of substance gets anywhere near it.

I think this statement could pretty much sum up the entire LNP campaign couldn't it? actually everyone's campaign.

Grog said...

Jaime, sadly yes.

Agnes Mack said...

"I’ll be shattered if the 3 do put Abbott and his bumbling second banana Hockey in power."

Me too. Nor will I attack them, but I will question their logic especially in the context of their commitment to stable government. Clearly 77 -73 is the most stable option available and would look even more stable if the paired Speaker and Deputy Speaker proposals get up.

Horrified to read on Twitter that we may have to wait until Wednesday to hear the independents' decision/s. Still hoping we'll be put out of our misery tomorrow. Even that seems an age away.

L said...

I wonder if he really means that "no new taxes" line? It's written down, so it can't be one of his unscripted, in-the-heat-of-the-moment non-promise promises.

My favourite part of the letter is the bit about the ALP having to make the mining tax "heavier" to get the Greens to pass it through the Senate. He seems to have forgotten that the LNP has a few people in the Senate who could, you know, negotiate with the ALP to get the thing passed through the Senate without the Greens being involved at all.

Unenergy said...

One thing which you mention and it is of concern is the veracity which the right and their media enablers go at a duly elected government that is not them. The United States a case in point where terrible economic conditions are being piled upon by a hostile RW and media intent on ensuring the government does as little as possible to alleviate the unemployment and economic basket case the very same made the country. Intent is to make sure people associate economic hardship with the government in power at the time.

There is no reason to doubt that the News Ltd and rest of the right wing press along with the LNP do everything in their power to ensure the government is seen as inneffective and economically, Australia a risky place to invest.

The US has proven they will really cut off their noses to spite their face if it means they can get back into power.

Anonymous said...

Today it seems impossible that the Libs could get up, but this election has had so much of the seemingly impossible I still would not want to predict an outcome. To think the Libs have had one strategy since the election - no, two - bully and bribe, and they could yet form Government.

What have we become?


AyaReina said...

I have the utmost faith that the wisdom of a Gillard Labor government will prevail over such BSing from Labor.
Until I let myself worry.
The problem is we don't know how much the Independents are BSing too. They've been throwing huge nudges and winks Labor's way, saying that they support them on a number of issues and policy preferences certainly indicate they'll swing Labor's way. But then, you can't really deny the Right's argument about their natural disposition towards conservative values.
We live in very uncertain times. I have hope but I won't get my hopes up. I have faith but I won't have blind faith. I'll be devastated if the Coalition prevails after all their BS though. I would hope the Independents have more sense than that.

Hillbilly Skeleton said...

Tony Abbott knows he's lost this election, so he's started fighting the next one. The 'Open Letter' was not to the Independants but to the electorate, who will be bombarded, day in, day out, by the compliant myrmidons in the Murdoch media and the obsequious sycophants and toadies in the ABC, who think that their beacon is the light that shines out of Murdoch's editors' bums, because political commentary has descended to the l;evel of the gutter, and even lower to the sewer, where the sneering commenators love nothing more than to take down well-meaning but possibly bunbling centre left politicians a peg or two. Which the others feed off, and so it goes around and around in a media circle jerk. Sigh.
As Abbott is considered to be 'one of them' he is always given preferential treatment. It stinks, but what can you do?

AyaReina said...

Sorry, meant BSing from the Coalition. The election is starting to fry my brain. =S

L said...

Oh no.

RuffnReady said...

Nice article.

As I keep saying on Twitter, 2PP is irrelevant in an election where 5% voted informal and another 10%+ said neither (voting for Greens/Indeps).

A significant proportion of the population are clearly dissatisfied with the two-party uniformity and have decided to opt out. Under these circumstances, 2PP is meaningless. People want a NEW PARADIGM.

fozzy said...

L @8:44, no need to worry about Family First getting up in SA. Steve Fielding was only important because he had the balance of power (like his importance during his first 3 years, when he didn't). Now the ALP has 31, LNP has 33, and Greens 9. So the only party that matters are the Greens.

Longfulan said...

The Coalition, like the Republicans in the US, are the parties of hate. If Labor gets up they will stop at almost nothing to bring them down, even to the extent of damaging the country. Oppositions are meant to bring government to account, not to destroy them, against the mandate given by the electorate at election.

Some of you are more generous than I am when it comes to the independents. Given the proven lies and incompetence of the Liberals on economic matters lately, to me the independents will lose all credibility if they support Abbott. I will criticise (not able to attack) them!

Fathers' Day and my son gave me a bottle of Black Label...will just have to do something about that.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone noticed that the Netherlands has just had an election - and a hung parliament? So far they have failed to form a government and Queen Beatrix is threatening to send them back to the polls.

By contrast, Gillard should be able to form a stable government. If one more independent comes across then the opposition would not be unable to carry a no confidence motion.

Can anyone confirm this, or correct me if I'm wrong?

The independents have all indicated that they intend to vote according to their various tendencies anyway so I don't see what difference it makes whether there are 75 or 76 votes for Labor.

Longfulan said...

If I could add a little more...with reference to Hillbilly Skeleton:

I too feel that the ABC has a policy of 'go easy on Abbott' and even on his most ridiculous days, don't even mention him at all. They seem hell bent on making excuses for him, even to the extent of implying that Treasury is unfair and that the miscalculations/mistakes of the Liberals can be excused. Barry Cassidy in today's Insiders was part of it.

The Drum has become a joke, emasculated. What will happen to Kerry O'Brien if Abbott forms government, not to mention Ken Henry?

Dave said...

A lot of the bleating on the part of the Coalition and their News Ltd allies is that the 'alliance' between Labor and the Greens will mean that a bunch of left wing (the horrror!) policies will be introduced. What they all fail to say (and what I'm sure the independents all know and recognise) is that if the independents don't vote for the legislation then it won't get passed anyway. Labor and the Greens only have 73 seats between them, so the whole scare campaign is just going to collapse in on itself the first time that one or two of the independents vote against the Green introduced policies.

sam said...

positives = NBN, agreement on reform of Parliamentary procedures - Question Time, Committees and Private member Bills, fiscal prudence and transparency
negatives = conservative disposition of the Independents
Result - compromise required to deliver stablity of the next Parliament - continuity is a form of stability.

bogan whisperer said...

Nice post Grog.

I agree entirely about your comments on how the Australian will behave whenever the post changover Senate blocks legislation that paper views as in the interests of the Libs.

More than any issue of poor salesmanship, consultation, personality (though these were significant) the real underpinning cause of Rudd's downfall was a 2004Senate smarting over 2007 and not prepared to negotiate on anything in traditions of parliamentary.

It p1ssed me off seeing Milne on insiders yesterday. His best work I have seen is getting doped up and attacking people in public.

Anonymous said...

enjoyed the post Grog, and was rather amused at this phrase:

... he was then in the National Kumbaya Singing Group – otherwise known as the Office of National Assessments ...

you funny :)