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Abbott’s Bingle

March 23rd, 2010

Having just watched the media tear down their former darling, Lara Bingle (I tried to avoid it, but omnipresence defeated me), it seems likely we’ll now see the same with Tony Abbott.

The most common comparison has been between Abbott and Mark Latham, but we’ve seen plenty of examples of the celebrity style of reporting applied to rising politicians – Bronwyn Bishop and John Elliott were prime examples.

Celebrity politics has a well-established story arc – the fresh face, not scared to say what they think, with off-the-wall new ideas is built up until everyone is on the bandwagon. At that point, the only new angle points down, to the feet of clay. The alpha wolf in the journalistic pack is the one who can pick this moment to turn. Then the rest follow and before you know it, yesterdays fresh face is today’s wet-behind-the ears, authentic becomes aggressive, create ideas become a sign of flakiness. (sorry for all the mixed metaphors – it’s impossible to write this stuff any other way).

My guess is that Tony Abbott’s performance at the Press Club marks the turning point in the celebrity narrative. His bungle on maternity leave and the attacks from Keating and Costello set him up for the make or break performance in the movie. The fading star (Piaf, or maybe Rocky) has to go on stage and win over a hostile crowd. Instead, he ended up with rotten tomatoes.

To break away from meta-narrative for a moment, the debate reminded us that Abbott was an undistinguished health minister whose policy agenda, to the extent that there was a consistent one, went nowhere. His only contributions of any note were attempts to turn his personal prejudices into law. Now, he has no policy, and it’s a safe bet that anything he comes up with won’t stand up to even momentary scrutiny, as with his alternative to the ETS.

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  1. March 23rd, 2010 at 21:15 | #1

    What was with that thrice requested beating with the billion dollar club that Abbott kept asking Rudd for? And what was that lairy laugh out loud Abbott used to drown out the facts with?

    For me, they marked the apex of that trajectory you talk about.

  2. Fran Barlow
    March 23rd, 2010 at 21:30 | #2

    All the ALP attack ads have to do is to cite policies they favour in turn or homilies about bipartisanship to a backing track of Abbott laughing at the Press Club — Abbott laughs at the voters ought to be pretty good

  3. Michael
    March 23rd, 2010 at 21:39 | #3

    Is there any serious policy work being done in the liberal party anywhere? In Victoria they seem to be keeping pretty quiet. Maybe they are waiting for their “turn” when the government’s troubles become overwhelming. The problem in Victoria seems to be some kind of institutional incompetence. I don’t think the bureaucrats are stupid, but it seems in almost every area they enable bad decisions. There almost seems to be a bipartisan program with the main difference between the parties being framing and rhetoric.

  4. paul walter
    March 23rd, 2010 at 21:48 | #4

    You should have heard some of these “voters” on Insight, tonight, on Abott.
    The women were the worst…various types of surgery offered without benefit of chloroform and no hope of wearing budgies for a bit, short of an accompanying shot of morphine.
    And not much better for Rudd, now synonomous with disillusion. Honeymoon’s long over.

  5. The Big Fella
    March 23rd, 2010 at 22:31 | #5

    @Fran Barlow
    Brilliant – but with a slight twist put in the admission by Abbott that the Howard Govt reduced commonwealth spending from 45% to 37.5% over laid by the opposition leader’s laugh “Abbott laughs at voters” actually you could create a series.

    Global meltdown – Abbott Laughs
    Long term shortage of hospital beds – Abbott Laughs
    Homelessness – “some choose” Abbott Laughs
    Working class wage earner subsidising the financially comfortable health insurance

    The list goes on.

  6. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 23rd, 2010 at 22:54 | #6

    Celebrity politics has a well-established story arc – the fresh face, not scared to say what they think, with off-the-wall new ideas is built up until everyone is on the bandwagon.

    Everyone on the bandwagon? Really?

  7. Freelander
    March 24th, 2010 at 00:07 | #7

    Unfortunately you can never count some of these people out. Look at Howard. Totally undistinguished and easily beaten again and again through the ’80s. But with such a strong desire to inhabit the lodge that he hung on until those who had beaten him had had their fill of politics. Like Howard, Abbott is probably a completely professional politician. That is, no objectives, no vision, no policy goals, simply the single-minded desire to be prime minister, that combined with a few petty prejudices which he will indulge if he gets in. That’s all it took for Howard. I am sure some of Howard’s finger nails are still embedded in the lodge. It must must have required some muscle and would have been a hell of a sight when he was finally evicted.

  8. Gummo Trotsky
    March 24th, 2010 at 00:55 | #8

    Freelander

    it’s very unlikely that among you’ll find any of John Howard’s fingernails embedded in the walls of The Lodge – during his entire tenure as Prime Minister he insisted on making his principal residence and base of operations Kirabilli House. And I suspect that it will be a long time before Tony Bugner’s finger nails get anywhere within cooee of the walls of either Prime Ministerial residence. As long as he insists on wearing his boxing gloves everywhere he goes, it’s not going to be a problem anyway.

  9. Hal9000
    March 24th, 2010 at 07:24 | #9

    @Freelander
    My line always used to be that John Howard didn’t lack vision, it’s just that his grand vision for Australia was of a country with himself as Prime Minister.

  10. March 24th, 2010 at 07:44 | #10

    Don’t think the bandwagon has shifted yet. Channel 7′s breakfast show this morning managed to make it look as if Abbott had won the debate by questioning their own worm, then only mentioning the bit where Abbott asked about regional hospitals losing money. Then they asked Joe Hockey and Neil Mitchell who they thought had won the debate (you will be amazed at what their response was). I think the commercial tv stations are now going into full “get Labor out of power” mode, and the narrative will be moulded around every event, every debate.

  11. Doug
    March 24th, 2010 at 08:23 | #11

    Laura Tingle in the financial Review this morning has a good piece on this that suggests the tide may be about to turn on this

  12. Donald Oats
    March 24th, 2010 at 09:49 | #12

    Kieran Gilbert on Sky News was also saying that he thought Tony Abbott won, while acknowledging that others thought Rudd won. So the backsliding since even yesterday’s reports on the commercial and pay TV has already begun. By the end of the week it will appear that Abbott was the winner, or at least only lost by a smidge.

    Personally, I thought Tony was abysmal and Kevin Rudd was cringe-worthy in his opening homilies about kitchen table talks. However, Kevin Rudd gave some content as well as applying a simple strategy for crowding Tony “Bruiser” Abbott out; since Tony’s self-announced strategy some months back was one of gunning for the bloke and opposing, his pugilistic style grated against Kevin Rudd’s “open arms” call for working together in a bi-partisan way to fix the health system. Tony just seemed rude and aggressive without justification. Not the best approach to winning middle ground voters.

    Still, we haven’t heard much from Turnbull yet. I wonder if he is quietly rebuilding his numbers?

  13. Freelander
    March 24th, 2010 at 09:50 | #13

    @Gummo Trotsky

    Yes, you’re right. Kirabilli House would be where you would find his finger nails. I remember now that Rudd had some trouble ‘dislodging’ him from that residence.

  14. Tony G
    March 24th, 2010 at 11:39 | #14

    The debate reminded us that Krudd is an undistinguished prime minister whose policy agenda, to the extent that there is a consistent one, went nowhere. His only contributions of any note is to run up a huge deficit, burn a few houses and kill a few home owners.

  15. James Farrell
    March 24th, 2010 at 13:03 | #15

    I hope John’s analysis is right, but fear that Freelander and David Horton have a point. The thing is that not all popular media are of the cheap and nihilistic variety that John refers to. Die-hard conservative partisans like Alan Jones, Akerman and Bolt are also influential. These loyalists will choose the man who best embodies their way of thinking, even if he isn’t perfect, and stand by him through thick and thin. When the bread-and-circuses media dump on Abbott, they will talk him up again. They couldn’t save Bronwen Bishop nor John Elliot, but they weren’t leaders after all so there was less at stake.

  16. John J
    March 24th, 2010 at 16:55 | #16

    Yeah, Tony G, that Rudd is a menace – burning houses and killing people. He was up in the ceilings laying insulation over down lights and exhaust fans. We can’t possibly blame the money-grubbing, Liberal voting, small business shonks who hired unqualified installers and didn’t give them proper training. Gosh no, it is all Kevin’s fault.

  17. March 24th, 2010 at 17:25 | #17

    John J,
    The real problem here was that the government was trying to push a huge amount of money at a comparatively small industry to spend in a very short period of time and with few to no controls in place. Sure, any businesses that broke the law or even gave poor customer service deserve all of the blame for their own behaviour, but the political question is whether the system was set up to avoid what should have been obvious pitfalls.
    If you were to throw a huge amount of money out onto the street then sure, the people who kick, punch and are prepared to kill to get to it deserve to be punished for their actions in doing so. I would contend, though, that you would also be culpable as it was reasonably foreseeable that people would behave that way.
    To me, the same goes for the insulation scheme. There was a huge amount of money thrown out there, with minimal to no effective controls put on it and it was pretty obvious that shonks would try to get as much as possible of it.
    Personally I think it reasonable to expect that those who designed such a silly system should bear at least some moral responsibility for what subsequently happened.

  18. March 24th, 2010 at 17:28 | #18

    Pr Q said:

    My guess is that Tony Abbott’s performance at the Press Club marks the turning point in the celebrity narrative. His bungle on maternity leave and the attacks from Keating and Costello set him up for the make or break performance in the movie. The fading star (Piaf, or maybe Rocky) has to go on stage and win over a hostile crowd. Instead, he ended up with rotten tomatoes.

    I daresay that Abbott is a celebrity politician subject to the chocolates-to-boiled lollies syndrome. These things are important to the Press Gallery, who obsess over leaders. They have to talk about something, I suppose. Like a gaggle of bloody school girls if you ask me.

    But the electorate have more common sense. Leadership is not a very important factor in AUS partisan alignment. Parties often win office with leaders whose personal approval ratings are lower than their opponents. Its parties that count. Peter van Onselen and Wayne Errington observed:

    Victorious state Labor leaders Bob Carr (18 per cent), Steve Bracks (19 per cent) in Victoria, Mike Rann (14 per cent) in South Australia and Geoff Gallop (19 per cent) in Western Australia, all lagged badly behind their opponents, each registering preferred premier ratings in the teens, just as Crean has in the preferred prime minister stakes. Yet in each instance as opposition leader they ultimately won the election.

    If anything the electorate has a positive preference for crashing bores (Menzies, Fraser, post-alcoholic Hawke and Howard are the most successful leaders in AUS history.)

    Even if Abbott was a more serious customer he would still lose the 2010 election in near landslide (In MAR 2009 I predicted ALP 53 – L/NP 47) simply because he is persisting with the L/NP’s loser policies on industrial relations (Work Choices) and ecological sustainability (Abbott is much worse than Howard in being a denialist and anti-CPRS).

    More generally the psephological dice are loaded against the L/NP on account of demographic changes, well known by now. NESBs, single mothers and aging Baby Boomers are all a growing share of the electorate. And they all suffer an allergic reaction when contemplating a middle-aged white L/NP candidate on the voting paper.

    The L/NP had a chance to salvage something from this electoral cycle if they had stayed with Turnbull or perhaps given Costello a run. As it is they have doomed themselves to at least one and probably two more terms in Opposition.

  19. Freelander
    March 24th, 2010 at 17:45 | #19

    The problem was the belief in state and federal bureaucracies in the magic of markets. The Milton Friedman delusional view of markets is that you simply throw some money in the air and ‘they will come’. Problem is, those who come, as John J suggests, are the small business shonks, the Arthur Dalys of the world, the carpet baggers and snake oil salesmen. States and the Commonwealth governments have been sold and believe in ‘light handed’ regulation and giving shonks the benefit of the doubt. The approach is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff rather than putting safety railing on the cliff top. The gold rush approach to moving resources into a sector is not in general efficient but it is the only way to have things happen fast and in this case it was dangerous. Unfortunately Garret ended up with the beat up when both sides of politics are really responsible for creating the deregulated mess that allows the Arthur Dalys of the world to flourish.
    To be part of the stimulus package they had to rely on the regulatory apparatus in place to be satisfactory but because its all ‘light handed’ it wasn’t.
    There is blame and moral responsibility to be borne but it should be borne quite widely by both side of politics for thirty years of deregulation madness. Better regulation yes. Mindless deregulation, you’ve got to be kidding. Look at the mess its created.

  20. Fran Barlow
    March 24th, 2010 at 17:57 | #20

    @Andrew Reynolds

    Personally I think it reasonable to expect that those who designed such a silly system should bear at least some moral responsibility for what subsequently happened.

    Some moral corporate responsibilty is probably fair enough, but not so much that one should have much more than a slap on the wrist. The high dudgeon of the Libs on this was grossly over the top and driven purely by prospective partisan advantage.

    The fact of the matter was that perhaps 99% of the properties will turn out to be completely safe. There’s been some fraud and that should certainly be followed up. As a stimulus measure, it actually worked pretty well and as an energy efficiency measure, it’s probably on balance a good thing. One could not have done as many as quickly any other way.

    The primary responsibility lies with business, a disconcerting number of whom have turned out to be (shock! horror!) grubbing sleazebags with no scruples at all who would be happy for the state to take the blame. But these are Abbott’s constituency so they get a pass.

    I would not have done the program in the way that Garrett rolled it out, but I would not have funded installation of even 5% of those Garrett got done. In that scenario Abbott and Hunt would then have had a new round of “PM Blah Blah all talk and no action” to witter about, even though these would be the choices confronting “direct action” programs. The hypocrisy was complete when they started worrying about lost jobs caused by the program’s closure.

  21. Freelander
    March 24th, 2010 at 18:06 | #21

    The policy development by the Commonwealth bureaucracy was fairly stock standard, as were the safeguards as where the reports acknowledging risks which they would have thought they had satisfactorily address through their ‘risk management’. The problem is systemic, and results from the fanciful belief that business will do the right thing. The problem is the ideas behind ‘light handed’ regulation and the even sillier notion of ‘self’ regulation. If self regulation is so great why not get rid of all laws and let criminals regulate themselves? If someone gets mugged by a robber, then they won’t choose to take their ‘mugging’ custom to the robber again, and that robber will go out of business. No less silly than the ‘self’ regulation arguments for business. As a successful businessman used to instruct his staff on how to treat his customers: “Rip ‘em off, and rip ‘em off big. They may never have come back anyway!”.

  22. Alice
    March 24th, 2010 at 18:35 | #22

    @The Big Fella
    Abbot doesnt even hev a genuine laugh big fella. Its really a sneer and he is getting himself quite a reputation as the man who cant debate anything reasonably. Rudd’s good manners are making Abotts attack dog style look – well – just plain bad mannered and rude and obstructive. For some reason he got away with as a halfback for JH but its just not working now and he cant change his style.
    Even the media is starting to say “as usual Tony Abbot was on the attack – with no policies of his own.”

    Time for someone to tap Tony on the shoulder and say – “old fashioned and now out of place”. Its a new game with new people and there is less room for school playground antics. Poor Joe Hockey is trying to emulate Abbott but its just making him look a bit of a smartarse as well.

    Joe you need a better mentor.

  23. Alice
    March 24th, 2010 at 19:04 | #23

    Having seen Tony Abbott in yet another beach and board under the arm shot and chat about his big Hawaiian marathon this weekend…I cant help but wonder how many people Tony is putting off who cant afford to live near the beach.

    I think Tony has mistaken the beach enironment for a way to appeal to the “aspirational voters”. Tony needs to be very careful – Im not sure who is crafting his image but Id say ts pretty narrow – the electorate might just punish him and his boardies (or budgies or lycra or whatever).

  24. March 24th, 2010 at 19:10 | #24

    Freelander,
    The fanciful belief, correctly stated, would be that everyone will act strictly correctly if you put a huge pile of money in front of them and say “I’m not looking, but please queue correctly and in about 5 minutes I will be removing whatever remains of the money.”
    You are right, though, the problem is systemic. It is a problem with any system that attempts to stimulate the economy by throwing large amounts of money at very small industries and then effectively removing any need for responsibility. This is virtually guaranteed to end up with the situation we got.
    .
    Fran,
    As an energy efficiency method quite frankly it sucks. There are (AFAIK) no studies anywhere that shows any marked energy efficiency gains out of this. Typically, people just warm or cool their houses more after insulating rather than using less energy.
    As for the job losses at the closure – those were pretty well inevitable as well. If there were (say) 1,000,000 houses that needed retrofitted insulation then getting the same stock done much, much quicker just means that the jobs in the industry become a lot more short term – co-incidentally meaning that the operators that get them done fastest (who cares about best when someone else is paying?) end up with the most money.
    I am trying to think how it could have been designed worse, but I fail to see how without making it criminal from the start.

  25. March 24th, 2010 at 19:17 | #25

    Freelander,
    Just to add – whatever your position on self-regulation I think we can agree that it is very unlikely to work under the sorts of conditions that existed under the insulation scheme. To me for that alone the designers of the scheme should have been able to tell that they had it wrong.

  26. Mug Punter
    March 24th, 2010 at 20:21 | #26

    A model of policy delivery:

    The senior bureaucracy, driven by the politics, driven by the numbers to report and channeling the Thatcherites in Treasury, all with no ‘content’, design a glorious model of policy delivery. A gesture is made at consulting the riff raff.

    The coal face bureaucracy explains the flaws in the model, as does the ‘industry’, but the top bods think they know best. They have the view from Mt Olympus! Tally Ho!

    Then further calls from those with content for a strategic approach and for more robust risk management.

    When it crashes and burns, the seniors cling to their elegant model and blame failure on the coal face bureaucrats, the industry, the punters, baby Jesus, anyone …

    Do not try this at home!

    The issue will have its days and days in various courts.

    May even coincide with former members of the Howard Government assisting police with their inquiries into some officials of AWB allegedly consorting with the enemy.

  27. Freelander
    March 24th, 2010 at 21:31 | #27

    @Andrew Reynolds

    The problem is the silly Friedmanite ideas that have polluted the public service and have deregulated everything so that shonks find it very profitable to be shonky. The scheme was no worse designed than any of the other typically wish based market solutions that libertarian loonies have convinced gullible politicians and public servants in core departments are the preferable instruments of policy. I am always amused when they blow up there is always implausible deniability concerning their source. Most of the time these silly policies, like the job networks are peddled in areas where the risk of someone dying is small, so shonks just quietly get rich without delivering anything of value. Truth is the insulation policy would have been fine if effective state and federal regulation of business had been in place. But that is something we don’t have. The situation was further exacerbated by the stock of shonky building and electrical work which forms a significant part of the housing stock (also a result of inadequate regulation) and which meant that significant care was required when retrofitting anything in an existing house. Part of the solution is a big change in attitude. The country needs a lot more regulation and needs to get over magical thinking. What we need is good regulation not the sort of ideological tripe that has been peddled over the last thirty years.

    Sure I know before you even say it that your explanation is that ‘government’ and ‘government’ alone is to blame. They always are solely to blame according to you. The magical market is fine and is over regulated according to you. But markets work best when they are well regulated, and as time goes on better ways of regulating them are developed. Progress is in part due to more and better regulation. In fact, more and better regulation are and have always been an important part of improvements in productivity. Hard to believe if you have been brought up in the magical church of Ayn “why not change my name” Rand or Freddy “why not give myself a fake von” Hayek.

  28. March 24th, 2010 at 21:56 | #28

    I’d also note that Minchin is now on the way out – tragic for his son yes, but for the Australian political landscape a good thing. Good to see the neo-liberal/conservatives now fading away. Abbot is their swan song – a last ditch effort to retain control of the “soul” of the party. I’ve some sympathy with conservative values, so to see a healthy Liberal party is not a bad thing.

  29. Freelander
    March 25th, 2010 at 09:55 | #29

    A sad thing about the negative campaigning that Abbot is up to, is that although the public doesn’t like it, it does seem to work. That is why negative campaigning is so heavily relied on in the US. If one side keeps plugging away with the negative associations, simply as a process of assimilation, the associations eventually stick. Truth would be the first electoral casualty, except it rarely shows its face on the political battlefield.

  30. Fran Barlow
    March 25th, 2010 at 10:17 | #30

    @Freelander

    A sad thing about the negative campaigning that Abbot is up to, is that although the public doesn’t like it, it does seem to work.

    I doubt this. While negative campaigning certainly can work, that is not the same thing as saying it always will work as those running it intend. Certainly, in places where voting is non-compulsory, it can be particularly effective, because it’s a great tool for mobilising core consitutencies and wedging rivals.

    It’s probably less effective here because in the end, almost everyone votes and so tribalism kicks in. Abbott has been running “PM Blah Blah” and GBNT for a while now and while there’s some evidence that Rudd is now less popular personally, there’s little good evidence that the ALP is less likely to win than it was in 2007.

    Abbott’s resort to negative campaigning is a sign of weakness — the fact that he has no policy that he can sell domestically or internationally which would not divide his own ranks and is not seen as a credible player in his own right. It really is all he’s got. In order for his negative campaigning to work he’d have to be able to tie it to a credible alternative set of policies that were seen as better than the government’s policies.

    He’s not going to be able to do that and so, in the end, when the election comes in July-August, assuming he is still in charge, he really will look like the Liberals’ Latham.

  31. paul walter
    March 25th, 2010 at 13:09 | #31

    Fran Barlow, #30, what effect will Minchin’s resignation have on them?
    As to Freelander’s comment, I’d add it to Fran’s comment, as the other side of the coin to that proposition. We’re not lobotomised yet, but we are left out the loop, kept anxious and easier pray for the sort of rolling hysteria that reactionist media and the other (state, in the broad rather than rightist sense)) organs are responsible for.

  32. Fran Barlow
    March 25th, 2010 at 14:07 | #32

    @paul walter

    Fran Barlow, #30, what effect will Minchin’s resignation have on them?

    Almost none, I’d have thought. He is going to be there until June 2011.

  33. Chris Lloyd
    March 25th, 2010 at 16:42 | #33

    Did anyone notice Tony’s overly-hearty handshake and icey glare. Reminded me of the stares prize fighters give each other. Almost Lathamesque. Another couple of seconds on that handshake and Tony could have been in real tabloid trouble.

  34. smiths
    March 25th, 2010 at 16:44 | #34

    batty barnaby got bingled belatedly

  35. Freelander
    March 25th, 2010 at 16:44 | #35

    @Fran Barlow

    I think the Labor will win and I will be very disappointed if they don’t. What disturbs me most is that the coalition is very unlikely to get the humiliating hiding they really deserve for their appalling performance as an opposition. The climate change maneuver was an amazing low. To recognise that Turnbull is probably the ‘pick of the litter’ amongst their leadership aspirants so far, really sums it up. He seems to be the only one with a modest amount of integrity and, in his case, an amount to be very modest about.

  36. Freelander
    March 25th, 2010 at 16:50 | #36

    @Chris Lloyd

    Re: the handshakes and general demeanor, I wouldn’t be surprised if a dose of lithium would do both Abbott and Latham a world of good.

  37. Fran Barlow
    March 25th, 2010 at 18:03 | #37

    @Freelander

    the coalition is very unlikely to get the humiliating hiding they really deserve for their appalling performance as an opposition

    I suppose it depends on what qualifies as “a humiliating hiding”. I doubt they will be within 25 seats of the ALP in the Reps and they will probably fall short by closer to 30. I think it is quite plausible that the total conservative senators group will fall to about 34 including Xenophon.

    That’s pretty humiliating.

  38. Alice
    March 25th, 2010 at 18:57 | #38

    @smiths
    In fact Smiths – in tonights ABC coverage – Barnaby looked more than dinglebatted – I was left wondering whether he had had a couple sof stiff scotches after his chat with Abott. Im serious – and this is who Abbott chose – guess it comes down to one bogan being fond of another bogan.
    Yes of course Abbott wants Barnaby doing the beat and talking to people (as he said and as I will add in bogansville) – because Barnaby sure as hell isnt intelligent opposition where there are any serious financial matters to control. Did domeone say Barnaby was an accountant?. Better stay in country practice.

  39. Hal9000
    March 25th, 2010 at 19:15 | #39

    @Fran Barlow
    It reminds me of the situation in the US, where the most mild reforms are greeted by teh Right as though they were ukases of the Supreme Soviet. Prof Q’s earlier thread about the decay of US politics as seen in the unanimous opposition of Republicans to the rather pathetic health reforms is also relevant for Australia, surely.

    I reckon the insulation program (invariably described even on the ABC news bulletins as ‘botched’) is actually a winner for the government electorally. Over a million households have benefited, and I suspect most of them were uninsulated because their owners couldn’t afford it. As was pointed out earlier, 99 percent are problem-free. The government has acted swiftly to reassure the worried by providing free inspections and fixes. Real experience trumps propaganda every time, IMHO. I’d expect therefore the government will at least hang on to its majority, and probably pick up the odd new seat burdened with opposition dead wood, e.g. Ryan.

    In a double dissolution, there will be some delicious bunfights for pecking order in the opposition Senate preselections – e.g. in Queensland there will be only four safe seats for the LNP – so who among Boswell, Brandis, Joyce, Boyce, Trood and Mason will volunteer for the tumbril?

  40. Fran Barlow
    March 25th, 2010 at 19:16 | #40

    @Alice

    I’m no pal of Barnaby … really I’m not … but as he was gibbering answers I could hear a relay of his voice in the background in about 1.5s delay — suggesting he might have been distracted by that.

    The guy’s a moron, but even a sharper person might have been put off if that were happening.

  41. Alice
    March 25th, 2010 at 19:37 | #41

    @Fran Barlow
    Maybe Fran but t was the puce of his visage that had me concerned……

  42. Alice
    March 25th, 2010 at 19:48 | #42

    @Hal9000
    Never a more glorious implosion have I seen of the extreme right dominance we have all had to put up with, both here and in the US and across the globe …even the reasonably (but not excessively) well off and conservatively attiredolder medico cum legal cum accountant males and scarf wearing ex tennis playing and charity organising matron / wives of the moderate right…..

    I suspect they are in no small degree perturbed and slightly disturbed as well by the extremists in their life long hitherto “safe” party in Australia.

    Guess the same can happen to any party. Short run egos and ideology dont trump common sense in the long run…because people vote (the electorate may be slow to see unworkable agendas in the SR but they do get there in the end and they exert a force for moderation which apparently isnt evident to politicians until they become unelectable).

  43. March 25th, 2010 at 20:31 | #43

    Alice :
    @Hal9000
    Never a more glorious implosion have I seen of the extreme right dominance we have all had to put up with, both here and in the US and across the globe …even the reasonably (but not excessively) well off and conservatively attiredolder medico cum legal cum accountant males and scarf wearing ex tennis playing and charity organising matron / wives of the moderate right…..

    Nor do I think we’ll see the end of the Liberal Party implosion. They may be temporarily energised under Abbot, but in the long run his leadership will become a liability. Barnaby will fade into the background, Minchin days are shortening…

    Perhaps they’ll attempt to reshape themsevles, allowing the moderates to come back?

  44. Tony G
    March 25th, 2010 at 22:28 | #44

    I take back calling Krudd undistinguished in [14] Freelander;

    Not because the number of foil insulating companies went from 500 to over 7000, as a result of the ridiculous taxpayer money flushing through the system. These 7000 – including hundreds, if not thousands of shonks and fly-by-nighter – were accredited by the Federal government to lay foil insulation and to offer ‘free insulation’.

    What distinguishes Krudd, is the true extent of his descent into deficit, as shown in what is, admittedly, a VERY ugly chart.

    By 2012 your share of Government Debt will be $8308. Your wife, your husband, each of your kids, your Mum, your Dad, your siblings – each and every one of them $8308 in the red. It is amazing (and distinguishing) how Krudd can take every man, woman and child in the country from a few thousand dollars in surplus to $8308 in deficit in such a short time.

    Hard Labour mean well with their flawed politics of envy (everyone can take it off everyone for free), but keep their filthy hands out of our pockets and especially keep them away from the till.

  45. Fran Barlow
    March 25th, 2010 at 22:44 | #45

    @Tony G

    By 2012 your share of Government Debt will be $8308. Your wife, your husband, each of your kids, your Mum, your Dad, your siblings – each and every one of them $8308 in the red

    That’s fabulous news! Really it is. If, along with every other Australian, I have an equal share of all that debt, it follows that I have a share in all the assets and future income as well, and since that is orders of magnitude larger, I am actually fabulously wealthy, along with everyone else. Not only that, but a rising dollar is shrinking the debt burden in real terms. Socialist revolution isn’t necessary. I have seen the future and it works.

    Hang on … just a second. I have just snapped out of my whimsy. Neither I nor very many others have a share in this wealth or the future income and it is small consolation that I am also relieved of this debt. It turns out that the whole thing is a fantasy, like every other piece of 15-second wisdom that passes the lips of the intellectually offensive morons and self-serving liars of the Federal Opposition and their willing dupes and spruikers like Tony G.

  46. SJ
    March 25th, 2010 at 22:45 | #46

    Tony, that VERY ugly chart is dated 12 May 2009, i.e. almost a year ago, and it’s unsourced, i.e., it’s probably made up.

  47. March 26th, 2010 at 01:32 | #47

    Fran,
    The question should be whether all that spending actually created anything of lasting value. Some of it probably did – but the insulation debacle and the very expensive school rooms are, at the very least, dubious.
    You have not been relieved of the debt, though. Unless you leave the country you will be paying for it in some way or another – even if it is just fewer services during the period in which it is paid off.

  48. Fran Barlow
    March 26th, 2010 at 05:34 | #48

    @Andrew Reynolds

    The question should be whether all that spending actually created anything of lasting value.

    Of course that should be, and if so how much. That was nowhere near TonyG’s spray though. It was just an example of mindless and ignorant populist phrasemongering.

  49. Hal9000
    March 26th, 2010 at 06:35 | #49

    @Alice
    I’m not so sanguine about the global scene, Alice. The fact the Right has become more lunatic isn’t a cause for rejoicing, albeit at electoral cost in some countries. Give me the old hard nosed pragmatist Right any day. The current lot have already rehabilitated torture as an instrument of state power. There are no depths to which they won’t happily sink, to the enthusiastic barracking of the media chorus.

  50. Socrates
    March 26th, 2010 at 07:02 | #50

    In looking at Abbott and Joyce I can’t help wondering who on earth is giving economic advice to the Liberals these days?

  51. Freelander
    March 26th, 2010 at 07:17 | #51

    As far as the financial crisis is concerned we are not out of the woods yet. The US congress is currently laying the groundwork for retaliatory action against China for its ‘undervalued’ currency. This is happening mainly to secure a few extra votes in the next round of US elections. If the US does start a mini trade war next month things could get ugly rapidly with negative consequences for the global recovery.
    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-3134 http://www.michaud.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=969&Itemid=76

  52. Donald Oats
    March 26th, 2010 at 08:45 | #52

    Minchin never does something without first figuring out how to maximise the hard-right’s advantage. I’ll wager that he “announced” is retirement before budget night as a means of getting Joyce out of harm’s way and having someone competent enough (for a Liberal) to replace him. Sure, Minchin almost certainly had family concerns at the top of his list of competing priorities. But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t have figured out how to use his leaving the opposition’s front bench to his – er, the Liberal party – advantage.

    Meanwhile, if Labor want to win this election they had better get someone to counter Joyce’s rubbish he speaks in country beer halls and stockyards – especially if they want water issues and the ETS issues to be considered seriously rather than dismissively. Joyce’s main asset from the Liberal perspective was that he could very effectively poison the well concerning environmental issues in the bush.

  53. March 26th, 2010 at 09:44 | #53

    I’m sorry to mention this guys, but I feel people should be alerted to the full scale assault the Melbourne’s Herald Sun mounted on evolutionary theory today. They devoted a two page spread to an attack on science. It was written by ex-footballer Gary Ablett. It has to be seen to be believed. I blogged about so use my link if you like. This is not a cheap stunt to get hits, I’m actually stunned by the article. Pass the links around without my blog URL. I don’t care. With Andrew Bolt spreading his misinformation about climate science, the HS has begun an war on all science. I feel something has to be done about this. If you know bloggers, writers or people connected with science (science associations, teachers etc.) please let them know just how uch space the HS gave to this attack. Write letters to the HS editors. Let’s get them to publish something which explains science and evolutionary theory correctly. This is why we have to fight not just the attack on climate scientists, but resist the war on science itself.

    http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2010/03/25/the-herald-suns-war-on-science-1-evolution-is-just-a-theory/

    I

  54. Freelander
    March 26th, 2010 at 10:00 | #54

    Re: the Herald Sun and Gary Ablett’s raving, surely this is a mistake? Tell me they had intended to publish this on April 1?

  55. Tony G
    March 26th, 2010 at 10:03 | #55

    Fran Said

    “and it is small consolation that I am also relieved of this debt. It turns out that the whole thing is a fantasy”

    Fran you can be in denial if you want, but the debt is real and growing as we speak.

    Fran that $8000 per person has to be serviced by your wife, your husband, each of your kids, your Mum, your Dad, your siblings – each and every one of them at some point. It is just like your visa card, you have to service it and pay it of eventually. The difference is you didn’t get any benefit from spending the money, because Krudd squirted that up against the wall.

  56. Freelander
    March 26th, 2010 at 10:05 | #56

    Gary Ablett, poster boy to show children what drugs can do to you. See, I told you marijuana is dangerous.

  57. March 26th, 2010 at 10:06 | #57

    Freelander :Re: the Herald Sun and Gary Ablett’s raving, surely this is a mistake? Tell me they had intended to publish this on April 1?

    It’s no mistake – go get the paper. Seriously, it’s as high profile as it gets.

  58. Freelander
    March 26th, 2010 at 10:09 | #58

    @Tony G

    Two hundred thousand extra kept in jobs. No recession. All the extra GDP that resulted from no recession. All the extra wealth generated from no recession. All the businesses that avoided going bust because of no recession. Sounds like a great deal to me. Let’s hope they do it again when it’s needed.

  59. Michael
    March 26th, 2010 at 10:12 | #59

    @Tony G
    So you understand as much about Monetary theory as you do about climate theory. Only a miniscule ration, enough for you to get everything backwards. Spare us your agnotology.

  60. Freelander
    March 26th, 2010 at 10:12 | #60

    @Tony G

    Oh. And did I remember to say? No recession.

  61. Tony G
    March 26th, 2010 at 10:33 | #61

    Freelander,

    China’s large purchases of our iron ore, coal and LPG as well as record low interest rates kept us out of recession, but Krudds debt will eventually put us in recession.

  62. Doug
    March 26th, 2010 at 10:47 | #62

    Tony G:
    Eventually? How long before the recession happens? Is it inevitable? How will it happen? How will we know that the recent deficit caused by the stimulus package caused the recession?
    How do you know that the deficit has and will produce no economic benefits?

  63. Tony G
    March 26th, 2010 at 10:57 | #63

    “How will we know that the recent deficit caused by the stimulus package caused the recession?”
    When we have 2 quarters of negative growth due to the constraints put on the economy from Krudd’s excessive government.

    “How do you know that the deficit has and will produce no economic benefits?”
    The same way you ‘know’ that it supposedly produced economic benefits.

  64. Bemused
    March 26th, 2010 at 11:10 | #64

    I am amazed at the ignorance of the likes of Tony G.
    The record low interest rates he approves were in fact the RBAs direct response to head off recession.
    The stimulus spending was a counter-cyclical fiscal response to prop up the economy as private sector activity showed sign of collapse. It was not simply a Government, political response, it was endorsed by Treasury. All part of some conspiracy Tony G?
    A large part of the deficit is through the collapse in government revenue [tax] and that would have been far worse had the economy gone into a deep recession.
    By maintaining the level of economic activity, automatic stabilisers kick in and with higher than otherwise revenue the govt will be able to move back to surplus sooner rather than later.
    This is all basic Economics 101 counter-cyclical policy and is clearly understood by Treasury, the RBA, the Govt, almost all economic commentators, but sadly not by Tony G and Tony A.

  65. Michael
    March 26th, 2010 at 11:36 | #65

    @Bemused
    Good old Barnacle had a handle on the real goings on in the ECONOMY that’s why they’re trying to shut him up so more Australians dont’ find out what’s REALLY going on.

  66. Tony G
    March 26th, 2010 at 11:49 | #66

    Bemused

    This is basic Economics 101;

    “economists don’t understand the economy so they overcome their ignorance by making assumptions. This is actually the root of the problem. The assumptions usually destroy any chance of the modelling being correct.”

    Let’s kill all the economists

  67. Don Wigan
    March 26th, 2010 at 11:50 | #67

    Where’s Tony G going to get his economic briefings from with Barnaby no longer spokesman for Finance?

  68. Fran Barlow
    March 26th, 2010 at 13:06 | #68

    @Tony G

    Fran you can be in denial if you want, but the debt is real and growing as we speak.

    The question is “what does real and growing” actually mean? Is it growing relative to the capacity to service the debt? Whose debt is it actually? What assets are at risk? What provisions exist for effective debt recovery, in the event such might be contemplated?

    Given your distaste for “computer models” I can’ty but wonder why you even think you can put such a precise figure on per capita debt in 2012. Decisions about public and private sector debt retirement, equity held and other matters are being made all the time by states and private traders and assuming that either borrowing on the one hand or repayment on the other will continue to reflecvt eany given month in the cycle is simply reckless at best.

    Predictions about 9% unemployment, and then 8% and then 7% all turned out to be overblown. Some people thought the 2009 MYEFO was overly optimistic and yet now the debate is over just how pessimistic it was. At the moment, it is thought that by 2013 the budget will be back in surplus and so debt will be paid down.

    But whoever is paying, it won’t be you or me or anyone we know. Nobody will consult us over how much to borrow, when, from whom and why, or which assets or income to secure the loans against, nor will we determine the currency in which the debt will be repaid or its movement against ours. Nor will we control the demand for Australian exports or the price our exporters can receive for them or whether resources will or will not have a resources rent tax applied to them.

    So your answer, direct from Lib-bot central, with its moronic and simplistic analogy about credit cards does violent offence to the actual way the world works. It may work for people like you who never made it out of high school but taking it onto a blog where people are interested in economics simply sets you up as the group’s resident dimbulb.

  69. Doug
    March 26th, 2010 at 13:09 | #69

    Tony G:

    You asserted certain outcomes with great confidence and then produced no evidence to back them up nor any explanation as to the mechanisms that would deliver those outcomes.

  70. Gaz
    March 26th, 2010 at 14:03 | #70

    Bemused: “It was not simply a Government, political response, it was endorsed by Treasury.”

    And enthusiasticlly championed by none other than the IMF. And if the IMF’s arguing for deficit financed government spending, you know the situation’s so dire that practicality has the ascendancy over ideology.

  71. Tony G
    March 26th, 2010 at 14:12 | #71

    “analogy about credit cards does violent offence to the actual way the world works”

    Fran, debt denial is a terrible thing, it can ruin individuals and counties;
    (1) Have you ever borrowed money?
    (2) Did you ever bother to pay it back?
    On second thoughts, lets not go there, obviously you and me live in different worlds.

    Doug;
    “You asserted certain outcomes with great confidence and then produced no evidence to back them up nor any explanation as to the mechanisms that would deliver those outcomes.”

    Doug, its the economists who do that, see link @ 16 for the evidence.

  72. Bemused
    March 26th, 2010 at 14:40 | #72

    @Gaz
    Good point Gaz!
    It seems to present a rare degree of policy unanimity with governments of all persuasions around the world following broadly similar policies of lowering interest rates, stimulus spending and propping up banks by guaranteeing deposits.
    The exceptions seem to be dwellers of a parallel universe comprising conservative think tanks, the Republican Party, Liberal – National and of course Tony G.
    Tony G’s ‘evidence’ against economists in his link @ 16 is a polemic against the narrow thinking neo-liberal economists that seem to have a few disciples left in Australia.

  73. Freelander
    March 26th, 2010 at 16:07 | #73

    @Tony G

    Oh. And did I remember to say? No recession.

    Re: Joyce. I am amused that even Bare-knuckle Joyce’s colleagues think that his talents are best suited to being a lone voice wandering in the wilderness, hence their choice for his new portfolio!

  74. Fran Barlow
    March 26th, 2010 at 17:19 | #74

    @Freelander

    And already, 24 hours into hsi new job, Barnaby has a problem. Abbott favours a referendum to take over the Murray Darling and Nationals Leader Warren Truss does not.

    Good call by the Mad Monk, eh what?

  75. Freelander
    March 26th, 2010 at 18:04 | #75

    @Fran Barlow

    No accounting for punch drunk love.

  76. Alice
    March 26th, 2010 at 19:01 | #76

    @Mike
    Well Mike – the libs have been marginalising their moderate conservatives for years now. Im wondering how long the doctors and theirw ives are willing to hold on. Generally they are not unintelligent but I think they are losing patience and may be over the bogan vote and bogan activists in their own party of natural choice.

    We generally are not talking bogans here and Labor is centre right anyway….except for the fact that NSW Labor are as mad as any far right wing party (so dont waste votes on that lot – choosing entrenched corruption as a mandate is never palatable no matter what side you may normally normally sit in politics).

  77. Jill Rush
    March 27th, 2010 at 07:49 | #77

    Alice #23
    Tony Abbott is very much in the celebrity mould – not because of the beach but all of those photos of him in his budgie smugglers which leave so little to the imagination. Unlike Lara Bingle or the Paris Hilton’s of the world however he is trying to be the PM and I am not so sure that the population want to see that much flesh of their PM – no matter how toned (pun intended). Flashing the flesh so often seems just too narcissistic. His health policy looks good in comparison.

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