Home > Oz Politics > Who wants Abbott PM?

Who wants Abbott PM?

February 18th, 2013

We’ve had quite a few debates here about the Labor leadership. While there are plenty of issues, there is one that, at this point in the cycle, trumps all the others. Of the two serious contenders, who is more likely to save Australia from the disaster of an Abbott-led coalition government? The answer to this question is so clear-cut that I find it impossible to believe anyone would dispute it: Julia Gillard has almost no chance of victory at this point, while Kevin Rudd has a chance. There’s certainly room for debate about how good Rudd’s chances are, but none, I think, as regards Gillard’s. And, whatever the stylistic differences, in substantive terms Gillard’s agenda is the one she inherited from Rudd.

The question now is whether we will have another three years to implement that agenda, or whether we have a Newman-style slash and burn assault on the public sector, the environment, science, women’s rights and, of course, the working class. The only thing likely to stop that is an immediate change of leadership.

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  1. Fran Barlow
    February 18th, 2013 at 23:40 | #1


    My initialism was MBCM — “mass broadcast commercial media”

  2. rog
    February 19th, 2013 at 01:14 | #2

    By dumping the popular Rudd the ALP has effectively divided their own vote, as the polls accurately reflect. Dislike of Abbott is not enough to give Gillard a victory, his sins are petty compared with those of the current govt team.

  3. Tyler
    February 19th, 2013 at 04:47 | #3

    I used to hold out some hope for a slow return to sanity in the public but seemingly 2 and a half years of lies and distortion from the press have cemented things utterly at this point. The big movement away from labor despite Abbott’s bizarre dam policy, absurdly prioritising infrastructure for big agricultural interests ahead of something like that NBN is immensely disheartening. We’ve been strung along with the prospect of some colossal brainfade but if that anti-scientific nonsense didn’t warrant more than 2 days of press scrutiny i have no more hope that anything will pierce the veil.

    Bring on Rudd, they can’t let Abbott win

  4. Hermit
    February 19th, 2013 at 07:19 | #4

    I think the pollees (those who answered polls) are making some strange connections they might not otherwise come September 14. For example the answer to disappointing mining tax revenue is no mining tax revenue. I also think we’re seeing disgust by proxy. We’re appalled by Eddie Obeid so Federal Labor must be tarred with the same brush.

    I suspect that the protest vote will take unusual forms this time round. Not so much the Greens but independents and semi-rational one issue parties. For example if you can’t bring yourself to vote for either Abbott or resurrected Rudd there could be pirates and anti-immigration parties. If enough of them get up parliament may be less governable than at present. I’d prefer that to ideologues or populists having too much power.

    In addition to pollees I have another new word Abbonaut = Abbott juggernaut.

  5. Geoff Andrews
    February 19th, 2013 at 08:45 | #5

    As Brer Rabbit said to Brer Fox – you can do anything to me but don’t throw me into that briar patch. Whereupon, Brer Fox threw him into the briar patch, allowing the rabbit to escape as we knew he could.
    The Liberals (and their supporters, particularly those on this site) don’t want Rudd. If he wasn’t a threat, they’d be gently damning him with faint praise as Gillard was immediately after the coup.
    If Gillard was surrounded and supported by politically savvy colleagues I could imagine a come-from-behind win in September, but this is the mob that couldn’t see, after 10 seconds thought, the implications of their mineral royalties gift to the states; that PROMISED a surplus in this year’s budget … one can’t promise that some future event will occur with so many variables, surely. Why not “we are confident that …” or qualify it with a “if current fiscal setting stay the same”.
    Rudd’s popularity was higher than any other Prime Minister: his unpopularity never approached that of Gillard’s or Abbott’s; and why should it – the public must have been shocked when told by his party’s detractors that he was a control freak, a micro-manager, worked his senior public servants and ministers mercilessly into the wee hours of the night, made decisions without consulting the faction bosses … in short he was a breath of fresh air.
    Now we have the miasma of influence over a Prime Minister indebted to the Right who have kicked so many own goals that their connections to the Liberals must be under suspicion.
    Let’s keep it’s simple; check out the polls, stupid.

  6. John
    February 19th, 2013 at 08:48 | #6

    John Howard came back to win from a worse position than this one. Remember that Obama could NEVER win a second term? Instead of focusing on whether Rudd might be “better”, why not focus on firstly the achievements that this Government has (and there are plenty) and get in supporting the current team! Rudd would do us all a favour if he buried his bitterness and strongly got in behind the team. Oh, and a word about the “polls”, the PUBLISHED polls are almost universally telephone polls, some don not call mobiles! They are notoriously inaccurate and mostly conservative. The Morgan poll (which uses face to face interviews) and the Essential Poll both show a MUCH closer contest. Don’t let the bullshit polls as news brigade bluff you – get out and convince the swinging voters.

  7. February 19th, 2013 at 10:08 | #7

    if the ALP is still fighting amongst itself then these results may well be replicated in the election however if they do not the polls should narrow.

    Imagine if the ALP actually campaigned on the repercussions of getting rid of the ETS.

    Hmm however do they have anyone who possess such acumen?

  8. Geoff Andrews
    February 19th, 2013 at 12:02 | #8

    Hmm however do they have anyone who possess such acumen?

    Sure; they’re on the backbench gagging and/or gagged. Certainly not the witless, boring, uncommunicative, philosophically bereft, cliche-ridden, weasel wordsmiths that infest the Cabinet.
    But as loveable as they are, they’re still preferable to Abbott’s gang of scavengers.

  9. John Goss
    February 19th, 2013 at 13:45 | #9

    It is too late for Kevin to take over from Julia. There are always negative repercussions from a leadership change so although in net terms there would be some benefit for Labor, Labor would still lose the election. So the best thing for Labor to do is to minimise the losses and ensure the coalition don’t get the Senate by 1. stopping the negative backgrounding of the press, 2. shutting down the leadership debate by not giving it oxygen (Kevin needs to tell his supporters that he is not interested in leadership before election) 3. campaigning with unity 4. making it difficult for Abbott to reverse good reforms that Labor has put in place. Kevin can hopefully take over sometime after the election, but if he does not show absolute loyalty to the party in the run-up to election, he will not win the Caucus vote after the election.

  10. February 19th, 2013 at 14:02 | #10

    @John Quiggin
    I believe I did, just not in so many words.

  11. February 19th, 2013 at 14:07 | #11

    @John Quiggin
    No idea on the Senate front but I would be happy with another Balance of Power parliament, much like the one we have now. I don’t want a majority in both House and Senate ever – that just brings back Howard’s practice of the guillotine.

    I would like to see more like those holding the current balance of power in the House in the Senate.

    And when I use the word Power, I don’t mean able to change the government, I mean enabling good policy and legislation and refusing the poor.

    The fact is at this point in time we have no idea how it will play out (see my original remarks for my current view).

  12. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 14:37 | #12

    What is the evidence that a leadership is always negative? This has been claimed endlessly in various places since before the first Rudd challenge but there is never any evidence. Was the 1983 leadership change a negative for Labor? The primary vote is 30%. How low does that have to go for people to wake up and smell the flowers?

  13. Hermit
    February 19th, 2013 at 15:05 | #13

    Party aligned people need to consider some x% of the electorate will not vote LNP with Abbott as leader and y% will not vote ALP with Rudd as leader. I suggest neither x nor y are small numbers. Suppose x and y are both 40%. If that’s a different 40% of voters that only leaves 20% that will vote for the major parties. If it’s the same 40% then the major party vote (sum of individual votes) cannot exceed 60% and shaky alliances will probably be needed to form a government.

    Bring it on I say as a wakeup call. Those who are trying so hard for a clear majority could end up with a rag tag government with no clear mandate. In Tasmania the Greens minister urges Japan not to buy timber products while fellow ALP ministers urge Japan to buy more. Then they sit together on the front bench. That could be a foretaste of our next Federal government.

  14. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 15:12 | #14

    Yet in both Queensland and New South Wales people overwhelmingly gave their votes to the Coalition. The minor parties and independents were decimated. What is the reason to think that the federal election will be different?

    The Gillard leadership not only has no chance of winning the election, if the QLD/NSW pattern repeats, they have a very good chance of giving Abbot control of the Senate as well.

  15. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 15:36 | #15

    Just two consecutive labour governments, one led by a crook and one by an egocentric fool are breathing their last gasps. Labour has no policy other than socialism on the largest scale ever seen, an experiment in disaster demonstrated by Russia over decades and countless lives. When, not if, the coalition win this election, and control BOTH houses by a majority greater than Howard had in his third term, I will watch with pride the systematic dismantling of the Gillard/Rudd experiment.. I will watch with satisfaction the charging and conviction of a (former by then) prime minister. I could only hope that changes to politicians entitlements are extended to cover gross mismanagement, and in that way deny the entire front bench of this government a further cent, would be the crowning glory of the 42nd parliament. The Coalition: unto your hands we commit the soul of this country.

  16. Nick
    February 19th, 2013 at 16:09 | #16

    “So, is anyone actually willing to assert that they believe Gillard can win?”

    Of course Gillard can win. The public may not like her, but since when is that important? They are used to her. She’s no less popular than Howard, who was consistently this far behind at this stage.

    5 people in 100 – or 3 people in 54, rather – who’ll need to be convinced to vote differently. Less than 1 in 18 of the population who currently say they’ll vote Liberal.

    Read the last Essential poll. The Liberals win out marginally on almost every issue except IR reform. But Labor is still judged to better govern in the interests of all groups of people, including the elderly and the employed. They are not the results of a public which has made up its mind. They are the results of a public which sense Labor are probably a better bunch, but for some reason keep refusing to do what the public wants. I reckon I could count six issues with >70% support they’ve chosen to fob off. That is why they are in the position they’re in.

    The party who brings the best (yes, yes, most popular) policies in the next 6 months wins it. Gillard appears hamstrung by her factional deals. Would Rudd this time around be any different?

    The public might feel a bit of residual guilt over Rudd. He was fun to kick around and make fun of, but…oh crap, we didn’t expect that to happen! That doesn’t mean they’re going to vote for a party who tries that on again.

  17. Swing Required
    February 19th, 2013 at 16:35 | #17

    Thanks for the laugh, MNJ.

    I presume that was all tongue-in-cheek. I’d hate to think anyone really believed that.

    On the remote chance you’re serious, would you like to give some examples of socialism on the largest scale ever seen?

    Oh, I also suggest you don’t make criminal accusations that can’t be backed up, as Mr Abbott and friends have done.

    Of course, that was let through to the ‘keeper by our vigilant media.

  18. Jim Rose
    February 19th, 2013 at 16:37 | #18

    On reflection, the greens could lose the balance of power in the senate.

    To get to 36, the Libs need to win a third seat Tassie and South Australia.

    This requires either Xenophon or the greens to take the last SA seat. In 2010 the Greens came close to a quota in their own right. if the Libs get 42% they have three quotas.

    Katter did well enough to possible win a seat from labor in 2013. He takes votes from them as an economic nationalist and social conservative. Basically old DLP

    With 36 plus Katter, the last two votes to 39 come from Victorian DLP Senator Madigan, and Xenophon assuming he is re-elected in 2013.

    If Xenophon is re-elected in 2013, he will have the balance of power in the senate.

    Katter, Madigan and Xenophon must vote together to get to 39. Xenophon is the most left leaning so he will bet the last cab of the rank in supporting Abbott.

    If a WA Nat gets the 4th senate seat in WA, which is possible, any two of Katter, Madigan and Xenophon control the senate.

    It all depends on Xenophon getting in ahead of a green.

  19. John Goss
    February 19th, 2013 at 16:38 | #19

    There are some (few) exceptions to the rule that knocking off a leader has some negative effect. For example I don’t think the Coalition lost many votes by replacing Downer with Howard. But almost always there are some in the electorate who are emotionally committed to the leader and replacing that person reduces and may reverse those people’s commitment to the party that person leads. The question is how much damage is done by a leadership change. If the leadership change is clean, generally less damage. If the new leader has little public baggage, then less damage as well. It is my judgement that a change to Rudd would help Labor in net terms, especially in Queensland, but not enough to undo the difficult state Labor is in.

  20. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 16:53 | #20

    There is much to be said for going early to the polls, thus preserving the present Senate.

    One scenario may be for Crean, a man with no further ambitions, challenging Gillard, winning the spill, calling the election, taking the hit and then standing aside in favour of a new leadership.

    This tactic would have the virtue of delaying the Abbott program and of exposing his form to the electorate.

  21. Tim Macknay
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:15 | #21

    But would he win the spill?

  22. Donald Oats
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:16 | #22

    If they change back to Kevin Rud, all of the rhetoric Julia Gillard, and her supporters used to dislodge Rudd will be trotted out by the liberals in their campaign.
    Rudd does nothing to increase the labor party’s chances.

  23. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:29 | #23

    There do not seem to be a whole lot of people in the electorate who are emotionally committed to Julia Gillard. There were considerably more who were emotionally committed to both Hayden and Hawke but quite happily voted for their successors. A leadership change would be a great positive because, apart from Rudd’s electoral standing, it would be a decisive break with the factions who put Gillard in power.

    The cabinet has come up with this genius strategy of defending NSW and attacking Queensland. Sadly that does not recognise that in western Sydney alone there are enough likely losses to cancel out any possible gains in Queensland, and that if you are relying on Queensland then Labor has this potential leader who is a great deal more popular in Queensland than his successor.

    The Coalition have been quoting the Gillard/Swan carpet-bombing rhetoric about Rudd for some months now and it has not dented his electoral standing.

    There is very little chance of winning the general election. There is some slight chance of denying the Coalition control of the Senate. The present Senate cannot be preserved, its term runs out halfway through next year anyway. An early election followed by a half-Senate election within 12 months is such a scarily incompetent electoral strategy we can expect to see the prime minister announce it any day now.

  24. Tim Macknay
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:32 | #24

    @Donald Oats
    That point has been brought up before, and it might be correct. However, all the negative stuff about Rudd has already been aired publicly (during the last ALP leadership challenge), and doesn’t seem to have affected Rudd’s popularity. So it can’t be taken for granted that a negative Liberal campaign against Rudd’s character would be effective. It would depend on how the voters feel about Rudd vs how they feel about the people making the negative claims about him.

  25. alfred venison
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:38 | #25


    MNJ :
    I will watch with satisfaction the charging and conviction of a (former by then) prime minister.

    sounds like . . .

    MNJ :
    , an experiment in disaster demonstrated by Russia over decades and countless lives.

    alfred venison

  26. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:43 | #26

    @swing required:
    Sorry old chum, not only do I believe but I’m a strong advocate for it. As for allegations, I make none. The evidence is there but you choose to ignore/ overlook what is plain to anyone who has been in enforcement. Feel free to fly the flag of ‘I’ve done nothing wrong ‘ though, it will just be funnier to watch people wipe the egg off their face. Gillard has committed criminal conspiracy and will ‘swing’ for it. Hr co conspirators are departing as quickly as they can to avoid the legal fall out.

    But I digress. We should Marshall our forces to face the greatest threat of all. The red left of labour.

  27. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:46 | #27

    A conspiracy requires conspirators.

    Care to name some?

  28. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:49 | #28

    Gillard may win against any comers. If so, god help the ALP.

  29. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:52 | #29

    I cannot honestly believe that people are giving air to KRUDD. He was damaged goods when he was knifed by Gillard, having presided over the the worst government since Whitlam’s, only to be outshone by Gillard who has led the worst government since creation. Gifted a chalice of surplus, labour has simply progressively spent their way out of office. The coalition will hold both Houses of Parliament and with Luck will be in a position to dismantle the legacy of the farce of this government. The greens will be demoted to nothing more than the lickspittles they are, barely chewing gum on the boot of history. As for Rudd. he who wants a UN (useless notion) seat at whatever cost is required…

  30. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:55 | #30

    Where do you begin. Start reading. A conspiracy requires ‘two or more people to commit an offence’. JEG would be ONE of those, and WILSON the other. Documents don’t lie. You can’t obfuscate to a court of law. You can’t refuse to answer questions in a witness box. Our courts are not a theatrical stage with journalists. Watch and learn

  31. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 17:58 | #31

    And the allegedly incriminating documents?

  32. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:01 | #32

    The Greens may well precipitate the early election. An early election is to their advantage.

  33. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:07 | #33

    @Katz and MNJ

    There is a current investigation by the Victoria Police into the AWU-WRA thing. Sometime, I’d imagine well before the election, they will decide to lay charges or they won’t. If they do lay charges there will be a trial. Trying to judge ahead of time what the police will do or not do, who will be charged or not charged and who will be convicted or not convicted is pointless.

  34. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:08 | #34


    Read the file at leisure… There’s also copies on other blogs. I’d especially focus on the legal opinion of a QC…

    As I said though. Ill be satisfied with a Thomson style arrest, search and secure… Lol

  35. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:13 | #35

    The arrest or charging of a sitting prime minister will send this government to the polls. It is an unsurvivable action for Gillard. The trial is actually irrelevant to the politics, certainly it is relevant to Gillard, but she was always of the opinion that these accusations are ‘old’. Someone who knows full well the statute of limitations. If you think the arrest of Thomson made the news, this is the equivalent of lighting the blue touch paper and standing clear.

  36. Geoff Andrews
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:31 | #36

    …and 5. don’t let the NSW Right run a DIY election campaign

  37. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:33 | #37

    You mean this MNJ?

    Accepting that you as Prime Minister of Australia have a duty of care to ensure that our Commonwealth insitutions [sic], particularly our courts not only function effectively but are held in the highest possible esterem [sic] – did you on this occassion [sic] fulfil your duty?

    I hope his legal reasoning is more rigorous than his proof reading.

  38. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 18:41 | #38

    That’s the best you’ve got? Proof reading? Wow……. The depth of your perception is as astounding as Gillard’s.

    Perhaps reading past the glib one liners offered by the state, you’d glimpse an insight into the NSW right faction, directly responsible for where we are at as a country.

    “Well we might we say god save the queen, because nothing will save the prime minister”

  39. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 19:00 | #39

    Nope it’s not the best I’ve got.

    Anyone who wants to persuade me needs to respect me enough to induce me to want to read what he has to say.

    I’m prepared to accept the odd typo. But “occassion” isn’t a typo. It’s unremediated ignorance.

  40. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 19:43 | #40

    Like our government (sigh) .. Unremediated ignorance with sesquipidalian vocables

  41. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 19:55 | #41


    I don’t disagree with what you say, just the grammatical mood. You need to be using the subjunctive ‘The arrest of a sitting prime minster would…’

    Stating a possible future event as if it were a certainty is simply poor grammar.

    I accept there is a police investigation and there may be charges. I hope there is not an election before 3 August because the country does not need a half-Senate election within 12 months of a change of government.

    If, and it’s a huge if, Gillard were to be charged that would not necessarily lead to an early election, although obviously it would be impossible for Gillard to remain in office.

  42. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 19:59 | #42


    The Greens 1 vote in the House is not enough for an early election. A half-Senate election is not in their interest. (Or anyone else’s) Christine Milne promised confidence and supply until 15 September at the Press Club today.

  43. Chris Warren
    February 19th, 2013 at 20:22 | #43


    Liberals have no policy other than capitalism on the largest scale ever seen, an experiment in disaster demonstrated by Thatcherism, Reaganism, Greece, Spain, Iceland, Ireland, Japan and the United States – awash with poverty, homeless and food stamps. Over decades capitalism has unleashed so much blood whether in Indonesia (1960′s), Indochina and South America (1970′s), Central America (1980′s) and Middle East (1990′s) and then permanently since 1980 – Afghanistan.

    How many times have American Kapo-terrorists tried to sabotage the Cuban state and assassinate the head of state? How many otehr America terrorist acts were uncovered by Senator Church?

    How much genocide was wrought on indigenous peoples to establish capitalism?

    Exactly how many Chinese did the British and French massacre to put down the Boxers? How many victims were massacred during French, Belgium’s, and English administrations through out Africa?

    Exactly how many were slaughtered by Pinochet?

    How many did the French government terrorists kill in New Zealand?

    How many did the Australian army kill when they joined the intervention against Soviet Russia?

    Who placed nuclear missiles on Russia’s border?

  44. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 20:49 | #44

    @chris warren
    ” Liberals have no policy other than capitalism on the largest scale ever seen, an experiment in disaster demonstrated by Thatcherism, Reaganism, Greece, Spain, Iceland, Ireland, Japan and the United States”

    Thatcherism and Reaganism were good economically. Greece, Spain, Ireland and Japan as well as the US of A succumbed to the factional left of socialism. Sorry Chris but this is an own goal. The problem, per se, is socialism. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that capitalism, unfettered (thank you minister Conroy of the red underpants brigade ) has as serious a concern as communism is to socialism.

    Somewhere In between lies the fundamentals of good governance. Get government out of business, let business create jobs and employment and growth, and… I know you’ll hate this, but stymie the unions. The role of unions has changed but they won’t accept it.

  45. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 20:50 | #45

    And just quietly…. Kapo-terrorists within the Cuban state….? WTF?

  46. MNJ
    February 19th, 2013 at 20:55 | #46

    Agreed the subjunctive changes the mood, but not the intention. The use of ‘will’ was deliberate.
    I know how this works from personal experience. A sitting prime minister will be charged with a criminal offence. Unprecedented in Australian history.

    The effects on our politic will be profound. This will make the dismissal seem a bit passé

    Sadly, I rejoice in it.

  47. Alan
    February 19th, 2013 at 21:01 | #47

    Then your use of ‘will’ is simply wrong. You have no way of knowing whether or not there will be charges. You may want there to be charges. You may be convinced there will be charges. You may even want to be able to speak as if you know there will be charges. Sadly, the age of prophecy is long gone. We cannot know the future, even when we want to very much.

  48. Katz
    February 19th, 2013 at 21:04 | #48

    But the Greens can lock up legislation in the Senate. This involves neither supply nor confidence. The Gillard government would then be a lame duck. The rationale behind holding out to September disappears.

  49. Nick
    February 19th, 2013 at 21:10 | #49

    “I’d especially focus on the legal opinion of a QC…”

    MNJ, I assume you’re referring to Terry O’Connor QC’s ‘prima facie’ letter to The Australian back in December? Brandis had been running the same line for a while before that, iirc.

    It boils down to this: when an association decides to incorporate, and the question on the form asks “What is the main purpose of your association?”, Brandis and O’Connor expect the response should have been “to open a bank account”.

    Which is roughly equivalent to myself and my business partners deciding to incorporate ten or so years ago, and, when asked “What is the main purpose of your company?”, putting down “to pay less tax”. ie. the reason we chose to incorporate – not what the company actually does.

    You can see O’Connor twist the language throughout his letter. He starts by saying: “the main purpose of the association was described as”. And ends with: “the purpose for which the association was being incorporated”. He is trying to imply these two statements are one and the same. They are not. In short, it’s a bunch of prima facie faff.

    You have to ask yourself – if Brandis and O’Connor are willing to scrape that far down the barrel to try to link the Prime Minister to something illegal (play semantic games), do you think they have anything more concrete on her?

  50. Chris Warren
    February 19th, 2013 at 21:51 | #50


    You seem to be speaking red-neck. It is a dialogue only for the initiated.

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