Home > Environment, Oz Politics > Abbott, Knight and Bishop

Abbott, Knight and Bishop

January 27th, 2015

In making my predictions for 2015, I was tempted to predict that Abbott would last out the year, mainly on the basis of inertia, but decided it was too risky (Commenter Fran B sensibly went the other way). I’m already glad of that: even before Sir Phil, it seemed as if he was on the skids.

Assuming Abbott goes (still not certain, but looking more likely with every hour), Julie Bishop looks like a sure thing to replace him. She has looked pretty good as Foreign Minister (if you’re willing to overlook a massive cut in foreign aid), but that’s relatively easy, largely a matter of not messing up. If she does take over, she’ll need to do more than that.

To demonstrate that there’s a real change, she’ll have to break with Abbott on some major issues. Presumably that will include dumping Hockey and the most unpopular of the 2014 budget measures, but most of those are already dead.

The really big break would be to return to some kind of bipartisanship on climate change. There’s some precedent, given the way she stood up to him over going to the Lima meeting. But it would entail a break with the (numerous) denialists and tribalists in the party room and the broader party apparatus (including the Murdoch Press and bodies like the IPA). Still, if she could carry it off, she would be a force to be reckoned with.

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  1. m0nty
    January 27th, 2015 at 16:27 | #1

    I doubt that dumping Hockey would be a fait accompli. The byzantine workings of personality-based LNP “factionalism” could mean that blokes like Hockey would have to be part of the putsch, and thus would be retained. It’s not really Hockey’s fault, to be fair. He’s had to sell a pup to PUP. Who would want the poisoned chalice of the Treasury at the moment anyway, with only pain to come?

    Bishop doesn’t seem to have any strong policy background. She’s like Rudd, in that she might get a honeymoon effect as people project their pet policies onto her as you have just done, Prof Q, but (also like Rudd) under the harsh light of leadership there’s not much substance there.

    I think you’re underselling Morrison. He may not register much more than an asterisk in polling yet, but he may satisfy internal party needs more than people realise.

  2. Pete Moran
    January 27th, 2015 at 16:33 | #2

    The Sydney-centric LNP won’t allow a WA leader.

  3. Newtownian
    January 27th, 2015 at 16:40 | #3

    One reason why there may be no change is that there is no real evidence of change having any point due to a serious lack of credible alternative ‘leaders’.

    If Abbott had been so so, like Rudd say, change might have been possible. But the whole coalition front bench has been so complicit in an unending parade of stupidity, uncreative destruction, meanness, bigotry, callousness, pettiness, nastiness, cryptoracism (Morrison), lack of vision etc. etc. that it puts a lie to any previous claims each in the leadership group might have to the high mindedness and vision a new leader would need to project. At the least they would either have to deny the last 18 months was a failure (showing they were still singing the same tune) or say it was a disaster and reap the whirlwind unimaginable.

    Its one thing to play the political game, its another lie continually, deny the reality of this government and do it with a smile worthy of a died in the wool tea partier..and then try to change and expect the public to be so stupid as to forget all that has happened in the past year.

    The biggest case study of the exercise in two facedness here is Turnbull of course. The higher they once stood the harder they will fall.

    As a result none of the alternates has any credibility because of their closeness to Abbots failure or due to their hypocrisy.

    Beyond that as you say there is no reason to believe there would be any real change in policy away from Murdoch IPA etc. while latter remain influential and simply will not change either.

    So while Julie Bishop may be a bit smarter is she really a credible alternative irrespective of whether she is good or more of the same? To date she seems to have shown no ability to project any image good or bad either way. Has she really done anything beyond choosing between the latest ministerial?

    Thus on default:
    – either Abbot will stay because TINA …or
    – his replacement will be no different except maybe for displaying less foot in mouth disease.

    Here is a friend’s theory. Abbot is now so rabid if there is any threat to his leadership he will call a double dissolution simply out of loser’s spite and self delusion and thus remain PM for the remainder of this government though this may be short. I think this is far fetched but nothing else seems to have any ballast much either so who knows.

  4. Peter
    January 27th, 2015 at 16:56 | #4

    What about Turnbull? He would suck more Labor votes to the Coalition than Bishop and they all know it. The question is ‘why is he still there’ serving under Abbott? Not the money, not the fame, but the waiting game perhaps to fulfill his lifetime ambition becoming PM. This is his mission. He must be given a chance here. If I am wrong, why is he still there, what is he doing?

  5. rog
    January 27th, 2015 at 17:10 | #5

    Turnbull is dead meat; he’s had his run and as a progressive remains unpopular with conservatives. Despite his obvious intelligence he does talk some rubbish eg debt truck. If he just stood up to something worthwhile and fought for it he could be a winner.

  6. Tony Lynch
    January 27th, 2015 at 17:12 | #6

    Generalise: what are any of them doing?

  7. Hermit
    January 27th, 2015 at 17:18 | #7

    The disunity is death message is so strong from Gillard-Rudd you have to think it will resonate for decades. I wonder if the leadership group can impose a ‘please consult’ restraining order on Abbott on pain of a leadership challenge. My 2c worth the public won’t elect Shorten as he is too wet. While the Lib upheavals are going on the ALP need to elevate a hard head to front up before the next election.

  8. G-unit
    January 27th, 2015 at 17:36 | #8

    I’m viewing on the ground that some long term damage has been done to the liberal party.

    I’m mainly talking about church attending christians who are disproportionately liberal voters. People have generally approached this government in two ways.
    Many I know have long had very left view have suddenly realized the liberal party doesn’t represent their views and have suddenly changed the party they support (I remember one christian couple that described themself as socialist and fair enough were left on every policy they supported but voted liberal because…reasons? I guess for some reason the liberal party has always marketed themselves to christians better. Anyway I know some that have been shocked to find out what the labour party and even the greens support and the overlap they have with them)
    Others have tried to follow the liberal party to the right over the last year and have gone extreme right even if they used to think such views were unreasonable and tried to claim that these views are Christian (typically vision radio listeners and it seems to be a lot of recycled american theology). Even this might hurt the liberal party as their base might get a reputation for being unreasonable (although I personally have concern the effect this might have on the church)

  9. derrida derider
    January 27th, 2015 at 17:37 | #9

    Yer all nuts. No matter how much the Libs get nervous about the Mad Monk’s judgement (which everyone has always known is crook – hence his nickname), they will only have to cast their minds back to what happened to the last government to make them EXTREMELY reluctant to axe him. Especially as Abbott is not the sort of person to go quietly. Not to mention that most of them are ideologically more sympathetic to Abbott than the likely alternatives anyways.

    Nope, they (and us) are stuck with him and they know it.

  10. I am and will always be Not Trampis
    January 27th, 2015 at 18:04 | #10

    Bishop as PM? John you seem to forget how disastrous she was a shadow treasurer.

    I tend to agree with DD.

    Rudd wasn’t gotten rid of because of likely election loss he was gotten rid of because the Factional chiefs saw all of their power going.

    By the time the partyroom realise they are dead meat in the next election ( and IMHO this will only occur if nominal GDP is still well below trend) it will be to late to change.

    Change to whom is a very good question.

  11. Uncle Milton
    January 27th, 2015 at 18:05 | #11

    I don’t get this idea that Julie Bishop is a force to be reckoned with. So she manages to follow the brief that DFAT gives her. Big deal. Alexander Downer did it for nearly 12 years, and no one is nominating him for Mensa membership.

    When Bishop was shadow Treasurer just a few years ago under Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership she was so bad she was a laughing stock. How quickly people forget.

    Of course DD is correct. If the Libs get rid of Abbott he will undermine the next leader infinitely worse than Rudd undermined Gillard, which is saying a lot, because Rudd is the gold standard to this point, and they know it.

  12. dave cake
    January 27th, 2015 at 18:09 | #12

    Does no one remember how absolutely terrible Bishop was as shadow treasurer? Bishop is good at playing a role, which is mostly all she has been required to do as foreign minister, but has no policy depth whatsoever. I would assume a short honeymoon as PM, but a continuing spiral down on LNP credibility on policy and the economy.

  13. Robert (not from UK)
    January 27th, 2015 at 18:11 | #13

    A few thoughts perhaps of relevance to recent weeks’ events:

    For some incomprehensible reason, as part of the 1977 Silver Jubilee celebrations, the Duke of Edinburgh visited … my Sydney school (sans Her Maj, who was otherwise engaged elsewhere in NSW). Given the long history of subsequent foot-in-mouth ducal spasms it is only fair for me to record that his speech-day oration 38 years ago was pretty good, delivered with panache, and with a fair few genuine if less-than-side-splitting jokes (gaffes were absent).

    Schoolkids sit through most speech-day orations only with the greatest reluctance. We willingly enough listened to his.

    Re Bishop, the fact that she’s the most prominent non-Catholic in cabinet will surely tell against her. The extent to which the Liberals are disproportionately Catholic now (if we count as “Catholic” such admittedly heterodox figures as Turnbull and O’Farrell) would have seemed incredible as recently as the 1980s, let alone the 1970s and 1960s.

    Back then, Protestants and, in particular, Masons carried out much the same function within the Liberal Party which communists carried out within the Cold-War-era Italian parliament. In other words, they didn’t need to be all-powerful; they just needed to ensure that whatever and whoever they stomped on, stayed stomped on. If memory serves me, and despite the DLP’s impact from the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, the first Australian federal election where the Liberals actually got more Catholic votes than the ALP was not until 1996.

  14. m0nty
    January 27th, 2015 at 18:34 | #14

    They have two viable choices, in my opinion. Stick fat with Abbott and hope that events break the vicious cycle of mediocrity: a nice local war or massive domestic terror incident would do. Or they go to Morrison. Every other candidate has too much baggage. Morrison is the only one who has looked remotely competent, Bishop included. I don’t know where this Bishop myth has come from, our foreign relations have been a shemozzle really.

    My only reservation with Morrison is that his reputation is built on secrecy, and I suspect there are stories on Manus Island that have been suppressed and that would inevitably come out if he were to be made leader. But I suppose that could be a positive for Morrison, as it’s ground he’s comfortable with

  15. Paul Foord
    January 27th, 2015 at 18:47 | #15

    With a by-election next weekend in SA and a state election in Qld, if both go Labor (albeit unlikely, but in SA there is an air of panic in the LNP), the pressure will be immense.

    Maybe its time to recall Alexander Downer, or call up Pauline Hanson and say all is forgiven, please come and lead us.

  16. jungney
    January 27th, 2015 at 18:51 | #16

    Julie Bishop as a credible leader of the Coalition. Oh, please yes, give us Dame Mesothelioma to play with. Class war, a thing of the past? No, Tom Uren only just died. We’ll fight those old fights so long as we are capable. Princess Earring? Bring it on.

  17. January 27th, 2015 at 19:00 | #17

    monty, it’s like you’ve got some variation of the Stockholm Syndrome from spending too much time reading the comments at Catallaxy.

    Morrison (and the government generally) has had an easy run from the media and public on the matter of the secrecy with which they conducted their high seas pushback and achieved “stopping the boats” at the cost of the on going, punishing treatment of those already in off shore detention. But even so, Morrison made repeated mistakes at press conferences, and won through, to the extent he did, on mere aggro bluster.

    This approach does not transfer well to other areas of policy or leadership. I think he come across as having a fair bit of the Keating aggro but without the smarts or (somewhat) redeeming wit, so I see no reason to have confidence that on policy settings he would get things right.

  18. January 27th, 2015 at 19:02 | #18

    I really don’t think the point is that Bishop is highly competent or anything along those lines. I think the point is that Bishop is the most likely leadership contender of the bunch, despite Abbott attempts to nobble her, regardless of her actual levels of competency.

  19. Collin Street
    January 27th, 2015 at 19:08 | #19

    She’s the most likely leadership candidate because everyone else is worse.

  20. m0nty
    January 27th, 2015 at 19:20 | #20

    @steve from brisbane
    Aggro bluster is all they’ve got left, and since Abbott can’t do it Morrison is, as Peter Cook said once, the best of what’s left (IMO). Agreed that there are no good options remaining. I’m all out of popcorn.

  21. Megan
    January 27th, 2015 at 19:23 | #21

    My bet re spill: Not going to happen.

    At least, rather than “last out the year” I would bet Abbott takes LNP into the next federal election – which could well be a crash/crash-through DD in a doomed attempt at control of both houses, as others have posited.

    See Newtonian at #3 (plus others, esp. DD at #9).

  22. Donald Oats
    January 27th, 2015 at 19:32 | #22

    Since we no longer believe in the principle of non-refoulement, perhaps the LNP could return the PM to his country of origin? Scott Morrison would see the funny side to that.

  23. January 27th, 2015 at 20:18 | #23

    Any spill is complicated by needing to knock off the head of the Lib’s organisational wing as well – Brian Loughnane. On the the other hand, Abbott only looks one hands-in-the-trough scandal away from the tap on the shoulder, and the mood shift of the last few months should mean he actually get’s the suffocating treatment of the press gallery in full heat. You’d think he may have a few colleague with a story to tell! So who could engineer a coup in the Libs, replacing the parliamentary and organisational leadership in one hit? If I had to bet, I’d say Turnbull, but the odds aren’t strong.

  24. m0nty
    January 27th, 2015 at 20:30 | #24

    I just can’t believe that Bishop would be Julie-B to Labor’s Juli-A. Does anyone have enough gravitas and respect in the party room to tap anyone else on the shoulder? Anyone tries that and they get a broken bone, Ruddock included. You can take Abbott’s office from his cold, dead fingers.

  25. Nick
    January 27th, 2015 at 22:43 | #25

    The really big break would be to return to some kind of bipartisanship on climate change. There’s some precedent, given the way she stood up to him over going to the Lima meeting. But it would entail a break with the (numerous) denialists and tribalists in the party room and the broader party apparatus (including the Murdoch Press and bodies like the IPA). Still, if she could carry it off, she would be a force to be reckoned with.

    Nope, Julie won’t be doing it.. The party’s funding is significantly dependent on marginalising AGW.

  26. Anthony
    January 27th, 2015 at 22:51 | #26

    “She has looked pretty good as Foreign Minister”
    Disagree. In foreign affairs she comes across as a political lightweight out of her depth.
    Remember the silly comments questioning any argument that israeli settlements are illegal under international law. As well as being in thrall to the israel lobby, along with virtually all australian politicians and the msm (mainstream media) the current politicians in government are clearly puppets of business elites and their various think tanks. Credit to the msm for doing a pretty good job in pointing this out, mainly in argument about the unfairness of the last budget.
    Unfortunately most australian politicians also appear as puppets of US global economic interests and like a good vassal state parrot their near delusional world view. To be fair to the foreign minister no one could match the embarrassing naiveté of the PM over his MH17 and ukraine comments but I cannot agree that she has been anywhere near pretty good.
    It seems to me the only australian politician who currently has anything sensible to say about foreign affairs is malcolm fraser.
    Lest we forget, just a reminder; two vassal state leaders singing from the same song sheet in 2003


  27. John Legge
    January 27th, 2015 at 23:13 | #27

    Why should Ms Julie Bishop expose herself to the unending misogynist abuse directed at Gillard? Does she even want to try to heard this tribe of snakes?

  28. Donald Oats
    January 27th, 2015 at 23:58 | #28

    Julie Bishop’s support base is in WA, the mining state. If she pushes too far away from the emu head in the sand approach to AGW, her support base will metaphorically put two in the head, and then find someone else more aligned with their interests. Given the parlous state of mining in the new economic environment, I don’t think she’ll be wanting to marginalise anyone in WA over this issue, so she’ll just follow the party line, more or less. She can correct me on this if I’m mistaken.

  29. BilB
    January 28th, 2015 at 05:43 | #29

    Peta Credlin must be tearing her hair out with anguish over Abbott’s endless foibles, but there is a lot of hair there so it could take some time to show.

  30. sunshine
    January 28th, 2015 at 07:19 | #30

    I agree with DD at #9 -its not likely ,and with Monty at #14 that they must be praying for some kind of massive national security incident -it would need to be big. As for Morrison (isnt he non-Catholic ? -Hillsong?) , I agreee with Steve from Bris that he would need a new personality to have any chance of success in the top job- sneering at journalists wont help .Regarding Bishop, as some have pointed out she is not Catholic and may not be denialist or competent enough, also there’s the vaginal issue- Gillard was a popular deputy and things turned on her fast . In the longer term, if something does give, I think at #23 P Evans’ Turnbull speculation is worth a thought. The overall feeling of politics in Aust now is very odd ,like we are in a twilight zone where anything could happen. It all seems very widely discredited and disconnected from community sentiment ,not just so in the smaller community I inhabit. It’s easy to be wrong because of too readily extrapolating ones community sentiment .

  31. pablo
    January 28th, 2015 at 07:38 | #31

    If it were to happen and Bishop got up and the possibility that she would revisit AGW then the seemingly endless wildfires in WA could be viewed as a plus in that bipartisan quest. Recent predicted continuing dryness in Australia’s south west from the CSIRO makes it even more imperative. But I don’t get the impression that WA voters are seeing AGW as any particular concern. Anyone know different?

  32. January 28th, 2015 at 07:44 | #32

    The fundamental problem the Coalition has is the fracture line that divides it on climate change. By following the (mainly) American Right’s retreat from evidence and science, and interpreting it all as a culture war, they are preventing the party from making sense not only on that issue, but on long term economics as well. It prevents them from choosing Turnbull for a nonsense reason; makes those who believe in climate change have to come up with nonsense alternative policies like direct action; and indicates that many are also inclined to follow the virulent anti-Keynesian line that is so closely aligned with climate change denialism.

    Until the party can rid itself of the influence of that very large faction of out of date dills, it is going to be aught in a paralysing internal fight over nonsense.

  33. Matt
    January 28th, 2015 at 08:08 | #33

    DO #28: Bishop is from WA, but her electorate is an inner-city one with probably looser connections to the mining industry than many others.

    And she’s exceedingly safe in that electorate – in 2013 Bishop received 62% of first preferences, while the Labor candidate (18%) only narrowly beat the Greens candidate (15%). So things would have to go badly indeed for Bishop to struggle with her own constituents.

  34. Matt
    January 28th, 2015 at 08:09 | #34

    I should say that in the end the Labor candidate, Daryl Tan, received 32% of votes after preferences had been distributed.

  35. rog
    January 28th, 2015 at 08:15 | #35

    The modern day Libs are a long way from the economic rationalist dries of the 80’s. Their hatred of all things Labor has made them reject a rational market based mechanism to climate change, a mechanism that had been favoured by Lib predecessors.


    It seems that future policy stuffups will be inevitable as they have no guiding principles.

  36. Paul Norton
    January 28th, 2015 at 08:25 | #36

    Derrida Derider @9:

    Yer all nuts. No matter how much the Libs get nervous about the Mad Monk’s judgement (which everyone has always known is crook – hence his nickname), they will only have to cast their minds back to what happened to the last government to make them EXTREMELY reluctant to axe him. Especially as Abbott is not the sort of person to go quietly. Not to mention that most of them are ideologically more sympathetic to Abbott than the likely alternatives anyways.
    Nope, they (and us) are stuck with him and they know it.

    I agree that somebody as convinced of his own destiny and as bloody-minded in pursuit of it as Abbott will not make things easy for those that wish to see the back of him. There is also the non-trivial fact that the Gallipoli Centenary is just three months away and he would have his heart and soul set on being there as PM.

    As for the Liberal Right/QuadRANT/Catallaxy/Murdoch press crowd, I think there are clear signs that they are withdrawing their support from Abbott, but it is also clear that they will die in a ditch before acquiescing in an alternative leader who would preside over the kind of change in direction canvassed in the OP.

  37. Uncle Milton
    January 28th, 2015 at 08:32 | #37

    @Paul Norton

    “there are clear signs that they are withdrawing their support from Abbott”

    Which began when he threw Brandis under the bus over s.18C of the RDA. Abbott is only useful to them if he can deliver their agenda. If he can’t or won’t, they’ll get another boy.

  38. Paul Norton
    January 28th, 2015 at 08:40 | #38

    I also think that the current government and its travails are showing what the Liberap Party has lost with the departure of John Howard from Federal politics. Howard had a very strong sense of what the mainstream Australian electorate would bear, and he was able to restrain his own ideological proclivities and calibrate his policy stances in the light of it. Abbott and his ilk have all of Howard’s ideological proclivities, only more so, and none of the restraining political antennae.

  39. Paul Norton
    January 28th, 2015 at 08:45 | #39

    Uncle Milton @37, I think that’s right.

  40. John Quiggin
    January 28th, 2015 at 08:53 | #40

    As a Queenslander, I’ve never bought the “disunity is death” story. Anna Bligh had the entire Parliamentary Party and most of the machine solidly behind her, she was well liked personally, and she took Labor from 50 odd seats to 7, far worse than the disaster in NSW.

  41. Uncle Milton
    January 28th, 2015 at 09:00 | #41

    @John Quiggin

    You are confusing necessary and sufficient conditions. Disunity is sufficient for death, but Bligh showed it isn’t necessary.

  42. Uncle Milton
    January 28th, 2015 at 09:35 | #42

    @Paul Norton

    Abbott once described himself as the political love child of John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop. As often happens, his mother’s genes were dominant.

  43. Collin Street
    January 28th, 2015 at 09:50 | #43

    Which began when he threw Brandis under the bus over s.18C of the RDA. Abbott is only useful to them if he can deliver their agenda. If he can’t or won’t, they’ll get another boy.

    But it’s not like rolling the PM will get uni fee deregulation through the senate, is it? It’s blocked on its own merits, not ’cause of phil-the-greek’s knighthood.

  44. paul walter
    January 28th, 2015 at 09:52 | #44

    As a pawn in all of this, I feel decidedly rooked.

  45. Newtownian
    January 28th, 2015 at 09:56 | #45

    @John Quiggin

    John’s and Steve from Brisbane’s comments open an interesting discussion track here. To some extent/in some circumstances disunity is death. But hegemony can be also be death as well if it makes change/adaptation to new circumstances like chaotic economics and climate, and escape from the vice of ideology near impossible to achieve.

    What you seem to have now is an hegemony of the Liberal lunar right which has either purged or suppressed their more thoughtful colleagues or sequestered, or compromised them as exemplified by Turnbull and possibly also Bishop to the point the latter have no credibility. They have won but have no rational path to follow which seems to be where they are now.

    I agree with others their problem is they took the ‘winners are grinners’ idea as being their absolute and forever goal and achieved a temporary victory through a negative campaign which was brilliant in the short term but destructive to them in the long term just as it is being for the US Republicans. And now they seem to have nowhere to go.

    That said in some circumstances an ideology/hegemony/lunacy can be maintained e.g. through the use of force and fear. Mao’s initiation and continuation after, the lunacy of the Great Leap Forward, and North Korea generally, illustrate that madness can endure depending on circumstances like despotism.

    Now hopefully we dont have that to look forward to as we dont have such a society despite some left wing hyperbole. But since the election I have worried that this government might evolve into something like Jo Bjelke Petersen’s who was just as mad but proved also smart enough to endure for ?16 years by knowing how to feed the chooks and pressing fear buttons like reds under the bed.

    Happily so far the Federal coalition does not seem to have had Jo’s cunning, smarts or luck. But this could change if they slowed their pace to say something like that of “Honest John Howard”. If this happens heaven help us.

  46. Uncle Milton
    January 28th, 2015 at 10:05 | #46

    @Collin Street

    Fee deregulation is a special case because of Christopher Pyne, who is in a league of his own for un-likeability. A new PM and a new education minister possibly could get fee deregulation through the Senate if the enough goodies were thrown in to the deal, like lots more money for regional unis.

  47. paul walter
    January 28th, 2015 at 10:11 | #47

    @Uncle Milton
    That was the problem with them.. a monoculture.

    One good dissenting voice might have brought a reality check re privatisations made on the wake of a cast in stone promise made at a previous election and despite the gruesome lesson of NSW.

    But would the likes of a good example, say a John Quiggin, of the missing ingredient, still find a home there?

    Forgive my scepticism..

  48. Collin Street
    January 28th, 2015 at 10:33 | #48

    Fee deregulation is a special case because of Christopher Pyne, who is in a league of his own for un-likeability.

    Perhaps you could tell me the things that aren’t special cases.

  49. Robert (not from UK)
    January 28th, 2015 at 11:11 | #49

    Meanwhile, leaving aside the Coalition for a moment – and examining those other dear charmers – it looks as if the federal parliament’s most prominent Israeli lobbyist might be looking for alternative employment sooner rather than later:


    From this report, I quote: “One group within Labor’s Right faction expects an orderly handover from Mr Danby to Mr Suss; another insists a challenge is on, noting that Mr Suss now has the numbers in local branches to defeat Mr Danby. When asked to comment on Mr Suss, Mr Danby said: ‘I understand sitting members are to be re-endorsed’.”

    When a parliamentarian of Danby’s fame and political endurance starts a sentence with “I understand”, most people will surely interpret those two words as a euphemism for “I am scared witless.”

  50. Ikonoclast
    January 28th, 2015 at 11:11 | #50

    @paul walter

    Your sure a knight hasn’t forked you?

  51. rog
    January 28th, 2015 at 11:21 | #51

    Conservatives like to think that the left are imploding over Sir Phil but Murdoch has taken the lead by recommending Chris Kenny to replace Credlin (he just doesn’t like women).


  52. Uncle Milton
    January 28th, 2015 at 11:25 | #52

    @Robert (not from UK)

    numbers in local branches

    All it will take is one arch of Bill Shorten’s eyebrows for Danby to be safe or be gone. Does Shorten like him or dislike him?

  53. Robert (not from UK)
    January 28th, 2015 at 12:00 | #53

    Uncle Milton asks:

    “All it will take is one arch of Bill Shorten’s eyebrows for Danby to be safe or be gone. Does Shorten like him or dislike him?”

    I don’t know the answer to that question. (My home used to be in Danby’s constituency, but although I’ve not changed my address, the electoral borders were altered before the 2013 poll.)

    All I can say is that if I were Bill Shorten, I would be more afraid of antagonising the ALP’s remaining pro-Bob-Carr element – Carr of course is now officially considered by Australia’s neocons to be “Anti-Semite-In-Chief” – than of antagonising the ALP’s remaining pro-Danby element. Which latter element might now consist of Danby alone.

  54. Ken Fabian
    January 28th, 2015 at 12:08 | #54

    Julie Bishop looks like she’s being annointed as Rupert’s chosen successor – just had a personal one-on-one with The Man I believe. I wonder if Abbott ever imagined he’d be on the receiving end of a campaign by Rupert to put someone else into office? The Man’s backing must have seemed like a perpetual get out of jail (and into Mayfair) free card.

    The problem for Rupert is that Abbott has actually been reasonably diligent – if not so competent – in pressing the ‘right’ agenda forward even in the face of public opposition – and the agenda itself is something that the unannointed absent King of Australia will want to survive any spill. Tricky and risky operation to transplant a fresh head on an old body and expect it to keep going without a missed step – could be fatal if it doesn’t go right.

    If Julie Bishop is Rupert’s new Chosen One then she will be expected to keep His agenda going – so no backing down on the opposition to and obstruction of action on climate, although the appearance of being open to compromise – and even to outright lying in Abbott style about what she really thinks – is probably a plus when it comes to the crusade against the evil eco-socialist global climate conspiracy.

    So far climate hasn’t been an issue she’s gone out of her way to make a big issue of but she has made occassional forays with the kinds of opinions that make clear she’s been fully on message and on-script – IIRC defending the climate science denialist opinionators who have had their “freedom of speech” rights so dreadfully abused by not being taken seriously and being unfairly open to criticism by the eco-socialist dominated media! She has been one of several senior Conservatives preemptively getting their excuse for being so opaque and coy about their true postion out there – the great global greenie conspiracy forced them to mislead and deceive the public, for it’s own good.

    She’s sung straight from the climate action obstructors song book so far and if she’s the Captain’s Captain’s pick for Captain then I can’t see that will change.

    Personally I don’t care how readily she can ‘compromise’ on climate – if she can’t appreciate the seriousness of the issue on it’s own merits, on the basis that actually is real and serious and urgent, then she will be incapable of fighting for it and the compromises that matter will be those that mollify The Man, and The Machine, and The Donors, and the climate science denying demographic that Conservative politics has spent decades cultivating and fertilising and encouraging.

  55. Nick
    January 28th, 2015 at 12:17 | #55

    Thanks for the laugh!

    Miranda Devine annoints Chris Kenny, not unlike one of Cerberus’ mangy heads endorsing another:

    Credlin’s replacement should be the person she didn’t want to hire as head of communications strategy, ­despite various entreaties from high-level media and political figures: Chris Kenny.

    As editorial writer for The Australian, a seasoned journalist and a former adviser and chief of staff to Alexander Downer and Malcolm Turnbull, he’s in touch with the world, has the right ideas, shares Abbott’s broad world view without the kinky bits.

    Let’s go with Chris, it’ll be more of the same privileged young fogeyish arrogance thinly papering over blithering ignorance. Perfect.

  56. m0nty
    January 28th, 2015 at 12:48 | #56

    @steve from brisbane
    Excellent comment. And the party hasn’t renewed itself since Abbott came to power, as most of the Howard-era recalcitrants are Abbott’s main supporters. It will take removing Abbott for the LNP to recover from this temporary madness, so it’s a question of whether they do it themselves mid-term to start the rebuilding process ASAP through fresh preselections, or they wait for the electorate to make the hard decisions for them. I’d be tipping the latter.

    One hopes Labor has sufficiently renewed its parliamentary personnel by the next election to purge itself fully of the R-G-R personality-based nonsense.

  57. clarke
    January 28th, 2015 at 13:09 | #57

    Apart from the financial and political debauchery ( not just limited to Hodge, Slipper, Thomson etc), remember the attempts by Conroy and Roxon to place the news media entirely in the hands of government and Gillard as editor in chief for Fabians in Brussels. An example of where that could lead was shown by what happened to Milne and Smith, at the hands of Gillard, just for doing their jobs. Thrown into a pig sty of litigious excrement and made to recant for their Masonic masters on the ILO!

    Qld has escaped this depravity by the skin of its teeth and it wont fall again into the hands of EU-inspired PC madness! Bikes law or no Bikies law!

  58. m0nty
    January 28th, 2015 at 13:42 | #58

    You almost got me a full line in conspiracist bingo, but you forgot to mention Bilderberg and Agenda 21. Crackpot jackpot!

  59. January 28th, 2015 at 13:58 | #59

    Malcolm Turnbull is the one substantive candidate for PM. The Liberal Party would tend turn away from denying climate science, the Abbott infatuation with the British Empire, with a possibility of a less uncritical embrace of neoliberalism. I suggest it was not simply Murdoch that put Tony Abbott in the job. I surmise there is a wider consensus in the boardrooms, both here and overseas. Malcolm is not without faults but he has the ability to lead the country and represent the people who vote for his party.

    The reason politics is so out of joint is that it is so fractured as to be meaningless and the political agendas, especially economic policy, are referenced externally nor are they sourced from the major streams of public opinion within the electorate as a whole. We have a pseudo political democracy with pseudo political leadership. The common belief is that public opinion can be fabricated on cue. Thus opinion polling is primarily an exercise in discovering the efficacy of propaganda. The vacuousness of policy formulation is demonstrated by NSW Labor’s and Luke Foley’s prescription to address domestic violence which proposes more money spent on courts.

    To assume the diagnosis, then the remedy might be to rebuild democracy from the ground up. There is a democratic culture but we need to re-examine our institutions.This might include starting with local government by adopting a constitutional amendment and making it mandatory for all (?) candidates for higher levels of government, particularly the Senate and the Legislative Council (NSW) to have demonstrate political credibility. Local government should have distinct responsibilities, including for mitigation of climate change and environmental sustainability.

  60. patrickb
    January 28th, 2015 at 14:35 | #60

    ” remember the attempts by Conroy and Roxon to place the news media entirely in the hands of government and Gillard as editor in chief for Fabians in Brussels.”
    Nope, I think that escaped everyone’s attention bar you. Keep up the good work! And keep looking for that Nazi gold!

  61. Newtownian
    January 28th, 2015 at 14:52 | #61

    and the Illuminati, the Templars, the 200 families and Davos (well I admit the latter may have some truth to it as you need to be a world ruler or court jester (aka approved celebrity) to get an invite.

  62. Mr Denmore
    January 28th, 2015 at 14:53 | #62

    The Liberal Party either re-embrace reason and accept the global scientific consensus on climate change or they become increasingly irrelevant. Given the political splintering we are seeing in Europe and elsewhere, I have no doubt other political forces will emerge in the coming years here as well. Hopefully, we see the emergence of a true liberal party, moderate, centrist and republican.

    In the meantime, if Abbott goes, their options are slight. I agree with others that the adulation of Julie Bishop is disproportionate. Anyone can look competent in the foreign affairs portfolio. You just fly around the world business class, repeat platitudes and ensure you have a good enough wardrobe and smile for the photo opportunities.

    Morrison would be a disaster. He is perceived as having excelled in immigration because he shut down all scrutiny and used the public’s hysteria about boat arrivals to play the tough guy with people who don’t have a vote.

    Hockey is hopeless. He relied for so long on his supposed affability, but he’s never convinced in the treasury portfolio, covering up his lack of intellectual substance with blow-hard bellowing and theatrical bellicosity.

    Turnbull is the only option, but he is so far to the left of his party on most issues these days it’s hard to see what he’s still doing there. Even if the Libs held their noses and put him back into the leadership, it’s hard to see him being able to build a convincingly united team.

    Ultimately, the Libs have stranded themselves on the far right fringe and there really is no way back. Backed so heavily by the IPA libertarians and the Murdoch press, they were lulled into thinking those US-derived ideologies were somehow supported by mainstream Australia. The reaction to the budget put the lie to that.

    But instead of the penny dropping, the Libs are now doubling down with Workchoices II, Morrison’s war on welfare (except for the upper middle class kind in superannuation and capital gains tax concessions) and the crony, billionaire-funded sham of democracy that is wrecking the USA.

    As unappealing as Shorten is, the ALP need only express the need for a return to the moderate middle, the restoration of the social contract, the embrace of global action on climate change and an attack on corporate welfare to have the next election in the bag.

  63. clarke
    January 28th, 2015 at 15:18 | #63

    That may be so – given that our own PM Abbott was born in England to a British father, automatic British citizenship. His citizenship by descent from a woman who renounced her Australian citizenship to get the ten pound pom boat trip is not in question. The renunciation of his British citizenship is. Lodge an FOI request with PM&C to see the most important document in the land, the one piece of paper that proves Mr Abbott is in the job legally,and Peta Credlin steps in to refuse the application. FOI requests ae normally handled by clerk class fives or sixes not the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister. why the refusal to show the one document that proves his legitimacy?
    Greeenberg family steps in thats why! They have Crisis Actors on the case as we speak – Rupert knows the score hence Credlin tweet – and if you think the connection to the Royals “Windsor” ie Battenburg – via Knighthood is innocent or simply dumb – think again. Lot more under the surface here – Credlin / Soros links – and Abbott is simply running the orders.

  64. Harold Thornton
    January 28th, 2015 at 16:36 | #64



    19 and a half years, give or take a few weeks. He’d already announced he would step down on the 20th anniversary of his incumbency, on the eighth day of the eighth month, 1988, but made the mistake of attempting to oust his internal critics in a ministerial reshuffle that briefly elevated the National Party’s ‘D’ team. Even the Governor stopped taking him seriously.

  65. rog
    January 28th, 2015 at 17:23 | #65

    @Mr Denmore The Australian public have always been hysterical over migrants, it’s in our dna.

    Abbott & co neatly tapped into our reservoir of xenophobia.

  66. January 28th, 2015 at 18:00 | #66

    My interest is now somewhat piqued in the Abbott “birther” matter (except it’s not like the “birther” movement at all, in that there was always a short form birth certificate produced for Obama, but nutters thought it a forgery.) In Abbott’s case, we actually do have a court case where a politician was found to be invalidly elected, making the matter of renunciation legally important, but a refusal by Abbott’s office to allow access to a file that may contain the document establishing it.

    Given Abbott’s (in)competency, who would be surprised if this had been overlooked? Much of the antagonism about pursuing this seems to be from people who just think the Constitutional provision deserves to go, so let’s pretend it’s not there because it’s so unfair.

  67. January 28th, 2015 at 18:04 | #67

    I might add: given Abbott’s role in assisting the action against Hanson that led to her jailing, it would be a delicious irony to see him lose his job on a legal technicality.

  68. January 28th, 2015 at 18:16 | #68

    John Dunmore Lang was involved in getting Scottish immigrants to counter the influence of the Irish. Whatever happened to sectarianism and why is Federal Cabinet dominated by Roman Catholics, who are out of step with Papa Francesco on the politics of austerity and climate change?

    Listening to Michaelia Cash on RN Drive concerning domestic violence I wondering whether political discussion based on talking points delivered in a Gist Gallop is the new standard. I think the PM should have used the PM discretion to the fullest extent and canonized Phil, which has a nice ring to it – if not we could buy him one.

  69. paul walter
    January 28th, 2015 at 19:18 | #69

    Now, If I’dwritten that, would I be in the sin-bin?

  70. jungney
    January 28th, 2015 at 20:43 | #70

    The Mro-doch has been tweeting apparently urging Peta to resign in the name of “team Australia”. No kidding, you couldn’t make this stuff up. He tweeted:

    Credlin a good person. Just appealing to her proven patriotism.

    Meaning: Peta, do roll over and think of Australia. Go on luvvie. Treats. Look at Rebecca Brookes.

  71. Vegetarian
    January 28th, 2015 at 20:59 | #71

    @Paul Norton
    Except when he over-reached with Workchoices of course. Long incumbency made Howard complacent, but Abbott has always had a tin ear.

  72. P.A.Cox
    January 28th, 2015 at 21:09 | #72

    Still, it all points more to Turnbull than anyone. Currently he is laying low, trying to appeal to his party not to us all. And playing the ’48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene’ game well……

  73. rog
    January 29th, 2015 at 06:30 | #73

    What’s become patently obvious to nearly all Australians is that Tony Abbott is not leading a government of Australia it’s an LNP govt pandering to a few sectional interests. In QLD Newman further underscored this by saying that election promises will only be kept if LNP members are returned – blatant vote buying.

  74. sunshine
    January 29th, 2015 at 07:00 | #74

    wmmbb #9 and Mr Denmore #12 I agree. Maybe in the long run much of the solution will come from the bottom up via local council and community organisation. Big Govt and markets have weakened family and community life, but local level seems to be the most in touch at present -hence the Conservative hatred of councils and their Communist infiltrators. I think we should get rid of state govt s – but that seems to be the level Conservatives want to strengthen. Also I’d like to somehow see the road forward be a negative growth one with population reduction (not everyones cup of tea).

    Jungney #20 I had to LOL when I saw that Rupert has also tried to pretend he didn’t know his papers have been calling for Credlin to go!

    It seems to me Abbott has made another massive blunder in all this -dismissing social media as graffiti ,saying (something like) ” would a reputable media organisation report something that was spray painted on a wall ?” .Why doesnt he just tell everyone borne after 1990 to ‘go get stuffed’ ? Lucky ‘the adults are now in charge’ !!

  75. Martin
    January 29th, 2015 at 11:36 | #75

    Conspiracy theory deleted. As noted recently, all discussion of conspiracy theories should be directed to sandpits

  76. derrida derider
    January 29th, 2015 at 14:12 | #76

    The citizenship stuff sounds like crap to me, but there might be enough in it to give Abbott a face-saving way out if the pressure gets too much. For any successor there’s a big difference between trying to say, as Gillard had to, “we got rid of Kevin because he was hopeless but we’re a really good government – honest” and saying “what a tragedy for all of us that Tony resigned on a technicality …”.

    I still think its highly unlikely though – in fact the odds are still that he’ll win the next election (as Rudd probably would have if he’d stayed, BTW). Aussies just don’t do one term governments much.

  77. Donald Oats
    January 29th, 2015 at 15:28 | #77

    If the LNP members were so purblind as to choose Abbott to lead the party/coalition, it’s no good blaming Abbott’s staff now—they never had a vote in the matter, whereas the Libs members did.

    I’m not aghast at PM Tony Abbott’s choice: he has a legacy he wishes to establish, a very British one. I believe he wishes to be seen as the PM who brought Australia back into the fold, under the British colonial construct, and he is taking measures to ensure it. I do not believe that he is sincere in his apologetics on (not) consulting more broadly, for it would have robbed him of the power to award it to the person closest to the Queen, outside of family.

    Tony Abbott did not get to power by being forthright with the Australian people; his arrival in office required a dysfunctional leadership in the ALP government, Murdoch-led press support, and a willingness to say whatever his current audience wanted to hear, a weathervane. Outright lying, and then lying about the outright lying, is no way to endear oneself with the Australian population—not when lying about policy.

  78. Collin Street
    January 29th, 2015 at 16:19 | #78

    > The citizenship stuff sounds like crap to me, but there might be enough in it to give Abbott a face-saving way out if the pressure gets too much.

    Well, no: he can only use this to leave office if he was a british citizen at the last federal election. If he were elected at the last election as a single australian citizen that election would be valid.

    … however, if he were a british citizen at the last federal election, that would mean that between 1999 and 2013 he was sitting in parliament, representing himself as eligible to sit in parliament and draw a salary, knowing — because of the result of the Hill case, which happened when he was in parliament — that he was ineligible to do so. Which would be, you know, pretty big-ticket fraud.

    [if he resigned his citizenship before… 1994? there’s obviously no problem; if he resigned it after being elected but before the 1998 election I’d say “eh” and shrug my shoulders. There’s nothing I can see that rules out any of these possibilities entirely.]

  79. Collin Street
    January 29th, 2015 at 16:21 | #79

    Which is to say, “haha I’m a pom!” can’t realistically be said to be a face-saving way to get out of office.

  80. Paul H
    January 29th, 2015 at 18:02 | #80

    Yes, the lack of insight is profound, is it not? Andrew Elder has made this point in his latest blog entry. Risible… welcome to 2015, where social media is ubiquitous, and carries huge sway in those demographics! Elder makes the good point that Howard could afford to ignore social media on 2007; not so Abbott now. The ‘JuLiar’ campaign was a pin-prick compared to the hiding he is receiving now. Karma?
    Also, a bit of an obsession I have right now is the revelation of how much they’re spending on Paid Social Media Trolls, (PSMTs.. am trying to get the acronym to gain currency), in PM’s office and office of Cabinet. Over $5mill. some reports suggest. This was even flagged in a Labor Party email I received with Shorten’s name on it.
    At the risk of sounding mildly paranoid, I think there is a ‘dirty tricks dept., which is in there gleaning information, but also disrupting. I see this on several blogs. Also witness the Euro Wasp-like trolls on Mike Carlton’s Twitter page, which I occasionally look in on. They do have the effect of making the account less attractive to visit… mission accomplished?

  81. January 29th, 2015 at 18:21 | #81

    What, no discussion of Christopher Pyne as a potential PM?


  82. BilB
    January 29th, 2015 at 18:25 | #82

    That dumb move could very well trigger the popular revolution that Marxists are desperate for!

    I dare them to do it.

  83. Greg
    January 29th, 2015 at 18:39 | #83

    I think the clear winner in all of this is the Rt Hon Sir William McMahon – a promotion in the batting order after these many years. Three word slogan of the day – Trashing the brand!

  84. jungney
    January 29th, 2015 at 19:56 | #84

    Eeeew! As people used to say. The Abbotts are some sort of pommie bogans. No kidding, I just trawled an article about how some Abbott daughter caused a stir at the Oz Open by wearing a backless dress which exposed her tattoo of some sort of script letter ‘A’ and then went on to say that she did this to memorialise the Abbott name, god I’m moved to tears, because, with four daughters, she thought that daddy’s name would not otherwise live on without a son.

    Oh, read it and weep, mofos,

    The idea that the absence of a male heir needs to be compensated at all by the female progeny, let alone the notion that such absence could be compensated by a tattoo on the daughter’s body, is testament to the weird contortions that liberal feminism has taken, not least within official Liberal circles.

    This entire mob are surplus to requirements.

  85. jungney
    January 29th, 2015 at 19:57 | #85

    Mob is

  86. Robert (not from UK)
    January 29th, 2015 at 20:45 | #86

    I have clear memories of learning on the Sydney grapevine in 1994, shortly before Abbott entered parliament, that The Big Kahuna had in fact lately resigned his UK citizenship.

    Of course, the grapevine is not always reliable. Nor, when it is reliable, are politicians in the habit of telling me their plans. But the issue was definitely discussed in Sydney 21 years back, so much so that even I could not help hearing about it. Anyone who has access to The Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph for the relevant period will be able to say much more authoritatively than I can how far the discussion went.

  87. Donald Oats
    January 29th, 2015 at 22:54 | #87

    @Robert (not from UK)
    We’ve learnt the hard way that unless the primary evidence is on public display (the RN form would do), we cannot take the word or mouth or word scribbled down as true in fact. There won’t be cuts to the ABC, SBS, ABC, Health, Education, CSIRO, etc ad nausea…and then there were.

  88. January 29th, 2015 at 23:04 | #88

    I clicked on the link Jungney provided. I didn’t weep but I shook my head, sadly. I don’t know that it’s liberal feminism that’s the problem though, I think it’s just, you know … patriarchy … plus not being able to think very clearly (well I guess she never had to, really, since she could get a “scholarship” without having to go through the usual hard slog of actual scholarship).

  89. January 29th, 2015 at 23:09 | #89

    Sorry Jungney, that should obviously be ‘the link that you provided’ since I’m replying to you. But I do also think people should read the article because even though you’ve reported it well (though point of fact, Abbott has three not four daughters), you still haven’t quite conveyed the full awfulness of it, somehow.

  90. jungney
    January 30th, 2015 at 08:24 | #90

    Conveying the full awfulness of the bogan Abbotts requires the skills of a good comedy writer.

  91. Paul H
    January 30th, 2015 at 08:59 | #91

    The smart money is looking at new-technology tattoo removal. May even be ‘recession resistant’, to a degree. What seemed an edgy idea at age 22, will, in many cases, become tattoo remorse.
    The fact that an Abbott daughter has one is good indicator as to just how far this contagion has progressed.
    Thankfully, both our 20-somethings are needle-phobic and suffer from vaso-hagal episodes in such circumstances. The silver lining.

  92. Paul H
    January 30th, 2015 at 09:03 | #92

    @Paul H
    …. vaso-vagal…

  93. jungney
    January 30th, 2015 at 09:23 | #93

    Paul H: the only good advice my old man gave me was to never get a tattoo because “if you’re ever on the run with a tatt, it is the first thing the coppers look for”. He’d been on the court reporter’s beat for years, so I guess it was good advice. I passed it on to my kids in modified form saying that a tattoo is an open declaration of your law abiding nature because it is such a positive identifier as to guarantee that you will be caught (if on the run). Anyway, maybe the A stands for *sshole.

  94. BilB
    January 30th, 2015 at 12:18 | #94

    As Abbott is now actively campaigning for Newman but in Victoria and touting his prowess at making free trade agreements, and in the light of his many gaffs, has Abbott left Australia wide open to huge public losses due to Investor-State Dispute Settlements?

    Perhaps Professor Quiggin could enlighten the less technical of us as to what this actually means and if there a vulnerability with the Japan, Korea, and China free trade agreements.

  95. January 30th, 2015 at 14:17 | #95

    Doesn’t it seem more likely the “A” is for atheist and the story about commemorating the Abbott name simply an indicator that daddy has made good on his promises? (Be sure to check out my forthcoming book “Freako-Tattoo Economics”.)

  96. Donald Oats
    January 30th, 2015 at 23:06 | #96

    What if the Royal family decide, on the basis of all the negative press attention, that the good Prince Philip will decline the proffered knighthood?

    That would be a grand sign the bush billy can frog soup has come to a fatal—for the frog—boil.

  97. Collin Street
    January 31st, 2015 at 09:07 | #97

    > What if the Royal family decide, on the basis of all the negative press attention, that the good Prince Philip will decline the proffered knighthood?

    William makes more sense than Philip, from Clownshoes’ perspective, so it’s 90%+ that it was originally offered to him and he declined.

    That the head of the search committee took the other one means that they literally couldn’t find a credible candidate willing to take the hot potato; the “official” list — governors, state chief justices, high-court justices, head of defence or the three services, police commissioners, very senior civil servants — is something like twenty people, all of whom must have refused. Plus eminent private citizens and what-have-you.

  98. Mercurial
    January 31st, 2015 at 11:45 | #98

    More, Collin Street, jungney, Val, that article in the link seems to place more importance on Freya Newman’s good behaviour bond than the fact that Frances Abbott received that scholarship without, as Val says, scholarship.

  99. rog
    February 1st, 2015 at 04:46 | #99

    Mal Brough for PM? Conservatives have truly lost the plot – he has baggage.

    Good call by Fran Barlow.

  100. Donald Oats
    February 1st, 2015 at 12:53 | #100

    Those who are calling loudest for a Mal Brough coup are Queenslanders: they incorrectly blame PM Tony Abbott for the irredeemable incompetence of the state LNP government. They fail to realise that they themselves—the federal politicians from Queensland—are responsible, firstly for supporting Tony Abbott’s methodology in opposition, and for accepting him as the leader of the LNP; secondly, they failed to impress upon the federal government what the state of Queensland needed, and what the state LNP needed. Bit late to cry boo-hoo it’s so unfair, I think I should be leader now. And they say the adults are in charge—ha ha ha.

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