Tony Abbott, who denounced the government’s very mild pause on indexing the $150k threshold for access to Family Tax Payments as “class warfare”, has previously supported identical attacks on “middle class welfare“. Nothing surprising there: Abbott has shown himself absolutely willing to say whatever he thinks his audience wants to hear on the day. Unfortunately, exactly the same is true of Julia Gillard. Neither seems to think much before committing themselves to whatever thought bubble looks good on the day (cash for clunkers, tax levies for parental leave etc)

By comparison with these two, Wayne Swan and Joe Hockey, among other potential successors, look like stellar intellects and conviction politicians. Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull are in a whole different universe. As I’ve said before, the current contenders to rule Australia are living disproof of the adage that we get the government we deserve. We didn’t ask for Gillard, and the only alternative we were offered was Abbott. What a choice!

18 thoughts on “Weathervanes

  1. So true John. However you are far too generous in your comments in regard to both Wayne Swan and Joe Hockey. Moreover it is clear to me that the political party in office believes in little of substance, and will do whatever it perceives is necessary in order to remain in office. Which quite obviously includes serving the needs of powerful vested interests, who contribute so generously to party funding (and of course this comment applies to both of the major political party groupings). It is also clear to me that the party in office is there by default, having been perceived by the electorate at the last election as the lesser of two evils. And if Turnbull had remained the leader, I have no doubt that the coalition would now be in government.

  2. John, The Abbott hypocrisy is indeed disgraceful. It seems to me that it this type of behaviour is not confined to the Federal Party. The same party in Victoria supported the decision to close down Hazelwood when in opposition but now opposes it in Government. It has abandoned the proposal.

    I think the Liberal Party are totally insincere in claiming they are committed to action on climate change. They sense there are votes in supporting action but don’t seriously believe there is an issue.

  3. So true JQ, even the pedantic, obstreperous Ikonoclast cannot add one ink dot to that.

  4. There is no choice between Gillard and Abbott. Gillard is a huge disappointment to labor voters but we are getting very used to the so called labor party disappointing labor voters arent we?

  5. The ABC interviewed Swan after the budget, ie they had a timeslot set aside for this. The ABC had filler stories eg population and infrastructure crisis in Weribee and Australia, rather than interviews organised with Abbott about his budget reply. Guess they didn’t expect he would actually reply to the budget, and they were right.

    While budget replies have sometimes been pitiful, most have made at least a passing attempt at spelling out some alternative items in an opposition’s preferred budget. No such easy path taken by Abbott! Instead, we got the Clayton’s “Budget Reply” you have when you are not having a budget reply. That stinks and I want his salary docked!

  6. Poor Mr. Abbott, he must have forgotten we voted and he lost the last election.

    This is not 1975. We do not have Mr. Kerr and he does not have control of the Senate.

    Also there has been no ministers sacked or accuse of misbehaviour.

    The economy is travelling reasonably well.

    Unemployment is low, inflation within limits set by the treasury and interest rates steady.

    I do not believe that just because you do not like a government and the opportunity arises is grounds to force a new election.

    The cost pressures of food and petrol is hopefully of a temporary nature.

    Yes water ans electricity have risen, but still among the cheapest in the world.

    We need to secure our future water needs and this cost money. The electricity system has been allowed to run down, as well as coal prices reaching record prices over a long length of time.

    There is no way Mr. Abbott can do any better, no matter what he promises.

    Mr. Abbott needs to tell us what he would do in the real world that exists today, not in one that exists in his imagination.

  7. I fear that this is, in fact, the sort of leadership that the vast bulk of the Australian public deserve (and probably want, put the the quick).

  8. Totally agree, John. This is the sort of thing which makes this a terrible time for those of us who have to make a living by teaching students about politics.

  9. abbot does rabbet on

    found myself thinking “abbot bops stoats”

    then wondered why if the labor govt is the gillard govt why isn’t the lib opposition the abbot opposition?

    the born-to -rule lust is getting a bit turgid.

  10. “Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull are in a whole different universe.”

    And of course, neither of these compare compare to the only true statesmen left in parliament, Bob Brown.

  11. Scott #8 – I fear that we have the government we deserve as voters will be swayed by lots of money put into advertising which in turn makes the donors to political parties so important and leads to poor decision making.

    I have been astounded at the inability of the government to put out points of view which most people can relate to. For Penny Wong to have criticised Mr Abbott for being “unconscionable” after his Not a Budget in Reply speech means that no-one outside Canberra knows what she means – it is not a word people use and I would challenge those who use it to be able to spell it; Martin Ferguson praised Abbott by saying he has used excellent rhetoric which means that Abbott must have got it right in the minds of most people who don’t understand what rhetoric actually means. If the criticism had been that Mr Abbott is full of words and hot air people would have got it. No wonder he sails on through on an effort that is so light weight.

    However the point made that neither leader has any values which inform their decision making is absolutely correct. The PM likes to portray herself as a great supporter of education and yet it is clearly a field where she lacks knowledge and understanding. If she did she would understand the the MySchool website is merely a confirmation of information that is widely known in the community anyway. The school chaplaincy program should not have been extended but allowed to wither through being a limited term program as it has little real educational but offers a platform for proselytisers. Performance based pay for selected teachers will do little to lift education as it will increase dissatisfaction for the majority and mean those who aren’t the best teachers will leave the profession to be replaced by inexperienced teachers who will struggle with complex discipline problems even if they have betterknowledge. They too will contribute to churn in the profession, which really suffers from too much political interference and too little relevant support.

    The level of advice to Ministers is deeply flawed as the public service concentrates in Canberra where everyone is looking after number one rather than the nation. When the leaders do the same the nation is in trouble.

  12. Gillard is so busy aspiring to appeal to the top twenty percent who earn over $150,000 a year whilst Abbott is going around saying he knows hard hard families have it because of the bills because he has a family. Seems to me they are both so busy aspiring to the aspirationals Im starting to wonder if our vote is counted as a proportion of our income.

    Pleased to see there was a bit of a ruckus in letters to the editor, not expressing much sympathy for Barbie and Ken having a hard time balancing their budget on their 150,000 income and wanting a welfare help along.

  13. I think Labor should get some credit for winding back middle class welfare. If they can do a little bit each budget for the few years, that would be great.

  14. @bobalot
    Whats with the slowly slowly approach? Its been getting worse for years. Time to make a bigger change now in the tax scales. It cant continue on like this (beating the poor and middle and giving handouts to those who dont need it – yes we have lots of middle and upper middle class welfare bludgers and rich tax dodgers here in Oz).

    Never mind, nothing will change. The overcautious dolittles in Labor will lose government by hurting their own traditional voters and the liberals will get in and keep pushing inequality to the max. Bob Brown is the only decent politician in the parliament on this issue and we got a mining tax that was paid for fully by tax cuts to business instead of to those who need tax cuts and to help reduce inqeuality (how pathetic is that?).

    So the mining industry wont be paying any more tax in real terms. What a con that mining tax is. Gillard strikes again.

    The Gini managed to rise almost a full point under Howard since only 2000 and considering the Gini moves at snails pace anyway over decades that was quite a hike. Still I think imagining everything is better than it is in Australia is perhaps better than facing the facts that politicians and their policies have deliberately engineered this level of inequality.

  15. Alice, you’ll need to provide a cite on that statement about the Gini co-efficient under Howard, as i don’t believe it’s true.

  16. Alice, I think gradual change is far easier to achieve than massive change.

    John Howard pushed his Conservative Agenda very slowly over a decade (until WorkChoices) and it was very successful.

  17. @wilful
    1. Gittins makes a few comments here Wilful -
    a)essentially, the last years of the Howard government – saw a quite marked increase in inequality.

    b)When you tax higher income-earners but then exclude them from most cash transfers, you really redistribute income from top to bottom. This why John Howard’s move into middle-class welfare – in superannuation, private health insurance rebates, grants to private schools and much else – was such a retrograde step and why people who profess to care about a fair go should be pressing the Gillard government to keep rolling it back.

    Then there is this

    If you want anymore citations Wilful let me know..

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