Victori spolia

We haven’t yet seen much indication yet of the policy line the Abbott government will take. On the one hand, their election commitments suggest that, with a handful of exceptions such as climate policy, Abbott will carry on the policies of the Labor government, including DisabilityCare, the Gonski reforms, and the NBN (in a cut-down version). On the other hand, historical precedent, recently reaffirmed at the state level by Campbell Newman, and the urgings of people like Bob Officer, who ran the Howard-Costello government’s Audit Commission, suggests the government will discover a spurious budget crisis, dump its promises and introduce big cuts to health and education. Even if they do this, it’s clear that they have no real ideas beyond scraping the barrel of the 1980s microeconomic reform agenda. The worthwhile parts of this agenda were pushed through long ago, and the failures in areas like financial deregulation, Workchoices, Public Private Partnerships and so on are now obvious. The only positive initiative associated with Abbott’s win, the Paid Parental Leave scheme, is directly opposed to the microeconomic reform agenda, and hated by Abbott’s big business agenda. So, beyond it’s three word slogans, I doubt that the government has much more idea about its plans for office, than I do.

We didn’t have to wait long, however, to see how the government would work in process terms. Julie Bishop’s sacking of Steve Bracks as consul-general in New York (rumored replacement, Nick Minchin) is the most notable example of a vindictive tribalism that is evident throughout the right. We’re already hearing talk of cuts aimed at right wing betes noires like the arts, and there is bound to be more of this. The contrast with the last change of government, when Rudd left LNP appointees in place, and even gave jobs to retired opponents, as well as playing down the culture wars, is striking. For the LNP, long accustomed to see itself as our natural rulers, it’s all about getting into office, and sharing out the spoils.

74 thoughts on “Victori spolia

  1. @crocodile

    The new government will sway the motoring party to veto the carbon tax if it is resisted by the Greens and the ALP. They will simply promise legislation to allow 4WDs in our national parks and then blame the Greens for backing them into a corner.

    Hopefully the motoring party rep will be able to work out that the Federal govt doesn’t have the power to do that.

  2. Angus Cameron,

    I haven’t invented that he is on a mission (from his “god”), you can infer it from the text I linked or from this article: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/33392.html I would be much less concerned if he was just a psychopathic ex-boxer longing for power just for the sake of seizing it. But he is not an empty shell. He really wants to change our society. He is not going to say “from tomorrow you can’t eat meat on Fridays”. He will use slightly more sophisticated methods, for example showing deep Christian compassion to unemployed once the austerity drives the unemployment rate to 10%. I also believe that he has a zero chance in the long term but I disagree with you about whether he is going to give it a go.

    From the linked article:
    “In his ambiguous inheritance of the Santamaria heritage, Abbott is actually much closer to Bob Katter and Barnaby Joyce and others in or formerly in the Queensland Nationals (into which large elements of the DLP and the National Civic Council moved in the 1970s) than to those Liberals for whom Catholicism is largely a private faith. BA Santamaria, by contrast, was not – in any meaningful sense – an advocate of the separation of church and state. And he was certainly opposed to the secularisation of Australian culture, an opposition which has some resonances in Tony Abbott’s writing about Pope Benedict and his closeness to Cardinal George Pell.”

    My rather dire predictions about a looming “cultural war” for example about abortion (see what’s going on in the NSW now) and an attempt to reverse the process of secularisation are based on my own experience of living in another county where John Paul II prevailed and imposed his views upon the majority of the society. Abortion was legal in Poland in 1989. It is illegal now and the Church wants to limit the access to IVF because “unborn children” (embryos) are “murdered”. All is going on in an European country which is a member of the EU. The return to the situation from the 1950s or even 1930s is certainly possible, hopefully not in Australia but Tony Abbott is not a liberal or a libertarian. He is a staunch conservative just like Cardinal Pell. “A leopard cannot change its spots” says the Bible. Tony Abbott has never recanted his views expressed some time ago about abortion or other aspect of sexual life. Also – about the ideal social order where individuals are parts of an organism called the society or Christian Nation. Abbott has simply shut up (urged by his minders) and relentlessly pursued a small target strategy to get elected not because people trust him but because they are sick of the Labor who stand for nothing and are corrupt (at least in the NSW). When Tony Abbott will have to choose between the social teaching of pope Francis and requests made by Gina and Rupert to further “liberate” the economy we will see whether power spoils him and drives towards pure pragmatism or whether he is a man of principles. I hope he is not but if he is – he will be a big target on his own.

  3. Julie Bishop’s sacking of Steve Bracks as consul-general in New York…is the most notable example of a vindictive tribalism

    According to the AFR, Bishop made her position clear in May when Bracks’ appointment was announced. They write:

    In May, when the decision was made, she said she would review it if elected, given it would take effect after the election and the Coalition had not been consulted.

    I have no doubt there will be plenty of vindictive tribalism to go around, but this probably isn’t much of an example. They extended Bomber Beasley’s gig as ambassador.

    As an aside, I note that my prediction (not exactly nostradamus) about post-election ALP is spot on. Just like NSW and Qld, the federal ALP make no acknowledgment of the reasons they lost and make no effort to change at all. They are ideologically pro-empire ‘neo-cons’ with all the anti social democracy, anti environment, anti refugees, pro war etc… baggage that goes with it.

  4. I cant imagine any lasting economic reforms an Abbott govt would try . They have basically adopted all Labors policy (but the mining tax) . The Libs prefer to let Labor do the reforming and get kicked out for it .I think Abbotts main mission may be to continue the culture wars so effectively perused by Howard (in the absence of economic reform, bar the GST). They appeal to fear and greed to move the populace to the right ,then anyone who wants to win an election must go there to have any chance. Handing out the benefits of reform will be harder for Abbott than Howard as the mining boom etc has subsided.

  5. I think Abbotts main mission may be to continue the culture wars so effectively perused {pursued} by Howard

  6. @Rustynails Mr. Nails, I doubt you can assure me of any such thing beyond your own personal circles. Yes, to be fair, there are of course plenty of corporate spivs waiting with baited breath for Abbott to funnel public money into private hands. But the fact of Australia being a laughing stock for having elected far-right loons of a stripe hitherto largely confined to Texas into office will surely come back to bite even them.

  7. @ Crispin Bennett

    Outside some precious parts of North London I can’t imagine such ignorance of either Australia or of the United States being expressed.

    Abbott and company “right wing” in an American context: give me a break!

  8. Hmm

    Tony Abbott has stated previously that opposition is 90% theatre and 10% hard policy grind, whereas government is the reverse of that. And so it goes with deliberations over the Budget.

    For the best part of five years, the Coalition admonished the Rudd/Gillard Labor Governments over their Budget deficit and supposedly excessive and wasteful stimulus in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, instead advocating for tough spending cuts in order to return the Budget to surplus sooner.

    Now, the Coalition appears to have performed a backflip on that position and is planning to launch a large stimulus package of its own in a bid to offset the hit to growth and employment as the once-in-a-century mining investment boom unwinds.

    http://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2013/09/joe-hockey-lord-of-the-stimulus/

  9. @Crispin Bennett Now now Mr Crispin, hardly a Corperate Spiv but the Country Manager of a mid size business employing 250 plus people. Involving amongst other significant importation of major equipments from Australia on a monthly basis. Certainly no government handouts have ever come the way of this company and no tax payer or public money supports my activities (I assume you can claim the same?).

    I do grant you no one hear ever laughed when Rudd or Gillard opened their mouths. Groaned and winced a lot but way too serious for laughs.

  10. I’m sure Juile Bishops comments that the Oz Govt will be doing as it pleases in Indonesia, and it’s no business of Indonesia’s, will go down a treat.

  11. @Crispin Bennett

    waiting with baited {bated} breath

    It’s an aphetic for “abated” (now archaic). The reference is from The Merchant of Venice, IIRC.

    @anguscameron

    Abbott and company “right wing” in an American context: give me a break!

    Of course, we are in an Australian context … Objectively of course, the LNP are a right-of-centre party, both by way of official policy positions — policies tend to enhance the maldistribution of wealth and indeed, make a virtue out of it, highly moralistic and punitive social policies, appeals to rightwing populism and xenophobia (ironically sometimes with appeals to policies described as neoliberal), primary concern over controlling wages and breaking up unions etc …

    Many of these descriptions could also fit the ALP, though there is more tension within the ALP due to its core constituency’s distaste for such policies and passive acceptance of them as merely instrumental rather than doctrinal.

    Abbott once described himself as “the lovechild of Bronwyn Bishop and John Howard” something no left-of-centre person would claim — though some of his rhetoric (and his background in the seminary) point to the heritage of the rightwing icon, B A Santamaria.

    As things stand, we have two effectively centre-right parties contesting the field, though the ALP makes greater concessions to social liberalism and adopts a less hostile attitude to official unionism.

  12. Rustynails :
    @Crispin Bennett Now now Mr Crispin, hardly a Corperate Spiv but the Country Manager of a mid size business employing 250 plus people

    Not knowing you from an, er, bag of nails, I didn’t intend to accuse you personally (and apologise if it came across that way). But having worked for much of my life in the corporate sector, I have zero respect for it or any opinions issuing therewith. Spivvery seems more prevalent the larger the company. Absolute power, etc. The corporate sector is corrupt beyond redemption.

    .. or public money supports my activities (I assume you can claim the same?).

    Currently sole trader, so I guess the answer’s ‘yes’, but definitively not worn as a badge of honour. I’d very happily take public money to perform most of the things it pays for, which, by and large, are what stand between us and barbarism. Unfortunately barbarism is very much in current political vogue (except here in QLD, where any distinction between it and civilisation would be entirely lost to the ruling trogs).

  13. @ Fran Barlow

    Don’t you find a difficulty in describing B.A. Santamaria as right wing (or even a “right wing icon”) given your attribution of views to the “right” which are the antithesis of Santamaria’s old-fashioned Catholic Labor views on economic matters?

  14. @Michael You must have read a different
    report to me as I cannot find anywhere that Bishop said “Australia will be doing as it pleases in Indonesia”. A tad of (nagh make it a whole wack) hyperbole perhaps? I did see where she said mentioned that it is was not up to Indonesia what Asylum Policies (right or wrong) Australia adopts (addressing the primary issue of turning back boats). Which seems a perfectly reasonable comment to make.

    That said, it is silly to indulge in this kind of Megaphone discussions particulary in light of the up coming Presidential elections here in Indonesia but that is hardly a Liberal only fault.

  15. @Fran Barlow I don’t think anyone is seriously debating that Abbott and co are Centre Right with some policies more so than others. However to suggest they are and I para phrase “gun toting, shoot em up, right wing Texas loons” is just silly.

    You do of course raise a far more interesting question “within the ALP due to its core constituency”. What is the Labor parties core constituency? Certainly the ALP and the general public seems to have no idea.

  16. @Rustynails

    However to suggest they are and I para phrase “gun toting, shoot em up, right wing Texas loons” is just silly.

    Had that been the substance of someone’s claim then it would clearly have been OTT. I found no such claim or similar — though another poster — not Crispin Bennett — did mention Santamaria.

    You do of course raise a far more interesting question “within the ALP due to its core constituency”. What is the Labor parties core constituency? Certainly the ALP and the general public seems to have no idea.

    As far as I can tell, there are a number of overlapping and interdependent groups. One group are people who can be broadly described as social liberals with a leaning to a kind of untutored left-of-centre populism. There are also some professional people with an intellectual and ethical attachment to more inclusive social policy. There are people who are in or associated with trade unions or other social movements. There are also people with a catholic background. Of course, there are many people of non-anglo descent who are attracted to the ALP on one of the bases above. And there are young people who tend to take the concept of social justice as a given and who recognise this most readily in the words of the ALP.

    I don’t doubt that the question of what the ALP actually stands for has become a lot more murky than it was in 1975 and even, arguably, since 1992, but having stood on polling booths for most of my adult life, I can tell you that I can distinguish the likely ALP and Greens voters from the Liberals when handing out HTVs.

  17. @Angus Cameron

    Don’t you find a difficulty in describing B.A. Santamaria as right wing (or even a “right wing icon”) given your attribution of views to the “right” which are the antithesis of Santamaria’s old-fashioned Catholic Labor views on economic matters?

    Nope … not at all. He was a fanatical opponent in practice of every movement offering even the most minimal steps to empower workers. His involvement in worker-related activity was purely to serve his desire that workers should be utterly subservient to the politics of the most hostile fractions of the boss class, and in pursuit of these aims he teamed up with the most energetic members of the elite to keep the trade unions neutered and the ALP from power. He was lauded by Menzies, who had apparently voted DLP on three occasions and declared that this was the party he thought he’d founded. He also opposed even moves to liberalise the catholic church.

    Now Santamaria was clearly not a Nazi, but such as he had an economic point of view, it was corporatist — and there is no shortage of exemplars of his kind of social policy in action — Mussolini, Salazar, Franco, H|tler himself. They too were worried about ‘monopoly capitalism’.

  18. Right-wingers have ALWAYS been all about tribalism. That’s the core difference between left-wingers (“liberte, equalite, fraternite”/”we are all comrades”/”all men and women are created equal”) and right-wingers (“the right kind of people”/”the master race”).

    It’s really the core difference. Since most people are hurt by right-wingers (if you aren’t part of the right club, you get hurt by right-wingers), right-wingers have to lie in order to get elected. They’ve been doing that since at least the 1800s in the US, and probably equally long in Australia.

    Now, your right-wing tribe, the so-called “Liberal Party”, are at least marginally sane. Here in the US our right-wing tribes have succumbed to collective delusions — becase the leaders actually believe the lies which they’ve been spreading to the public. That’s when things get really, really bad.

  19. That’s the core difference between left-wingers (“liberte, equalite, fraternite”/”we are all comrades”/”all men and women are created equal”) and right-wingers (“the right kind of people”/”the master race”).

    Seriously, this kind of thing still gets a run these days? Do we really need to list the murderous examples of “some pigs are more equal than others”? I would have thought it was self evident that the extremes of the left or right tend to have very bad consequences. I make no bones about being right of centre nor how every does that mean I (nor millions of others) are anti environment or are shoving little kids down coal mines.

  20. @Fran Barlow
    To help you out then Fran,

    elected far-right loons of a stripe hitherto largely confined to Texas

    ok I confess the gun tot’n was a bit of artistic license but I suspect even Mr.Crispin will agree that was the image he was drawing. As for OTT, I think not but no-one forces a response.

  21. Rusty,

    It was more about their boat buy back plan, which Bishop announced, via megaphone, was really none of Indonesia’s business, ie “We’re not asking for Indonesia’s permission”.

    Nice move for a yet to be sworn in FM.

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