Abbott, Knight and Bishop

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.

104 thoughts on “Abbott, Knight and Bishop

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. @rog
    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.

  4. @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.

  5. @m0nty
    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!

  6. 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.

  7. @clarke
    ” 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!

  8. @m0nty
    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.

  9. 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.

  10. @Newtownian
    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.

  11. @Newtownian


    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.

  12. 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.

  13. @rog
    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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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……

  16. 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.

  17. 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’ !!

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

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. > 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.]

  22. 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.

  23. @sunshine
    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?

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

    I dare them to do it.

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. @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.

  29. @jungney
    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).

  30. @jungney
    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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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”.)

  35. 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.

  36. > 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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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