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. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. > 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.]

  4. 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.

  5. @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?

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

    I dare them to do it.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. @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.

  11. @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).

  12. @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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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”.)

  17. 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.

  18. > 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.

  19. 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.

  20. 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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