Tony Abbott is a big-government conservative in the John Howard mold. This is hardly surprising – Andrew Norton diagnosed this issue some time ago. The logic underpinning Abbott’s parental leave proposal is set out in his recent book Battlelines. I had ignored it when it first came out – the Liberals weren’t going anywhere at the time and neither was Abbott. I did read it over the summer. When Abbott talks in broad principle, I tend to find myself in agreement with him, but on specific policy proposals I disagree. Here he is, on page 102.

Pages 100 – 104 discuss ‘A fair go for working mothers’. Those Liberals MPs criticising Abbott for ‘not consulting’ haven’t read his book.

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54 Responses to Battlelines

  1. jtfsoon

    BTW this also demolishes Chairman Mark’s claims that Abbott’s policy is some sort of political stunt.

    Some people should research the facts before writing

  2. Infidel Tiger

    Let’s hope Tone was just spouting Tone’s personal philosophy and not Liberal Party policy then.

  3. JC


    Party secretary Mark and the rest of a gaggle are critical of the policy because it scares the shit out of them it may be popular and wasn’t advocated by the ALP.

    It’s of course a field Party Secretary Mark thought they they had to themselves.

    That’s the hilarious bit.

    I despise these sorts of polices for obvious reasons but the saving grace, or rather, the fun part is watching lefties squirm. That to me is the only consolation.

  4. Jason, to be fair to Mark, he linked to Abbott’s speech, appears to have read it, and it directly notes that the idea had been flagged in Battlelines.

    Mark is correct in pointing out it was a highly qualified announcement; it was all subject to further consultation with business etc about how to best implement it.

  5. But that said, having created such a fuss, Abbott will have to take something like the policy to the election, and Mark’s probably wrong to that extent.

  6. Sinclair Davidson

    Steve – and everyone is talking about Abbott and his policy, not the government and their policy.

  7. C.L.

    Everyone’s talking about Abbott.

    Rudd, not so much.

    Look, I think the best anyone can hope for with Abbott philosophically is that he aggressively pursues a low tax agenda, re-reforms IR and re-builds fiscal discipline after the ravages wrought by the drunken sailors on crack, Rudd and Swan. A broader agenda of ensmallening government, however, is unlikely – as Sinclair notes.

  8. Yes, Sinclair, it shows how populist but bad policies can good be at getting publicity. Abbott must be taking lessons from Pauline Hanson.

  9. My writing owes something to the influence of Yoda at times. 🙂

  10. jtfsoon

    Chairman Mark also has an article in the Drum/Unleashed

  11. JC

    What’s with the silly hat?

  12. Infidel Tiger

    It’s Sherlock Holmes and the mystery of the 8 chins.

  13. C.L.

    No, he’s taking lessons from Kevin Rudd, Steve. Mr Greatest Moral Challenge of The News Cycle Our Time. Hanson would be totally opposed to a business levy for maternity leave.

  14. Everyone’s talking about Abbott…Rudd, not so much.
    C’arn everybody look over there. There!!! At that guy. It’s not how we live or what we believe it’s that we kick their pants on a reg’lar basis!

  15. Sinclair Davidson

    Every populist is a Hansonite? Crap. Anyway a bad analogy – one of the problems I have with Abbott is that he was happy to use the legal system to pursue Hanson. Jailing your political enemies is not appropriate.

  16. jtfsoon

    As far as Abbott is concerned, the inequality is a feature not a bug. Abbott wants to increase the stock of middle class births in particular.

  17. JC

    MarkB from LP seems really psychologically damaged by Abbott’s proposal.

    He seems really hurt by it.

  18. C.L.

    Your comparison was silly, Steve. Your usual line on Abbott is that he’s embarrassingly out of step with the peeps and now you’re saying he’s a populist?

    Make up your mind.

  19. C.L.

    JC, most people call them pork pie hats – erroneously. This is a pork pie hat – one of the most famous.

  20. JC

    Abbott wants to increase the stock of middle class births in particular.

    You’re going to get Fisk worked up about it again like, he was yesterday.

  21. jtfsoon

    that looks more like a deer stalker hat than a pork pie hat.

    aren’t lefties anti-hunting?

  22. When isn’t it (at least initially) populist to talk of imposing taxes on “the big end of town”, CL? Who most readily comes to mind as a modern politician who specialised in populist policies that shrank in popularity as people thought more about it?

    I doubt the middle class younger set, who Abbott is least popular with, are going to be so impressed with the inequality features in his scheme.

  23. Michael Fisk

    It’s not a bad plan if it will increase middle class births. That is a positive eugenics policy.

    But it’s expensive. And this is the problem with eugenics.

  24. JC

    Frankly it’s a stupid hat. Pork pie, deer hunter hat. Gentleman don’t wear hats anymore.



    I was only joshing around.

  25. And thanks Sinclair for reminding us of an unattractive feature of Abbott that I had forgotten about. 🙂

  26. Michael Fisk

    By the way, the economist who calculated that Abbott’s plan will reduce GDP by 15% in 40 years forgot to take into account the IQ issue. If Abbott can raise IQ by a few points, surely this will boost our GDP.

  27. jtfsoon

    taxes are increased on the ‘big end of town’ but disproportionately the benefits go to the wives of the ‘big end of town’ too as Basil Rathbone rightly points out in his article.

  28. Infidel Tiger

    And thanks Sinclair for reminding us of an unattractive feature of Abbott that I had forgotten about.

    Maybe if you stopped trying to get an eyeful of his manhood at every given moment, you’d be able to concentrate.

  29. JC

    What I find really amusing about all this is the Aboott announces a silly policy and lefties are talking about it for day.

    The moronic Rudd announced the $43 billion NBN, he’s wiped off $20 Billion of the Telstra stock price and they don’t mention that.

  30. Sinclair Davidson

    I worry about you Steve 🙂 – that is a huge thing to forget.

  31. C.L.

    Who most readily comes to mind as a modern politician who specialised in populist policies that shrank in popularity as people thought more about it?

    Kevin “Greatest Moral Challenge of Our Time” Rudd?

  32. jtfsoon

    Re Hanson I have no problem with what Abbott did at all.

    If the law says you go to jail if you committ electoral fraud and Abbott was able to make the case to a court that such fraud had been committed then she rightly went to jail. If you’re not happy with it change the law. The law is there to be followed and used until such time as it is amended.

  33. JC

    Steve from Brisbane.

    Feel free to come out of the closet on Catallaxy. We really couldn’t give a toss which sex you prefer. You’re amongst friends.

  34. C.L.

    Trilby – that’s what I was searching the memory banks for. Good call, Tal.

    Gentleman don’t wear hats anymore.

    Not true.

  35. To be honest, Jason, I didn’t care at the time about Abbott’s pursuit of Hanson either. I was being naughtily opportunistic in my last comment.

    I also want to formally note that I did not mention Abbott’s penis in any context at all in this thread!

  36. JC

    Admit it. steve. You’re more than a little curious about it?

    As I said you can be as frank as you like here, as you’re amongst friends and no one I know except Bird is rabidly homophobic (and he’s banned).

    So you can be honest with us.

  37. jtfsoon

    Our old friend James Darby the conservative Sea Shepherd who thinks the US is socialist because of its republicanism chimes in on the Abbott proposal:

    Banks in Australia have a criminal monopoly and make no financial contribution to a non-socialist Party. If you wanted to tax a sector of the Australian community to pay for a socialist scheme surely it is the protected Banks that you would attack and not business (even Big Business) when that business may have the motivation to assist in your election.

  38. “make no financial contribution to a non-socialist Party”

    This sounds more like a medieval prelate demanding more tithes.

  39. JC

    It’s always the banks. The loonie American sites are the cause of this new conspiracy theory infesting the rest of the world.

    Look at Bird for instance. Mention one of the most successful American firms in history and he goes ape shit. I’d rather not mention name and prefer to use its market symbol- GS- for obvious reasons.

  40. No, JC, I find you more attractive. This is you, isn’t it?:

  41. ken n

    I believe what Abbot is proposing is close to the system in Sweden. It’s surprising that the left is against it – well, no it isn’t because of who it is coming from.
    Personally I think it’s a bad idea but that’s the advantage of being apolitical.

  42. Karl Kessel

    Battlelines is a good read. It’s also going to be a real problem for the Libs in the election.

    The ALP must have people working on reading that through to work out how to attack Abbott from it.

    It’s courageous, very courageous.

    The thing to learn from Rudd’s election is that saying little and attacking one or two unpopular policies and qualities works. Rudd was largely elected by saying he was John Howard with more hair and as against Workchoices.

    This poilicy is not Gillard/Latham ‘Medicare Gold’ idiocy but it’s poor policy. Treasury hate tied revenue. It’s also early enough that the Libs will hopefully learn to avoid this kind of thing when it matters more.

  43. daddy dave

    The thing to learn from Rudd’s election is that saying little and attacking one or two unpopular policies and qualities works.
    I don’t agree that Rudd played a “small target” strategy. In fact the whole tone was one of optimism and sweeping away the past. Workchoices was a key component of their campaign, but there was also a whole raft of social democrat positions, Kyoto, the apology, refugee policy, etc.

  44. Butterfield, Bloomfield & Bishop

    No Sinkers it does not.

    so he wrote about it.

    That is entirely different to making it liberal policy.

    Err Karl the Medicare gold proposal was found by Treasury to cut health costs even given that Treasury changed the way it evaluated proposals.

  45. Pedro

    A pile of shit on the footpath is still a pile of shit, even if there is sign warning that dogs crap there.

    And speaking of a pile of shit:

    “Err Karl the Medicare gold proposal was found by Treasury to cut health costs even given that Treasury changed the way it evaluated proposals.”

  46. Pedro

    True Dad, but they were a small target on the biggest issues of tax and the economy, unlike some past ALP losers.

  47. Pedro

    Hmmm, is Abbott’s new tax on the big end of town or their shareholders? Haven’t seen that mentioned yet.

  48. Sinclair Davidson

    Depends on the incidence of corporate tax. This got mentioned at Club Troppo, I think.

  49. Pedro

    I meant in the MSM Sinc. I just saw that Sam J mentioned inputation in the earlier post.

    Still and all, a crap policy is not make less crappy by getting up Rudd’s nose.

  50. Pedro

    Here is is Sinc, exactly what I was talking about:

    “As far as the politics are concerned, it looks like standard Howard era populism, seizing on the winds of prevailing opinion. As for the financing, the interesting aspect is not that business will pay for it. In fact, it would take it a bit of detailed modelling to work out how the incidence would ultimately fall. Businesses forced to pay the levy would recover part of it from salaries and part from consumers via higher prices, with shareholders paying the balance. The cost will fall fairlly broadly on the community as a whole, just as it would if it were taxpayer funded.”

    Nice summary of what sucks about it (speaking as someone whose wife gave up her $150k job for 6 months each time while we ran down the mortgage):

    “At the aggregate societal level, it amounts to subsidisation of working mothers, in the form of six months’ free time, by the rest of the population”

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