Abbott v Kelly

Jennifer Hewett has an interesting take on Paul Kelly’s new book and Tony Abbott’s view on the basic thesis.

Has Australia’s political system broken down? Is it no longer possible to produce decent economic reforms in the style of the Hawke-Keating era or the Howard era? Are we now destined to endure a relentless cycle of effective negative oppositions turning into virtually impotent governments?

Tony Abbott certainly doesn’t think so. “It’s not the system that is the problem; it is the people who, from time to time, inhabit it,” he says.

Abbott was speaking at the Parliament House launch of Paul Kelly’s latest book Triumph and Demise. The Broken Promise of a Labor Generation. This is a sombre and forensic critique of the failings of the Rudd and Gillard governments.

I’m looking forward to reading Paul Kelly’s new book. His last book The March of Patriots was a bit disappointing and I expected his next book to be on the Howard era post 2001 through to 2007. Instead he has chosen to write about the Rudd – Gillard era. From what I’ve heard and read his arguments sound very plausible.

This is a challenge for the Abbott government – right now I think they’re making similar mistakes to the previous government. They govern by pronouncement and they believe their own propaganda. The big difference being that the ALP believe that their supporters’ interests are the national interest, while the Coalition seem to think that their supporters’ interests are somehow different from the national interest.

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30 Responses to Abbott v Kelly

  1. steve

    I won’t be rushing out to buy his book. Too many times he did not criticise the Rudd governemt when he should have. He was like Laurie Oakes thinner, older brother.

  2. Rabz

    I don’t rate Kelly at all (he’s a labor ass kisser) but I did think he was spot on in the excerpt I read that appeared in the Oz the other day about the disaster that was Turnbul”s leadership of the Liberals.

    Mind you, it was only spot on because he was stating the bleeding obvious.

  3. candy

    Two parts to Prof D’s column!

    I always read Paul Kelly’s column. He is very respectful, very nicely spoken and has a streak of intuition about the political situations that I really like.

    Blind freddie can see the Abbott government are following what they believe in, their stated objectives before the election and they are trying to achieve a surplus in a few years. Looking at Question Time today you can see again their cohesion and their objectives.

  4. Sinclair Davidson

    candy – the government performed well in QT today. But that is a form above substance victory. Hockey’s budget is a dog no matter how well he performs in the Parliament.

  5. candy

    Hockey’s budget is a dog no matter how well he performs in the Parliament.

    Well, no, Prof D. I don’t think that at all. It’s a budget that aims at savings, at prudence, showing a better fiscal way. It’s a huge undertaking after the last six years.

    I am concerned about the wait for New Start – that’s probably my only objection. I think Kevin Andrews will fix that up however.

  6. Tom

    The big difference being that the ALP believe that their supporter’s interests are the national interest, while the Coalition seem to think that their supporter’s interests are somehow different from the national interest.

    Spit it out, man. What are you saying? What do you mean?

    BTW, it’s “their supporters’ interests”.

  7. stackja

    Again ALP created the mess.

  8. Sinclair Davidson

    BTW, it’s “their supporters’ interests”.

    Ha!!! Yes. That’s what I thought. Mrs D told me otherwise.

  9. Sinclair Davidson

    Candy – well you have choice. You can believe that nice Mr Hockey, or your own lying eyes.

  10. stackja

    Sinclair Davidson
    #1431457, posted on August 27, 2014 at 9:08 pm
    Candy – well you have choice. You can believe that nice Mr Hockey, or your own lying eyes.

    Or vote ALP!

  11. Andrew

    I found March of Patriots an interesting read from a historical perspective but I found Kelly was just caught up too much in the hubris Keating served up over the years without the critical thinking he applied to his views of Howard’s tenure as PM. I have a lot of respect for Kelly and I agree with his thesis that the political system is broke but he buys a lot spin and just accepts it too easily.

  12. Bruce of Newcastle

    Has Australia’s political system broken down? Is it no longer possible to produce decent economic reforms in the style of the Hawke-Keating era or the Howard era? Are we now destined to endure a relentless cycle of effective negative oppositions turning into virtually impotent governments?

    That is half right. The problem is worldwide in Western-style democracies (which increasingly includes places like Japan and South Korea).

    The problem is the green-progressive left has hardened up two decades after the Berlin Wall fell and has come out to throw the dice for it all. Alinskyite opposition to anything not in their agenda. And unfortunately their agenda just does not work – pseudo-Keynesianism and global warming ideology. It will crash and burn, but they may just manage to take us all with them through the government debt loads being built up.

    The problem with democracy is it needs a loyal opposition. These days when the left is in opposition they are no longer loyal, and when they are in power they are totalitarian.

  13. rebel with cause

    Case in point: most Liberal MPs luvve the ABC. Will happily wax lyrical about it given half a chance. The same ABC that has nothing but scorn for conservatives.

    It’s like a parent telling you how well mannered and smart their kid is while you watch their little bastard carve his initials into your dining table, rifle through your wallet for money and then flip you the bird on the way out the door.

  14. Art Vandelay

    I don’t trust Kelly’s judgement for a second. He (and ‘the Australian’) were supporters of Kevin Rudd back in 2007 even though it was pretty clear that Rudd was unbalanced, incompetent and had no grasp of policy. Kelly was also one of the biggest supporters of the carbon tax. Like the rest of the Press Gallery, he thought it a political master-stroke even while Julia Gillard was tanking in the polls.

  15. Alexis

    Well, no, Prof D. I don’t think that at all. It’s a budget that aims at savings, at prudence, showing a better fiscal way. It’s a huge undertaking after the last six years.

    Taxes are going to be higher and spending will be higher if the budget were passed as written.

  16. 2dogs

    Tony Abbott certainly doesn’t think so.

    Anyone in power would think highly of the system that put them there.

    On our inability to implement economic reforms, I would say our political system has come to rely too much on argument and not enough on trial and validation.

    It’s trial and validation which more than anything else makes federations more efficient than unitary states; but like so many similarly affected federations, increasing centralisation is destroying that benefit.

  17. incoherent rambler

    … the Coalition seem to think that their supporters’ interests are somehow different from the national interest.

    Almost got there. The problem is that the coalition don’t believe in anything other than polls.
    It is difficult to take a stand on any issue when there is a total lack principle to guide you.

  18. Sally Moore

    2dogs, good comment.

  19. Spider

    Paul Kelly is part of the problem as well. The trivialisation of news (based as so much of it is now on the inane rumblings of twitter feeding itself) results in cycle where a wink, a nod or a glance at a watch becomes news and drags everyone down to the lowest common denominator.

    Politicians get caught up in this incestuous web and willingly feed the cycle. If they don’t social media fills the void.

    You really need a strong Kennett Keating personality who effectively says yes I did wink. So what. Get over it and let’s talk about something important.

    The root cause of Abbotts problem was his need or desire to appear fair (including framing the budget). This was always a loser because the ALP Greens will always find at least 1 person somewhere who feels aggrieved or hard done by.

  20. mareeS

    I’m partway into Triumph and Demise, and am finding it a good read. Should be finished in a day or two. Paul Kelly seems to be saying it as best he can as an insider, but perhaps too much that way and not enough as a detached observer. Early pages yet.

  21. sabrina

    I don’t trust Kelly’s judgement for a second. He (and ‘the Australian’) were supporters of Kevin Rudd back in 2007 even though it was pretty clear that Rudd was unbalanced, incompetent and had no grasp of policy – so true.

    Paul Kelly is part of the problem as well.
    Behind the veneer of soft speaking skills, Paul Kelly closely follows his masters like a weather vane. Rudd was his doyen once, and Abbott is now. Shortcomings are deftly brushed aside when convenient.

  22. daggers

    Rabz on Kelly:

    Mind you, it was only spot on because he was stating the bleeding obvious

    That’s what Kelly does. On Q&A last Monday, speaking about Islamic terrorism he said something like ‘It’s a serious problem. It’s here. It’s now and we must deal with it or it will get worse.’
    FMD. Some people like to hear that kind of stuff. God knows why.

  23. mark

    Listening to PK on Richo last night. I feel he is attempting to rewrite history somewhat. Particularly, the assent of Abbott to opposition leader. Global warming and carbon tax were gathering a stench out in the burbs and regions…Abbott..”Global Warming is crap”. Turnbull would have gladly voted for it, there were others against in particular Nick Minchin. Turnbull signed his own death warrant the day he said to the party room that if they didn’t back the Rudd policy, Rudd would call a snap election and the coalition would be decimated!!! Once Abbott was in, the complexion changed to opposition of the carbon tax, the tax was scuttled on the last day of sitting of the Senate before Copenhagen…with green support(a most amazing event considering the lens of hindsight and the future events between Brown and Gillard) Rudd lost the initiative from Copenhagen on…he was ratfucked…he came back to Australia and dropped the most important pressing crisis in our lifetime…he dropped the ball. Listening to PK, Abbott was a nothing event, he was a groundswell..PK believed the incumbent Rudd would have been returned…he underestimates the voters hatred of the man. PK never mentions in conversation the machinations behind the scenes of ALP/union machine and their growing intolerance of Rudd, the dropping poles were enough for their action to depose. He was correct about Gillard, she was Rudd’s fixer but she wasn’t prepared for leadership in her own right.

  24. Watching It Unfold

    Kelly was a major spruiker for Rudd when Rudd was trying to get elected…………..I didn’t like it, but what sort of AGW policies would be in place now if Howard had remained PM? Would we be leading the way with global warming supported by both sides of politics, instead of drawing the lucky dip of the Left screwing it up? Howard proposed the RET, I think, is that true? I know AGW had spooked him.

  25. H B Bear

    Concerning Australia’s political commentators – it is easy to look like a giant when you are surrounded by dwarves.

  26. outsider

    Kelly is a political weather vane, lagged to 12 monthly intervals. The more popular the polly the better Kelly will think of him – until the polls go bad. Must believe in he goodness of crowds so clearly he is no genius. He’s made a career out of reverbalising the apparent. Still, 50% of the time he is nearly right. But remember he was one of very few to front TLS – on Sky.

  27. Sirocco

    it is easy to look like a giant when you are surrounded by dwarves.

    H B Bear – what are dwarves?

  28. Vicki

    The big difference being that the ALP believe that their supporters’ interests are the national interest, while the Coalition seem to think that their supporters’ interests are somehow different from the national interest.

    Spot on, Sinclair. My major problem with the Abbott government is its complete about-face, without prior notice, on issues that hurt its supporters – such as 18C, the Deficit Tax etc. That this was undertaken under the guise of “equity” does not relieve the injury in any way at all. It is a straight breach of trust.

    Worse, I have come to the conclusion that these were undertaken basically at the behest of Abbott himself. They have his “inclusive” stamp all over them.

    What he seems incapable of understanding is that “inclusiveness” is not always in the national interest. I am not a great fan of Joe Hockey, but I think that he is no doubt at all that “equity” will not solve our budget woes. Quite the contrary.

  29. Megan

    Like Vicki, I am completely pissed off with the Abbott government going down the same dishonest and stupid pathway so beloved of the previous disgusting group of incompetents and losers. The Budget has killed them on about seventeen fronts and back pedalling on 18c demonstrates their cowardly and craven approach to the pillars of their so-called Liberal philosophy. I despise them.

  30. Iren

    … the Coalition seem to think that their supporters’ interests are somehow different from the national interest.

    Almost got there. The problem is that the coalition don’t believe in anything other than polls.
    It is difficult to take a stand on any issue when there is a total lack principle to guide you.

    A bit of projection there perhaps.

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