Peter O’Brien: van Onselin on Abbott

Is Peter van Onselen the most inveterate Abbott hater on the supposedly centre ground of political debate?  (OK , it’s a dead heat with Niki Savva but she’s been strangely quiet of late.)  And has there been anyone more obsessed with the 30 negative Newspoll issue?  For at least the last eighteen months, he’s been anticipating it on almost a fortnightly basis, road testing various justifications for Turnbull to hold himself to a lesser standard than he applied to his predecessor.

Here’s a good example, in which PvO postulates that things were worse for Gillard:

The 2013 election victory was enormous, and Abbott’s prime ministership started with strong personal and two-party figures, but quickly collapsed and never ­recovered. In contrast, Turnbull’s 2016 win was only narrow, off the back of prolonged poor polling under Abbott, and the data reveals that while Turnbull’s numbers have fallen, they haven’t collapsed nearly as dramatically as Abbott’s did.

Is there no disaster that cannot be sheeted home to Abbott?  By the beginning of November 2016 the Coalition was in front, according to Newspoll,  53 to 47 and stayed there until 22 Feb 2016 – almost 4 months.   Words fail me!

Writing in Monday’s Australian, van Onselen has this to say:

I recall ahead of the 2015 removal of Abbott writing in this newspaper that Abbott should be left in the leadership despite his poor performance. Let him lose and become a one-term PM, because if he was removed the Coalition would fall victim to the same cultural quagmire that Labor suffered from when it replaced Kevin Rudd with Julia Gillard.

Very prescient of him and, of course, it gives him cover to recommend the same pragmatic stay of execution be extended to Turnbull.

But could his memory be playing him false?

I have not been able to track down that article.  The Australian’s online archive has eluded me and a Google search yields only two articles that van Onselen wrote in 2015.  Perhaps it was in another journal.

What he said in those articles, at least, does not gel with his ‘recollection’ of yesterday.

Some of the things van Onselen did say were, in February 2015:

Recovery will be difficult, if not impossible, given Abbott’s own colleagues are openly briefing against him, with a growing number prepared to go public and use a microphone to question their leader’s credentials.

That more and more Liberal MPs are willing to risk the unthinkable — sooner or later — speaks volumes for their lost confidence in the Prime Minister. Abbott has no one to blame but himself.

Here, clearly, is an acknowledgement that the knives were out for Abbott, from among his own tribe.  Sort of puts paid to the idea, promulgated most assiduously by van Onselen himself, that Turnbull has had a rougher ride in this respect than his predecessor.

And the second paragraph is hardly a clarion call for unity in the best long term interests of the Party.

And here in September 2015, on the eve of Abbott’s ouster, referring to a possible loss of the seat of Canning:

The transaction costs of changing leader wouldn’t continue to be the barrier they are now because such a result would confirm in the minds of government MPs that the next election was unwinnable under Abbott’s leadership, so they might as well risk a change at the top. Whether this is the right call would cease to matter: Abbott’s failures in policy and strategy would convince colleagues that he couldn’t turn around the result at a general election.

Again, rather at odds with what van Onselen now claims he said back then.

Van Onselen regularly derides Abbott supporters as delusional.  That is clinging to a dream that will never eventuate.  He may be right.   But, on a delusion scale, I can’t help thinking that van Onselen’s dream that Turnbull will bounce back puts him in LSD territory.

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22 Responses to Peter O’Brien: van Onselin on Abbott

  1. PaulW

    ” By the beginning of November 2016 the Coalition was in front, according to Newspoll, 53 to 47 and stayed there until 22 Feb 2016 – almost 4 months. Words fail me!”

    Was it Nov 2015 to Feb 2016 or Nov 2016 to Feb 2015

  2. kc

    I wonder if Savva has been “binned” because nobody even bothers to read her “columns” anymore. Best thing would be for the same to happen to PVO so he can slink off to Fairfax or the ABC where he will be far more at home.

  3. H B Bear

    The j’ism sprayers efforts ahead of the Canning by-election were pure bullshit. As usual.

    The Bittered Sav wins any Abbott Derangement Syndrome contest by the length of the straight. Van Wrongselen would maybe be a long second.

  4. egg_

    Can van Wrongsolong get anything right?

  5. Abbott Derangement Syndrome remains strong with the weak.

  6. Baldrick

    van Onselen quit his gig with Sky News to take up a position with the Anything But Conservative fake news network.

    His latest rants are in keeping with his new position and ensure hearty congratulatory back-slaps around the collective staff water-cooler.

  7. candy

    PvO loves M. Turnbull, he’s the PM for him. Fair enough.

    Funny thing is, though, if PvO, N.Savva, Hartcher, Mark Kenny, M.Devine, etc, that tight little elite support group for Mr Turnbull, had not derided and been so abusive of TA, but more supportive and understanding of what is a difficult situation for conservatives, the Delcons would not exist and just perhaps those last few Newspoll points would not be an issue.

    But they continue on with their nasty comments, and further alienate conservatives. A gift to Bill Shorten.

  8. manalive

    Van Onselen is slippery customer, maybe Abbott had harsh words back in 2001 when Peter was briefly employed by Abbott as an adviser.

  9. Texas Jack

    Van Wrongsolong has some big shiny PhD. They obviously hand these out with the dunny paper at the University of WA since Rip Van Wrongan keeps telling he’s bowling straight despite every ball being well to the left of off-stump. He is absolutely certain that anyone situated to the right of Trent Zimmerman is a radical reactionary. The good news is he’s not worth reading, and certainly not getting knickers ina twist over. He doesn’t have a clue.

  10. nemkat

    Here, clearly, is an acknowledgement that the knives were out for Abbott, from among his own tribe.

    Abbott knew he wasn’t up to it when he won in 2013, that’s why he went into the bunker immediately, and tried to avoid the inevitable.
    As far as whose tribe he belongs to, he was close to Bob Santamaria for years, and according to Niki Savva, he sounded out Robert Webster, then a Nationals Minister in the Fahey Government, as to his chances of winning preselection for a federal Nationals safe seat.

  11. Abbott knew he wasn’t up to it when he won in 2013, that’s why he went into the bunker immediately, and tried to avoid the inevitable.
    As far as whose tribe he belongs to, he was close to Bob Santamaria for years, and according to Niki Savva, he sounded out Robert Webster, then a Nationals Minister in the Fahey Government, as to his chances of winning preselection for a federal Nationals safe seat.

    When you put it like that, thank fcuk we got Turnbull to replace him. Look at the disaster we avoided.

  12. nemkat

    Also according to Niki Savva, Rob Oakeshott told her that Abbott hadn’t shown much interest in talking to the crossbenchers after the inconclusive result of the 2010 Election, so they had no real choice but to support Gillard.
    Thanks Abbott.

  13. candy

    Rob Oakeshott told her that Abbott hadn’t shown much interest in talking to the crossbenchers after the inconclusive result of the 2010 Election, so they had no real choice but to support Gillard.

    That’s just Rob O’s way of getting out of being responsible supporting Ms Gillard who turned out to be a bit of a disaster – open borders all the way and massive spending, stopping the live cattle trade overnight when she should have methodically brought that awful business to a close over some years and hence avoided the big trouble she caused beef producers.

    Of course he was not to know but why blame Tony Abbott? who knew she would do all that stuff?

  14. nemkat

    Oakeshott had represented the Nats in State Parliament, Katter had represented in Federal Parliament, Windsor had been a Nats member and Wilkie had stood for preselection for the Liberals.
    Neither the Libs or ALP had a majority, so it was up to them. Abbott didn’t even try, so they could hardly have handed him the keys on trust

  15. egg_

    Windsor was quoted in the Press as saying that Abbott was desperate and basically selling his arse to him to get into Govt at the time.
    Was Windsor lying, perchance?

  16. pbw

    Nemcat, Nemcat,

    What about Tony’s arse? Maybe Rob was jealous.

    Or maybe you’re a troll.

  17. nemkat

    No.
    From memory, Windsor said that Abbott had said to him ”I’d sell my arse to be Prime Minister, Tony.”
    Abbott denied it.

  18. candy

    Abbott denied it.

    He probably said some joking thing, but Tony Windsor, being an Abbott hater (lol, much like yourself nemkat … each to their own) made it sound off.

    What kind of man divulges details of private conversations? Tony Windsor is an extremely wealthy man. He tried to destroy Barnaby Joyce as well.
    Why? When is so very wealthy and very well positioned in life with a great career. Why the hating?

  19. mem

    What kind of man divulges details of private conversations? Tony Windsor is an extremely wealthy man. He tried to destroy Barnaby Joyce as well.
    Why? When is so very wealthy and very well positioned in life with a great career. Why the hating?

    Because when you can’t reconcile your own policy position (or lack of it) with your conscience you become frustrated, bitter and jealous of those that can move forward with freedom and achieve.

  20. Crossie

    I once read an article by Van Wrongselen, I did not make that mistake again.

  21. Jonesy

    Thought PVO and TA were staffers for Dr Hewson. Always looked like a schoolboy dick contest, PvO thinking he was the smarter…then again… those that can, do…those who can’t, teach. Fits!

  22. Terry

    @ Texas Jack he’s bowling straight despite every ball being well to the left of off-stump.

    Pitching it on the wicket is extreme-right….apparently.

    Why is it that PVO and the like have not been charged with ball tampering (their own and/or others’) and sat down in the naughty corner for 12 months?

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