Every political leader comes with added features that are not to my liking, even the ones I like the best. With Tony Abbott, his lack of genuine mongrel, an unwillingness to deal with enemies within the party in as hard a way as possible, was unfortunate. His willingness to let others take care of, and maintain responsibility for, their own portfolios without intervention was perhaps a fault, but it was only a fault because of the incompetence and ill-will which surrounded him. Brandis’s “even bigots have rights” sunk the ability to defeat 18C, but I knew Brandis was an incompetent and perhaps Tony did not. Malcolm at the ABC was another, and Joe in Treasury is yet one more. Yet these are genuine power brokers within the party. Tony did what he could with the material he had, but they let him down, along with the rest of us.
On the issues that got him into hot water on our side, it was Paid Parental Leave that was possibly the worst so far as public relations went, but was not a bad idea in more normal times. As I read it, he was trying to strengthen the family and open the opportunity for women to have children, an aim I fully support. Constitutional recognition of Aboriginals I still think is a judicial nightmare we do not need and would long regret. But this, too, came with a charitable heart, and I naturally support his wish to improve the lives of aboriginal people.
I knew, however, just how up hill the battle would be when I came back in July to find Bronwyn Bishop’s helicopter ride a daily front-page story across the Murdoch press. This is a one-day non-issue unless there is another agenda running besides selling papers. The speed with which Tony Burke’s genuine example of rorting disappeared within days, and never had traction, is what any political leader would have expected. What he was dealing with, however, was an Australian-ABC axis that in the end was too powerful to resist. This piece of disgusting hypocrisy from The Australian yesterday was typical:
Turnbull’s critics should pull their heads in and focus on the real battle: it’s against Shorten and the Labor Party, not between opposing factions in the Liberal Party.
Really? Is this so? Where was this advice a week ago when Abbott was leader and Turnbull was doing everything he could to unsettle the Government. Disgusting sanctimonious cant, disguised as independent, above-the-fray objective advice. But it was what I had become used to.
Even with it all, Tony ended up with 44 against 54. I am, of course, in the 44. Tony has the safest pair of hands of anyone on all of the issues that matter to me. This is from Jo Nova who says about climate change what I feel about much else:
Despite the resounding win a mere two years ago, and achieving his main promises, Abbott has been ousted in his first term. Politics is dirtier than ever.
He was elected with a big win, but lasted just two years in office. Gillard barely made a government, needing help from two turncoats, and her legacy legislation burnt her solemn promise – yet she held office even longer than Abbott did.
The anti Abbott, Abbott, Abbott campaign in the media has been relentless and successful.
Turnbull has said he will stick with Australia’s carbon emissions cuts (26% by 2030) but this means nothing. Firstly, the target is obscenely high, and secondly, there are so many possible ways to waste more money and give up more sovereign rights in Paris. He can sell us out to the financial houses that want carbon trading, and waste additional billions on renewable energy.
All that and more. The Liberal Party is filled with others like Malcolm and it is a problem. But here is where we are. There are the 44 who are still in the party room, and there are the Coalition National Party also in the government. And Labor is a disaster in the making of such massive proportion, of the Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn variety, that not voting Coalition at the next election is unthinkable. Malcolm has now got this to add to his CV, everyone in the party room knows the extent to which he is an empty vessel, but the stakes are too high even to think about Bill Shorten, never mind Tanya as PM.