So a fortnight after Tony Abbott got deposed I see there is still a lot of anger and angst. Here at the Cat Steve is still carrying on, as is Andrew Bolt. I have no doubt that Tony Abbott is a wonderful human being. This is a man who is a volunteer life-saver, volunteer fire-fighter, and who spends time in remote areas working with Aboriginal communities. Let nobody ever criticise Tony Abbott’s community spirit. Are those KPI’s for a Prime Minister? Tony Abbott was an awesome opposition leader. He brought down two Labor prime ministers.
When you’re an economist you tend to subscribe to a view that specialisation and the division of labour is a a good thing. That people can be very good at activity x but not at y. This does not reflect upon them as human beings, it is just the way it is. I have often had discussions with people who are better at x than y, but would prefer to do y than x. This are often hard discussions. Indeed I’ve had people tells me this too. That Tony Abbott is a good human being and an awesome opposition leader does not mean that he would automatically be a good prime minister. Frankly, he wasn’t. That doesn’t deny in any way his other fine qualities.
I find myself in a difficult position here because so many people who’s opinions I generally trust are at complete loggerheads over the removal of Tony Abbott as prime minister. Abstracting from Andrew Bolt and Steve Kates whom you have all read let me draw your attention to two other people who have touched on this topic. Jim Allan at the Spectator and Gary Johns at the Australian.
First Jim Allan:
But why are we Abbott supporters now supposed to help Turnbull? They tell us it’s because he’s better than Shorten. That’s the reason, full stop. You might have had a thousand metaphorical dollars before (okay, Abbott screwed up a bunch so make that $400 before) but we’re still offering you ten bucks. You should take it. Malcolm is better than Bill. That’s the new line aiming to woo the disgruntled base. And it is undeniably true that Malcolm is better than Bill. But it misses the point that was hinted at above. Is Turnbull enough better than Shorten to make one swallow hard and play nice? And that is an open question. But you decide against a backdrop where if the other guys know that you’ll always roll over and play nice as long as their guy is just a tiny bit better than Labor’s guy, then you and your guys are mugs. You’ll be taken advantage of. It’s better sometimes to blow the whole thing up and – let’s be honest – lose to the other team. Why? Because you’ll have sent a message that loyalty and ‘no white anting’ and giving us support when things are a bit tough are the price they have to pay, not just that you have to pay. Reciprocity baby. Signal-sending, my friend. If they want it now, where was it before? It’s hard-wired into us didn’t you know?
Read the whole thing – Jim Allan has a good story to tell.
Then Gary Johns:
Think about the bigger picture. As a result of the leadership coup, Bill Shorten is less likely to win government. That appalling pair of labour lawyers, Penny Wong and Mark Dreyfus, who tried to close down a royal commission — the effect of which would have been to protect corrupt unionists — will not return to government. Chris Bowen, who thinks Wayne Swan (world-beating deficits) was a better treasurer than Peter Costello (world-beating surpluses), will not return to government (although in time he may recant his position privately). Tanya Plibersek and Anthony Albanese, spokespeople for the inner-city haters of liberty and freedom, and increasingly captive to Greens, will not return to government.
The Coalition is a coalition, the Nationals are the conservative rump, and it is not going away. Conservatives such as Scott Morrison, Alex Hawke and Scott Ryan are on the rise. Deposed conservatives retain their vote in the party room. Joe Hockey, a liberal, is leaving altogether.
Read the whole of Gary Johns’ piece too (if you can, it might still be behind a pay-wall).
Overall I think Gary Johns has the stronger story. Tony Abbott’s supporters can point to personality politics – okay – but not to policy development and prosecution.