Australian Politics & Current Affairs
By Nick Kenny
Tony Abbott. Truly, he is Howard on acid, a distorted but lucid light at the end of the tunnel for the most radical elements of the Liberal Party. In any politically astute country, his mob of “dries” ought to have been cast into the dustbin of history after their last hero was decimated by a fed-up electorate back in 2007. Instead, they pulled the most Machiavellian of manoeuvres, injecting Abbott into the top job, and showing us they still pull all the strings. Despite being thoroughly decimated two years earlier by a fed-up electorate, the Coalition’s new moderate vision couldn’t find its footing. With the old dogs still calling the shots, they then regurgitated the foul taste of Americanisation one more time in a last-ditch attempt to keep their regressive hopes alive. The man they shat out, the man once described on both sides as a “resident nutter”, is the now the man most likely to be Australia’s next Prime Minister.
There are only two reasons the Mad Monk is running the party right now. Firstly, the legacy of Howard has been turned on its head since the GFC. The Howard government is now seen as a shining example of economic prosperity and fiscal prudency, regardless of how much Johnny and Costello actually contributed to growth, or how expedient budget surpluses really are. Who cares about facts? Aussies just want “the good old days”, and Abbott is, for all intents and purposes, the ugly step-child of the Howard government. He idolises the man, follows in his footsteps at every turn, and offers little more than the unrealistic promise to repeal every measure put in place since Howard left office. Just like Howard’s “return to a relaxed and comfortable Australia” pitch back in 1996, Abbott represents a false promise of a return to a nostalgic, mythological era.
The second reason speaks yards about modern Australian politics, and they don’t bode well: “attack-dog” politics work wonders. Especially when the sitting government has neither the spine nor the smarts to counter it. Abbott’s obstructionism has been the best weapon on the Coalition’s side, and a great substitute for any real policy alternatives. The relentless verbal assaults, the mud-slinging, the scare-mongering, and the refusal to compromise with the government on any single piece of legislation other than the Child Abuse Inquiry, have exacerbated the government’s incompetence. Despite almost half of our Lower House seats being represented by Coalition MPs, the timid policies and wasteful inaction which have defined federal politics since 2010 are electoral burdens borne by the government alone. Quite simply, opposing for the sake of opposing has worked.
By all rights, the ALP should be ditched in 2013. They’ve done nothing in this term other than hold onto power for power’s sake. They’ve lowered themselves to Abbott’s level and joined in the parliamentary cesspool of insults, slander, and negativity. They’ve appealed to, and failed to impress, the lowest common denominator. They’ve been their own worst enemy with their Rudd-Gillard power struggles. They’ve dropped pre-election promises like hot rocks at every turn, back-flipped themselves into a corner, and sold their souls to Independents and Greens for three fruitless, wasted years. Australians won’t be able to resist casting a Coalition vote as punishment against such a pitiful incumbent. But give it three years with Abbott in the top job, and we’ll be wishing for a time-machine again, just as we are now.
*Apologies to Mr P.J.Keating for pinching this analogy. It was just good to resist.