Australian Politics & Current Affairs
Vladimir Putin once said “great promise is followed by great disappointment”. This pessimistic view (typical of a Russian) holds true nine times out of ten in politics, anywhere in the world. In spite of this, Aussies almost always give a new mob a second chance – it’s been almost a century since a government was booted out after one single, solitary term in office. Considering this, the 2013 landslide election ought to have set the Abbott government up until 2019.
On top of that, the ALP’s incompetence and disarray from 2010 through to 2013 – a circus if there ever was one – turned the Labor brand into the cheapest and most toxic commodity in Canberra. No one in their right mind would have predicted a 2016 comeback – bookies at the time backed this up with a 2016 Coalition victory at $1.17.
But stats are for cricket commentators. If a week is a long time in politics, then three years is an eternity – and it is starting to feel like an eternity in hell for the conservatives. They are weighing up the worst of two nightmares – stick with the most incompetent leader their party has had since Billy McMahon, face a humiliating electoral wipeout after just one term in office, shuffle back into opposition with their tails between their legs, having secured zero major reforms; or dump their leader for Bishop or Turnbull, and go through the exact same leadership chaos that brought their enemies to their knees. This is democracy in its most pure form – damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
But what did they expect? What good could possibly come from installing the most reviled and out-of-touch minister the former Howard government ever spewed forth? So intent on regaining power, so focused on power for power’s sake, they ran with the best attack dog in opposition. They are now paying for it at the cost of now being run by a mutt. The mongrel inside Abbott worked wonders in opposition. But when the time came to step into the shoes of a leader, a statesman, a visionary, he has remained the same barking mongrel.
Abbott, desperate to cling onto the prize he chased for so long, said yesterday that “government is not a popularity contest. It is about competence”. He is right – good government must be competent, and more. It must focus on strong policy, effective management, capable negotiation, proven results, and respectable leadership. Popularity follows. Abbott has achieved none of these, and his woeful popularity has followed.
Not once since he became “captain” in 2013 has he stood at the helm of the ship. Not once has he commanded his ship with any sense of vision, or even any sense of what a captain’s job really is. He has spent the past year or so staring backwards from the ship’s stern, gloating over the wreckage of the decimated Labor government, reliving past glories. The result? He has failed to notice the gigantic iceberg his government is on course to collide with head on.
While the government is on a full-steam collision course, Abbott still remains chained to the same wrong end of the ship. While the Australian voters are screaming for their captain to act, to steer their ship away from icy waters, to pull out the telescope and at least aim for something, he just keeps playing his fiddle with the same old “fuck Labor” tune. It used to be a catchy tune. Now that his ship is sinking, he will go down with it as the greatest one hit wonder the Liberals ever had.