Mr Abbott launched a book the other day, and the speech, which you can read here, instantly led to what I now think has been a media beat-up. His short address has become a further indication, for some in the media, and of course for the Labor Party, of the growing destabilising of the Government and the fragility of the Prime Minister.

In fact, I think that Mr Abbott’s speech and its content deserve much closer reading. I should probably qualify what follows by saying that I do not agree with some of what Mr Abbott says, but he is absolutely right in reminding us that these issues are important, and that he is certainly qualified to talk about them. The ABC’s political editor seemed more interested in the imagined purpose of the speech than in its content:

The speech he [Abbott] gave at the Making Australia Right book launch reeked of a man itching to pull the trigger on a Prime Minister he sees as spineless and lacking a moral core. His hatred is profound, his anger is deepening and his impatience is growing. His disdain for Mr Turnbull leached through every word. It was a dress rehearsal for a showdown where he will define victory as both men walking away losers.

I wasn’t there, and perhaps there was such body language. But Mr Abbott didn’t mention Mr Turnbull at all. What did he actually say?  First, the book, Making Australia Right, is a group of essays about where the writers think the Liberal Party and the Coalition Government should go. They are people who don’t think the Government knows what to do, people who think that Labor is moving to the green left and that the Coalition has become Labor lite. In some of what I’ve seen and read, that remark has been attributed to Mr Abbott as his view. It may be, but in his address he plainly says it is the view of the authors.

Mr Abbott again: A sense of disappointment and disillusionment pervades these essays: disappointment with the Abbott government and perhaps even despair about the Turnbull government; but what saves it from being a curmudgeon’s lament is the palpable sense, in every contribution, that our party and our country can be better.

And he goes on: At last year’s election, 24 per cent voted for minor parties and independents, 5 per cent spoiled their ballot papers and 9 per cent didn’t even turn up to vote. That’s nearly 40 per cent of the electorate that couldn’t bring themselves to vote for either of the two parties that have governed us for 100 years. And it’s worse now. In Queensland, polls have the Coalition vote 8 percentage points down since the election and One Nation 12 percentage points up.

Much of what follows after that is unexceptional, it seems to me. He goes into what might be done to improve things. There is a dilemma, he says, and it is perhaps best articulated by Gary Johns, who was a Labor minister back in the days of Bob Hawke. The Right believes in less taxation and less government interference in people’s lives: in short, liberty. But in a world where more Australians vote for their money than work for it, and the constituency beholden to government for benefits and jobs is expanding, the constituency for winning votes with tax cuts and deregulation is diminishing. “Selling stringency and insecurity” says Johns, “is not going to win elections”. Rather, he says, “the Right have to advance a cultural debate in conjunction with the economic one”.

I agree with Johns. But what would that debate be about? I’m not sure Gary Johns has nailed it: The Right have to promote a discussion that has, at worst, no cost to the budget and builds a constituency. It is not a case of ‘bread and circuses’, of creating diversions, but of the necessity to build a constituency that trusts government to be less intrusive. It is a necessity to overcome the shameless bribery that all politicians indulge in, but especially the left.

OK, but what would this discussion be about? Now here is Abbott, quoting Johns and adding a thought or two himself: Johns says — and as a former Labor minister he should know what the left is up to — that “the pathway to a liberal society will be … to win constituencies without bribing them”. Yet, he says, “to achieve a … society … that is more liberal and governed by contract rather than by ideology will take a cultural revolution”.

In the long run, we do indeed need a conservative version of the left’s “long march through the institutions”. We do need to make it respectable again to be liberal on economic questions and conservative on social ones. In the short run, though, we have to win the next election. That means finding policy that’s philosophically acceptable, economically responsible and politically saleable.

What would that be? Well, Mr Abbott thinks that the first priority is to pound the renewable energy target. He says that he’s in favour of renewables, provided they’re economic and provided they don’t jeopardise security of supply; but, at the moment, we have a policy-driven disaster because you just can’t rely on renewable power. I think there is an logical contradiction in that statement. And I think he means he is not in favour of renewable energy at all, unless there are no subsidies, but he doesn’t want to say so. [I]t’s not Labor’s even more disastrous 50 per cent renewable target that’s caused the problem — it’s the existing renewable target which the government has no plans to change. Indeed, under the government’s plans, wind generation is supposed to double in the next three years at a capital cost to you the consumer of $10 billion. 

There’s a bit more about the present Government’s desire to build clean coal power stations through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. He doesn’t like that. There follows a section on the impossibility of good governing with the present Senate system. He suggests that there be a referendum on a proposal that two rejections by the Senate could mean the bill to goes to a joint sitting of both Houses without the need for a double dissolution. Take that proposal to the next election he says. Make the issue ‘government versus gridlock’. Maybe. I’m not persuaded, and would need much more than an idea spelled out so baldly to agree.

Then come a few specific proposals. Scale back immigration, which would help with the housing problem (it would, though it would lead to pressure on wages, I think). Freeze the renewable Energy Target. Avoid new spending and cut out frivolous spending. Stop funding the Human Right Commission.

He finishes like this: In or out of government, political parties need a purpose. Our politics can’t be just a contest of toxic egos or someone’s vanity project. What is worth striving for; how can we make a difference; and what must change if Australians individually and collectively are to come closer to our best selves? That’s the challenge that our side of politics needs to ponder. There’s much work to be done but the authors of this book, quite rightly, are demanding that we come to grips with it — fast.

I still don’t know what the issues for the ‘culture debate’ are. And I don’t know what conservatives will do in order to have a long march through the institutions, unless it is to wait until all those of the other persuasion finally die. But there is nothing in this address which is a vicious attack on anyone. Should he have agreed to launch the book at all? Why not? Should he have said other things? I don’t know what they would have been. But there is  some perception and sense in what he has put forward, at least from my perspective.

The Government could say, and have said, that most of what he has said is under consideration by the Government, and indeed it has itself pounded the renewable energy issue. What I do see, in this short-lived fracas, is the media picking on someone they love to hate. I’m not one of his great admirers, but he is intelligent and thoughtful. He ought to be allowed to say what he thinks without his automatically attracting the ‘naughty boy’ label by doing so.

Join the discussion 155 Comments

  • Alan Moran says:

    I was there and though the ABC went overboard the speech was combustible in outlining what is wrong with the Liberal Party and how it needs to change. The measures proposed are inimical to Turnbull as illustrated by the anaemic response he gave the following day, a response that said the renewables/ climate change issue was being resolved by batteries.

    Make no mistake. The Abbott speech was a leadership challenge if not for him personally then for someone who can adopt his policies, hence Turnbulls efforts to have all possible challengers decry the proposals.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Thanks, Alan. The way I read what Mr Abbott said was that if the Liberal Party/Coalition doesn’t do something tough-minded then it will go down to defeat. You could infer that he wants to return to the leader’s position to make sure this happens. I don’t think you have to do so.

      • Ross says:

        Hi Don.
        When a senior minister, and Abbott numbers man, Mathias Cormann describes Abbotts comments as “destructive, transparent, self serving, and sad” I think the dots pretty much join themselves.
        He seems pretty clear on what Abbott said and why he said them. I’m yet to hear from anyone else in the party that disagrees with this observation

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Are you suggesting that Matthias Corman is somehow disinterested in all this?

          The way I see it is like this: (i) Abbott gives an address that does not even mention the Prime Minister; (ii) the media interpret this as an attack on the Prime Minister; (iii) the media quiz Ministers as to what they think of the address; Ministers club together and say the speech is self-interested and sad, and so on; (iv) in the meantime few people actually read the address and reflect on what was being put forward.

          As it happen I have somewhat more appreciation of Matthias Corman whom I have met (briefly) than I have of TA. But that is not the point. The point is that the media have decided that TA is someone to hate (as the US media decided with respect to DT), so no matter what he says or does, it is seen as an attack on the PM by an angry and vindictive man.

          Our media are bad, and there are few real journalists left, but we ought to be able to do better than this. If we can’t, then it really is time that the newspapers folded and left news to the Internet.

          • margaret says:

            “Should he have agreed to launch the book at all? Why not?”

            No he shouldn’t even have been asked to. Who asked him to and why? That’s what I’d like to know.

          • margaret says:


            Andrew Bolt’s heading on February 10th – “Abbott to Launch Book that Goes Bang. Liberals Beware”.
            Seems to set the tone in advance.

          • Ross says:

            You attack the media, Don, but they simply quote Cormann.
            Is he disinterested? Ofcourse not. Neither is Abbott. I think that’s why Cormann was so enraged.
            “Transparent, self serving and sad”. That’s a direct quote from a conservative minister. Not “fake news”.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Why shouldn’t he have been asked, Margaret? Why shouldn’t he have accepted the invitation?

            Ross, Corman spoke for himself, and has been reported accurately, as far as i can see. I was referring to the large number of opinion pieces by journalists like Michelle Grattan and Laurie Oakes, and much lesser lights, that said that his address was REALLY an attack on the PM. I did not mention ‘fake news’. What has that got to do with it?

          • margaret says:

            Don being a published author you would know more about book launches and who one asks to launch their book and why that particular person, than I do.

            Abbott grabs every opportunity, and there are plenty of them when you’re in his position, to put himself back in the spotlight because he suffers from relevance deprivation. It’s all about Tony, and we, the Left leaning centre don’t like him or his views on making Australia Right.

          • margaret says:

            Another pre-launch media headline, from The Australian.

            “Abbott set to launch Turnbull-bashing, pro-Right tome.”

          • margaret says:

            Perhaps this is an indication of why Abbott was asked (by James Allan?) to launch the book Making Australia Right. Do you think?!!!?


          • margaret says:

            Why was Mr Abbott not a contributor to the book of essays instead of being the ‘launcher’?

          • Ross says:

            Sorry Don, you spoke of the ‘media’ and Donal Trump in your reply. It seemed fairly obvious. Even transparent.
            Perhaps I am mistaken.

          • Ross says:

            Nothing to see here, Margaret. Pure as the driven snow.

          • margaret says:

            Wright finished his article with some advice for Tony which is chillingly relevant today.
            A commenter at nofibs summed up Tony’s article well.

            “As a catholic myself what struck me about Abbott’s account here was his overweening self-importance and sense of entitlement. There must have been many quiet prayers of thanks when this restless soul left the seminary. He seems to be a man driven by the need to oppose. Debating, boxing, rugby, student politics marked him in youth as a formidable adversary. He took that fighting spirit to St Patrick’s which let him down because it did not offer enough ‘bravura’ to sustain him. Now of course the admiration for belligerence as Opposition leader has probably provided a new yardstick for assessing the success or failure of future incumbents of that position. I would like Tony Abbott to explain why he wanted to be a priest rather than why the church did not meet his expectations. I would also like to know why he wants to be PM and whether this country will have enough ‘bravura’ for him or whether he will have to reshape us in his own image.”

            Father Wright finished his article with some advice for Tony which is chillingly relevant today.
            “I only know that we must try to make things come out right, in the full knowledge that it may serve some higher purpose for them to come out wrong”.
            Abbott is a vainglorious man.

          • margaret says:

            “Our challenge is to be worth voting for. It’s to win back the people who are giving up on us like the Making Australia Right authors.
            It won’t be easy but it must be possible or our country is doomed to a Shorten government that will make a bad situation immeasurably worse.
            In or out of government, political parties need a purpose. Our politics can’t be just a contest of toxic egos or someone’s vanity project.
            What is worth striving for; how can we make a difference; and what must change if Australians individually and collectively are to come closer to our best selves?”
            Saint Tone

  • Chris Warren says:

    ” Indeed, under the government’s plans, wind generation is supposed to double in the next three years at a capital cost to you the consumer of $10 billion. ”

    That is good news – it is way less than the taxpayer is being slugged for to purchase the Joint Strike fighter, and we get more long-term security and international credibility from cutting GHG’s than playing games with a bloated military.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Chrissie luv, it’s not either/or.

    Quelle logique!

  • Neville says:

    Of course Abbott is correct about so called renewable energy, like solar and wind. Even the father of their so called CAGW knows that S&W are BS and fra-d. And Lomborg’s PR study of Paris COP 21 is correct even after using a much higher climate sensitivity that can be justified when compared to the more recent Climate Sensitivity studies. Like Lewis and Curry 2015.
    Labor and the Greens continue to lie to the OZ people about the consequences of their co2 reduction policies and yet most of the MSM refuse to challenge these stupid falsehoods.
    This is very simple maths and science that anyone can understand and yet Labor would waste endless billions $ for no measurable change to temp at all. Of course their bi-polar remedy would also include exporting millions tonnes of coal and gas overseas to any country that wanted it.
    IOW Labor couldn’t care less about co2 emissions at all, but would happily harm the OZ people by forcing them to use fairy tale , unreliable and super expensive energy like S&W. Unbelievable but true.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    My wife pointed out to me from our paper this morning that Mr Abbott also gave an interview on Sky News. I could only find a grab from the Bolt report there, and when I went to the Bolt report there were extracts from Andrew Bolt’s own interview of Tony Abbott. In none of them did he say anything that was in any way critical of the Prime Minister, nor did he say he wanted to be Prime Minister again. All that seems to me to be inference by commentators. If someone has evidence to the contrary, post it as a comment with a link, and I’ll pursue the matter further. Nothing that i have seen so far would make me change what I have written above.

  • Rafe Champion says:

    I was there and I heard a clear and spirited summary of the key issues of the moment which the Liberal Party needs to take up if it is true to liberalism and the future of the country. There was no criticism of individuals, there was a nice touch of humour here and there with some self-deprecation.
    It was a class act.
    Anything Tony Abbott says is going to be interpreted by the usual suspects as a attack on Turnbull but it does not have to be seen that way. The issues that Abbott addressed go beyond personal and party politics.
    It is unfortunate that practically nobody who talks and writes about politics is up for a serious and disinterested conversation about these things.
    The same applies to the ALP, the Greens and most of the cross benches. Not to mention the Liberal Party itself:)

  • Peter B says:


    As a long-time pessimist re media and their reporting, this story about TA was very convenient for the ABC in particular [and the media in general]. When the so-called FWC handed down their deliberations on penalty rates, they were no doubt in a bind over how to cover the fact that Shorten and the unions were responsible for the penalty rates inquiry in the first place, and that Shorten had maintained all along he would ‘accept the umpires decision’. TA’s musings provided the perfect opportunity for them to use it as a lead story, and ignore the massive problems that potentially awaited the Labor Party and their mates. This also applied to Keyser Trad’s disgraceful interpretation re the Koran about their wives being able to be assaulted by them if they ‘misbehaved’. Not a word from the feminist pollies, although incredibly Eva Cox tried to condemn Peter Dutton’s comments on the matter. Gobsmacking stuff.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Tony Abbott was our Donald Trump, possibly ahead of his time but nevertheless neutered by a hostile senate.

    If he had had the power to implement his ideas [not necessarily his promises] he would have fared much better.

    Our system prevents a major change in govt direction and this is not a good thing.

    When the wind changes direction and strength you have to be able to douse the kite.

    Not run on before the storm with half-baked solutions that will eventually produce another govt that will lead us to even worse outcomes than he tried to prevent.

    When you have around half the population with an entitlement mentality like we have, the only way a conservative govt can win is from a momentarily terrified population on the edge of disaster.

    But the more we go to the edge the more likely we are to tip over.

    And our senate is immune to vertigo.

  • Chris Warren says:

    O dear

    False accusation ” purposely confused”.

    Still no evidence for:

    ” around half the population with an entitlement mentality,”

    Falsification 30.5, Ignorance 5, false accusations 3.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Chrissie luv, do you tell falsehoods because you are confused or v/v?

      “ANU researcher Ben Phillips estimated that only 43 per cent of the adult population excluding public sector workers were net taxpayers last year, bringing the actual total voter-dependency ratio to well over 50 per cent.”

      You may well be in denial about your own attitudes but do try to get yourself into the real world.

      • Chris Warren says:

        This really is for double dumbo’s and Drongos.

        Why on earth would you claim that “about 50%” are supposedly “entitlement mentality” if the only evidence is 43% of adults AFTER excluding public sector workers.

        And then to minimise the calculation, to get 43%, include all the old aged pensioners and self-funded retirees. 43% of ADULTS is not 43% of 15-65 year olds.

        What absolute, right wing, Murdoch trash is this????

        Why are you even trying to spread this canard.

        Leave this crazy stuff to Andrew Bolt – it is at his level. Why are you want to stooping so low?

    • spangled drongo says:

      “Still no evidence for:

      ” around half the population with an entitlement mentality,”’

      Poor confused chrissie. He doesn’t think it’s possible that these people might have an entitlement mentality.

      Are you a trougher too, chrissie?

      Looks like I was being conservative according to David Leyonhjelm:

      “When you’ve got, oh, probably well over half of the population, heading to two-thirds of the population receiving some form of government benefit, it’s pretty easy to identify where that money is going.”

      • Chris Warren says:

        Right wing crap – 100% of the Australian population has the right to entitlement.

        Working for income is not “entitlement mentality”

        Leyonhjelm did not mention “entitlement mentality”

        No evidence of ” around half the population with an entitlement mentality”.

        • spangled drongo says:

          Chrissies logic is impeccable:

          “..if the only evidence is 43% of adults AFTER excluding public sector workers.”

          Not even slightly aware that the public sector of around 2 million are the biggest part of the problem.

          You add ’em chrissie, not subtract.

          When you’re this far out of the real world, chrissie luv, your mum needs to come and get you.

          • Chris Warren says:

            So if they “are the biggest part of (entitlement mentality)”

            why exclude them?

            Or is it true that people working to make a living are not a problem?

            You seem to have used tax avoiders in private enterprise as failed evidence for your fabrication. But you probably will not understand this point.

            So still no evidence for “around half the population with an entitlement mentality,”

            A fabrication.

          • spangled drongo says:

            “So if they “are the biggest part of (entitlement mentality)”

            why exclude them?”

            Give you one guess.

            Seeing you started this argument, chrissie, maybe you should have admitted that you don’t understand what an entitlement mentality really is.

            And being one of the minority who pay net income tax I also realise you would not know the difference between tax avoidance and tax minimisation.

            More evidence that blithering chrissie’s claim of my fabrication is simply more of his fabrication [what’s new]:


          • Chris Warren says:

            So which 50% of what group has “entitlement mentality”

            Do you understand your own argument?

          • spangled drongo says:

            Chrissie still can’t see the wood for the trees.

            Or is that purposeful confusion again, chrissie luv?

          • Chris Warren says:

            So which trees from which wood have 50% with “entitlement mentality”????

          • spangled drongo says:

            You mean to say you didn’t work that out first[?]:


          • Chris Warren says:

            Drongo is a bit mixed up here.

            Does not understand its own argument.

          • spangled drongo says:

            You mean you’ve run out of cut’n’paste support already, chrissie?

          • spangled drongo says:

            How much do you think chucking a sickie costs the taxpayer, let alone the business operator, each year, chrissie?

            And then demonstrate conclusively your rationale that definitely less than 50% have an entitlement mentality.

            Or failing that, you could admit what we all know which is that you simply just blither a lot.

  • Art Raiche says:

    I was there as well. The talk has to be seen in the context of the book he was launching. Essentially about the failure of the Coalition governments to counter the left with reforms: e.g. 18C, the ABC, bureaucratic smothering of our universities, political correctness, failure for structural economic reform, RET etc. the launch offered TA a chance to press home what he thought were the failures of the current government. TA did begin with his successful 3 word slogans but overall the talk was worth listening to. A lot of interesting people were there but although invited, Peta Credlin did NOT show. When chatting privately with him after the talk, I asked him if he was interested in making a comeback. He replied that he was in Parliament to serve the Australian people so I assume that was a yes. Incidentally, Q&A is even worse than you may think. Piers Ackermann told me that the retired teacher was a Green activist and the whole question was planned with some panelists briefed.
    Anyway, I am enjoying the book as a spleen cleanser.

    Where to from here?

    Edited by James Allan

    with contributions from:
    Judith Sloan, Brendan O’Neill, Gary Johns, Jim Molan, Roger Franklin, Rebecca Weisser, Graeme Haycroft, James Allan, Kerryn Pholi, Jeremy Sammut, Lorraine Finlay, Peter Kurti, Steven Kates, Alan Moran

    Paperback, 212 pages, $29.95

    ISBN: ISBN: 978-1-925501-35-3

    Published December 2016

    What you will find is a variety of treatments on some of the most important issues facing this country. True, the overall tone is not one of bubbling optimism. How could it be with the current state of the Liberal Party in this country? But it does constitute, with the variety of views and approaches of the authors, a sort of handbook for how the right side of politics might get back on track in this country – at least for those of us who do not think that acting as the pale imitation of Labor is the way to go.

    The line-up for this book is as follows. Judith Sloan considers the economy; Brendan O’Neill tackles political correctness; Gary Johns writes on inequality; Jim Molan surveys defence; Roger Franklin goes more big picture and explains the causes for his anger at the Liberal Party; Rebecca Weisser examines the media in this country; Graeme Haycroft does the same with industrial relations; James Allan at the state of play in our universities; Kerryn Pholi writes on Aboriginal Australia; Jeremy Sammut discusses health; Lorraine Finlay takes on law-making; Peter Kurti delves into religion and the new sectarianism; Steve Kates scrutinizes interest rate policy; and Alan Moran finishes the collection off by looking at energy policy. So fourteen chapters in all, and each one approached in a different way.

    What you have here are top people in their fields giving you something you will not find on the ABC, namely an outlook and an analysis that is something other than the bog-standard left-wing perspective that dominates so much of the airwaves, the newspaper columns, what you find on social media – and these days, alas, even what some Liberal MPs will voice inside the party room.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Art: ‘The talk has to be seen in the context of the book he was launching.’ Yes, I think we have to start with the task, and how he fulfilled it. I am at a distance from the whole business, and have no horse in the race. The fact that Ministers see the talk as self-serving tells us more about where they are than it does about the text, which is there for anyone to read.

    • tripitaka says:

      Top people in their fields you say Art? Well, there’s the problem for the right. These people are simply not the best; so not capable of arguing against even the ABC and the bog standard left-wing perspective.

      You gotta try and understand that it’s not a matter of preference; the left has the intellectual clout, has all the evidence that wins the economic and social and cultural arguments.

      That’s why the long march is nearly over. You got no intellectuals just boring old hacks. Sad.

      • NameGlenM says:

        Yeah yeah….. Does that mean you are a groupthingy academic or devoid of any sense of reality.Try as I might I cannot find a leftie who can sustain a reasonable argument without resorting to abuse( racist,bigot) and proceeding to straw man style responses.As is said,the only thing a leftie understands is a slogan.

  • Neville says:

    Now in the Off-Topic thread

  • spangled drongo says:

    Now in the Off-Topic thread

  • spangled drongo says:

    This is just a tiny fraction of what our 2 million public servants are costing us and what the Donalds, Paulines and Tonys of this world are trying to address.

    And what the chrissies of this world are responsible for but run a mile from:

  • spangled drongo says:

    Now in the Off-Topic thread

  • PeterE says:

    I fully support Tony Abbott’s speech. He is absolutely entitled to make it. His proposals are excellent – ditch RET, slow immigration, chop the HRC, and so on. I’m reminded of the headlines when Napoleon escaped from Elba. They were along the lines – monster lands in France, tyrant marching on Paris, former Emperor gathers large support, former Emperor confronted by army; he bares his chest and calls on the first dissident to open fire but is met with cries of Vive l’Empereur! Napoleon returns in triumph to capital. France rejoices!
    To be sure it ended badly but Abbott is about the only open truth-teller in government ranks. Bring it on and if it means the ALP in government at least they will honestly represent what the government is kowtowing to.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Re Margaret’s query way above: When you want your book launched you go for a combination of the most newsworthy person you can get and someone who will have a real feel for what you have tried to do. Tony Abbott was the right launcher for this crowd, because he ticked both boxes. If you don’t think he should have accepted you need to think out why. Have you read the address? You might not like its sentiments, but what it doesn’t do is attack the PM. Should he have offered to write a chapter? Maybe he did.You’d need to ask the editors these questions. I don’t know the answers.

    • margaret says:

      I hadn’t read it, just your essay. So now I’ve speed read it and of course he didn’t “attack” the PM. I didn’t expect that he would be that crazy-brave but one can criticise without mentioning names – that seems to have been left to the media and not just the ABC, but those right wing journalists who gleefully seek to stir the pot as much as the left wing journalists.
      Re ABC’s Q&A I had to turn it off because it was so hopelessly confected and the audience was planted with the usual suspects and pitting politicians from either side to spout their nonsense is a complete waste of time.
      The best Q&A ‘s are politician-free.

      • WR2459 says:

        Marg, agree with your QandA views. I have got into the habit of a quick check, and if there are politicians there, next channel. It seems to have degenerated into a grenade throwing exercise, particularly when politicians are on the panel.

        I suspect the ABC supplies the grenades and stages the audience to generate the bunfights that are a great ratings booster. A good majority of Australians, having been trained by the commercial stations (who are aiming at the lower middle class and their penchant for car crashes, and Hollywood gossip), want to see sensationalism (a mate of mine always hopes there will be a bit of biffo when watching rugby).

        The ABC has transmogrified into a “magazine” format with a broad brush of political intrigue, political assassinations, the days car crashes, and a fair wash of “we are doomed” stuff, Hollywood starlet revelations (you know, the “Jason cheated on me” style).

        We learned of Beyonces riveting revelation that she is pregnant with twins. Shame we did not hear of Mrs SMITH of Jones Street, a Queensland Country Town, who is also pregnant with twins, but the nearest midwife/ doctor is 300 kilometres away with two creek crossings along the way.

        And we read of “Learning to love my labia”, and how to chose the best surgeon for a bit of labia sculpting. Riveting stuff !

        However, I do like ABC Science and Dr KARL.

      • margaret says:

        He really is the class bad boy after all.

        • spangled drongo says:

          Marg, Abbott’s not perfect but all these issues he’s mentioned are crying out for attention and if Turnbull had played it smart and given Abbott a ministry [as Abbott did with him], he would be in a much stronger position electorally.

          Now Turnbull is probably unable to recover that lost ground.

          Even if he has any chance of winning the next election [which is very debatable] he will still be in a worse position than he is at present.

          But this isn’t Abbott’s fault. Turnbull has been ignoring the bleedin’ obvious for too long.

          I’m pleased to see that my rep, Buchholz, is in that group of deplorables.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    Ross, in response to your comment a lot further up. You seem not to understand the point. So here it is again. As far as I can find out, Mr Abbott did NOT attack the PM in his address or in his interview on Sky News. But the commentators who wrote about it all simply treated this as another attack on the PM, while mostly ignoring the policy points that Mr Abbott was making. It’s a bit like the climate change stuff. If it is warm that is climate change at work. If it is cold, then that is just weather.

    Now if you can find a real attack on the PM in either of those places, I will follow up the link and if necessary recast what I wrote in the essay. Over to you.

    • Ross says:

      Hi Don.
      You seem to miss the point, that whirls around you. Why are Tony Abbotts colleagues so angry?
      Probably because the former PM is now writing policy all on his own, comparing it to present Liberal policies (Turnbulls and co) and releasing them through the media. “These are my policies. They are not Turnbulls. Compare.” He knows very well that this would cause a stink. No doubt, he counted on it! He’s been in politics a while now, Don.
      The public knows it. The media knows it. Turnbull and his government know it. Even Abbott knows it.
      You may think that Abbott motives are pure. But few seem to agree.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        Ross, and Chris, that you and others think that Mr Abbott did these things deliberately in order to cause a stink is your opinion. Fine. As others here have pointed out, as I did in the essay. Mr Abbott raised issues that are not being addressed, and were poorly addressed and mostly ignored by the commentators. I could have written a piece about the issues, but that was what the book was about.

    • Ross says:

      Over to me? Whenever you’re ready Don. I replied some time ago.

  • Chris Warren says:


    Abbott’ speech was a deliberate attack on Turnbull’s government and faction without naming Turnbull.

    Abbott claimed, as his headkine statements:

    – Many Coalition supporters aren’t happy.
    – The government is not up to making “Australia Right”
    – the government has done much wrong;

    Surely these are serious direct political gibes at Turnbull and co.?

    He then went on to project other policy proposals that should and did rile any decent centre Right traveller in the media.

    He concluded with a Fredian slip:

    “Our politics can’t be just a contest of toxic egos or someone’s vanity project.”

    Yea – right ! Abbott is “toxic ego” and his posing is his private “vanity project”.

    For Australia’s sake, the Liberals need to place a strong fence around this individual.

    • Ross says:

      Nope, nothing to see here. Why so obtuse, Don? Just a bit weird. The media? Andrew Bolt and friends? Please.

    • spangled drongo says:

      Well, we expected that chrissie would suffer from ADS [Abbott Derangement Syndrome].

      You don’t happen to work nights on the Canberra Press Gallery by any chance do you chrissie luv?

      Sub for Laura Tingle?

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Mr Abbott didn’t make headlines. That was the press. Your summary is loaded, and I’m not here to correct you. They are not ‘serious direct political gibes at Turnbull and co.’ You could, as you did, interpret them is indirect political gibes, which is what the commentators also did.

      I agree with you about the use of ‘vanity project’.

      • Chris Warren says:

        I would not classify Abbott as creating a “stink”. He is trying to foster those who are seeking to drive the Liberals down a different path.

        I cannot see how a disinterested observer could interpret Abbott’s statement:

        “A sense of disappointment and disillusionment pervades these essays: …and perhaps even despair about the Turnbull government;”

        as anything but a gibe at Turnbull.

        To have a senior member of a Parliamentary caucus attaching “disappointment”, “disillusionment” and “despair” to their own party based on identifying its leader serves this purpose. Abbott is not attacking the Liberal government – he is attacking the Turnbull government.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Well, Chris, if he only read what you excerpted that might be true. But what he really said went like this: ‘…A sense of disappointment and disillusionment pervades these essays: disappointment with the Abbott government and perhaps even despair about the Turnbull government;’ Somehow that seems rather more even-handed.

    • tripitaka says:

      Put a fence around him? I dunno Chris; I think that for Australia’s sake they should let the Abbot beast run free, say what he really thinks, keep doing what he does best which is wrecking anything that he doesn’t value and his values are so ‘common’ and low. He has done it all his life, wrecking things – for example when he was training to be a priest;;;what happened? lol he thought he knew better than everyone of those who were there to teach him and he never learned anything.

      It will eventually become clear to all but the usual suspects here who blab on revealing their diagnose-able but untreatable delusions, that poor old Tony has nothing in his head or heart that is worthy of the country that I and my kind of Aussie have always wanted. Tony, being an ignorant immigrant has no idea of what old fashioned Australians like me want our country to be; a tolerant inclusive place that welcomes everyone who wants to be here into our expanses and by dint of how comfortable and cohesive our society is, entices people into becoming like us.

  • Jon Gaul says:

    Australia’s entitlement mentality got real liftoff with Gough and has been heading skyward since. I don’t
    know the correct no net income tax figure, but based on 60 years observation I would estimate the
    entitlement faction at around 80% of the electorate today. I would prefer Ken Henry’s NZ-style remedies ahead of Abbotts. But either would be a good start to recovery. The default option would be the first recession in 25-30 years with unemployment going into the 11-12% range.

  • JimboR says:

    I think Christopher Pyne did a pretty good job of measuring Abbott’s performance against his own 5-point plan:

    “He said that we should freeze immigration yet when he was the prime minister, he had record levels of immigration. He said we should abolish the Human Rights Commission and yet when he was the prime minister, he shut down the debate on whether we should reform section 18C,” said Mr Pyne.

    “He says we should cut taxes, and yet when he was the prime minister he increased taxes, whether it was the deficit levy on high income earners or whether it was the fuel tax. He says we should slash spending and yet when he was the prime minister in 2014 he attempted to slash spending and all he did was create zombie bills that couldn’t pass through the Senate.”

    “The fifth subject, of course, was the renewable energy target and the truth is, of course, he set the RET at 23.5 per cent and described it at the time as one of the achievements of his government.”

  • JMO says:

    Abbott is displaying the classic case of RDS -Relevancy Deprivation Syndrome.

  • margaret says:

    “Abbott has said that what impressed him about Santamaria was “the courage that kept him going as an advocate for unfashionable truths”. And indeed Santamaria was regarded as a has-been by the time young Abbott was attracted to him. The 1960s era of the young overturning traditional moral, social and sexual values arrived in Australia in the 1970s. Yet in 1972, at the age of 15, Abbott was drawn towards the DLP, despite the traditionalist party being in its death throes.”

    • spangled drongo says:

      There’s no hater like a leftie hater, hey, marg?

      Surely you, The Monthly, or the AIMN, or any other ranting. leftie rag can dig up a Donald Trump link somewhere?

      I don’t usually shoot messengers but they even admit they are unbalanced:

      “You may have noticed that we have become an outlet for left-wing opinion.”

      Fancy judging Abbott through these jaundiced eyes and expecting honesty and balance.

      Is that how you taught class too?

    • Don Aitkin says:

      Santamaria was never a ‘has-been’, in part because he never held any position of any consequence at any time. But he was a true intellectual, able to write and speak with clarity and persuasiveness. I never met him, but was present at an event where he spoke. He was taken seriously by anyone interested in politics, especially on the left, because he was hard to argue against.

      I wish there more like him today, able to assemble the elements of their own position, examine them critically, and write about their view of the world without turning everything into ad hominem.

      • margaret says:

        Times have changed and there will never be another B.A. Santamaria in politics again. Abbott, his friend Sheridan both failed priests, and Gerard Henderson the author of the Santamaria biography have a group-think mentality and are possibly brainwashed.
        Santamaria was odd. I remember some of those broadcasts he did on tv.
        “His 1945 book The Earth, Our Mother was not merely Australia’s but one of the world’s first sustained assaults on environmental destruction — decades ahead of its time in that respect, utterly crackpot in others.”

      • margaret says:

        “I wish there more like him today, able to assemble the elements of their own position, examine them critically, and write about their view of the world without turning everything into ad hominem.”
        You yearn for this … and yet … isn’t ad hominem simply part of the free speech that you believe in?
        You seem happy enough with Wicked Campers using demeaning advertising at a level that impacts the whole society and its attitudes, yet you bemoan the opinions expressed on the character of the people elected to govern ‘we the people.’

    • margaret says:

      Lateline 31/7/2015

      “TONY ABBOTT: Launching this book is an act of piety towards my tribe. It is an act of piety towards someone who was for some years almost a father to me. He helped to shape me, he helped to shape us. He was indeed a most unusual man. He had to be to do what he did.”

  • Chris Warren says:

    Now in Off-Topic thread

  • Chris Warren says:

    Now on Off-Topic thread

    • spangled drongo says:

      Now on Off-Topic thread

      • tripitaka says:

        Now on Off-Topic thread

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Now on off-Topic thread

          • Peter WARWICK says:

            Don, yet again this blog has wandered off topic, and has degenerated into diatribic (new word) grenade throwing. I thought the topic was about Tony ABBOT. Cannot you simply NOT ALLOW off topic posts through moderation, and when you do that put up an AUTOMATED message:

            “This post was deleted due to it being OFF TOPIC. The poster is invited to post into the appropriate topic, of which there are plenty (look them up, and do not be lazy)”.

            Or perhaps simply create a TOPIC called OFF TOPIC, and move the OFF TOPICERS to there, where they can spend the day diatribing each other, luvvy.

            You will not be prosecuted under 18c for doing this, and you may get a few more readers.

          • tripitaka says:

            Now in Off-Topic thread

          • Don Aitkin says:

            Peter Warwick,

            This is a good idea, and I will see how (technically) to adopt it. Thank you.

          • Chris Warren says:

            Now on Off-Topic thread

          • spangled drongo says:

            Now on off-Topic thread

        • spangled drongo says:

          Now on Off-Topic thread.

    • tripitaka says:

      The ‘us righties’ people are looking a bit sad these days. Are they not supposed to be individuals and rational and here we have the superb spangled drongo the most rational and truth knowing individual claiming to be part of a group. WTF?

      So much winning for ‘us lefties’ as we, united in our respect for diversity, sit back and watch the internecine war being waged by the right and see that the unholy alliance between glibertarians and conservatives is breaking up. But we on the left know that its not a good thing to gloat – bad karma – but surely it is okay to laugh a bit and find some humour in the way that those who are now criticising Abbott once upon a time loved him as the saviour of conservatism, as a great man.

      What happened? What happened is what happens to all of the heroes of the right when they disappoint as individualist heroes always do because righties both glibertarians and conservatives can only do selfishness and greed and so are destined to be sad little individuals always looking for someone to idolise or blame and never taking responsibility for building a society because da da! Thatcher said “there is no such thing as society”.

  • Chris Warren says:

    Now on Off-Topic thread

  • spangled drongo says:

    Now on the Off-Topic thread

    • tripitaka says:

      You seem a bit obsessed with the sexual activities of Aboriginal people Drongo. Does this relate to your early experience with the young aboriginal girls who were not interested in you?

      This obsession seems a bit ‘sick’ to me or perhaps prurient is a more apt word to describe the way you turn every discussion even one about Tony Abbott into an opportunity to indulge your interest in what Aborigines do.

      I did some research for a position with a state govt child protection organisation some time ago and I came across the horrific cases and estimates of how many civilised white men sexually abuse or in their terms “introduce” their daughters to sex. So many of these cases of incest remain secret to protect the child and the rest of the family. Recently 3 decent civilised white men who raped a 13 year old are not going to be prosecuted because the 13 year old is unable to cope with the requirements of the law that insists she face these men in court.

      But everyone who has any understanding of psychology, sociology neuroscience and how human nature develops and how culture affects human development, understands that poverty and discrimination produce dysfunctional human behaviour, and these Aboriginal people whose sexual activities you find so exciting and significant do indeed come from discriminated against and very poor and powerless groups. The only answer is to provide them with all the support and resources that they need to rescue themselves from the damage that our nasty brutish selfish and greedy culture has done to them and their very functional and stable original civilisation.

      What to do about the sexually abusive christian priests and the ‘civilised’ institutions that protected them and still makes excuses for them and the ‘civilised’ white men who rape and pillage women and children is a different question. What do you think they can blame for their conduct?

      But lets get back to the problem of the bad mad and sad Tony Abbott and who is going to lead you righties out of the wilderness and stop Bill Shorten becoming Prime Minister.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Now on the Off-Topic thread

  • margaret says:

    Now on the Off-Topic thread

  • Chris Warren says:

    Now on the Off-Topic Thread

  • David says:

    Don this is an interesting variation on your measurement shtick that I have not come across before. Whereas as you tend to accept that CO2 has increased you reject that idea that temperature has increased with your “no such thing as a mean temperature” or “the data are not fit for purpose” arguments Scott Pruitt accepts there is warming but does not think we have the capacity to measure CO2. However whereas you are relatively harmless this lunatic now heads the EPA!

  • […] to which they were due to what a friend called the ’irresponsible’ behaviour of Mr Abbott. I had written about Mr Abbott’s situation before, and offered some of that comment at the lunch. My friend would have none of it. Mr Abbott […]

Leave a Reply