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The 2011 Crikeys: our best and worst politicians

Well, here we are again. The end of year rolls around quicker than ever, and those annual reviews and awards seem to blur into one another. But the annual public policy shutdown that starts about now and holds until late January is the perfect opportunity to assess how our politicians fared during the year, particularly given that, despite all the predictions of instability, 2011 was the first year since 2004 that we finished with the same prime minister and opposition leader that we commenced it with.

So let’s do the annual prize-giving …

Most effective minister

Let’s start with a methodological note. What’s effective? Wayne Swan has been an excellent Treasurer, in economic management terms, but has failed in the key role of communicating the government’s economic reform achievements. Tanya Plibersek is a strong media performer, and has been suitably rewarded with a promotion to Health, but her previous portfolio was relatively low in the government’s priorities. Martin Ferguson has had a notable win on uranium sales to India, but he also oversees tourism, which is copping a hammering. Greg Combet finally got through a carbon pricing package, albeit in an effort that wasn’t just across the government, but across the Greens and independents as well. Kevin Rudd made the right call on Libya early on — earlier than his Prime Minister.

But if effectiveness is handling key issues and communicating them well, the most effective minister this year had been Stephen Conroy, who continues to progress two of the government’s biggest reforms, the NBN and the structural separation of Telstra, seemingly unimpeded by either having a long-running News Limited campaign against the NBN or having Malcolm Turnbull as his opposite number. Conroy knows his portfolio backward and gets his message out effectively. Moreover, it is Conroy who, rather than suffering in silence, more than any other minister has most aggressively called News Ltd and particularly The Daily Telegraph on their blatantly partisan journalism.

Least effective minister

Again, interpretation is the key. Chris Bowen must be a contender: asylum seekers have been a disaster for the government throughout the year. But much of that is for reasons beyond Bowen’s control, and I stand by my judgment that his approach to the problem of stopping people from getting in boats was the most moral policy possible. The policy he took to the Labor conference, of offshore processing coupled with what would be the biggest ever increase in our humanitarian intake, would be highly effective at reducing the chances of people dying in boats while rightly lifting the number of refugees Australia accepts. Others? There’s Robert McClelland, who did little as Attorney-General other than read the law-and-order scripts handed to him by his department and intelligence agencies. There’s Tony Burke’s performance on the Murray-Darling, too.

Chris Evans has had two major portfolios now and been moved from each of them because they proved too high-profile for his unassuming manner. But unlike Wayne Swan, he can’t point to big achievements in his area of responsibility even if he hasn’t sold them well. The asylum seeker issue got away from under him during the Rudd government, and IR started slipping away this year, as business prosecuted a deceitful campaign against the Fair Work Act and demanded the “flexibility” to cut wages and conditions. Giant ambition or not, Bill Shorten should be vastly more effective in defending the government’s position and wielding IR –- one of the few aspects of the Labor “brand” that remains relatively intact –- against the opposition. There wasn’t too much bad about Evans’s handling of the portfolio. It’s just that there was nothing good about it either.

Most effective shadow minister

Herein lies the problem: who are the standout opposition frontbenchers? Malcolm Turnbull gets all the profile, but little of it is because of his portfolio, where he has struggled in the task — imposed by Abbott — of “demolishing” the NBN. Joe Hockey is a good media performer but, luckily for Wayne Swan, the Coalition has been all over the place on economic policy this year. Scott Morrison has plenty of profile but has yet to offer a coherent, costed asylum seeker policy and had that grubby moment in February when he complained about money being spent enabling relatives of victims of the Christmas Island boat tragedy to attend funerals.

But Christopher Pyne has been a consistently strong performer. Not so much within his own portfolio, which most people would struggle to name, but in his other formal role in parliament. What happens in parliament matters — mostly psychologically, but it matters nonetheless. Pyne’s expertise is the niggle, the constant in-your-face goading and prodding of his opponents that can occasionally put even the best performers off their game. And he never lets up, constantly rising on points of order, constantly trying to disrupt ministers, constantly pushing the envelope, always trying to exploit the government’s fragile parliamentary position. Harry Jenkins let Pyne walk all over him. His relationship with erstwhile colleague Peter Slipper will be fascinating to watch. He might be spending a lot more time watching question time on telly.

Least effective shadow minister

Hands down winner: Peter Dutton. This man was once rated as a possible future leader. But during an important year in health — major, if not necessarily historic, funding reforms and plain packaging legislation — Dutton has been missing in action much of the time. If you don’t believe me, go google him and see how often he’s appeared in the media this year.

Best parliamentary and/or media performer

Malcolm Turnbull remains the stand-out media performer of any politician in the country, by dint of talking as an intelligent human being rather than as a carefully-programmed spouter of talking points. Like too few politicians, Turnbull treats the rest of us as adults, and well-informed ones at that. He also knows exactly how the game is played, and is not afraid of the occasional meta-moment of reflection on it. “Look,” he said in answer to a tricky Q&A question about IR, “the obligation of a front bencher in the Westminster system, when addressed with a question like the one you just asked me, is to squirm uncomfortably for a few minutes. Now, having done that, I really want to get onto the issue of government subsidies …”

Turnbull is the sort of politician the Brits tend to see a lot more of: intelligent, articulate and thoughtful. For all the criticisms of him and his judgment, our polity suffers from having too few like him, not too many.

Turnbull’s had a minimal role in parliament this year. The best parliamentary performer is Anthony Albanese, the only government member about whom one can always say even his Dorothy Dixer answers are worth listening to. But it’s his capacity to fire up in response to opposition suspensions and censures that is most useful for Labor. His response to yet another Abbott censure motion in the last week of parliament, when he mocked the opposition for wanting Santa to bring him a policy and riffing on Abbott falling asleep in the chamber the previous night, was the sort of jolt of adrenaline to the Labor backbench that they should expect from their leader and deputy leader and so rarely get.

Biggest media tart

Slow news day? Nothing much happening? Need some entertaining filler on pretty much anything? There’s only one answer, but it’s a good one: Barnaby Joyce. He’s the Goodies of Australian politics — he’ll talk on anything, anywhere, anytime. That’s why the media love him.

Worst political gaffe

Twelve months ago, the government and the opposition were locked together at 50:50 in the polls and had been so since the election. What broke the deadlock was the government’s announcement in February of its intention to develop a carbon pricing package, contrary to its stated intentions prior to the election. The government’s support went into freefall, as did Julia Gillard’s approval ratings. Neither have yet recovered.

While this was no “gaffe”, it set the tone for the political year.

And yet, when Gillard emerged at the other end, having secured passage of the carbon pricing package and more besides, when the pressure was finally coming off her and she could feel she might finally be starting to see an upturn in her fortunes, that’s when she stumbled badly, like the batsman who sees off a hostile spell, only to fall to the change bowler. In the space of a fortnight, she goaded Kevin Rudd at the national conference and was publicly rolled by her own faction on same-s-x marriage.

Then there was the reshuffle, as badly-thought-through and clumsy a reallocation of portfolios from a government as we’ve seen in many years. Rather than shoring up her position, it merely set up 2012 as the year when the Rudd-Gillard tensions look set to be resolved one way or another. It was a spectacular, wholly unnecessary error.

Politician of the year

There’s only one candidate: for all his faults and gaping policy flaws, Tony Abbott has been a masterful political tactician this year. According to all polling, he has massively increased his party’s primary vote in the space of twelve months and left a Labor government facing historic lows in its level of support. He has aggressively and effectively exploited voters’ perception that the Prime Minister misled them on a carbon price. He has hammered the government incessantly on its competence.

Some say he’s had the help of the media. And he’s certainly had The Daily Telegraph in his corner, aggressively backing his tactics. But that’s only a small part of his success. He has stuck resolutely to his most effective tactic, always playing to his strengths.

And, importantly, he’s done it while shielding his own lack of a credible policy on virtually any issue you care to name. Abbott’s own positions on any number of issues are all over the place — he’s somehow able to hold virtually every position it is possible to hold on many issues. He has wrecked the Coalition’s economic credentials with a sharp shift leftward into Big Government interventionism and protectionism. His fiscal strategy is completely incomprehensible, and noteworthy mainly for the continuing problems of the Coalition’s “auditors”, WHK Horwath. But Abbott is able to evade scrutiny on these weaknesses, always able to turn the spotlight back on the government, always able to make sure the focus is on Labor, not his own weaknesses.

Next year will reveal whether Abbott can build on this year’s mostly negative momentum, but for now he can enjoy a summer break conscious of his strong position and the fact that the government may well be torn apart internally in 2012. This year, Abbott has offered a masterclass in political tactics.

50
  • 1
    Mack the Knife
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

    Wayne Swan has been an excellent Treasurer, in economic management terms, but has failed in the key role of communicating the government’s economic reform achievements.’

    The truth is that the Murdoch press and ABC have made up falsehoods and repeated the negative mantras to deliberately bury Labor’s achievements.

    Conversely the conviction and fining of the 4th largest accountancy firm over the deceit of the $11 billion dollar black hole went almost completely unreported

  • 2
    drmick
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    But Abbott is able to evade scrutiny on these weaknesses”. By Whom? Obviously by the fan that wrote this for a start.
    Lets put the same amount of scrutiny on him and see where your “political genius” rates.

  • 3
    ernmalleyscat
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    As shallow as a ‘year in review’ piece should be.
    Worst one this year.

  • 4
    Khupert the Runt
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

    The role of “Our best politician” needs careful qualification.

    If it is the degree to which a politician can swing public opinion his or her way at any cost, then I agree with you that Tony Abbott deserves that title.

    I would have thought that a better definition would have been someone who is able to motivate the nation to move forward in reform , and narrow the wealth and happiness divides. To be someone who one instinctly sees as a stateman (or woman).

    In that regard it’s certainly not Tony, though I’d struggle to pick a real winner well ahead of the rest of the pack - just maybe Bob Brown if he wasn’t so dour.

    It saddens me that we think of our politicians as being those that persuade, regardless of whether their persuasiveness is for the common good. The race to the bottom so ably achieved by Tony Abbott was well described by Mike Carlton in Saturday’s Herald as whinger of the year. Not so much because he actually whinged, but because in that race to the bottom he made us all more precious, more selfish, more reactionary, more mean, and more self focussed.

    In short he has damaged our nation by appealing to our basest instincts and values. This is not a left right political divide question… many politicians of both stripes have demonstrated that they can inspire us to greatness.

    That he has had the support of the Murdoch press is neither surprising nor strengthening of his position, he has conveniently swum with the current to the great detriment of our nation. Much harder to try and swim upstream against popular opinion but with genuine aspirations and objectives.

    Tony Abbott -“Our best politician”? no way!

    Your comments about Malcolm Turnbull are right - he is one of the few politicians that doesn’t treat us like idiots - for that alone Tony should be disqualified!

    That we can consider the quality of politicians in this way troubles me. To me it shows how far down the moral landslide we have slipped, and how compleltely oblivious we have become to it.

  • 5
    Lord Barry Bonkton
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    B.K , 2/10 Still trying to get a job at Ltd News ? Agree with all above , except for S.B , who will come before posting . The media look the other way with Abbott and teams bullshite and continue to ” Make shit UP ” with Labor ?

  • 6
    Mark from Melbourne
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Might have been nice to have someone without the bias of BK do these. It’s just a wrap up of his view of Canberra as expressed through his articles this year which are all pretty much written to reinforce a preordained position.

    And surely a politician has to actually achieve something tangible, and dare I say it, even positive to be declared politician of the year? Abbott hasn’t actually done anything more than get ahead in the polls and if we follow your own argument BK this has really been the government’s own incompetence and level-bestedness at own foot shooting. Even a rubbish award in Crikey should be avoided if we aspire to a better world.

  • 7
    C@tmomma
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I always thought Bernard Keane was an ‘In-the-Closet’ Conservative fanboy. At last he is ‘Out’. He has guaranteed ‘King Tony’ will pat little Bernard lap dog on the head now, when Australia gets it’s Benevolent Dictatorship, er, ‘Guided Democracy’ under Mr Abbott.

  • 8
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 3:08 pm | Permalink

    Do you reckon Turnbull looks better because he’s standing on the mud flats at this low tide?

  • 9
    david
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

    BK I am having great difficulty recalling items written by you or any of the so called political jurnos here at Crikey, that have gone to any lengths, to bring the Opposition to account on their complete negative approach to anything the Govt has brought forward in legislation.
    Your summary of Ministers is stupid, appears to have been slapped together. Yes the tosser Dutton was an utter failure, so were many of his front bench collegues. (what no mention of the gold digging Mirabella).

    Pyne did more than any other MP to reduce the House to a sideshow, Jenkins was equally at fault by his failure to discipline him. You say Pyne did his job well, really? it was pathetic, childish and abuse of the procedures of the House.

    I wont even bother commenting on your Abbott, I don’t intend that murderer of Asylum Seekers to intrude into my Christmas week

    You say…”Then there was the reshuffle, as badly-thought-through and clumsy a reallocation of portfolios from a government as we’ve seen in many years.”…
    ….
    Utter untreated C — p

  • 10
    spudandbeanie
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    Good grief. This is enough to make me want to cancel my subscription.

    Tony Abbott HAS been given a free pass by the media. He’s got nothing but negativity, he has no policies, no economic skills or knowledge. He’s just a stuntman, nothing more, nothing less. If the media did their job and held him to account and told the truth to the Australian people about how hollow he is , his polling would be in negative figures by now.

    So, my nomination for abysmal failure of 2011 is the Australian media and all who sail in her.

  • 11
    PatriciaWA
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Crikey - what crap!

  • 12
    drmick
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Klewso; spot on.
    He is Malcolm Fraser lite ,without Malcolm’s personality. LOL For personality read; “looks like one of the statues on Easter Island but less animated.”
    The signs used by the rednecks at every negative non- event raised by the Murdochracy have already appeared at tea party rallies in the states. My evidence? The spelling mistakes and the sentiment, e.g. “Stop the juice” (presumably that if the Jews), and, ” I don’t use oil, I take the bus”.
    So the “political genius” that is apparently meritorious, is second hand genius courtesy of someone who wants to sell papers at any cost. Even decency and respect.
    Still, this result is consistent when a “journalist” gets an award because a disgruntled loser who wants revenge runs off at the like a sewer to “give” him a “investigative scoop”. Scoop. More like a shovel.

  • 13
    Sam L
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    That Chris Pyne in his non-policy role can be considered the most effective shadow minister says an awful lot about the quality of the shadow ministry. But if we judge him on any measure other than that of being an annoying prat, he’s a failure there as well, given his inability to block government legislation or to prevent his honourable colleagues (such as Mirabella) from getting kicked out of the house at problematic times.

  • 14
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    No wonder this country has the worst politicians on the planet — sorry I just remembered America’s rust-bucket Republican rhetoricians. Second worst politicians on the planet, when a member of the political press states the following, (Tony Abbott) “”a masterful political tactician this year.”” About the repellent leader of the Opposition. Any clod can whinge and lie and suffer a paralysing case of the noes. However, to do this without art, finesse, style or wit, and be lauded for it, is the ultimate political crime.

    Not even Andrew Bolt could have come up with this, mister Keane.

  • 15
    zut alors
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Definitely agree with Conroy being the most effective minister - and he knows the portfolio inside out.

    If there was an award for the most annoying MP sure, give it to Pyne. That Bernard credits Pyne with being the most effective shadow minister says spades about Abbott’s talent-lite front bench (with the exception of Turnbull who should at least be shadow treasurer).

    Tony Abbott as Politician of the Year?! Check your calendar, Mr Keane, it’s not April 1st.

  • 16
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    A little perspective?
    Since when did politicians have to be “good”?
    Who has been “more effective” at the dark art of “modern politics” and all that entails (obfuscation/moral acrobatics/prevarication/double speak etc), than Abbott?
    Maybe we’d get more and better, if they didn’t have to mix with “journo’s”?

  • 17
    Salamander
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Abbott is a professional contortionist. Giving him a gong confirms politics is a circus sideshow. This is too depressing for Christmas week.

  • 18
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    KLEWSO: You prove my point. Keane’s selection is essentially a nasty little man; a fifth-rate human being. The sort of person if met when travelling one attempts to palm oneself off as not being Australian rather than admitting to be a citizen of Oz.

    Bernard Keane should know better than anyone that Niccolò Machiavelli was the Prince, the ultimate practitioner in the black arts of politics, the standard against which everyone else is judged. To utter the words Tony Abbott, in the same breath as Machiavelli is total denigration of the latter. A travesty!

  • 19
    j-boy57
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

    what no Andrew Robb..

  • 20
    Pedantic, Balwyn
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Bernard could have saved a lot of effort for polly of the year by simply running a poll in any News Ltd journal. The result would be the same; as would be the credibility of the pollster.

    Most of us read Crikey to get balanced factual reporting that is now so rare in any of our media. Most of us know that Bolt, Devine etc will misrepresent “facts” to support their opinions, but finding the same tripe dished up in Crikey is a bit thick.

    However, if best polly award means the ability to deceive, evade, misrepresent, adopt populist stances in lieu of policy etc. then Bernard made the right choice.

  • 21
    kennethrobinson2
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink

    I think the prize should go to THE FIRST DOG ON THE MOON, There is not one policition worth a badly corroded 1 cent piece, this has got to be the worst mob EVER

  • 22
    C@tmomma
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink

    I can read better political analysis than this for free.

  • 23
    AR
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    If the MM can be deemed “most effective politician” it shows how despicable an occupation it has become. Sort of “it that’s the answer, it was a dumb question”.
    I hold my nose and nominate Albanese as the most energetic & effective pollie in the House and, for his willingness to face the bussed-in mob of ethically incontinent and morally bankrupt outside his electorate officer, the most courageous.
    Worst,by any measure, is of course Chrissy Whine, errr Pain..sorry Pyne with a dishonourable mention for Peter Dunnuttin - Shadow Health, you say?

  • 24
    david
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 9:05 pm | Permalink

    Seems you are way up there BK with your colleagues in the disreputable Press Gallery den of cr-p. Incidentally how come as you reside in the nations capitol you never front up to the various press conferences and door stops to keep us paying customers informed? If you do, you are very inconspicuous…doubt you are of the shy persuasion, judging by your twitter efforts.

  • 25
    Dogs breakfast
    Posted Monday, 19 December 2011 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    I have marvelled before at BK’s love of Abbott’s tactics, railing against what should be obvious to a journo of some insight, which is that the tactical brilliance is leading him down a strategic black hole.

    Other media have noted how even the lib backbench are uncomfortable with the way TA is now, finally, being stitched up as the boy who said ‘no’.

    But the big problem remains, which is that this negativity and hard hates approach might get him the day to day battles but wins him no respect.

    The obvious response to this by a government that knew what it was doing would be to introduce effective policy and legislation, and like it or lump it, this term has seen some of the bravest and most substantial reform this country has seen since early days of Paul Keating. The NBN and the carbon tax on their own amount to greater reform than the entire Howard decde.

    Alas, the Labor government with a few exceptions, I’m happy to agree with both Conroy for his policy nous, and Alabanese for his parliamentary and public strength in facing down the brainless mob.

    Apart from Turnbull, the opposition has nothing, and they don’t even have the brains to put him back in charge. Well, not yet anyway.

    Politician of the year, Bob Brown with no other contenders. He gave plenty, got a much better carbon tax than we would have had, and if not for Gillard’s stupidity he would have helped her get a real mining tax going.

    Oh yes, but he is the leader of a minor party, so that doesn’t count.

    Khupert (above) tends to have said what I was pretty much thinking. The comments sections, with absence of the notable trolls, enlightens more than the article from BK.

    But that’s not a big downside Bernard, they’re a pretty intelligent lot.

  • 26
    CML
    Posted Tuesday, 20 December 2011 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    Bernard, what crap! None of them are worth ANY awards - all hopeless.

    By the way, where are the articles you should have written? You know, the 200 asylum seekers lost at sea, and the 800 people who lost their lives in a natural disaster in the Phillipians?

    You journos are obsessed with the less than interesting creeps who infest our parliament, for some unknown reason. And more useless polls.

  • 27
    CML
    Posted Tuesday, 20 December 2011 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    Sorry - that should be Philippines.

  • 28
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Tuesday, 20 December 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Berard K.
    It is my contention that much of your above unrequited judgements
    lack a depth and a rationality required for such analysis.
    You fail to mention the unique experience the populace has had to
    adapt with the dynamics of a Minority Government. You fail to
    consider the fact Ms Gillards’ minority government progressed 200
    pieces of legislation through the parliament.
    You dismiss Swan becuase he is an inscipient media performer. His job
    is to be a number cruncher with economic and business precience
    and acumen. All of which he has dosplayed considerable skill in. I am
    not sure the country needs another bloody clown on the stage to
    satisfy the Canberra Press Gallery’s insatiatable appetite for vaudeville.
    You genuflect before the altar of Abbott’s “strategy” with little respect
    to the facts of the matter.
    Abbott political strategy was built on the Canerra Press Gallery’s
    perception that Ms Gillard’s Minority Government would not last for
    more than the next twelve months. In his acceptance of this thesis and
    his rush to acquire the treasury keys he has applied vaudeville
    instead of policy. The result is he has accumulated a load of garbage
    that will take more than the next eighteen months to rid himself of.
    I believe most Australians understand enough of our constitution to
    appreciate that our governments are formed and allowed for three
    year terms.
    It is going to be interesting to watch how Abbott extricates himself
    from the scientific illeterate and economicly innumerate position he
    has identified as his policy parameters

  • 29
    Mike Flanagan
    Posted Tuesday, 20 December 2011 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    Firstly ;my apologies for the foregoing typos.
    Bernard K ;
    I doubt we are using the same dictionary in your interpretation of
    “strategy” In a finely divided parliament I can’t see much success in a
    strategy, that over the course of the last twelve months you lose a vote
    and deliver a vote to your oppositions’ benches. And your own
    palmprints are deeply embedded in the causes of such results.
    The polls are really only salient to strategy when an election is
    imminent

  • 30
    david
    Posted Tuesday, 20 December 2011 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    BK following your genuflecting at the Abbott altar as politician of the year, it is worth reading Abbotts replies over the last week to the PM and Dep PM on the Govts attempts to start urgent and meaningful co-operative negotiations re stopping the deaths of Asylum seekers at sea.
    Are these the words of, quote “a masterful political tactition”, or the continued negative bastardry of a man who couldn’t give a toss about anything except his own personal ambition.
    I also was disgusted to hear yet another blatant lie from the shadow Immigration spokesperson Morisson on News Radio this morning declaring “the Govt was still refusing to come to the negotiating table.” The correspondence in the link below clearly indicates otherwise.

    The letters between Abbott & The PM/Dep PM clearly demonstrates Abbott’s total inability to negotiate/compromise….. ‘masterful political tactician’…yea right!!!! This mongrel has no concern what so ever for peoples lives.

    http://www.canberratimes.com.au/files/45/42/42/000424245/governmentletters.pdf

  • 31
    CML
    Posted Tuesday, 20 December 2011 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    Thank you David. I have read the letters which you provided the link to. What a total bas+++d Tony
    Abbott is. Never mind 150+ people dead, he just wants to play politics. Blood
    y amazing!!

  • 32
    Andrew McIntosh
    Posted Wednesday, 28 December 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Tony Abbott as Politician Of The Year - thank you, Australia, and good night.

  • 33
    The Pav
    Posted Wednesday, 28 December 2011 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    In naming Abbott politician of the year you completely encapsulate what is wrong with Australia’s political media.

    Abbott has achieved nothing except a high media profile and yet this is the basis of describing him as successful.

    Three word grabs in place of policy yet “he’s succesful.

    A govt with an increased majority.Yet he’s succesful

    A govt on a knife edge margin brings in a a huge legislative program against his opposition Yet you regard him as successful

    Alienating his middle ground party supporters.Yet he’s sucessful!

    Abuse. bullying,in ability to handle pressure, spliting his party, complete lack of a coherent ecoinomic policy, inability to even add up.

    Abbott is a total fail on any level and has only escaped because , as you do point out he has escaped any sort of exemination.

    Bernard, policticians should not be rewarded for just playing power games, politics should mean more than that but whilst you and your ilk continue to heap praise on one trick media stunt , spin meister ponies like Abbott Australia will continue to suffer. You have an obligation to reason.

    The words policy and politcain are related.

    The words Abbott and policy are not

  • 34
    Kevin
    Posted Wednesday, 28 December 2011 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    If constant negativity, cynical gutter politics, breathtaking hypocracy, win at any cost, and all round general unpleasantness are virtues we want in our elected representatives then The Leader of the Opposition IS the Politician of the year.

  • 35
    drmick
    Posted Wednesday, 28 December 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    The problem here is the definition of “politician”. Now if we use the parameter that a politician is best described as a gormless witless unrepresentative power hungry parasite muppet, controlled by many different hands up his a**e including big tobacco, mining, big business, and Voldemort press; the the fan from crikey is on the money. Otherwise that fan is in an alternate universe.

  • 36
    Archer
    Posted Wednesday, 28 December 2011 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    @CML

    Thank you David. I have read the letters which you provided the link to. What a total bas+++d Tony Abbott is. Never mind 150+ people dead, he just wants to play politics. Bloody amazing!!”

    That’s what you interpreted?

    Who’s running the country? Who dismantled the original system? Who has she so far capitulated to, thereby increasing arrivals? Who said “another boat another policy failure”.

    Who painted themselves into this corner through ridiculous policy failures created by ridiculous compromises?

    As they say in Asian cultures, our Prime Minister has lost all face on this matter.

    Besides, this is history now. I believe they’re taking up the coalitions proposal

  • 37
    GocomSys
    Posted Wednesday, 28 December 2011 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    Another excellent Limited News style article. Isn’t it time for Keane to find his niche at the Daily Telegraph or the Herald Sun?

  • 38
    Mack the Knife
    Posted Wednesday, 28 December 2011 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

    So true GocomSys, Alan Kholer’s right wing bias has just won him a begging bowl at the Fairfax table (may all his problems come right back to him with added karma) and Bernard wants to follow.

    I won’t be renewing subscription.

    ALL of Bernard’s pieces have sunk to the level where a substantial number of facts have to be ignored and that’s not the Crikey I signed on for.

  • 39
    Barneyj
    Posted Thursday, 29 December 2011 at 7:42 am | Permalink

    I was thinking of taking up a paid subscription in Crikey but if this poor excuse for an article is as good as you can do, I won’t bother.

  • 40
    Lofi
    Posted Thursday, 29 December 2011 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

    That Tony Abbott can be considered a ‘good politician’ says more about the parlous state of politics in this country than anything. In terms of their proper remit, the opposition has shown they’re nothing but a bloody minded wrecking ball, to Australia’s shame both here and overseas. My only hope is that we’ll wake up to this, and replace him and his cohorts with a completely different people, but I’m not holding my breath as we squander what should have been be a nation investing boom period. By the way, he and his ilk are partly responsible for this country’s psyche becoming one of a nation full of negative, poor-me middle-class whiners.

  • 41
    1934pc
    Posted Friday, 30 December 2011 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    After reading that piffle, you wonder why people do not want to subscibe?.

  • 42
    Ferraro John
    Posted Friday, 30 December 2011 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    I enjoy reading your columns and listening to your commentary but this thing about Gillard Rudd conflagration that a lot of the media is predicting [or rather desperately hoping to happen] is getting annoying. Is it her or the media’s constant harping about her that is projecting this negative image of her? I believe it is more of the latter than the former. Notwithstanding the predictions this government looks like it will go the distance. It has introduced major legislations and still seems to have a policy agenda to pursue. The dependency on the Independents seems to keep the labor Party on its toes and that is no bad thing. There is enough lies and obfuscations from the major media that should be exposed without you getting on the Gillard negativity bandwagon. I sound like a fan. Really I just want the government to determine their agenda and have the courage to implement it. essentially they have been doing a decent job since they got in two elections ago.

  • 43
    Randy ROSE
    Posted Saturday, 31 December 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

    Brilliant and spot-on Bernard. Great to see the whinging by the emotional lefties who are unable to see what the majority of Australians can. If Tony A is no-good why are the Libs so far away ahead in the polls (or are they corrupt also?). Perhaps Oz voters don’t deserve such a wonderful Labor Party?

  • 44
    WelBil
    Posted Tuesday, 3 January 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    You’ve left by far the most significant politician out.

    Abbott himself has made much of his regard for him and will readily admit to asking and no doubt taking his advice.

    Lately it seems I can’t turn on the Teev without seeing him, either as a “climate change agnostic” (wtf!) or as being very much in the favour of Her Majesty.

    At the moment, he has what I imagine is the exquisite pleasure of maximising the discomfiture of the labor party through his pet attack dog whilst seemingly standing aloof, offering pearls of wisdom.

    So, I would have to say John Howard is the politician of the year, albeit vicariously. The Government overlook him at their peril.

  • 45
    fredex
    Posted Tuesday, 3 January 2012 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Tony Abbott has been a masterful political tactician this year”

    This is a joke right [it is whether Bernard/Crikey is aware of it or not]?
    Or its click bait.
    Or satire.
    Or something.
    One thing it isn’t …intelligent unbiased analysis.

  • 46
    Posted Tuesday, 3 January 2012 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    How can John Howard be a politician without standing for election, first by the public, then by his own party? But, don’t worry, Tony Abbott has exactly the same….well I can’t call it a philosophy-preoccupations as little butter-fat Johnny.

    As with nearly all right-wing Catholics Abbott is a brown-nosing monarchist. Rest assured that if the Liberal Party and Tony Abbott get into power it will be the end of all previous gains. A complete regression back to the days of the DLP in the 1950s and 1960s. Have a look at the new DLP member of Ballarat, John Madigan, oh what an addition to parliament he will be. (joke)

    If you are a woman you should look at all the laws the terminator intends to reverse. It will be back to backyard abortion, people continuing to die in maximum agony, massive funding-on top of all the existing funding for the Catholic Church, and all forms of birth control measures will be met with endless difficulties, if not plain inability to get them at all.

    Tony Abbott is a hobgoblin, pure and simple.

    All fundamentalist religious believers have complete fear about the sexual autonomy of females. Tony Abbott and his fellow Catholics in the Liberal Party represent the most divisive threat to women ever known in the history of Australia since Federation.

    As for Tony Abbott, doubtless he has lectured far and wide his distaste for the way the Catholic Church guards its sodomising priests and prevents them from being tried-as with all other Australians-before the Law. Yes Mr Abbott?

  • 47
    Karen
    Posted Wednesday, 4 January 2012 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    Abbott has only been a ‘masterful tactician’ because the media has let him. With media like the Daily Tele in your corner, how can you go wrong. Easy to counter it, though. Adopt the Gillard daily negative headline strategy with Abbott as well, he too will be yesterday’s man. As we know, media build and tear down people all the time.

    So, BK, get the ball rolling for 2012 (in the interests of even-handedness). As you have pointed out, there is plenty of material to work with when it comes to Abbott. And take your Canberra press corp colleagues with you.

  • 48
    Karen
    Posted Wednesday, 4 January 2012 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    Oh, a happy new year to you BK - I have enjoyed many of your articles, other Crikey journos and contributors and, last but not least, the Crikey readers. I look forward to some very interesting reading on the Crikey website in 2012.

  • 49
    Holden Back
    Posted Monday, 9 January 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    Being a ‘masterful tactician’ doesn’t preclude being a lousy strategist.

  • 50
    Posted Tuesday, 10 January 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    HOLDEN BACK: Ah, what a talent. You have said everything I was trying to say in ten words. Congratulations.

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