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Federal

Jan 29, 2013

Deconstructing Tony: Abbott and the manufacture of authenticity

Tony Abbott's efforts to portray himself as an everyday bloke sit uneasily with his previous attempts to be a conservative intellectual.

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“Isn’t it bizarre that this government thinks that somehow raising the price of electricity is going to clean up our environment, stop bushfires, stop floods, stop droughts? Just think of how much hotter it might have been the other day but for the carbon tax!”

Thus spoke Tony Abbott at the Liberals’ “federal campaign rally” on Sunday in Lidcombe, in Sydney’s west.

Some might quibble with the Leader of the Opposition about his take on the carbon price. Among them, perhaps most prominently, is Abbott himself. After all, in 2009, well before the putsch he led against Malcolm Turnbull, this was his observation:

“If Australia is greatly to reduce its carbon emissions, the price of carbon intensive products should rise.”

That was what Abbott himself termed “A Realist’s Approach to Climate Change“, in which he thoughtfully made the case for a carbon tax.That was around the same time as Abbott’s conservative think-piece, Battlelines.

The 2009-Abbott-as-policy-thinker, of course, was stating the bleeding obvious. The responsiveness of demand to price increases is a foundation of economics. As 2009-Abbott noted, the straightforward way to reduce the use of carbon-intensive products is to make them more expensive. And he was aware of the incongruity of a Liberal proposing a new tax:

“The Coalition has always been instinctively cautious about new or increased taxes. That’s one of the reasons why the former government opted for an emissions trading scheme over a straight-forward carbon tax. Still, a new tax would be the intelligent skeptic’s way to deal with minimising emissions because it would be much easier than a property right to reduce or to abolish should the justification for it change.”

As we’ve noted before, Abbott has little interest in consistency. That his Sunday address contained statements that contradicted not merely the most basic principles of economics, but his own clearly articulated views, is of no moment. And anyway, this was a campaign speech, and such speeches are the last place you want serious content and rigid adherence to fact. Such events are about geeing up the faithful, about creating energy, about generating positive imagery.

But that gives us some interesting opportunities for analysis, because as any novelist will tell you, it’s when we’re telling stories that we’re at our most truthful, and Abbott’s words make for some interesting unpacking.

The baking hot summer, and the subsequent floods, have made life difficult for climate denialists. Insistence that the planet is not getting warmer — or, as Abbott until recently insisted, is getting slightly cooler — has become more difficult to maintain publicly, despite the faulty logic of linking weather to climate. One alternative is to suggest a carbon price in Australia has demonstrably failed if it has not already stopped global climate change. Barnaby Joyce had been using this line for a while. “It’s very hot today so the carbon tax isn’t working very well,” he said at the beginning of December.

But Abbott’s intent isn’t to perform a dance of responsibility around climate change, beyond declaring that his own policy (involving underpaying farmers to bury carbon in soil by processes neither scientifically nor economically viable), will do the trick.

Rather, Abbott is about positioning himself as a regular bloke. Painfully aware that he shares with the Prime Minister the unenviable position of being widely disliked by the electorate — indeed, he is even more disliked than the Prime Minister — Abbott’s goal is to portray himself as a normal voter, one at ease in the Liberals’ western Sydney “heartland”.

Joe Hockey had been a great friend since they were both front rowers at uni, he declared at the start of his speech on Sunday, although within 24 hours MPs were wishing they’d had a scrum on the Coalition’s fiscal policy before finishing the day. “We are a pretty normal family, with a mortgage, with bills,” he went on to say. “We know what it is like not to be sure whether you’ve got enough money in your bank account at the end of the month.”

Abbott, educated at Riverview, Sydney University’s St John’s College and Oxford, who currently earns $350,000 plus MPs’ perks, ostensibly makes a poor simulacrum of your average western Sydney bloke, but this is a man with an unusually strong grasp of what narratives work with voters.

This explains the mockery of a carbon price. Aware of strong concerns about rising electricity prices, Abbott readily embraces the scepticism of ordinary voters about counter-intuitive economic mechanisms. How can increasing the price of anything possibly be good? How can paying more for electricity stop climate change? Surely it’s the sort of ridiculous, theoretical rubbish out-of-touch intellectuals come up with because they don’t live in the real world.

This is part of a political culture of manufacturing authenticity, one about repurposing the old line that once you can fake sincerity, you’ve got it made. But trying to confect authenticity can take politicians to some peculiar places. Abbott’s efforts are more subtle than the “real Julia” of the 2010 election campaign, or Gillard’s early efforts as Prime Minister to portray herself as a sort of Stakhanovite advocate of ceaseless manual labour, or for that matter Kevin Rudd’s ludicrously over-the-top Queenslandisms.

But in this case, it’s led to Abbott, knockabout western Sydney bloke, laughing off the sort of ivory-tower silliness Abbott, conservative intellectual and Oxonian, once advocated.

Bernard Keane — Politics Editor

Bernard Keane

Politics Editor

Bernard Keane is Crikey’s political editor. Before that he was Crikey’s Canberra press gallery correspondent, covering politics, national security and economics.

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62 comments

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62 thoughts on “Deconstructing Tony: Abbott and the manufacture of authenticity

  1. Kevin Korb

    I’ve posted a reply to this at http://bayesian-intelligence.com/bwb/
    “Weather and Climate Change: Faulty Logic”

  2. Coaltopia

    @1 – I prefer “shameleon”

  3. Rich Uncle Skeleton

    Calderwood,

    The models predict long term changes in climate, not short term ENSO variations. They’ve been remarkably accurate since the 80’s, and certainly more accurate than any model produced by any so-called “sceptic”.

    You guy funny.

  4. Spike

    klewso: Are you a structual functionalist or a symbolic interactionist?

    jimmy. Man you’re educated, clever use of sophistry! Being old bloke, means I can look back at 67 years of Labour + Liberal Governments. I was raised Jimmy, in a ‘religious fervor’ Labour family/household. Until Whitlam [voted for] I preached the labour gospel. My siblings did also; we’ve changed to Liberal. We all changed due to Whitlam + his govt. He did bring Aussies home from Vietnam, so well done that man!…Life’s taught me : Politicians promise us everything, give us nothing + before we get it, take it off us! Doesn’t matter Jimmy, which side of the ‘house’ they’re on. They all have snouts in the proverbial taxpayer funded trough! Ergo Jimmy, I learnt to observe the two major parties + judged them on which provided best. “Best” for me/family/friends/workmates/industry/commerce/ employees/employment figures/hospitals/schools/border protection/ armed forces/national economic strength: ‘real life’ stuff, where the ‘rubber meets the road’ as they say.
    My vote, based on track record history of both parties must go to Liberal Party…Settle down Jimmy…The ideal party doesn’t exist; certainly my idea of one anyway. So I’ll vote for the best of what I consider a bad lot!…There’s been historically good decisions/ acts from both parties: Howard’s $1.50 for every $1.00 Superannuation scheme, helps pensioner ‘peasants’ like me. Superannuation was however a Labour Party decision + a good one; so it goes Jimmy–that’s life!

  5. Jimmy

    Dogs Breakfast – The world economy is already truning and will be in much better shape by election time than now, how that translates to Australian economic conditions is a bit unknown because a lot of issues are caused by “confidence” which has been battered by the relentless negativity from the media, high savings rates (which is actually good in the long term but doesn’t help retail now), the transition phase the mining sector is in and the stubbornly high dollar.

    However if Abbott get’s in and actually does everything he says he will there is no way he could be seen as a good economic manager, cutting revenue and increasing spending while achieving a surplus just doesn’t work and his austerity measures in order to achieve this in a slowing Australian economy will quickly cause a recession.

  6. Dogs breakfast

    I have a horrible feeling that the economic world may turn for the better this year, the coalition wins govt and once again they ride the glorious wave of economic good times and pee substantial tax receipts up against the wall, again.

    And the real kicker, the average imbecile will see this, again, as evidence of how the coalition are much better managers of the economy.

    Good grief!

  7. Dogs breakfast

    “Results indicated we seem to want more roads, better public transport and more police.” Exactly Damian. David Hand may think the average punter intellignet enough to know what’s what, but they don’t actually know that these are all handled by state governments, not Federal.

    And the average punter, when told this, doesn’t really care either.

    Voting these days is more about punishment than reward, and therefore Abbott has the whip hand. The reality is that this govt has been one of the most active in terms of genuine reform in living memory, right up there with Hawke/Keating. I’m talking BIG reform, not Costello’s tiddlywinks and handouts to the wealthy. To be fair, coalition achieved on BIG reform in 11 years, the GST.

    Howard govt was politically astute, and economically bereft, bouyed by the best conditions in Aust’s history in terms of tax receipts, all from factors outside th coalition control. They were profligate, worse than Whitlam, but politically astute and with a timid media.

    Abbot the other day said something to the effect “It’s a choice between higher taxes, or lower taxes.”

    It’s effective politics, but a professional media would be calling him out on this. Lower taxes, promises of surpluses, it don’t add up!

    The average punter isn’t completely stupid, as David Hand thinks people here are saying, they just don’t care that much.

  8. tonyfunnywalker

    This Liar bit is wearing a bit thin and if Gillard is a liar then what about Howard who took us to war on a lie ( weapons of mass destruction ) and Abbott “that the carbon tax would end society as we know it”.

    Abbott is a populist and this campaign will determine both his substance and ability to lead… unless there is a vote that will make Turnbull the leader.
    Perhaps Abbott should be honest with himself and do a Gorton.

    Hope so..

  9. Liz45

    Who can recall Abbott’s comments not long after the 2007 Election when he whined about having to live on an opposition’s back bench salary? Of course since then, they’ve all received a very large increase in their incomes.

    And yet, the Opposition voted with the Govt to remove the sole parent benefit for those people whose youngest child has turned 8. It is beyond disgusting for him to attempt to make out that he’s just ‘a struggling person like us’?

    Already there are women who’ve changed their mind about leaving a violent relationship as their youngest child is or soon will be 8. On the day the PM announced this, I rang her office in Canberra to put this point to her directly. Any murders or awful abusive situations will have their dirty hands all over them. This disgraceful policy change will only save $750 million over 4 years, and yet there are BILLIONS owing by wealthy businesses in unpaid tax. Why don’t they go after them? The Govt and the Opposition are behaving in a reprehensible manner on this issue. Shame on them!

  10. Venise Alstergren

    What people like Andrew Bolt and Tony Abbott fall on their faces is about their permanent equation of rain equaling cold weather. Given the fact it is summer, it is more than feasible the floods are merely part of a warmer climate-and a more humid one.

    Now you call jump on me for not understanding the science of the whole thing.

  11. Hamis Hill

    Labor is already in government and the Conservatives are clearly not ready for government at all.

  12. Hamis Hill

    Saving the nation from Howard’s $1.25 Trillion Mortgage debt and the yearly $60 Billion interest Bill will be impossible under an Abbott administration.
    In fact interest will rise making the bill for the feel good, Howard, private debt orgy close to $100 Billion per annum.
    Recession here we come, Businesses everywhere jump aboard your ship of fools, under Captain Cretin.

  13. The Pav

    Spike

    Think you neeedd to take a reality pill.

    The IMF have labeled only tow govt’s profligate Howard & Menzies.

    Whilst the current govt is far from perfect it is far better than anything Abbott would have produced and certainly Howard

    I lost faith in Howard when years ago while earning $129K pa ( do the calculation of waht that would be in today;s dollars) he thrust $7,500 pa into my hands in the FTB scheme.

    I had no need of the money and it was totally unnecessary.

    I then started to take a closer look at Howard/Costello and the scales fell from my eyes.

    I now consider them to be easily the worst & most incompetent govt although they were clearly by a long stretch the most able politically

  14. blackdog

    jimmy – wouldn’t the main and significant answer to your questions be – that the coalition has no vision for a healthy balanced society and thus cannot make wise choices on what to do to build said society, ie goals, objectives, values?? All Abbott stands for at present is causing continual disruption and disharmony, lying, pretending, acting, and fiction (oh and just undoing other actions)…and the Australian public, now accustomed to a MSM that does the same fiction, is at risk of not recognising his BS for exactly what it is!!

  15. Jimmy

    SPike – “Gillard/Labour socialist party are the worst government in Australian history. They’ve placed Australia into massive debt; gone Howard/Liberal Party $$$’s surplus!” In contractionary global economic conditions do you advocate the govt running a contractionary fiscal setting?

    Also could you advise what the govt’s budget position would be if the Howard govt tax revenues had been maintained?

    And once you have answered that could you advise as to why Howards surpluses were so small? And why no investment in infrastructure was made?

  16. klewso

    On a diet, when faced with a doughnut do just eat the hole – the most pertinent part (for you at that time) – or start there?

  17. Spike

    One of the worst realities for Democratic Govt, is when the opposition party is weak, ineffective, flacid, lacking force ‘on the [house] floor.’ Tony Abbott + his liberal party unfortunately for Australia: tick all those negative boxes! Gillard/Labour socialist party are the worst government in Australian history. They’ve placed Australia into massive debt; gone Howard/Liberal Party $$$’s surplus! Watch Tony + his party ‘on the floor’. He appears frightened to make strong, forceful statements? Punch the bloody air Tony, slam the tabletop, raise your voice, grab the podium! Get animated! You’ve got the weakest, most indecisive, unpopular govt, in our history! What’s holding you back?Have a flamin’ crack mate! Save our nation from the dragon + her socialist gang!

  18. Hominoid

    Two words describe Direct Action Man – “Di*k” and “Sh*t”. Politicians are, understandably, contradictory and hypocritical simply because they are the repository of competing demands in the electorate. Aabboott has gone well beyond the bounds and crossed the line into politicosociopathy. All his supposed intelligence and “faith” count for nothing now. He stands for himself, nothing else. Australia is poorer for his ilk.

  19. blackdog

    People who deny the risks of climate change are highly foolish individuals…a voting population who cares little for a political party to offer effective policies for addressing it is also foolish and destined for collective destruction at some point in the future…a political party that does not recognise their responsibility to address the wealth, food security and safety needs of their populace is negligent.

    Our modern age has built up its own opinion of itself as a “civilised” and wise era where the exploitation and abuses of past imperialist acts is condemned. Colonisation of new lands such as our own sunburnt, flooding country…shows the wicked impacts on our indigenous populations even to the preent day with lies, hiding truths, denial and blame-of-the-victim…this insistence in denying there is negative climate change is no different.

    We no longer have any new lands to exploit…to increase the wealth and power of our ruling classes and to buffer-up the social structures that keep these groups in control/dominance…so we are now using the same imperialist process/attitude on our own future generations!! We are exploiting our own futures, the lives, self-determination, decision making processes, wealth, food security, disease/health circumstances of future generations of our own people…

    Forget flood victims, forget victims of war, forget asylum seekers, forget high unemployment…one day we will ALL be subject to new conditions of neglect, class divisions and social/health problems (with the demands for new solutions these will create) that neglecting care of our planet will cause in the next few generations.

    And it won’t so much, be the tiny AVERAGE increases that will do this – it will be that 1-2 days in the year that are well over 45 degrees Celsius, or an unseasonably cold day with frost that will wipe out entire crops and make food production unprofitable…bud-burst and other biological events require certain conditions…you can argue all you like…one hot day right when bud-burst is building and there goes an entire crop down the toilet…

    Or the spread of present diseases human/plant/animal and development of new ones with new climatic conditions…food supply? Public health costs?? Quarantine and freedom to breed, transport and raise stock??? Controls for these AND costs of it????

    Where do we get our fruit from then? Who will stay in an industry where production costs and surplus cannot be reached? Who will be responsible for food production – the state? Overseas countries? A corporation? Where does choice, control, regulation, price control, democratic processes, availability go then?

    Tamas you are shortsighted and without vision the people perish – pity that people (and politicians) like you will bring us all down…an entirely new tragedy of the commons!

  20. blackdog

    If Abbott is trying to compare his (and his family’s) living conditions with the struggles of ordinary Australians, or those from our poorer suburbs – I think we are intelligent enough to think…

    “Hmmm…I live on a Centrelink payment, or juggle 2-3 PT/casual jobs, or have no job security…and either the Great Australian Dream is out of my reach, or I am constantly at risk of losing my home…and Abbott lives off $350,000 PLUS numerous over-generous perks and privileges…what reality is he living in to dare comparing himself to an ordinary citizen?!!”

    In my mind it just provides even more evidence of his lack of connection with reality – pathological LIARS are those who tell great lies that others can pick easily as untruth, while that LIAR cannot see/feel their own lack of touch with reality…

    If he struggles so much on hi $300,000+ – why the resistance to increasing unemployment benefits, pensions and placing single parents onto unemployment obligations and incomes???

    I reckon we should just give him enough rope to hang himself…everything he does is fake, staged, manipulated and when that doesn’t work he’s an aggro bully…yeah great PM material – NOT!!

  21. Person Ordinary

    @Tamas The very quote you used proves your argument wrong. ” … likely that the slowdown in climate forcing growth rate … ”

    A slowdown in growth rate is still growth. Perhaps you don’t know what is meant by climate forcing, so you sort of ignored that part of the sentence?

    Maybe the IPCC reports would be a good place to start to inform yourself, and you might avoid self delusions like “So THE SCIENCE says it isn’t warming.” Or would you rather hang on to your comforting delusions?

  22. Jimmy

    I was going to post about Tamas’ stupidity but it appears it has been covered pretty well.

    MJPC – “President Obama has admitted one of the great challenges of his term will be addressing climate change, in concert with China.” Yet Waht Abbott took out of it was that because the US hadn’t acted already (despite the numerous states that have a carbon price including California) we are acting alone. Go Figure.

  23. oldskool

    No Tamas obviously understands very little of large complex systems. If it is not a geometric progression then it is not a progression period. Therefore I suggest we all feel a little pity for Tams and his obvious incompetencies and move on.

  24. MJPC

    It is not significant that Abbott used a Liberal party rally to make his gormless comments. Whether LNP, Labour, Greens they all tell the faithfull what they want to hear. The frightening thing is that the LNP win the election (God forbid) they will be entering a world very different from that of the Great Prophet Howard and his time of plenty (for those who were not subject to Work Choices).
    President Obama has admitted one of the great challenges of his term will be addressing climate change, in concert with China.
    Todays papers have a story about canned air in China. The creator stated it is being produced to make a point, about toxic air conditions in many Chinese cities.
    The Beijing mayor has vowed to take measures to reduce coal consumption and improve energy consumption (et.al carbon taxes?).
    As with most LNP policies, they will either do nothing to address environmental damage, or do token efforts to look after the status quo. Alas world circumstances may necessitate they do much more and I do believe Mr Abbott will be shown as the emporer withour budgie smugglers.

  25. Hamis Hill

    Tamas, you apparently, are incorrigible but is it only an act?, as per John Howard’s high school debates, successfully translated into politics, where facts and the truth are irrelevant to arguments?
    Science and engineering are the wrong fields for your endeavours.
    Witch hunting might be a better employment climate; looks like lots of openings in an Abbott-led administration.
    Some of the two million new jobs? (as in Newman’s QLD?).
    Now there is an actual as compared to an apparent reverse into recession.
    Now do believe that apparitions are actually real though clearly visible or obvious?

  26. geomac62

    Tamas
    Your addicted to seeing what you want .
    “Clearly visible or understood; obvious” ( with clause ) it became apparent he was talented/ for no apparent reason she laughed
    * seeming real or true , but not necessarily so : his apparent lack of concern .
    Strange that you only copied the part that suited your purpose . Textbook practice really so not strange at all , cherry pick what suits and discard relevant material that doesn,t .

  27. Tamas Calderwood

    You guys funny. Here is the definition of apparent:

    “Clearly visible or understood; obvious”

    That would be the “Clearly visible or understood; obvious” standstill in global temperature.

    Not quite what the doom models have been predicting, eh?

  28. John Bennetts

    Love the image and your perceptiveness, Sharkie!

  29. Sharkie

    “Invitation only audience”.
    I’m tipping the Liberal machine bused them in from the north and east. They certainly didn’t look like proper westies to me. Not one mullet, blue singlet or neck tattoo.

  30. geomac62

    Sharkie
    Invitation only audience . Abbott needs to go with the script and the crowd must be the right type . One constant with Abbott is the refusal to answer any question off script with the most recent being Bernardi . Previous to that it was Brough and Ashby , no comment , too busy doing important stuff for Australia . What ? Chumming up with school chaps at Oxford .

  31. geomac62

    Tamas
    Apparently if I say ” I,d kill for a beer ” I,m saying I,m a potential murderer . Even the word apparent escapes your logic in your focusing on one sentence . The only question I would ask is , did you read the interview ? It seems you are only interested in that one sentence . Maybe thats all you have actually read from a blog ?

  32. Sharkie

    “Such events are about geeing up the faithful, about creating energy, about generating positive imagery.”
    The Liberal north shore elite have nothing in common with your average westie. Everybody knows it, so creating the “necessary” imagery isn’t easy for the toffs.
    They did do quite well though, with a whiter-than-white audience waving “stronger borders” placards. That should keep the angry (and thick as pig sh!t) tattoo belt voting Liberal.

  33. Hamis Hill

    Apparent, Tamas, apparent,
    Look it up in a dictionary!

  34. Hamis Hill

    As explained elsewhere the “recent apparent standstill” is actually like the reduction in growth in China by one percent or so to a still growing economy of seven percent, cunningly misconstrued by some as a complete reversal into negative growth.
    The rate of increase in temperature has neither come to a standstill nor gone into reverse yet this reduction in the rate of increase has been touted as such.
    Can we deny the voting franchise to people who insist that a caveman’s mathematical mind set be used in these debates?
    Now that would be extremely “Pertinent”.
    Or can we take up their standards and just club them right out of the gene pool?
    An extinction that many might applaud as a just reward for bring so deliberatly, annoyingly stupid.
    What planet did these idiots come from?

  35. Tamas Calderwood

    Guys – you can quote Hansen’s whole scare piece, but the pertinent line is “the recent apparent standstill in global temperature”.

    Bernard seems to think this isn’t true. Why?

  36. geomac62

    Tamas
    James said quite a few things but you isolate one sentence .
    The average global surface temperature in 2012 was 0.56C warmer than the average for the period 1951 to 1980 and, overall, the year was nominally the ninth warmest on record, although it was barely indistinguishable in rank from several other years, said James Hansen, director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

    Although global temperatures have been flat for about a decade, all of the top ten warmest years have occurred since 1998 and the “climate dice” are now sufficiently loaded for people to notice that unusually warm seasons are occurring much more frequently than they did a few decades ago, Dr Hansen said.
    Now can you explain your comment that science says it isn,t warming ? How did you arrive at that conclusion without any justification ?
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/2012-was-ninth-warmest-year-on-record-with-temperatures-significantly-above-longterm-average-8452937.html

  37. Waste of Time

    Tamas – why don’t you provide the full quote, or a link to the article so that we can all see you have misrepresented what was actually published.

  38. Mike Flanagan

    Tamas;
    A very selective and myopic qoute from Hansen worthy of the Murdoch scribblers.
    Read his whole statemnt.

  39. Tamas Calderwood

    Bernard,

    You say that “The baking hot summer, and the subsequent floods, have made life difficult for climate denialists. Insistence that the planet is not getting warmer — or, as Abbott until recently insisted, is getting slightly cooler — has become more difficult to maintain publicly, despite the faulty logic of linking weather to climate”

    Yet James Hansen of NASA GISS recently said that ” it is likely that the slowdown in climate forcing growth rate contributed to the recent apparent standstill in global temperature.”

    So THE SCIENCE says it isn’t warming, yet you still insist it is. How do you explain the discrepancy?

  40. geomac62

    If Abbott were to succeed in gaining office it would be appropriate to address him as PT Abbott , prime thing Abbott . Similar to his use of chair thing . Lets face it he has done everything he could to denigrate the office of PM so its only fitting should he attain that office he gets the suitable title , PT .

  41. The Pav

    TonyFW

    More like Cheap and nasty

  42. Damien

    I live in a Coalition seat that used to be a safe Labor seat. The local member surveys residents for issues to take up in Canberra. Results indicated we seem to want more roads, better public transport and more police. No wonder Federal politics is seen as a spectator sport – no one appears to understand what it does or how it affects them. They just want to go to work, come home and be entertained. They do like the odd cash handout, though. This is fertile ground for a populist politician and Tony is cultivating it for all he’s worth.

  43. tonyfunnywalker

    He sounds a bit like a Supermarket Generic House Brand. – cheap and cheerful.

  44. Redolent

    Quite contrary indeed. “Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.” – Twain.

  45. Mike Flanagan

    Come on David!
    You can do better than that, and at least support your declamatory speculation with some rational supporting facts.
    I look forward to your supporting arguments to your above observations.
    What has the Aggott offered the good foke of Western Sydney?
    More roads to be filled by cars and fossil fuel burners to enrich the Kochtopus’s coffers, and then perhaps let us all attire ourselves in lycra and budgie snugglers as a tribute to our offspring and future generations.

  46. Hamis Hill

    The rules of propaganda, taught in post-war Australians High schools as a guide to the methods used by a certain un-mentionable dictator to destroy a democracy but now available for reading on the internet.
    Knock yourselves out.
    Go on , read them, you know you want to!

  47. David Hand

    Oh this is great.
    The view from the informed and intelligent punters in the Crikey Crypt is that voters of western Sydney are too dumb to know they are being had.

    Yep, if only those dang voters could see sense and vote Labor! They can’t be trusted with a vote!!

    Democracy is in ruins! Let’s all slash our wrists!! It’s all MSM’s fault!!

  48. Hamis Hill

    As an historical but relevant aside, the original Anglican church of Alfred the Great was, like his Celtic Christian neighbours, committed to scholarship and missionary teaching, including literacy, both in England and on the Continent.
    Come the Norman conquest under a papal banner, a crusade as it were against “Infidels”, who unlike Christians could be conveniently enslaved, the bright future of learning and progress intitiated by Alfred was instead relaced by a centuries long “dumbing down” of the Poms, from which they and consequently Australians, through their English heritage, have not yet completely recovered.
    So Abbott has inherited a long-tested capacity for subduing and dumbing down a conquered population, the better to rule them by an entitled minority.
    Terrible stuff, History, just won’t go away!
    Abbott knows exactly what he is doing it, is tried and true, down through the centuries, and he knows that most of his victims dont know; after all isn’t that the objective? (He, He)
    It remains to be seen whether the MSM is part and parcel of this ancient and cynical game of power.

  49. Sue11

    Oh dear I can barely stand the thought of what’s going to unfold this year and 2013 has only just begun. As a political junky who even watches Senate committee goings on that is not a good sign so early in an election year

  50. Jimmy

    Klewso – “Why would the media (dominated as it is, by what) “do it’s job”? They’re boy is “ahead on points”.” I know it seems to be asking a lot but surely at some time in an election year questions might start getting asked?

    The Pav – “Encapsulates what is wrong with Australian politics and thjose who report them. I cannot argue strongly enough that such contrdictions are of no moment. To say so is a ridiulous position to take.” Exactly!!!

  51. The Pav

    Is Abbott for real in saying this”We are a pretty normal family, with a mortgage, with bills,” he went on to say. “We know what it is like not to be sure whether you’ve got enough money in your bank account at the end of the month.”

    It is wrong any way you look at it.

    If he can’t survive on $350K then he’s a crap money manager and only a fool would put him in charge of the nations finances ( particular if he has a Treasurer who can’t add up and is already scared of him)

    If he is surviving on $350K then he’s just a liar

    Onl;y a complete fool would make such a completely stupid statement

  52. The Pav

    The Comment “That his Sunday address contained statements that contradicted not merely the most basic principles of economics, but his own clearly articulated views, is of no moment.”

    Encapsulates what is wrong with Australian politics and thjose who report them. I cannot argue strongly enough that such contrdictions are of no moment. To say so is a ridiulous position to take.

    Average Joe Blow doesn’t have time to keep track of people’s statements.that’s what journalist are for. They’re the paid professionals.aren’t they

    If Abbott had said my view previoulsy was this but it has changed beacuse of this then we can see th thougyt process and accept/reject his logic but if politicians are not to be held to account in ant way.and it seems that Abbott is particularly blessed with this communal blindness, then why bother?

    It just means that there is a free pass to say whatever you like.

    Perhaps some real accountability instead of beat ups on silly tasteless unfunny jokes by Tim Matheson might serve both the profession of journalism and the country better

  53. Hamis Hill

    As the Old Chinese adage says: “if you get something for nothing, it’s worth nothing”.
    Which is why, if Abbott becomes PM while doing nothing to earn it, he will make that office worth nothing.
    By so severely, diminishing the value of a vote, hard won through past struggle, perhaps Abbott and his cynical supporters will achieve an objective to humble democracy even more than already has achieved deliberately, by what Jana Wendt famously called, to the destruction of her career, the “Dumbing Down” of Australians by her fellow journalists.
    And Bernard highlights Abbott’s skills in this regard.
    Abbott was taught to apply propaganda by the “experts”?

  54. klewso

    Why would the media (dominated as it is, by what) “do it’s job”? They’re boy is “ahead on points”.

  55. Jimmy

    “The baking hot summer, and the subsequent floods, have made life difficult for climate denialists” SO you didn’t read “A blot” yesterday claiming the floods prove “warmists” are wrong?

    And as for Abbott, his inconsistencies can be lined up for miles but yet he get’s away with the claim that the libs don’t fib?

    He may not have to do muc to win this election buutif the media ever decided to actually do it’s job he may have to work that bit harder, for example maybe an investigative journalist could put some effort into the Ashby affair?

    Or maybe just maybe someone might start asking what an Abbott lead govt would look like, after all what policies did this new booklet outline?

    How does a surplus in a slowing economy while simultaneously reducing govt income and increasing govt expenditure occur and how does it effect the economy? What are his IR policies, why should we accept the roling back of varioous means tests? Why should the tax payer fork out $75k for someone to take maternity leave?

    The questions are easy, yet no one seems willing to ask them.

  56. CML

    @ SusieQ – I agree with you. Trouble is there are all those “persons” (mostly male!) in western Sydney and other places, with half a brain. They apparently don’t have the capacity to work out what Bernard is saying, so will vote for the rAbbott anyway, because he sounds appealing, even though he is ly+ng through his teeth.
    May the gods help us all!!!

  57. SusieQ

    I’m surprised he even knows where Western Sydney is!!! Has anyone taken him to task for calling Tim Mathieson ‘this person’ today? How would he feel if Julia called Margie ‘this person’.
    No, his new softly spoken tone will not add to his attractiveness at all – there is NOTHING that can.

  58. Merve

    If Gillard is a liar, then what does that make Abbott?

  59. Honest Johnny

    I agree with the statement “this is a man with an unusually strong grasp of what narratives work with voters”. Abbott honed this skill while opposing (for sport) lefties and intellectuals at Sydney Uni. His “ha ha ha”, back-slapping blokey persona, enhanced at RFS and SLS club houses is all a charade to build up the narrative. His media stunts, and over-the-top statements (later quietly retracted) are a skillful use of the MSM. Despite his unpopularity, if he gets the knockabout Western Sydney bloke vote, he’s in.

  60. مكينSouthPacificSpunk

    you can deconstruct the Abbotage all you like but he needs to do very little to win this election. he’s got the labor’s frenemies, the greens constantly attacking the alp. his new softly spoken tone will add immense attractiveness to the budgie smuggler and will woo the women the lnp’s side.

  61. klewso

    “Pecu-liar places”? Look where “Honest John” ended up?

    “Cost : demand”? There’s only one reason I’m not buying that blue Lamborghini this year – besides the boot space of course.

    And “Oxonian”? Is that any relation to an “Oxy-moron”?

  62. klewso

    Fake sincerity and you’ve got it made.
    A leopard can’t change his spots and a cane toad can’t change his warts : while a chameleon can change it’s colours to suit the mood – he can’t change his diet.

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