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Crikey says: a wake-up call for Tony Abbott

Tony Abbott’s in the doldrums. But younger Australians are the big losers, writes Bernard Keane. Plus the looming debt trap for students. The waves that could flood Australia’s economic recovery; the clues from Chinese steel mills. A new political era in India: Crikey is on the ground. Ukraine’s separatism may have a life of its own. Plus the right-wing Hack at Triple J.

In June 2010, then-prime minister Kevin Rudd was ahead 52-48% on the two-party-preferred vote, according to Newspoll. He was ahead of the opposition leader as preferred PM, although Rudd’s net approval rating was poor at -19 points.

Days later he was dumped by Labor for being too unpopular.

Fast forward to today’s Newspoll. Tony Abbott is behind on the 2PP vote by 45% to Labor’s 55%. Abbott lags behind as preferred PM and his net approval rating has sunk to negative 30 points.

Put another way, Abbott could only dream of polling numbers as good as Rudd’s when he was knifed.

It has now undeniable that the Coalition government has botched the budget process. Broken promises, inconsistent rhetoric and cuts which disproportionately hit the poor and vulnerable have led to widespread anger and unhappiness in the community. The practice of promising one thing before an election, and doing something else afterwards, did not work for Gillard and it is not working for Abbott. All MPs would do well to absorb the message that voters should be given more credit. We deserve to be treated with more honesty and more consistency.

If the Coalition wants to lift itself out of the political death zone, it must learn from this episode. If not, Abbott will go the way of Rudd — and sooner than he might think.

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  • 1
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 19 May 2014 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    How can the Limited News Party get rid of Toady, after the way they lambasted Labor for jettisoning Rudd, then Gillard?
    They’ve not been discredited enough now, hoisted by their own self-righteous petard?
    They’re stuck with this Murdoch Tar-baby - enjoy.

  • 2
    Posted Monday, 19 May 2014 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    Our tough as goats’ knees prime minister, Tony Abbott, was spotted in the far reaches of the Western Australian coastline, ramming into the sand a pole with a message on it.

    ””“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”” Give me your escapees from tyranny, your old, your disadvantaged, your youth yearning for a decent education, your pensioners, your forgotten and your hopeless. And I will kick the lot of you back to kingdom comesville. You animals, you non-Australians, you scum.

  • 3
    JohnB
    Posted Monday, 19 May 2014 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    From my current perch in China I regularly read only the few papers provided by the hotel plus online Fairfax + Crikey.

    What a delight it is to not be affronted by that other brand of Australian news outlet.

    However, it should be remembered that Murdoch primarily picks his winners part way through the election campaign proper and then only from the polls, not the policies. There are examples of News Ltd backing a change of government which may not entirely be to its choice, policy-wise. However, if the current preferred candidate polls poorly enough, Murdoch is certainly prepared to go with the flow in order to claim to be a king-maker and thus be able to claim that his papers are relevant and that he is powerful.

    My recommendation: Take what the Murdoch press says with a grain of salt. After all, they are in the business of making money (or trying to do so) and one way to enhance sales is to be perceived to be powerful and relevant.

    By comparison with those two parameters, the commercial merit of truthfulness is insignificant.

    Abbott will be replaced by the powers-that-be in the Libs only after Murdoch decrees that it is necessary and floods its opinion pages with echoes of this message. In my estimation, if that is to take place it will happen some time after the next budget, ie 60 or 70 percent of the way through this first term and not before.

  • 4
    David Hand
    Posted Monday, 19 May 2014 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Rudd wasn’t knifed for being unpopular. His unpopularity gave his factional enemies a rationale to knife him.

    Abbott’s going nowhere and he will lead the Coalition into the 2016 election campaign.

    All you lefties can vote him out then.

  • 5
    Jan Dobson
    Posted Monday, 19 May 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Initially I would be asking the same question as klewso. It appears however that presenting a professional image is of no concern to the current LNP politicians. I think for a large majority another about face, another ‘that’s what you heard, but that’s not what I said’ moment will be an occasion of no great importance. We appear to have reached the limit of our ability to be shocked or surprised and have no further expectation of honesty or consistency from our government.

  • 6
    Malcolm Street
    Posted Monday, 19 May 2014 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    David Hand - remember Abbott only got the leadership by a margin of one vote. So there was a substantial majority of the party who didn’t want him. Also remember that conservative parties are very pragmatic about leaders - once they’re not winners they’re gone.

  • 7
    David Hand
    Posted Monday, 19 May 2014 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Yeah Malcolm. Abbott is an unlikely leader who came through on a global shift in sentiment on climate change. Rudd could have knocked him over with a DD election but bottled it because of the failure of Copenhagen.

    But actually, Abbott vacated the leadership after the 2010 election and was returned unanimously.

  • 8
    The Pav
    Posted Monday, 19 May 2014 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    I think Labor & Shorten should pass the high income levy on the condition that it is correctly renamed to “ABBOTTS DECEIT LEVY”

  • 9
    CML
    Posted Monday, 19 May 2014 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    If the rAbbot is deposed, who else could take his place? They are ALL tainted by this budget performance - li+s, li+s and more li+s. Not to mention the LNP outrageous attack on the poor and vulnerable.
    They are doing my head in, by insisting we all knew what an LNP government would do, once in power. Tony seems to have short-term memory loss! Fortunately, the voters don’t!!

  • 10
    graybul
    Posted Monday, 19 May 2014 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    David H @ Your correct re Abbott becoming Leader “on a global shift in sentiment on Climate Change.” As did Rudd lose when he back-tracked on Climate Change.
    Hockey’s Budget and Abbott’s ideology has clearly severely wounded both Govt. and PM. Evenso, it will again be Climate Change that delivers the coup-de-grace. The sunami of International and Domestic pressure continues to build as World Govt(s) and Business draft and re-draft Risk Management tables. Denialist/Ideological driven Govt(s) are increasingly On-notice! Abbott will be a one-term Government!

  • 11
    Posted Tuesday, 20 May 2014 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    We are currently in the midst of a provincial election campaign here in Ontario. Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak has run on getting the provincial budget back into balance, etc, and his main plank is to cut 100,000 public sector jobs. Being just new here I thought he was mad, but his polling picked up markedly after this announcement and the PCs are several points ahead of the Liberals, which are seeking re election. Apparently Ontario electors seek a bit of candour from their politicians.

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