Facebook Google Menu Linkedin lock Pinterest Search Twitter



Oct 13, 2011

Abbott's gory pledge would be a legal bloodbath

Tont Abbott’s hyperbole has certainly attracted the headlines, but it betrays a curious tactic, writes Fergus Green, a lawyer and policy analyst specialising in climate change.


John Howard gave us the “non-core promise”. Now Tony Abbott has added a new category to the hierarchy of political commitment with his “pledge in blood” to repeal the carbon tax, which passed the lower house of Parliament yesterday (unless, of course, that was just an “unscripted remark” made “in the heat of verbal combat“.)

Abbott’s hyperbole has certainly attracted the headlines, but it betrays a curious tactic. By using such uncompromising rhetoric, Abbott has left himself no room to move if repealing the nascent scheme becomes legally impossible or popularly unpalatable.

No amount of blood-pledging, pinkie-swearing, or scout’s-honouring will change the constitutional and political obstacles that an Abbott government would face if it tried to repeal (what will soon be) the Clean Energy Act and its 18 associated acts of Parliament.

Starting with the basics:

  • To form government, a party (or coalition of parties) requires the majority of seats in the House of Representatives;
  • But executive government does not necessarily imply an ability pass legislation, since that requires passage through both houses of parliament;
  • To repeal an act of Parliament, including the carbon price legislation, requires another act of parliament.

If an Abbott-led Coalition were to form government after the next election (expected to be held in 2013, about one year after the carbon price scheme will have started), it would only be able to repeal the scheme immediately if it (a) controls the Senate as well or (b) obtains the support of either the Labor opposition or whoever holds the balance of power in the Senate.

It is unlikely that the Coalition will control the Senate after the next election (which will include only a half-senate election as usual); a more likely scenario is that the Greens will retain the balance of power.  This would mean an Abbott government would need their support, or the support of Labor, to pass the scheme.

Let’s make the reasonable assumption that such support will not be forthcoming (Bob Brown has given a “rolled-gold guarantee” that the Greens will vote against any attempts to repeal the carbon price,* though Labor’s position on anything that far in advance is admittedly unpredictable). In that case, Abbott has said he would call a double dissolution election — by which both houses of Parliament are dissolved in full — in the hope of getting the number of seats needed to ram the changes through.

But the Constitution litters Abbott’s pathway to a double dissolution with speed bumps. To yield a double dissolution trigger, Abbott’s repealing legislation would need to be rejected twice by the post-2013-election Senate.  Assuming the next election is held in the second half of 2013, he would need to wait until after the new Senators take office on July 1, 2014 to introduce the repealing legislation the first time. As Matt Grudnoff has pointed out, taking into account the constitutionally mandated minimum three-month period that the House of Representative must wait between submitting the same piece of legislation to the Senate, along with the time soaked up by expected Senate inquiries into each repealing bill, it would likely take until at least early 2015 before a double dissolution election could be called.

If, following the double dissolution election, an Abbott-led coalition won the numbers needed to pass the repealing legislation (on the separate sitting of both houses or via the “joint sitting” option that would become available), it would then be at least mid-2015 before Abbott’s repealing legislation could be passed into law.

Then there are the vexed logistics of dismantling an already-functioning (in full-fledged emissions trading mode by July 1, 2015) market mechanism under which billions of dollars worth of property rights, in the form of carbon units, have been issued by the government and are held by private entities.

I am not as convinced as some are that repealing the scheme and cancelling the associated property rights would necessarily amount to a constitutional “acquisition of property” (think The Castle) requiring the payment of compensation “on just terms” to holders of carbon units (the law on property acquisitions by the Commonwealth, especially in cases involving statutory forms of property, is complex and uncertain — more on this issue in a subsequent post). What we can say with certainty is that any attempt to repeal the legislation and cancel those rights will result in political bedlam and protracted legal battles.

In sum, an Abbott-led government may eventually be able to wind back the carbon scheme, but it will probably take a mighty long time. Whether or not it would cost his government billions of dollars in compensation to do so is more likely to be resolved by the High Court’s ink than by Tony Abbott’s blood.

*It is not clear whether a “rolled-gold guarantee” trumps a “blood pledge” in the lexical hierarchy of political intention.

**Fergus Green is a lawyer and policy analyst specialising in climate change



We recommend

From around the web

Powered by Taboola


Leave a comment

81 thoughts on “Abbott’s gory pledge would be a legal bloodbath

  1. Jimmy

    By the time Abbott can actually call a double dissoulution election he will have been in office almost 2 years, by that time it would hardly be surprising for the electorate to realise that a) all his unfunded promises can not be achieved an b) the carbon tax isn’t the terrible thing they had been lead to believe by Abbott and News Ltd (nice headline in the Herald sun today by the way) which could actually make his winning an election a year earlier than necessary far from guaranteed.

  2. Scott

    “Assuming the next election is held in the second half of 2013, he would need to wait until after the new Senators take office on July 1, 2014 to introduce the repealing legislation the first time”

    Just out of curiosity, why would he have to wait until they take office? Does anyone know if the Australian constitution has an equivalent of a “lame duck session” that is available in the US?

  3. Jimmy

    Scott – “Just out of curiosity, why would he have to wait until they take office?” I assume it is because you can’t say the senate isn’t letting you govern when the senate that has been elected hasn’t actually been sworn in. Why would we go to an election when the effect of the last one hasn’t occurred?

  4. John Reidy

    Scott, I assume he would have to wait until July 1, 2014 to use the repealing legislation as a dissolution trigger.

    Anyway I don’t think this matters, the Coalition have been detached from reality for quite some time.
    If Abbott wins he will modify the scheme – through regulations or get some minor changes through the senate. Or have it morph into an emissions trading scheme – so no more ‘carbon tax’.

    I don’t think he is at all worried about losing his base because he can’t repeal the tax. He assumes (possibly correctly) his base would never vote Labor.

  5. Scott

    Section 57 of the constitution doesn’t make any reference to waiting. The Senate is still running, passing legislation, even if the new senators haven’t taken their seats.

    “Disagreement between the Houses
    If the House of Representatives passes any proposed law, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, and if after an interval of three months the House of Representatives, in the same or the next session, again passes the proposed law with or without any amendments which have been made, suggested, or agreed to by the Senate, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, the Governor‑General may dissolve the Senate and the House of Representatives simultaneously. But such dissolution shall not take place within six months before the date of the expiry of the House of Representatives by effluxion of time.

    If after such dissolution the House of Representatives again passes the proposed law, with or without any amendments which have been made, suggested, or agreed to by the Senate, and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it, or passes it with amendments to which the House of Representatives will not agree, the Governor‑General may convene a joint sitting of the members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives. “

  6. Liz45

    Abbott also ignores the fact that the Australian people might object to another visit to the polling booth? Particularly when the policies had been in place for a couple of years, and the sun rose and set each day – with wheels still attached to the country?????

  7. gregb

    Yes, but Abbott’s base is not actually enough to win him elections. He needs to keep the punters who are currently uninformed about carbon pricing and supporting him now. They must be willing to go through a DD election just to get rid of a tax that is hardly affecting them and will likely result in tax breaks etc being withdrawn.

  8. SBH

    The finer, or indeed any, points of constitutional law don’t matter in this gambit. It’s Abbott screaming loud and long to the disaffected voters he wants to represent that despite whatever an elected government may do he doesn’t give a sh*t.

    It plays very well to all those voters who oppose a carbon tax or think they would if anyone could do something about it. In the next campaign the promise will be reaffirmed and if it’s done down by the Senate that will be the Senate’s fault. Abbott will then rale , Keating-like, against the Senate and decide in his own time whether a DD is a good idea.

    Scott, Antony Green’s election blog at the ABC has something of an answer. I tried to summarise it but failed.

  9. Modus Ponens

    The carbon tax will be a minor issue at the 2013 election.

    Gold fish memories + 24 news cycle = “look over there!”

  10. Judith

    Thank you, Fergus Green. You have removed the horror I felt when listening to a political commentator
    on ABC Local Radio yesterday morning so soon after feeling that perhaps we had the chance of a “new Australia”.


    To Crikey: What name will this comment be under?

  11. Jimmy

    SBH – “The finer, or indeed any, points of constitutional law don’t matter in this gambit. It’s Abbott screaming loud and long to the disaffected voters he wants to represent that despite whatever an elected government may do he doesn’t give a sh*t.”

    Completely agree, however I would think that now he hasn’t forced an early election and it is clear he really won’t repeal it some of the less rabid current Abbott supporters may be swing more to undecided and possibly back to the ALP once the system starts working and the sky doesn’t fall in and assuming he does win the next election his current attitude could ensure just the one term in office.

  12. Fergus


    Antony Green sums up the conventional wisdom on this issue – namely, that a requirement to wait for the newly elected Senate is implicit in the Constitution – on his election blog:

    “While it is not explicit in the Constitution, I believe it is implicit in the fixed terms of the Senate that a double dissolution trigger can only apply to legislation first blocked by a Senate in place after 1 July 2014. The Constitution states the Senators take their place on the 1 July after their election. Any double dissolution triggers attempted before new Senators take their seats would not allow the new Senators to vote on the legislation. An attempt to create a double dissolution trigger before the new Senators took their seats would attempt to terminate the terms of 108 Senators rather than the 72 implied by the Constitution. … If the Gillard government last its three years until the second half of 2013, any new Coalition government would find itself struggling to do anything about a double dissolution election until 2015.”

    See his full post at: http://blogs.abc.net.au/antonygreen/2011/06/what-chance-a-double-dissolution-in-the-next-three-years.html

    Even if you find a constitutional lawyer who disagrees with the “implicit requirement to wait” argument, my broader point about the attempted repeal creating a legal bloodbath (on a number of fronts!) stands.

  13. klewso

    Is everyone forgetting the Abbott’s admission to “Brother Kerry” in the “7:30 Report confessional” last year?
    “Hard mouthed” as he is, sometimes, in the heat of political battle, he does “tend to get his tongue over the bit” and his rhetoric can tend to “outpace both his actual convictions and his intentions”? Or something that adds up to that sort of interpretation?

  14. Mike Jones

    Fergus and commenters – thank you for an interesting – and dare I say, optimistic discussion.

    I am enjoying – while it lasts – the pleasure of seeing the passing of legislation opposed or at least not embraced by two opposing major parties, that is a step at least in the right direction. And the sweet irony of a lame duck minority government actually doing more (perhaps by accident) than a majority government – and certainly WAY more than a bunch of evil cretins who recently controlled both houses.

  15. Strife

    The impression I got from Abbott yesterday was he was planning to dismantle the infrastructure around the Clean Energy Act. Can’t collect a tax if there is no tax collector. Is that possible?

  16. Liz45

    @KLEWSO – Where he admitted to not always speaking the truth? That we should only believe him if it’s written down? Perhaps in his own blood? I also recall how he responds when caught out? He gets a filthy look on his face (Lateline prior to ’07 election – I recall it well – have it on tape in fact.) Or he just walks away? Does a Howard and closes everything down? Real brave isn’t he?

    He’s also admitted to wanting to win so badly that he’d ‘sell his arse’ or words to that effect? And some people still haven’t seen through him? His attitude to women gives me the sweats! I shudder to think of what he’d do given the power?

    @MIKE JONES – I have to smile or go crazy with annoyance by the nonsense coming out of the mouths of Abbott & Co re the ‘end of democracy’ bs. I recall Ron Boswell when Howard found out that Barnaby Joyce was the last elected member to the Senate in ’04. “Open slather” was what he tried to say, but I think Howard shut him up. This was on the 7.30 Report. Funny how in years to come the ABC showed this footage again – without that rather telling bit???

    Of course, as we were to find out, that’s exactly what Howard engaged in – open slather? He used the guillotine in excess of 130 times? Not a whisper from Abbott or Abetz or ?????
    Sickening hypocrisy?

  17. Jimmy

    Strife – Not sure if it’s possible but it wouldn’t make much sense as business would hate it, they would have legal obligations under the tax but be unable to actually conform to them leaving them in limbo.

  18. Modus Ponens

    To pay compensation the commonwealth has to ‘acquire’ the property rights for their own purpose (eg a house to build an airport). Our high court established a different test to the US which just requires compensation for ‘extinquishment’ of property rights.

    If Abbott established legislation to end the scheme and leave the pollution permits as valueless, they wouldn’t have to pay compensation.

    But the Liberals would never upset businesses in such a radical way. It is a giant bluff (plus the whole vote for me so you can vote for me again a year and a half later) makes the whole thing ridiculous and the Libs must know it.

  19. davidk

    I don’t think Abbott has any intention of carrying out his threat. Like everything else he says it is intended to grab a headline. If ever we we were so unlucky that he became PM he would simply claim it economically irresponsible to act in such a way. The whole argument is irrelevant in my view..

  20. Observation

    Jimmy – I agree, it wouldn’t make sense. But you assume logical thinking by the rAbbott.

  21. Jimmy

    The other thing we must remember is that peoples attitudes towards climate change and a price on carbon could change dramatically beofre 2015.

    If we look back to 2007 most polls had massive support for a price on carbon, both parties took one to the election, 4 years and a good scare campaign later and the majority appear against it but in another 4 years when people have lived with it for 3 years who knows what the mood will be but I doubt they will be as against it as they are now.

  22. Liz45

    @DAVIDK – Abbott has the knack of telling porkies with a straight face – he knows that the media won’t challenge him on them? He gave a promise set in concrete prior to the ’04 Election while he was Health Minister, but hasn’t been challenged on the fact that he had to go back on that promise? No howls of ‘liar liar’? Not a whisper! He thinks we’re all either stupid or have lost our memories – short and long term?

  23. Jimmy

    Observation – I am thinking Abbott wouldn’t do anything to upset business. Plus a the half way house this would be would not appease anyone.

    You are right Abbott’s arguments lack logic but right now they don’t have to, the media aren’t holding him to account (see the Herald suns front page today to see where they sit), big business just see less tax and the return of workchoices, the intelligent liberal don’t agree with him but will shut up while his strategy is working and the swinging voter he is attracting doesn’t think enough, they have Andrew Bolt to do that for them.

  24. Observation

    Jimmy – You are right. And its so sad that such an embarrassment is portrayed in a position which demands the skills of a statesman.

    The one line policy statements from the last election campaign that were written on the back of a beer coaster in crayon cannot really be reported on though.

    But now it is one policy – Try to discredit the government as illegitimate, no matter what the cost to call an early election.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an opposition actually putting forward thoughtful constructive criticism for the betterment of the country rather than self centred obstructionism from this lot. I continue to lose respect for a liberal alternative, the media and community members willing to be part of this circus.

  25. davidk

    The Libs have buckley’s in my view until Turnbull returns to the leadership.

  26. denise allen

    The language this man is now using is reminiscent of the archaic religious speil of the fanatical Catholics of the early centuries and of good ole Opus Dei.
    “Controversies about Opus Dei have centered around criticisms of its alleged secretiveness,[16] its recruiting methods, the alleged strict rules governing members, allegations that some of its lay members are made to work under quasi-slavery conditions[17] the practice by celibate members of mortification of the flesh,[18] its alleged elitism and misogyny, the alleged right-leaning politics of most of its members, and the alleged participation by some in authoritarian or extreme right-wing governments, especially the Francoist Government of Spain until 1978.”

    Howard gave permission for closet racists to put up their hands….Abbott has incited people to use the most base and disgusting language in order to defend their argument.

    When one has to reach down and use gutter language to defend their argument they have very little intelligent factual comment to bring to the debate.

  27. michael r james

    The real issue is not what Abbott may or may not do in >3 years time, but what he does in the next 2 years. He has pretty much boxed himself into this utterly negative and extreme position but he will go hoarse from all the shouting—and his audience will go tone deaf—if he tries to keep it up. The reason for all the extreme rhetoric and dirty sloganeering–including distasteful vitriol from protests he attends, to organized disruption from parliament’s gallery, and a last minute load of hot air from Warburton (supposedly representing business interests but none of whom would go on record as agreeing) that the sky would fall in on business–is that they all know that it is almost all over. The tide can only start coming back in —–and I would love to extend that metaphor to “sweeping away all the transient detritus left on the beach”, plastic garbage, condoms, worn-out platitudes etc, but alas that is not going to happen overnight.

    Abbott’s rhetoric through gritted teeth is very reminiscent of when he knew he had not won the 2010 election, and then had not won any of the independents (including in practice Katter or Crook). He knows it is over on this particular subject but that doesn’t mean I expect him to stop the shouting.

    I want to see him ramp the volume up. I want to see Alan Jones going all foam-flecked over this and Bolt screeching on his wall-to-wall tv self-admiration society (if it survives). Barnaby and Sophie and other red-faced loons can shout themselves into near-apoplexy. Bring it on, I say.

    Then there is Turnbull and the remnant small-l liberal wing of the party, plus those whose main constituency is business, especially big-biz. They may not go public with a megaphone (though Malcolm sometimes loses control) but they will not be silent behind the scenes. This is certainly a good turn of events for Turnbull–and even if TA gets himself elected it would be a miracle of huge proportions for him to control himself and run a disciplined government run on rational policy. Constitutionally (ie. genetically, philosophically) he cannot do it. When such people, let alone a Jesuit, get into power there is only one thing they are able to do: abuse the power.

  28. Jimmy

    Michael R James – “The tide can only start coming back in” I think you are completely right on this, I saw an opinion poll early in the week (there are so many I can’t remember which one) but over the past three poll Labor’s primary vote had edged up a point each time, I nkow they have a long way to go but they have put some ticks in the win column so fr this year.

    Does anyone know when the MRRT will be introduced into parliament?

  29. Coaltopia

    All in all, it’s great for business confidence isn’t it Tony?

  30. Trevor

    The real change may come when the industry lobby groups realise the game is up. They have thrown the kitchen sink at this, but faced with in excess of 4 years of uncertainty which may hang over investment decisions they will back off. While they thought they may be able to stop carbon pricing they were prepared to back the coalition’s tactics. The game is up now though. The choice is; admit the CEF is not the scary industry killer and move on, or settle down for 4 years of trench warfare which they may still lose. I think withdrawal will be the order of the day.

    With industry then backing off and quietly telling Tony to pull his head in what will he do? My guess is he will find other causes to fight to the death over. Question is, how many times does he have to die?

    With all this hyper ventilating over Blood oaths and working every hour of every day to over turn the CEF, how will he make it next week let alone the election? No more bike rides or surfing, every hour of every day means no down time.

  31. michael r james

    Jimmy, it has occurred to me that Keating’s (I think?) wonderful putdown is appropriate here:

    ‘A soufflé does not rise twice’

    Also, it may be pure wishful thinking on my part, but all those rabid Abbott/Jones/Bolt followers who are filling the airwaves with their hotair, not only will not be able to “maintain the rage” but sometimes that deflation (of the soufflé) rebounds on the great leader. He certainly will have been seen to have lost–in the end of the day (say in 6/12/18 months) these kinds of followers are not detail people, nor do they possess any patience with explanations. True, this group do not matter in pure electoral maths but if even the rabid true-believers lose momentum what effect does that have on the rest of the party and their supporters? Inevitably demoralization will set in. The question is whether Gillard and Labor will be able to handle it properly. (Please, please let Combet be the front man with supporting roles by Albanese, Dreyfus and the other competent fronbenchers.)

  32. fredex

    From Fergus Green’s article above:
    “It is unlikely that the Coalition will control the Senate after the next election (which will include only a half-senate election as usual); a more likely scenario is that the Greens will retain the balance of power. ”

    Actually I think you will find that it is probable that in the next election the COALition will gain control of the Senate.

    At the 2010 election with opinion polls breaking 50:50 2PP before the election and the Senate vote being awfully close to that on election day [the ALP did slightly better and the COALition did slightly worse] the result was:
    ALP plus Greens ……21
    COAL plus other conservatives ……19

    Currently the polls have the COALition ahead 2PP …. 57:43

    Assuming [big assumption I know] the result, in the Senate is a few less % for the COAL and a few more % for the ALP [+Grns] as seems to be the norm, then in the major states NSW/ Vic/ Qld/ WA and SA, the COALition could expect to get an extra senator in each.
    Probably at the expense of the Greens [or substitute that for a second ALP].

    A Senate split of 23 COALition Senators is somewhere between possible to probable.

    That would give a Senate total of 52 COALition types to 48 non-COALition types.

    Thats control of the Senate for the COALition.

  33. fredex

    Sorry 42 COALition to 38 non-COALition.

  34. michael r james

    Oh heck, what can one say about Keating? Another appropriate one:

    ‘All tip and no iceberg’

    Abbott has so top-loaded this issue with empty rhetoric that it is now extremely unstable and is ready to up-end itself and throw all those standing on it into the freezing cold ocean. All his hot air has melted the iceberg away from under his feet. He never had any strong foundation of logic behind his opposition and now, or soon, the emperor will be revealed to be butt naked! (Do I get points for the number of cliches in one post?)

  35. michael r james

    @FREDEX Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 5:03 pm

    I don’t think so. I would need to check what Antony Green has to say on the matter but I recall that him saying it would be extremely difficult–almost impossible–for the Senate to change in one electoral cycle. Not only can you not use those poll results (after all, Bandt has increased his lead and the Green vote will get stronger IMO) but you do not use 2PP to calculate the Senate.

  36. michael r james

    None of this interpretation is unique. I just discovered a piece Clive Hamilton has in yesterday’s Guardian:

    Opposition to Australia’s carbon tax laws will run out of steam
    If Labor can hold its nerve, voters will realise that dire predictions are no more than political hyperbole.
    Clive Hamilton
    Wednesday 12 October 2011 15.20 BST

    The carbon tax debate illustrates how sharply politics have shifted in Australia since Tony Abbott replaced the moderate Malcolm Turnbull to become leader of the opposition almost two years ago. His take-no-prisoners style is modelled on US-style Tea Party conservatism, and can work only to the extent that enough Australians can be mobilised into the rancourous populism that grips the United States.

  37. Trevor

    Did Tony spit on his hand and shake hands when he made the blood oath? I can remember these sought of rituals from when I was five and I know it wasn’t as as easy as just saying it is a blood oath. Perhaps it was pricking your finger and bleeding on document. There has to be some sort of ancient ritual or it doesn’t count.

    I hope Tony is not fooling with us. Perhaps someone here has a five year old they could ask . What are the current rules around blood oaths?

  38. zut alors

    The 2013 election is quite a long time off – in political terms. Recall how quickly the electorate’s mood can change – they loved Rudd in late 2009, he enjoyed record popularity until, a handful of months later, some Labor Party squibs got frightened when the polls dropped to such levels they decided to replace him. The public is fickle… and so are the major political parties. Anything can happen.

    Approximately 1 million people will be rather pleased they no longer pay tax once the threshold is raised to $18,200 next July. And those 1 million have votes. Surely, despite his bloodied doodlings, Tony Abbott isn’t thick enough to rescind that? Then again…

    Finally, when can the electorate look forward to viewing this pledge in blood, anytime soon?

  39. Liz45

    @MICHAEL R JAMES – Hey Michael, do you think Abbott will just fizzle out? Can he keep this up for two years? As others have said, when July 1 comes and goes, and the sun comes up on future days, hopefully, people who are still a trifle dumb will ‘see the light’?

    By the way – I’d be interested to know how many people were in the Speaker’s Gallery, as opposed the other public areas? They have to be signed in by an MP? Which adds weight to the view that yesterdays demo wasn’t a spontaneous response from outraged citizens – rather a planned stunt! No doubt the Coalition members wouldn’t have been so concerned about the masses revolt if Howard was still PM? They’d probably have been charged?

    My Federal Member, Joanna Gash, (who suffers from a case of permanent outrage) was absolutely stunned, shocked and amazed? Funny that! I watched Question Time yesterday and she seemed quite relaxed and was chatting to a colleague each time the camera was on her? Hardly in a state of shocked and stunned amazement? Oh yes, she too is very concerned about the lack of democracy in the country? She didn’t raise any objections when Downer ridiculed those of us who rallied against the invasion of Iraq? Over 1 million of us in Oz – over 22 million around the world!

    I’ve not been a fan of Keatings, but he did have some great one liners? So did Gough! Sharp as a tack on his feet!

  40. Trevor


    I would be surprised if Cory Bernardi did not have a hand in yesterday’s stunt.
    He has after all been coached in the techniques of the Tea Party and is on Mr Abbott’s staff.

  41. dougdent

    @Strife and for other commenters: Just a thought re de-funding the actual bureaucracy that runs the carbon trading scheme – could the Coalition do this through the 2014 Budget, effectively killing the legislation rather than repealing it and forcing Labor/Greens to either vote for it or block supply?

    High risk strategy but…

  42. SBH

    yes Zut, if a week is a long time in politic 18 months is an eternity. I’m waiting to see how the public react to the government being so unequivocally successful. It’s the sort of thing voters like.

  43. michael r james

    @LIZ45 “@MICHAEL R JAMES – Hey Michael, do you think Abbott will just fizzle out?”

    I do see signs of imminent soufflé deflation. Abbott is like one of those catherine wheel fireworks, as it reaches the end of its life, it fizzes ever more furiously and if you’re lucky it blows up, or just whizzes down and fades from view.

    I don’t see how he can not fizzle out. It is not just wishful thinking. We have seen what happens to him at certain critical moments–that revealing moment lying to Tony Jones, that 2 minute silence in front of Channel 7’s cameras not long ago. He IS a soufflé! (The irony of course is that the “air” released by a soufflé is carbon dioxide! Delicious metaphor. I am almost inspired to use it for an article for Crikey.)

  44. klewso

    And Malcolm Turnbull “International Man of Misery (and Conviction)” – how did he vote?
    Like Abbott? All cowboy and no hat?

  45. Liz45

    @TREVOR – Both of them overgrown catholic school boys – very dangerous? (there’s a bloke in the NSW upper house of the same ilk? dangerous) Cory Bernardi? The Tea Party people are very unhinged too aren’t they?

    @MICHAEL R JAMES – Very interesting! Abbott doesn’t have any substance either. He has only one philosophy – anything that will help get him elected? That’s it! No principles at all! It could be worse? I could be married to him! Scary thought!

    @SBH – Things could be very interesting to watch from now on! I was very disturbed to see that those in Parliament House yesterday were mostly senior citizens? Don’t give a damn about their kids or grand kids?

  46. Observation

    I peek my hand across my brow and squint my eyes to look past the rAbbott to look for anyone behind him who will pick up the pieces when the train wreck occurs……………………………there is Malcom…..errrr…………Poodle?…………..Hockey Bear?……………….Bishop?………….The Tea Party undergraduate…………..I guess its Malcom, so how will he play out the next two years?

  47. klewso

    July 11 – Gillard on Q&A with the promise they’d try to get “Abbott to do a one man show” too? And since ….?
    It’s just not cricket – like any other “chucker” (or is it “tosser”?) – “all over and no balls”.

  48. AR

    The technical discussions above of numbers & procedures is all highly relevant but, in reality, we the People are at the mercy of a bunch of apparatchiks who have never had a real job and see little difference between either side of the Chamber (ALP) and a bunch of parochial R/E agents, failed lawyers and other moral inadequates on the tory side.
    Any discussion of rational behaviour from such scum is a waste of oxygen, they’ll go for self interest every time.

  49. SBH

    Yes Liz, very interesting indeed. Chin up though the way I see it we’ve had two wins in two days.

  50. Chris Gulland

    Oh Tony! Please try and think things through a little more, and for Gods sake don’t write it down!

  51. CML

    @MICHAEL R JAMES – I so much want to believe the scenario you have painted @ 4.31pm. However, I don’t think this can be achieved if PM Gillard stays in place. While I do not see her statement: “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead”, as being a lie, unfortunately too many of the electorate do. And I can’t see that changing, particularly as Abbott and Co. harp on about it at every opportunity.
    There are some good people on the government benches at the current time, but they may have to bite the bullet and change the leader. It seems that Kevin Rudd is the outright favourite of the masses and they may well have to return him to the leadership. I would only want this to happen if Gillard’s numbers remain in the doldrums. We will have to wait and see.
    If Rudd is required to lift the Labor vote, he should wait another 12 months and then, if returned, call an election very soon after. That way Abbott would not have the opportunity to destroy him a second time. This would also mean that Rudd would not have to bother with the Greens, Independents etc., before the election. He seems to be the only one who could beat Abbott and return a Labor government. Taking this option is far, far preferable to having a Coalition government with Abbott as PM. What a thoroughly distasteful thought!

  52. Peter Ormonde

    One can only hope this is not a non-corpse promise.

    First time a candidate will run on a platform of disembowelling himself if he wins. Can’t wait.

    A shiver looking for a spine to run up.

  53. Damotron

    I don’t know anyone whom believes that one trick Tony will repeal the carbon tax.

  54. Tommy Thompson

    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Posted Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 5:05 pm |
    Sorry 42 COALition to 38 non-COALition.

    Check your numbers! There are only 76 senators.

    1. How many senators are there and how long do they serve?

    There are seventy-six senators—twelve for each state and two each for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. Senators are elected by a system of proportional representation for a period of six years.


  55. SBH

    Michael R James, I must disagree with you there. The holes in a soufflé are cause by water in the mixture being heated to steam. As with choux pastry used to make a croquembouche (or in Tony’s case a croque ‘o’ bull), the mixture traps the steam and swells impressively. Once the heat has gone out of it and no more steam is being produced the slightest knock will flatten the delicate structure for good.

  56. Jimmy

    For those who wonder how the outside world views us have a look at this article


  57. Jimmy

    For those who wonder how the outside world views us have a look at this article


  58. Jimmy

    For those who wonder how the outside world views us have a look at this article


  59. Peter Ormonde


    Great article … deeply embarrassing and sadly true.

    Would that Troofie and Suze et al had travelled a bit and seen some serious problems in the world. The interesting thing for me is actually that “Australians” haven’t become a mob of self-obsessed whingers, only the white comfy ones.

    Things look very different from outside the fishbowl – or even here in Woolibuddha at the end of the world.

  60. Coaltopia

    Ahh Jimmy lad, that’s pure gold.

  61. Jimmy

    Pete & Coaltopia – I was deeply embarrassed too and looked for a comment section to try and plead our case but alas there wasn’t one.

    The “white comfy ones.” couldn’t have been highlighted better by the group who disrupted question time on Wednesday, all white, all 60 plus all Alan Jones demographic.

    As for SB & TTH well they constantly tell us the China is laugh at us for the MRRT & carbon tax but fail to see the ret of the world is laughing at the views they espouse.

    The truly frightening thing is that if this is how we are viewed now imagine what would happen if Abbot became PM!!

  62. Boo

    I suspect Abbott has simply adopted a ‘crash or crash through’ approach. I cannot see any longer term strategy at work here. Unless the government is forced to an election shortly, the media may well decide that continued support for Abbott will reveal their supposed influence as being somewhat overstated. After that?

  63. Peter Ormonde

    Is a tantrum a strategy? Adolescents and self centred kids think so anyway …. looks like that’s the central element of Abbott’s approach.

  64. zut alors


    Thanks (?) for that link. There’s not one word with which I would disagree. And the delicious irony of Gerry Harvey branding Australians as ‘whingers’ – I seem to recall many headlines and interviews where he has been vociferously venting his discontent.

  65. Jimmy

    Zut – “And the delicious irony of Gerry Harvey branding Australians as ‘whingers’ ” Yeah I Loved that, apparently he follows Abbott’s different audience different message approach.

    I am right in thinking he has been opposing the Carbon tax fairly hard?

  66. oggy

    @Jimmy while I do not disagree with the sentiments of the article in The Irish Times. The contributor to the article is an CPSU Journo based in Sydney telling the world what a bunch of pr…cks we are. Free speech and all but what relevance to the Irish?Let us know!

  67. Jimmy

    Oggy – Who reads the irish times, the irish! Would the Irish readers of the Irish times agree with the sentiments in the article or use the article to help form their opinion, yes, what nationality if the author of the article Irish.

    Do you discount reports from foreign correspondents because they aren’t natives of the country from which they report?

  68. oggy

    Jimmy – ok. I took ‘viewed’ as how they ‘felt’ as opposed to viewing info as we all do from many sources.

  69. Jimmy

    Oggy – The nationality of of the Author is Irish, so how he “views” us as an Irishman temporarily living here. The Irish people who read his article form a view upon reading the article, similarly to how we read news about the US or Ireland from Australian Foreign Correspondents.

    If this article was written by an Australian who had never set foot in Ireland you may have a point but as the author is Irish, who has experienced live in Ireland my point stands. After all any article is only one person opinion but as demonstrated by Bolt here that can quickly become a perceived reality.

  70. Peter Ormonde

    Jimmy …

    No one experiences life in Ireland …. that’s why we’re all here.

  71. Jimmy

    They did for about a decade there Peter but they couldn’t handle it!!

  72. Blaggers

    …and the tantrum continues. This has to be some sort of record for the biggest, longest dummy spit ever.

    “*It is not clear whether a “rolled-gold guarantee” trumps a “blood pledge” in the lexical hierarchy of political intention.”

    I have to say blood pledge would have to win out, just ever so slightly because of the personal sacrifice.

    Can’t wait for next tantrum when TA calls for and all out jihad.

    I have to say calling him the mad monk really does a Huge disservice to the mentally ill. But perhaps it highlights the need in Australia for proper mental health diagnosis and care.

  73. GlenTurner1

    Note carefully that a double dissolution election allows the passage of one bill. For the remainder of its term the government then faces a Senate elected using half of the usual quota — that is, one with many more Greens, some more independents.

    For a radically conservative party with a broad agenda a double dissolution election is shooting themselves in the feet.

  74. Jimmy

    Good point Glenn – not very attractive for Abbott.

  75. michael r james

    @SBH Posted Friday, 14 October 2011 at 10:37 am

    Drat it, there you ruining my wonderful gag. Of course I should have known as I have even made one. Natch, it is the beaten egg whites. I was getting confused with pizza dough (which I recently started making myself instead of buying premade). But looking at my Robert Carrier cookbook there are a few other tidbits: “A soufflé must be eaten when ready. This sometimes temperamental dish will not wait for our guests.”

    @CML Posted Friday, 14 October 2011 at 3:04 am | I so much want to believe the scenario you have painted @ 4.31pm. However, I don’t think this can be achieved if PM Gillard stays in place.

    I know what you mean but I am not sure it is true. In fact I think it is pretty certain that a change of leadership will be disastrous. (Other than the NSW disease it would be sending the message that everything Labor have been doing since the election is wrong.) On the other hand Australians are supposed to like underdogs, and Gillard is a remarkable fighter. I think people may come around to admiring that again, especially as the reasons for hating her will melt away in the next 2 years. This is why I actually encourage Abbott/Bolt/Jones et al to do their worst–at some point their shrieking will turn into the boy who cried wolf.

    Yet again, I do think she needs to do something about that schoolmarm “Press” voice she uses that is a huge turnoff. Surely it cannot be that difficult with a bit of training. Where is Geoffrey Rush/Lionel Logue when we need him!

  76. SBH

    sorry Michael, it was a slooooooooow day in the great engine of democracy that is the Victorian gumnt

  77. Pedantic, Balwyn

    All the truly smart and intelligent folk (not tongue in cheek) that have contributed to the above discussion have not appreciated that the great majority of the population have absolutely no idea what the carbon tax is all about.
    In one sense why should they? The credible left coalition says one thing; the equally credible right coalition says another. Often more succinctly and in a manner appealing to the voter’s hip pocket. Moreover, they blame the bogey man Greens for the great big new tax. No guesses about who wins that argument.
    Many blame the Government for not informing them, but this isn’t strictly true. Regrettably the media has done a very poor job in presenting the facts; certainly Fairfax has presented realistic comparisons between the approach of the left and right but does not repeat them frequently enough to resonate with the small percentage of the country that isn’t swamped by News Ltd.
    There is a hard core of people that do not believe in climate change. However, the majority think there is an issue, but that it is of insufficient concern to warranty the huge tax about to be imposed on them, including many, many small businesses.
    We can expect no change from the right wing coalition; their only concern is to win power by any means. So the big question is how is the public to be given the facts and therefore the choice to make an informed decision not a detailed discussion of whether or not Abbott can or cannot deliver on his blood oath!

  78. eric

    Im really looking forward to the next four years esp if Abbotts rabble actually get to form a government.

    How about phoney Tony telling the TRUTH for once and admit the chances of repealing the carbon tax are almost zero!

    Oh I forgot Tone is an addmitted LIAR from his own mouth!

    Im also tipping Rudd is a slight chance of coming back if Gillard decides she has had enough and resigns before the next election and after the carbon tax/benefits are in place.

  79. Liz45

    @PEDANTIC – I agree with you about the electorate. Years ago when I was volunteering on polling booths(handing out How To pamphlets) I was staggered by the people who’d have to ask why they were there? They’d confuse state and federal leaders etc? I wondered if they were out of the county. No, all here in Oz? This sad trend has continued, when prior to elections people are interviewed etc. They must either watch the commercial channels only, or just tune in when an election is announced? Sadly, we often get the government THEY deserve – through their ignorance? Not everyone takes interest on a daily basis, nor do they watch the ABC or SBS; don’t watch documentaries nor do they read anything about world affairs? Most depressing!

    I also tune in to radio quiz programs etc (late at night or early morning) and am constantly amazed by public ignorance. Basic things like who’s the Deputy Leader of ????Who’s the Minister for Immigration etc?These are the people in the front ‘line’ or who’ve been in the media’s focus over the last week or so? Truly amazing! Depressing!

    I keep waiting for the ‘penny to drop’ re Abbott, but so far it hasn’t happened. But then, I was getting p****d off with Americans until recently – now they’re protesting against the 1%? Took them several years, but now it’s all happening! Whew! At last they’ve woken from their slumber? Perhaps????

  80. Tommy Thompson

    Posted Friday, 14 October 2011 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Note carefully that a double dissolution election allows the passage of one bill.

    I don’t think this is correct.

    The business of the joint sitting (1974)

    The joint sitting dealt with the electoral Bills on 6 August and the other three Bills on the following day. By agreement the two representation Bills were discussed together, though separate votes were taken on each.


  81. Salamander

    “Blood oath”? I thought the Church took a dim view of pagan rituals. Where is Cardinal Pell when you need him?

Leave a comment


Telling you what the others don't. FREE for 21 days.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.