It started with the “Green Army” — the Abbott government’s tree-planting scheme for the unemployed. It’s difficult to think of an activity that is less akin to armed warfare than planting trees.

Then the Islamic State was coming to get us, and the PM urged Australians to take up the fight. (Not literally, of course. If you do that you’ll be stripped of your citizenship.)

Not long after, he declared war on greenies who engage in “lawfare”, aka use our justice system for its intended purpose …

… and read “the riot act” to his own colleagues.

Then, a secret union-backed army was uncovered. Their mission? To topple the PM, according to conservative mouthpiece, The Australian. In another time, this would have been known as political campaigning.

The Abbott government’s increasingly militarised language is no accident — like all politicians, Abbott knows that war-time governments rarely lose elections. But does that rule apply to prime ministers who cry wolf?

After a decade under John Howard, Australians expect conservative governments to provide a relaxed and comfortable Australia. Under Tony Abbott, the country is alert, alarmed and spoiling for a fight.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey