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Tony Abbott: The least popular Opposition Leader ever to be elected PM.

January 17, 2014

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The following article first appeared at The Economist

 

As political honeymoons go Tony Abbott’s has proved elusive, even invisible. Mr Abbott (pictured above) became Australia’s prime minister almost four months ago, when he led the conservative Liberal-National coalition to a comfortable victory over an unpopular Labor government.

By the end of the year, however, the unpopularity had shifted to the new government. No prime minister in memory has fallen so quickly from voters’ grace.

Surveys conducted in November and December by Australia’s two main pollsters, Nielsen and Newspoll, both showed Labor ahead of the coalition by 52 points to 48.

The coalition won 53.5% of the vote at the election last September against Labor’s 46.5%, after distribution of second preference votes. John Stirton, of Nielsen, says that in 40 years of polling, his firm has never seen a swing of such magnitude against a new administration.

Governments have usually basked in polling honeymoons of up to two years. This time, the post-election swing is against it.

Besides bad polls, problems now loom over the government’s handling of the economy. On December 17th a Treasury update on the fiscal year from July 2013 painted a chilling picture. The budget deficit had more than doubled from its original projection last May to A$47 billion ($42 billion). Growth had slowed, and unemployment was forecast to rise slightly, to 6%.

Falling revenue and the legacy of stimulus spending under Labor played some part in what the Treasury called the “deterioration”. The Treasury also cited the new government’s promised grant of almost A$9 billion to the central bank to help it manage future crises, and some of its policies such as the projected repeal of a carbon tax.

Mr Abbott has retreated from his promise a year ago of a surplus in each of his government’s first three years.

Even before this sober reality, the government was looking clumsy. Mr Abbott’s apparent insouciance over revelations in November that Australia had spied on Indonesia’s leaders made that furore worse.

The government in Jakarta then withdrew co-operation over dealing with people-smugglers who were sending asylum-seekers in boats to Australia. This imperils another of Mr Abbott’s election promises, to “stop the boats”.

Damage from arrogant performances by two of Mr Abbott’s senior ministers has also been self-inflicted. Once, the immigration department revealed numbers and nationalities of asylum-seekers arriving by boat. Scott Morrison, the new government’s immigration minister, banned such disclosures.

Instead, flanked by an army commander to highlight the government’s military-led operation against boat people, Mr Morrison holds weekly briefings, where he reveals only what he chooses.

In a statement on December 27th to mark the “first 100 days of Operation Sovereign Borders”, Mr Morrison declared: “The boats have not yet stopped, but they are stopping.” The press lampooned him.

In November Christopher Pyne, the education minister, reneged on the coalition’s promise to implement the former Labor government’s education-finance reforms. They stemmed from a report two years ago by David Gonski, a leading business figure, who called on Canberra and the states to spend an extra A$5 billion a year, especially to raise public-school standards, where Australia has slipped lower in world league tables.

The Abbott government underestimated the public backlash to its ditching of this popular measure; it was forced to reinstate it. Mr Abbott even tried to explain his original promise as one “that some people thought that we made”.

Collectively, the government’s performance has fed voters’ long-standing doubts about Mr Abbott. The doubts have surfaced in the conservative Liberal Party, which Mr Abbott leads. John Fahey, a finance minister in the former coalition government, under John Howard, says Mr Abbott was not “known for his judgment” then, and has not taken his “best team into government” now.

As opposition leader, Mr Abbott played tough against a divided Labor government, but offered few sturdy policies. Mr Stirton reckons Australians changed government in September mainly to be rid of Labor. Mr Abbott, he says, is “the least popular opposition leader ever to be elected to the prime ministership”.

Mr Abbott has plenty of time to hone his judgments; the next election is due in 2016. In a report to Australians on his government’s first 100 days, he said it was “purposefully, carefully and methodically” building its “policy foundations”. So far, at least, voters seem uncertain about both the policies and their foundations.

 

 

 

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60 Comments leave one →
  1. Dianne permalink
    January 17, 2014 1:14 pm

    It certainly helps to be popular but it is better to be respected.

    I think it is hard to respect an untrustworthy leader.

  2. Dianne permalink
    January 17, 2014 1:23 pm

    Btw – does anyone have any ideas how the Indonesians knew that Oz navy had entered their waters?

    I can’t imagine this mob admitting anything unless it was also known.

  3. egg permalink
    January 17, 2014 1:25 pm

    The monk has been cleaning-up after Jools left the place in a right proper state. His personal popularity doesn’t matter, but the government has to do the people’s bidding or be cast out.

    The punters think he’ll go the full term as leader and that seems a safe bet.

  4. Dianne permalink
    January 17, 2014 1:27 pm

    Strange isn’t it Egg.

    You are calling on a Leader to follow.

  5. January 17, 2014 1:44 pm
  6. January 17, 2014 1:53 pm

    “You can’t enter the territorial sea of another state unless you have that state’s permission or if you’re exercising something called innocent passage,” said Tim Stephens, associate professor of international law at the University of Sydney.”

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/australia-may-avoid-legal-action-with-swift-apology-for-indonesia-breach-law-experts-20140117-30z8d.html#ixzz2qcYBBZ5v

  7. Tony permalink
    January 17, 2014 2:09 pm

    The GPS was on the blink.

  8. Tony permalink
    January 17, 2014 2:15 pm

    I blame Tony Abbott Scott Morrison Lieutenant General Angus Campbell Rupert Murdoch Siri.

  9. TB Queensland permalink
    January 17, 2014 4:30 pm

    Great read and spot on with your assessment, sreb … just a pity some of us saw it coming and with the ALP in a mess there was nowhere to go … fying pan or fire …

    This nation has a dearth of leadership in all areas of bot public and private enterprise ..

    One thing that crossed my mind as I read the post above … was a need to mention the poor representation in the Abbott government of half of Australia’s population …

    Tony Abbott & The Acolytes have been slipping down the charts since they arrived on the scene … flop after flop and no number one hits on the horizon … maybe they need to work on a more folk/country approach?

  10. Dianne permalink
    January 17, 2014 4:42 pm

    No Teeb – that means borrowing The Big Hat from J Howard.

  11. Dianne permalink
    January 17, 2014 4:45 pm

    Does anyone know how they came to admit being in Indo waters. Was there an Indo ship nearby?

  12. January 17, 2014 8:56 pm

    Dianne, commercial aircraft have a device called a `squawk-box` that transmits the aircraft locations to other aircraft/ground-stations, that enable all aircraft and ground-stations to locate/see them.

    Water vessels, both shipping and military have similar systems.
    Add in the GPS technology, they all know where everything else and themselves are. Basically Mr-Rabbit is full of crap.

  13. January 17, 2014 9:07 pm

    Dianne, tho l`m sure Dumpty will be blaming the `ice-bergs` in the area at the time, and Yomm will have `anti-union` theory that will free the teabags from blame.

  14. OzFenric permalink
    January 17, 2014 10:44 pm

    How is this a surprise? When you escort Indonesian fishing boats back into their waters, you either follow them in to ensure they head back, or you stop at the border and watch. But stopping at the border and watching isn’t very productive; if boat #1 sits just inside Indonesian waters, boats #2 through #whatever can sail through elsewhere. Obviously the navy *has* to escort the offending boats back towards shore.

    In any case, what is the legal justification for Australia’s navy to be intercepting Indonesian flagged (or unflagged) vessels in international waters at all? They have a perfect right to be there until they cross Australia’s own lines. That’s what “international” means. Effectively we are running a blockade. That seems like an act of war to me…

  15. Tom of Melbourne permalink
    January 17, 2014 10:48 pm

    Just as a matter of interest, regarding respect for international law and territory, has Indonesia actually apologised for invading East Timor and slaughtering hundreds of thousands?

  16. egg permalink
    January 17, 2014 10:50 pm

    Excellent question ToM. How quickly we forget.

  17. January 17, 2014 10:57 pm

    ls this the same East Timor that Australia has been cheating out of their mining royalties.?

  18. egg permalink
    January 17, 2014 11:13 pm

    That’s a disgraceful commercial matter, not an invasion.

  19. January 18, 2014 1:37 am

    Lets face it, he’s about as stupid and popular as Inane, but hey we knew that before they started drugging the drinking water to activate operation Zombie nation. Now its wearing off all you pinheads that voted for this wingnut have that “What the fuck happened feeling” The O’Farrell Newman liberally applied sodomy syndrome. just like Egg waking up next to Monkton on his speaking tour.

  20. January 18, 2014 1:43 am

    Jataka is stopping the Boats just like Scotty said…. not happy Jan,
    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/jakarta-demands-stop-your-boats-20140117-310kq.html

  21. egg permalink
    January 18, 2014 7:29 am

    Libertarian Sook

  22. TB Queensland permalink
    January 18, 2014 10:18 am

    Excellent question ToM. How quickly we forget.

    Yes it is ToM … do you mean that if Indonesia can fuck with people’s lives then we should be able to as well?

    Y’know … Hitler invaded Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, France, Belgium etec etc … then there was Japan … China, Phillipines, New Guniea and don’t forget Pearl Harbor …

    Then there was Vietnam … and what about the Falklands …

    Just what the fuck IS your point …?

    The RAN should never have been ordered by the ABBOTT GOVERNMENT to enter Indonesian waters …

    Abbott & The Acolytes are displaying to the world they are a bunch of amateurs … and making Australians look like a a bunch of morons for voting them in … it is not 1950 … get over it …

    http://www.news.com.au/world/ten-myths-around-asylum-seekers-arriving-on-boats-in-australian-waters/story-fndir2ev-1226676024840

  23. Tom of Melbourne permalink
    January 18, 2014 10:36 am

    It’s not much use Indonesia taking the moral high ground/getting all outragea about international law and territorial integrity, until they make some attempt to correct the privations they imposed on East Timor.

  24. January 18, 2014 10:49 am

    Do you `actually` know anything, about `anything`.?

  25. Tom of Melbourne permalink
    January 18, 2014 11:00 am

    You should occasionally try making a coherent point.

  26. egg permalink
    January 18, 2014 11:31 am

    I second the motion.

  27. Neil of Sydney permalink
    January 18, 2014 12:47 pm

    ” and making Australians look like a a bunch of morons for voting them in

    I voted for these so-called morons.

    Under the Australia Labor Party ( a corrupt organisation) they allowed another corrupt organisation ( people smugglers) to flourish. It makes sense, corrupt people attract corrupt people.

    People smugglers (and the ALP) know that they can now sell our 13,750 places.

    Under Rudd/Gillard our 13,750 places generated a new industry making millions of dollars- people smuggling.

    Meanwhile thousands of people in UNHCR camps cannot get a place.

  28. TB Queensland permalink
    January 18, 2014 3:46 pm

    It’s not much use Indonesia taking the moral high ground/getting all outragea about international law

    Same “argument” … that still doesn’t make my government’s decisions right …

    =========================================

    I voted for these so-called morons.

    One would never know 😯

    Once again you miss the point … and my head’s getting sore on your brick wall!

    When my parent’s decided to emigrate not everyone got a place either …

  29. Neil of Sydney permalink
    January 18, 2014 3:50 pm

    ?????

    Under Labor you could buy you place- $$$$10,000 and your in.

    Under Howard we took people from UNHCR camps.

  30. Jherek Jagged permalink
    January 18, 2014 4:24 pm

    until they make some attempt to correct the privations they imposed on East Timor.

    Us first.

    Really, is that your defence of our armed forces enroaching a Soverign state? They’re worst than us. Has it descended this far so quickly.

    Rudd was ridiculed when he stated the obvious. Will he still be, because this is the situation we are now facing?

    You’ve got to ask this question; so what happens on day one when field marshal Tony puts out the order to the captain of the Australian naval frigate X to turn back a bunch of boats? And you’ve got naval frigate from the Indonesian navy on the other side of the equation.

    http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2013/s3792176.htm

  31. Tom of Melbourne permalink
    January 18, 2014 4:37 pm

    Taking the moral high ground on territorial integrity and international law needs to start with some credibility.

    It doesn’t excuse the actions of the Liberal government, but it does provide some perspective to the current posturing in Jakata.

  32. Jherek Jagged permalink
    January 18, 2014 4:42 pm

    Taking the moral high ground

    I thought it was a question of legality, not morality.

  33. Neil of Sydney permalink
    January 18, 2014 5:03 pm

    “I thought it was a question of legality, not morality.”

    Actually for Labor supporters it is a question about how much advantage i can get for the ALP no matter if such an advantage is right or wrong.

  34. Dianne permalink
    January 18, 2014 5:34 pm

    It is a matter of consternation to me that this country elected a dullard like Tony Abbott to ‘lead’ us.

    I have never heard him say anything witty, funny, entertaining, clever, insightful or stirring.

    Maybe that is why people voted for him. Much as they would choose a leather-look reclining chair.

  35. egg permalink
    January 18, 2014 7:15 pm

    We can’t all be funny, Joe Hockey would be more entertaining.

    Gillard was also a dullard, it comes with the job.

  36. Jherek Jagged permalink
    January 18, 2014 10:07 pm

    Actually for Labor supporters it is a question about how much advantage i can get

    Possibly. But they aren’t alone

  37. January 18, 2014 11:11 pm

    Boat-Bullying by Aust is rightfully pissing of Indo, and has nothing to do with E-Timor.

    if you knew any fcuking history what-so-ever,

    you would not be trying to drag in E-Timor into the argument to `paint` Indo as the `demon`, as the historic disasters of E-Timor, W-PNG, Phillipines, Bouganville, PNG have all originated from war between colonial powers and their `empire` building.

    Any `demon` status you place on Indo, you also place on,
    UK, teh-usa, port`gul, dutch, japan, and the biggest `player` was Aust, and also the most stupid, for turning its back on its immediate backyard.

    #NoUnionWasInvolved
    #TeabagNeedsAGlassOfRed

  38. January 18, 2014 11:31 pm

    ”””””I voted for these so-called morons.”””’
    We all find that impossible to believe Kneel.

  39. January 18, 2014 11:52 pm

    Libertarian, isn’t that another tea party word for free market fascist? Here Hear Teabag Maybe that’s the plan, so may surprises in store yet, rekindle rule Britannia and the old empire. Tont can stop the boats , maybe he can take indo and stop all them muzzies? Maybe get their mate monkton over to help the hunt out. Grab Wilders to give Scotty a hand… I see Kneel is getting all horny over little johnny again I recon he has a picky of him on his bedroom ceiling

  40. Tom of Melbourne permalink
    January 19, 2014 12:03 am

    Try coherence rather than obfuscation. Just for a change

  41. Tom of Melbourne permalink
    January 19, 2014 12:04 am

    #teabagz
    #=bullshit

  42. Dianne permalink
    January 19, 2014 5:12 am

    Egg -we are dull people drawn to dullness. We must be.

  43. Dianne permalink
    January 19, 2014 5:30 am

    Hah – new study finds TA speaks S-L-O-W-L-Y.

    He uses 100 words fewer in media interviews than when in Opposition. Were those extra ‘words’ all the ums, ahs, ers?

    Not only d o e s h eeee s p ee ee k m o r e s l o w l y . He REPEATS things.

    Those who coach him must think we are very DULL indeed.

    I don’t think Keating or Kennett went to robot school.

    Oh the dullness is crushing!

  44. Dianne permalink
    January 19, 2014 6:04 am

    Dull Things Listed

    Golf
    People who play golf
    Golf clothes
    People who talk about it
    Australian sports commentary
    Australian mainstream political commentary
    Peach coloured walls
    Dogs (but loveable)
    Cats (never dull)
    Cocktails
    People who drink cocktails
    Grand piano playing in cavernous foyers
    Hand knitted vests
    Discussions about hair products
    Manicure bars
    Most Christmas decorations in public spaces in Australia
    Neo-liberal utilitarianism
    Pebble and succulent gardens
    Yukkas
    Me myself I
    Talent/cooking shows
    History docos with reinactments and profs who can’t keep still
    Belguim
    Belgian chocolate
    Belgian cuisine
    People who taste things in fruit shops and say ciao to fruiterer.

  45. January 19, 2014 7:17 am

    Backing up ignorance,
    with another round of ignorance.

    ””””””””””””””Taking the moral high ground on territorial integrity and international law needs to start with some credibility.””””””

    Well, for a start, both flavors of Aust Govt don`t have,
    ””””the moral high ground on”””(anything)

    or this,
    ””””””credibility.”””””””

    or this,
    ””””””integrity”””””

    and when it comes to,
    ”””””’international law needs””””

    l would suggest you learn something about the `clean-hands-rule`

  46. Tom of Melbourne permalink
    January 19, 2014 5:15 pm

    Dull Things Listed

    Nonsensical replies to reasonable points
    #”teabagz”#
    “”””””teabagz”””””

  47. egg permalink
    January 19, 2014 5:56 pm

    ‘we are dull people drawn to dullness. We must be.’

    Most of us prefer not to enter politics because we’ll have to compromise our integrity and follow the party line to improve career prospects and become dull.

  48. TB Queensland permalink
    January 19, 2014 6:04 pm

    Actually for Labor supporters it is a question about how much advantage i can get for the ALP no matter if such an advantage is right or wrong.

    We don’t all think like you, Kneel … stop accusing others for your action …

    And you forgot the German influence Teabag … and Spanish and Portugese … what about those Vikings!

  49. Jherek Jagged permalink
    January 19, 2014 6:19 pm

    Actually for Labor supporters it is a question about how much advantage i can get for the ALP no matter if such an advantage is right or wrong.

    Yes, let’s just keep highlighting that statement, and recall again just who was the People Smugglers loudest Advertiser

    or

    PROCESSING asylum-seekers in “idyllic” areas was like rolling out the “red carpet” to people-smugglers, Tony Abbott said yesterday.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/new-centre-rolls-out-red-carpet-abbott/story-fn59niix-1225947497054

  50. Jherek Jagged permalink
    January 19, 2014 6:21 pm

    You could almost get the impression they were deliberatly enticing people here

    OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott says the Australian Navy is acting like a “water taxi service for people-smugglers”

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/navy-a-taxi-for-people-smugglers-abbott/story-e6frf7kf-1226445030531

  51. Meta permalink
    January 19, 2014 6:31 pm

    (All I know about Viking symbels is that tincture-of-eye-of-wandering-woad’n-Odin-in-well-aged-rootwater-of-the-World-Tree probably is either psychotropic or toxic, depending on how well one colours the unwritten runes.

    Ditto, some compliemtary drinks at Thai state-vouched jewellerymarts; a simple (soft)drink shouldn’t leave the world extra shiny-happy-sparkly for hours afterwards; although it’s probably good for getting the customers in the right frame-of-mind for happily purchasing shiny-sparkly things.)

  52. egg permalink
    January 19, 2014 6:57 pm

    Greenland was discovered by Vikings, no mean feat.

  53. TB Queensland permalink
    January 19, 2014 6:58 pm

    Thanks Mets … 😕

  54. TB Queensland permalink
    January 19, 2014 7:00 pm

    Vikings are not people it is an undertaking … a’viking was what the Norsemen did … ie rape pillage and plunder …

  55. Jherek Jagged permalink
    January 19, 2014 7:26 pm

    Vikings are not people it is an undertaking

    In the same way that riding in rickety boats in search of a better life after fleeing your country is “Illigelling”?

  56. TB Queensland permalink
    January 19, 2014 7:28 pm

    No-o-o-ot rea–lly, JJ …

  57. Jherek Jagged permalink
    January 19, 2014 7:29 pm

    Mind you, speaking of Vikings, this was an excellent series

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2306299/

    As long as you remember it is a TV show, not a historical documentary

  58. January 19, 2014 7:47 pm

    I just watched 12 Years a Slave… One of the best movies of the year!

    Four and a half stars from me!

    And you can can watch it for free here….

    http://viooz.co/movies/23064-12-years-a-slave-2013.html

  59. Meta permalink
    January 20, 2014 4:13 am

    (Free book, also, for any who are textually-inclined: 12 Years A Slave.

    And, while I’m here, and Neil is in the business of asking questions, 60000+ per annum, for Australia, more or less for other countries depending on their abilities to sustain a humanitarian migration programme, might be a goodly amount, given that Howard et al’s paltry intake was and is unsufficient to draw down on the backlog of persons eking out an existence in holding camps for life unless they find some other way. Or, and putting it another way, a combined promised 20000 for the ALP and 20000 for the LNP and 20000 for the Greens, for a multipartisan grand total of 60000+, again; ‘cept, of course, the Abbott-LNP Government never can be trusted to keep to their (original) promise(s), ‘ey, given that they’re back down at 13000 somehow and busy turning away the human surplus without any actual solution to, or apparently any interest in, sustainable and efficacious humanitarian migration and resettlement – national, regional, or global.)

  60. Neil of Sydney permalink
    January 20, 2014 9:24 am

    ” and Neil is in the business of asking questions, 60000+ per annum, for Australia,”

    At last somebody has put down a number. Actually that is about the number of boat people who were coming just before the last election.

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