December 5, 2014 – 11:00AM
Say what you want about Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard but they tried to be free-to-air leaders, whereas Tony Abbott governs only for those who voted for him. He’s our Foxtel Prime Minister, writes Sam de Brito.
When most governments get into power there’s an unspoken truce that occurs where the new leader says something like “OK, OK, I know almost half of you hate my guts and did everything in your power to see me humiliated and beaten, but now we gotta pull together. I will govern for all”.
And that’s what most governments do – or at least try really, really hard to seem like they do.
With the Abbott government, we’re seeing a change in paradigm, where the PM and his office is clearly saying to the people who didn’t vote for him: “You’re not a part of our plans for three years, so you might as well avert your eyes, you’re not gonna like this.”
All smiles: Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, just before the 2013 election. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Comedian Chris Rock said recently of former US President George Bush: “He was the first president who only served the people who voted for him. He literally operated like a cable network. You know what I mean?
“He’s the first cable-television president, and the thing liberals don’t like about Obama is that he’s a network guy … He’s trying to get everybody.”
Abbott is our first Foxtel Prime Minister. If you’re not a subscriber, too bad..
Say what you want about Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard but they tried to be free-to-air leaders. You could get service in all areas. It might not have been the best picture, but it wasn’t a blank screen.
Of course, the Abbott government will deny this. The unfathomable sequence of broken promises and denials that they’re actually broken promises is akin to them telling you to squint at the snow of static on your telly while insisting it’s actually MasterChef.
“See! You see that faint outline of Matt Preston’s head? Awesome, huh?”
The thing about Aussies, however, is while some of us are pretty stupid, we’re not as stupid as Americans. There are actually vast swaths of the US that rejoice in voting against their self-interest; auto workers and Southern waitresses convinced Republicans care about their jobs because they also hate immigrants, abortion and evolution.
In Australia, you might get the odd western suburbs McMansion owner, with $1 million in the bank, who thinks Abbott cares about his smash repair business. He’ll wake up once his mum has to pay to go to the doctor every week and he realises his nephews and nieces will never be doctors or lawyers unless he ponies up that $1 million for uni fees.
We do self-interest pretty well in this country – something Abbott manipulated mercilessly while in opposition but seems to have forgotten in the last 12 months.
Right about now, I reckon our PM is feeling a newfound sense of respect for Gillard.
You know when an assistant coach goes for a head coaching job, filled with confidence: “It’s all me, I’m doing it all behind the scenes,” they tell themselves.
Then they get the big gig and boom!
Reality. The pressure. Injuries. Players doing stupid things in cubicles on the drink. Salary cap. The board. Post-game interviews.
Something like this was probably going on in Peta Credlin’s office during the last year of the Abbott government: “We beat Rudd and he smashed Gillard (who’d already smashed Rudd) so we’re golden. We’ll do this on our ear.”
Now? I reckon Abbott’s got a sneaky bit of admiration for the way Gillard juggled someone else’s promises (Rudd’s), her own agenda, a volatile crossbench and a bloodthirsty predator (Abbott) in opposition.
Abbott only has to juggle his own promises, agenda and crossbench, and he’s screwing it up royally.
Imagine if he also had to worry about Bill Shorten taking pieces of meat out of him every day instead of gumming him to death?
Make great TV.
Source : The Brisbane Times