SEPTEMBER 12 2016 – 8:39AM
Former prime minister Tony Abbott is maintaining his high-vis presence in national media, using morning television to cement expectations of “a term of delivery” for the Turnbull government.
Two days shy of the anniversary of his ousting as prime minister, Mr Abbott said “a lot of good things have happened over the last year”, but declined to directly answer whether Malcolm Turnbull had been a “good prime minister”.
“There was a good two years followed by a good 12 months, an election win, and now we have got three years to get on with governing,” he told Channel Nine’s Today program as politicians returned to Canberra on Monday.
“As Prime Minister Turnbull says, this is going to be a term of delivery,” he continued, in what could be seen as an ultimatum to his flailing successor.
Like his former chief of staff Peta Credlin last week, Mr Abbott identified the Coalition’s narrow election win as Mr Turnbull’s main achievement since taking the leadership – though he also said the government had “done well” in the key domain of economic management.
“It was always going to be tough to win the election. We did win the election. That’s a credit to the prime minister,” Mr Abbott said. “He’s now prime minister in his own right. And this, as Malcolm Turnbull keeps saying, is to be a term of delivery.”
He declined to reflect on how he personally felt a year on from being dumped as PM, insisting “it’s not about me” and arguing the best thing to do was to “get behind the Turnbull government and … help a good government to succeed”.
The Turnbull government has been criticised as a weakened and dithering administration, having floated and sunk several tax reform initiatives while presenting a limited post-election agenda.
Mr Abbott emphasised the election had given the government a mandate to reintroduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission and tighter union governance controls – both Abbott-era priorities that had stalled in the Senate.
Monday’s television appearance, ostensibly to promote next year’s Pollie Pedal charity bike ride, followed a media blitz by the former PMlast week while Mr Turnbull was overseas at a series of global summits. He presented a prescription for reform of political donations, said the government had established the Northern Territory royal commission “in panic” and publicised his annual visit to remote Indigenous communities.
Also on Monday, Ms Credlin published a stinging column in The Australian in which she labelled the prime minister “a bitter disappointment” who had lost the Coalition its moral authority.
“Once so loved in the seats that don’t determine elections, he’s now reviled in those that do,” she wrote.
Ms Credlin was highly critical of Mr Turnbull’s media strategy, calling it Sydney-centric and neglectful of the Coalition’s base.
The government will attempt to get some runs on the board this week as it proceeds with its “omnibus” budget savings bill and plans for a plebiscite on same-sex marriage.
Source : The Canberra Times
Tony Abbott’s grin said it all. When the former prime minister left Parliament House after Thursday’s embarrassing lower house debaclehe looked perilously close to schadenfreude overdose.
Abbott’s government was an incompetent mess from top to bottom; a circus that lurched from one self-inflicted crisis to another until it finally tore itself apart. But at least it never lost a vote in the house.
Abbott will never get the vindication he truly wants – he’ll never reclaim the top job – but he’s already getting the next best thing: a front row seat to watch as the man who vanquished him falls apart.
Malcolm Turnbull had one job last week: to prove to Australians that his “solid working majority” was real.
He stuffed it up big time.
And in typical Turnbull style he blamed everyone but himself.
Bill Shorten reneged on his promise to be a constructive opposition leader in favour of “schoolboy tricks”; frontbenchers Peter Dutton, Christian Porter and Michael Keenan were guilty of “complacency” for leaving Parliament early; the government whips clearly didn’t crack the whip hard enough; the media was making a mountain out of a meaningless, procedural molehill.
It was all very reminiscent of his graceless election night speech. Shorten was a big liar; Labor sent out tricky text messages; the Australian people were too dumb to see through the Mediscare campaign.
The result had nothing to do with his dull and lacklustre campaign. Or his uninspiring and threadbare agenda. Or the previous nine months of backflips, thought bubbles, scandals and sellouts. It wasn’t until days later he finally shouldered some of the responsibility for the disaster.
But make no mistake, here too the buck stops with Turnbull. He’s at the top of a government that was careless and sloppy.
Whenever Gillard’s Parliament descended into farce – and it certainly did from time to time – Abbott didn’t blame whips or frontbenchers or backbenchers or anyone else. It was all Gillard’s fault, all the time.
The PM’s authority – already at its lowest ebb after July’s humiliating result – has taken another knock. Labor’s line – “If you can’t run the Parliament you can’t run the country” – is both accurate and effective.
And Turnbull can’t blame Abbott for this stuff-up, as Gillard could so often blame Kevin Rudd.
Except in that Shorten is now following Abbott’s playbook. From Abbott, Labor learnt all it needs to know about how to destabilise a weak government and prime minister. Abbott helped Labor sharpen and hone its parliamentary tactics. Labor is good at this stuff because up against Abbott, it had to be.
Turnbull called last week’s debacle a “wake-up call”. But what sort of government needs a wake-up call three days into a new Parliament after coming within a whisker of losing power? If July 2 didn’t wake them up, nothing will.
No, the Australian people don’t care about Parliamentary procedure. But they know chaos when they see it.
They’ve seen a lot of it, after all.
And so now the tone is set. Turnbull and his team wanted the first week to be all about economic management and budget repair, with a side serving of union-bashing. They introduced 26 bills in a bid to reassure Australians that they have a plan and they’re executing on it.
(Just what they plan to do once these 26 bills are passed – or perhaps more likely stalled in the Senate – remains something of a mystery. Like I said: uninspiring and threadbare agenda.)
Instead, the first week raised serious questions about Turnbull’s competence and his government’s longevity.
So what now?
Turnbull has to work twice as hard to convince us he knows what he’s doing. If he gets stuck in the same cycle of endless stuff-ups that ensnared both Gillard and Abbott, he’s finished.
One way or another, leaders who lose authority lose their jobs. If his party doesn’t tear him down, the voters will.
In the short-term Turnbull has a couple of things going his way that could help him regroup.
First, Parliament’s barely sitting; it will convene for just four of the next 35 days. So not much opportunity for more stuff-ups.
Second, it’s summit season. For the next couple of months Turnbull will spend a great deal of time outside of the domestic fray, looking important and prime ministerial on the world stage.
The benefits of such trips often prove ephemeral – just ask Julia Gillard – but they can be a useful circuit-breaker when things are going awry.
Of course his number one asset – apart perhaps from that $50 million harbourside mansion – remains that he has no obvious internal challenger, unless Kevin Andrews finally decides to have his tilt.
But that won’t necessarily last.
Nature abhors a vacuum and politics abhors a power vacuum. If Turnbull can’t start providing leadership someone else will.
Source : The Canberra Times
January 20, 2016 – 7:21AM
Tony Abbott is not plotting a return to the prime ministership and suggestions to the contrary are “fanciful”, according to his spokesman.
Mr Abbott has not yet announced whether he will stand again for his seat of Warringah, though there is growing expectation in Liberal ranks that he will run again.
Tony Abbott has yet to announce whether he will recontest his seat in this year’s election. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
The Daily Telegraph claimed on Wednesday the former prime minister turned humble backbencher was being urged by his former chief of staff, Peta Credlin, to stand again for Parliament in the hope of returning to the Lodge one day.
It further claimed that Mr Abbott had been told by former prime minister John Howard and cabinet secretary Arthur Sinodinos to pull his head in and stop criticising the Turnbull government.
But Mr Abbott’s spokesman said of the claims that “the whole thing is fanciful”.
Newspaper reports claimed Mr Abbott’s former chief of staff Peta Credlin was urging him to stand in the hope of one day becoming prime minister again. Photo: Andrew Meares
Despite that denial – and much like former prime minister Kevin Rudd, who spent year agitating from the backbench before finally tearing down Julia Gillard – Mr Abbott does have a core group of conservative supporters and allies in the Liberal party room.
And similarly, there are MPs who believe that the times will once again come to suit Mr Abbott, as they did his political hero Winston Churchill, who spent years in the wilderness.
Mr Abbott’s supporters include former defence minister Kevin Andrews, former industrial relations minister Eric Abetz and a group of MPs who meet for regular lunches in the so-called “monkeypod” room.
Preselection opened for 22 Liberal-held seats across NSW on Tuesday, with a host of other MPs including Bronwyn Bishop, Philip Ruddock, Craig Kelly, Angus Taylor, Bill Heffernan and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells under varying degrees of pressure to retain their seats – despite Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull throwing his support behind incumbents.
Mrs Bishop has made clear she intends to contest the next election, and is expected to face a preselection challenge, while Mr Ruddock and Senator Heffernan are yet to make clear whether they intended to go around again.
Source : WA Today
December 25, 2015 – 9:22AM
Oxford risks ‘moral vanity’: Tony Abbott. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Former prime minister Tony Abbott says the University of Oxford “will damage its standing as a great university” if it bows to pressure and removes a statue of African colonialist Cecil Rhodes.
The university’s Oriel College has agreed to remove a commemorative plaque to Rhodes following a campaign by a student group calling for the statue to be pulled down.
The students say the 19th century imperialist’s views are against the “inclusive culture which promotes equality” at the university.
But Mr Abbott, a former Rhodes scholar, has told British newspaper The Independent that Oxford would be “substituting moral vanity for fair-minded inquiry” if it allowed the statue to be pulled down.
Brian Kwoba, a doctoral student, told The Independent that Rhodes was responsible for “stealing land, massacring tens of thousands of black Africans, imposing a regime of unspeakable labour exploitation in the diamond mines and devising pro-apartheid policies.”
“The significance of taking down the statue is simple,” he added, “Cecil Rhodes is the Hitler of southern Africa. Would anyone countenance a statue to Hitler?”
RW Johnson, an author who is an emeritus fellow of Magdalen College at Oxford, compared the campaign to remove the monument to what al-Qaida and the Islamic State “are doing in places like Mali when destroying statues.”
“They are destroying historical artifacts and defacing them,” he told The Daily Telegraph. “I think you have got to respect history. In addition, there are many people in history that are far worse than Rhodes.”
Some British politicians have sought to depict the campaign as a demonstration of political correctness and an effort to erase history, a notion that supporters reject.
Instead, they argue that any commemoration to Rhodes sends out a hostile signal to some modern-day students. To an extent, the debate has also become caught up in a broader discussion about whether the university is attractive to minority students, and is sensitive to them.
Britons were already struggling to define their global role and facing other calls to confront the past, including demands from Caribbean countries that Britain pay reparations for its role in slavery.
Born in 1853, Rhodes attended Oriel College in the 1870s before founding the De Beers diamond empire in South Africa, where he rose to be premier of the then Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896.
Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) was named after Rhodes, but he is perhaps best remembered for beginning racial segregation in southern Africa and for his belief in the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race.
The campaign against the monument in Oxford, called Rhodes Must Fall, is modelled on a similar group in South Africa, which succeeded in having a statue pulled down at the University of Cape Town.
In a statement, Oriel College said that it was starting discussions with the local council about the removal of a plaque commemorating Rhodes, erected in 1906 by a private individual on a property it owns.
“Its wording is a political tribute, and the College believes its continuing display on Oriel property is inconsistent with our principles,” it said.
The statement added that the statue raised more complex issues and that “in the absence of any context or explanation, it can be seen as an uncritical celebration of a controversial figure, and the colonialism and the oppression of black communities he represents.”
The college said that it plans to start a six-month “listening exercise” in February to seek a range of views as it looks for “a positive way forward.”
AAP and The New York Times
Source : Canberra Times
December 19, 2015 – 4:17AM
Former prime minister Tony Abbott should quit Parliament at the next election to make way for new talent according to a majority of electors within his own safe Liberal seat of Warringah.
With Liberal MPs and supporters reading the signs of growing disunity within the Turnbull government as Mr Abbott and other malcontents continue to speak out, exclusive ReachTel polling conducted for the Australian Institute, has found most voters in the 65 per cent Liberal electorate believe the ex-PM’s time has passed.
The survey has also laid bare the scale of the political challenge for Mr Abbott’s replacement as prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, in the crucial area of tax reform. Just 16.6 per cent of respondents are “strongly in favour” of a GST hike – which would fund income tax cuts – and less than 40 per cent overall are in favour, compared to 46.5 per cent who opposes a GST increase. Just over 14 per cent remain undecided.
Voters polled on Tony Abbott want the former prime minister to go. Photo: Andrew Meares
Another finding has challenged the accepted wisdom that conservative voters are unfazed by climate change, revealing that even in blue-ribbon Warringah three quarters of electors believe the country should be moving gradually towards the goal of 100 per cent renewable energy by 2030.
In July this year, Labor leader Bill Shorten released a policy of 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030 prompting derision from the government, which said the 50 per cent target was impractical and potentially ruinous to the economy.
The Thursday night survey of 743 residents in Mr Abbott’s well-to-do North Shore electorate, found just over half of those polled believe their longstanding local member should fold his tent at the next election and make way for another Liberal candidate.
Mr Abbott has not said whether he will quit Parliament in the 2016 election. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
It put support for Mr Abbott’s retirement at 50.9 per cent, with 36.7 per cent of voters saying it would make them more likely to vote Liberal in 2016. Another 45.8 percent, however, said it would not affect their decision.
“The polling indicates that the electorate is quickly moving on from the Tony Abbott era,” said Australia Institute executive director, Ben Oquist, who commissioned the independent polling.
The poll is a morale blow to the famously punchy Mr Abbott who was unceremoniously dumped by colleagues in September after a series of broken promises, unproductive political fights, and an unwillingness to address structural problems identified by those colleagues including an ineffective treasurer and a dysfunctional prime ministerial office.
Illustration: Ron Tandberg
Mr Abbott has not said whether he will remain in parliament beyond the next election, but has been urged by a small cabal of conservative backers to pursue a come-back to the leadership.
Interestingly, the poll also found that 77.2 per cent of voters want Australia to move to 100 per cent renewable energy.
Mr Oquist said the public was ahead of the rhetoric from all political parties “when it comes to renewable energy”.
The survey comes as the cracks widen in the coalition facade especially over the nature of Islam as a religion, and its violent manifestations.
Mr Abbott recently called for government and community leaders to openly acknowledge the “massive” problem at the heart of Islam, and to assert the superiority of Western social and democratic values.
While Mr Turnbull has dismissed such suggestions, choosing to stress instead the need for maximum inclusiveness, some right-wing Liberals have complained of being leaned on to use more temperate language regarding Muslims, by the head of ASIO, Duncan Lewis.
However it has been revealed that the claim was wrong, in that only two MPs were contacted and neither had felt intimidated nor inappropriately pressured.
Source : Canberra Times
December 11, 2015 – 9:01AM
Former prime minister Tony Abbott says he will serve in Parliament until the next election and has left the door open to staying on beyond 2016.
In an interview with Alan Jones on Sydney radio station 2GB, Mr Abbott said it is a “tremendous honour” and a “noble calling” to serve as a backbencher.
Former prime minister Tony Abbott will not quit Parliament before the next election. Photo: Andrew Meares
“I am determined to do what I can to serve the people of Warringah and Australia for the rest of this Parliament,” Mr Abbott said.
“To be a backbench member of Parliament…is a noble calling. It is a very noble calling. And to represent 100,000 people, as I do, is a tremendous honour. There’d be nothing wrong, I think, with continuing to do that in the Parliament.”
Mr Abbott’s comments will concern those in the Liberal Party who would prefer he move on to clear the air after his tumultuous time in the top job, and minimise the fallout form the September switch to Malcolm Turnbull.
Conservative radio host Alan Jones.
“Time will tell” whether he ultimately decides to stay on beyond the next election, Mr Abbott said.
He has previously stated he is “too young to retire” and won’t make a final decision until April or May when the preselection processes begins.
In Friday morning’s interview, Mr Abbott also took another swipe at the media, agreeing with Jones’ claim that the former Liberal leader had been subjected to “astonishing heckling and even vilification from the media class and pretty feral opposition in the Senate”.
Jones said people had criticised “even the way you spoke, the way you walked, the way you ate an onion, the fact you’re a [surf] lifesaver”.
“They’re all fair observations but…politics has always been a pretty rough business and you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth,” Mr Abbott responded.
“Yes, there was plenty of unfair criticism. There was some criticism that was merited.
“There was also a lot of praise, a lot of support and of the things that I’ve found very gratifying, humbling, moving, touching has been the absolute avalanche of letters and emails I’ve had since the middle of September saying ‘thank you for what you did’.”
Source : Sydney Morning Herald
December 4, 2015 – 11:45PM
Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin were the main problem during the Abbott prime ministership.
Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Only Tony Abbott, and his most diehard supporters, could believe that there is any appetite, whether in his party or the electorate, for the restoration of the man endorsed by the electorate two years ago to be prime minister. But that he is maintaining an insurgency, contrary to his promises, may do the usurper, Malcolm Turnbull, more good than harm.
About 30 per cent of the parliamentary Liberal Party would be natural supporters of a conservative leader rather than the moderate Turnbull. But more than three quarters of these know where their bread is buttered and have no desire to walk the electoral plank in support of some ideological principle, even if Abbott could invent one. I doubt there would be 10, if that, who would support a restoration of Abbott, even if Turnbull’s popularity dived. They would choose another Tory. No one could now believe that Abbott could change his leadership style, suddenly become wise and consultative, or popular as opposed to respected in the electorate.
If Turnbull were to fall under a bus, conservatives would be looking for a different standard bearer, not a return to the nightmare of Abbott. All the more so if it appears, as it presently does, that a return to Abbott necessarily involves a restoration of Peta Credlin as his chief lieutenant and adviser.
Abbott and Credlin were a formidable team in opposition, and Abbott credits Credlin with the negative slogan-based tactics that won him government. But even were the Coalition to lose government, soon or after more terms in government, it is doubtful whether the party would look to Abbott, based on his opposition credentials, to lead it back into power. The circumstances would be different, and it is doubtful that tactics which worked on a divided and inept Rudd-Gillard-Rudd government would work again on a different Labor team.
When Abbott became leader in 2009, Liberals knew they were taking a considerable risk with Abbott’s personality and style. The bet paid off twice, in the sense of delivering an unexpected hung parliament in 2010 and victory in 2013, but it soon became manifestly clear that Abbott was a man for opposition, not for government. Even Abbott’s admirers and friends recognise that. The electorate formed that judgment as well. They would not be willing to have another go with Abbott..
But while there is a threat of active insurgency, sabotage, open settling of scores, and sniping at players seen by those who are now in the darkness, Turnbull has a degree of excuse for failing to deliver much in the way of change.
Just what promises and deals were made to and with potential supporters has never been publicly spelled it. But it is obvious that there were restraining undertakings about same-sex marriage, carbon taxes, and, probably a republic. Their currency seems to run at least to the election.
A breach of such promises would cause deep unease in some parts of the party, although the consequences would depend rather more about whether Turnbull appeared to be on target with his most important, if implicit undertaking, that he can lead the Coalition back to comfortable re-election next year.
Adherence to his word does not appear, yet, to have dented his popularity with voters. This does not mean that most voters, or even Coalition voters, support the policies on which he is constrained. Turnbull has been around for long enough that voters have a feel for his instincts and core beliefs. Many, particularly soft Labor and Green voters, confidently expect that Turnbull will chafe at the restraints, or that his adherence will be to their letter rather than their spirit. That forms a part of the hopes and expectations that have raised Turnbull to massive popularity, made a comfortable Coalition return seem inevitable.
Sooner or later, however, voters in the middle ground will expect not only a change of tone and mood – already delivered — but clear evidence of changed policies – evidence that having Turnbull has made a material difference to policies and programs of government.
That may be slightly more difficult while Abbott and a few loyalists (and the ALP) are loudly proclaiming that there has been no change of substance, and that Turnbull is simply carrying on with Abbott policies, if with a different style. The longer that appears to be so, the more Turnbull’s support will ebb away, at least if it appears that there is a Labor alternative.
But any disadvantage that causes is more than over-weighed by the appearance of pressure on Turnbull from a Tory insurgency, political sabotage and leaking, and other continuing recriminations. Right now at least, most of the Coalition, and most of the electorate actually want Turnbull to succeed. Their attitude to him differs from that towards Abbott, Gillard and Rudd, even perhaps John Howard towards the end of his term. A part of the charm of Turnbull is that there is no natural group of Turnbull-haters in the sense that there are instinctive and reflex Abbott-haters, Gillard-haters and Rudd-haters. Not everybody loves him – indeed he can be quite bruising and abrasive – but few of his enemies resort to voodoo.
The idea that Turnbull is having to govern with a hand tied behind his back because of the ideological demands of discontents located around Abbott may get him sympathy and some understanding from voters. This is empathy that Gillard never got while being undermined by Rudd. Likewise, efforts by Abbott to enforce the promises (as if they had been made to him) could even achieve some Abbot own-goals, in that even some people who might have been disposed to prefer Abbott will be exasperated and angry if his efforts threaten the Coalition’s standing in the opinion polls.
Abbott’s best (though still slight) hope of coming back to power depends on a collapse of Turnbull’s popularity and of two-party preferred support in the opinion polls. Few in the party want that.
Abbott might well say that Turnbull is now leader by undermining and use of opinion polls. But that would seem to underline what appears to be Abbott’s central delusion: that the leadership was stolen from him as a result of leaking, back-stabbing and treachery by others.
Abbott and Credlin (and, as now also seems plain, the federal Liberal Party organisation under Credlin’s husband Brian Loughnane) threw their power away. They lost the confidence of Abbott’s supporters by their own actions and omissions. It is not someone else’s fault.
Abbott is now ex-prime minister because people who had preferred him to Turnbull lost their faith and their patience in him. He was thrown out by his own, including his own friends.
I am reminded that 43 years ago, Billy McMahon, the prime minister whose record most resembles Abbott, said self-effacingly to his caucus, “You know, I am my own worst enemy.” Jim Killen, a backbencher, immediately responded, “Not while I’m alive, you aren’t”. Abbott, by contrast, was his own worst enemy – if it wasn’t Credlin.
That the Abbott Government was in serious trouble was obvious by this time a year ago. A somewhat weary Abbott agreed that there were barnacles to be scraped off over the Christmas holidays and some refocusing and reshaping of the party needed. There was no shortage of anxious backbenchers and ministers keen to offer friendly advice about what could be improved. It was clear, at least to everyone but Abbott and Credlin, that the main problem was with Abbott and Credlin, and the hapless performance of Joe Hockey, the latter at least partly Abbott’s fault.
But Abbott’s weaknesses and want of judgment remained on active display in January. The party’s revolt took Abbott by surprise – itself a measure of how out of touch he was . He begged for another chance, an opportunity to show that he could change his style and public perception of his hopelessness. Most of those who gave him that further chance had no real hope of expectation that Abbott could or would change. It was obviously a personality thing. Yet they shrank from execution, realising that it would be an awful look, after the disasters of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd period.
Only a few superficial things changed, at first. Soon it became obvious that Abbott had not learnt, had not changed, was almost, it seemed, willfully trying the patience of the party and his colleagues. His friends were in despair, but he was listening less and less. That there were leaks, and consecutive public relations disasters were evidences of a government in chaos, not the causes of it.
Worse, some of his excesses, not least in building up national security tensions, and in demanding (and appearing to get) from his national security advisers a regular diet of confected crises and “announcibles”, involved dangerous abuse of power.
It is by no means necessary (indeed I think it wrong in principle) that there be a completely bipartisan policy on defence and national security. But it is a bad, and sometimes a wicked thing, to play party political games with our armed forces, or our national security establishment, simply in (generally failing) efforts to wrong-foot the other side for domestic purposes rather than defence of the national interest. The cynic might remark that it is equally bad to engage in similar plays in efforts to undermine people on one’s own political side. Yet there is evidence that the Abbott strategy, such as it is, is to paint Turnbull as “weak” and indecisive on terrorism. I have a Christmas suspicion that it will be overreach in just this area that ultimately serves to utterly discredit Abbott even to diehards.
Increasingly too he was limiting the government’s options and capacity to steady the economy by decisions focused on sharpening the political divide. Were Abbott in power right now, only a few months after his deposition, the economic outlook, business and consumer confidence and, probably, unemployment, would be quite different. Such figures are not mere functions of lever-pulling or inputs and outputs; they are measures of morale, of expectations and general optimism. That the coup changed such figures immediately (as well as the opinion of voters) is itself a justification for the coup.
Turnbull cannot, of course, blame Abbott for his problems with Mal Brough, though he now has the luxury of some private space to hope that the problem goes away, probably by Brough’s going into the library. Abbott was involved in the general war against Peter Slipper, but the various actions of Queensland politicians, including Brough, in creating some of the particular scandals were frolics of their own, and so as to further their own ambitions and agendas. It is by no means clear that Brough has committed any criminal or civil offence against Slipper, but it is clear (if it wasn’t by 2007) that his political judgment is seriously awry. And he looks grubby, even if it were to be accepted (and there is no reason why it should) that he was actuated only by a noble and disinterested desire to get a Liberal rorter out of the public sphere.
Brough (and Wyatt Roy, who also has a bit part in the affair) were key Turnbull supporters while Abbott was slowly committing political suicide. But they were promoting their own agendas too and, if they really think that the ascension of Turnbull was a good thing, it would be better putting his interests ahead of their own, in Brough’s case by resignation with such dignity as he can muster.
Down the track, he would, like Abbott, make an admirable administrator of Norfolk Island, ambassador to the Marshall Islands, or some similar position allowing him to showcase all of his abilities, skills, political nous and contribution to public affairs.
December 4, 2015 – 8:28AM
Tony Abbott, Australia’s most famous monarchist, asked to see the Queen, but she declined.
After losing the prime ministership, Tony Abbott sought an audience with the Queen during his trip to London last month, but the request was declined.
Mr Abbott, Australia’s most famous monarchist and a former executive director of Australians for Constitutional Monarchy, was told that the Queen’s schedule would not permit a meeting although she was in London at the time.
In happier times: Then Opposition Leader Tony Abbott meets the Queen in 2011. Photo: Getty Images
Mr Abbott’s unsuccessful bid is revealed in part 5 of Fairfax Media’s Shirtfronted series on the life of the Abbott government.
It also reveals that, on his last day in power, three of Mr Abbott’s cabinet ministers discussed going to see him together to tell him his time was up.
In the morning of the day of the coup, Christopher Pyne and George Brandis, both Turnbull supporters by this point, separately phoned Julie Bishop about going together to see the leader.
On the final day of Mr Abbott’s trip she had no appointments. Photo: Julian Andrews
She rejected the idea. Ms Bishop decided it had reached the critical point. It would be humiliating for a delegation to call on Mr Abbott.
She decided to go alone. She arranged to meet him the minute he returned from a trip to Adelaide, shortly before noon, and told him he’d lost the support of the party.
Ms Bishop still intended to vote for him until he later offered her job as deputy to another minister, Scott Morrison. At that, she considered herself no longer bound to vote for the leader.
Illustration: John Shakespeare
A few hours after Ms Bishop’s call, Mr Turnbull went to see Mr Abbott to declare his challenge.
Mr Abbott was startled, despite feverish media reporting and warnings from colleagues.
He and his then chief of staff, Peta Credlin, had sometimes described Mr Turnbull in private as “another Peter Costello”, all pose and no punch. They seemed to be convinced that he would never challenge.
The first leadership spill against Mr Abbott was precipitated when he announced that he had knighted the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip. Photo: Getty Images
Mr Abbott, invited to give the Margaret Thatcher oration, was in London from October 26 to 28.
The Queen’s daily schedule, which is published by the Palace, shows that she had only two appointments on the 26th and was apparently free in the evening.
On the 27th she hosted a morning reception and had an evening meeting with Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron but nothing in between.
And on the third and final day of Mr Abbott’s trip she had no appointments all day but gave a reception in the evening, according to her published diary.
Mr Abbott once quoted Pascal in explaining widespread public support for the monarchy: “The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.”
The former prime minister was careful to consult the Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, before approaching the Palace to make sure he was not breaching etiquette. He was encouraged to go ahead. Other former prime ministers have been granted audiences.
It’s not clear whether Mr Abbott had any particular purpose in his request, but he said in September that part of the Queen’s appeal was as a symbolism of continuity: “The Crown is a fixed and stable point in a shifting and changing world.”
The first leadership spill against Mr Abbott was precipitated when he announced that he had knighted the Queen’s husband, Prince Philip.
Correction: In Thursday’s editions, the secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet at the time of the shooting down of MH17 was wrongly named as Michael Thawley. At that time, it was actually Ian Watt.
December 1, 2015 – 10:09AM
Julie Bishop has rejected outright Tony Abbott’s claim that his government was the victim of “well-organised white-anting”, and blamed his own poor performance as the reason he was ousted as Prime Minister.
Peta Credlin was a staffer, she’s now a private citizen and I think she’s entitled to be able to get on with her life without this detailed analysis of each and every conversation and glance.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop
This is in stark contrast to Mr Abbott, who in an exclusive interview with Fairfax Media, defended his record, declaring his government could not have done any better.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says she was present during phone calls made by both leadership contenders: Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
He blamed internal dysfunction, the opposition and Senate for cutting his two-year prime ministership short.
“I think it was a very successful government in spite of a feckless Senate, an irresponsible Labor Party, a poisonous media culture and well organised white-anting,” Mr Abbott said.
Asked on the Nine Network’s Today program on Tuesday morning if Mr Abbott was a victim, the deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop said: “No, I don’t believe so.”
She said after the leadership spill attempt in February when 39 people voted for a spill motion despite there being no leadership contender, Mr Abbott had asked for six months to improve.
Ms Bishop says it’s time former prime minister Tony Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin, was allowed to move on with her life. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
“And when the next spill motion came 54 members of the party voted for a new leader,” Ms Bishop said.
“That’s how I saw the situation. I certainly was not aware of white-anting although I’m sure that the former prime minister has a number of concerns about what went on in the last six months of his time as prime minister.”
Ms Bishop played down a report that she was a silent participant in a phone call Malcolm Turnbull had with Scott Morrison before the February push, in which Mr Turnbull sounded out Mr Morrison for the Treasury position.
Mr Morrison was subsequently named Treasurer in Mr Turnbull’s cabinet reshuffle but has tried to dismiss the report as “tin foil hat conspiracies”.
Ms Bishop similarly tried to play down the report and said she was a participant in phone calls made by both leadership contenders.
“I was there when Malcolm Turnbull called people, I was there when Tony Abbott called people,” Ms Bishop said.
Conservative figures in the party are furious with Ms Bishop – who they see as trying to play both sides of the fence but was ultimately disloyal to Mr Abbott. Ms Bishop has always denied the charge of disloyalty saying her role as deputy is to the party and not to the prime minister of the day.
But revelations Ms Bishop’s chief of staff attended the meeting of plotters at the home of Liberal MP Peter Hendy the night before the successful coup in September further enraged the right and sparked demands she explain her full role.
Let Peta move on: Bishop
Ms Bishop leapt to the defence of her former internal foe, Peta Credlin who served as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff.
Her domineering style became legendary inside the government and soon spilled into the media and eventually became a symbol for Mr Abbott’s failed leadership.
In the second instalment of his five-part feature on the downfall of the Abbott government, Fairfax Media’s Peter Hartcher has revealed details of her commandeering style and her extremely close relationship with her boss, Mr Abbott.
Ms Bishop said it was time for people no longer in their jobs to be left alone to get on with their lives.
“Peta Credlin was a staffer, she’s now a private citizen and I think she’s entitled to be able to get on with her life without this detailed analysis of each and every conversation and glance,” she told Sky News.