Mr Abbott elected PM; Invents invisibility potion

invisible manThere’s been a fair bit of comment today about Tony Abbott’s reluctance to appear in the media. Notable are Jonathan Green (who rightly derides the absurdity and immorality of the “hide the boats” strategy) and Dee Madigan, with whom I am less in agreement. Green puts his finger on it:

It’s just politics, that’s the consensus analysis. Just the sort of canny switch of gears we admire as the deft prosecution of the politician’s art. And it’s all we expect of them really: to play politics for the sake of political advantage and power.

The fact that they do it is not the thing that should bother us. The fact that we shrug our shoulders and recognise the political calculations for what they are and give them grudging admiration, that’s the troubling bit.

We let ourselves be taken for this ride, by participating mutely in a structured political drama that can argue for people’s very lives in one month then turn around the next and do the opposite straight faced. One of these elections we might demand better.

That we collude quietly for now is a particularly dark piece of moral turpitude. It shouldn’t be assessed against the standards of political cunning, it should be judged against the standards of simple decency.

The obvious conclusion that one can draw from this commentary is that the tactic, and such it is, will be ineffective. The story becomes “where is Tony?”… He might think that he can do an O’Farrell (as Madigan suggests), but voters expect more from Prime Ministers than State Premiers. They expect national leadership. Now that’s not akin to an “announceable” a day, and certainly not a stunt of the day, but if you disappear yourself, you can’t help that becoming the story. Yes, Mr Abbott might want politics off the front pages, but he’s also raised a lot of expectations that people will want fulfilled. And the boats strategy is prey to what any form of massaging the truth by hiding it is – the tendency for facts to emerge, and for coverups to become the story.

Truth has a way of prevailing. You can’t make your own reality forever. Particularly not as a governing party. And we might not like the 24 hour media cycle, but appropriate transparency and democratic accountability are different things. Just as with the culture wars reset, Mr Abbott will find that the caravan has moved on: information has been democratised and the demand for transparency is one of the key cultural and social shifts that has gathered pace in the last little while. As respect for authority diminishes (and the LNP did its bit to accentuate that), people suspect if you’re not telling them something, you’re telling them a lie. Hardly a platform on which the Coalition can establish “trust”.

Update: Andrew Elder.

In other news, Barrie Cassidy complains that there is no scrutiny of the government because of the Labor leadership ballot. Isn’t he a journalist? Perhaps he could try some scrutinising.


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67 responses to “Mr Abbott elected PM; Invents invisibility potion”

  1. GregM

    They expect national leadership. Now that’s not akin to an “announceable” a day, and certainly not a stunt of the day, but if you disappear yourself, you can’t help that becoming the story.

    Maybe he is being sensible and cautious, just having won leadrship of the nation, and is going about getting in-depth briefings from departmental heads and consulting with his Cabinet coleagues and others so that when he gets around to it he will excerise his leadership in an informed and responsible way.

    On the other hand he may have promised his wife and daughters a holiday at the end of an arduous campaign and may be sunning himself with them on a tropical island somewhere; hopefully one off the Australian coast.

    Yet again, for all we know, he may have struggled with inflamed haemorrhoids throughout the entire election campaign and is now reposing in a hospital somewhere following surgery, lying in his stomach and with his bum in the air, giving thanks for blessed relief.

    The point is that only one week after he was sworn into office there is no basis for the conjecture as to why he has not been visible. Give it another week and there may well be.

    It is hardly the case that as he assumes national office as Prime Minister Australia is faced with such national crises that it needs its Prime Minister to rush to the helm of the Ship of State to steer it off the rocks.

    Jonathon Green’s comment, which you quote with approval:

    That we collude quietly for now is a particularly dark piece of moral turpitude. It shouldn’t be assessed against the standards of political cunning, it should be judged against the standards of simple decency.

    is just plain silly.

    Abbott has been Prime Minister for just a week and a day. Green’s suggestions of our “collusion” and “our moral turpitude” in not making urgent demands that Abbott show himself is, to be quite frank, totally ludicrous.

  2. Charlene M

    Regards the PM not being seen on TV for a few days, well, what Greg M said above.

    Regards not announcing illegal boat arrivals, once again, no big deal. They’ll still be announced, just not in real time.
    The press & TV, neither of whom adopted anything but a “nothing to see here” attitude to boat arrivals over the past few months, have no reason to suddenly demand to report them in real time.

    I couldn’t care less how often they are reported. If it makes business tougher for people traffickers to not know if “clients” have arrived (especially if the govt cuts off the free phone calls & internet) then I’m even happier!

  3. GregM

    Sorry Mark. I only read your post for its content; Abbott’s disappearing act in the first week he is in office. I didn’t make the Stop the Boats connection. It wasn’t immediately apparent.

    But to be honest I don’t see much connection and I think that, having now read his article, Jonathon Green is being, at best tendentious in trying to make it.

    The issue of asylum seekers trying to come to Australia by boat is the great piece of Kabuki of Australian politics. All the players have their role and wear their masks. The roles they play in this piece of theatre have nothing to do with their true motives and intentions. All the theatre goers know this. And so the ritual is played out.

    If Tony Abbott absents himself from the stage for some short while in the play then that is just part of the drama as it plays out. If Jonathon Green wants to go hiss-boo at that with words like “collusion” and “our moral turpitude” then that is part of the set piece drama as well.

    To use another literary metaphor it is just sound and fury, signifying nothing.

  4. Chris

    I couldn’t care less how often they are reported. If it makes business tougher for people traffickers to not know if “clients” have arrived (especially if the govt cuts off the free phone calls & internet) then I’m even happier!

    It doesn’t make it harder for the people organising the trips to find out what happened as they often carry satellite phones on the boats so they can call for help if in trouble. And if they do happen to get close to christmas island they can use their ordinary mobile phones. Its just a convenient excuse that the Government is using – and whilst in opposition they used to complain if there was any delay in reporting a boat arrival so its pretty hypocritical of them.

    That being said, I think weekly updates are sufficient for transparency and should hopefully take a bit of heat out of the issue. The department should however respond immediately to any specific queries.

    Restricting access to the internet by asylum seekers just makes life harder for their relatives with no benefit.

  5. Dave Bath

    This is nothing to how they’ll want to bury the full costings documents, including detailed assumptions, when released by the Parliamentary Budget Office. (Election costings must be released within 30 days after the election, but Green and ALP had full details published before the election – the Greens WELL before the election)

  6. philip travers

    Usually there is crap about the honeymoon over blah street gaslights blah blah blah.Tony as the disappearing man adds mystery to the public backside view of the budgie smuggler impersonations of a flowering to be P.M.To switch to being a mystery is like the fairies down the garden path had a pair of under chunders just the right size to disapppear in.Honesty personified means one has to escape the claws of the pullit manufacturers.Pullits being a ornamental egg shaped thingamajig that makes laying hens comfortable,and used toallow having a young Tony apply his cosmic routine breaking the egg ceiling.From all round confessional man,probably putting Catholic priests out of business to being chief non-smoke across the waters fires in the sky! It is simply self love,that which guides us all,apparently,towards our greater purpose.Where you have a choice,be an old fart,or ride on the disgust of self appreciation for some higher purpose . Mother Duck of the Libs in government finally .Or Hari Rama Krishna Rama through the corridors of Parliament when a division is required.Bronwyn Bishop chief of the Ramas making the Lib language stopping European Jewess, from ever fainting ever again.And Muskrats hanging round farmers places eatin’ up all they had… copied in song and action by the Garry Glitter Inverters Band!? Take your choice! This is fairly straight forward ! Isn’t it!?

  7. GregM

    Restricting access to the internet by asylum seekers just makes life harder for their relatives with no benefit.

    The benefit is in the cruelty of making life harder for their relatives, Chris.

    This is not a rational or decent process, Chris, or anything like a process where rationality or decency would apply.

    It is a piece of threatre being played out where some of our oldest fears and prejudices, against being swamped by the “Other”the unspoken interloper into our pristine but insecurely held bit of paradise, the Russians in the 1850s during the Crimean War, the Chinese after that, and then the Japanese in WW2, are being played off against our obligations under the Refugee Convention and its protocol, which we would never have signed up to in the 1950s and 60s if, for a moment, we ever thought it would really apply to us in our distant fastness.

    Its whole point is therefore in not being rational or decent. but to apppeal to other, and baser, motives in the Australian people.

  8. Nickws

    Mark, we have some hints in this very comments thread as to what’s going on—they’re trying to take the politics out of politics.

    The remarkable thing here about this apparent media strategy, is it wasn’t something Howard did. He loved getting on talkback radio, loved giving his opinion on every issue under the sun at doorstops.

    Odd times ahead, considering an ongoing small target strategy is predicated on Reformed Bombthrower Abbott giving up more than Always Boring Howard ever did vis-a-vis public profile.

  9. jules

    Everyone goes on about how disciplined Abbott was during the election campaign, but a big part of that was avoiding the media except on his terms. I don’t think he’s ready for the media scrutiny every other PM that I can remember had to deal with. He’s shown himself to be incapable of standing up to serious questioning. The last time he was seriously questioned was when Leigh Sales made him look like an idiot on the 7.30 report last year.

    Its no wonder he’s hiding – its about maintaining some control over the narrative. Once he has to answer serious questions that control will be gone. That is why he wants politics off the front page, and mega centralised control of all party media stuff. Cos as an individual he is incapable of facing scrutiny and he wasn’t elected on policies. When he and his policies face serious scrutiny he will probably struggle.

  10. Snorky

    I’m with you Jules, but it will require the MSM to put him under serious scrutiny, and on their past record you’d have to doubt their will, and maybe even their ability to do this. Yesterday someone drew my attention to a Greg Sheridan article in the Australian in which he opined that Bishop (aka Australia’s-greatest-foreign-minister-since-Alexander-Downer) had had a ‘brilliant’ start in her new job and had a ‘stellar’ week in New York. (Please don’t ask me to link; I couldn’t bring myself to visit the website.) Yes, an extreme example I know, but the media is going to have to do a whole lot better if Abbott is to be seriously pressured.

  11. David Irving (no relation)

    Well, Snorky, Bishop has had a brilliant start. She’s managed to really upset the Indonesian government (ably assisted by Downer in the last day or so). It’s not often that someone single-handedly revives gunboat diplomacy.

  12. Katz

    When Lord Dolly of High Dudgeon trundles himself back into the limelight to protest that those awful Indos have stowed their nasty serongs in OUR kit lockers, it’s hard for Abbott or anyone else in his government to keep a low profile.

    And when, unprecedentedly, the Indos release the entire transcript of Julie Bishop’s interview with Dr Marty Natalegawa the world, including the dopiest marginal seat resident ought to know that Australia faces major issues.

  13. Doug

    We saw this week what happened when Christopher PYne mad headlines by announcing a policy priority that was not previously announced in the election run up – the compulsory student fees.

    He now has gone to ground and all media interviews and releases have to be cleared with the PM’s office. When Kevin did this he was a control freak.

  14. Moz of Yarramulla

    Holy sheet, Katz, that’s apalling. SMH has a write-up.

    But yes, publishing a detailed report of a private meeting is shocking. That’s diplomatic escalation for sure. I wonder Lord Downer of Baghdad could be persuaded to put a sock in it? Perhaps our foreign munster could do that instead of putting her foot in it?

  15. jungney

    Not only has Abbott disappeared, presumably in retreat while he reads books on economics, women and Aborigines, but the ghost of Alexander Downer has reappeared talking up conflict with Indonesia about the repeated defloration of Australia’s delicate, flower like borders. Excellent!

    dada

  16. David Irving (no relation)

    I heard Downer on the radio this morning. What a blowhard.

    He obviously thinks that brown people who don’t speak English have no right to national souvreignty. Someone needs to hand him the port and cigars …

  17. Chris

    Mark @ 17 – I think Bowen has done a reasonable job of bringing attention to what the government is doing whilst the ALP sorts out its leadership. But really there’s not been anything unexpected happen, and those things which have been pointed out such as capping of uni places have been reversed by Abbott pretty fast.

  18. David Irving (no relation)

    The Indonesian government has really only arced up about this in the last few days. Before the election, although they were quite clear that they wouldn’t accept a “tow-back-the-boats” policy, they were pretty restrained.

    Perhaps their thinking was, “Surely the Australian people won’t be stupid enough to elect this pack of drongos.”

  19. Katz

    Substantively, Downer either does not understand, or feigns not to understand, the difference between privately owned Indonesian boats entering Australian waters from international waters and RAN boats, ordered by the Australian government, boarding Indonesian boats and perhaps entering Indonesian territorial waters without permission.

    These private Indonesian boats don’t challenge Australian sovereignty. Indeed, most of the passengers on these boats desire that the Australian government exercise its sovereignty by honoring the Refugees Conventions, which sovereign Australian governments in the past ratified.

    DINR is correct. The Libs have difficulty dealing with the concept that brown folks deserve to govern nations that enjoy full sovereignty. As I have observed on another occasion, Menzies exhibited this racist blind spot when he announce commitment of Australian troops to South Vietnam WITHOUT FIRST EVEN INFORMING THE GOVERNMENT OF SOUTH VIETNAM OF HIS INTENTION.*

    Evidently, nothing has changed in the Libs’ mental map of the world since 1965.

    * ironically, the Government of South Vietnam expressed disquiet at the intervention of Australian forces because of the poisonous racist reputation of Australia.

  20. Snorky

    Quite so, Katz. Downer was positively foaming at the mouth about Indonesian flagged vessels sailed by Indonesians bringing people illegally to this country, as if they were somehow doing the bidding of the Indonesian government, and about how Marty Natalegawa ought to be doing something about it, if for no other reason than as a favour to Lord Downer, his former good friend.

    Memo to ABC: Downer, Reith, Minchin et al have nothing, absolutely nothing to contribute to public debate. Leave them on the scrapheap where we thought we had dumped them 6 years ago.

  21. Katz

    Yes Mark.

    Abbott didn’t create the media beast. But he did feed it.

    And now the monster will eat Abbott, unless he feeds it a rich and satiating diet.

  22. Charlene M

    Not enough sneaky types on this forum!
    Alexander Downer, without speaking for the government, and thus easily disowned, is being used to send a message to the Indonesian government.
    This is all playing out in the context of an Indonesian general election. When much is said more for consumption by low information domestic (Indonesian) voters.
    It likely will be all much calmer once the election is over.

    There are of course many facets to the Indonesia-Australia relationship, which though disconnected in the minds of Australian (low-care factor) inner city commentators, but very connected in the minds of Indonesian politicians.
    People trafficking,
    Foreign Aid,
    Live cattle export.
    West Papua.

  23. Patrickb

    @21
    Actually there’s been a lot of unexpected happenings. In a negative sense the lack of immediate action to address the budget emergency is unexpected, Barnaby’s tardiness in dealing with the sovereign debt crisis he was screeching about. Unexpected positive actions include sacking public servants, summarily, and without apparent reason, disbanding the climate commission and suddenly deciding that we don’t need to know about boat arrivals when it appeared to be a major concern just a few weeks ago.
    Of course we cynics here may say that none of this was unexpected.

  24. Patrickb

    @24
    He’s a massive fan of Mark Steyne.

  25. Patrickb

    @29
    Sounds like bollocks to me. What message is Downer sending? That we’re pack of belligerent idiots who don’t understand foreign relations (witness Bishop)? Unless we want outcomes that damage our own interests on some of the items in your list, particularly live cattle, then the kind of ‘sneaky’ you’re advicating is happily absent this discussion.

  26. Debbieanne

    I have never understood why the discussion of asylum seekers never includes those who have arrived by plane? Or included the numbers of persons who over stay their visas. Of course to those who approve of the ‘stop the boats’ policy, the colour of the over stayer/ assylum seeker is all important. Sometimes I despair.

  27. jungney

    Charlene M: Well, I certainly hope you are right. However it lands in Indonesia, though, Lord Lexi-Bereft Downer of Onkaparinga, SA, is the authentic voice of an Australia that really despises w*gs of any sort and this even regardless of how many of them there are. Bravo!

    dada.

  28. Moz of Yarramulla

    [email protected]: because an awful lot of overstayers are white, and I suspect most asylum seekers who arrive by plane are too. Overstayers really are a different category, most of them are entitled white people who don’t think the laws should apply to them (see also: Australians overseas who do the same). Torturing them in concentration camps would quickly get very ugly for our foreign relations.

    Realistically, the reason most people apply for asylum is that the government of the country they come from doesn’t give a shit what happens to them, except insofar as they don’t want it to be nice. So us being bastards to them is going to get a big tick of approval from the country of origin. If we instead welcomed them with open arms and enthusiastically helped them integrate we’d start to get complaints. Can you imagine the government of, say, Indonesia being thrilled if we said “any Papuan who can show they were active in the independence movement will automatically get citizenship (etc) if they make it to Australia”?

  29. paul burns

    Now we have had a refugee boat lost at sea and people drowned. Suddenly Australians are treated to the cowardly spectacle of Abbott fleeing reporters in a Commonwealth car in his haste to avoid questions from reporters.
    All I can say is I hope Australia doesn’t face any really major threat over the next few years. On current evidence Abbott will buckle.

  30. duncanm

    Paul,

    do you find it not somewhat suprising that the media has recently discovered sinking boats and drowning refugees? Even if they were 40km off the coast of Indonesia.

    The others, in excess of a thousand over the last few years, must have been somehow less tragic.

  31. zoot

    Not sure what you’re getting at duncanm.
    Are you saying that more than a thousand boats have arrived in the last few years or that more than a thousand refugees have drowned?
    And what has this got to do with the substance of Paul’s comment (ie Mr Abbott’s sudden coyness when confronted with the media)?

  32. Katz

    Abbott never shut up about boats before yesterday.

    How can his change of behaviour be explained except by reference to the fact that he is attempting to shirk the responsibility that as Opposition Leader he asserted belonged to Rudd and Gillard?

  33. duncanm

    One does wonder exactly what Mr Abbott is supposed to say about a boat that sinks 50m off an Indonesian beach.

    And yes, Zoot, I was referring to > 1000 people, not boats.

  34. zoot

    You can explain Mr Abbott’s impotence, why can’t he?

  35. tigtog

    One does wonder exactly what Mr Abbott is supposed to say about a boat that sinks 50m off an Indonesian beach

    One does wonder exactly why it would have been so difficult to tell the journalists to expect a statement from the Immigration Minister ASAP? Or that once Morrison had issued his statement, for Abbott to have a soundbite crafted from the major points and fallen back on the usual media handling tactic of soundbite repetition?

    The “optics” of the Prime Minister scurrying off when being asked questions by the press pack is never a good look, no matter who may be the PM at the time.

  36. Liz

    What could have Abbott said?

    Offered his condolences. Said that a statement would be forthcoming from Morrison. It’s not hard, actually. You can be sure that if had happened under a Labor government, Abbott would have had a great deal to say.

    Now the interesting thing is the witnesses who said the Australian government knew precisely where the stricken boat was for 24 hours. Is there going to be an inquiry into this? Of course not. A job for an investigative journalist, I’d say.

  37. Katz

    What did Abbott expect Rudd/Gillard to say?

    If Abbott were sincerely against people smugglers it matters nought if their drowned Australia-bound clients are 50 kms from Java or 50 kms from Christmas Island.

  38. GregM

    If Abbott were sincerely against people smugglers it matters nought if their drowned Australia-bound clients are 50 kms from Java or 50 kms from Christmas Island.

    Katz the ABC report says the boat foundered 50 metres, not 50 kilometres off the coast of Java. That makes a very big difference. You can hardly expect the Ausralian government to run rescue missions that close to the Indonesian coast. For one thing it would involve going well into Indonesian territorial waters. For another it would require a degree of resourcing for Australian naval and rescue services (and none at all from the Indonesians in whose waters the foundering occurred) which is quite unrealistic.

  39. Katz

    GregM,

    It is doubtless that the boat foundered close to the Jave shore. It is also true that a plane hasn’t crashed until it collides with the ground. The important is issue is how the boat (and the hypothetical plane) found itself in a situation where they had no safe place to land.

    The ABC report says this:

    Survivors from an asylum seeker boat that sank off Indonesia say the boat returned to land after it hit trouble in rough seas and sank only 50 metres from the shore.

    About 50 people are either missing or dead, 30 of them understood to be children, after the boat sank off Agrabinta, a remote area of the coast off the Cianjur region of west Java after it got into trouble on Thursday.

    Survivors say they rang Australian authorities for help on Thursday when both the boat’s engines broke during the voyage.

    The details are patchy and unclear. But it appears that the boat was further out to sea (in international waters?) when someone aboard made a distress call.

    Who received that call?

    Was it passed on to an RAN vessel?

    Was that vessel in a position to render assistance?

    Did it render assistance?

    If not, what did it do?

    It is in the public interest that these questions be answered.

    Perhaps there is no case to be answered. But we are owed an explanation.

  40. tigtog

    To be super-precise GregM, the ABC report says that the boat finally sank 50 metres from the Indonesian shore. It doesn’t say what the boat’s position with respect to territorial waters was when it first began to founder and made those calls to Australian authorities. I suspect that detail is going to become a rather important one.

  41. paul burns

    What tigtog said @ 47.

  42. Liz

    Yep. There are many unanswered questions here. Will we find any clear answers?

  43. zorronsky

    [email protected]
    Downer was sending a message alright..to Abbott’s RWDB followers, a message that the cowardly can deflect as not being their actual position when confronted with heat . You are correct to allude to the ‘sneaky’. The Coalition have been using these ‘Bolts’ from the blue for donkeys years.

  44. Ronson Dalby

    And Brandis is the attorney-general?

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BVTEWQ4CMAAISn0.jpg:large

    It appears stealing and only paying back when caught is acceptable.

  45. Katz

    I guess, as far as the Abbott clique is concerned, the wedding of a shock jock is about as close as you can get in Australia to a state celebration.

  46. Jacques de Molay

    The fact Brandis the grub tried to defend it as ‘official business’ to ‘foster collaboration’ because his close friend shock-jock Michael Smith was at the time whipping up a frenzy over Julia Gillard’s relationship with a former union official, says it all really.

  47. drsusancalvin

    I have had a heads up from a source close to the ground. Expect a stunning communique in the next days from Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison which will supplant all current policy initiatives since this “action” government swept into power. Since “stopping the boats” has been shown by this government to be a little more complex than first thought, it was bolstered by “buying the boats” and “redirecting the boats” and finally “not mentioning the boats”. In a cut through piece of stunning diplomacy the “learn to swim” policy initiative will be launched. As Frank Beaurepaire said “long recognised as a most beneficial form of exercise, it may at any time be a means of saving life, and can give a locality further valuable community activity”. As Mohammed (peace be upon him) said “teach your children swimming, archery and horseriding” With respect to Awrah burkinis will be issued, to men and women, to prevent this ever happening again. Initially it will be a pilot program, but the Foreign Aid budget is expected to fully fund a supplementary Surf Life Saving program that will make use of the boats purchased from Indonesian fishermen in the earlier program.

  48. paul burns

    [email protected] 54,
    Excellent piece of work.
    ps. the first link open to an error.

  49. paul burns

    How is it these Libs and National Party types, like Brandis and Joyce and Slipper are always putting their hands in the public till and hoping they will get away with it?

  50. drsusancalvin

    oops. ty paul. mods please correct the link.

  51. jules

    Paul B – Phony Tony Abbott gets stuck into Abbott’s amazing ability to save taxpayers money. I dunno how accurate those figures are, and don’t really care any more cos the Coalition seem to operate in a fact free zone anyway.

    He might also mention the $15 K or so Abbott claimed as travel allowance for doing the “charity event” Pollie Pedal in 2010, 11 and 12 on his blog somewhere. I dunno what he claimed for this year. I guess Abbott feels charity begins at home.

  52. Ronson Dalby

    Mark Day, an opinion writer for The Australian, criticising the Immigration Minister? Wow … things are changing rapidly (and will continue to, I hope).

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/archive/media/we-must-all-rise-against-this-asylum-deceit/story-e6frg9tf-1226729466223

  53. Ronson Dalby

    A lot of people are claiming that at about 1.06 on the following video showing Abbott running from the football ground on the weekend, you can hear Abbott tell the reporter to ‘f off’. Some of those say they downloaded the video and slowed it down and can definitely hear it. I haven’t been able to isolate it.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=JhQYehcGweg#t=29

  54. jungney

    Ronson: nah, I didn’t hear it. However, the footage is bad enough even without the verbal abuse. These people are clowns.

  55. Ambigulous

    Dr Calvin

    You have introduced new humanitarian elements to the burgeoning theory of boat-prevention.

    Following the lead of Lord Baden-Powell, may I suggest these modest extensions?

    Every seafarer should be equipped with a suitable length of strong twine and waterproof diagrams showing knots suited for lashing floating wood together to form a sturdy raft.

    Every third seafarer should carry waterproof matches, and plastic bags that can be used to condense water vapour to supply potable water on the raft.

    Seafarers should be taught the basics of identifying: sharks, sea snakes, poisonous jellyfish and self-defence against pirates and opportunistic politicians.

    Seafarers equipped with the clever-phones should be supplied with the MyNextMove app, which calculates the distance to the nearest part of the Dutch East Indies, and shows the compass bearing to steer their raft along to reach it.

    These measures should please both the Government in Batavia, and HM the Queen.

  56. jules

    Ronson I thought I heard it. IN fact i am quite sure I heard it, especially the first time I listened.

    However i was looking for it and expecting it – i dunno if I trust my ears. Normally i would but the audio is faint and could be he said something else and I am misinterpreting.

    So anyway I dragged my wife out of bed (not really, she wasn’t in bed yet) to have a listen without telling her what to expect. She reckons he definitely swore and said “Fuck (something)”.

    He sort of groans “Arggghh” as the door shuts, then swears.

  57. Nick

    I heard it. What’s eating him?

    What strikes me is how uncomfortable Abbott looks. Why? Is he that paralysed by the thought of unscripted remarks? Does he loathe opportunistic media interjection that much? Can’t figure out why he wouldn’t not expect it. Is he terrified of the job at the moment?

    Is it that hard to grimace and say “it’s a real tragedy,more later?”

  58. jules

    Nick stuff like that little episode suggest he’s really not up to the job.

  59. David Irving (no relation)

    Nick, I think it’s starting to dawn on him that he has to govern, and that it’s not as easy as Gillard made it look.

  60. paul burns

    Looks like George Brandis is very well-read. At our expense.
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/brought-to-book-how-the-taxpayers-built-george-brandis-a-library/story-fn59niix-1226730343959?from=google_rss&google_editors_picks=true

    Yeah, I know there’s a Labor ex-academic mentioned, but the Australian would have to to that, wouldn’t they, to prove they’re balanced. 🙂