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33 responses to “The Abbott Government this week”

  1. Paul Norton

    The new Federal Government includes a Minister for ANZAC Day, but no Ministers for various other things that many of us would consider more important. With this appointment, and the forthcoming centenaries of the commencement of World War I and of the Gallipoli landing, we can expect that the Abbott government will ramp up the “militarisation of Australian history” that began under Howard and did not really abate under Rudd and Gillard. Now one significant aspect of this is that a framing of a country’s history as centred on military events and achievements, and the escalation of soldiers and commanders as the heroes of a country’s history, tends to promote values that sit oddly with neoliberal and/or classical liberal ideology. War, the means of fighting it and the dispositions that it encourages are inherently illiberal in every way – not that Tony Abbott will be too troubled by this.

  2. Di

    There’s a lot to be concerned about the way the country will change. I’m disappointed that we are once again looking backwards, moving backwards to the Howard-era business model, rather than trying to make our way as a culture that deals with the real-world challenges – refugees, inequality, energy et al – in an intelligent way taking a lead in the world. The one-woman-in-cabinet scenario is emblematic of a boring backwards-looking culture tied to the old patriarchal power structures, and the dismantling of the Climate Change Commission is likely to mean that we citizens are kept even more deeply in the dark about what’s going on. I fear government will become/is already less transparent and we as a society will be dumber.

  3. Peter Murphy

    Welfare bashing won’t work, Vinnies chief tells Tony Abbott. And it won’t work with Eric Abetz running the program.

  4. duncanm


    as has been pointed out previously, the special ANZAC centenary assignments were initiated under the previous government.

  5. Terry

    Investors in Change.org must be delighted to see the Abbott Government elected. All of that great data harvesting from angry progressives demanding the new government reverse its policy on something or other.

  6. paul burns

    Well, I’ll start off with the welfare bashing. Of course it won’t work, but that will not stop it from happening.
    I know quite a few people in St.VdeP. Including about 3 or 4 close friends, though I’m not a member. It is a very honourable, very compassionate, and in general, a pretty conservative organisation. Abbott and Abetz won’t listen to them because both men are blinded by their neo-con ideology. Yet they are being told this by men and women who are out there on the coal-face working with the poor and disadvantaged every day of the week. Vinnies goes into peoples’ homes, if invited. They see the poverty of living on the dole up front. They know how financially, emotionally and psychologically crippling unemployment, being a single mother and being disabled can be. They know what they’re talking about, how to help people and how not to help them. (they’re not a soft touch, despite their kindness and compassion.)
    But the Abbott Government will not listen to them.
    I think a lot of Catholics would rest a lot easier if men like Abbott, Kevin Andrews and their like in this Government handed in their Catholic badges.

  7. paul burns

    And now, the GST.
    I know Abbott said he wouldn’t alter the GST this term. He probably won’t. Gillard’s misadventure with the carbon price/tax has proved to him it would be too politically risky to be perceived to break a promise. But there is absolutely no doubt he’ll get the Liberal premiers to soften us up for it next term, and try to do so himself. The man has all the cunning of a shit-house rat, and we would be well to remember it always.

  8. Helen

    As usual, an amazing post by Andrew Elder on the new cabinet.

    If you don’t have time to read it all now here are some selected gems:

    The whole idea of the Gillard government’s education reforms was to address the utter failure of Amanda Vanstone, Brendan Nelson, and Julie Bishop in that ministry. They should’ve made more of that; when Bishop, Pyne and other senior Liberals insisted before the election that the way schools are funded now is perfectly adequate, someone should’ve asked Bishop to explain the current funding system. The response would have made Jaymes Diaz look like Rudd at his most programmatically specific.

    Kevin Andrews belongs in the bin with the rest of them, but for one factor: he is the conduit between the Liberal Party and the broad but largely obscure movement of Catholic conservatives. What Andrews lacks as an administrator of the common weal, or as a media performer, he more than makes up for as a tactician while keeping hidden conservative Catholic motivations and support. Next time abortion or euthanasia or gay marriage resurface as issues, it will be Andrews who does the behind-the-scenes work for this government to quietly but unequivocally suppress them. Andrews will do the dirty work to scupper the Royal Commission into Child Abuse, on which a smart opposition would raise hell.

    Andrews, through Joe de Bruyn, is the backdoor channel into the ALP; when Liberals bag unionists, you can be sure they do not have de Bruyn in mind. Andrews was such a crap Workplace Relations Minister because he was so conflicted. In his current role he isn’t conflicted, but he will be furtive. His shadow minister should be alert to his lack of attention to detail and avoid getting sucked into culture-war themes unless there’s gross waste involved.

    (L)ike Abbott himself, Joyce is like the dog that’s caught the car he chased so ardently, and now he has to drive it.

    Eric Abetz will be rubbish at negotiating outcomes in the Senate. He’s a culture warrior who’ll beat up on enfeebled unions (except de Bruyn’s, of course), devoting maximum energy to the irrelevant, assuming that everybody works in fulltime jobs within stable organisations with secure employee benefits. The Coalition message on workplace relations is all over the place, thanks to this gimlet-eyed knucklehead who hasn’t had a new idea since the 1980s. He is both a liability for this government, and utterly irreplaceable.

  9. Hoa Minh Truong

    The capacity couldn’t distinguish the race, sex, religion or the others…the Western country have the female leader as Margaret Thatcher, Bhutto, Julia Gillard, Angela Merkel…but the most communist regime have never seen the female Secretary General, Chairwoman or prime minister. The numerous female in government doesn’t matter, the ability is very important fact.

  10. paul burns

    Madame Mao in the Gang of Four?
    That’s off the top of my head and I’m sure there are others but I don’t have time to go trawling through Soviet history, Cuban history, etc etc.

  11. Tim Macknay

    Given the discussion above of the role of Catholics in the Abbott government this may be on topic.

  12. paul burns

    I don’t know if this is on topic or not, and if not I apoligise in advance.
    The Church argues as I understand it, that homosexual feelings are acceptable so long as those feelings are not expressed sexually. Similarly, heterosexual feelings are acceptable so long as they are only expressed sexually between Catholic partners married to each other.
    Apart from all the rubbish on same sex relations in Leviticus and (I think) St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, one can see how the concept of same sex marriage creates difficulties, cause if its okay for married Catholic heterosexuals why wouldn’t it be okay for married Catholic same sex couples?
    I would assume many same sex Catholic couples would treat the strictures of the Church on this in the same cavalier fashion many Catholic women treat the Church’s teachings on contraception.
    Far more worrying to me is what Abbott and Andrews will do to nobble the Royal Commission on Institutional Child Abuse. It would have occurred to me earlier but I was floating along on the supposition that Gillard had trumped the bastards. Then, with heart sinking I read Andrew Elder’s post. And he really knows where the bodies are buried in the Liberal Party.

  13. paul burns

    My argument @ 12 might be a little shonky since its just occurred to me its hardly likely same-sex couples could be married in the Church. Still, it holds up in parts.

  14. H & R

    Moving AusAid under DFAT seems like an acknowledgement that a lot of state aid spent on political ends anyway, therefore it may as well be managed by the experts.

    So much for the 0.7 per cent UN target.

  15. Hoa Minh Truong

    Helping somewhere else being natural disaster that is good and needing, but aiding for the dictatorial government has to rethink carefully. The Australia tax pay would create the billionaires and millionaires in those officials in countries above. The tax pay to be driven into the high ranking members in the ruthless regime while Australia being faced the homeless, long line hospital waiting list…
    As the hard evidence, in 2008, prime minister Kevin Rudd welcomed Vietnam prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung by 21 gun shots salute, then gave away $ 93 million as aide. However, Vietnam prime minister has not elected by people, but the communist party chosen, Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung who killed thousand people opposed against the regime, including professor Tran Van Ba ( France). The wage of prime minister in Vietnam is just about $ 300 USD a month, but Mr. Nguyen Tan Dung’s asset estimates up to $ 1,8 billion USD…
    Every years, Australia aides more than $ 100 million for Vietcong regime, but what does Vietcong return to Australia?. It is wonderful foreign relationship, Vietcong regime often helps Australia reducing the death sentence to life behind the bar for the Vietnamese refugee turned asylum seekers arrested in Vietnam, whose have came back to Vietnam then become the drug traffickers.

  16. zoot

    duncanm @ 4:

    as has been pointed out previously, the special ANZAC centenary assignments were initiated under the previous government.

    This thread is about the current government and its policies.
    What the previous government did or didn’t do is off topic.

  17. mindy

    I don’t think a bit of clarification about Anzac Ministers is off topic. Knowing that it was something from the previous administration and not just a thought bubble of Abbott’s does make a difference.

  18. Snorky

    Can’t help thinking that the smugness over the sacking of three employees who did little more than serve the interests of their previous employer is a little unseemly. I see that Rupert has already congratulated them for it, which may help explain the air of self satisfaction.

  19. Stan grotskI

    I agree with the clarity and succinctness of Paul Norten’s comment. Abbot is a warmonger of Howardian proportions. It wouldnt surprise anyone here if he attacks Indonesia in order to stop the boats.

  20. Moz of Yarramulla

    [email protected]: why not, they’ve recently appointed a pope who appears to be an actual Christian. If they can be that radical anything is possible.

  21. Moz of Yarramulla
  22. paul burns

    he a Jesuit. The Fathers at Riverview must be tearing their hair out at the lack of subtlety in Abbott’s thought.

  23. Peter Murphy
  24. zoot

    Point taken Mindy.

  25. drsusancalvin

    @7 paul burns

    And now, the GST.
    I know Abbott said he wouldn’t alter the GST this term. He probably won’t.

    And so it begins.

  26. wilful

    All the political compass tests put me pretty solidly social democratic, centre left both socially and economically, but I have to say I really can’t see why a possible change in GST rate or scope is such anathema to the “left”. If done well and fairly, to cover all food, all services (health and education) and with appropriate remedies for the disadvantaged poor, then it is an efficient tax and I think it would be a good thing to keep it at 10% (not that I’m completely averse to 12.5%) but broaden the coverage. Of course an Abbott government wouldn’t adequately compensate disadvantaged losers in making this change, but he wouldn’t compensate the disadvantaged in any tax reform he embarked on – so why single out the GST? Unless you have some special hatred of this tax in particular? There are many more distorting taxes and subsidies in existence in Australia (such as super tax breaks, and negative gearing). It seems to me that some of you are fighting the battle on 1998 all over again. You lost that one, I’d suggest getting over it.

  27. zoot

    I’ll be right behind a change to the GST if it includes extending it to transactions on the stock market.

  28. drsusancalvin


    If done well and fairly, to cover all food,….

    Is there evidence it is an efficient tax? If applied to food it seems to penalize those on low incomes for whom food costs are an unavoidable and much higher proportion of income. Regarding Abbott et al’s inclination to compensate disadvantaged losers, if they are middle class, they are already bathing in welfare, and will probably do ok.

  29. Chris

    Is there evidence it is an efficient tax? If applied to food it seems to penalize those on low incomes for whom food costs are an unavoidable and much higher proportion of income.

    Well the key point there is compensation. You could make the same arguments about carbon pricing or an ETS hurting the ones on the lowest incomes the most too, but they provided compensation in welfare and tax cuts. Grocery shopping is probably one of the harder areas to avoid paying GST so applying it to food helps pick up a bit of the cash-in-hand economy.

    zoot @ 27 – GST applies to brokerage fees for selling/buying shares. And obviously you also pay income tax or CGT for any profit you make.

  30. Ambigulous

    @28 susancalvinphd

    It’s “efficient” in the sense that others collect it on behalf of the Govt., and it can be broadly based; but it’s also regressive, as you point out.

    Most basic spending is unavoidably a higher proportion of a low income than of a high income. So a tax proportional to spending will fall more heavily (in % terms) on the low income earners, unless some compensation can be suitably directed.

  31. John D

    If you want to laugh and cry at the same time Giles Parkinson gave this report about 5 things we learned about . Abbott’s upper middle class bogan party this week. The first item was

    Buckets of information

    It didn’t take long for Tony Abbott’s new government to swing into action, Direct Action. As soon as the official photos were taken on Wednesday, Operation Sovereign Borders was put into place.

    Briefly, this involved deploying the Bintang Army to patrol the beaches and clubs of Indonesia dressed in thongs, t-shirts and shorts, buying “intelligence” and old boats as part of a co-ordinated plan to stem the flow of “illegal” refugees. Operatives – mostly members of the ruling UMBP (Upper Middle Bogan Party) – have been instructed to keep the boats off the Great Western Highway, so that Abbott and Barry O’Farrell can build the roads of the 21st century, which will be completed by the 22nd. The operatives have also been instructed to communicate with their superiors only by code. They will do this by using straws to blow bubbles into buckets of Arak.

  32. Peter Murphy

    Australia’s going to fight in Pakistan? The Pakistani government might have “views” on that issue.

  33. paul burns

    Pakistan across to Lebanon

    Interesting geographical concept, if the map in my mind’s eye is right.
    A more appropriate headline might have been:
    New Australian Defence Minister unafraid of terrifying the Middle East.
    We really have put the bulls in the china shop, haven’t we? Or do these guys believe they’ve just gotta say something, anything? So long as its not about boats of refugees arriving from Indonesia.