After less than two years of Tony Abbott as Prime Minister, supposed “first among equals”, on Monday night the Liberal Party gave him the boot in favour of challenger, ex-Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. It was a moderate result, 54 – 44 for the new guy, but in line with what the pundits were told by the Turnbull camp before the vote took place.
As a result, yesterday, Tuesday afternoon, after much waiting waiting waiting, and more waiting, for Abbott to appear somewhere, anywhere, he finally stood at a podium in the gardens of Parliament House and gave a press conference in which he did not resign nor congratulate the incumbent. It was typical Abbott. Rude to the public/media/Parliament and blaming others for his demise in his speech. Some theories of his whereabouts prior to appearing ranged from sitting drunk in a closet licking his wounds, sneaking out to the Army to instigate a reverse coup, flitting off out of the country without resigning at all, or worse. The public still doesn’t know why it took until 12.30 the next day for him to speak. And probably most telling, unlike the custom in these circumstances of which we have had three now in the last five years, he didn’t go to the Governor General and resign his commission in person. Nope, nope, nope. Not Tony. Instead he sent a note. A Note! We’re all still wondering if it was faxed or sent by carrier pigeon.
[UPDATE just over 1 hour after I posted this. He resigned by FAX. http://www.theage.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/dumped-prime-minister-tony-abbott-resigned-via-fax-20150916-gjnmz5.html ]
But enough about the fallen. The new guy isn’t exactly new. Malcolm has been wanting to be PM since he was a child and has freely admitted that. He comes from ‘born to rule’ honestly at least. He’s rich. Very rich. Much of it he’s made, not inherited. Think Trump with better hair and voice. He doesn’t need the gig. Also like Trump, Mal also flirted with the Labor party (think Democrats). Not sure why, but he eventually settled on or was advised that his more natural fit ($$ level?) was the Libs. He ran for Parliament, won his seat of Wentworth in New South Wales. He became leader of the Liberal Party once in opposition, until his more progressive views, arrogance and dictatorial style got him the boot and the party ended up with Abbott by ONE VOTE difference during the last Labor government. So now you can see why the 10 vote difference Monday night was quite a shift.
MalT may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. We don’t know yet. He’s playing as best he can to the right at the moment to get the “team” to unite. Areas he had been forward looking on, like really doing something about climate change and marriage equality, have both gone by the boards. So that much has changed, at least he’s said, and to the right, away from the current preferences of the public. Not sure that will win the next election.
It has also emerged that he voted for and has continued to support, so he says, the dire budgets proposed by the Treasurer Joe Hockey, measures like taking away benefits from the poor, charging more for medical care, increasing the cost of university degrees to US levels, etc etc and more bad etc. In other words, he’s in favour, he says, of slugging the poor to protect his rich mates to get richer or at least not lose anything themselves. Mal’s sales pitch for himself was that no one, mostly Abbott he said, wasn’t selling it well. (Those silly poor people! Why aren’t they getting the message and grateful for the crumbs we’re still willing to toss them?)
We still don’t know his foreign policy, even though we have men and women in the Middle East now bombing in Syria as well as Iraq. I suppose that will come out shortly, along with his new Ministers. LOTS of new Ministers, we’re betting.
There is most likely a year until the next election now. That too may change to earlier to save political hides. The longer it takes, the more likely the public will see how little things really have changed. The style and the communication may change from Tony. Abbott was horrid at both. MalT is FDR and Abraham Lincoln by comparison. MalT could sell the Brooklyn Bridge, I’d imagine. He never counters the statements that he “virtually brought the Internet to Australia”, even though it’s a lie. So he can articulate, when it serves his purposes.
Australians, there is a saying that became quite popular in the US a few years back:
Lipstick on a Pig (see below)
Just remember that phrase as the story emerges. Keep an eye out for that little gold tube and an ear for the squeals in the background. If the pig is squealing, nothing’s changed. Just the colour of the wax.
(Thanks to Dunken Bliths – https://twitter.com/DunkenKBliths/status/644300414888775680)