Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Looking for the chastened and transformed Tony Abbott

Word cloud created from Tony Abbott’s public utterances on 9 February 2015

On Monday 9 February 2014 Anthony John ‘Tony’ Abbott declared he had become a new version of himself – a chastened and transformed Australian prime minister.

In the space of a day he made a statement, called a press conference and took part in a televised interview.

I looked for this changed man in the many hundreds of words he spoke, but there was no true self-awareness on display, no empathy or understanding shown, no genuine acceptance of responsibility and no indication of a real intention to change.

The one positive was that, after years of fiscal scaremongering, he finally admitted that in essence, we are a strong economy.

However, his punitive and unfairly targeted first budget he repeatedly described as bold and ambitious.

Abbott continued to blame Labor for the entire budget black hole. The billions that have been added to the public debt bottom line, and the growing cash deficit,  since he took the reins of government apparently don’t exist for him.

He told us all that I've never been a skite as a preface to his favourite mantra; we said we'd get rid of the carbon tax. It's gone. We said we'd stop the boats. They've stopped. We've said we'd build the roads… the roads are going ahead.

He was silent on what might happen concerning the higher education ‘reforms’, new unemployment regulations and cash transfer payment cuts contained in the 2014-15 Budget.

He has not forsaken the latest version of Medicare co-payments for visiting a GP – all he promises is that there will be no new Medicare policies without the broad backing of the medical profession. Not a mention of seeking a mandate from the electorate.

In a strange turn of phrase, Abbott promised that we will socialise decisions before we finalise them and that way we're more likely to take the people with us.

There was little mention of other government policy except for a couple of sentences on small business tax cuts and child care payments. Instead, the ‘old’ Abbott (who appears to believe that political pugilism trumps policy development every time) was in full view as he boasted; I am a fighter. I know how to beat Labor Party leaders. I beat Kevin Rudd, I beat Julia Gillard, I can beat Bill Shorten as well.

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