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A New Political Climate

November 9, 2011

I hope it has dawned on business organisations by now that Tony Abbott has no interest whatsoever in an economic reform agenda. None. Zero. Not a minimal interest, not an occasional interest, not a hidden interest lurking beneath the overriding desire to win votes. As someone remarked, he is a Democratic Labor Party figure, not a contemporary Liberal who expects to be measured on an agenda of increased productivity.

The latest confirmation is his facile position that the increased super contribution of 12 percent by 2019-2020 will be retained under a coalition government, even while he will forgo Labor’s mining tax. The decision on the mining tax is itself remarkable. Abbott will be going into the next election saying he will repeal a tax that mining companies – or at least the bigger ones – will have agreed to pay and will be paying. No, he will say, take it back – I insist.

There is more interest in the Abbott policy alternative, as carbon lifts from the agenda. All his easy lines are catching up with him.

Abbott already had a 57 percent dissatisfaction rating which confirms the electorate is on to him even when locked into a dislike of Labor.

There are obviously more Labor-inclined voters than the 30 percent measured in the last Newspoll. Labor needs to be thinking strategically about how to bring them back, especially when the carbon tax and the mining tax are in place and not generating front page stories. One clue might lie in the QANTAS dispute. No matter what one thinks of union action blocking productivity improvement, one has to acknowledge that public sympathy was overwhelmingly against QANTAS and its lockout. It’s a reminder to many Australian employees of their vulnerability, just like the wharf dispute in 1998 and the WorkChoices legislation.

In any case, the political atmospherics have changed:
• the Labor vote is recovering
• the carbon legislation is in place; and
• the contradictions and negativism in Abbott are on display and the media will expose them.

  1. November 9, 2011 2:29 pm

    re public sympathy against the Qantas CEO’s act of civil disobedience … I agree public opinion seemed to be against the actions taken, but I was under the impression this had more to do with passengers and their friends/family either directly affected or imagining how they’d feel if they were affected/inconvenienced in their travels plans … so I’m not sure if it had more to do with personal interest and less to do with with sympathy for the Qantas workforce.

  2. November 9, 2011 2:37 pm

    Spot on, Bob! By the way it was Peter Costello, in his Age column, who outed the Mad Monk as a DLP figure. One also wonders what impact five or six years training for the Catholic priesthood at St Patricks seminary, Manly, had in shaping Abbott’s politcal agenda.

  3. November 9, 2011 9:44 pm

    I think it is rather telling that the moment the FPLP stopped thinking too hard and long about the position of its polling and started focusing on granting passage to some pretty big reform items, the numbers starting shifting oh-so-slightly. I think this just once again confirms that the public knows when leaders are not leading, but instead looking to them for some sort of clue. That, combined with the fact that, as you point out, Abbott has lost all credibility as an economic reformist, there might still yet be hope for an otherwise flagging Labor Government.

  4. michael egan permalink
    November 9, 2011 10:15 pm

    TC obvioulsly kinow little about the Catholic Church in Australia. The Sydney Archdiocese was never friendly to the DLP. Perhaps that’s why Tony Abbott didn’t survive the Sydney seminary. If anything, the political bias of St Patrick’s Seminary, in the days Abbott was there, was pro liberal-left, not conservative.
    Michael Egan.

  5. November 9, 2011 10:36 pm

    Please leave your Catholic bashing at the door!

  6. November 10, 2011 7:06 am

    The real issue for the LP is how to retain the aging voting bloc. People by their very nature become more conservative as they age.

  7. November 10, 2011 11:51 am

    Mr Carr, thank you for your blog. I can’t pretend to know more about campaigning/media imaging than you but I think this piece misses an essential ingredient, in consideration. Firstly, Abbott’s negativity is repulsive and damaging as we know, yet it is entirely understandable – from his perspective, why should he propose positives and alternatives into an environment wherein the Government may at any time cease to exist? I can’t stand the negative wrecking, but gee.. what can we expect? That Abbott’s negativity has not been the focus of massive (ie, destructive to him) media attention is surely because the whole federal environment is fraught (at least in as much as new to us). Secondly, one week, two… think four weeks then.. of Abbott about-facing in presented attitude, by making a positive stand, presenting positive alternatives, and I’ll bet my socks the negativity – as a problem for him – won’t figure a toss. It’s that four weeks which is missing in consideration here. I accept, however, that you might be saying he is not capable nor willing of presenting the positive alternative; I am led to expect he will. I don’t believe we can extrapolate sufficiently from the environs of the Gillard Government to date. Best wishes.

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