tony abbott

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[Update 24 February 2014, 0820 AEDT: Before commenting, political tribalists might want to read my further comment. Then again, if you don't, you'll reveal yourselves for the fools that you are. So on second thoughts, comment away!]

Photograph of Reza Berati on screen, with a candle in the foregroundA man — no, a youth — fled danger and sought safety with us. But we put him in a concentration camp, and our hired goons stood back while he was bashed to death. According to our Prime Minister, a man who professes to follow the teachings of that Jesus bloke, that’s OK. After all, we don’t want to be “wimps”.

Well, Mr Abbott, I’m a wimp. A weak nerd. Yet I’ve stepped in to stop people being bashed, despite the risk.

I’ve been the one who, alone and late at night on an otherwise deserted street, walked up to the young couple, the shouting man with his hand gripped on the terrified woman’s throat, and said, “Is everything OK, miss?”

I’ve been the one who’s stood, hands empty and with open palms, and looked straight into the eyes of the crazed guy with the knife and talked him down.

I did those things on those occasions, and other things on other occasions, not because I’m brave — because I’m not, I was shit-scared. Not because I’m tough — because I’m not. Not because I needed to prove anything to myself, because — yeah right, like I could prove to anyone that I were brave or tough. I don’t race a bicycle, or swim in the surf, or strip to my Speedos in public. I’m middle-aged, overweight, short-sighted and I’ve got flat feet.

But I did those things then, and I mention them now, because that’s what people do.

At least if they have any character. Any spine.

The problem here, Mr Abbott, is that you don’t seem to ever admit that you’ve ever done anything wrong, let alone take responsibility for it. Fine. You’re a Christian, or so you say. You know when you’ll be called to account, right?

What’s particularly loathesome, however, is your hypocrisy. Last July you said you’d take responsibility for deaths at sea as a result of the Coalition’s policy of turning back the boats. “Obviously I will take responsibility for what happens on my watch,” you said.

But only when they’re at sea? Once they’re on land that’s fine, eh Abbott? Then we can all bash the living shit out of them and let them die in a pool of their own blood and that’s acceptable? Is that what you’re saying?

Even if this were remotely acceptable behaviour in a civilised society — which of course it’s not — you’ve got it arse-about, Abbott. If you kill ‘em at sea, then the bodies sink and the blood washes away. Think it through!

Speaking of arse, do you remember when you told Tony Windsor that you’d do anything except sell your arse to become PM? It seems that includes letting 23-year-old lads get bashed to death. And you worry about “wimps”. What a pathetic, cowardly, desperate grub you are. Craving power, but unable to take any responsibility once you’ve got it.

You’ve even said that you can’t be trusted at your word unless it’s in writing.

The game of politics is riddled with hypocrites, of course, but you and your current batch of visionless seat-warmers in Canberra really does take the biscuit. Every single muppet that warms a green seat on your side of the House lets a turd like you be their “leader”? How noble of them!

Well in my part of the world, Dear Coalition, the only things that follow a turd are a good long piss and the paper I’ve wiped my arse with.

Reza Berati died on your watch, Anthony John Abbott. “Responsibility”, you said? Why don’t you finally become a man and take some? And may Reza Berati be the last.

Cover of today's Sun-Herald app: click to embiggenAs expected, a landslide victory in yesterday’s election means Tony Abbott will soon be Australia’s Prime Minister — and to judge by some of the screechy hand-wringing, you’d think the world was about to end in a plague of radioactive ever-bleeding toad-newts.

Well, that’s the impression I got via Twitter. I wasn’t watching the news coverage, because I’ve pretty much abandoned the daily — and faster!– news cycle. Research has shown that reactions on Twitter don’t represent overall public opinion.

Nevertheless, I think some people forget how very similar Labor and the Coalitions’s positions actually are on many, if not most, issues. Mindless tribal loyalties lead them to imagine vast differences where none exist.

They also forget that a party’s announced policies have to survive the sausage factory of parliament before they can be enacted, and governments still have to work within the existing framework of law and government agencies. A certain inertia is involved.

That said, the image in the news this morning of Abbott’s face-splitting grin, almost-invisible wife and entourage of near-identical meat-prop daughters, looking for all the world like out-takes from the wedding episode of Deal or No Deal Mosman, does not fill me with confidence. It’s the very picture of assumed privilege.

“Ready to rule” indeed.

Nor am I reassured by his victory speech.

So my friends, in a week or so, the Governor-General will swear in a new government.

A government that says what it means and means what it says. A government of no surprises and no excuses. A government that understands the limits of power as well as its potential.

And a government that accepts that it will be judged more by its deeds than by its mere words. In three years’ time, the carbon tax will be gone.

The boats will be stopped. The budget will be on track for a believable surplus. And the roads of the 21st century will finally be well under way. And from today, I declare that Australia is under new management and that Australia is once more open for business.

There’s not a lot of what you’d call “grand vision” in there. Dismantling a tax that most people were already being compensated for. A hand-wavey promise to stop a made-up threat. Some bookkeeping issues. And building roads. There’s an air of assumed privilege in that too, with the dismissal of the incompetent lesser folk who’ve been minding the shop these past few years and the reinstatement of proper authority.

“Once more open for business,” you say? Perpetuating simultaneously the idea that a nation is no more than an economy, and an economy is about nothing more than running businesses.

During the election campaign, Abbott made plenty of unforced errors, we might call them. He does have a habit of saying daft things a bit more frequently than I like to see in a leader. And he did say once that he can only be held to what he puts in writing. These are not good traits for Abbott to possess as his role changes from the relentless carping negativity of opposition to the positive consensus-building of leadership.

Now Abbott may well grow into the role. Maybe he’ll be able to build a coherent team from his ragtag collection of the experienced, inexperienced and occasional nut-job. Maybe they’ll be able to implement their policy program. I’m sure there’s already endless speculation on these points. But I might try to form my own opinion.

I plan to re-read David Marr’s Quarterly Essay, Political Animal: The Making of Tony Abbott. Indeed, I just bought an electronic version for my iPad. I’ll let you know if I have any interesting thoughts about the man’s character.

I also plan, or had planned, to return to daily blogging at some point. This seems as good a day as any to start setting aside an hour or so to gather my thoughts and see what emerges. So here we go. Welcome to Abstralia.

Sunday Telegraph from cover: click to embiggenThere’s plenty of feels clogging the intertubes this morning about the front page of Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph (pictured). “AUSTRALIA NEEDS TONY,” it says. Oh this is so terrible! It’s a threat to democracy, whaaa whaaa whaaaaaa!

No, kids, look at it more closely. This is a picture of democracy. Suck it up.

Or, if you don’t like it, stop your whining, get off your arse, and do something about it.

Sure, the Murdoch newspapers’ ability to endorse a particular candidate on their front pages, effectively plastering a party-political poster onto newsagents and breakfast tables across the nation, gives that candidate a huge advantage.

Sure, if you don’t want that candidate to win, then this is a bit of a blow to your dreams.

But how about thinking through the implications of what you’re actually suggesting before you spend the whole day whining about how “undemocratic” this is?

For a start, why do you imagine that this, Murdoch’s alleged influence, is why Labor can’t win? Have you not considered that Labor itself has some sort of role to play in the process? By all accounts, they’ve been playing a pretty shit game. But that’s not really what we’re talking about here.

As Mark Newton tweeted a short time ago, your argument seems to be “All we need to do is reduce Murdoch’s influence and ALP will win.” That’s (a) antidemocratic, and (b) magical thinking.

“Let’s adjust media censorship laws specifically to improve the chances of my favourite candidate winning, because democracy,” he said.

You seem to be assuming that, despite the hundreds or thousands of people involved in the production of these newspapers and other media operations, they represent solely the opinion of one man, and him alone. You seem to discount the happy participation of all the others.

And even if it were solely Murdoch’s opinion, you seem to be wanting to remove his right to free speech because his opinion is different from yours, and you’re jealous because more people read his opinion that yours.

Diddums.

Do you really think that expressing opinions is some zero-sum game? That because Murdoch, or anyone else, has loudly expressed their opinion, that you’re somehow silenced? Then you’re an idiot. Stop whining, start influencing. And don’t whinge that Murdoch has so much power that it’s unfair and you can’t catch up, because I’m pretty sure Murdoch didn’t create his media empire by whining.

Sure, he had a head start, inheriting a ratty little provincial afternoon tabloid called The News. But you’ve got the internet at your fingertips, you can start organising, and try to counter the opinion you don’t like — because persuading and organising is precisely what politics is about, and in a democracy anyone can play.

Oh? That’s all too hard? Waaa! That’ll take ages. Waaa waaa waaaaaa! You just want to rub your tummy and have the Magic Democracy Fairy appear in a burst of sparkly how-to-vote cards and fix it all for you?

OK, let’s do that. Let’s have the Magic Democracy Fairy take away Murdoch’s influence. “Poof!”, it goes. Now what? Who’s next down the line? Take away their freedom of speech too? And the next? And the next one after that?

In terms of someone’s perceived influence being greater than yours, just how small must the margin be before you’ll allow them their freedom to express a view different from your own? Clearly-stated policies, or GTFO.

[Note to the hard of thinking: If you think this is somehow written in support of Tony Abbott, you really are an arsehat.]

$1.5 billion
up to $210
$33.3 billion
$5 billion
1.5 million Australians
one percent
$714 million
nearly $1 in $6
02 6277 7340
crackdown

Margaret Whitlam is dead. Tony Abbott picks up her still-warm corpse and uses it to thump her grieving husband. British comedian Bill Bailey says what I think about classical music. And we top the party goat for Harmony Day.

In this episode of the Edict, you’ll hear how Harmony Day is just made up by the Australian government — and you can check out the material at the official website. I’ll introduce you to the joys of 3 Word Quotes. The ABC TV broadcast of Last Night of the Proms inspires me to quote Bill Bailey from British TV program TV Heaven Telly Hell. And I reflect upon Tony Abbott’s lame tribute to Margaret Whitlam.

You can listen to the podcast below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

Play

If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733. Not that anyone ever does.

[Update 22 March 2012: While I did mention it in the podcast, I forgot to mention here that because this is episode 20 it brings us to the end of series 1 of The 9pm Edict. It's time for a rethink. That rethink also includes a bit of a think about Stilgherrian Live, the live video program I used to do. Some people want the Edict to continue. Some want Live to return. I'll write more about this soon.]

[Credits: Margaret Whitlam tributes by Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott from ABC News. Last Night of the Proms from ABC TV. TV Heaven Telly Hell via YouTube. Beep sound by junggle via Freesound.org, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license. The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]

Years ago, a bloke got frustrated at the end of a long day, and swore a bit. And suddenly the entire fucking media in this country is buzzing around this one pissy little story like blowflies to the corpse of a dead horse.

Yes, less than two days since I posted episode 18, today’s bullshit reportage on a video in which former prime minister Kevin Rudd swears a few times — shock horror! — and a bunch of unsubstantiated rumours from Canberra have triggered this episode.

Just look at this crap, from ninemsn. Even the ABC, which is supposed to be a credible, non-sensationalist news outlet, covers the swearing but then has two “related stories” about the speculation about a leadership challenge, that the cabinet is supposed repeatedly testing support for Julia Gillard and that attorney-general Nicola Roxon had declared her support for her.

The Australian has at least six stories linked from its home page, including some irrelevant commentary from opposition leader Tony Abbott and even Rudd saying he’d do it differently now.

Seven is reporting that independent MP Andrew Wilkie reckons Rudd will launch a challenge, describing the video as “explosive”.

This entire episode is an embarrassment. It’s this sort of Canberra pseudo-insider bullshit that’s precisely the reason I don’t read newspapers or their websites and don’t watch TV news. It’s all a sideshow, the so-called journalists who perpetuate this bullshit know it, and yet they continue to do it.

Why?

Well I think I know why this fucktardery happens, and I have a modest proposal for fixing it.

You can listen to the podcast below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

Play

Um, except… no… oh fuck no, not this!

News has just come through — well, Dennis Shanahan says — that Rudd’s leadership challenge is on. Really. May God have mercy upon our souls.

If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733. Not that anyone ever does.

[Credits: Audio grabs from ABC News24 and, of course, the video in question. The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission.]

The 9pm EdictPrime Minister Julia Gillard delivers the world’s most tedious Christmas Message. A motorists organisation wants the world to be more predictable, just like it used to be. And Twitter wins the hearts and minds of the world’s media, the puppets.

In this episode you’ll hear what I think about the Prime Minister’s Christmas Message, which doesn’t hold a candle to my own Christmas Message from 2008, let alone the Queen’s Christmas Messages, such as Her Majesty’s 50th such message in 2007; the NRMA’s claim that petrol pricing is too hard to predict and their call for an inquiry; the fact, or supposed fact, that Twitter gets more news mentions than Facebook, even though the latter is much, much bigger; and a really, really stupid tweet from Shahira Abouellail, whose blog is called fazerofzanight.

You can listen below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

Play

If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Credits: The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission. Mark Zuckerberg news item from NewsyTech.]

Last week I interviewed opposition spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull about his broadband policy, an alternative approach to Labor’s National Broadband Network (NBN) and I was surprised by one comment. Apparently he can’t see any real use for data speeds above 12 or 25Mbps.

“It’s certainly very difficult to think of many applications that are of interest to residential users that would not be perfectly well serviced by the speeds I’ve described,” Turnbull said.

I’d have thought there’s an application staring us right in the face. Video. Multiple streams of video, possibly in high definition, being sent as well as received.

I’ve written about this before at Technology Spectator. There’s a piece coming out at ABC’s The Drum soon, perhaps today. There’s a piece at ABC’s The Drum, Turnbull’s curious high-bandwidth blind spot. And the government has made a little film. But Mr Turnbull does not agree. Or so he says.

In any event, the conversation is well worth listening to, because he raises some excellent points about the NBN, not the least of which is that is you delay capital spending you can save a lot of money.

You can listen below. But it’s probably better for my stats if you listen at ZDNet Australia or subscribe to the RSS feed or subscribe in iTunes.

Please let me know what you think. Comments below. We accept audio comments too. Either Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Update 7.25am: Edited to include link to ABC piece.]

Given that last year on Anzac Day I just recycled two previous Anzac Day posts, I’d planned to write something new this year. But I haven’t.

There’s two reasons for this.

One is that I’d thought I might write something about the way the defence establishment has handled various controversies recently, including the incident at the Australian Defence Force Academy. But once I started doing the research it all got a bit too depressing. And I wondered what I might say that hadn’t already been said. So I killed that idea.

The other is that when I looked back at those recycled posts, I realised they actually still say what I think I’d like to say on this occasion. So, recycled posts it is.

Those posts are Anzac Day Rememberings and Anzac Day 2009: Sacrifice.

They shall grow not old,
As we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning
We will remember them.
Lest we Forget

As I wrote two years ago, we trust that our politicians, who decide where and when these men and women serve, make worthy decisions about their most valuable contributions. Sometimes they never return, or return… changed.

Prime Minister Gillard, are you making worthy decisions? Tony Abbott, are your policy proposals also worthy? Please look me straight in the eye when you answer that.

[Photo credit: The rosemary sprig was taken from Matthew Hall's Twitter page from 2008. If I owe someone for that usage, I'll make good.]

The 9pm Edict Australia’s federal election campaign kicks off in a flurry of clichés. And the instant-continuous news media battle to be relevant.

Given that we’ve got a federal election campaign on our hands, I figured I’d resurrect The 9pm Edict podcast. And here it is.

You can listen below. But if you want all of the episodes, now and in the future, subscribe to the podcast feed, or even subscribe automatically in iTunes.

Play

If you’d like to comment on this episode, please add your comment below, or Skype to stilgherrian or phone Sydney +61 2 8011 3733.

[Credits: The 9pm Edict theme by mansardian, Edict fanfare by neonaeon, all from The Freesound Project. Photograph of Stilgherrian taken 29 March 2009 by misswired, used by permission. Responsibility for election commentary is taken by Stilgherrian, Enmore, New South Wales.]

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