Tony Abbott’s year in retrospect

Tony Abbott has been saying that he thinks his government has had a good year. Even his backbenchers were gobsmacked. You could almost hear the dark mutterings of “delusional”.

His government has been trailing the opposition in every opinion poll since the election  and he is now rated as  one of the most unpopular Prime Ministers in Australian history. If he thinks this was a good year, you’d hate to think what a bad one would look like.

His conclusion to the year really summed up his government’s performance. Asked what his biggest achievement as Minister for Women was, he replied getting rid of the carbon tax because “as many of us know, women are particularly focused on the household budget”.

Apart from showing that he is still a 1950s chauvinist at heart, this statement demonstrated the absolute cynicism of him appointing himself as Minister for women. He has done absolutely nothing for women and should step down from the position. He did have a chance to treble the number of women in Cabinet by relinquishing this post. But no. Tony still thinks he’s the man for the job. Oh, and Amanda Vanstone will  probably think he is doing well too.

Abbott would rank  repealing the Carbon Tax as one of his major achievements.. Here lies another problem. While he did fulfil his promise to repeal the tax, keeping the promise is the only good thing about what he did. He removed a revenue generating piece of legislation which appeared to be reducing carbon emissions and replaced it by replaced it with an expenditure generating piece of legislation which almost everybody agrees is not going to work.

Okay. This is one of the successes. Mark 3/10

The abolition of the Mining Tax was a promise that has been kept and in hindsight it was probably a good thing to abolish it as the mining industry is likely to struggle in the foreseeable future.  But we have missed an opportunity to tax an industry that is digging up Australia for free and selling of overseas for profit.

This is one of the successes. Mark 7/10

He also promised to stop the boats. He has been ably assisted in this by Scott Morrison and while there is criticism of the way Morrison has conducted his job, it’s not coming from the Labor opposition who sense that the bulk of the Australian population are probably happy with what’s being done.  Certainly, Bill Shorten doesn’t have the political or intellectual firepower to come up with, and argue for, a more humane policy.

Also one of the successes. Mark 7/10.

In opposition ,Abbott and Hockey were contemptuous of Wayne Swan’s inability to bring the budget into surplus. After the mandatory period of blaming Labor for all of their budgetary woes, they are now blaming the global economy.  And fair enough too. But it wasn’t a concession they were prepared to give to poor old Wayne. Then there was a budget that was a masterpiece of inequity and political incompetence. It ran into severe  and seemingly intractable opposition in the Senate.

Didn’t Cormann and Hockey see this coming? Clearly not!

But they didn’t and this government clearly doesn’t have the political smarts to negotiate with the maverick senators. People might have scorned Julia Gillard, but she had to  deal with  independence on the cross benches whose natural inclination was to support the opposition, voting with her throughout her term of government. Tony Abbott and Joe hockey are going to need to learn some lessons from Julia Gillard.

Not one of the successes. Mark 2/10

Then there was the great paid parental leave scheme. Another example of Tony being allowed out without a minder or a grown-up. It was a bad idea which had not been given any thought or planning before it was announced. Such an expensive scheme which clearly favoured the rich was always going to run into trouble. Abbott is going to have to let this one go through to the keeper. He shouldn’t have bowled in the first place.

Not one of the successes. Mark -2/10

(I don’t know you can give negative marks but there were absolutely no positives in this policy so I think we should knock marks off total at the end)

Medibank Private has now passed into private hands. None of the right-wing economists have ever managed to explain how changing a public good like Medibank Private from a not-for-profit organisation to an organisation that must return a profit to shareholders, is going to be good for the policyholders. The profits must reduce the benefits to shareholders. It’s not a magic pudding. Nonetheless, the sale has been a success and has raised significant money for the cash-strapped government.

One of the successes. Mark 6/10

If the Abbott government has an Achilles heel, it is in the area of climate policy. Abbott’s statement “climate change is bullshit” beggars belief in its stupidity. Public opinion in Australia clearly favours the government taking a stronger line on climate change. The current Direct Action plan has no chance of making the necessary reductions in emissions.  Ever. The Abbott government’s connection to the coal industry has put back the development of alternative energy sources for at least the term of this government.

Not one of the successes. Mark -2/10

That gives Tony and his mob a total mark of 20/70, somewhere around 30%. This is marginally below the primary vote for the coalition in the latest Galaxy poll which has the coalition trailing the opposition by 10% after preferences.

Two more good years like this and Tony will be spending more time with his family.

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