Tony Abbott, The Australian and the Journalism of Political Irrelevance

Tony (No Sniping) Abbott is clearly convinced that his repeated publications in the right-wing newspaper The Australian are constructive and helpful criticisms of Malcolm Turnbull and the federal government.

All designed to be very helpful.

When asked today if such comments were helpful, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said “probably not”.


But for all his commentary, Abbott has achieved absolutely nothing. Many people would believe that his continued criticism is designed to position himself for a leadership challenge against Turnbull.


Still running

It would appear that the current federal Liberal MPs have no stomach for this. They may also have finally realised that Abbott is terminally unpopular in the Australian electorate.

There also appears to have been a strategy that if Abbott were to be returned to the cabinet, he would be bound by cabinet solidarity and would need to stop criticising Turnbull in public. This has not worked either.

Tony Abbott slapped down as Malcolm Turnbull opts for ‘minimalist’ reshuffle. His comments, on the Government’s renewable energy target for 2020 in a weekend opinion piece in The Australian are set to end any hope he had of a return to the cabinet under Mr Turnbull.

With the ignominious departure of the peripatetic Sussan Ley from the health portfolio, Abbott and his fellow travellers may have thought that as an ex-health Minister, Abbott had a chance of being recalled to the cabinet to replace Ley.


Metaphors of snowballs in hell spring to mind

Tony Abbott is sliding into political irrelevance.

It is probably time that the editors of The Australian realised this and started backing another horse. Because there is surely going to be a need for another horse.

Malcolm Turnbull replaced Tony Abbott because under Abbott the government had trailed the Labor Party in every poll since the general election.

Malcolm Turnbull has not fared any better. The latest Newspoll paints a fairly grim picture with the government behind the Labour Party for all but two months since April 2016


The wildcard in the pack is the preferential votes of  from the GIMPs.

Newspoll has the Coalition primary vote declining by around 4% in the last two years to just over 40% with the Labor Party wobbling around 35%. However, there appears to be an an inexorable rise of the GIMPs and now constitute at least 25%  (and possibly 35%) of the primary vote.


There is a note of caution that needs to be sounded when it comes to polls of the two-party preferred vote. The preferences of the GIMPs are distributed on the basis of the last federal election, not of current voting intentions. These would be quite easy to capture and without up-to-date information about these voting intentions, the polls could quite easily have a significant margin of error.

It is also interesting to note that Fairfax media/ABC and Newspoll have different views on the trends of the primary votes of the major parties. Latest figures from Fairfax media/ABC indicate that the given vote has risen to nearly 34%. That’s one third of the electorate.


Whether it’s 25% or 34%, one thing is certain. It is the preferences of the GIMPs that will decide the results in the next federal election.

Strangely, neither of the major parties are showing in the recognition of this tectonic shift in the Australian political landscape.

Update: A Reachtel poll, commissioned by activist group GetUp! and taken before Sussan Ley’s resignation and in the midst of ongoing issues surrounding Centrelink’s automated debt collection system, found increased support for the opposition, with Labor leading the Turnbull government, 54 points to 46.

While primary support for the Liberal party and Labor was deadlocked at 32 per cent, the opposition captured the majority of the “undecided” support 33.3 per cent to 19.4, with 58.5 per cent of those still making up their mind answering they would preference Labor higher.

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