Tony Abbott’s appointment as Special Envoy is white paternalism at its worst

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has chosen to appoint Tony Abbott as special envoy on Indigenous affairs to the Federal Government.

This appointment is driven entirely by the internal dynamics of the internecine warfare of the Liberal party. They had to find something for Tony. Not too important. Something   where he can’t do too much damage. Better inside the tent et cetera. Something to do with aboriginal affairs, lots of travel, keep him out of Canberra.

But Morrison chose not to consult with members of aboriginal groups because they weren’t really part of the equation.  This was all about white fellas up on the hill.

Morrison didn’t even bother talking to Aboriginal Senator Pat Dodson who would have been just down the passageway, Probably just as well.

Dodson, who is Labor’s assistant Indigenous affairs, said Mr Abbott’s new role was insulting. “He has attitudes that are archaic in terms of First Nations peoples’ cultures, particularly in remote communities … describing them as life choices.”

You wonder if he listen seriously to the Indigenous Health Minister Ken Wyatt who was clearly sceptical.

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Or Labor’s Linda Burnley.

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Jackie Huggins, the co-chair of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, said “There was a feeling of deflation in the community. Haven’t we been punished enough in Indigenous affairs? How long can we put up with a paternalistic government who does not choose to engage or to talk to us?”

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Morrison hasn’t gone off to a good start. He is trying to help drought stricken farmers in Queensland without acknowledging climate change. There are bullying allegations from the female MP who will be resigning her emotional seat at the next election and now this is ham-fisted attempt to keep Tony Abbott happy.

Having missed three out of three, you wouldn’t want him as your goalkicker at the Cronulla Sharks this weekend.

Advice to PM Morrison for a radical improvement in his standing: close the detention centres.

You need to break the cycle. Nothing you can do on climate change, education policy, energy policy, you name it is can make any difference.

Close the detention centres, recognise that  they have outlived their the purpose enterprise being paid by the people being held there far outweighs the benefit.

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Stand up.

Be a statesman.

Be a Christian

Just stand up and say “It’s time to end the suffering of these poor souls and bring them to Australia and let them start a decent life.”

You might be surprised at how much support you will get.

 

 

With the polls at 56 – 44, Morrison has real problems

They must be doing a roaring trade in Tony Abbott voodoo dolls and pins in Parliament House at the moment. If the latest NewsPoll were to be translated into a Federal election result, the Liberal party would lose 55 of its existing 75 Federal Parliamentarians.

No one will be seriously suggesting that the backlash will be as big. However, if this is an indication of the disillusion with the havoc that Tony Abbott and his fellow travellers have wrought,

However, the political hardheads in the Liberal party must be expecting a swing of at least 5% and this will mean the loss of up to 37 seats, half the existing sitting members and possibly three cabinet members.

And for all the talk of healing old wounds, simply forming a cabinet that includes both sides from the internecine war that has been waged since Abbott was dumped, is not going to be enough.  The old wounds will not have healed. If anything, they will have been made deeper.

And then, isn’t what’s going on outside Canberra where real people put real ballot papers in real ballot boxes.

The Australian people expect a policy that addresses climate change.  Yet we have a Prime Minister who, a short time ago, was brandishing a lump of coal in Parliament.

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Do  leopards really change  their spots that quickly?

This week, the PM was in drought-ravaged Queensland promising farmers drought relief but making no statement on climate change. Perhaps he has not yet made a connection between drought and climate change. Certainly Tony Abbott never did.

It may be time to consider the hard option of telling some farmers that their farms are unlikely to be unsustainable and the Australian taxpayer will not be able to support them in the future given a harsh realities of climate change.

There is talk amongst the right wing of the Liberal party of withdrawing from the Paris agreement where Australia agreed to a woefully inadequate 26% reduction in carbon emissions.

To do so would place Scott Morrison beyond the pale alongside the great pariah and climate denier, Donald Trump. Do Australians really want their Prime Minister to look that foolish?

The National Energy Guarantee is in tatters with troglodytes like Eric Abetz saying the only thing that matters is bringing electricity prices down. It’s actually not that simple.

Bringing electricity prices down, while helping family budgets, will also increase consumption and place extra strain on already stretched network.

What is needed is a policy that leads to increased investment in renewable energy investment and increases sustainable supply.

Morrison has taken a very useful step in getting immigration policy out of Dutton’s hands, so that immigration is longer a security issue, but rather an economic one.

Morrison is between a rock and  are hard place on almost every policy issue. The leaders of the Pacific Nations don’t want to see him taking a backward step on climate change. These guys live on islands where the tide comes in  a little bit further each day. For them, climate change is a living reality. So they going to make life difficult for Scomo.

 

A conversation with Rembrandt

I was standing in the Hermitage admiring this painting.

It’s called Portrait of a Bearded Man.  A man standing next to me asked, ” What do you think?”

“It’s brilliant,” I said, “amongst the best in the collection.”

“Thank you,” he said. “But there is a lot of dross at the Hermitage.”

” It’s his eyes. He appears to be watching something or someone that had surprised, disappointed or saddened him. Did you know him well?”

“Yes. His wife had just died in childbirth and he was questioning his faith. So your interpretation is fairly accurate.”

“I find it remarkable that you have only used one colour.”

“Brown. Yes.” he smiled.  “It’s a very brown portrait. It’s a very subtle colour. It gives you a great range of tones:  dark around his eyes, and lighter across his forehead, allowing you to etch in the furrows and the lines on his cheeks and then midrange tones for his beard and clothes. But it would be wrong to think I only used brown,  there is a lot of black and yellow in there.”

“The overwhelming effect of this portrait is the way your subject appears to be gazing into space, not focused on anything. I’m trying to think but usually your subjects are looking directly at you.”

I fished out my iPhone and Googled Rembrandt portraits. I was right.

“Very perceptive,”he said,  “most artists prefer to do that. It’s about getting the eyes right and it helps to have them looking straight out at the viewer.”

“So. Would you be so good as to have a look at a drawing of a monster by my grandson. He worked very hard on the eyes.”

I opened up my iPhone picture of Winton’s monster.

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“Wonderful,” says Rembrandt, “that’s a very angry, scary monster. Winton has captured it with the eyes.  How old is he?”

“He is four.”

“Tell him Rembrandt thinks he draws very scary monsters.”

 

Is it worth persevering with a politician like Tony Abbott?

 

Most Australians would probably say no.

And just throw their hands up in the air.

They’ve had enough of his self-indulgent antics. He contributes nothing. And the Australian taxpayer funds his generous salary and allowances for what?

Indeed, most people didn’t think he made much of a contribution while he was Prime Minister and less of one after he was deposed.

So it’s probably time to hang up his boots, call it a day, spend more time with the family.

But no, if  today’s media reports are anything to go by, Tony sees himself having a contribution to make for many years to come.

Let’s hope the preselection committees in Warringah and New South Wales see things differently.

How much value are Australians getting from politicians like Tony Abbott?

Many Australians would be entitled to answer: Not Much

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And he is very well paid for it.  Much more than the many Australians whose taxes go to pay.his salary and generous allowances.

Indeed, most people didn’t think he made much of a contribution while he was Prime Minister and less after he was deposed.

So it’s probably time to hang up his boots, call it a day, spend more time with the family.

But no, if  today’s media reports are anything to go by, Tony sees himself having a contribution to make for many years to come.

Let’s hope the preselection committees in Warringah and New South Wales see things differently.

 

 

The Book Club – don’t bother

The film stars Diane Keaton as Diane, Jane Fonda as Vivian, Candice Bergen as Sharon, Mary Steenburgen as Carol.

That’s about it really. They’re old friends – rich, white and reading 50 shades of Grey. as part of the book reading  There are some men in the film,  but they even less interesting than the female characters.

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Turnbull with 48 party room votes still had more support than Morrison (45) and Dutton (40)

Morrison’s victory over Dutton was even less emphatic than Turnbull’s was over Dutton in the first ballot.  One can only assume that the people who moved against Turnbull are still lined up behind Dutton.

It now remains to be seen how they will respond to Scott Morrison as Prime Minister.

The crazy people are probably already encouraging him to have another tilt of the leadership.

“Mate,” they will be saying, “you only need three votes. You picked up five last time.”

It will also be a huge test Morrison’s political skillss to see how he handles Tony Abbott and the Conservative rump  of the Liberal party.

Abbott will clearly be looking for a place on the front bench, as will some of the other discredited coup leaders.

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Giving  Abbott a cabinet position will be a very bad look for the new Prime Minister.

Morrison needs to take Abbott aside and say, “Tony, it’s time to go. You need to announce you’re not standing at the next general election.”   it’s time to clean out the Augean stables

But he won’t.

 

Unpopular party with popular, high-profile leader seeks to become unpopular party with unpopular low-profile leader. Pure political genius.

You have to hand to the Liberal Party.  They don’t seem to understand what’s going on outside Canberra.  The problem is not Malcolm Turnbull. Replacing him with this guy isn’t going to help.

The problem for many people is that the party appears to be moving too far to the right under the influence of Tony Abbott and his cohorts. So the answer is not to move further to the right. There are lots of problems. But the policy announcements of Peter Dutton over the last couple of days to not augur well