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Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.

I don’t claim any special insights into Australian federal politics. I am just wondering.

Although Tony Abbott seems to have lived a charmed life since the election, such is the defining power of mass media, his credibility is now shot. He has spent his political capital, and his capacity as the leader of the party and prime minister to frame the party in terms of his political agenda and priorities is critically diminished to insignificance.

One suspects the polls will tell the story. Whatever happens in Queensland, and Tony Abbott as prime minister has no influence to positively shape the result will not assist his default leadership. This may well be equally true of NSW, although Tony Abbott is from here, and he probably has a better relationship with Premier Mike Baird, would has a better chance than Campbell Newman of winning, much less losing his seat in State Parliament.

A succession of losses at the State level will build pressure on the federal party. That would appear to leave Bishop and Turnbull as the likely successors. Yet the Federal Liberal Party represents a core of austerity proponents and climate science deniers, who presumably ideologically opposed to political compromise. Is there a possibility of a third candidate who emerges from the backbench? This seems unlikely. Otherwise in retrospect, taking a chance with Tony Abbott was not a safe bet, which has led to the inevitable rolling disaster and poor judgement calls.

To my mind it comes down to a choice between Malcolm Turnbull and Julie Bishop. My hunch is that Turnbull has the inside running. It is not clear that Julie Bishop ever had the ambition to be prime minister. Who is the more substantive and politically skillful person? The sexism that attaches to any female politician is disgraceful. Maggie Thatcher blazed the trail in Britain, but so far without an successor.

The scapegoating of Peta Credlin, led by Rupe Murdoch’s “electronic graffti”, is disgraceful as well, perhaps more so, but inevitable given the her adherence power-driven, policy free politics. Politics and policy without conception, except as appeals to demographic identities and mass media consumption, often are as superficial as they are both vacuous and dangerous. Without attributing full responsibility to the PM’s Chief of Staff, the politics of sloganeering, with “Stop the Boats” as the prime but not only example, have lead to cruelty and murder. We would be ill advised to ignore the trends in the political process, given where they can lead.

So I arrive at the conclusion that political leadership is critically important. To invest considerable responsibility and scrutiny, including personal scrutiny, is probably the right thing to do. They have to be persons of intellect and character, including personal courage, while recognizing that as human beings they will have short-coming and vulnerabilities. Yet the adversarial system we have inherited encourages tearing them down. Or, it is just testing their mettle and keeping them up to the mark. The requirement for the citizen is both critical thinking and compassion. As for the mass media, they don’t count other than as individuals with personal opinions.

This is an interesting summary of the most influential leaders of the Twentieth Century. Obviously less than a full analysis, yet extremely provocative:

How would the Australian PM’s rate from Federation?

Gough Whitlam ( who sets the standard), Billy Hughes,John Curtin, Robert Menzies, Bob Hawke as the first order. The second order would include Malcolm Fraser. Then the no hopers including John Gorton, Billy McMahon (too harsh) and definitely Tony Abbott.

And the Federal Liberal Party, if they are linger longer, need to sort themselves out, which is easier said than done. The first priority of business for them is to change the prime minister to somebody who is a good politician with thought out policy positions, together with the range of skills and attributes the job requires.


Norman Abjorensen, Conservatives in Crisis (Inside Story)



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