Go Ahead, Be Stupid – It's Your Democratic Right!

CHRIS UHLMANN: On a personal level, were you expecting to see some signs of a turnaround in the polls by now?

TONY ABBOTT: I think it would be fair to say that you always tend to expect that good government will get a political pay-off, and so far that isn’t happening. But I remain reasonably optimistic.

I mean obviously Chris, the public have a right to vote for whomsoever they wish, and they have a right – if they wish – to replace a good government with an inept Opposition. I mean, they have that right.

But nevertheless I guess I have always been pretty confident in the basic good sense of the Australian people. So we’ll just keep going forward up to the election and hopefully beyond and see what happens.

(AM, 16 July 2007. My emphasis.)

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Posted in Federal Elections, Howardia, levity
40 comments on “Go Ahead, Be Stupid – It's Your Democratic Right!
  1. rogs says:

    folks have every right to replace a regime built on the cynical manipulation of fear with the true authors of the country’s prosperity, the Australian Labor Party

    everyone is sick of howard’s sour dictatorship and his nasty hat-rabbits

  2. BigBob says:

    I can’t believe that Abbott is still out there spruiking these lines. Surely Howard has had a talk to him about more careful use of language.

    Still, I don’t mind if he keeps blurting this crap. The baseball bats may not be out for Howard, but I have a feeling that they just might be in the process of being waxed to deal with the underlings.

    Poor Tony will just have to go out and get a private sector job, except he won’t be able to promise the keys to the seat of power like previous Howard ministers.

    In fact, that is a delicious thought, in that a seriously bad election result for the Coalition has big ramifications for their private sector bankability as well.

  3. Alex on the Bus says:

    Well he could always drop everything and return to the seminary – there’s always a place for rabid, pro-life, anti-gay ultra-right-wingers in the Catholic clergy.

  4. Surely Howard has had a talk to him about more careful use of language.

    Why should Howard care what Tony Abbott says? By now the realisation must have sunk in that his Cabinet (including Abbott) are content to leave him holding the bag come the next election.

    If Howard thought there was a chance of winning, I suppose he might rein Tony in. But, as he’s on a hiding to nothing, and no doubt knows it, why not enjoy a little schadenfreude and watch his colleagues kill their own future careers?

    And it was on AM – if it had been on Alan Jones’ show, maybe it might get notice.

  5. kymbos says:

    I heard this interview. I laughed so hard my belly hurt. Of all the Libs I’m looking forward to seeing on the opposition benches, I think my number one is Abbott.

    “Fine then, durr-heads – vote for them. But you’re all idiots!”

  6. David says:

    Notice the obvious contempt he has for the democratic process, and the rather lame attempt to pretend he doesn’t.

    But I don’t think you can say the liberals have no chance of winning. Tragedies happen.

    Seems to have a lot of hubris about the impending Labor victory!

  7. David says:

    Just wait till the nasty, negative ads kick in… Howard is such an opportunist you never know what he might pull near the end.

  8. Heaven forbid people actually despise the Liberal party’s policies.

    Methinks Abbott and friends are ‘sleepwalking’ to electoral oblivion.

  9. David says:

    *Correction to third para of my first post: “This site seems to have a lot of hubris about the impending Labor victory!”

  10. Lefty E says:

    Tony – here’s the missing piece of puzzle mate:

    you’re part of a truly shithouse government thats more than run its course, thats double-crossed the battlers who put you there with Workchoices, thats lied one too many times to the public, thats been playing catch-up on broadband and global warming all year and impressing absolutely no-one , that’s been living off a mining boom and the structural reforms of the previous ALP administration, thats run a hapless, hopeless amateur- hour JOKE of a campaign, thats squandered taxpayers money left wright an centre of endlessly repeating political ads that are nauseating the punters on a daily basis, every aspect of your defunct neo-con foreign policy is a complete embarrassment, and youve flip-flopped your way out of one of your few strong suits – of ‘leadership’.

    Plus, you personally are a mad tool, completely out of touch with mainstream social attitudes on a range of issues which punters consider their own business – not yours and Pell’s.

    Do the polls make a bit more sense now?

    Happy to help out.

  11. Andrew E says:

    This is what you get from bagging Fraser and his government – somewhere there is a Fraser Government minister with his head in his hands saying “nooooooooo, it’s 1983 all over again!!”.

    If it wasn’t for the hubris, Abbott et al would ask those with experience of losing a Coalition government what that experience is like and how they’d avoid repeating it. Howard and Ruddock were there in 1983 and they should be helping n00bs like Abbott avoid what happened to them.

    If Abbott thinks the electorate are fools, it’s going to be damn hard for him to convince voters that they should re-elect the Liberals – whether returning the government now or chucking Labor out later.

  12. Austin says:

    Yet another piece of evidence for the “is Tony Abbot delusional” case.

  13. Andrew E says:

    Self-delusion is today’s rightwing talking point, it would seem.

  14. Bingo Bango Boingo says:

    Lefty E said: “that’s been living off a mining boom and the structural reforms of the previous ALP administration.”

    It’s a fair point (not the mining boom part, the structural reform part). Of course, those structural reforms were largely supported by the Liberals in opposition. What I want to know is: if the Teh Left is happy to claim steps 1, 2 and 3 of the neo-liberal agenda for the ALP, why don’t they support steps 4, 5 and 6? And will they support those steps when Rudd/Swan (who are nice little technocrats, don’t you know) inevitably want to give them a run? The other amusing aspect to the line that goes ‘the true microeconomic reformers were the ALP’ is that whenever you ask a lefty what microeconomic reform the Howard government should have undertaken, but didn’t, you are met with silence (Mark is a case in point in a thread a little while ago). And if you do get an answer, you can be damn sure it’s not of the kind of brave, economically-rational reforms that the Hawke/Keating era produced.

    Anyway, these comments from Abbott really do seem to be a case of electoral sleepwalking, as THR suggests. He really can be a complete clown.

    Cheers
    BBB

  15. Evan says:

    So, Tony admits that “the public have a right to vote for whomsoever they wish…”

    Jolly decent of him.

  16. David says:

    BBB – the important economic reforms have already been done. ALP was responsible. That’s all.

  17. Hilker says:

    Tony, meet Amazing Hubris. Again.

    Actually, I am very happy for Mr A to talk in this way, it just smooths the path to a government defeat even more.

    Good on you, Tony, keep up the fine work.

  18. John Greenfield says:

    There is something very bizarre about secular leftists all jumping on a religious concept – hubris – to show they somehow have won a victory over a man who has one four elections and led a nation for 11 years.

  19. Lang Mack says:

    Kymbos, Id rather see the mad waste of space be voted out so as the reduce the cost to the tax payers for his upkeep. Along with……………….

  20. John Greenfield says:

    Lefty E

    I am surprised you are so excited by the Hawke/Keating economic reforms. My father reliably informs me that Labor’s base hated Keating for these reforms you now cheer.
    After all, Keating’s main political strength was being able to kick heads to bring Thatcherism to Australia.

    I wonder what you thought of the GST? A GST was always Keating’s holy grail.

  21. Bingo Bango Boingo says:

    David,

    Sure they were important. But importance is not really the issue. Desirability is the main game. Are you saying all of the desirable microeconomic reforms were already done by 1996? Doesn’t that strike you as implausible, given the principles underpinning those reforms remain the same but have not yet been fully extended across our economy/society?

    Back OT: While disclosing a degree of disconnection with reality, I don’t think these comments reflect a contempt for democracy that you suggest. It’s more exasperation and his own apparent refusal to fully embrace the idea (which he must surely believe deep down) that the only way you can win the hearts and minds of an affluent electorate is to spend big on the high-visibility touchstones of education, health, housing etc.]

    I reckon Howard could conceivably win this election by coming out and saying: “We hear you loud and clear. We stand by our record: we’ve done x, y and z. But we also recognise that your justifiably high expectations are not being met. So we’ve decided to change. We’re going to take this once-in-a-generation resources boom opportunity and kick-start a new round of nation-building. This includes short-term spending (on a range of things), but also huge new perpetual funds for schools, hospitals, first-home buyers assistance, etc. – all of them modelled on the Future Fund/HEEF and all of them to provide for our children and our children’s children. By the way, you cannot trust the ALP to get things right, interest rates will be higher, blah blah blah.” Now to me that is somewhat frightening language, and to some degree dishonest, but it might just work. The peripheral issues like Iraq, indigenous health, terror legislation, etc. can be overcome if Howard chooses to storm the ALP’s traditional strongholds. Sure they are ALP strengths, but Howard can trump them with overall strength of incumbency. It would be important to explicitly say that the change in approach is because of the polls. It’s OK to be poll-driven if you believe the polls accurately reflect a considered negative electoral view of the Government’s performance (which it is, in my view – the punters are generally on top of things). More than ever, Abbott and his Coalition colleagues must free themselves from hubris. In view of the last few months’ events, and these recent raido comments, it may be that they are incapable of achieving that.

    Now the next question is can all of that fix the electoral train-wreck that is WorkChoices? Sounds hard to me, particularly with the devastating Rudd/Gillard IR rhetoric machine in full swing (while Gillard is a seriously dangerous person, she is also a seriously good political performer – she is the best interviewee amongst both the ALP and Coalition). The end-game may be Howard jettisoning even WorkChoices from the Coalition platform. It sounds implausible, but Howard is generally not a conviction politician.

    Sorry for the stream of consciousness – I’ve just realised how long that was!

    Cheers
    BBB

  22. Daniel says:

    When the ship is sinking only the dumb rats stay the course!

  23. JG

    “Hubris” isn’t a religious concept – it’s an old Greek concept and the basis of many a classic Greek tragedy. Hubris challenges nemesis; nemesis stomps hubris; hubris goes gaga. The end.

    Question is – what did you do to earn a stomping from nemesis? It’s obvious from your comments that you must have, some time in your dim dark past.

  24. Nabakov says:

    But we also recognise that your justifiably high expectations are not being met. So we’ve decided to change. We’re going to take this once-in-a-generation resources boom opportunity and kick-start a new round of nation-building. This includes short-term spending (on a range of things), but also huge new perpetual funds for schools, hospitals, first-home buyers assistance, etc.

    Hear! Hear! I’d vote for any party that’d lay it out that clearly.

  25. Spiros says:

    “a man who has one four elections and led a nation for 11 years.”

    John Howard has led the Commonwealth Government.

    That does not make him the leader of the nation, North Korea style.

    Abbott, by the way, sounds like a man who is resigned to his fate, which if the opinion polls are reflected on actual votes, is not just losing his ministerial big white car, but losing his seat.

  26. nasking says:

    I reckon Howard could conceivably win this election by coming out and saying: “We hear you loud and clear. We stand by our record: we’ve done x, y and z. But we also recognise that your justifiably high expectations are not being met. So we’ve decided to change.

    BBB…don’t you mean mutate…?

    how stupid do you think the public is? they barely went w/ this Govt. in past elections…a few swing voters let their isolationist tendencies & desire for a few family-based handouts & fear of ‘the outsider’ & distrust of Men who waffle &/or Men who shake hands in vice-like fashion, override their common-sense. Consequently they’ll pay thru the nose for yonks for all & sundry but for the ‘cheap & longevity allergic’ goods that line our SUPER market shelves.

    Mr. “who do you trust?” looks like an early morning TV, shonky motivational speaker these days…offering fools gold & visions of a silk-tied future that leads to ‘sturm und drang’ for the indebted many.

    Rudd’s the GO.

    Man for all seasons who can peruse the books, cut the waste, manage the Future…w/out resorting to the excesses of Mad Monks & Media Moguls.

  27. Hilker says:

    Thank you, Gummo, you saved me the trouble.

  28. John Greenfield says:

    Gummo Trotsky

    “Hubrisâ€? isn’t a religious concept – it’s an old Greek concept and the basis of many a classic Greek tragedy. Hubris challenges nemesis; nemesis stomps hubris; hubris goes gaga. The end.

    1. I am more than aware it is a Greek concept. I even italicised the word.

    2. Religion and ‘Greek’ are not antithetical. In fact the ancient Greeks were EXTREMELY religious.

    3. Hubris does not challenge Nemesis. Nemesis was god who wrought divine retribution on those who committed the sin of hubris.

    4. The classic example of hubris was Xerxes’ crossing of the Hellenspot as depicted in Aeschylus’ The Persians. The superb necromancy starring Xerxes’ father, Darius and his mother, Attosa is a meditation on Nemesis’ wreaking her punishment on Xerxes. Bridging the Hellenspont was a transgression of boundaries set by the gods.

    The tragedy was a plea to Pericles not to allow his imperialist grandeur to bring Nemesis upon the Athenians.

    Question is – what did you do to earn a stomping from nemesis? It’s obvious from your comments that you must have, some time in your dim dark past.

    One does not “stomp” on Nemesis as she was a sky god (though not an Olympian).

  29. Bingo Bango Boingo says:

    Gummo,

    You’re right that in classical Greece hubris wasn’t necessarily a religious concept, but my (vague) recollection was that in modern times it was thought to be so (ie. it has been a Western tradition, albeit an inaccurate one, that the Greeks employed the concept of hubris in an exclusively religious way). I’m happy to be corrected on that, though. Your reference to apparently secular Greek tragedy in tandem with a hubris/nemesis dichotomy is confusing and unhelpful because of course Nemesis was the goddess of divine retribution.

    Cheers
    BBB

  30. Interesting point you make in the lead piece, Gummo. Odd, but I seem to remember a lot of people who supported Labor at the last election making exactly the same point Abbot is making here – the voters have a perfect right to elect a Coalition government, but they are (would be) wrong in doing so.
    Just a thought – you did not share that view last election. You believed the voters got it right then, did you not? You would not want to carry the label of “hypocrite”, surely?

  31. Very entertaining JG, in a rather didactic way. Pity you got it arse-about in the last paragraph – I said earlier that it’s nemesis that stomps on hubris, not vice versa.

    That’s 10 out of 10 for pedantry, 0 out of 10 for reading comprehension.

  32. Alex on the Bus: “Well he could always drop everything and return to the seminary – there’s always a place for rabid, pro-life, anti-gay ultra-right-wingers in the Catholic clergy.”

    Don’t forget “corporal punishment-loving child abuser!”

    He was licking his lips a few weeks ago talking about bringing back corporal punishment for bullies.

  33. Go ahead Andrew, label away. Although it’s really more of a Post-It note than a label.

  34. Lefty E says:

    JG – I had, and have opinions on labor’s structural reforms of the 80s. Their not terribly relevant to the post – point is, the ALP under Beazley allowed the LNP to claim undue credit for them.

    Im not actually an ALP voter, myself, so I must confess I dont find myself in much of a bind here.

    So, since you ask, I think the GST is a regressive form of taxation, so Im not a huge fan – but of course its also a revenue stream that can be put to positive, or negative use by governments.

    And Workchoices is simply an illiberal, undemocratic, anti-freedom of association, union bashing measure, dressed up as a piece of “economic reform”.

    It aint worthy of the title, and voters have seen through it – where they have supported reform agendas in the past, even where they are threatening, they will reject this one and the government that introduced it, without consultation before the last election.

    And that, in a nutshell, Tones, is why you lot are on the nose.

  35. GT,
    We all believe that the voters got it wrong at times – I always thought voting Keating in was a mistake and that Hewson would have made an excellent PM. Criticising someone else for holding that belief, though, is hypocrisy if we hold that belief ourselves.

  36. No Andrew, criticising an arrogant Government Minister for affirming the proposition that the voters are stupid when one holds that belief oneself is hypocritical.

    If the voters weren’t stupid, why would they replace a competent government with an inept opposition? What Abbott doesn’t get, obviously, is that people are assessing the Government on their terms, not his.

    I’m not stupid and I vote.

  37. GregM says:

    So, since you ask, I think the GST is a regressive form of taxation, so Im not a huge fan

    Yes, but what it replaced, the Sales Tax, was even more regressive and a hell of a lot less equitable.

    Agree entirely with your description of the Workchoices legislation, though. They must have had a rush of blood to the head when they came up with that.

  38. amphibious says:

    It’s a bit of (OK an utterly) side issue but GST/VAT/MOMs, wotever you want call it, a tax on expenditure is a eurpopean concept arising from the Code Napoleon. That is the State is supreme, and the citizen subservient. Thus (pace Satre if I misquote/paraphrase most froggy wankers) the only sane response, when the government calls, is to lie. Fug ’em.
    Expenditure taxes arose on the Continent for the simple reason that no sane cxitizen would (honestly) declare their income to a rapacious and unfettered State.
    Hence the simple expedient, fair in that type of fear&loathing-bound society, if you got it and you spend it, this is the tax for the services provided (usually good, esp. since that unpleasant WWII interuption)It is is utterly indecent to have both income tax AND expenditure tax. One or tuther but not both.
    As macho obsessed (sic!) Pappa Hemingway put it, “The rich are different” to which faggy F Scott Fitzgerald replied “Yes, they have more money”.
    How do we know they have mnore money?
    COZ THEY SPEND IT so tax it.

  39. John Greenfield says:

    Andrew Reynolds

    We all believe that the voters got it wrong at times –

    Yes we do. I think those times are extremely rare. I’d say 2, maybe 3, times since federation. Voting Fraser back in for the third time, Keating (the biggest mistake in Australian history), and maybe Gorton in 69.

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