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August 01st 2013 print

Peter Smith

Memo to Abbott: Lift your game

There is not much chance the Coalition will lose the election, but even the aspiring PM's greatest admirers have to admit a re-cycled Kevin Rudd has been coming on strong. Yes, his own record is one of undiluted incompetence, but that cannot be said of his slick advisers 

Will Abbott win? Probably, but I am a tad concerned. After all, I thought Mitt Romney couldn’t lose against a President who’d made such a complete mess of things at home and abroad. I was in a time warp when a majority of voters could be expected to penalise ineptitude and failure. Democracy may remain the least worst of all systems but it has moved on.

The influence of the media and centres of learning have shifted leftwards. Mendicants and those generally expecting the government to intervene on their behalf have vastly increased in number. Young know-nothings, who in years’ past could be expected to eschew voting, are now mobilised via social networks by modern-day, thinly disguised, left-wing rabble rousers, like Get Up. And this is quite apart from vote-rigging at which the Left, I suspect, has become much more ruthlessly efficient than have conservatives.

Conservatives now need to be absolutely on their game to win. With that in mind; just what does Tony Abbott think he’s doing? Who is advising him? But wait up; enough of blame shifting, at some point Abbott must take responsibility. Even if his advisers are dimwits (or too young, which sometimes comes to the same thing) – which they must be – it doesn’t mean to say he has to meekly follow their untutored lead. He’s a Rhodes scholar for God’s sake. Take the boats – probably the most important electoral issue. Abbott has told us for day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, that he would ‘stop the boats’.

Memo to Abbott: If you stop the boats you don’t have to outdo Kevin Rudd in the tent city stakes. Don’t deflect attention from him. Leave him to his pathetic excuses for abandoning Howard’s successful policies. Leave him alone to deal with his own hypocrisy; with his convoluted and tortured rationale for his 180 degree about-turn. Leave him to the mercy of the ABC, the Greens, and other assorted handwringers.

Keep shtum on the tents and what Malcolm Fraser colourfully, but not totally without credence, calls the gulags. Don’t send Scott Morrison on a tour of Nauru to see how many tents can be deployed. Explain that you are committed through your three-prong policy to stop the boats; not to incarcerate thousands of men, women and children in expanding makeshift camps for years and years on end.

Under your policy that simply will not happen. Do you get it? Is it too hard to grasp, when that is precisely the import of what you’ve been continually saying? Please get your act together before you condemn us all to another three years of dysfunctional hyper-activity and extremely annoying mannerisms. 

With his three Obama election-machine men on board, Rudd will undoubtedly mobilise a record registration of young people lining up to give him their uninformed vote. Effectively, they will be in the bank before the vote counting starts, as the black vote was for Obama.

Howard had faith in the good sense of the Australian people. There are still enough people of sense among voters to dump a government with a record of six consecutive years of abysmal incompetence. But Abbott has to be better prepared than he seems to have been to counter the Rudd razzle-dazzle.

To like the PNG solution, then to not like it, then to half-like it, then to switch to the Nauru solution, was not a good look. Unkindly some might suggest that if you can’t manage to run an election campaign then maybe you can’t manage to run the country. Maybe, it’s time, before the campaign proper, that Abbott also brought in some Democrat apparatchiks willing to sell their political soul for a dollar. He needs professional help to win the election. And the left are better at it.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics