There is nothing of the Harbourside Mansion about the Monash Forum leader, and if principle, nous and courage are recommendations, he has those too. Given the deficiencies of The Lodge’s current resident and talk of recycling the leader he knifed, we could do much worse
David Flint, writing in The Spectator, is part of the chorus demanding our Dear Leader do the right thing and resign as Prime Minister so the rightful elbow can resume its place on the Dispatch Box. Restored, Tony Abbott will then lead our nation out of the valley of darkness.
The usurper was a known quantity long before he entered parliament. In terms of character it was well known, and remains so, that Malcolm Turnbull combines the worst aspects of Scar from The Lion King with Iago from Othello, plus the traits of many other odious characters thrown in as well. (Was that the ghost of Lady Macbeth seen wafting about Point Piper?). The PM’s failings are sufficient to justify their own website which, quite accurately, lists them under the heading “Why Malcolm Turnbull is a Dangerous Leftist Ideologue”.
But Mr Flint and many others have forgotten why Mr Turnbull was able to pull off his coup. That was due to the failings of Mr Abbott himself. For me, the first alarm bells rang when I read not long after the 2007 federal election that Mr Abbott had complained he was finding it hard to live on a backbencher’s salary. The signal was that, sure enough, as Prime Minister he couldn’t rein in spending and balance the budget, as all good conservative leaders should be hardwired to do. It was a big kick in the guts to the people who voted him in and hoped to see an end to the ongoing profligacy. Mr Abbott set the tone for the current lack of interest in running the nation as a long-term, self-sustaining enterprise.
Three days after the 2013 election which saw him installed as prime minister, Mr Abbott announced he wasn’t going to repeal the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting Act of October 2007, John Howard’s last dark and desperate deed. That Act is the auditing basis of the carbon tax. Why keep the auditing act if you are going to repeal the carbon tax? And sure enough, the carbon tax has risen from the grave and now we see industries closing and great turmoil in the power market. So, on this particular matter, Mr Abbott was stupid, or lazy, or didn’t understand what he was dealing with. With each act, and let us not forget the retreat from repealing Section 18c, the people who voted for him lost heart. Mr Abbott was betrayed by his party but, had he not also betrayed his supporters, he would likely still be prime minister. So, when along came the knighthood for Prince Phillip, another addled but relatively trivial “captain’s pick” in the grand scheme of things, the cumulative weight of disappointments became the trigger for his defenestration.
Being a backbencher again has given Mr Abbott more time to meet and heed members of the public, and perhaps his recent interest in bringing immigration under control and lowering power prices has been enhanced by that public feedback. Those who remember his stint as prime minister can only wonder why he did nothing about those matters when he had the chance.
History does repeat itself and it may well be that David Flint’s wish is granted and we see a rerun of 2009, when Turnbull was deposed by Abbott due to the former’s support for the carbon tax. This is why the Monash Forum is so dangerous for Turnbull. First, his ministers were directed to attack the initiative as socialism while stenographers in the gallery took dutiful dictation and depicted the group’s pointedly explicit founding document as “vague”. Now, playing the wind vane and stating the obvious, Turnbull decries AGL’s planned closure of Liddell as driven by price gouging, which it is.
That’s all very well and amusing, but is there no better candidate than Abbott to lead us out of the darkness? He had his turn and it was, by my reckoning, amateur hour.
There is an alternative, however: Craig Kelly, leader of the Monash Forum and reasoned, sensible public voice. There is nothing of the Harbourside Mansion about him, and his willingness to call a spade a spade, rather than a sustainable excavation system to be regulated at great cost by legions of public servants, suggests he might fill the leadership vacuum on the conservative side of politics. Principle, nous and courage are always recommendations and he has those.
In your prayers, beseech God to make the unblemished Craig Kelly our next prime minister. Given the incumbent and most likely alternative, we could do much worse.
David Archibald’s latest book is American Gripen: The Solution to the F-35 Nightmare.