Is he worth it? Is Tony Abbott’s Prime Ministerialship worth it since he’s done such irreparable damage to your brand?
I have no doubt when Abbott won the election, you thought you’d done the right thing. After losing in 2007, I’m sure you were upset. But then losing again in 2010, after Abbott failed to negotiate to form a minority government, must have been torture. You must have been livid that Julia Gillard, a leader you despised, (a woman no less!), was so proficient at getting things done, developing progressive policies and negotiating to make them happen. Policies that filled you with dread that Australians might actually care about each other. I understand you’re all very confused about whether you’re neoliberal ideologues or socially conservative, and sometimes it’s hard to know what you really are because all you truly care about is looking after your business mates at the expense of workers. It makes it hard for you to have a persuasive narrative. Because some of you only care about keeping Australia backward, focussing on destroying socially progressive policies such as marriage equality, while the rest are only interested in your special brand of small-government-neoliberalism which is defined by a quest to increase the profits of those people who finance your campaigns. But you understood Gillard and Rudd, and the Labor Party, were a threat to all of you one way or another and therefore must be destroyed if you were ever going to undo all the progress they made. So you built the Abbott wrecking ball with this mission in mind. With the help of Rupert Murdoch and his flying monkeys in the conservative press, you designed this wrecking ball, this no-machine, this village idiot who spouts three word slogans like an android, in order to scare the electorate into giving the Liberal Party what you feel is your entitlement; power. And it all seemed to be going so well! That is, until the first day in the job when you surely immediately realised you’d made a mistake. And that’s why I ask whether this mistake was worth it. Maybe you’ve been too scared to ask yourself this question, let alone answer it. But now you’re heading towards the next election, surely you have to face reality at some point? How about I try answering the question for you and you can decide if you agree with me?
There are three reasons why Abbott was not worth it for the Liberal Party. He might have got you the term in government that you desperately wanted, but what has this term done to your future?
The first reason Abbott was certainly not worth it is because he’s impotent. Politically, he has achieved very little and made a huge amount of mess in the process. Yes, he got rid of the mining tax and the Carbon Price. But this caused problems for you too since revenue disappeared along with these policies. Yes, you think Abbott’s done wonders in ‘stopping the boats’. But once this promise helped win the election, what good did it actually do for your political fortune? Other than costing a lot of money to keep people locked up in a hell-hole indefinitely, and causing you to have to keep secret anything to do with boats, which you’re no doubt not happy about because you love demonising refugees so you must be sorry you’ve painted yourself into a ‘we can’t tell you what’s going on because you’re not going to like it’ corner. And then there was the promise Abbott made, which you no doubt regret, to not make any cuts to education, health, the ABC and SBS. But what is the point of a Liberal government that doesn’t make cuts to education, health, the ABC and SBS? I do understand that you have to pretend you’re something you’re not in order to get elected. It must be very stressful having to keep up this façade when all you really want to do is bring back WorkChoices. Either way, Abbott’s promises were quickly broken, so even where he has managed to make spending cuts, they’ve not been celebrated as you might have hoped, but rather accurately painted as lies and more fodder for the independents to block much of the ‘reform’ you would have liked to make. If reform is the right word for a hand-break-turn-around-and-go-backwards policy platform. This impotency is surely of concern to you.
The second reason I don’t think PM Abbott has been worth it for the Liberal Party is because he is deeply unpopular and very good at finding ways to increase his unpopularity. I don’t have time to give you the entire laundry lists of Abbott-stuff-ups that have contributed to his terrible polls, which you’ve no doubt noticed have been terrible since pretty much day one. Dodgy scholarships for his daughter, insane ‘captains picks’ such as the Knighting of Prince Philip, biting onions, shirt-fronting the Russian President, choosing only one woman in his cabinet and then making himself, a known misogynist, Minister for Women, a Speaker expense scandal and of course your own leadership spill shenanigans. Sometimes I wonder if Abbott is actually one giant satire comedy routine sent to entertain the lefty-lynch-mob on Twitter. I’m sure you’ve wondered the same thing. The bottom line is, Abbott as Prime Minister doesn’t make Australians proud to be Australian. The last poll I saw was Essential Poll which had the two party preferred figures at Liberal 47, Labor 53. And this is after Abbott’s spent most of the last few months doing his best to whip up fear about the ‘death cult’ with a growing collection of flags and tried unsuccessfully to mount a smear campaign against Bill Shorten. Is Abbott’s poll-boosting bag of tricks empty? This far out from an election and you’ve got nothing? This must be worrying for you.
The third and final reason why Abbott most definitely has not been worth it for the Liberal Party is because his incompetence in managing the economy is destroying your long-relied-on strategic mantle of claiming Liberal governments as better economic managers than Labor governments. Of course we all know this mantle isn’t based in reality. But nevertheless you’ve used it successfully to win power, along with scaring people about national security, for the past 20 years. But how can you possibly think you can keep using this ‘economic competency’ line when Abbott, and his Treasurer Hockey, are making such a mess of business confidence, consumer confidence, growth, unemployment, debt and deficit and pretty much every other economic indicator that Liberal voters apparently obsess over when deciding that they will again vote Liberal. The bottom line is, your wrecking ball, which you used so successfully to wreck Labor’s electoral fortune, has swung back and wrecked your ‘economic competence’ campaign line. What will you do without it? I suspect you’ll lose. And you may not win again until Abbott has been long-forgotten by the electorate. How long do you think that will take? 50 years? Maybe even 100?
You’re probably feeling a bit depressed now that you’ve seen my very valid reasoning as to why Abbott surely wasn’t worth it for the Liberal Party. You’re probably feeling a bit silly for being so short-sighted in your quest to get power that you’ve made such a huge #OneTermTony problem for yourselves. One term of power isn’t really enough to justify all the effort, and money, you put into getting Abbott elected. And this one term will likely ensure you won’t get another term for a very, very long time. I, however, have no sympathy for you. Like a drunk-fool with a horrible hangover, you brought this on yourself. So in the words of Darryl Kerrigan: ‘Hey. Bad luck. Ya dickhead!’
I will try to keep this letter brief as I know you have a short attention span and since you’ve never responded to my previous correspondence, I can only guess it was because they were longer than your brain capacity could absorb. The main topic of this letter is to let you know that I think you’re an opportunistic, petty, vindictive creep and that you’re running the country as if you would like to imagine that all Australians are equally as petty and vindictive as you. But we’re not. And you’re not going to win your soon to be announced election because we’re better than that.
Over the last 24 hours, Barack Obama, the greatest President America has ever had and possibly the best leader the world has ever seen, has once again shown what it is to be a visionary, compassionate, highly intelligent, gracious, composed and dignified statesman. He sang Amazing Grace at the funeral of Charleston murder victim Rev. Clementa Pinckney as if it was the most natural thing in the world for him to lead the chorus. He celebrated the decision by the US Supreme Court to recognise the constitutional legality of gay marriage by tweeting with hashtag #LoveWins. Obama is a giant of our world, whether you agree with his politics or not. And next to him, your pettiness, your aggression, your predilection for the path of least residence to the lowest common denominator makes you a meaningless flea. A blip that will be forgotten by history as a negative, sloganeering, fear-inducing, mean spirited low point of Australia’s history.
In the last 24 hours, you and your government have shown your true colours. With three terrorism attacks overseas in France, Kuwait and Tunisia, the pleasure in your eyes, the excitement at having a scare mechanism, the opportunity for you to use these events politically, make me feel ill. You’ve said the death cult is coming for Australians. You’re ramping up the rhetoric on threat levels which have absolutely no grounding in reality. You’re using the deaths of innocent people at the hands of barbaric, violent, evil, yet distant, criminals to further your own political cause. If you can’t see how low it is that you enjoy, and take pleasure out of these opportunities to be a scaremonger, let me tell you, it’s unedifying to the extreme. We know you’re only talking about national security because you’ve comprehensively failed to deliver vision, policies, negotiation, competency and functional government in any policy area so far in your dysfunctional term as Prime Minister. You therefore rely on plane crashes, on sieges carried out by mentally ill lone-wolves, and on the tragedies of people in far-away places to make yourself feel better about yourself. To keep your flag collection multiplying. For opportunistic photo stunts. Petty. Vindictive. Creepy.
And of course, everything you do, everything you have ever done in opposition and seamlessly into government is just about wrecking progressive policies with your negative ‘always on’ election campaign. We hear this morning that you’ve already produced negative attack ads about Bill Shorten. Is Shorten the first thing you think about when you wake up? I bet he is. You are the Prime Minister of arguably the best country in the world and all you care about is bashing your political rivals. Of giving jobs to your boys. You want to unpick every good progressive policy this country has ever delivered and take us back to a yesterday that none of us are interested in revisiting. Wrecking health and education funding. Destroying technological advancement. Wrecking environmental policy. Wrecking whole industries and destroying thousands of jobs. Depressing consumer confidence and in turn destroying economic growth. Wrecking social security. Dog whistling about asylum seekers while they are treated in detention centres no better than captives of the ISIS ‘death cult’. Attacking the union movement. Your nasty little thought bubbles on user-pays public education and wielding your wrecking ball into highly successful industry super funds are just the latest of the daily onslaught of terror you wreck on ordinary Australians. And why do you do it? For the same reason as a dog licks his balls. Because he can.
I dare you to go to an early election Tony Abbott. I dare you to believe that Australia wants to give you another chance to do even more damage to the fabric of our community. While you use national security as your play thing, we can see what you’re trying to do. Your leaked memo made that very clear. And when I compare you, the petty, vindictive, creepy flea, to the likes of Barack Obama, I want to cry with frustration. The sooner you give me and the rest of Australia the chance to vote you out, the better.
I am writing to you about your announcement on Mother’s Day that you’re going to deprive 80,000 working mothers from the government funded Paid Parental Leave scheme due to their existing employer scheme. I wasn’t sure whether to address this letter to you, the Treasurer who announced this latest horror, or to the Prime Minister, who went to the last election promising a more generous PPL scheme which he has now back-flipped on, or Scott Morrison who seems to be jockeying for his own bully-boy spotlight on budget night. Maybe you can share this letter with Peta Credlin and then I’ll have everyone covered.
So apparently after the shocker of your first ‘lifter – leaner’ budget, which thankfully is lying in ruins, dead, buried, cremated, after 12 months of failure by your government to negotiate with a Senate who rightly see you as the lying, cheating, nasty, ineffective bastards that you are, you wanted budget number two to improve your political popularity. But this Mother’s Day announcement to cut PPL from women who rely on this scheme to make the whole journey of work, have baby, pay bills, keep roof over head, look after baby and eventually go back to work, successful for their family, isn’t going to make you popular. Because it’s outrageously unfair to working mothers.
Let’s look at the words you’re using to explain why women who negotiated paid maternity leave as part of their salary package with their employer, have been told they will no longer be eligible for the Paid Parental Leave scheme Labor introduced. You have managed in the last two days to get the phrase ‘double-dipping’ all the way across a compliant media who pick up little slogans like this and throw them around with glee, never questioning what these words actually mean. I looked up the origins of the phrase ‘double-dipping’ on Urban Dictionary and found that it started as a joke on Seinfeld and has come to be known as ‘a favourite behaviour of crude diners’ who are over-indulging in dipping sauce by re-plunging their chip, biscuit or vegetable stick into the dip after they’ve already taken a bite. It describes a process of gluttony and greed – the act of putting one’s pleasure in eating dip ahead of the unhygienic process of placing saliva topped food into a shared meal. And this is how you describe women who are caring for a newborn baby? You are framing mothers of newborns as greedy, untrustworthy, germ-sharing parasites? What the fuck is wrong with you Joe? Do you honestly not see how incredibly offensive it is to lecture women who have taken time out of the workforce to bring up the next generation of Australians at great expense to their own careers, their sanity, their lifestyles, their financial stability and their personal relationships and to call them greedy? Sure, babies bring great joy. But they also bring great expense, particularly when a household has previously relied on the double income of both parents, often to pay mortgages in cities like Sydney that eat up more than 50% of the household budget. Let’s not forget that the PPL scheme is already means tested, so it is only available to women earning less than $150,000 a year. This is not the mega rich we’re talking about. This is middle and lower income earners who will have to re-evaluate their entire baby-making plans when they learn they’ll no longer receive the PPL, nor the Baby Bonus that was once available to all new mothers.
Now, I know how much you hate workers entitlements of any kind, and no doubt you wish we lived in an age where workers didn’t have to be paid at all. You know, it’s called slavery. But in fact Joe, my arrangements with my employer to provide me with maternity leave pay is absolutely none of your business. In fact, like most women who have paid maternity leave, I have sacrificed a higher salary because of these types of additional entitlements that are included in my salary package. Many women who you are calling ‘double-dippers’ have, like me, taken lower paid jobs than they would otherwise have in a workplace that has a paid maternity leave scheme, because they saw this scheme as making up for the lesser salary. But what you’re doing is penalising women who have negotiated in good faith with their employer, an entitlement that is part of their salary package. And you’re also dis-incentivising employers to do the right thing by working women by offering paid maternity leave. Because why would companies offer paid maternity leave if by doing so, they’re making it impossible for their female employees to receive the government funded PPL that is available to everyone else? But I think this is all part of your plan Joe. You’re transparently ugly like that. I’ll say it again. My private negotiations with my employer are absolutely none of your business and this is why your whole ‘double-dipping’ narrative is complete bullshit.
I hope you feel the full force of the political pain that this policy is going to cause you. As a woman who is currently 32 weeks pregnant and, no doubt like most expectant mothers, already anxious about the delicate balancing act I’m about to take on – a break from my career, from my salary and the journey after maternity leave back into the workforce, with child care to come and all the additional costs no one warns you about, I hope the political pain causes you the same sort of anxiety you’re causing to working mothers across the country.
First of all let me say that I’m sorry you’re having such a horrible time at work at the moment. Since it’s clear that you work extremely hard and your job is pretty much your life, I’m sorry that your life is fairly horrible at the moment too. I really am. This solidarity I feel with you, by the way, has nothing to do with the feminist code or standing up for the ladies, because quite frankly I don’t think your current predicament has anything to do with your gender and in writing this letter, I want to make the point that I am writing to a person, not a man or a woman. I am writing to a person who holds a great deal of responsibility, and power, and I don’t think you’re getting a fair hearing and clearly no chance to explain what is really going on in your world. So bear with me for a moment while I try to envisage how things have got to this point, and perhaps you are the only person who can confirm or deny if I’m off the mark.
First of all, it’s clear to anyone with any understanding of who and what Tony Abbott is that you’ve got your work cut out for you keeping this moron in check. I know the Australian media did their best to help you out during your time as Chief of Staff to the Leader of the Opposition, in that you didn’t really have to worry about any real scrutiny of your boss, and therefore were able to keep the puppet on-message by sticking to carefully recited three-word-slogans and never answering any questions at press conferences. There weren’t many times when you agreed for Abbott to go on radio or television to be interviewed by anyone who wasn’t already in your corner, fighting the same fight as you, so I guess this made your life a whole lot easier as there was no challenge to the ideas behind the three-word-slogans, or investigation into a pamphlet that you said was a plan but I’m not sure any of the press even read. Most importantly, no one bothered to check if there was any factual or expert analysis contributing to the formation of your slogans; for example, the journalists didn’t worry about the cost and effectiveness of the Direct Action policy because they just loved your idea of taking Abbott banana stacking, truck-stop chatting, butcher visiting and Alan Jones rally attending to fight against a climate change policy that was working to reduce emissions, and generating revenue for renewable technologies just as Labor planned for it to do. The journalists never asked ‘what budget emergency?’ so you could continue to use this lie to justify ideological slash and burn. So this lack of scrutiny generally, for both Abbott’s character, personality, ideas, competence and honesty and for the few policies you told the electorate about before the election, really made your job a whole lot easier.
I’m wondering if perhaps it was too easy. Do you ever wonder if you were lulled into a false sense of security? You knew your boss was incapable of being a leader. You knew that without you by his side at every waking moment, a disaster would happen. That’s why you’ve had to work so hard. That’s why, according to John Lyons, who did me the favour of confirming everything I already knew about Abbott, you’ve had to resort to interrupting Abbott and even placing your hand over his mouth when he’s about to say something stupid. Again. You’re just doing your job! And that’s why I feel sympathy for you. Maybe when he won the election, you got a bit complacent? Or maybe his incompetence is literally impossible to keep secret forever?
Even with the tight controls you have placed on Abbott since becoming Prime Minister, even with you standing close by his side in every interview, in every public appearance, in any scenario where he has to do anything in his job, a job he is being paid very well to do, you can’t stop the occasional glimpse of the real Abbott being flashed to the country. It must give you nightmares! The knowledge that you can stop Abbott leaking himself to the world. No matter what you do, how hard you work, somehow the real Abbott has been revealed. And as you always knew, Australians don’t like this person at all. And as you always knew, there is no way he would be Prime Minister now if it wasn’t for your careful management of his image; and when I say careful management, what I really mean is trying to turn Abbott into someone who doesn’t exist. Because you know as well as I do that he’s just not cut out for his job. He’s not intelligent enough, he’s not articulate enough, he’s not inspirational, funny, kind, quick-witted, compassionate, approachable, organised, fair, strategically minded or, the most importantly, likable. He’s just not likeable and now that Australia has seen the real Abbott, there’s nothing you can do about it now Peta. Your job is finished because you have failed to hide Abbott. You’re going down with the sinking ship.
Before I sign off, I want you to know that I might respect you, but I certainly don’t like you. I don’t like the job you are doing, but I respect that you’re working hard. I just wish you were working hard for the good of Australia, rather than for the good of rich mates and donors to the Liberal Party, and to bring about the IPA’s vision of Australia, which is quite frankly terrifying. But you’re clearly determined, organised, and capable, and the reason you’re still sitting next to the Prime Minister of Australia, feeding policy ideas into cabinet, pushing your version of the world onto the country’s agenda, and making life very difficult for anyone who falls outside of your privileged bubble is because he needs you. He can’t get rid of you because you’re the only thing between him and humiliating annihilation in his career. So you’ll keep your job, but it’s not going to be easy. Now that the scrutiny has finally, belatedly, arrived, it’s like a tap that has been turned on and is now spewing water like a fire hydrant. You can’t turn this tap off now Peta. Abbott’s own colleagues are leaking to your old media friends, so this is way out of your control now. Abbott is now a known liar, so when he denies the content of the leaks, no one believes him. Does Abbott even have any friends except you anymore? We can all see that your boss, the emperor is not wearing any clothes and no matter how many blue ties you try to cover him up with, we can see his rude bits and quite frankly, the country is disgusted by the sight of him.
I hate to distract you from the clusterfuck that is your political party at the moment. But I can’t help but notice you’re all very busy doing whatever it is you do during a painfully drawn out Libspill; you know – making phone calls, counting numbers, receiving phone calls, tallying numbers to be counted, and not really concentrating on your jobs that you get paid to do, by us the tax payers. It’s all actually fairly boring apart from being absolutely impossible to look away from. But while you seem to be personally readying yourself for the job you’ve been readying yourself for your entire life, I wanted to just let you know how I feel about your leadership ambitions and the type of Prime Minister you are going to be. I don’t think you’re going to enjoy this.
First I’d like to say that I do appreciate that you’ve previously been very vocal about your support of action to reduce the catastrophic effects of climate change and of course we know you lost the leadership of the Liberal Party previously for your determination to be bi-partisan and to support Rudd’s ETS. You should be applauded for this noble gesture. However, what you will not be applauded for my be, and all Australians who worry about our ever uncertain future in a post-climate-change world, is that you are willing to give up on this determination, this value, this hallmark of your political career, in order to get yourself a new job. It’s one thing to be a spineless, cowardly, lying little worm like Tony Abbott and to stake your political career on denial of climate change and the wrecking of a perfectly good Carbon Price. But honestly, I think your betrayal would be worse Malcolm. Because you have shown that you understand the science, you accept the science, and you’re alarmed about what the science is telling us. Yet for your own political purposes, for your own personal ambitions, for your own sense of individual achievement, glory, power and no doubt pay rise, you are willing to do deals with climate change deniers on the acceptance that you won’t, when in the most powerful job in this warming land, do anything about climate change. And that makes you the lowest of the low. That makes you worse than a denier. That makes you a grub. Please don’t think Australia isn’t going to notice.
Another policy I am similarly concerned about you getting anywhere near in your planned future as PM is the National Broadband Network. We already know that you’ve been beavering away doing your best to destroy this future-proofing world’s- best national infrastructure project for the benefit of your Telstra mates in your job as Minister for Communications. Or is that the Minister for not-as-fast-as-they-should-have-been Communications? You’ve proved over this NBN wrecking that you’re not fit to be in charge of Australia’s future technological innovation, and therefore you’re not fit to be making decisions about Australia’s future, full stop. And no, I’m not going to give you any benefit of the doubt about what motivated you to destroy the NBN and to instead create a joke of a copper fraudband. If you were thinking you might be able to blame Tony Abbott for everything that happened before you took his job, you’ll need to think again. Because if that’s the case and you did just do whatever you were told without protest, without care for the damage you were doing, then you’re even more unqualified to be our Prime Minister.
As a man who knows how to make money, and who lives in Australia’s most expensive suburb in a house that makes the Lodge look like a cottage, you must know that talk is cheap. Yet, despite your popularity due to presumably the leather jacket you wear on Q&A and your some-might-call-charming-but-I-would-call-smarmy demeanour, all I see from you is talk about your values and absolutely no action to back these values up. For instance, have you ever, once, whilst working as a member of the Abbott government, crossed the floor to protest Abbott’s policies? No? Have you spoken out publically about Abbott and Hockey’s outrageously unfair budget and actually fought them to change anything? Or have you just been laying low, like a snake in the grass, waiting for your moment to strike, your moment to take what you believe to have always been yours at the expense of the Australian public who never chose you as their PM?
The fact is that I don’t trust you Malcolm. I don’t trust you as far as I can throw you. You’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing who talks about supporting gay marriage, but given the chance would forget he ever said that and instead campaign to reincarnate Howard’s WorkChoices as soon as I can say ‘free-marketer’ or ‘neoliberal stooge’. You want what’s best for your rich mates. Though you might make this look a bit prettier than Abbott, we have learnt throughout this painful period of Abbott’s prime ministership that the most important thing is not how something looks, but how they behave. What policies they try to push through. You would deregulate universities, you would slash and burn to create a small ineffectual government, you would destroy Medicare, you would cut education funding, you would fight on behalf of miners as they deny Australians their fair share, you would get rid of penalty rates, you would decrease the minimum wage, you would deny rights to asylum seekers, you would destroy the NBN and you would deny Australia a climate change policy. How do I know you would do all these things? Because you’ve been doing it as a member of Abbott’s government and there is absolutely no reason on earth why someone like you, who shares Abbott’s values, would do anything differently. A turd with a cat-like grin polished across it is still a turd.
It’s been a year since I last wrote to you. I was very angry back then, but you’ll be pleased to hear that this letter is not being written in anger, but has much more of a triumphant tone than my previous correspondence. The reason for this turn in my mood has everything to do with the reversal in your political fortunes over the previous 12 months.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, you are incredibly unpopular. Looking back at my grievances with you in the past, I can see that much of my frustration about your behaviour was born from the fact that you were so obviously getting away with being a complete wanker while still managing to be elected Prime Minister of Australia. No matter how much I tried to tell people just how dangerous a prospect you were as a PM, and no matter how violently opposed I was to everything you stood for, the Australian voting public went ahead anyway and chose to eat shit because they didn’t like spinach, and I must admit I may have gone a little mad with the injustice of it all. But I feel better now because you’ve been exposed. And you’re done now Tony. You’re finished.
Unfortunately the realisation that your character and your behaviour has finally caught up to you, hasn’t made up for the terror that you have inflicted on the Australian public during your first year as Prime Minister, and obviously won’t save us from the two years of terror we have to come. No matter what happens to your job Tony, your government is still ruined. I assume you’re fairly concerned about the permanency of your position as Prime Minister in the short term, considering just how unpopular you are, not just with the voting public but also with your own colleagues. You know as well as I do that the distraction of blaming Peta Credlin for all your faults can only last so long before those who used to support you start to question how it is that you either a) let Credlin make all your decisions for you and put words into your mouth considering you are meant to be the Prime Minister of Australia and capable of being the Prime Minister without a puppet-master controlling your every move, or you b) don’t let Credlin make all your decisions and instead make all the decisions yourself in which case the problem is with you and not Credlin and therefore you’re not capable of being the Prime Minister and should clearly be moved out of this job. I’m predicting a couple more Newspolls and you’ll be facing one or both of these questions. But either way, the problem with your government Tony is that you’re all as bad as each other. I’ve given up playing the ‘which Liberal MP is the worst in the government’ game because every time I settle on a winner, another contender reminds us why they are indeed the worst, and in fact you’re all competing to be the worst every day as if you’re running a sweep for which there must be a sizeable prize as you’re all trying your very hardest to piss off the electorate to the point of total electoral demise. It would be much more fun to watch this scene unfold if it wasn’t reeking such havoc on the fabric of my community in the meantime. But thankfully, the damage you are doing in the short term is just cementing in the minds of Australians an absolute determination never to let you or anyone like you anywhere near the job of Prime Minister ever again. So we can take the short term pain for the long term relief of you being a forgettable blip in an otherwise successful generation.
There’s one thing I want to make clear Tony. I’m not upset because members of your government are prone to ‘gaffes’, because I don’t think anything you or your other badly performing team members say are actually ‘gaffes’. A ‘gaffe’ is defined as ‘an unintentional act or remark causing embarrassment to its originator; a blunder’. A gaffe would therefore be something you said that you didn’t really mean, which you could easily apologise for and could be written off as a mistake and something that would never happen again. But no. It’s not just that the outrageous things you and your fellow Liberals have said are deeply offensive, and have helped Australia to get to know the true colours of you and your government, and to discover just how much we don’t want you running our country. There are no accidental slip ups when Peta Credlin is feeding words into your ear, which you carefully recite, slowly, mechanically, repeatedly, eerily, nastily, and sometimes with a perverse, psychopathic, lip-linking grin. You say exactly what you mean, and more importantly, you follow through on exactly what you say. So it’s not the sales pitch, the slogans, the sound bites, the ‘coal is good for humanity’, the ‘best thing I did for women was to repeal the Carbon Tax’, the ‘I’ll shirt-front President Putin, you bet I am, you bet you are’ memorable moments of your harrowing first year as Prime Minister. No, it’s everything you and your team say, constantly, every day, backing up your actions; your nasty ideological agenda, your culture war, your assault on social services, your refusal to take responsibility and instead blame Labor response to everything, your policies, your interest only in the super-rich, your hatred of the disadvantaged, your attacks on health and education, your inhumane treatment of asylum seekers, your vandalism of the environment, your racism, your sexism, your mismanagement of the economy, your attack on unions and the jobs they support, your campaign to use fear to control us, your beating up of what you call ‘leaners’, your self-entitlement, the most unfair budget Australia has ever seen, it’s everything you have ever done.
So forget about looking at your message Tony. Forget about the words. Your problem isn’t that the ‘left’ has figured you out and has found the best way to exploit your weaknesses to our advantage. The problem isn’t the budget sales pitch, something you can solve by hiring one of your ABC supporters as your new media manager. No Tony, the problem is you. The turd cannot be polished. We don’t like you and you keep digging the hole bigger. Scott Morrison as Social Services Minister? You’ve got to be fucking kidding Tony. If you think that’s going to fix things, you’re dumber than I thought. And that’s why it’s over for you. Your government will be voted out in 2016, with or without you as their leader. It’s over Tony. Australia doesn’t want you as our Prime Minister. Australia doesn’t want a Liberal government full of conservative fundamentalists. And there’s nothing you can do now to stop us correcting our mistake.
Yours sincerely, as always
Back in 2012, when you said the age of entitlement was over, I was so relieved. I was relieved that highly-paid politicians like Tony Abbott would no longer think it acceptable to charge tax-payers for personal book tours. I was relieved that filthy rich politicians like Malcolm Turnbull, and like yourself, would put an end to ethically-suspect rental schemes, where your tax-payer funded Canberra housing allowance is paid to your spouses for investment properties they have cleverly put in their names. Which you will no doubt benefit from once again when they sell. I was also relieved to hear that this sense of entitlement would also be finished for the families of rich politicians, when the likes of Tony Abbott would say it was not acceptable to accept a secret scholarship for his daughter’s education. Nor a refund on a non-refundable deposit paid on a rented flat without proper due diligence that any other non-entitled member of the public is in no position to demand. Nor lavish trips to the Melbourne Cup to hob-knob with celebrities which even you can no doubt see is not in the public interest and therefore not an entitlement that should be charged to the tax-payer. Because these are the best examples I have ever seen of a sense of entitlement which is so entrenched and seemingly innate that it’s like an incurable disease that seems to have no end. So again, congratulations on declaring an end to it.
And oh how I wish I could leave this letter here. But I can’t. And you know why I can’t. Because I am mistaken. I am not mistaken that you wish to end the age of entitlement. What is clear is that you do in fact want to end what you call entitlement. The problem is, your definition of the problem of entitlement in our culture, and my definition, are completely different things. From the budget you’ve handed down, and from your recent statements about poor people’s spending habits on petrol (which no one misinterpreted, you really should own your mistakes Joe), it’s clear that you think entitlement is our community’s idea of rights. Rights to quality education. Rights to quality healthcare. Rights to a clean and sustainable environment. Rights to a social safety net when things go wrong. Rights to live in a community where it’s possible to be born poor, but to better our circumstances through hard work, encouragement and support from those around us. All these rights are what you call ‘a sense of entitlement’ aren’t they Joe? And aren’t these rights the things you would ideally like to end? Isn’t your budget, built on a foundation of lies about a non-existent budget-emergency, your campaign to kill the very culture that provides Australians with rights to all of these things that any first-world, educated, well-resourced and fair country like Australia should strive to protect? Isn’t your end of the age of entitlement just code for a user-pays capitalist small-government, tax-free wonder-land?
Well, had I known you meant to end this definition of entitlement, I would never have felt relief. You need a reality check Joe. Rights are not entitlements. And someone like you, with your family background, would surely understand this if you ever cared to think about it, perhaps while you’re enjoying a quiet sit and a cigar. On the profile on your website, you have published this:“Joe Hockey was born in North Sydney, as the youngest of four children. His father was born in Bethlehem of Armenian and Palestinian parentage and his Mum in Chatswood. His family worked hard running a small business on the North Shore, beginning with a deli in Chatswood and later, a real estate agency in Naremburn.” So you like to portray your family story as the classic ‘we pulled ourselves up from the bootstraps’ tale of social mobility. And like so many who have come before you having found riches and success in your careers, you now seem hell bent on destroying mobility for others by burning the ladder of opportunity that you climbed to the top. And that’s what you really meant when you said it is time to end the age of entitlement.
You’ve got it so wrong Joe. Social mobility is not an entitlement. Access to social mobility is a right. And it’s a right Australians will, when they wake up to you, fight to save. You and your rich Liberal Party chums portray the true meaning of entitlement through your little glass tower of privilege where you think it’s ok to simultaneously reap the rewards of tax-payer funded wealth, while destroying the rights of the community by wrecking the public policies designed to keep the playing field level. Shame on you Joe. Shame on you and your entitled Liberal government.
First off, I want to say that I feel really sorry for you this week since the news broke about your $60,000 scholarship to study at Whitehouse Institute of Design. As your passion was to study design, you should be commended for following this passion, and for applying yourself to your studies and graduating with Distinctions. Well done. No one is suggesting that you didn’t deserve to graduate with high grades, and no one is suggesting that it was unfair for you to be accepted into the course in the first place. But what people are upset about, including me, just so we’re clear, is the speculation that you got this opportunity to study without paying for it through your dad’s job and his connections. If this is true, we’re upset with your father. And I should imagine that you would be really be upset with him as well because of the perception that he put you in this position where you now probably feel that you’ve been unfairly criticised.
I am not naïve enough to think that this sort of ‘favour’ amongst rich people doesn’t happen all the time. Jobs get opened up and opportunities appear all the time for the children of the privileged and the powerful. Your dad has actually been giving lots of his mates jobs since he won the job of Prime Minister too. People like former IPA front man Tim Wilson, who is completely unqualified to be responsible for human rights, is now an Australian Human Rights Commissioner. Former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella, who is completely unqualified to oversee the building of submarines, is now on the board of the Australian Submarine Corporation.
But what I would like you to understand, and I’m certain that you have the emotional maturity to understand, is that your father has made decisions recently which make your scholarship to the Whitehouse Institute of Design incredibly hypocritical. You see, your father has decided that Australian teenagers and young adults should pay more for their higher education degrees and vocational training AND should pay interest on the HELP loans they get which are the only way most can access this education. With interest of 6%. So where you paid only a fraction of the cost of your expensive private design college, students whose parents don’t have access to favours of the kind you’ve been given are facing a situation where they will finish their degrees with a huge and growing debt, a situation which may lead many of them to abandon their dreams of further education all together. And that is a tragedy for the individuals involved, and for Australia.
I note you are now working at the Whitehouse Institute of Design as a teacher’s aide, and it’s great that you’ve managed to get a job at the end of your study. Congratulations. However, for students who struggle to find their first career roles after finishing their study, and who find themselves in the very common transition period between study and the experience they need to climb the career ladder, your father has made sure these students can’t get a Newstart payment for six months. Six months is a long time to have no money. I don’t expect you to know what this feels like, as you don’t come from a background where you’ve ever had to worry about having money for food. But what I would like you to do is to be able to show empathy for the people who will find themselves in this position due to decisions your father has made. You might even be assisting the Whitehouse Institute for Design to teach these very students who are saddling themselves with huge education expenses, and have absolutely no guarantee of a job on graduation. These students grew up in a society that promised them a safety net as they pursue their life aspirations. But your father has torn up this safety net and slapped every one of them in the face with his three word slogan ‘earn or learn’. Just like you have done, these students are learning. And then they’ll be doing their best with the earning part. I see no reasonable reason to force these students into poverty while they go through this struggle. Without privileged favours from rich parents and mates of rich parents, life can be pretty tough out there. But poor students are basically being told that it’s their fault they have no job and they should have been more careful about which family they were born into.
Of course your father will defend you, and I’m sure you and the rest of your family think it’s terribly unfair that you’ve had your own personal story dragged through this mud in the media over the last few days. Again, I really do feel sorry for you. But, again, this is really your father’s fault and he’s the one we should all, including you, be upset with. He chose to organise for you and your sister Bridget to accompany him all over the country for as many media appearances as possible during the election campaign. I often wondered why you and your sister were always there, but never spoke on camera and I guess that’s because you didn’t really want to get involved with politics. But just being there made you involved and your father benefited from this involvement. You got lots of free tax-payer-funded travel and tickets to fun events out of this arrangement too, so it’s not like you didn’t all have a nice time promoting your father’s career. So now that your father is saying he doesn’t think it’s fair to involve his family in politics, he needs to take responsibility for involving you in the first place. Life is like that sometimes. I believe that you can’t have things both ways – all the spoils of privilege and power with none of the repercussions.
At the end of the day, this hasn’t really been about you, but it has affected you. You’ve been caught in your father’s web of perceived hypocrisy and you’re a victim of your father’s terrible decisions just as the rest of Australia is. When your father leads a government who asks that everyone does the heavy lifting, you must understand that it’s really important that the members of that government do the heavy lifting too. And when this quite clearly hasn’t happened in the case of your education expense, it’s only fair that we all get a chance to know whether our Prime Minister is willing to do what he’s asking all of us to do too.
Victoria RollisonFollow @Vic_Rollison
I’m writing to you again with the knowledge that you clearly haven’t read my previous correspondence, including this letter, this letter and this video. Since I wrote those letters, you have gone from my worst nightmare as an Opposition Leader, to an even worse nightmare of a Prime Minister. Yet, as I was reminded this week on Twitter, and as I would like to remind anyone who reads this letter, you aren’t a scary monster. Thinking of you as some scary creature underneath the bed is probably not very helpful because it gives you a status you don’t deserve (and I don’t like the idea of you being anywhere near my bed). But seriously Tony, to be scary and feared, you need to be successful. But when you look at your term as Prime Minister so far, it would be inaccurate to suggest you’ve been successful because you clearly have not. A bit like when you interrupted Parliament to say that wreckage from Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 had been found, when it hadn’t. And a bit like when you pretended not to notice 100,000 Australians protesting across the country against you and your government. You just end up looking like a bit of a loser Tony. A pathetic, desperate, not-very-quick-on-his-feet, not very charismatic, not very articulate loser. And that’s why you’re not a monster. Because monsters aren’t desperate losers. So you don’t qualify.
Let’s look at another example of your desperate mode of government, which leaves you and your colleagues exposed as weak. Joe Hockey has clearly embraced the role of yelling-strict-father-star-of-all-conservative-wet-dreams-dictator in his recent reasoning for why huge cuts need to be made to government spending. Apart from the fact that it seems counterproductive for your government to be attacking a segment of the community which you have come to rely on for votes – pensioners – by telling them that they need to get over their sense of entitlement that the pension will support them into retirement, it also seems incredibly hypocritical for you to go after the sense of entitlement of people who have paid tax their whole lives, whilst also giving rich people up to $75,000 for six months of maternity leave. Apologies for the length of the last sentence Tony, but there was no more simple way to explain it. The whole small government versus big government thing you rely on goes up in smoke through this hypocrisy and leaves you looking like an opportunistic, vote-grabbing bastard. Particularly because you said you wouldn’t be cutting pensions, numerous times. So that would make you a liar, would it not?
But that’s not all Tony. You and Joe Hockey keep banging on about spending cuts, whilst completely ignoring revenue issues. Might this be because part of the revenue problem is that Australia hasn’t reaped the benefits we should have from the mining boom? And isn’t the mining tax part of Labor’s solution to fix this mistake? But while you and Joe say over and over again that the government has run out of money and that pensioners are costing too much, wasn’t part of the reason the previous Labor government implemented the mining tax because they wanted to increase the superannuation savings of Australians from 9% – 12%? Wouldn’t that have reduced the reliance of Australians on the pensions when they retire?
Speaking of your ‘run out of money’ line, surely even you can see what a bad look it is to announce that you’re spending $12 billion on Joint Strike Fighter jets in the very same week that you’re preparing the electorate for your ‘it’s time to tighten our belts’ budget. I know you’re disappointed at the criticism you’ve got over this decision, after making it very clear how pro-defence spending you were in the election and after the previous Labor government also supported this project. However, the difference between your government and the Labor government is that Labor didn’t whip up a fear campaign about a budget deficit. Labor didn’t say the government has run out of money. Labor didn’t try to scare the electorate into thinking Australia’s debt levels were going to lead to a default and a Spain and Greece like debt crisis. You chose the austerity for everyone except for Gina Rinehart bed and now you have to lie in it. You’ve been talking about a ‘budget emergency’ to justify cutting health, education and welfare at the very same time as you’re spending thousands of lifetimes of old-aged pensions on imported planes. See what I mean about not being very smart Tony?
And let’s not forget the mess you’re making with your Direct Action Policy. First you say climate change is crap and spend years placing all your eggs in the ‘axe the carbon tax’ basket. But now you’re planning to spend tax-payer funds on a useless, wasteful program that has no guarantee of even being taken up by polluters, let alone reducing emissions. So you’re basically pissing money against a wall, for no community benefit other than a few rich polluters who will be free to rort tax payers by spending government funds to reduce emissions. When these polluters shouldn’t be polluting our atmosphere for free in the first place. This is lunacy Tony. This isn’t the work of someone to be feared. This is the work of a desperate man who has zero credibility.
I know you will never read this Tony, but I feel better just for having written it. You’re not scary. You’re pathetic. And the way you’re going, I’m not going to have to put any effort into my #OneTermTony campaign, because you’re clearly working hard enough for both of us to this end.
You’ve probably guessed that this is not fan mail. I’m sure you do have fans, but I don’t think there would be many game enough to admit it after your recent behaviour. Trolls perhaps, but not people. Why not people, you may ask? Succinctly, because no person with a shred of humanity, the sort of humanity needed to qualify as a human, could ever condone what you are doing to the world’s desperate asylum seekers who come to Australia begging for help.
Before you ready your list of excuses as to why it’s justifiable for someone to be murdered inside an Australian detention facility, there is no justifiable excuse you could possibly provide that will go anywhere near being a justifiable excuse. According to witness reports, a man has died after having his throat cut and sustaining head injuries. His name was Reza Berati. He had a family and friends who loved him. He had a personality. He had a whole life ahead of him. And he was murdered. With violence most compassionate people wouldn’t accept against an animal. A man was murdered. There’s no other way to describe it. You did not carry out the violence, but you were in charge of the person who did, and you were responsible for the victim, Reza Berati since he was in your care.
In the statement you snuck out on Saturday night in the most spineless of fashion, you admitted that your previous statement was based on incorrect information. We are experienced enough with your character to know that we will never find out what you knew and what you didn’t know when you released the wrong information. But I would like to point out that, even if you were personally misled, and you went with the information that was available to you, then you might not be as evil as it would appear, but you certainly are incompetent. So what is it Scott? Are you guilty of making up the first statement or are you incompetent in taking someone else’s word for it without endeavouring to find out the truth? Surely, in this situation, the truth would have been easy to find. If an asylum seeker was killed outside of the Manus Island detention centre, there would have been evidence of this. Because the crime scene, which I presume you are treating as such, would have been outside of the boundary of the detention centre? Or are you claiming you don’t know where this boundary is? This is becoming a bit of a pattern of not-knowing – the Navy apparently also did not know where the Indonesian maritime border was, on several occasions.
And we all know why you changed the official record. It was not because you respected the truth and wanted it to be known. And definitely not because you deeply regretted what you were finding out and wanted to make it clear how badly you felt about it. Because you didn’t feel bad about it. That’s obvious from what you have said and how you have said it. Tony Abbott has even congratulated you for the part you have played in this murder. And that’s the most immoral part of this situation. You’re proud of yourselves for being ‘uncompromising’ and ‘tough’ as if this is a chess game and your strategy has been successful. Think about that for a moment Scott. Someone is dead. Someone has been killed and many others horrifically injured in violent, hauntingly terrifying situation and you are proud of yourself. What is wrong with you Scott? This is not a game. This is Australia’s humanity being denigrated forever. Because you are doing this in our name.
However you try to play down this situation, it’s never going to work. Not just because the UN is now involved, and you’re destroying Australia’s human rights reputation on an international scale. No, it’s far worse than that. The worst of it is that this situation was no accident. When people drown at sea on their way to seek refuge in Australia, their loss of life is just as devastating as the loss of Reza Berati. And when young men installing installation are killed because their bosses don’t train them how to do their job safely, their loss of life is just as devastating as the loss of Reza Berati. But the difference with this death was that it was no accident. It wasn’t just one out-of-control person carrying out violence in an otherwise well run operation. Ever since you started your crusade to ‘stop the boats’, you made it clear you would do that by whatever means possible. And this murder has been part of that. This murder is the only place your ‘stop the boats’ strategy could go.
Before you think you can wash your hands of this, I want you to know that this is not going away. Murdoch might want everyone to forget, but we are not going to forget. And we are not going to forgive until you do the only thing you could possibly do to fully apologise for this crime by resigning from Australia’s Parliament. Reza Berati deserved better. His family and loved ones deserved better. Tony Abbott said proudly that you are not a wimp. But what he forgot to mention in this character assessment is that you might not be a wimp, but you’re also an evil, untrustworthy fool. And Australia deserves to have better people representing us.