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  • OPINION: Abbott’s stint as leader coming to an end

    2019 - 02.16

    Yass man David Barnett shares his views.Tony Abbott’s days as prime minister and leader of the Parliamentary Liberal Party are numbered. At Federal and State level Liberal members see Abbott as responsible for their devastating loss in Queensland.

    Nobody pretends any longer that State and Federal politics are not connected. The defeated Queensland premier Campbell Newman had an image problem. He is short, bald and he has a strident voice but he was a conscientious premier, tackling Queensland’s problems after successive ALP governments had ruined the State’s finances. He did not adequately explain why he had to reduce the size of the Queensland public service.

    Above all it has been Abbott himself, whose offences were manifest.

    He did not have a clear sense of economic direction, cutting back on expenditure while also increasing it with pet schemes either developed by himself such as the wildly unnecessary baby bonus, or inherited, namely the national broadband network and disability insurance.

    He never successfully set out the fiscal mess left for him by Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, and in so doing failed to establish himself as a responsible prime minister. The collateral damage was the treasurer, Joe Hockey. Treasurers are only as good as prime ministers allow them to be.

    Above all, he did not have a feel for the country he was running. Bob Hawke epitomised national empathy, but lack of it was not a charge that could be levelled at any of his predecessors on either side of politics.

    This absence of empathy was dramatically illustrated by his award of a knighthood to the Duke of Edinburgh, who already has 64 gongs, some of them because of his service during the Second World War but most because of the woman he married.

    I myself see no reason why he should not also have an Australian knighthood to stick on his chest. His wife is, after all, the Queen of Australia, but I can see good reasons why Abbott should have handled it better: consulting his colleagues and carrying them with him, anticipating reactions from the republicans and the media.

    New South Wales goes to the polls in March. It is not a resource state dependent on Chinese purchases of iron ore and coal, which have now eased. NSW is growing. Mike Baird doesn’t have an image problem. Everybody loves him. That government should survive, but in the present climate some members must lose their seats.

    So the Libs are thinking about a successor, all of them. Julie Bishop maybe. She is popular. Or Malcolm Turnbull, who is grinning his way back on to the TV screens; Scott Morrison handled himself impressively in a difficult portfolio.

    Changing leaders in mid-term is not a good idea, but these are exceptional times.

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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