So the year's ending on a high note, with the leadership under constant discussion.
Abbott himself is now willing to discuss the leadership issue:
LEIGH SALES: Prime Minister, if before the next election the Coalition is polling as it currently is and your personal approval rating is where it is, would you contemplate stepping aside in order to give your party the best chance of holding on to power?
TONY ABBOTT: Well, look, that's a fair question, Leigh. But I think the one fundamental lesson of the last catastrophic government was that you don't lightly change leaders.
LEIGH SALES: You don't lightly dump leaders is maybe the lesson.
TONY ABBOTT: Well - well, look, governments that change their leaders haven't done very well lately.
LEIGH SALES: Would you contemplate it, though?
TONY ABBOTT: Well, look, Leigh, we've got a job to do and that's what we're doing, we are getting on with the job. And what I think people want in their governments and in their leaders is clarity of purpose ... (here)
Yes, we're back in the la la land of keeping the core promises and to hell with the rest, and if you keep me or you sack me, either way you lose, and so the likes of David Rowe keeps on making out like a bandit with his Xmas cartoons ...
Uh huh, but once this becomes a meme, the media rarely want to let it go, they want to refract all kinds of issues through the prism of leadership and promises made and promises broken ...
But okay, let's accept the reply, and look at the clarity of purpose and the leadership vision thingie ...
The University of Divinity is going to cop a taxpayer subsidy to deliver theological mumbo jumbo to the world?
Well the story's here to be read at Fairfax, but it just goes to show that you can take the man out of the seminary, but you can't take the seminary out of the man ... or the money away from the chaplains ...
Meanwhile, the jokes kept flowing:
TONY ABBOTT: I think this has been a year of delivery from this government for our country.
TOM IGGULDEN: It's a line reminiscent of another leader's at the end of a difficult first year.
JULIA GILLARD, THEN PRIME MINISTER (2011): I said 2011 would be a year of decision and delivery. (here)
Well we all know where self-congratulation leads - to further gloomy analysis from the likes of Mark Kenny delivering up Hockey and Abbott: Beware the yawning chasm (forced video at end of link).
Meanwhile, after everyone's had fun contemplating Andrew Robb being assigned as chaperone for Julie Bishop in Lima - how is sending two ministers more efficient than sending one? - it seems Abbott's office isn't just suspicious about Bishop being a closet greenie, they also suspect Greg "let me wiki that walri for you" Hunt might also be a bit of a leaner:
In opposition Hunt hoped to be the international negotiator in a Coalition government – but Bishop got the job.
Hunt was a long-time supporter of an emissions trading scheme. Although he later dropped that support when Tony Abbott became leader, some sources say the Abbott office continues to have some suspicions of him on the climate issue ... (Michelle Grattan here).
No Lima for him!
It seems that, in the Manichean world the current leader inhabits, there's only the good and the pure, and the suspect, or worse, the fallen ...
So what has the adept walrus spotter accomplished while tugging the forelock for his paranoid leader?
Australia's carbon emissions from the main electricity sector continue to climb, driving up the national total just as nations gather in Peru to negotiate a global pact to halt climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions from the National Electricity Market, which serves eastern Australia, rose at an annualised rate of 3.2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide for the 12 months to November compared with the year to the end of June, according to the latest Cedex report by energy consultants Pitt and Sherry.
"If this rate of increase were to continue for a year ...NEM electricity generation emissions would by themselves increase Australia's total emissions by 1.4 per cent," Pitt and Sherry said. (and a lot more here from Peter Hannam of Fairfax).
Oh well, at least he's handy at walri spotting, and thank the long absent lord, the world's leading climate scientist has explained we're in a hiatus.
What's that you say?
The ocean today is warmer, and sea levels higher, than at any time since the instrumental record began. As the oceans warm, they expand and sea levels rise. Using a combination of coastal tide-gauge and satellite-altimeter data, CSIRO and others have shown that, globally, sea level has been rising since the late 1800s. Global-averaged sea level rose at an average rate of about 1.6 mm per year over the 20th Century, but this rate has accelerated to about 3 mm per year as measured by satellite altimetry and tide gauges since 1993. So the rate of sea-level rise has not slowed; it has increased.
Our measurements across the land, atmosphere and oceans show that warming has continued unabated throughout the past 18 years.
Last year was Australia's warmest year on record, followed by 2005 and 2009. For global land and ocean temperatures, 2013 tied with 2003 as the fourth warmest year globally; and 13 of the 14 warmest years ever measured occurred in the 21st Century. As reported by the World Meteorological Organization, this year is shaping up to be the world's warmest year – the year to the end of October is the planet's warmest on record. (and more here from the CSIRO's Helen Cleugh).
So we've got money for the University of Divinity, but we have to cut the funding for the CSIRO and science?
Luckily Tony Abbott was able to contribute a comment using a nom de plume:
Global warming is just a big hoax designed to get money out of your pocket into theirs. Wake up, you are being had.
Roll on Lima ... and thank the long absent lord we've got Chairman Rupert to fund the expert findings of the world's leading scientist, because the Bolter doesn't need any jibber jabber about satellite altimetry and tide gauges ...
But enough of the Fairfaxians and the cardigan wearers at the ABC sniggering at the fine garments the emperor is wearing ...
As always, the job at hand is to check on the pulse of the reptiles sitting on their hot rocks in their inner city 'leetist Surry Hills gulag ...
Oh dear ...
So that's what happens when a reptile goes off his kool aid?
Cheap talk of a Prime Ministerial dream, as if there's something wrong with men being men, and women being women, and toys being toys:
Thanks Nicole, for those images of complementary women designed to get angry Sydney Anglicans tranquil and purring with pleasure, and no the pond can't see any point banning R-rated video games or yanking them off shelves (selling them to minors is another matter), but can we get back to the agitated Crowe?
The only question is who Crowe doesn't slag off. There's a tentative Joe Hockey unable to deal with the budget, a struggling government, a promise-breaking Abbott, fatally undermining the year's agenda, and then a full-blown assault on Kevin Andrews and his failure to deliver budget savings:
Well yes, but how easy is it to sell a plucked and stuffed turkey, unless we introduce Thanksgiving into Australia ... but do go on:
The biggest dead weight on the government, the unpopular $7 co-payment, remains policy despite the confusion of last week and will return next year in different form but with a similar $3.5bn saving. Peter Dutton has argued for it in the language of a health policy wonk. At no point have voters been confronted with the pressure on health spending. It is too late for the government to win the public argument and the scale of its defeat is sobering.
On and on the sobered-up Crowe rants:
Perhaps Malcolm Turnbull could have done better in clearing the ground for the ABC cuts and maybe Stuart Robert could have done more to counter Jacqui Lambie’s offensive on defence pay. The less said about George Brandis and metadata the better.
Are ministers failing to argue the government’s case or being held back by the Prime Minister’s office? This is the folly of excessive centralisation. Even when a minister fails to seize an opportunity to “sell” the budget message, it can be painted as a strategic decision by the Prime Minister’s staff. Abbott says, correctly, “the buck stops here” when mistakes are made. The cost mounts when his office dictates what ministers do. Frustration with the Prime Minister’s office and the ministry is a significant challenge for Abbott. One solution is a reshuffle. Disasters in David Johnston’s office surely bring forward the day a new defence minister is named.
Yes, the sooner we can get a few disgruntled, embittered ex-ministers on to the back bench to begin mischief-making, the better ...
But Crowe does see a light on the hill, albeit a curious one:
The Coalition backbench has been disciplined and loyal. There is no better sign of the depth of frustration in its ranks than that complaints are now aired publicly, albeit anonymously.
Labor MP Nick Champion called the caucus “craven and callow” for failing to speak up five years ago about Kevin Rudd’s office. Coalition MPs will not repeat that mistake. “People are sick of the process being abused, being treated like fools,” says one MP.
“If you can’t talk in the partyroom and you can’t get access to Tony, how are you going to get your message across?” That does not sound like a robot talking.
No, that sounds like an anonymous treacherous traitor, too cowardly to put a name to his moaning. No trip to Lima for him ...
All this has put the pond in a state of considerable agitation.
These days it's the reptiles at the lizard Oz who do the pond's work.
The robots are revolting ... and encouraging other robots to come forward and talk of the evils of the Stepford regime (and we all know what that's code for).
Oh sure, there's still the reptile editorialist, who explains this very day how everything going wrong with the government is the fault of the ABC. Seriously:
The same program this week covered the Abbott government’s higher education reforms, choosing to interview the only university vice-chancellor (of 39) who opposed the changes. When sister program Lateline spoke to one of the other 38 vice-chancellors, much of the interview was taken up by host Tony Jones running the arguments of the lone dissenter. This looks more like activism than objective journalism, especially from an organisation that justifies its jaundice on global warming by saying its role is to reflect the consensus.
This week The Australian has been critical of the Abbott government’s performance in delivering its agenda and reforms necessary for national prosperity. We also have chastised the lazy and unconstructive fiscal denial of the opposition. But the media also must wear its share of the blame, especially the Canberra contingent and especially the expansive yet often disappointingly shallow services funded by taxpayers. In a week where crucial and complex reforms were up for discussion, Sales decided she should (incorrectly as it turned out) pick up Education Minister Christopher Pyne on his pronunciation of Zhenya Wang’s name. Seriously.
Bitterly disappointed by Labor’s failure, many journalists are eager to see the Coalition in strife, too. Sales gave Bill Shorten a hard time about his policy vacuum on Wednesday night but too often the Opposition Leader runs unchecked as he attacks a budget dilemma that Labor created, even while he blocks more than $5 billion of savings the ALP proposed when in power. It is little wonder the public looks to Canberra and shakes its head. At some stage a hint of leadership might emerge at the ABC to point out that without a substantive debate about necessary economic reforms and the political compromises required to deliver them, a 5 per cent efficiency cut will be the least of Aunty’s worries.
So it's okay for the reptiles to have a go at the government, but not the ABC? Seriously?
And it's all the fault of the ABC that the smarmy, smirking, offensively cheerful Pyne is on the nose? Seriously?
It's all the fault of the ABC that Tony Abbott and his government are on the nose? Seriously?
That's because the ABC's dominating the media landscape, despite what the ratings say, and whatever the tipsy Karl might say and do on morning TV? Seriously?
Shoot the messenger and that'll fix the message? Seriously?
There should be more blood on the floor at the ABC because the reptiles are still doing it tough, as they come and go on the Abbott government, one day drinking the kool aid, the next day forgetting to empty the glass, and embarking on a frothing, foaming Croweian frenzy? Seriously?
Because the hit on the ABC worked out so well for Turnbull and the Abbott government and the pathetically petitioning poodle? Seriously?
And that's why the pond is feeling under threat. Look at that Andrew Street, offering up "your news of the day, reduced to a snarky rant".
WTF? With the reptiles ranting and the Fairfaxians ranting, where's the room for the pond?
Ah well, good old Barners got one thing right about the first year of the Abbott government:
It's like a dog fight in the fog - loud, noisy, furious and the targets are shadowy ...
And now the mainstream media is by the day turning into a blog full of of dogs fighting in the fog.
If things don't get better, the pond is going to hold its breath at least until the new year ...
Well that's worth cartoon at least, as the planet goes to hell in a hot handbasket and we celebrate a year of achievement for students of the divine ... (and more Wilcox here).