Monday, December 08, 2014

So who will change the nappy?

(Above: can David Rowe get any crueller? More cruel Rowe here).

Of course it was a broken promise and a backflip and a betrayal of what had been promoted as a signature policy for years.

But in the end that needn't have mattered. Abbott had made a foolish and unfair promise, and so stepping back from it could have been sold.

But the pond watched the early morning Sydney cafe stroll and baby hugging with something approaching an Alice air of unreality.

The PPL dispute had always been about a matter of fairness. It was never going to be easy to explain how rich breeders should be unequally rewarded for producing their spawn.

But in back tracking, Abbott didn't worry about fairness.

Indeed he didn't worry about the actual policy issues at all. e didn't clarify where he might be heading, he just promised discussions and engagement, which in this case, is code for uncertainty and everybody putting in their two bobs worth, from Abbott's own colleagues to every passing blogger with a spare two bits ...

And worst of all, he hinted at an 'in-home' based solution, which is code in this context for nannies.

And immediately images of Mary Poppins came spilling into a Mosman-eastern suburbs nightmare.

Abbott this morning has copped some praise from colleagues for being responsive and flexible, but frankly the pond couldn't believe what a half-baked, half-arsed retreat it was, and for the first time, fully understood all the chat about Napoleon and Moscow and the bitterest of winters unfolding in an Australian summer ...

And any casual observer soon began to wonder what the revised details revealed about the alleged retreat:

Abbott said the reworked scheme would be based on a woman’s real wage, would still include super, and “it will still be funded by the 3,000 largest companies in Australia”. 
The prime minister said the change reflected listening to input from his colleagues. He indicated he was interested in looking at options to expand in-home care. (and more at the Graudian here).

Everything much the same, but now every rich home with a nanny ...

And Abbott promised more of this sort of nonsense in the months ahead ...

Fairness? Fair go? A fair deal for all?

It seems Abbott genuinely, deep in his heart, doesn't understand the concept.

So how bad has it got? Well the comparisons keep coming, this morning with all the Fairfaxians in a great state of excitement about the latest poll:

Now that AFR story is behind the paywall, but you can cop the poll details at Fairfax here (forced video at end of link), without the cruel Gillard comparison but with a bonus Golding cartoon:

For the Gillard comparison, you have to head off to Peter Hartcher, long willing to peddle Abbott as some kind of politician with a fresh vision:

There's more here, but allow the pond to note that Hartcher ended on this whimsical note:

This is about you, prime minister. 
Abbott, seen by the people to be incompetent and untrustworthy, is a liability for his government and an asset for the Labor party. 
While most of Australia relaxes over the Christmas break, the prime minister will spend the time in serious self-reflection. If he's in any way competent.

And meanwhile, over the weekend, Abbott led with his dream of a nanny-led solution ...

Fair dinkum, the pond couldn't make this stuff up, and so turned to the reptiles with a sinking heart. The poor things. The word is, there's talk about putting some new super-strength kool aid into the water cooler in the 'leet inner city Surry Hills bunker ...

Thus far it seems to be working.

The reptiles were sounding positive in this morning's editorial

Tony Abbott’s move to substantially revise his signature paid parental leave policy is a watershed moment in his prime ministership. He has risen above his renowned stubbornness to offer up a significant personal concession to what opinion polls suggest is a deep public scepticism about his government. Over the past four years, the Prime Minister has strongly defended his overly generous scheme, which was initially conceived to overcome his “problem” with women. Since winning power, he agreed to lower the cap on the scheme’s top payment from $75,000 to $50,000 but this wasn’t a difficult offering given it simply accepted an amendment the Greens were committed to imposing. Now Mr Abbott is reviewing the policy to reshape it into a “holistic families’ package” for the New Year.

An holistic package? Oh dear, off with the pixies and the greenies ...

Yes, that kool aid is really kicking in ...

1. incorporating the concept of holism in theory or practice: holistic psychology. 
2. Medicine/Medical. identifying with principles of holism in a system of therapeutics, especially one considered outside the mainstream of scientific medicine, as naturopathy or chiropractic, and often involving nutritional measures: holistic medicine. (more dictionary here)

Even more bizarre, the anon Oz editorialist welcomed the start of a broad discussion, as if a broad discussion was now better than contemplating actual Abbott policies:

For all the complications of rigid promises broken, detailed policies being revised and increased costs on big business, the thrust of this policy review is encouraging. Supporting women in the workforce and allowing families to negotiate the work/life balance is a crucial social challenge that can have a large impact on national productivity and economic success. So there is an opportunity, by means-testing and capping a targeted PPL, to boost childcare places and flexibility. The debate will be valuable but the pressure will be on Mr Abbott to come up with worthwhile and affordable changes.

In short, it's back to square one.

So how bizarre does it get in Murdoch la la Torytariat land?

Desperate stuff.

Captain takes one for the team? It was his bloody signature policy ...

Et tu, desiccated Henry? How grotesque a metaphor can you start with?

Like watching a dog hit by a car, the dying takes longer than one could possibly have imagined. But as budget measure after budget measure writhes in agony, the government has struggled to adapt to the situation it finds itself in.

That'll do, Henry, that'll do ...

What, there's more?

And so on, and at that point the pond realised that the Abbott government had indeed jumped the shark and nuked the fridge ...

Old desiccated Henry himself  thrashing around with talk of a stunning lack of political judgment, half-baked proposals and poorly articulated rationales ...

How desperate and pathetic can it get?

Yes, this very morning, there was Tony Abbott, blathering, moaning, whining and whinging on AM this morning, the only kind ear he could find being Chris Uhlmann ...

See Henry, Chris is still sympathetic, still rock solid ... always a soft touch and a kind ear ...

Meanwhile, there are still a few team coaches at work trying to breathe life into the dying dog so cruelly observed by old Henry:

Oh dear. How weird does it get? While Hartcher had prescribed a Christmas New Year of quiet reflection, Troy and his US buddy seems to think it might be best spent galumphing around the countryside:

Fuck the pond dead. It's bad enough that Abbott has ruined the year, and now Troy, courtesy some blow-in from Yankee land, wants Abbott to ruin the peace and quiet of the great Australian break by touring the country harassing people ...?

That's prime nap time, and Troy and his buddy wants Tony yammering in everyone's ear?

As if more Abbott is the solution rather than the problem?

Oh they don't have a clue about fairness, not a clue ...

What else? Well this morning, it seems as if Paul Sheehan has just about certified that the Minister for Defence is a dead duck walking ...

Because that sort of cheap, half-baked, half-arsed Murdochian Photoshopped wit will really help save Johnston's bacon ... because Johnston's predicament has got nothing to do with himself, and is all the fault of a few malevolent monkeys ...

Well, if you want to see Sheehan bury Johnston by praising him in the same gushing,  uxorious, extravagant tones he deployed in praise of magic water and expensive sourdough bread, you can head off here ...

It seemed certain that Sheehan has now ensured that Johnston in the new year will turn out to be a sourdough so dear that not even magic water will help him escape a ministerial re-shuffle ...

But by this time, the exhausted pond was ready to settle for a cartoon ...

And luckily at this time of the year, you can find "Behind the Lines", a collection of the best political cartoons 2014, in situ at the old Parliament House for anyone in Canberra, and online here.

A few samples, featuring pond favourite David Pope and Mark Knight, usually hidden behind a paywall:

Ah, that'd be the holistic families' package machine ...


  1. When Hewson asked why Keating wouldn’t call an election, Keating replied: ‘‘The answer is, mate – because I wanna do you slowly ..

    Let’s hope the Coalition doesn’t substitute Abbott with another drongo before the next election - we wanna do him slowly.

  2. Michael Mucci has not only turned K Carr into a monkey, he has put his thumb on the wrong side.

    I loathe that expression 'send the message'. Those spinmeisters have made their pile out of distorting political discourse. Maybe if politicians thought less about talking and more about doing, they would not need the services of those who advise how to use words to conceal, enhance, avoid, mislead, obfuscate.

    An expanded public transport system would speak for itself. Imagine being able to get across town quickly and efficiently by connecting rail. You can do that in European cities. Why is it so hard here?

    And what sort of human being would advise that clearly exhausted PM to cancel his holidays?

    Miss Pitty Pat

  3. Yes, Uhlmann giving Abbott a gentle massage. How about Mark Scott instructs his 'interviewers' that if they enjoy a special relationship with a subject then it be revealed at the start? In the case of Toolman, it would be something like "Tony & I have known each other for several decades. He remains my very best friend."

  4. One of Stella Young's favourite songs was 'Call me Al' (apparently). Watch the version with Chevy Chase stealing Paul Simon's lines. Reminds me of Shorten and Abbott, for some weird reason.

  5. DP, I have taken your advice and resolved to enjoy the journey into lunacy. There's an undercurrent of anxiety attached to when we reach the bottom of the cliff, but maybe we'll be like those cartoon characters who happily continue sword-fighting with only fresh air beneath their feet. Yet not actually falling until we become aware of it. And perhaps there'll be water to soften the fall damage.

    So it looks like being a fun few weeks before the government tries another strategy, or just any strategy beyond doing it all through media leaks and releases. It seems impossible to reprogram Abbott. He'll say anything his owners want him to, but that's a different thing from being convincing or credible.

    The Demented Plutocrat, as a once-brave Mal Turnbull was said to have referred to him as, must be wondering what he can do with this sow's ear. He's got the prize, an obedient klutz as PM, who'll do anything he asks. Yet he faces the same dilemma as Milo Minderbinder (Catch-22) after cornering the Egyptian cotton market that in a glut and a contract to buy every bale, nobody wants to buy. And the best his lackeys can spin is chocolate-coated cotton.

    It is reassuring that the Reptiles have not thrown in the towel even if a few like Henry have entered the reproach phase. Likening Abbott's plight to that of a dying dog hit by a car is a big stretch, even by his Dr Strangelove impressions. News Ltd have not jumped ship, but they have allowed adverse stories to get a run. Maybe they can only avoid reality for so long.

    The polls are merciless. The elections, such as they are ( a Vic State one and an SA by-election) are even worse. How can a 15 yo government with less than 50% 2PP get a 9% swing towards it? Well wiping out the car industry and then the submarine one doesn't help.

    Finally Fairfax and even the odd journo from the ABC have been prepared to tell it as it is, even if it's still sandwiched between the AbbotCredlin releases. The Guardian has been there longer but has been under less pressure from its owners/management to conform. But there's no hiding that they've been the biggest disappointment. No sane person expected any better from Murdoch, or from the Stokes and Singleton empires. They and the Press Gallery have done a huge disservice to the nation, as Andrew Elder highlights yet again.

    Had they been financial reporters, nobody could responsibly employ them. People's investment and savings depend on them at least doing due diligence. Why should we be given less in a supposed democracy relying on its voters being informed?

    It's gratifying that Pinstripe Hartcher has finally fallen out of love with Abbott, and other reporters are doing their job. Abbott is no more hollow now than he was 5 years ago. Why was it not reported.

  6. Bad link to Elder GD

    1. Sorry about that, anon. As an oldie I'm still learning this hyperlinks thingo and I'll keep working on it. The actual URL if you couldn't reach it is


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