(Above: always more Pope here).
What could have inspired David Pope to produce such a lovely image?
Ah, there it is:
The pond has always been inclined to perversity, and so it seems admirable that Bishop should defend the indefensible, to whit, Campbell Newman, the Queensland government and the reef, Tony Abbott and the reef, and the spluttering, whittering Greg 'wiki the walri' Hunt and the reef ...
Of course it only took a nanosecond for a horde of journalists to drag out a horde of scientists saying she was a clown fish lurking in a reef skull - for example, Peter Hannam's Great Barrier Reef will be 'slaughtered': scientists dismiss Julie Bishop's claim reef not at risk (forced video at end of link).
In fact, right at the moment, the pond is struggling to keep up with the farcical headlines that keep surging into the world. Yesterday there came this one too:
What a preposterous headline ... why, emissions are their speciality, and sure enough when you read Australia one of only four nations forecast to miss 2020 emissions target, you quickly realise that it's an international conspiracy involving the UN's attempt to introduce covertly a world government, using climate science ...
At least you do if you live in paranoid Murdoch la la land ...
Sometimes the headlines paired off:
Oh no, could it get any more desperate? Why next thing you know the parrot will be proposing that Tony Abbott be dropped in a chaff bag and drowned at sea ...
Naturally the reptiles at the Oz scurried to the scene to attempt to repair the damage, and to point the finger at the Kenyan socialist who'd started all the fuss:
Look, there's prattling Polonius making a late bid for the pond's prize of a tin of desiccated coconut for the most boring member of the Oz commentariat. "No offence a good rule"? How can that work when a sandal-wearing luvvie hovers into view?
It's gotten so tough for some that they've begun to shriek 'enough already'.
Why there's Lenore Taylor making a spectacle of herself in Tony Abbott keeps digging himself in deeper, and it makes no sense.
Taylor wants Abbott to stop the digging, and where's the sense in that? What would every newspaper outside Murdoch la la land do for a story?
But the arguments with which Australia is now trying to berate America are truly ridiculous. And they are just drawing more domestic and international attention to our policy absences and inadequacies.
But you're just being a spoilsport Ms Taylor, ruining everyone's fun. If we've got the windmills, of course we must have loons that will tilt at them ... that's the natural order.
According to conservative commentator Andrew Bolt, it has to “change or die”. Some of his advice is probably good – to concentrate on the domestic agenda and to give up on some fights it cannot win. But Bolt also berates Abbott because “he’s given up the fights for free speech and workplace reform, and dares not openly challenge the [global] warming hysteria.” In other words, Bolt reckons the government should dig harder, be more ideological and intransigent.
I disagree. I think it would be better, politically and in the interests of good policy and general sanity, for the government to stop digging for a while.
What? And then we won't be able to learn how Vegemite is sponsoring world terrorism?
Enough of this spoilsport attitude. It's Saturday and there are other fish to fry. Now usually the pond would sample a typical member of the ratbag Oz commentariat. Like Chris Kenny:
Yes, it's a typical dim-witted Kenny effort, along the lines of "why is this intertubes still a thing?"
It's luddite gibberish, but then that's Kenny's speciality, and he spent the first half explaining why the ABC shouldn't get into digital. What's wrong with valve radios?
Then came this pathetic serve of parochialism:
Yes, move to Adelaide and the cardigan-wearing socialists will meet real people ... South Australians, from Adelaide ...
Ah, it's the old BAPH states carry-on, the same sort of stupid bleating about eastern staters that's been doing the rounds since the pond first discovered the mysteries of Light Ent at the ABC ...
The pond would love to spend all day with Kenny explaining how stories about the aunts on the verandah and tales of cats and wisteria have limited appeal to a wider demographic that's more urbanised than ever, but a bigger, cataclysmic event overwhelmed that narrative.
You see the reptiles have reached a deep, existential crisis, a point of complete and utter despair, and it's on view in the lizard Oz editorial today.
All the cheerleading, all the forelock tugging, all the hopes and expectations, where has it got them?
Let's look at how it cranks into gear, here, and outside the paywall for your pleasure and potent political examination.
They're doomed, doomed, we tells ya:
Limply? Losing the battler? Risks becoming a "oncer"?
A shambles? Deficiency that can't be masked or ignored?
What's interesting is that this is also a confession that the kool-aid drinkers have failed. All that massaging, all that heroic propaganda, has been deployed in the service of dud goods. It's a pitiful cry for help.
Just roll it around on the tongue, and you'll discover a pleasing complexity: talking points and three-word slogans can never suffice ...
Sheesh, now they've worked it out? Now?
Yes, it's the reptiles doing a Bolter, with high gravitas and great resentment. It's just one step short of a tap on the shoulder and a demand that Abbott vacate his seat for Julie Bishop.
On and on the editorialist rants about this maddening man's maddening government, which has lost its authoritative voice, and is beset instead by a communications malady:
Ah, a re-boot. Let's hope it works better than a Mac re-boot. But do go on (and on and on, if you will):
Mr Abbott is unable to capitalise on the past fortnight of global prestige and successful trade diplomacy. Readers can only imagine how Paul Keating would have conceptualised the Brisbane gathering and the economic might that accompanied it. The former prime minister would have been clever, shameless and over-the-top. He would never have succumbed to the low-rent fearmongering of radio barker Jones on the FTA or Chinese investment. Mr Keating would have had the wit to link the recent trade deals with China, Japan and South Korea — and the possibility of closer ties to emerging India — to a grand narrative about our future in the region, investment, rising living standards, jobs, aspiration and the need to keep opening our eyes, hearts and reform ambitions in the face of Asia’s economic transformation.
Oh that's just too cruel, too unfair. Fancy comparing Abbott to Keating. What? Won't we get a musical? Can it get any worse?
It is true that the conservative side of politics does not trumpet its successes in the manner of the Left. Certainly, Mr Abbott was right to recognise that the electorate had lost patience with the extravagant verbiage of the Rudd-Gillard era. But there is a sweet spot between overblown rhetoric and the dot-point banalities pumped out by the PMO and the Coalition’s advisers. John Howard proved that he not only had convictions and a framework for action, he also knew how to speak directly to voters; he used the tools and media outlets that suited his purpose. Mr Howard was not universally loved, but he built a solid relationship with the Australian people because he argued his case from first principles. His words and his political persona were one and the same; no one thought he was taking his cues from a focus group or party official. The same thing was true for Bob Hawke, another authentic voice in our politics who was able to speak past his enemies and directly to voters.
Oh no, not John Howard. Oh dear sweet absent lord, not Hawkie ...
While Mr Abbott is just as intelligent as his predecessors, he is languishing and looks flaky. He lacks the appeal of “comfortable and relaxed” Mr Howard or the everyman charisma of “Hawkie”, whose narrative of consensus united the nation.
Looks flakey. Languishing ...
Okay, the pond can work out where this is heading. The pond has no interest in sport, but has seen certain sports movies, where the coach has a final chance to address the team, appeal to the captain. It's a two minute warning, it's a time out. The coach is impassioned. She grabs the captain by the shirt-front, and gives him a good shirt-fronting.
Harden the fuck up man. You've got two minutes to win this game. You'd better do a cabinet shuffle, roll the dice, regroup, pull yourself together.
In the old days, a smack across the chops might have been thrown in, just to bring focus. For fuck's sake are you a girly man? Get out there and lead:
The Prime Minister can prevail, but he needs to show courage and leadership. One suggestion for capitalising on the G20 goodwill comes from former treasurer Peter Costello. He argued that going for growth, in line with the Brisbane Action Plan, does not depend on Mr Obama, Mr Putin or faceless officials; it’s up to the leaders of countries, such as our own, to repair their budgets and deregulate industries. “A government serious about reform might use such statements to educate and persuade its own constituency,” Mr Costello argued. “But the business of economic reform is hard, specific and local.”
Sheesh, is that the best the coach has got? Silly old Petey boy? Let's ask the tough questions, let's check the hardness quotient:
Is Mr Abbott hard enough? Without a clear narrative, the task will be beyond him; his communications strategy is in disarray. The Coalition needs skilful media personnel and new roles for its best ministerial performers; it must communicate like a team that knows what it is doing. Short-term tactical wins may offer a mood hit in the executive wing, but they are not the key to sustained governing. Mr Abbott must regroup, trust himself and speak with purpose. Right now, his insipid default setting is losing the people.
Yep, it's just one step short of a tap on the shoulder and a demand that Abbott step down. Instead over Christmas, he must do a re-shuffle - find "new roles for its best ministerial performers".
It has dawned on the Murdochians that Abbott isn't just losing the people, he's lost the people, at least to the extent that matters in an election.
What's produced this existential crisis? Well the reptiles take the reading of the runes seriously, and the last Newspoll was something of a disaster.
The latest Newspoll survey, conducted exclusively for The Australian at the weekend, reveals that the Prime Minister, after two weeks of being overseas or consumed by international affairs, has suffered a fall in satisfaction as his government’s primary vote dropped to a four-month low of 36 per cent.
At 39 per cent, Labor’s primary support is higher than the government’s for the first time since July, when the Coalition was being punished by voters for a poorly received budget. Labor’s core vote has jumped by three points in the past fortnight and is six points higher than when it lost the election 14 months ago.
The Coalition’s primary vote fell two points to its lowest level since July, has fallen by five points since mid-September and is nine points lower than at the election. (no link, it'll only lead to a begging letter from the paupers of the press)
All this while Bill "zinger" Shorten lands punches on shadows ...
And so everyone has now got advice for Team Abbott, from the Bolter and the Parrot through the Oz editorialist, to Gra Gra Richardson, who took his eye off Swiss bank accounts long enough yesterday to offer some thoughts:
This week’s Newspoll gives Labor a 10-point lead. No matter how many times you hear the phrase “the only poll that matters is the one on election day”, you can be certain the consistency of the Labor lead is worrying every Coalition member.
Be they backbenchers or ministers, they all know that in the 14 months since the election, a Labor Party drowning in a well-deserved reputation for not being able to be trusted with the task of minding Australia’s bill has risen from the floor and is still able to land the odd punch.
The real story of this, though, is not Labor’s comeback. Self-inflicted wounds have been the government’s biggest problem.
That Tony Abbott ran a truly disciplined and relentlessly effective campaign against a politically incompetent government led by two hopeless Labor leaders in Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd was true until the last few months before the election. During that time discipline went out the window. Any hint of fiscal rectitude was sacrificed on the altar of electoral success.
Remember the endless — and one could say needless — promises. Health and education were the obvious ones. There would be no changes and no surprises. Even the dreaded ABC and SBS were to be quarantined from the savage cuts we expected to come.
Therein lies the problem. Just where did the Prime Minister and Joe Hockey think they were going to come from? Once they had ruled out new taxes there was only one way to deliver on the deficit and debt reduction built as the centrepiece of their campaign.
That meant the one thing they said they would never do was an absolute certainty. Abbott killed Gillard by reminding us every five minutes that she had told a great lie over carbon. “There will be no carbon tax under a government I lead” should be Gillard’s epitaph. Remember Abbott’s famous words — we will do what we say and say what we do.
And so on:
To have believed even for a second that an audit and a repetition of age-old and tired rhetoric would raise the budget brought down last May is a testament to political ignorance and the tyranny of distance — the million miles our PM and Treasurer seem to be from those battling in the suburbs, towns and farms.
There had not been nearly enough hard political slog done in trying to prepare the electorate for what was to come. This was the classic ambush and the electorate felt robbed. The number of broken promises grew too many to count. People stopped counting but they stayed angry.
According to Newspoll their fury is mounting, not dissipating.
Just for once, I am not sure we needed Newspoll to know how the government is travelling.
And Gra Ga was generous with his advice:
The government’s troubles don’t end there. Having talked up the deficit crisis it now appears almost certain it will have to face the people with a deficit considerably higher than the one it inherited from Labor. As iron ore and coal prices continue to decline, government revenues will inevitably decline with them. State and federal governments will be feeling the pinch. I can hear the bleating now about the fall in the terms of trade and how it was unexpected and how it wasn’t their fault. Think back to Rudd and Gillard fighting to keep us afloat when we were hit by the global financial crisis and remember how much quarter the then opposition gave them.
For what it’s worth I have some advice for our PM. Spending $500 million on the G20 in Brisbane may have made you feel good but I’m not sure the punters out in the real world are all that crazy about it. Photo opportunities galore won’t serve you. There needs to be a major rethink about this government’s approach. One iron rule in politics is that you can’t fight on too many fronts. The last budget opened up fronts across the board and you are not politically strong enough to fight them all. Stop pussyfooting with that stupid PPL scheme. Don’t promise delay, just say it can wait until the budget is in better shape. Take a leaf from your political hero’s book. Take the co-payments to an election. If you approach Australians honestly and explain the extent of the health cost blowout, umbilically connected to the ageing of the population, you might get back some of your reputation for honesty.
Finally, do Denis Napthine a favour. Stay away from Victoria until after Saturday week. It is interesting that Labor’s big lead in Newspoll rests on a massive advantage in Victoria.
There you go Ms Taylor, you see. You're telling Abbott and jolly Joe and others to stop digging, the Oz editorialist is telling them they're hopeless, and Gra Gra is telling them to get out of town until the heat blows over ...
But, and it's a very big butt, billy goat, what if it's a dud team, with a dud captain? How will the coaching help? What if they keep on copping a walloping?
If by a miracle, they did fix up their game, where would all the funny headlines go? Would Vegemite stop financing terrorism?
Ah well, never mind, all this after Abbott had a chance to shine on the world stage ... and all this as Julie mounts such a noble defence of Tony, Campbell, the reef and Greg 'wiki the walri' Hunt.
How could it go so wrong. Let us turn to Cathy Wilcox, who is more fun than a poll (and more Wilcox here)
Now where did the parrot put that chaff bag ...