Month: January 2015

Abbott’s moonlight flit to Iraq, leaves home fires burning.

abbott talks to military in Iraq

A spokesman for Mr Abbott blamed security for keeping the media off the trip. “Due to security measures, there was very limited capacity to facilitate any movements of Australian media in Baghdad and the international zone during the Prime Minister’s visit yesterday,” he said.

“The PM’s office did attempt to obtain the necessary approvals for media but it wasn’t possible for this visit to Baghdad.

“Any suggestion the Prime Minister’s office ‘excluded media’ is patently untrue.”

Australian politics took an intriguingly mysterious turn recently when Tony Abbott slipped out of Australia on his own top secret mission to Iraq without telling anybody. It was all very hush-hush, so cloak and dagger that he could brief no-one, not even Tony’s Turd Polishers, his own media unit. Peta Credlin remained under the radar. Australians had to learn from Iraq what their PM was up to.

Masterfully, the PM also excluded the Australian media crew on standby in Dubai, permitting no independent footage to be garnered and ensuring no Australian journalists popped up with awkward questions. This also, however, guaranteed him a hostile domestic reception on his return and damaging questions about censorship and the breaking of promises he had previously made to the reporters stationed in Dubai.

Abbott’s mission was a minefield of awkward questions he typically thought best to side-step.

Questions thronged thickly around Abbott’s mutual morale-boosting joint appearance with Iraqi counterpart, US puppet Haider al-Abadi, another impotent ‘Prime Minister’ who recently announced the discovery of 50,000 ‘ghost soldiers’ on the Iraqi payroll. Although no one knows how many Iraqi soldiers are being paid but not turning up to duty, this was a reality shock for Albadi, matched only by his discovery after his dodgy election that no Iraqi has the slightest interest in taking him seriously and that his power is proscribed by Shiite militias and their political counterparts embedded in his corrupt and failing government. He was there to pocket US dollars and follow instructions.

Other pressing questions avoided for the meantime included: what on earth is Australia doing propping up an American stooge, a prime minister in name only who is presiding over a hopelessly corrupt regime which condones death squads and other acts of terror against Sunni civilians? What purpose is served in propping up an illegitimate puppet who has little real authority over an Iraq which exists now in name only?

Why are we now talking of increasing our troop deployment? The PM announced that he doesn’t rule out committing more troops to Iraq yet he said he had no intention of committing ground troops two months ago? Why has Abbott come out and criticised the US for the hash it made of rebuilding Iraq?

Questions out of the way, Wing (nut) Commander Abbott made his dash. His political career in freefall, Abbott, kitted out in a bomber jacket, activated Plan B for Baghdad, scrambling himself, his eternally brunette Ken Doll, Defence Minister, Kevin Andrews, who was to pretend for the first time in his life to have any remote interest in the military, and a News Corp camera crew and the odd photographer. The chief of defence, Air Chief Marshall, Mark Binskin was also on board to add credibility to official Australian propaganda photographs.  It was also thought it might be handy to have someone who could shoot back should the mission come under fire at any point.

Pausing only as long as it took to tuck $5 million dollars into one flying boot and to flash a two-fingered victory sign at a flabbergasted but grounded Bishop from the cockpit, Abbott stole away at the crack of dawn.

Abruptly, unkindly left behind to keep the home fires burning and to front the nation’s TV cameras entirely un-briefed, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop flapped about like a stranded guppy. The Princess Mesothelioma was forced to fall back on her native wit and intuition, an excruciating situation for both herself and the nation. She was asked what PM thought he was up to.

Vamping whilst running one hand through her own exquisitely gamin styled coiffure, Bishop raised an eyebrow whilst she inspected the immaculate nails of her other hand. She supposed, she said airily, the PM knew what he was doing but it was not for her to second-guess Mr Abbott on yet another vital mission (abortive PR stunt) but if she’d known they were going to be keeping up appearances, she’d have let them borrow her spare hair-dryer and a bit of eye-liner and some lippy. (Julie and Kev often swapped beauty routine tips, like keeping on top of your grey roots and how it was vital not to let oneself go.)

After she had downed the odd glass of bubbly, Foreign Minister Bishop seized her opportunity and issued statements contradicting the PM’s lie that he was invited by the Iraqi government. Abbott said we would fight in Iraq to stop ISIL coming to Australia. Bishop said she didn’t know what he was talking about; ‘no request has been received,’ she said implying that he didn’t know either.

Abbott knew exactly what he was doing. Like a rat deserting a sinking ship of state, he fled Australia, prudently choosing not to help out local fire fighters in Victoria or South Australia lest his presence provoke spontaneous outbreaks of bomb-throwing, shirt-fronting, booing or other hostile popular reactions such as might compromise his personal safety. He would visit when all danger was safely past. Besides, he reasoned to no-one in particular, the National Interest didn’t look after itself and was known to take unkindly to neglect. And fires are dangerous.

Whilst being burnt alive is not always a negative career move, Abbott’s handlers discouraged the martyrdom option, richly attractive as it may now appear to the condemned PM and advised him to shun public places, for as long as possible, at least on the domestic front. The PM’s popularity is now lower than a snake’s prolapsed belly, so low, indeed, that these days that his diary is full of people, dates and places to avoid, such as the recently announced Queensland state election, the entire studio complex at 2GB and everyone at the ABC except for Lee Sales and any others Mark Simkin says is OK.

Abbott’s clandestine, ‘Black Ops’, top secret sortie was a fully-fledged ripping yarn fit for the pages of a Biggles’ story, The White Fokker, perhaps. His staff, such as remained after his latest PMO ‘reforms’, sworn to secrecy, remained tight-lipped and would only allude to ‘pressing security reasons’ for keeping the trip top secret. Just as it was a matter of national security preventing any explanation why the media were excluded. The National Interest was not invoked but it stood close by expecting a salute.

Secrecy, of course feeds speculation and rumour. Imagine the vital productivity lost to the nation were it to be known in advance that the PM had left to visit another dangerous world trouble-spot. Millions would take the week off work to celebrate. Eric Abetz, George Brandis and the IPA would instantly draft legislation prohibiting time off except on statutory holidays and Clive Palmer would be talked around to supporting it because it would further cheapen the cost of his own large labour force. Joe Hockey could weigh in with a sensitive ‘poor people don’t take holidays because they don’t own cars.’ Hunt could claim that the windfall of the repeal of the carbon tax ensured that all families could afford expensive luxury cruises. And so it would continue.

Imagine, Warren Entsch would wag his finger, the explosion in violence from home-grown and imported mental defectives and other ‘Jihadist terrorists’, who might exploit the Great Helmsman Abbott’s absence from Australia and run amok, following the spin-doctors’ thoughtfully provided script.

Others may argue that the PM was on hand in Sydney at our last ‘brush with terror’, for all the good it did. All that could be said was the lame argument that Abbott had strapped his buckler on to deal with the main threat at its source and that mouthing platitudes about ISIS being evil in Iraq would eliminate entirely any further domestic terror brushes.

The truth is both complex and prosaic. Abbott needed a boost, and Haider Al-Abdadi, our man in Baghdad, needed at least one other friend in the world. Baghdad is on hand to offer Abbott peer support from other like-minded cronies, other similarly scurrilous, self-interested, discredited merchants of mendacity who will happily laugh long at your jokes until your money runs out.

Abbott, moreover, has much in common with the Iraqi PM, including an embarrassing British citizenship, a capacity for self-delusion, political impotence and a disturbing lack of popular support.

Baghdad, home of the Arabian Nights, is a post-modern fabulist’s paradise, and may take out top honours this year as bullshit capital of the world, although the title is always keenly contested. Canberra, itself, of course, boasts some cred in this area. What richer setting then to repeat the nonsense that Australia is in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi government? What more fertile site to reiterate the Abbott crusade against evil? Against the ‘death-cult ISIS? Where better to wear one’s new bomber jacket?

Modern Baghdad, a collective delusion, in the same way that the entire state of Iraq is a convenient fiction, exists almost solely in the minds of those vested interests whom it suits to support its existence. The perfect home away from home for any compulsive liar with quasi-military aspirations and in bed with Big Oil, Halliburton and multinational capitalists, Baghdad appeals greatly to Abbott, but this alone does not explain his trip. Nor does mingling with kindred spirits.

Whilst Abbott has, indeed, been bonding with his peers, a select group comprising other hopelessly ineffectual leaders of another morally bankrupt regime on the brink of extinction, the flying visit was wholly for domestic consumption. The PM is hoping to show his own nation, if not himself, that he is still a vital force. It pays to have as few observers as possible in case anyone starts laughing.

Abbott is counting on a visit to Iraq injecting a little special something into his flaccid career. He is desperate to stem his rocketing disapproval. He wants to give the old action PM routine another spin, this time, as before repeating the palpable lie that Australians are much safer at home if we attack Iraqis overseas. All we need do is ‘knock off’ ISIS in Iraq and we will all be so much safer in our beds in Sydney. And we are morally obliged to help Iraqis take up arms in the fight against evil ISIS.

So far the visit has been an incredible runaway success: Abbott has also been able to slip A$5 million in ready cash into an eager Iraqi palm. Such a piddling amount is likely to be punted away in a night at a Baghdad casino but it proves that Abbott is right on the money when it comes to making the right sorts of gestures.

Abbott’s junket also got him away from having to answer embarrassing questions about why he lied about renouncing his British citizenship. A document search obtained under FOI indicates that there was no renunciation from Tony aka ‘The Great Prevaricator’ Abbott. It looks serious. The Australian Constitution will not allow any Australian who holds dual citizenship to be Prime Minister, but a quick dash to Iraq buys Abbott a distractor if not a bit of thinking time as well as offering priceless photo-opportunities with the boys (and girls) and other opportunities to pose as a world statesman, even if he can’t give our troops a decent pay rise any more than he can be honest with the Australian people about his intention to increase our troop numbers in Iraq or the fact that he is still a British citizen and constitutionally prohibited from being Australia’s Prime Minister.

Julie Bishop eyes off Tony Abbott’s job as he drags government down even further.

Abbott's bad look at Julie Bishop

Anthony John Abbott, Australia’s kamikaze pilot Prime Minister continues to drag the LNP coalition deeper into disaster and defeat, plumbing new depths of disappointment, unpopularity and disapproval. Those who have vested interests in the longevity of an LNP government are increasingly talking of alternatives such as Julie Bishop, most recently air-brushed in the Murdoch press as heiress apparent in the faint hope of restoring at least enough support for the ‘safe seats’, such as Pyne’s seat of Sturt not to change hands in 2016.

By December the Coalition’s primary vote had slipped to 38 per cent while Labor’s had risen to 39 per cent, indicating a two-party preferred result of 54-46. Analyst, Andrew Catsaras identifies a 7.5 per cent primary vote swing against the Abbott government since the election. Three-quarters of it has gone to Labor; one-quarter to the Greens

Switching the figurehead, however, is not going to help; not going to change the course of the SS Team Abbott. Not only is the electorate underwhelmed overall, it is clear that in vital quarters, such as women voters, for example, Abbott and his team have inspired an intense, implacable hostility.

That hostility continues to expand with each adverse move the government takes towards caring, towards compassion, towards responsible government for all. Switching ‘Mad-Dog’ Scott Morrison to Social Services was, in itself, a massive rebuff to all who value caring in our society.

News items such as Morrison’s recent threat to the Moreland Council’s authority to bestow citizenship because they left his immigration slogans out of the ceremony serve only as further nails in his coffin. Morrison could not leave Immigration without a swift kick to the belly of those who oppose cruelty, torture and indefinite detention in the name of the Australian people.

Abbott does not know how to lead a government. The consensus across the nation, even amongst supporters is that ‘Tony-one-note’ may have been an impressive wrecking machine in opposition but he is dangerously out of his depth in the deeper waters of leadership; now that he make must meet more complex demands such as making policy, exercising authority and showing real leadership. And unlike his past, where others have always got him out of trouble, Abbott must now wear the responsibility which comes with the highest office. It is not an easy fit. He is clearly, by temperament, most suited to inflicting damage but now he needs to be in damage control mode, he can’t find the switch.

Abbott, the unlikely rising contender distinguished himself rather more for his manic ambition, his dogmatic negativity, his chauvinism, his bottom-feeding misogyny and his chutzpah, his outrageous often ludicrous audacity, than any particular skill or commanding intellectual depth or breadth.

No, Abbott gained attention by other means, by stooping low, easily our lowest stooping Prime Ministerial candidate in Australian political history. He Limbo-danced, (how low can you go?) his way into the short-attention-span, shallow end of the pool of popular consciousness.

Yet pandering to popular prejudice and other forms of stooping to seek approval has proved a two-edged sword for Abbott and his government. His notorious support from toxic quarters set up a reciprocal axis which has infected his personal approval and his government’s legitimacy. The damage has been done by his alliance with Piers Akerman, Andrew Bolt and other tabloid hacks in Murdoch’s press and his mateship with far right Sydney shock jocks such as Alan Jones, who indulged his own personal hatred of women with a public ‘ditch the witch and Juliar‘ persecution. The pigeons have come home, if not to roost, at least to defecate all over his reputation.

Now Tony One Note has been catapulted into power by the decline of the Labor government, and by a series of whopping lies and simple slogans and big backers, Abbott’s Team Australia most notable achievement is the consistency with which it malfunctions and underperforms, disappointing its wealthy supporters by behaving more like an opposition than a government. Swinging a wrecking-ball at anything environmental, for example, may well appeal to his vengeful side, and brownie points from the sclerotic, climate-denying rump of his parliamentary party, but it wins him no new political capital.

A competitive over-achiever, fuelled by an almost paranoid anxiety, Brown-coal Abbott has now reached the point where he is glancing nervously over his shoulder as he poll after poll delineates his accelerating political decline.

Waiting in the wings, according to Rupert Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph is the heiress apparent, Julie Bishop, aka Princess Mesothelioma an ambitious Adelaide blueblood from the same set which gave us Alexander Downer, a woman with strong connections to old money whose political star is rising in a murky, if not downright stygian firmament.  The elevation is interesting for its pitch. Deciding wisely not to put an intellectual or outstanding record first, the Telegraph has opted for a glamorising the woman in Julie rather than the person or the politician.

111 Bishop photo shoot

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has appeared in her most glamorous photograph yet, posing in a Giorgio Armani dress and heels.

The justification offered by Ms Bishop is that she used the shoot to deliver a serious message about the gender divide in Canberra: “I wish there were more women in Cabinet. I think women make a great contribution to discussions; they offer a different perspective.” Especially if they twerk like Miley Cyrus, the feral Telegraph reader adds reading between the lines.

Women in power, Bishop assumes we all accept, regularly use photo-shoots to offer insightful observations of grave and profound nature as she has chosen to offer. Bishop’s world-view and her presumption usefully free her from deigning to expand on what her ‘different perspective’ amounts to. Or if it’s heeded.

That’s because Bishop’s different perspective amounts to nothing or less than nothing when you look at her record. Bishop, of course, has used this line before. Her claim has been that despite being the only woman in cabinet, up until the recent reshuffle, she spoke out; she made her opinion known. Perhaps that’s why the government has used her portfolio like a piggy bank, raiding it whenever they need to honour other commitments such as the insultingly paltry $200 million to the UN Green Climate Fund 9 December. We now have the lowest spending on overseas aid on record. On top of 7.6 billion cuts already announced, Abbott will now cut a further 3.7 billion over 4 years. Bishop has no funds to do anything and countless former aid recipients who feel betrayed, hurt and abandoned by the Foreign Minister and her government.

Bishop has now just broken her commitment to the women of the Pacific, a cause she has claimed is dear to her heart, a commitment which she had assured all parties was rock-solid. Why? It’s because her patriarchal party’s cabinet has raided her fund. You may tell us you have the ear of the cabinet, Ms Bishop, but the evidence is so damningly  to the contrary, that all you do is injure your credibility further. Unless of course, you bank on exclusive brands and your glamour, a commodity which the Telegraph suggests continues to increase:

What other qualifications does this daughter of the Adelaide toffocracy, have on Abbott’s job? The Daily Telegraph is keen to explain that Bishop is a woman who has not bartered her femininity to achieve success. The photo shoot could have fooled many of us. But in the sense that the Telegraph readers love, they can be assured that Julie has kept up her appearance and looks a treat. Of course, as Victoria Rollinson notes, in 2007 Bishop confirmed her abhorrence of just being a fashion-plate.

“I don’t think it’s necessary to get dressed up in designer clothing and borrow clothing and make-up to grace the cover of magazines… You’re not a celebrity, you’re an elected representative, you’re a member of parliament. You’re not Hollywood and I think that when people overstep that line they miss the whole point of that public role.”

So it’s just a line between Hollywood and democratic public life, Ms Bishop? It seems the lady doth protest too much. The Courier Mail has the last word on this element of Bishop’s designs.

‘Dignified yet determined, Ms Bishop has succeeded where Julia Gillard failed, by showing that women can perform at the highest levels of political office without either hiding behind their gender or sacrificing their femininity. A passionate advocate of women, Ms Bishop believes in merit-based promotion, and her own hard work is now reaping rewards, both on the international stage and in domestic polls. And the damage done by Ms Gillard to the public perception of women in leadership roles is slowly being healed as voters regain confidence that a female politician can deliver’.

Bishop then has made clear that she is not a feminist. She chooses to look at the world through another lens, she claims. She doesn’t self-identify as a feminist, as she puts it, her backhanded vacuity trivializing feminism as a matter of image or an adjective one might employ in one’s PR material. Yet Bishop happily accepts all of feminism’s gains, whilst being so airily dismissive.  She does not, it seems understand that a career in politics for women owes much to historical feminists’ struggles. Oblivious also to her privileged career, she asserts that she has never had any trouble getting what she wants. Clearly, in her eyes, feminism is an optional extra for other women; women of lesser ability than herself.

Waiting in the wings, pursued by a rabidly partisan press, supported by backers anxious they may have done their dough on a dud in Tony Abbott, Julie Bishop has little or no other claim on the leadership. But that didn’t stop Tony Abbott. Bishop’s over-hyped record of success as Foreign Minister is patchy but she enjoys good press. The undertakings to Obama about the astonishing health of the Barrier Reef and the amazing record of the Abbott government in protecting it were probably brushed aside but the Bishop-backers would count this another stellar moment where the little woman stood up for herself against the big bully of the world. Bishop’s talking up of her tough talk with Putin was a great spin on what amounted to a flogging with a wet lettuce. it was another entirely ineffectual encounter: Putin continued ‘putin’ on Bishop either not computin’ or spinning like a dervish.

Spin, or rather hyper-spin, if we may be permitted to spin spin itself, of course is a tactic not confined to Bishop alone in the beleaguered Abbott government; indeed, its slogan could well be ‘It don’t mean a thing if ain’t got that spin …’ with apologies to Duke Ellington and it is a terminal addiction not merely because it is so transparently far-fetched, but because the spinners appear to be taken in by their own spin.

Make no mistake, Julie Bishop is very ambitious. But, so too, was Tony Abbott. Bishop may come into the top job by default, as he more or less did with Labor’s collapse, an event he had more than a hand in. But that doesn’t make the Princess Mesothelioma qualified to lead. Indeed, all the evidence so far, suggests that she is only just treading water in Foreign Affairs. Jumping, however glamorously, into the top job would be getting her into very much deeper water.

Tony Abbott’s New Year Resolutions

abbott's resolutions

Dear Mr Abbott,

Commiserations. Wish we could wish you a happy new year. We can’t. it won’t wash. Everything’s against it. Rupert’s rubbished you. Bolt’s become a blistering barnacle. Even lame, tame, Piers ‘party parrot’ Akerman is on the attack. The economy is nose-diving. Unemployment soars. Export receipts are plummeting. A plunging oil price threatens international capital and world financial stability. Balancing the budget? Even Joe Sooky concedes that you will break that promise too.

It’s not as if you’ve been doing nothing, as you say. You’re busier than a cat watching two rat-holes: with your neo-liberal tea party attacks on welfare, your trashing of the environment, your scorning of climate science, (and most other science), and your persecuting of refugees; your assaults on the elderly, the frail and the needy.

Meanwhile cyborg Employment Minister Eric Abetz, another 1950s throwback, readies Work-Choices off-stage and there will be hell to pay when that cat is debagged. But nothing much has come to anything; really achieved anything you wanted, or like yourself, will ever amount to much. So much on; so little to show.

So here’s a New Year’s resolution or two, just in case you don’t get time to do your own. Like talking points, really. You’ll get the hang of it. But first, a word in your ear.

Prime Minister, there is no nice way of putting this. You are beyond saving. Beyond redemption. No resolution will help you hang on to power, get re-elected or ever be trusted but it might tide you over until the end. The end is certain, whether you are wiped out in the next election, or you are impaled on Peta Credlin’s size 11 stiletto heel, you skewer yourself on a sharpened bicycle spoke, or you are lost in the surf at Portsea. You are going nowhere, and it shows.

In the meantime, here are a few tips. It’s not all positive, Mr Abbott, but it can’t be helped. There’s so much you must cut out.  Let’s start with ‘getting the message out.’

Stop parroting ‘ we must get the message out’. The message is out. Australians get you loud and clear: we just don’t like what we see and hear. Messaging, moreover, cuts both ways and you can’t speak out, reach out without first listening in. Your empty ‘messages’ are nothing but hollow reminders of your lack of credibility. Moreover, they waste time and energy. Beyond your spin cycle, your real messages are your words and deeds. Time to stop spinning, tune in and listen.

You are reactionary, backward-looking, ill-prepared and unfit to govern. That’s the message you convey. You can’t get away from it. The bad news, for you, is that voters get this message loud and clear. The good news is this leaves you a fair bit to work on.  Start by stepping out of the past.

Revering the past, continually referencing the past, just confirms you as yesterday’s man. Stop reminding us Howard faced adversity, too.

Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be. Your love affair with a mythical past signals an incapacity to deal with the present. Mention Menzies or hark back to Howard and you only earn yourself further derision for your presumption.  False analogies and parallels are dangerous. They make you look fat-headed and trapped in the past. Snap out of it. If you can’t face the future, at least look as if you know you need to focus on the present. Above all you need vision. Step up, stand out from your backward-looking, reactionary and regressive ministry. None of them can do anything but pull you down further like the undertow in the Portsea pier to pub in January.

Nostalgia saps your mindset, your weltanschauung, your shtick. ‘Turn back the clock’ might as well be your party slogan. You yearn for a 1950s Camelot ruled by Ming and Santamaria. You dream of a stable, comfortable, Australia of order and propriety. It never existed. It’s a wife in the kitchen, children in bed, slippers by the fire and pipe-dream, a fabrication based on myth and falsehood. More to the point, it is a dangerous delusion and a retreat from reality. Let’s get real about the 50s.

In the 1950s an intolerant, hypocritical, narrow society stifled individuality and oppressed difference. It was a racist, xenophobic, White Australia of privilege and entitlement ruled by Anglophile white males. No time to be a woman, or an ethnic minority, it was also an era of defensive nationalism in the face of new contact with outsiders; a time of acute cultural cringing and low national self-esteem. For many if not most, it was to be endured, suffered rather than celebrated or venerated. You want to put a bit of distance between yourself and the 50s.

Unfairness has hurt you most. The Australian people have long lost tolerance for you and your government. Your behaviour is unfair, reactionary, autocratic, anachronistic, backward-looking, untrustworthy and dishonest. You are gaffe-prone. You conspicuously lack what it takes to govern modern Australia, a diverse multicultural modern nation.  You lack independence, initiative and vision. You are putty in the hands of big business and big capital but you oppose anything which helps ordinary people.

You were quick to repeal the mining tax for your mate Gina Reinhart. But you are happy to raise the petrol excise and the cost of doctor’s visits for ordinary Australians. You have let Hockey go soft on his promise to chase multinationals who evade tax. It was too good to be true anyway. Hockey took the opposite position when in opposition. But you step up your spending on chasing dole frauds. You cut funds for the homeless. You oppose anything progressive like renewable energy or public transport on principle whilst you indulge reactionary movements like the world family congress and vested interests in your fantasy that you can turn back the clock. Take your sneaky back door re-introduction of Work Choices, for example.  Last week Eric Abetz crowed that he had “neutralised” Work Choices. He means it is far enough in the past for it to have faded in the public’s consciousness. And even despite your witch hunting Royal Commission into the unions, Work Choices will prove a dead parrot. Work Choices didn’t work under Howard and won’t work now. Economists will tell you low wages do not build GDP. And even if it’s a hit with your mates, your wealthy backers, it signals ‘mean and out of touch’.

Both of your two main achievements have been negative and both have helped us to hate you. You repealed a tax on carbon, a backward step which not only shrank budget revenue, it left us with no climate change policy and out of step with the rest of the world. You lied about its benefits to families. Despite your desperate spin, the carbon tax repeal has not lowered prices. But you continue to pretend that we are all $500 better off. Stop it.

Persecuting asylum seekers might stop some boats but it undoes a lot of good. And there are fewer votes in stopping the boats under Morrison than you count on. Time to stop. OK, you inherited the shameful off-shore detention camps but your boat turn-backs, your enhanced processing and all the cruelty revealed signals that you have taken persecution to extremes. It is cruel, covert and wrong. It flouts all decent principles of behaviour and thumbs its nose at the law. It screams inhumanity. It ignores our international commitments. There is a strange, disturbing zeal to it all, moreover, of loss of reason, sanity and plain good nature. Back up. Scrap the policy. Embrace humanity and honour our global responsibilities.

Granny- bashing, handbag-snatching is your real forte. It is, own up. You target defenceless groups, which are too weak and disorganised, unlike the miners, to fight back. You destroy their advocacy groups, silencing those who keep guard over a fair and decent society, groups who might challenge you or voice protest. You rob children of their futures by snatching environmental groups’ funding. You put a stranglehold on social, educational, health, research and advisory bodies. Any government which behaves in this way signals its own demise. People will reject you to protect themselves and the vulnerable. Any so-called savings in the area of welfare spending will cost you dearly.

Porting Australia into the past is future-proofing in reverse. It creates anxiety and a massive lack of confidence. You have declared open season on anything environmental, from laws to organisations. Your achievement amounts to wrecking anything enlightened or progressive whilst you venerate yesterday’s mistakes with your championing of coal. You lie about damage to the Barrier Reef.

Ask yourself: what have you really achieved? This question comes before claiming victory in fields, such as the economy being on the right track, when it is self-evidently a rout. So much of your media releases, your claims of victory contradict the population’s own perceptions. Much of what your ministers and spin doctors utter has the same theme: but you’re wrong you know. Putting a false spin on your ‘achievements’ just makes you sound more dishonest, for example, the talking point about a strong economy. You talked it down. Your spending weakened it. Cut the spin. You can’t polish a turd without getting smeared in ordure yourself.

Cut the talking points. Your ministers are hard enough to listen to without having to endure endless repeats of empty, meaningless slogans every day. Your communications unit is no better than a galah if all it can do is get you to parrot clichés, slogans and banal talking points. First up it would be listening. Communication is a two way process, Mr Abbott. It is as much about taking messages on board as getting messages out. And you can’t simply relay the interests of other lobby groups such as the IPA, the Sydney Institute and others in the pay of vested interests.

Kick the IPA out of bed. It is funded by yesterday’s interests, mining and fossil fuels. And you let it keep details secret. How about requiring advisory boards, institutes, groups and agencies to provide clear details of their sponsors?

Mr Abbott, these New Year’s resolutions are tough medicine but you have so often told us you are up for it.  Your choice is clear. Either continue on your current disastrous course and steam straight into the iceberg of ignorance. (There won’t be many to rescue from the wreck.) Or you can take stock. Stop what isn’t working. Start listening. It’s too late to save your own career but it’s just possible that you may lessen the wreckage and destruction you inflict on the nation.