Month: March 2016

Niki Savva, Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin and the kiss of death to Liberal politics.


tony and margie mis-kiss

Former Peter Costello staffer, political commentator, veteran Canberra journalist Nikki Savva’s book The Road to Ruin, How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin destroyed their own government is a  carefully substantiated examination of the disastrous consequences of Tony Abbott’s surrender of his Prime Ministerial authority to his political dominatrix, his high-handed Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin.

By patiently interviewing an abundance of MPs, former staff, friends and other key players who were keen to place themselves on record, Savva documents Abbott’s abdication. He was a Prime Minister who gave up power the moment he won office. Failing to set up the right structures, personnel or processes to run a government he left it all to Peta.

Lacking any real qualification or personal attribute to be a Prime Minister, Abbott allowed his power-hungry, megalomaniacal adviser to do his job for him. It was an arrangement that suited both of them nearly two years.

After his first leadership spill where 39 MPs preferred an empty chair to their current PM; the his ‘near-death experience’ Simpkins and Randall, told Abbott MPs hated Credlin. She had to go. “Ah, mate, I can’t go there”, he replied.

Abbott indulged Credlin’s power tripping, tantrums, abuse of staff and due process at the expense of everything else, party, people and ultimately his own prime ministership. He ignored all warnings. He sided with her.

Victims of a Credlin tongue-lashing who complained ended up apologising to Peta who had to be appeased at all cost. Or simply left like Fiona Telford, after learning she was a ‘fucking useless bitch .. You don’t fucking know anything.’

Aided and abetted by a weak, inept boss whose co-dependency she nurtured, Credlin’s abuse of her position proved boundless. She even came to announce policy positions off her own bat, having bypassed such non-entities as press secretaries or prime ministers. She had the power of life and death, over staffers’ careers and aspired to the same with government ministers. Credlin ‘s Prime Minister’s Office became her court. You kept favour to keep your job.

Of course political disasters are never so simple. Savva is too much a creature of the right herself to allow that bad policies played a role in Abbott’s downfall, too. Savva may be brilliantly attuned to individuals within the Liberal machine but she is tone deaf to is slavish adherence to IPA inspired neo-con policy which sought to punish the poor that the wealthy might enjoy further tax cuts or the policy dictated by big business, especially mining and coal-powered energy. None of these helped Abbott’s record unpopularity with voters.

Nor did Abbott’s ministry exactly distinguish itself by its capability, but, apart from agreeing that Joe had to go, Savva is too blinkered by her Liberal affiliations to allow that other underperforming Liberal politicians such as Christopher Pyne and his botched Higher Education reforms helped Abbott undo his government.

Pro-Liberal bias aside, however, Savva makes a major contribution to Liberal political history at a time when no-one else is prepared to tell the truth. Is the rest of the Canberra press gallery too busy serving the interests of its media proprietors? Savva has the courage and the sources to create a powerful and damning critique of Abbott and his Chief of staff which helps explain the disastrous aberration in national politics that was the Abbott petticoat government.

For her pains, Savva has copped a lot of flak from those whose interests she attacks even if much of the attack is cheap, or wilfully misreads and misrepresents her work. One such howl from the affronted or hurt by the truth on the right is that the book is unsourced, salacious scuttlebutt. It is not.

On the contrary, Savva’s capacity to include first hand testimony, often of the lowly staffers, is one of her book’s strengths. When “megalomania kicked in”, we hear that impression first-hand. When Abbott canvasses Warren Entsch’s support we hear him tell his PM that he was “as opposition leader, he was a bloody disaster.”

Liberal MP Alex Somlyay tells Abbott that “goal kickers not head kickers” win games. “Yeah, mate, but I love kicking heads,” Abbott replies. Therein, Savva notes, lay the problem.

Protecting her sources meant that Savva could not consult Abbott or Credlin. Both complain loudly now. It is a disingenuous slur on her objectivity. What they mean is clear. Heads could have been kicked. Moreover, neither the former PM nor his former chief of staff lack access to the media. Credlin cultivated reporters.

Abbott ignored his colleagues, his party and its representative processes while abrogating power to his own office. Yet Credlin’s power trip went further. Within the PM’s office there was no division of responsibilities, there was a takeover.

Political advisers, policy advisers, administrative staff, decorators, even menu-planners saw Credlin take over. Then she took over the press secretaries’ jobs, too. Cabinet ministers had no access; their calls or emails to the PM’s office were ignored. Not only did it cause MPs’ resentment, it crippled government.

Credlin’s megalomania was as self-destructive as it was limitless. Abuse of a representative system to one side, her centralised chokehold on everything created an impossible workload; a command and control centre where nothing got done. Workflow slowed to glacial. Policy papers languished weeks in her in tray while she pored over plans for decorating The Lodge or seating plans at a dinner function.

Abbott and Credlin appear as a co-dependent pair of pathological liars and bullies trapped in a “Beelzebub’s bubble” of delusions of grandeur and lies. Their bubble remains un-pricked. Far from disgraced by Savva’s revelations, the pair today maintain they were betrayed by Bishop and Morrison. They were on the right path. Their record stands.  Their colleagues’ report, however, attests to a deep-seated corruption.

Along with Abbott’s wilful self-deception and fatal isolation from reality a rottenness was at his government’s core; a repudiation of its contract to act in good faith on behalf of the Australian people. Lies were its currency du jour while relationships degenerated into petty power plays based often on little more than petty jealousy or raging paranoia.

A rampant, mutual mistrust led to further double dealing and deceit to disempower rivals and to neutralise all threats. Credlin’s PMO would cynically and wilfully mislead outsiders. Julie Bishop was leaked against as were others perceived as rivals. Turnbull was set up to appear weak on defence. Canberra veteran, Laurie Oakes supports Savva who reports:

“I would check things with Abbott’s office and be misled. One press officer even boasted openly about fooling members of the press gallery.”

Telling truth to power is never easy. The forces supporting conservative politics in Australia are legion. Savva has been howled down by many on the right as peddling unsourced hearsay, idle gossip or muck-raking or sexist. Abbott’s publisher Louise Adler calls it a “self-serving revenge tale”.

The Road to Ruin is none of these things. For those who would simply read it, Savva is attempting to put the record straight. Her use of reputable primary sources sustains a compelling narrative and analysis albeit from a conservative perspective.

Abbott’s Liberal Party coalition came to power quite unprepared and unfit for the job. Elected less on policy than because they were not Labor, but with the noose of Abbott’s rash promise of “no cuts” like a noose over them, the Liberals in government were headed by a PM unable to move much beyond his sloganeering of opposition. He and Credlin retreated into their bubble determined to divide and conquer. In eighteen months it all fell apart. 39 MPs voted against him. Abbott promised changes he could never make. Good government, he said. Six months later, he was gone.

Good government required a leader who was informed, responsive to events, a PM who had a clear policy agenda and who took and sought advice from his colleagues. Instead, Abbott withdrew into his Chief of staff’s cocoon, engaged by little beyond flag-festooned national security scare campaigns, publicity stunts and stitching up his enemies. Prince Phillip’s knighthood and his other disastrous “captain’s calls” showed a costly bad judgement for which Savva suggests, he may not be solely to blame.

MPs quickly came to see they were not heeded and resented it. Above all Abbott’s other limitations, his lack of interest in economics, his impatience with detail, his tendency to shoot from the lip, his inept bungling of even minor issues as same sex marriage policy was his failure to heed good advice.

The Road to Ruin shows Abbott’s utter dependence on his adviser. Credlin encouraged him to believe she was indispensable. She exploited her position to control him. She openly declared he could not function without her. He seems to have believed her. The delusion betrayed them both.

Savva details how Peta Credlin’s abrasive, controlling personality and her domination of Abbott led her to assert a stranglehold over communications and vital decision-making in the PMO. Rather than protect him, as she claims, however, his Chief of Staff’s intervention exposed Tony Abbott to criticism, complaint even ridicule.

The command and control centralisation rankled. Some called the PM’s office The Kremlin. Even the Foreign Minister’s travel plans had to wait on his office’s approval, approval often delayed. Credlin also alienated Abbott’s colleagues, by treating them to displays of withering contempt.

Credlin summoned MPs after a bad day in parliament to rebuke them “why am I the only fucking person who can get things done around here?” It was a favourite Credlin theme. Savva details a dysfunctional PMO, which Credlin made into a toxic workplace in which staff were not only subject to unreasonable demands but who suffered terrible bullying.

Credlin sweated the small stuff because she was overwhelmed by the big. Yet she could monster others for their perceived failings. She was keen to eliminate female rivals including Abbott’s wife, Margie. “If you get any requests for briefings for Margie’s ladies’ lunches, it’s not going to happen,” she told a staffer, furious that Margie had been briefed on the entitlements and expectations of a PM’s wife. Credlin expressly forbade this. Why?

And where was Margie’s husband, Tony, when Credlin created this purdah for his wife? Complicit? Overruled? It seems he abdicated early as a PM and as a husband and father. His Jesuitical justification of his passivity only digs him in deeper. Policy-makers, such as himself were a breed apart, whose family duties were, he said: “Less to be role models as spouses and parents than to build the best possible conditions for families to flourish.”

When he needed to stand up for himself against Credlin, Abbott capitulated. But he had excuses. As the father of three daughters, he explained to staffer James Boyce, a bloke is wise to back off from an irrational female.

“He always found it was best not to fight back … better to accept what they were saying, apologise, then deal with the issue when things were calmer.”

Margie Abbott was regularly excluded from her own show; events which were her prerogative, as the Prime Minister’s wife, to attend. MPs out of favour were undermined; leaked against and manipulated.  So detailed were the leaks of her profligate expenses that Bronwyn Bishop says she knows they could only have come from one place.

Bishop continued believing that she had Tony Abbott’s support up until one hour before he announced her resignation. Media were briefed that once again, Abbott had ignored Credlin’s advice. Savva notes ironically that it is “funny that at the scene of every disaster it was made known that the chief of staff had nothing to do with it”.

MPs such as Greg Hunt who contested her will were subject to screaming matches. Hunt prevented her effective veto of the Climate Change Authority by standing his ground and citing the Westminster system to claim his authority as a government minister superior to any chief of staff.  Many, however, like adviser Jane Macmillan, were forced to leave, their careers in ruins, their confidence in tatters. The Credlin who boasted openly that Abbott could not do his job without her, helped drive a lot of female staffers to resign.

Much has been made of Credlin’s Svengali-like skill at moulding minding Abbott into an election winner and not all of it by Credlin herself. In a reverse take on Pygmalion, Abbott became a statue in a successful if robotic policy-free, scare-mongering election campaign. Abbott was OK if he could be made to stick to his script, a step he forgot in his SBS interview on the eve of electoral victory in which he wildly declared no cuts to anything.

Abbott’s SBS declaration undid his credibility and ruined any later chances of success as he struggled ineptly to cut government expenditure in line with his dry, IPA economic agenda.  Savva provides a clear case that most of the fatal errors in his government were committed in the first few weeks of office.

A loose cannon took charge of another loose cannon, in an erratic petty tyranny which exalted the power of the Prime Minister’s Office at the expense of effective, representative, policy-based government. Along with countless accounts of Credlin bullying MPs, Savva’s story records shocking examples of the PM’s capitulation to his advisor while she consistently over-reached her authority. Who was running the country?

By 27 November 2014, Credlin is able to inform the media that the GP co-payment is dead before even telling Abbott let alone any of his policy advisors. Abbott’s code for this was ‘an unauthorised briefing’ which was “code for a complete cock-up” by his office beginning with his chief of staff.  The PMO tail was wagging the junkyard dog.

In abrogating power to her office, moreover, Abbott and Credlin created a type of paralysis in which decisions were delayed or made without due consideration. It was a recipe for disaster which still haunts Liberal proceedings. Old habits die hard.

The Road to Ruin is a complex and alarming story of a Prime Minister who surrenders his authority to his erratic chief advisor while defending her from all criticism and appeasing her will on key decisions, a perverse loyalty and protectiveness which confounds and alienates his colleagues. It raises profound questions about Abbott’s capacity to assert his personal authority let alone exercise any effective Prime Ministerial leadership.

MPs found access to their PM blocked by his controlling Chief of Staff. Even writing Abbott a note was forbidden. All “paper”, an early Credlin directive states, must come to the PMO and not to the PM himself.

The more the flow was channelled into her office, however, the less she could deal with. MPs found their submissions ignored, delayed or summarily rejected.

Credlin’s obsession with petty detail at the expense of policy or any bigger picture, her temperamental outbursts are attested to by a series of political figures who witnessed or who suffered her tongue-lashing and cruel power plays.

The Road to Ruin is a compelling but disturbing portrait of a Prime Minister’s Office which usurped its advisory role.  Abbott encouraged his office to assume executive responsibilities and powers well beyond its proper role or its administrative capacity. It was a fatal over-reach, just as Abbott himself on being elected by accident and against all expectations Prime Minister quickly found himself imprisoned in a role vastly beyond his capabilities.

Beyond Savva’s portrait of a pathological PM’s Office, however, lies a Liberal Party in crisis. It has its rich and powerful friends in business and in the media who give it every advantage in gaining office. When it gains power, however, it is overwhelmed by its opportunities.

Abbott’s way of coping with a job well beyond him was to retreat into a type of centralised autocratic command centre and try to bluff his way through which did nothing to resolve any of the complexities of negotiating the competing demands and managing the conflicting interests that lie at the heart of any successful representative government.

His evasion of responsible leadership has not helped the Liberals develop adequate responses to challenging circumstances, including an economy which is stalling in a world which appears headed for recession.   Yet he, alone is not to blame. To read Road to Ruin as a scapegoating of Abbott and Credlin to boost the glorious triumph of Turnbull is to mistake symptom and cause.

The ill-fated two years of the Credlin captivity are but one symptom of a greater malaise in Liberal politics which finds itself now seeking re-election with neither policy nor past success to commend it. Pinning hopes on a presidential Turnbull, a PM who has yet to show he can organise a cup of tea would be to merely repeat and compound the Abbott error.


Kamikaze Abbott declares war on Turnbull.


abbott and turnbull

The week starts badly for evidence-based, people respecting government. Essential publishes a 50 50 poll result. Newspoll can no longer be so easily dismissed. Labor is up to 38% of the primary vote. Gone is the Coalition’s lead.

Health overtakes economic management as biggest single issue on voters’ minds just as ScoMo tells states to find the $80 billion his government cut from schools and hospitals, a view which his PM undercuts with covert patching up .

Leadership and coherent policy have collapsed in camp Turnbull . It is an irresistible opportunity for Abbott to hijack his PM’s agenda. The world is his onion.

“Banzai” screams Tony Abbott, adding a Nippon vibe to an otherwise tricky Liberal party room, Tuesday. Members snigger at him over Nikki Savva’s recently published expose of his “consuming obsession” with Peta Credlin and his politically suicidal decision to set up a Credlin shogunate above his prime ministership.

Twitter is all lit up with the sharing of favourite excerpts. The situation begs for a distraction and Abbott is up for a Kamikaze moment.

Freshly returned from Japan where he shirt-fronts China for bullying its neighbours, our self-appointed Foreign Minister claims our nation’s values are identical to Japanese, especially when buying their submarines via competitive evaluation or not getting stuck with a dud; a locally built barbed-wire canoe.

As ever Abbott-san is a true son of Nippon; a model of refined, studied, evasive understatement, right up to his final act of ritual political disembowelment.

“Banzai”, he shouts, lobbing policy Molotov cocktails into the Liberal Party’s campaign gunpowder barrel. Publicly, he rams his 2014 budget down his leader’s silver gullet, screaming it is time “for the leadership to take on the savings challenge again”. Four MPs pipe up in support of Abbott-san.

Explosions reverberate throughout the week, helping bring government to peak excitement. There has never been a better time to be an Australian Abbott biographer.  Abbott finds time to condemn Safe Schools for “social engineering”, although it was his own government’s initiative. Yet he has no time for Nikki Savva’s new book which holds that his own compact with Peta Credlin destroyed his government.

“I’m not going to rake over old coals, I’m not going to dwell on the past,” he says. Yet his actions prove he is incapable of anything else. He has been doing little else since Turnbull’s coup against him. Now nothing else is left him but resentment, revenge and massive self-destruction.

Abbott’s explosive devices may destroy his party’s chances in the next election but he’s “hell-bent on revenge and vindication”, sources say. He openly declares war on Malcolm who poses in the middle.

Cheering on the budgie smuggler is a right wing Risorgimento of assorted Monkey Pod nut-jobs, tea-potters, rent-seekers, climate change deniers and other sundry sore losers of the Abbott faction including Kevin Andrews, one of the few lucky enough to have had access to classified draft white papers on defence.

Abbott wants tax cuts AND spending cuts and a defence policy, like he and former Defence Minister Kevin Andrews  cooked up, which features new submarines before they can be built. He is, he says flabbergasted at hint of a more realistic timeline in Marise Payne’s White Paper.

Abbott repeats the word “flabbergasted” Rex Mossop-style in an interview with pal Greg Sheridan, The Australian’s foreign editor. Someone, not Tony, leaks Greg a page a defence white paper. It’s a bi-partisan issue and no-one is rude enough to rock the underwater boat or remember that delivery dates don’t matter. Defence contracts typically incur huge cost blow-outs and long delays.

Our F35s or the “flying turds” as they are known to their US pilots were going to cost $8 billion and would be delivered six years ago. Now, the best cost guess is between $19 billion and $24 billion, while full deployment is not expected before 2020. But Abbott doesn’t mean to get real. He is wedging his PM on tax and defence. No room here to ask why such lavish funds for defence and not health or education.

All eyes turn to Turnbull. Even Kevin Rudd did not inspire such insurrection. It cannot end well. Sighing, singing you are made me do it, I didn’t want to do it …Turnbull flogs Abbott with a limp lettuce leaf.

Turnbull publicly defends the former PM’s right to publicly contradict his own PM on policy which will be taken as an invitation to a further stoush and a recipe for further confusion, destabilisation and electoral damage. His Defence Secretary and other nobs put Abbott straight. There is no delay. Turnbull is no national security wimp. Onlookers are underwhelmed.  They are mesmerised by Abbott’s licence.

Why did no-one laugh in the big taxing, big spending Tony Abbott’s face? Under Abbott, taxes rose from 21.5% of GDP under Labor to 22.3% when he was ousted. Spending rose 1.8 percentage points of GDP to 25.9% of GDP. It reached 26.2% of GDP in the early months of this financial year. The onions which Abbott is dishing out are ones he could never eat himself.

Facts, however, count for little when mythologies clash. Nor are they helpful to what is essentially a destabilisation campaign. On the right is a former PM whose erratic leadership and poor decision making brought him undone after 23 months. Clueless about policy generally, let alone economics, Abbott squibbed the same austerity budgeting he now claims he wears “like a badge of honour”.

In the other corner, also on the right or in the pocket of the right despite the small l Liberal badge, cowering, an abject captive of the right since his coup, is our current incumbent, a PM whose indecision and timidity have left a policy and leadership vacuum for Abbott to exploit. And not just Abbott, Scott Morrison shows utter contempt for parliamentary proceedings with a very dodgy document.

Morrison torpedoes the government’s case against negative gearing by confusing some highly dubious privately commissioned BIS Shrapnel rat-poison propaganda for Labor’s negative gearing policy. Shrapnel is cited to prove that Labor policy would destroy every family across the nation.

Who commissioned such a shocker? The Grattan Institute’s CEO John Daley says it is “manifestly ridiculous.” Shrapnel won’t say. Would any other PM have allowed his treasurer to proceed with it?

Daley says Shrapnel “doesn’t pass the giggle test”. It dramatically over-estimates the effect of tax on land prices, to begin with. Its embrace confirms Morrison’s contempt for rational debate, the parliament and the people of Australia. Moreover, it contradicts Turnbull’s own 2005 tax policy paper.

In 2005  Turnbull described negative gearing and the CGT discount as a “sheltering tax haven” that is “skewing national investment away from wealth-creating pursuits, towards housing”, and has caused a “property bubble”. Bernie Fraser, former Reserve Bank Governor, is on record as holding the same view.

Shot to buggery, Scott Morrison still maintains with Turnbull’s support that his bogus report predicts the end of the known world under Labor. Health Minister Sussan Ley similarly hypes her huge victory over private health insurance firms who, after a stiff letter from the minister, will now raise fees a bit less. Pensioners unable to afford the 5.59% hike are overjoyed not to have to pay 6.1%.

Private health premiums rose six per cent per year over the last five years. Increases and policies will also be explained better, she claims. On the other side of the ledger, taxpayer subsidy for private health insurance is predicted to grow 7% over the period 2015-16 to 2018-19, up to $7.3 billion in 2018-19.

Did Ley use government subsidy as a bargaining lever? Does anyone ask why any government should subsidy health insurance companies’ vast profits? Is any one of us is any healthier or better off as a result? OK. Industry executives have done well: Ramsay Healthcare’s CEO was paid $31 m in 2014.

Ever more expensive health services and problems even accessing what average voters need and a co-payment by stealth are shaping to be key election issues but the government does little beyond duck and weave and bluff and confuse.

Is the Medicare co-payment was dead? Alan Tudge, Turnbull’s parliamentary secretary, was adamant twice on Monday the co-payment “has been dropped”, only to be contradicted in Tuesday’s party room. It’s in because it was part of Hockey’s calculations.

ScoMo’s wilful deception by dodgy report is exposed by Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen. With no economic plan, a one-slogan campaign strategy and a lame duck rookie treasurer who hates him, the PM can neither impose his authority or unify his party as he attempts to steer the coalition through an election. Even the act of calling an election date seems beyond him.

Malcolm “everything is on the table” Turnbull retreats Hamlet-like into his vast inner indecisiveness. Nikki Savva tells him to go to the polls as early as he can before mad dog Abbott brings the whole show down. Go now, she urges, it can only get worse. Her book has clear warning in its title, The Road to Ruin: How Tony Abbott and Peta Credlin Destroyed Their Own Government.

Laurie Oakes calls it “the weirder-than-weird story of a duo who couldn’t govern to save themselves”

Yet Turnbull dithers and delays despite all due warning.

As the days pass, Turnbull lets double dissolution options slide. He pushes his senate voting reform through but creates such hostility in the process that micro-parties and other mavericks will no longer cooperate on any legislation this government ever proposes again.

Dropped is one double dissolution excuse, the innovative re-introduction of Howard’s ABCC, the Building and Construction Commission a bit of ritual union-bashing as bizarre in a time of record lows in wages growth and relative industrial harmony as Morrison’s obsession with bracket creep. Not that the ACCC saw anything but labour costs increase. Gone is the GST excuse along with everything else from the smorgasbord of tax reform. Gone is the PM’s authority of novelty and hope.

“Tony Abbott is shirtfronting his Prime Minister on tax policy”, is one of Bill Shorten’s better zingers.

The ex-PM’s non-sniping, wrecking or undermining total party policy takeover bid paints Malcolm Turnbull as an economic and national security girly-man. The leak of part of a draft white paper may undermine the PM’s sub-building cred but his comment and his attack on the capability of the Collins class subs we are currently lumbered with is an unprecedented breach of decorum and security.

Only someone of Abbott’s genius could jeopardise national security in order to portray his PM as soft on defence and a risk to national security.

The PM pretends Abbott’s attack is proof everyone is listened to in the Liberal Party. Continuing his best comic-opera form, he next calls in the AFP, our national Keystone Cops whose advice in December 2014 that Mans Haron Monis held a gun licence was later withdrawn, after being challenged by NSW Police, with the explanation that it was from a “non-definitive AFP database”. Monis had never held a licence.

The AFP will still have its hands full with the Christopher-Pyne-James Ashby investigation and the nature of Wyatt Roy’s role in the illegal access to Peter Slipper’s diary. The AFP Slipper case probe was only requested in December 2012. No-one wants a rush job.  And, as with all top outfits, there’s a massive backlog.

Yet unsolved is the AFP’s first case, the 1979 Hilton bombing which led Malcolm Fraser to create the AFP in an extensive expansion of the powers and resources of the police and security apparatus. Many contend that it is likely that the bombing was conducted by the security forces themselves.

The leak to Greg Sheridan, foreign editor at The Australian could yet scuttle both Abbott and Turnbull.

The “not waving but drowning” PM is thrown Abbott’s failed economic policy; his unfair 2014 budget with its cuts to health, education and welfare, none of which is calculated to keep him politically afloat.

Abbott’s IPA-dictated budget preserved subsidies to miners, tax concessions for wealthy superannuants and Defence’s divine right to unfettered expenditure in the national interest. Yet his Molotov cocktail explodes the myth that Turnbull really has a tax policy or shows any economic leadership or policy platform fit for an election.

Above all, Abbott’s outburst exposes the PM’s failure as a leader to assert his authority over his rival, a man now bold and (Yes Minister) courageous enough to bring his house down. And with the collected testimony of his colleagues in Nikki Savva’s book against him, Abbott has absolutely nothing to lose.