NOT ONE OF US: Why the Liberal party room is going to slot the brilliant Abbott

abbottminchinThere has not been a more formidable Leader of the Opposition in Australian politics since Malcolm Fraser and Bob Menzies before him.

Tony Abbott has been awesome.

His aggression, his message discipline, his populism has been a case study for all those seeking to serve in the toughest job in modern politics.

He’s made a middling government look woeful, most of the time.

And yet, cracks are starting to appear.

Talk of disunity in the Liberals, evidence of silly own-goals and nonsensical spats have been the first sign of complacency in an otherwise hyper-charged, optimistic and excited Coalition.

For the simple truth, as VEXNEWS has previously reported, is that the Liberal party room, while awed by Abbott’s aggressive antics at the government, is not really a natural constituency for his views or, indeed, even a man like him.

Not to put too fine a point on it, he’s a Grouper.

He has the uniquely old-fashioned, lovably eccentric and sometimes very, very popular set of views that would once have been attributed to those of the National Civic Council. Socially conservative statists. Even on some things, quite left-wing. And certainly not in the slightest bit anti-union.

It’s a weird mix, more evident and obvious to VEXNEWS perhaps because ever since we first encountered them in the slime-pit of student politics, we’ve enjoyed the company of NCC types. They are mostly good people. And mostly pretty well-connected with what actually plays well in the burbs. Their most successful alumnus in modern times is obviously Abbott but there are quite a few around in senior levels of politics. To use the language of those who like to win elections, while a bit eccentric on some things, “they get it” (they know how to win).

And just as peering down the long, barren corridors of Melbourne Uni’s den of dogs in student politics taught us to be able to “spot a Trot” from miles away, we can also spot those with BA Santamaria in their heart. The latter causes much less concern than the ice-pick victim, of course.

And Abbott is definitely the real deal. He doesn’t really even deny it.

His views are old school. Sometimes even bizarrely so. This was one of his offerings before he was Leader that if taken at his word would suggest that women ought not have an absolute right not to consent to sex in marriage (as the law once provided):

Even this moderate house of wisdom blanches at his rather ugly expressions about women giving consent to sex in marriage.and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak.

That’s pretty outrageous by modern standards. No consent means rape, marriage or not, and it should sicken all those pondering it, in our view. And we don’t raise that to disparage him, and we’re not sure that’s still his view or was even a correctly expressed properly considered exposition of his views on rape, but to make the point that many in his own party room, on which his own leadership depends, regard him as something of a rock-ape on these kinds of social issues and more ominously perhaps on economic matters.

He’s no economic reformer. Costello’s various writings on the subject are scathing.

Abbott has no interest in economics. He’s a values politician, who wants Australian national decision-making to stay connected with middle Australia not a hard-charging zealot for change. Disrupting families for the sake of the current account is anathema.

And again that’s just not where the Liberal party room, for the most part, is at. They are free traders. Limited government is what floats their boat, even if it’s not always what they do when in office. Even among the so-called Liberal Right, who strongly supported him, they think that on economic matters, Abbott cannot really be trusted. His instincts are all wrong, his interest in reform and taking heat for it hovers around nil.

Just this past weekend, the Liberal Right titan who nearly single-handedly made him Leader, Senator Nick Minchin warned Abbott of the perils of populism. We think it only ran in the Adelaide papers but the retiring Senator went to the trouble of opining on this subject in a farewell newsletter to party members:

“Success really lies in getting the balance right between principle and pragmatism, between the pursuit of good policy and the need to retain popular support.”

With WorkChoices, he said, the party had erred “too far in the direction of principle”.

“There is no doubt, an inadequate filter was applied to that policy prior to its introduction,” he said. “(But) that experience must not be allowed to be the catalyst for a reversion to populism now that we are in opposition.

“The federal Coalition has a responsibility not to pursue populism at the expense of the nation’s long-term interests.”

Senator Minchin winds up pledging support for Mr Abbott but also saying: “Victory in 2013 will come from sound policies based on strong principles, and not from cheap populism”.

Few in Canberra misunderstood who this anti-populist message was aimed at. It was Nick Minchin’s tough-love message to his own creation, Leader Tony Abbott.

Others wonder how – without the astute counsel and numbers-manipulations of his mentor Nick Minchin – Tony Abbott will be able to fend off what is almost certainly a non-Right majority in the party room should his personal numbers go from being not great as they currently are to being seen as a clear drag on the ticket. By early 2013, Abbott will be the longest-serving Opposition Leader since Beazley, we cannot imagine his personal numbers will have improved; it’s almost certain they’ll be lower, probably much lower.  Abbott’s relentless negativity might help the party’s numbers but it’s slowly killing his. Like Crean when he was deputy Opposition Leader and then Leader and Brumby in his first run as state leader, the more effective you are at punching the government, the more people are left with the idea that you might not be such a nice bloke.  That’s why Abbott’s numbers are bad and will get worse as 2013 nears. By then he’ll be vulnerable as hell to a challenge, in a party room that will probably sniff electoral victory and that has a natural predisposition not to like Abbott personally and not be very suspicious of his views.

The Press Gallery of course hate Abbott, hate his old world views and will cheer on anyone who has a crack.

A clear successor is not obvious. We’ve talked up Julie Bishop although few outside WA seem to think she’s a possibility (mind you she presents well and the WA bloc is big chunk of the party room). Joe Hockey seems to get fatter and yet smaller each passing day. Scott Morrison is whispered about occasionally especially by NSW colleagues. And then there’s Malcolm. The Turnbull option is still unpalatable for most – even one-time backers – after his appalling egomania and misconduct and misjudgment as Leader.

When it is said that being the federal Opposition Leader is the toughest job in politics, this is why. No-one else will call it at this stage but we think there’s not much doubt: as strong a political advocate as he’s been, it’s a question of when not if he’s replaced by a party room that never really wanted him in the first place.



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51 responses to “NOT ONE OF US: Why the Liberal party room is going to slot the brilliant Abbott

  1. Giuseppe De Simone

    Tony Abbott may not have the numbers in the party room but his values and views represent the very mainstream of the Liberal Party since Menzies founded it.

    You do him a great injustice in attacking his economic credibility and credentials.

    True Liberals are not anti-union – we are pro-union. We believe in the right of all people to form such associations as they wish. Tony may well have a deeper understanding of those resilient Australian values that were forged in the people’s battles against the abuse of the law practised by the ideological descendants of Cromwell in the past. True economic liberty relies on the state getting out of the way, not in the use of the police and army and trumped up investigators and courts and prisons to oppress the authentic expression of bargaining.

    Too many of the so-called workchoices reforms were terrible impositions of state power over economic freedom. Rather than liberating workers and employers, the laws shackled them with bureaucracy and nanny state oversight.

    The Rudd-Gillard changes just made it worse by removing many rights to bargain and enforcing a collectivist view of employees as having identical interests.

    One day we will have true economic liberalisation. But that day is a long way away.

    I see Tony Abbott as part of the solution – his strong social values and belief in free will and personal empowerment will ensure we don’t end up with the sort of labour legislation that lawyers delight in and cigar smoking arm chair reactionaries laud as tough.

    By the way, I regard B.A. Santamaria as one of the true legends of Australia’s political history. He was an articulate, intelligent, brave and decent person who gave everything in his quest to keep Australia safe. He was a person much excoriated by those on the left for being so virulently anti-communist and pro-democracy. When Australia’s history is written in 500 years time, he will get a whole chapter and his contemporary detractors will barely rate a small footnote.


    TONY ABBOT FOR PM Because he is miles better than the current incumbent!
    Gillard and the ALP have SQUAUNDERED the good will of the voters! Gillard has no sound policy direction, she runs all around ORstralia trying to please eveyone with her latest conversions to anything that will get her a vote! BUT attuned voters want a PM and government that is not devoid of policy integrity on the major issues! The electorate should have been awake to GILLARD long ago well the signs were there when she was in Opposition. Gillards insensitivity in quaffing chmpagne after the RU 486 vote is proof! Now 400 women In SA had to go to hospital when RU 486 didnt work! So Gillard never seems to do her homework! The boat people deaths off Christmas Island is another example where so very many have suffered because Gillard does not seem to take the time to put out sound policies. Gillard vacate the ALP leadership we need a true leader of the country the likes of a Keating or Howard, not a giggly lobster eating dazzled by big events inept PM ! We need a PM that cares when the battlers are suffering and who has some sensitivity to others less fortunate than her!GILLARD lacks the depth to be a PM and the country sees that so why doesnt the ALP face up – axe her ASAP!

  3. Real

    This is too funny. Abbott the best opposition leader … that’s like saying Man U were the best losers of the Champions League!

    Latham was Labor’s best opposition leader, so what?

    And the Press Gallery LOVE Abbott, he provides great media for them. You known nothing if you don’t get this point.

  4. well put Andy. he’s an inflexible idealogue the Libs don’t need. it’s all very well when the polls point in the right direction. but what happens if ever he’s shown to have drifted from the Righteous Course..?

  5. Alex

    You lost me at ‘Tony Abbott has been awesome’.

  6. Zaf

    [Joe Hockey seems to get fatter and yet smaller each passing day.]

    Sadly accurate. As for Turnbull – he’s precisely what Abbott has earned.

  7. Giuseppe De Simone

    Never underestimate the power of the ordinary rank and file Liberal Party member to influence the way backbenchers vote. Every Liberal parliamentarian knows that their preselection depends on the goodwill of their local party member and they listen respectfully to what the members have to say to them.

    The rank and file love the current leader and they are sending that message to the parliamentarians loudly and clearly.

  8. Harry Lime

    Giuseppe, a further point is: who do the rank and file listen to? At ther time of Abbotts rise to LOTO the big issue for the party was climate change and the rank and file were opposed to an ETS even though most the the parliamentary party were supportive at the time under Malcolm. Who influenced the rank and file on this issue? Andrew Bolt! I would keep an eye on the writings of Andrew Bolt. If Abbott loses the support of Bolt he is doomed.

  9. Rudi

    I liked your perceptive line, “Joe Hockey seems to get fatter and yet smaller each passing day”. No doubt the same has been said about you. [VEXNEWS: Not lately]

  10. Byron in Wahroonga

    ***The rank and file love the current leader and they are sending that message to the parliamentarians loudly and clearly***

    Bingo. The idea that Julie, Malcolm or Joe are genuine alternatives is beyond laughable. But if we must talk about the NCC, where’s the new Split? The watermelons have hijacked Labor, just like they did in the 50s.

  11. Timmie Wilson

    What about me?

  12. Andrew Jackson

    +I have seen virtually no evidence of Tony Abbott supporting Australian Industry and whilst he has the facade of the Movement he leads a pack ofv hard core Tory’s.

    If you want to support a supporter of Australian Industry support Senator Elect John Madigan who has done more for Australian industry before getting into parliament than Abbot and his economic rationalist cabal did in twenty years of Government.

    Andrew Jackson
    Queensland President Democratic Labor Party.

  13. Rudi

    On another note, while I do not necessarily agree with your conclusion the article has good political nous. Abbott sounds more strident by the day and while that may play well to the rank and file and cause havoc in a weak government it is hardly a sound basis to govern. He has some repositioning work to do, to make him sound more credible and less angry.

  14. Danby's last term

    Keep an eye on Julie Bishop (WA) She will be the next Liberal leader and the next PM.

  15. David

    ‘A clear successor is not obvious’ You said it yourself. Unless there is someone who can get the numbers then Tony ‘the mad monk’ Abbott will continue to be leader of the opposition.

  16. Knowledge Is Power

    All politicians are doing the bidding of the rich. The rest is all smoke and mirrors.

  17. Giuseppe De Simone

    I can see no viable challenger at present. Tony Abbott is likely to remain leader of the parliamentary Liberal Party. Turnbull has no chance with the vast majority of the party membership being opposed to him remaining leader. The polls consistently show that Abbott is preferred by the 48% of coalition voters and Turnbull is supported by the 14% of Greens voters and 33% of ALP voters. While this translates to more voters liking Turnbull, they want him as a lame duck pale imitation leader of the opposition to a Gillard or Brown. Liberal voters want Abbott to be Prime Minister. The key question is not who do you want as leader of the Liberal Party but who do you want as Prime Minister. Stupid questions by pollsters are those about whether Australia is heading in the right or wrong direction or who is preferred as Prime Minister between two candidates. The real test is which person in Australia has the ability to move votes towards one of the two major political parties. Tony Abbott is reclaiming the Howard battlers brilliantly by understanding hip pocket issues and general fears.

    On asylum seekers, I do not share the xenophobia of some disempowered voters but I accept it is a real visceral fear of unemployment, a break-down in social cohesion, a rise in crime and a loss of identity. On each of these matters, I believe the fear is misplaced and misguided but it is not for me to lecture those decent loving fair dinkum Australians in that condescending way the self-righteous leftist commentators do prodded by their own Keatingesque ego and misplaced belief in their own omnipotence and omniscience and moral superiority. These reprehensible fascist democracy haters in the commentariat are the very people who hate Abbott and that makes me love him more and more.

    To take but one example:

    Abbott’s view that the boats must be stopped is motivated by true compassion and a selfless love of those suffering human beings encouraged to risk their lives and all their money in the vain hope of arriving in Australia’s migration zone and being granted refugee status. He knows as do I that many more leave than arrive and untold numbers are raped and murdered and robbed by pirates and their plight enriches evil organised criminal gangs that set up dopes as people smugglers.

    This horrible trade in human beings must stop. It must be discouraged at source – by getting the message out that the risk is just not worth it. I can understand why those people, mainly parents with children and young adults, stagnating in over-crowded camps risk their lives for the prize of living in Australia. I would do the same if I were stuck in a camp having fled my homeland in fear and left nearly everything I owned and everyone I knew behind. If I believed I had a real chance of living in a free, democratic, liberal, wealthy, safe country with my family, I would risk my miserable existence and everything I owned on the chance to thrive in the promised land. There but for the grace of God ….

    I know we should take many more of them and we should be more humane.

    However, we cannot allow them to be duped into taking an unacceptable risk.

    It is for Australia as a country to decide the level of its immigration and refugee intake and not be dictated to by criminals trading in vulnerable people. They dump dehydrated and starving people without documents on our far flung islands knowing we will reward the smugglers and their criminal masters by resettling those unfortunate human beings, once we are satisfied they meet international criteria.

    Tony Abbott is right on the boats. His is a moral crusade delivered with conviction and purpose. God bless his quest.

    Of course, no one on the left sees it that way. Their hypocrisy shines through. They claim to want a smaller Australia with far fewer people living in double glazed mud huts with solar panels on the roof and a big fat fibre optic cable in their yard so they can access “The Age” iPad application, eating only mung beans and drinking non-genetically modified organically grown soy milk.

    In this nirvana of the 2050’s with Australia’s population down to 8 million non-euthanised atheistic university academics, artists, actors, journalists, hairdressers and human rights lawyers, they claim to also want to include all those who claim to be refugees seeking asylum immediate access to our social services without any detention pending validation of their claims. Never mind that those asylum seekers will be poorly educated but good moral muslims, hindus, buddhists and some Christians all with large families of relatives to be brought over on family reunion VISAs.

    Somewhere I sense a conflict in their espoused principles.

    I see no conflict in Mr Abbott’s expressed views and his strong moral beliefs and support for the family.

  18. Jeremy

    There is no challenge to Abbott. The alternatives are all pitted against each other- Turnbull, Hockey, Robb and Bishop? None can muster a majority? If Abbott was to go, none of the above will succeed. The party will look for a safe pair of hands like Andrews.

  19. Thomas Layton

    Tony Abbot represents the political strength as a leader that has characterised the Howard era and that the Labor party currently lacks to the extreme. He favours reform based on actual neccessity rather than apparent whim. A method of government that is described by Proffessor John Adams as: “It is not realistic to expect that workable new institutions and practices can be introduced to replace existing ones except through a long gradual process of experimentation. To do otherwise is to invite chaos.”

    As INCUMBENT! posted earlier. Gillard’s wanting to be liked and willingness to betray her promises for the sake of her own career have led to a weak and whimsical style of leadership (cough cough Gillard said before the election ‘There will be no carbon tax’). Why did Gillard break this promise and betray the trust of those who voted for her? Because if she didn’t then the Greens wouldn’t vote with her government so she couldn’t be pm. Her policies have displayed absolutely zero integrity and her leadership has even less strength. She is completely unprincipled in her leadership and prefers to simply scavenge votes by bastardising what her party supposedly stands for. Tony Abbot stands by his morals in his leadership and is a strong figure for the Australian public. He hits hard at the ineptness of the Labor govt because that is his role as leader of the OPPOSITION. As a principled politician he allows morality to be the guideline for his leadership and that commands respect. And as the Leader of the Opposition his role is to identify the flaws in Gillard’s government and make her pay for it.

    Bottom line is Tony Abbot provides strength and principle in government, where the Labor Party offers only whims and ineptness.

  20. Thomas Layton

    As a side not Giuseppe De Simone is absolutely right. Well said

  21. Thomas Layton

    sorry *note. I didn’t mena to write ‘not’

  22. Cardinal Pell

    Do not worry Brother Abbott the Lord still needs both of us to induct all those eager young lads into St Chester’s Choir.

  23. Giuseppe De Simone

    Dear Andrew Jackson of the Queensland DLP

    I have always admired the DLP as the true Labour Party that was cheated out of its democratic victory by that war criminal and traitor Evatt in the 1950’s.

    However, I must disagree with you attacking Tony Abbott for not supporting Australian industry.

    The economic policy of the Howard government led to many years of prosperity for business people and workers alike and had those policies continued instead of being tampered with by Rudd and Gillard, we would all be much better off now.

    Some of the important reforms included the creation of hundreds of thousands of small businesses in professions and trades and a huge number of active small investors in property, businesses and the stock market.

    Sure, more could have been done to free up the economy and allow business to become more competitive on a global scale but that’s not the way governments work unfortunately.

    Governments as they get older become more reliant on public servants who love to create rules and bureaucracies to overview things and interfere with people’s democratic and economic choices.

    I ran a small business for nearly 30 years and I employed over a thousand people at different times in that period. I closed it down under Rudd and Gillard due to their workplace laws, their increase in bureaucracy and their interference in the banking system that dried up loan funds for small business for the benefit of large investors and stupid government projects.

    The future isn’t about some low skill, high labour cost dead end job sewing buttons on T-shirts in a garment factory or making seat belts for locally assembled electric/hybrid Japanese designed cars.

    The future is in smart custom manufacturing, intelligent design and high value service industries that create intellectual property. These all provide highly skilled highly remunerated jobs and support hundreds of thousands of other service industry jobs in hospitality, tourism, call centres, construction, mining, design, specialist retail, teaching, human services, health, support for the elderly etc. The most highly paid jobs are in those industries that compete globally right now. Many of the other service industries are protected by the natural barrier of geography. You won’t be able to export pub jobs to Thailand; your aged care nurse has to be at the nursing home where your grand mother is and not based in Shanghai; an Indian labourer can’t work on your home in the suburbs. If it wasn’t for the ludicrous policies of the Fair Work Ombudsman and his henchpeople, we might even be able to have local call centres rather than losing those office jobs to the Phillipines and Mumbai. This list goes on and on and on.

    Our vehicle component industry would be able to compete globally if retooling business loans were cheaper due to competition in the finance sector; if workplace conditions were more flexible; if government imposts such as land tax or carbon taxes or council rates were lower; if red tape was less and if corporate taxes were set at global levels.

    It’s got nothing to do with protection and subsidies which just delay the inevitable decline of sunset industries within the current economic framework and it has everything to do to making our economy more efficient by getting government out of the way.

    I read that excellent publication Newsweekly every fortnight and I carefully consider each argument advanced in its pages for more government action: a government run development bank, a sovereign wealth fund like Singapore or China, industry protection, tariffs, quotas and the other long list of well-meaning interventionist strategies. I don’t find any of them compelling enough (even in the short term) to raise taxes or increase local prices to pay for these attempts to do a King Canute for the sweat(er)-shops of the textiles industry.

    Mr Abbott is not an economic dry or rationalist but is prepared to consider some interventionist policies to ameliorate the move towards a sustainable modern economy. I will forgive him for that transgression in the purity of orthodox economic theory if it gets him elected and gets the Greens out.

    In closing, I agree that the Senator elect from Victoria is an honourable and decent man. Unfortunately, he defeated a very good and honourable man from the Liberal Party. I would have been delighted if he had beaten the Greens candidate but such was not to be.

  24. Guy Fawkes

    Giuseppe De Simone and Ross Garnaut are tiresome, long-winded wankers. The PM, Tony Abbott are wasting the nation’s time on carbon and the NBN. Pull the plugs! Save billions! Give free fags and grog to the long-suffering Aussie population of overtaxed taxpayers who get buggar all for their tax dollars.

  25. As much as I would like to see Abbott out of politics, the business elites and ruling classes love him and his policies, these ruling minorities control the government’s and always get their way, eg: kicking out the elected PM and forming the fake ALP. We are stuck with a two party preferred system and both are as bad as each other, we need a new style of government, a government that does not feed the ruling classes!

  26. Bi-Polar Bill

    It seems the author of this article has confused Tony Abbott for Julia Gillard.

  27. pytlozvejk

    Andrew, you’re sort of right, and you’re sort of wrong. You’ve hit the nail on the head by saying that Abbott is a grouper, in the Santamaria tradition. But I think that misses the point.

    Firstly, Santamaria was right. The commies were trying to infiltrate the ALP, and the Aarons papers show that they largely succeeded. Even Bob Carr had to admit that one (and I credit Bob Carr with the level of honesty it took to make that admission).

    Secondly, the political scene has been completely re-arranged since the 1950s. The ALP is now a party of the chattering classes. They want to export all dirty, dusty jobs to China. The Libs have almost (but not quite) become the champions of the battlers in the outer suburbs. In that context, a grouper like Abbott fits more comfortably with the Libs.

    So, if we agree that Abbot’s a grouper, does that make him more electable, or less electable? I think it makes him more electable, especially in the context of value-free politicians driven by focus groups. At least Abbott has values, whether or not you agree with them.

    Over to you. Do you think the electorate prefers value-free politicians?

  28. The Insider

    I underastand that the NSW Treasurer is already eyeing off the possibility of becoming the Federal MP for Warringah – just like daddy dearest he wants to serve in two Parliaments (and get 2 pensions)

  29. Giuseppe De Simone

    Another issue is workplace relations where Abbott needs to toughen up and start really going on the front foot.

    Everyone knows that there are two inexorable trends in the provision of labour for the creation of value (whether it be motor vehicles or self-indulgent autobiographies sold on the internet via iTunes).

    The first is that there is a move away from full-time salaried employment to contractual supply of labour – whether it be subbies on residential building sites or pop divas or barristers.

    The second is that larger firms including government through outsourcing and concentrating on core competencies are reducing workforces. The growth in employee numbers is occurring in small business and in particular in very small businesses – those employing 1 to 5 workers.

    Politicians spend too much time looking at the rorting employers and the need to protect disempowered workers and not enough time on the cost/benefit analysis of workplace regulation or the flip side of the rorted employer or struggling small business person.

    With a proper social security safety net in place that doesn’t penalise people for finding work, we can encourage more people to find the satisfaction of being worthwhile contributors to their own living standards.

    What we need instead of government regulation is a well-publicised government funded advisory body that was readily available to workers and could tell people what the usual conditions prevailing in an industry were and which unions acted in that industry and could represent the intending employee. We could have genuine bargaining between consenting and knowledgeable parties. By the way, what do unions do if it isn’t protect retail workers? It’s a simple enough proposition – people who felt unable to bargain individually would bargain collectively.

    Most employers are honest, decent, hard working family people running small businesses that are scared of government intervention. They have their house on the line for the success of their business and all they want is to provide for their family. Many earn far less than $12 an hour or the rates that they have to pay their workers with oncosts etc.

    Let’s not kid ourselves here – the real issue is this: there is a global economy. In vastly profitable industries like mining, wage rates will be higher and in industries such as manufacturing or retail where there is true global competition, wage rates will need to trend down unless productivity improves or restrictive work practices are abolished – the alternative is unemployment as those industries relocate overseas or close. No government can force a capitalist to continue employing people at a rate that doesn’t make sense.

    What does this mean?

    Workchoices is not just dead – it should never have been born – a true case for legislative abortion if ever there was one. It was an abomination that regulated everything including bargaining. What a joke – it was like Hewson’s 1993 Fightback manifesto a 600 plus page suicide note. Unions resented the limits on their bargaining rights and employers resented the Workplace Ombudsman and the petty bureaucracy.

    Fair Work is slightly worse. It removes individual bargaining except for the most highly paid and imposes even more conditions and rules and bureaucracy.

    Under Fair Work, more people will be employed as casuals and part-time than strictly necessary in a deregulated market. Small business owners will choose to work harder or do less rather than employ someone to assist in the running of their retail business or farm or service or trade. More people will need to become contractors or subcontractors and provide their own tools and vehicles and wait 30 days to get paid.

    It is all quite simple – no one can force a capitalist to employ anyone for ever.

    Current Workplace laws that protect workers are just another cost of doing business. In this case a cost of stringent rates, heavy compliance and risk where the equation is that the costs to the employer vastly outweigh the benefits to the employee.

    Therefore, “Fair Work” effectively forces wage rates down because employers look at the total cost of employment (number of staff, wages plus conditions plus oncosts plus compliance costs plus flexibility costs) not just the wage packet for one person.

    It is so easy to highlight the one person “protected” and lose sight of the hundreds that are earning less or the thousands that don’t have work (or work enough hours) because of the laws.

    It is the role of government to provide a social security safety net, not the role of employers.

    We spend a lot of time arguing about unfair dismissal laws. How about an unfair resignation law?

    The worker who decides on a week’s notice (or no notice) to go somewhere else because the pay is better is quite OK by the laws.

    There’s no need for a consultation process with the employer or a written warning that unless I get paid $10 more a week, I’m walking.

    There’s also nothing wrong with an employee deciding to resign just before the business starts getting busy. There’s no need to pay the employer redundancy for deciding it was all too much and I’d rather be doing something else.

    The employer who decides to replace a worker with someone costing less would be in all sorts of trouble. If the employer wants to cut the number of staff, redundancy payments are required and plenty of notice.

    I don’t doubt that there are employers who treat their workers “poorly” for example by requiring unpaid overtime for low paid staff. However, the simplest solution would be to help them find another job (remember the CES used to do this) or get someone to negotiate a better package (what are unions doing now-a-days) or provide social security payments or safety net benefits to assist the lowly paid.

    I just think of the many hundreds of thousands of small business people toiling away at 11:00 pm on their BAS return, looking at their overdraft secured by the second mortgage on the family home, worrying about how they can pay for the school books their children need this week and meet the wages bill; concerned about the negotiation the next day with their biggest customer who is looking for a cut in price; stressed about the good employee who has just announced she will be going on maternity leave; worried about the new bloke who is not working out but is already making noises about unfair demands; wondering if they shouldn’t just admit to themselves that it might be easier to start again.

    For every sob story about a worker “screwed” by an employer, one of the risks of being an employee, there is another just as tragic story about a small business person who went to the wall because of government red-tape, dishonest employees, bank foreclosure and all the other risks of being in business.

  30. Giuseppe De Simone

    Guy Fawkes was the only person ever to enter parliament with honest intentions!

    He is right. I am a long-winded wanker but I use both hands on the keyboard.

  31. Danby's last term

    Joe deSimone You really underestimate Julie Bishop. Sure Malcolm would make a better leader then Abbott. (Hell half of the liberal back bench would be better than Abbott. Abbott was meant to be a stop gap measure. He only survived because he did better then expected at the 2010 poll. But watch closure. Julie Bishop has the support of all the WA Liberals and she can bring a swag more votes to the table including the women vote. I suspect she will wait and bide her time. Time is Abbott’s worst enemy. He knows as more and more time goes by he will lose support and confidence of the Australian people. When was the last time the Liberals had a leader with such big ears. Abbott is the tea party leader eqiv. of the Australian Liberals.

  32. Fair Go

    Giuseppe, I am confused. You know full well that if you remove or water down industrial statute, the common law fills the vacuum. The common law is open slather for the employer side. It does NOT result in anything like fair bargaining by deregulation.

    Worse, I think you know that and are falsely representing yourself as a worker’s friend, like Howard then Abbott, when the real agenda is a return of the King’s law.

  33. Hey Abbott!

    If the Liberals were to dump Abbott it would be suicide. Having a leader take out Rudd and nearly Gillard shows his talent.
    While people might not like to admit to liking him personally they do like the Liberal Party better when he leads.

    Julie Bishop? – waste of space, very little talent and only there as a token West Australian. The rest of the country thinks she’s a joke.

  34. Pedro

    The liberal moderates and the labor party may hate Tony Abbott, but then there is not much difference between them so this is not surprising.

    Make no mistake, dumping Abbott will lose the liberals the next election, and will be political suicide for any liberal half wit who is part of the coup. It would be the equivelant of the Andrew Peacock coup against John Howard in the 1980’s which cost the liberals the election and kept them in opposition until 1996.

    The moderates refuse to believe the truth, that the public did not agree with Malcolm Turnbull when he was leader, nor could they relate to him or bring themselves to like them. This is why his polling was so abysmal, and was why he was dumped in the end. That said, the public respect his business nous. But this is politics so at best he may have the skills to be treasurer or finance minister. He is not a political leader and the sooner he accepts this the sooner he will start to succeed. Trouble is, I do not believe he has the humility to accept this truth.

    It would either be gross arrogance or insanity to destabilise and then remove a leader who had his party doing so well in the polls, and those liberal moderates who are currently engaged in both overt and covert activity to do this (such as underperforming during television and radio appearances) are being noted.

    The only person who can win for the liberals at the next election is the person who currently has them in an election winning position – Tony Abbott! The people who can llose it for them is the power-at-any cost moderates. God help the liberals!

  35. Taking of Pell 123

    The liberal party room are too late he is being slotted on a regular basis….he’s my altar boy so BACK OFF Chrissy!!

  36. Giuseppe De Simone

    Dear Fair Go

    The common law exists to hold people to their bargains.

    The common law is not open slather for employers nor is it open slather for employees either.

    The key issue of fair bargaining (as you like to call it) is whether under a deregulated environment, both the employer and potential employee would be able to strike an outcome where each of them being fully informed of the alternatives and with the right to use the bargaining agent of their choice (themselves, a union or employer association, a trusted intermediary, a consultant), had real choice in determining whether to accept or not accept an agreement containing particular conditions, obligations and benefits.

    I am a fervent believer in collective bargaining as one of the most cost effective ways to reach outcomes. I also believe that unions should concentrate more on negotiating wages and conditions for their members with employers and less time trying to get governments to pass laws that take away the power to negotiate.

    I believe that the decline in membership of trade unions can be traced back directly to their abandonment of direct industrial action and their move to lobbying ALP power brokers to pass industrial laws that they thought they wanted.

    You see, once the government starts protecting workers with universal entitlements and legislated wage rates, there is no need to join a union to get protection. Workers who are “doing it tough” will seek to cut unnecessary expenditure and union fees is one such impost. Sure, it may be “free-loading” but that’s the same as charities making submissions to government on behalf of the poor out of the goodness of their cause and relying on voluntary donations to make up their funding need.

    In the economic free market, some workers will be better off under a bargaining system, powerful unions will do well for their members and those that are disempowered will find that they have to accept less favourable wages and conditions.

    Those who cry “unfair” say that workers at the low end should have their wages and conditions boosted by a legislated mandated minimum and that the employer should be forced to pay it. This is no longer about the unions agitating for better conditions for their members and winning the battle and forcing the wage increase through industrial muscle. It is about the battle being lost in the workplace and being won in the cushy seats of the parliament. The government in effect is imposing on the employers of the lowly paid a social security obligation that should be met through taxation and benefits.

    Such an obligation being economically unsustainable does not come without the employer seeking to recover the cost.

    Small employers will do a number of things: not employ anyone and do the work themselves (increasing unemployment of the most vulnerable), cut back on hours for their workers (creating underemployment), closing down because they are no longer competitive or can’t cope with the crap; raising prices (making imports or online sales relatively cheaper – therefore accelerating the downward spiral of death for various industry sectors).

    There is always a cost to the provision of so called “fair” conditions. The funny thing is that the government’s imposition of these conditions actually is socially regressive.

    Those that suffer the most are the poorest members of society who lose the chance to find meaningful employment for sufficient hours to become less reliant on government hand-outs. The second group to lose out is small business people who bear the full brunt of the increase in costs with the least ability to off-load those costs back onto the consumer/customer and therefore end up working longer hours for less return to make up for the cost imposition. The group that benefits the most is the high income earners (typically the waged chattering classes such as university academics and 4-wheel driving Greens voters) who have had the benefit of lower taxation because the social security safety-net obligation of guaranteed minimum living standards has been met by employers and not tax-payers.

    The Fair Work legislation should have been called the “Lower Wages, Higher Unemployment” law. Over time that will be the enduring legacy of the Gillard Government’s King Canute like approach.

    Let us not be fooled.

    Those industries that can reduce the impact of the Gillard laws will do so – they will move off-shore or out-source whole sections of their activity – thereby cutting their work-force even more. Those industries that cannot reduce the impact of the laws will become unviable (look at retail and online competition) and therefore cut their workforce to zero due to closure.

    Sure the workplace laws might catch a few rogue employers who diddled their employees out of agreed contractual entitlements or took advantage unconscionably of someone’s weakness. However, the common law and good powerful pro-active unions would catch these rogues too without the need for special laws. In fact, the most outrageous cases might even be candidates for dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception charges.

    I have no sympathy for employers who break their contractual obligations to their workers. They should be sued and forced to pay up. Powerful unions should take the lead in doing so. Their power comes from their large membership of willing and engaged members fighting for a common cause.

    By way of disclosure:

    I was once an employer and had generally good relations with staff over thirty years. I had some disaffected staff (six employees out of the nearly 1,000 that I had engaged at various times in various guises) who took issue with me. Of those, four were successful in getting increased benefits because of legislation being found to override written workplace agreements, three of those cases being before the same biased magistrate, a former workers’ advocate.

    I have also assisted a number of friends to get redress from their employers when I believed they were treated harshly and not in accordance with their employment agreements.

    I believe that the moves towards personal freedom/democracy and economic freedom/private property are inextricably linked and joined by the common threads of human free will and the eventual triumph of good over evil.

  37. cona

    Abbott is awesome, he was up against a gutless labor party with the media fighting their crazy policies(BER,NBN,BATS,CARBON TAX… ETC).I think Tony has improved a great deal since that TV ambush by channel 7.All he has to do at the next cabinet reshuffle is to piss off Turnbull and Hockey to the back of the room.

  38. Assholes

    Far too many pollie pooves in the public arena these days.

  39. Abbott is growing into the role and improving everyday.

    His biggest enemies are those self proclaimed moderates who want him replaced with a Labour-lite leader.

    Removing Abbott will be worse than removing Rudd for ALP.

    Coalition without Abbott as leader will see themselves out of government for another decade.

  40. Dryasachip

    Abbott’s great flaw is that he’s a lousy judge of character. He has told his colleagues that if he is ever removed as leader, he has annointed Scott Morrrison as his replacement. With judgement like that, who needs enemies?

  41. Scott Morrison is pretty good.

  42. Frozen Tony fan club

    The frozen Tony was the real Tony.. shaking with rage and speechless… The mindless slogan babbling media Tony is just a symptom of a deep seated anxiety….
    Let’s free the real Tony.. Let The inner toxic rage awaken..when Tony is dumped he will make latham look normal…

  43. Fair Go

    Very nice words Giuseppe about collective bargaining, but do you live by them?

    As far as jobs going overseas, Australia led the way in selling jobs overseas by championing Free Trade without conditions, ALP and Libs alike. Funny how we can be a world leader on that but not carbon isn’t it?

  44. Giuseppe De Simone

    Dear Fair Go

    In my 30 years in business, I absolutely lived by collective bargaining as the most efficient way to negotiate with employees doing similar tasks at similar skill levels. What I found was that many preferred to negotiate individual deals that were more flexible for their needs. For example, I had many muslim staff who preferred to work over the usual Christmas break and almost everyone in Australia (not just Victoria) wanted to have a four day weekend on Melbourne Cup but give up another day. So we negotiated deals that they honoured and stuck by even though they were probably illegal under oppressive inflexible public holiday laws that assumed everyone wanted to celebrate the birth or death or resurrection of Christ and the settlement of Australia by protestant British soldiers with their impoverished catholic Irish prisoners.

    These matters are much more pressing in hospitality where penalty rates are based on an antiquated view of Sunday being the day of rest and that everyone prefers to work 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The only real deregulation of working hours and conditions occurred under the Gude reforms in 1992/1993 when employment in the hospitality sector boomed and the cafe/bar culture of Melbourne developed. Since then there has been a steady decline. The increase in violence can be traced to the re-imposition of penalty rates making it uneconomic to employ the number of staff that would be most desirable to match patron numbers and the stupid one-size fits all rule about live entertainment and security.

  45. Bendover Benasick

    Alby shulyz for PM

  46. well some shit never happens

    Abbot as PM?
    a joke we will be spared.

  47. Anon

    Carbon Tax … If you do not understand it, don’t vote for it!

  48. midcoast

    How much funding do you get from labor to.write this dribble

  49. i must be a masochist

    Guiseppe I love you. You are so funny.

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