MINCHIN'S GOLDEN ABACUS: Tony Abbott bailed out by his brilliant numbers-man Nick Minchin once again


It’s been an extraordinary weekend for political observers, with revelations of Hawke family slapping contests in the Chairman’s Lounge, (Senator Bill Heffernan) Heff bringing back the biff  at Friday’s Liberal Right faction function and an incredibly tight Liberal federal council presidency battle that saw the installation of colourful LNP anti-Nats warrior Santo Santoro. The Greens party, of course, demanded their share of attention with their bizarre creation of shadow ministers for high-speed rail, whaling, Antarctica, teeth and Tibet. Even the inter-sexed were not excluded.

There’s enough in all that to write thousands of words. But we won’t as VEXNEWS hopefully corrected server was out of action over the weekend.

But we felt obliged to commemorate the awesome, the awe-inspiring deeds of retiring Senator Nick Minchin, without question the most skilled numbers-man or political organiser in conservative politics. And one of the best ever.

He delivered Tony Abbott the federal party leadership, by one vote. Abbott has since led the Coalition to a narrow election loss (that they probably should have won if their NSW division had have been sharper) and to a winning position in the polls.

Abbott’s leadership is under challenge though, in very quiet, sneaky ways. Other than when Minchin made it happen, most observers tell VEXNEWS that Abbott’s conservative tendency doesn’t generally have anything like the numbers in his own party room, for reasons we have previously explored at length. We won’t revisit them but we note aspiring Liberal MP and Baillieu faction player Tom Elliott on 3AW today observed to Neil Mitchell that the more the Australian people see of Abbott the less they like him. This is the Liberal moderate narrative, expressed at increasing volume.

We have long had the view that Minchin’s departure will make life even more politically dangerous or at least random for Abbott.

Minchin proved that most emphatically by again cobbling together a majority – of one – for his/Abbott’s candidate.

The spin from some that Abbott had backed Reith is simply not the case, his people say. He not only showed Stockdale his ballot to remove any doubt but his interests were very vitally served by not having Reith elected.

Reith was all but committed to shaking up the Liberal party secretariat, where key Abbott ally, Brian Loughnane runs the show, seeing off all challengers, for now. But Loughnane has many foes who say he wasn’t hard enough at Labor at the last election and wasn’t a good fund-raiser.

Of course, Loughnane’s campaign nearly defeated a first-term government and, now, the money is really starting to flow into conservative coffers of all kinds. The party secretariat’s financial troubles are well and truly on the way to being solved, we hear, substantially undermining arguments for Loughnane’s removal.

Anyway, while Stockdale was re-elected, it was retiring Senator Nick Minchin who was the winner. He bows out in true champion style, picking his own time, and squeezing out just one victory to prove that, if family commitments didn’t summon, he could have kept going and going and going.

There’s no-one who comes to close to matching his numbers-man skills in conservative politics.

Tony Abbott will sorely miss him.

Some Abbott backers hope they’ll be able to seduce Minchin back to the game by becoming party president but he’s told all that he needs a break and “doesn’t want it.” Perhaps the year his guy is going in to the mother-of-all-battles 2013 federal election will be the right timing for the return of the warrior.



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31 responses to “MINCHIN'S GOLDEN ABACUS: Tony Abbott bailed out by his brilliant numbers-man Nick Minchin once again

  1. bravo


    Are the greens for free range harvesting or against whaling? they confuse me

  2. Abbott turn off

    QUOTE: Tom Elliott on 3AW today observed to Neil Mitchell that the more the Australian people see of Abbott the less they like him.

    This is one of the truest of true trueisms in politics I have seen of late.

    The more I see of Abbott the more I wish Costello was back.

    Abbott’s is a real turn off.

    Watch Julie Bishop. She has the numbers in WA and she could arrest the top spot and go on to win the fight of the 2Jules…

  3. Taking of Pell 123

    With the Minch gone the Abbott will snuggle up even closer to Cardinal Pell.

  4. Rudi

    The closeness of the ballots for the leadership of the Liberal party and for President of the party show how delicately balanced power is within the party. Nick Minchin has been an formidable power broker for the right of the party. While he will hold influence even after he steps down a senator the question is whether he can hold enough to keep the troops in line if a panic starts or whether someone else – hello Corey! – can don the knuckle dusters.

    Labor has been in a terrible state and that is unlikely to change but the only thing holding the Liberals together at the moment is the luster for power. If anything goes wrong to reduce the chance of them winning the next election – they are the favourites – then I reckon it will be like screaming fire in a picture theatre with Abbott the first to be trampled on.

  5. heinrich

    Minchin deserves high praise and it’s good to see this site giving it. He – almost alone at first – saved Australia from a carbon tax back when it was starting to look inevitable. He’s a bloke who took an unpopular stand (then)because he thought the country needed it. He deserves respect, as does your site for singling out a very effective operator whose contribution has passed without much comment.

  6. heinrich

    The more I see of Tom Elliott’s limited talents the less I like him. He is boring as batshit.


    Tony Abbott may miss Nick Minchin when he is gone but the Orstralian voting public as Gillard says wont miss her ie Gillard a bit when she is gone! Cant wait for Gillard to cop what she dishes out to so many! well we have tolerated her terminal inexactitudes re the carbon tax fiasco! We love Ghoulia says Joan K and Penny W and Tania P and Jenny M and Nicola Toxon but hey the voters dont ! Bye Gillard resign and save face before the polls sink even lower!

  8. Melbourne Voter

    Gillard has my support. She is more then capible of leading Australia than Abbott. Thank god we do not have a direct presidential election system.

    I agree with the comment above. Julie Bishop will be the next Liberal Leader. She already has the numbers.

  9. Pedro

    Labor has been desperate for anyone other than Tony Abbott to be leader for one reason – because they cannot beat him.

    Turnbull supporters want Tony Abbott dumped for one reason – because he is not Malcolm Turnbull. If Abbott is a real turn off, then why has he been so successful when so called wonder kids such as Turnbull failed?

    Morons who criticise a leader who has put their party ahead in the polls 59%-41% clearly have a very questionable intellect. People who listen to them more so.

    One thing is guaranteed, if Tony Abbott is dumped or white anted the liberal vote will collapse soon after and the next election will disappear.

  10. McPerton

    My dear former fat friend, Rivers, feared numbers mans for Fatty Doyle, had a problem when counting.

    When adding up the numbers in the Party Room, the total was always, always, one more than the size of the Party Room.

    Eventually Honeypot worked out that the cause of this error was that Rivers counted his own Member as a number in addition to himself.

    Silly old Rivers.

  11. Anonski

    The more I hear of Tom Elliott the more apparent it is that he will never win preselection for the Liberal Party.

  12. Aseop

    Tony Abbott is going from strength to strength. The only question re the next Federal election is by how much will the Abbott led Coalition smash Fraser’s record majority from 1975.

  13. Shambles

    I am a respected political strategist.

    My NSW division could not have been sharper at the last election.

    At the last election I implemented my highly respected and very sharp strategies in Greenway, Lindsay and Dobell. You will not find any sharper strategies than these.

    The results are there for all to see. They are the legacy by which I will be judged.

    Liberals throughout the land have me to thank for the sharpness of the result in NSW. It is sharp strategies such as these that have made me so respected.

  14. Byron in Wahroonga

    ***Watch Julie Bishop. She has the numbers in WA***

    LOL! Yeah, the numbers in WA. Abbott’s destroyed Nelson, Turnbull, Rudd and Gillard. What’s Julie Bishop got that those four couldn’t muster?

  15. The Insider

    did I read correctly on the weekend that George Pell was complaining that the youth of today are not muscular enough?

  16. Wendy

    Who cares. the answer will still be the same: no, no, no. That’s all Abbott can say and do. No, no, no,no,no,no

  17. Taking of Pell 123

    You are correct Insider. George Pell says the youth of today are not muscular enough. Perhaps he likes them to push back a little bit harder.

  18. Guy Fawkes

    F*ck the lot of them!

  19. Zaf

    Bring back Turnbull if you want to win!!

  20. Rick the Rat

    I like to think of myself as a numbers man too Andy. I ratted on my mates but fasto Nazhiirrr will get me my prize you wait and see

  21. Labor has been desperate for anyone other than Tony Abbott to be leader for one reason – because he would be a disaster for Australia. Seriously the Australian public do not warm to him. The more people see his simple sloganing off negativity the more they realise that with Abbott at the helm Australia would be in serious decline. He is devoid of ideas and rational debate. He will say anthiong if he thinks it will help him get elected. Where was he when Johnny broke a committment to the Australain electorate and brought in a “non-key” promise GST?

  22. Cardinal Pell

    Brother Abbott ignore that man Reith, he has never had the faith and joy of Catholicism and inducting young lads into St Chesters choir.

  23. Anonski

    O dear, the jailers have let Orko back on the computer.

  24. Simon

    I think you might be dreaming about a liberal leadership challenge before the next election, there is no one but Turnbull so suicidally naive as to think that the polling would stay the same under another leader, like Tony or hate him, people are now used to him.

  25. Giuseppe De Simone

    I just love reading all the inane comments from the gutless anonymous twerps and the misinformed twits.

    Minchin is a hero. No doubt about it. He even supports voluntary voting. He is the man. Full stop.

    Zaf: Abbott is so much better than Turnball, that the only people who want Turnball back are ALP or Greens voters because they want the ALP-Greens to remain in power!

    LDABI: Australia’s best interest is to have Abbott as PM because he has principles (which you probably disagree with) and values (ditto) and courage (you gutless snipe) and compassion (look at his genuine concern about the state of health and well-being for Aboriginals) and determination and persistence. His negative carping about the government is good political strategy and also good public policy – he is articulating where the differences are. Sure, he will compromise where needed to get elected but unlike the current government, he will not be compromised when elected.

    Also, I notice how the ALP has repealed the GST now that it is in government. Howard, having changed his mind and broken an undertaking he gave the Australian people, took the GST to an election and implemented it post election. Why doesn’t Gillard do the same? Mmmm …. that’s a good question. Thank you for pointing out the hypocrisy on the part of the ALP!

    Simon and Pedro – you are so right. The polling under Turnball was bad because a lot of Liberal voters didn’t like him and started to waver towards other parties and most of the ALP or Greens voters stuck with their party vote even though they probably liked him. Abbott has brought back the heartland of Liberal voters and started to claw back the Howard battlers in the ALP.

    You don’t win elections by being a pale imitation of the government; oppositions rarely win elections anyway (governments lose them) so the strategy that is most effective (it killed Howard in 2007) is to be negative on the government’s monumental failings (every government has these) and to produce some non-specific feel-good concepts in lieu of policies (Fair Work, Compassion, Integrity) and pretend they are specific commitments rather than dog-whistle language.

  26. The Truth

    Giuseppe – you are probably right about Abbott’s character. What was barely or never reported was his service as a volunteer firefighter a few years ago. He didn’t want the press, he was just serving the people… in Victoria! I am wary however that he self-confessed to having a “lust for power”; that is a concern.

    What you are wrong about is the GST. The writ for the elections was unrelated to taxation but to elect members of the House of Reps and Senate. There was no writ for a referendum for the GST – such an action is required as the GST is clearly unconstitutional (see paragraph 2 of Section 55 of the Constitution) and is further affirmed by Clause 5 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act 1900 and Section 15A of the Acts Interpretation Act 1901.

    Howard never asked the people for consent of the GST to an election (i.e., referendum). You are peddling a mistruth that, although perhaps not intended, is deceitful and misleading.

  27. in the land of minchins the small man will be king

    Please save to such up to Minichites.

    In both cases the guy fell over the line.

    With a solid and safe pension these politicians risk nothing but gamble our future on twits like Abbott.

    One vote again..this is a joke….Australia, a small nation with a huge land mass and vast mineral wealth has no vision and no leadership.

  28. Scott fallow

    As nsw young liberal president. I did a lot of brown nosing with mr minchin, but he just told me to f off.

    Did you all know I’ve moved to Sydney northern beaches. I’m after brad hazzards seat.

    Drummonye didn’t work out so good.

  29. Wenchy

    I had a cool time with all my footballers today. Weren’t they just so lucky to have me grace their event. This event had so much grunt and there was so much
    humping and pumping which I need tp to work off my suprlus energy.

    Any footballers who still want a work out and I didnt get to you today, please visit me.

  30. John Ruddock

    This is why I want to smash the factions!

  31. evil bastard

    The Truth, you must have missed the entire GST-focused election. It was as close to a referendum on the GST as you could get. Very few other issues got any kind of run at all in the media. The GST was front & centre in Liberal campaigning. Ony a complete dullard would think that particular election was not first & foremost about the GST.

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