October 6th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Bank plan a sure bet to build up PNG and our Pacific neighbours

VICTORIA Infrastructure fiasco clogs Melbourne roads

CANBERRA OBSERVED Ex Lib leaders seldom follow the rule that silence is golden

THE ECONOMY A shower of cold facts may counter coal phobia

POWER AND ENERGY SECURITY Not the moment to hit the snooze button, Australia

LIFE ISSUES Abortion grief: a restoration of honour

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Drought: just one element in a bigger climate picture

FREEDOM OF SPEECH Former High Court chief defends free speech on campuses

EUTHANASIA Seeking peace in a poisoned chalice

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Migration numbers: a new discussion begins

OPINION Victorian election 2018: How will you vote

FICTION A gentle dying

MUSIC Amy Winehouse: A natural jazz talent

CINEMA Searching: Digital window on the soul

BOOK REVIEW Biological realities v social constructs

BOOK REVIEW A little application of common sense

CHINA Social Credit System gives complete control of every citizen

LIFE ISSUES Bowing to the goddess of abortion law reform: the pseudo-religion of radical feminism

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Ex Lib leaders seldom follow the rule that silence is golden

by NW Contributor

News Weekly, October 6, 2018

Beaten former Liberal leaders can be divided between those who go quietly and those who do not.


John Hewson is rarely if ever complimentary or constructive about the party he once led, preferring to lap up the adulation of the left and join in with the sundry cheap-shot critics of the Coalition Government on practically any issue from climate change to asylum seekers to live animal exports.

Dr Hewson appears never to have fully gotten over the bitterness of losing the unlosable election 25 years ago, and he has rarely missed an opportunity to fire a shot across the bow of a Coalition government, be it that of Howard, Abbott or Turnbull, even on economic management, which is the one area all three of those administrations did well in.

Alexander Downer has been a far more constructive former leader, with interesting insights into complex problems modern governments face; as has Brendan Nelson, a true patriot who has done a remarkable job directing the Australian War Memorial through its most important anniversary.

When Tony Abbott famously declared there would be “no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping” after he was torn down as Prime Minister, he set a standard for himself that he was unable to live up to.

In his defence, Mr Abbott’s criticisms of the Turnbull Government’s policies and alternative policy ideas on important issues such as power prices and population growth have always been upfront and in the public domain.

His speeches, in particular, have been thoughtful, constructive policy pieces.

Plus, on a political level, Mr Abbott argues he only ever responded whenever his own record was attacked. He was never going to lie down and have his own achievements stomped on; rather, he was determined staunchly to defend his legacy.

Be that as it may, no one, not even Mr Abbott, could say he went quietly to the backbench.

However, the Turnbull supporters and their media acolytes were always there to remind Mr Abbott of his pledge any time he said anything on anything.

And now, ironically, it seems it is Malcolm Turnbull’s time to commentate from the sidelines.

Already he has made some critical interventions (via Twitter) suggesting Peter Dutton’s eligibility to sit in the Parliament should be tested in the High Court, even though he knows this would cripple the Government, and would be extremely unlikely to result in Mr Dutton being forced to a by-election.

Mr Turnbull would no doubt feel the emotions of hurt, betrayal and the shock of irrelevance during his post-politics exile in his New York apartment overlooking Central Park.

His departure was sudden and brutal, and he had believed that he was genuinely making ground on Labor’s lead in the polls. The question is whether the tweeting and subsequent leaking (almost certainly by Turnbull supporters rather than Mr Turnbull himself) are part of the grieving process or part of a pattern.

The Australian’s political columnist, Dr Ross Fitzgerald, warns that we should expect more “sabotage” from NYC.

“You’d think that he’d be grateful to the Liberal Party for the chance to be PM and could accept his fate. On the other hand, Turnbull was quite happy to threaten the Government’s hold on power by forcing a by-election in his own former seat and is trying to force another in Dutton’s much more marginal one,” Fitzgerald wrote.

“My sense is that he could easily take the view of France’s Louis XV: Apres moi, le deluge. So far, Turnbull has written to every elector in Wentworth about the ‘shocking and shameful’ events leading to his removal as PM – an event, he wrote, that ‘disgraced our parliament and appalled our nation’.”

Well, yes, but that was the case with Mr Abbott too. And Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

It is worth recalling some of the other, less reported parts of Mr Abbott’s resignation press conference, in which he warned that the media had contributed to a change in Australia’s political culture in the past decade.

He pointed to “more polls and more commentary than ever before” and said much of this expanded commentary centred on “sour, bitter, character assassination”.

Mr Abbott warned that poll-driven politics had produced a “revolving-door prime ministership” that was not good for the country and that “a febrile media culture has developed that rewards treachery”.

He was certainly right on this.

Mr Abbott continued: “And if there’s one piece of advice I can give to the media, it’s this: refuse to print self-serving claims that the person making them won’t put his or her name to. Refuse to connive at dishonour by acting as the assassin’s knife.”

Regrettably, no one seems to be listening to this perfectly good advice.

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