Sunday, 25 January 2015

Abbott acknowledges internal critics but likens social media to 'electronic graffiti'

Abbott acknowledges internal critics but likens social media to 'electronic graffiti'

Abbott acknowledges internal critics but likens social media to 'electronic graffiti'

PM says he has had some ‘candid conversations’ with colleagues over
his performance and tells reporters they should not pay attention to
‘electronic graffiti’

Tony Abbott at an Australian flag raising and citizenship ceremony in Canberra.

Tony Abbott at a flag raising and citizenship ceremony in Canberra on Monday. Photograph: Stefan Postles/Getty Images 

Tony Abbott
has acknowledged unhappiness within his ranks, saying he has had some
pretty candid conversations with his colleagues over the break but
dismissed social media criticism of his performance as “electronic

Facing increasing internal dissent over his recent performances, such as backflips over Medicare, Abbott promised “a more consultative and collegial government” in the new year, while admitting he had not consulted his colleagues on the knighthood for Prince Philip.

He said many government members had raised a range of issues,
including electoral matters, the government’s achievements but also
“unfinished business”.

“We’re going to crack on with that,” said Abbott.

“As you would expect, I have pretty candid conversations with my
colleagues,” Abbott said. “And this isn’t supposed to be just a ‘yes
sir, yes sir, three bags full’ exercise. Obviously we’ve had some pretty
candid conversations about all sorts of subjects.”

The prime minister said while he took enormous pride in the
government’s achievements last year, he would also learn the lessons of

“You can always do better, and a couple of the things that obviously
we need to do better is we probably need to be a more consultative and
collegial government in the 12 months ahead. I think we need to be more
conscious of the realities in the parliament, in the 12 months ahead.”

Acknowledging internal grumbles, his assistant treasurer Josh
Frydenberg urged his colleagues to “stick together” and get behind their
leader, as Abbott had earned the right to lead.

“Politics is a team sport,” Frydenberg told the ABC. “If you disrupt
that team harmony then it absolutely costs you at the ballot box and I
think my colleagues are very conscious of that.”

“We have a captain in Tony Abbott who’s earned the right to that job.
He was outstanding in opposition and through his leadership Labor got
the lowest primary vote in 100 years.”

Frydenberg’s comments came as the prime minister created another
storm of criticism on Australia Day when he asked the Queen to bestow a
knighthood on her husband,
Prince Philip. Abbott acknowledged he did not consult his colleagues on the decision, agreeing it was a “captain’s pick”.

And he dismissed criticism on social media, referring to it as electronic graffiti.

“Look, I’ll leave social media to its own devices,” Abbott said.

“Social media is kind of like electronic graffiti and I think that in
the media, you make a big mistake to pay too much attention to social

“You wouldn’t report what’s sprayed up up on the walls of buildings
and look, as I said, social media has its place, but it’s anonymous.
It’s often very abusive and in a sense, it has about as much authority
and credibility as graffiti that happens to be put forward by means of

Abbott has been trying to replenish the government’s flagging stock since late last year, with little success in the polls. He is due to lay out his government’s agenda for 2015 in a speech to the National Press Club next week.

Abbott used the Australia Day press conference on Monday to send another message to his colleagues.

“Obviously this is the start of a new year,” Abbott said.

“Every year is important, but this year is particularly important.
Today we celebrate our country’s strengths but we’ve got to acknowledge
that we can always strive to do better and to be better; at an
individual level, at a corporate level, at a national level.

“And it’s important that the government build on the achievements of
2014. It’s important that the government learn the lessons of 2014, and
that’s what I’ve been talking to my colleagues about, as you would

Abbott again raised the issue of “Labor’s debt” and said without
tough decisions “the risk is that we will become a second-rate country,
living on our luck”.


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