American think tank the Council on Foreign Relations made the headlines in Australia this week when their scathing report on Tony Abbott, aptly titled ‘Tony Abbott has to go‘ filtered its way to our mainstream media.
Now we notice that the Americans are not the only ones who are
writing about horror year Tony Abbott and his government are enduring.
Tony Abbott has been hitting the headlines – front page headlines, no
less – in Indonesia too.
The kicker is today’s story in the Jakarta Globe, ‘Australian PM Under Fresh Fire After Horror Week‘ with Indonesians reading about of our Prime Minister’s ‘success’ since declaring the start of good government.
It does not read well.
“Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott came under fire on Friday over
controversial comments on the arrest of two terror suspects and for
referring to a “holocaust” of job losses, capping a horror week” they
“Abbott began the first parliamentary week of the year fighting for
his job after poor poll ratings, a series of policy backflips and
perceived high-handed decision making saw MPs from his conservative
Liberal Party force a confidence vote”.
“He survived the “spill” motion on Monday and promised “good
government” from that point on with the 39 of the 102 Liberal
parliamentarians who tried to oust him grudgingly agreeing to give the
unpopular leader a second chance”.
It was noticed that “. . . he has stumbled since, handing his
detractors more ammunition”. I’m wondering if our local mainstream media
makes the same conclusion.
But possibly the most damning of their condemnation refers to Tony Abbott’s comments on the trial of two terror suspects.
“On Friday, he was forced to defend himself after revealing in
parliament a day earlier the contents of a video allegedly made by two
men charged with terrorism offenses.
Lawyers said the detail and his remark that it was “monstrous
extremism”, made under parliamentary privilege, could prejudice a future
trial of Omar Al-Kutobi, 24, and Mohammad Kiad, 25″.
In other Indonesian news, Kirsty Wynn’s article ‘When Will Abbott Get Started on Good Governance?‘ – also in the Jakarta Globe – echoes the sentiments, in part, of those expressed in the now famous commentary from the Council on Foreign Relations.
Wynn writes that:
There is no doubt that Abbott’s ferocity made him an
exceptional opposition leader. Time after time he managed to shred Julia
Gillard and Kevin Rudd amid the Labor Party ruckus, in turn elevating
his status from unknown Sydney MP to a figure appreciated because of his
absolute conviction. It could also be said that this is our blowback,
as the heavy-handed tact we once lauded has now become irksome. The
infallible strength that inspired the public during the last election
has created a PM who refuses to see his own fallibility.
Abbott must now learn that as PM he is no longer a crusader. It is
not expected (or desirable, at the least) for him to continue to
violently strike down challenges. As a PM he is expected to navigate
them, work in consultation with his own party, at the minimum, and
produce outcomes that reflect assurances made pre-election but also in
tune with more recent happenings.
The desire to return to surplus was a poignant example of this.
Voters indeed agreed pre-election that returning to surplus would be
advantageous, but the brute force of the measures put forth by the
Abbott government managed to isolate large segments of the public. It
was as if Abbott had been asked by the public to unlock a door (to
surplus, for argument’s sake), only for him to instead kick the door
There remain plenty of problems-cum-opportunities for the PM to show
his potential to solving issues constructively — instead of obliterating
them. Most prominently, thorns exist over chief of staff Peta Credlin’s
influence over Abbott. Her role is increasingly seen by colleagues as
being subversive, and for most, too encompassing. In light of recent
events, this issue could be a means for Abbott to showcase a new
The benefit of democracy is that Abbott remains under no illusions
now. He has been called out by his own staff and made to walk the plank.
He has been saved this time, but will need more than luck to continue.
Restraint and tact are traits underappreciated by most. It’s high time Abbott rises to the challenge and train in both.
In just one week, the debacles surrounding Tony Abbott’s prime
ministership have received wide coverage in America and Indonesia. At
this rate, Tony Abbott will be making rest-of-world headlines within the
For all the wrong reasons, of course.