“Australia’s conservatives are very bad losers.”

Posted on February 14, 2011


MUNGO MACCALLUM from the Drum (ABC) today has written a great article today about Tony Abbott and I could not agree with him more with his comment “Australia’s conservatives are very bad losers. This is because they believe they never should lose and when they do it is a momentary aberration, to be corrected as soon as possible.”

Abbott has really impressed the Conservatives with his Wreck and say NO to everything but he has really upset the center liberal voters according to a recent polling group session by JWS Research found that “When Abbott is mentioned, the reaction is laughter and disrespect.” and Abbott’s great strength was his appeal to the conservative base and the soft voters ”don’t take to him”. ”He’s nothing to these people, he doesn’t engage middle, soft-voting Australia, they don’t respect him.”

But have a read of Mungo’s article and tell us what you think below in the comments section

Australia’s conservatives are very bad losers. This is because they believe they never should lose and when they do it is a momentary aberration, to be corrected as soon as possible.

While they would no longer describe themselves as born to rule, they clearly still believe that are the most qualified to do so; the sages and elders whom Plato would have chosen to preside over his Republic. They are the natural party of government, as inevitable as gravity and much more so than climate change. For them to be out of power is a disruption of the order of things, almost a breach of natural law. And so it follows that they are justified in using any means, however ruinous and desperate, to regain power.

We saw this conviction in its full fury during the Whitlam years, in which two state premiers defied convention and the will of the people by appointing rogue senators to subvert the result of the previous election, where successive federal opposition leaders broke a long-standing convention by denying supply to the government, where a former Liberal minister turned chief justice gave blatantly partisan advice to the pliant governor-general and where that same viceroy contemptuously rejected the decisions of the parliament and even refused to receive its speaker.

All this carnage was justified in the name of restoring “good” government; the established process was simply collateral damage. Democracy had to be destroyed in order to save it, and the subsequent election, at which a bewildered public obediently followed the lead given by their Queen’s representative, surely the ultimate arbiter, was taken to legitimise what was in fact a simple coup.

But when peace and order were finally restored, even the victorious Tories agreed that some amendments were in order. The events of 1975 had been too divisive and destructive, altogether, and should not be allowed to recur – until now. Tony Abbott has apparently decided that it is time to attempt a rerun.

Abbott is not just a bad loser; he refuses to accept that he has lost at all. For Abbott the election of 2010 is not actually over; polling day and the formation of a minority government were simply skirmishes in the ongoing campaign. It remains his duty and destiny to reoccupy the Treasury benches, and once again, the end justifies the means.

The simplest way to achieve his aim is to wedge the independents away from Julia Gillard, and the two most likely are obviously the rural pairing of Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott – particularly the latter, who is said to be under mounting pressure from his own electorate. And thus the plan has been hatched.

In the last budget the government made some alterations to the grant given to students from rural areas which had the effect of excluding those living in or near the larger regional centres. This caused some understandable resentment in the cities affected, and both Windsor and Oakeshott represent such cities. So when parliament resumed this year the National Senator Fiona Nash presented a bill designed to restore the former arrangement.

It passed the senate with the help of the two independents, the accidental Steve Fielding, who despite being rejected by the voters last August continues to infest the place until June, and Nick Xenophon, who should really have known better.

Because there is catch: bringing the regional centres back into the process would entail an additional cost of $370 million and Section 53 of the constitution is quite explicit:


Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the senate… the senate may not amend proposed laws imposing taxation or proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the government. The senate may not amend any proposed law so as to increase any proposed charge or burden on the people.


It seems pretty clear: Nash’s bill is prima facie unconstitutional and Gillard is quite right in rejecting it out of hand. But the matter does not end there. Having been passed by the senate (where, one would have thought, the clerk would have advised the President that it should not even have been debated) the bill now goes automatically to the House of Representatives. There, the clerk, with the backing of the commonwealth’s senior law officers the Attorney General and the Solicitor General, will advise the speaker that it is unconstitutional and the speaker will declare it out of order.

But what happens then if Abbott moves dissent from the speaker’s ruling, and, heavens forfend, the independents vote with the opposition? The bill would have to be debated, and if passed, sent to the governor general for final approval.

Presumably Gillard would advise her to withhold it. But this would involve defying the will of the parliament, repeating Sir John Kerr’s offence of 1975. Perhaps we would then see a no confidence motion get up and the fall of the government – or perhaps at some stage the High Court would intervene to confirm that the speaker had been correct and the parliament itself was now acting outside the constitution… The potential for chaos is almost unlimited.

Of course it needn’t happen and the best way to ensure that it doesn’t would be for the independents to accept the speaker’s ruling and stick with the Gillard. But Abbott seems set firmly on the path of tearing down the government, no matter what the cost to the system which, he keeps assuring us, has served us so well.

And this is the ultimate contradiction: in his lust for power, the so-called conservative has become a wild-eyed iconoclast, red in tooth and claw. It would seem that those television pictures of him speechless with rage, quivering with fury like a maniac about to seize axe and slay five, gave us a glimpse of the real Tony Abbott. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Mungo Wentworth MacCallum is a political journalist and commentator.

Media Sourced http://www.abc.net.au