During a heated speech to the Australian Press Club on Monday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott attempted to assuage the concerns of the voting public, and to let his back benchers know why wasn’t going anywhere.
By all accounts, he failed to do both. But at least he admitted (finally) to breaking promises, albeit with a hypocritical waiver:
I accept that there are some commitments that we gave in the campaign that we have not been able to keep. But I also say – and I think the public understands this – that the situation that we thought we were facing at the time of the election turned out to be different.
Every justification he’s made to back peddle on promises have been justified on the basis that circumstances have changed. Yet when Labor had to break or modify their promises over changed circumstances (forming a minority government with the Greens, the GFC), they were so mercilessly and tastelessly attacked by this very same person.
In fact, the public understands Tony Abbott is a hypocrite. If Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd had said what he did, we wouldn’t hear the end of it.
Mr Abbott promised to fix the “debt and deficit” of Labor; then proceeded to double it. He killed two huge revenue sources (the carbon price and mining tax) to justify cutting medical, research and broadcast funding, to say nothing of his latest facial distractions over knighthoods. The depths he’s been willing to plumb are embarrassing, and have cost us dearly.
“[..] but in the end government is not a popularity contest it’s a competence contest”
Well, it seems the electorate don’t judge him well on either. Amy McNeilage writing for the Sydney Morning Herald:
Tony Abbott’s approval rating dropped from 38 per cent to just 29 per cent between December and January, a Fairfax-Ipsos poll published on Monday showed.
I’d expect a NewsCorp commissioned survey would be somewhat more favourable, given what must now be a painfully embarrassing cover from The Telegraph in 2013:
But his woes don’t stop at the federal level. He’s been blamed, at least in part, for the crushing defeat of the LNP during this week’s Queensland state election, and caused an “unhelpful distraction” for the NSW premier Mike Baird less than 8 weeks out of our state election.
Still, Tony Abbott has a glimmer of hope. While he was in opposition, his largest attacks surrounded Labor’s repeated leadership changes. For him to be changed, it would generate a vortex of hypocrisy so powerful, it would consume much of the Southern Hemisphere. By that point we’d all be dead, and who’s in charge wouldn’t matter.