Leading article Australia

Tony’s time

24 August 2013

9:00 AM

24 August 2013

9:00 AM

Should he fail to win the forthcoming election, Tony Abbott would be forgiven for expressing his frustration by punching a hole in the nearest wall, regardless of who happens to be standing by it. For surely, very few politicians have worked as effectively, as patiently, as diligently and as determinedly as Mr Abbott has these past four years to return an opposition to government.

Whatever you think of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, events, and more importantly the Labor party, quickly passed judgment on their prime ministerial skills and found them wanting. The obvious, and only, conclusion that can be drawn is that neither leader was capable of living up to the hype or delivering on the commitments which had gained them power. Or to put it less kindly, but more accurately, both were frauds; used by a ruthless party machine to gain and retain power and callously disposed of when their deficiencies became clear.

Mr Abbott rides to probable victory in less than a fortnight not on some ad man’s slick slogan, nor on the opportunistic and cynical backroom deals with minority parties and Independents, but because of good old-fashioned blood, sweat and tears.

Go back four years: hard as it may be to believe today, it was the Liberal party that was in a state of disarray after the unsatisfactory leadership periods of Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull. Spooked by the seemingly never-ending popularity of Mr Rudd, the Coalition MPs and senators tore themselves apart attempting to create distance from the Howard era; embracing an unconvincing and erroneous centre-left positioning that John Stone wittily labelled in these pages as ‘Ruddbullism’. Unimpressed by this pandering to the inner-city elites, voters fled and the LNP dropped dangerously low in the polls.

Then came Copenhagen. In one predictable but nonetheless astonishing week, the entire climate change/greatest moral challenge/ETS artifice came crashing down like a Bangladeshi clothing factory, built as it was on the unstable mud-flats of Al Gore, global warming alarmism and the IPCC. Tim Flannery’s moment had come and gone, but Mr Abbott’s moment had just arrived: he transformed the political debate, the Coalition, and the future of the nation in a narrow party-room win. To the taunts and disbelief of most of the Canberra press gallery and despite being derided as unelectable by the likes of Laurie Oakes, Michelle Grattan and Peter Hartcher, Mr Abbott set about achieving the impossible: ousting a Labor government after only one term.

He very nearly made it. As a rattled Mr Rudd descended into a King George III-style madness of ill-temper and chaotic governance only to be back-stabbed by Ms Gillard, the Coalition soared into an election-winning position under Mr Abbott’s leadership that has remained virtually untouched throughout these past few turbulent years. With neither of the major parties actually winning the 2010 election, Mr Abbott held onto his job and maintained the effectiveness of his ruthless and single-minded approach. He goes into the 2013 election with the scalps of not one but two Labor prime ministers dangling from his belt.

Readers won’t be surprised that we support Mr Abbott not only for his political ideals, but because he is the only leader capable of seeing through the empty charade of ‘compassionate’ socialism and of withstanding the craven intellectual dishonesty and fake ‘feel-good’ morality of our times.

That’s not to deny our very real disagreements with the member for Warringah. His interventionist and big-spending paid parental leave scheme and direct action plans are not for us. We have opposed the depressing and endless war in Afghanistan and have called on Mr Abbott to be more vocal on conservative philosophies.

But one can take issue with Mr Abbott and still greatly admire him, not least for his amazing ability to weather the most extraordinary personal attacks and ignore the basest deceptions from left-wing flame throwers. Ms Gillard’s disingenuous ‘misogyny’ speech, which is touted as a glorious moment by the Labor party, was one of the lowest points among many in the past parliament. Mr Rudd’s current depictions of Mr Abbott as ‘unfit to govern’ are not only clear evidence of Labor’s inability to mount a case for re-election based on its own record, but more importantly is testament to the fact that Labor have failed to comprehend the lesson of the last four years: you underestimate Tony Abbott at your peril.

And so, just as the ETS-Copenhagen showdown in late 2009 had marked the right time for Mr Abbott’s ascension to the Liberal leadership, so too does the Labor meltdown and the myriad of policy problems linked to Labor governance represent the moment of his elevation to the prime ministership. He is, in short, a leader our country needs and deserves.

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