Twelve months ago, it all seemed a little too easy. Fix up Labor’s mess, stop the boats, scrap the pointless carbon tax, get the fiscal house back in order and while you’re at it have a crack at indigenous welfare. What could go wrong? Those who had despaired of the juvenile shenanigans and Pythonesque bumblings of the Rudd and Gillard teams – for which the phrases ‘pink batts’, ‘surplus’ and ‘MRRT’ were sufficient shorthand – assumed that the major problems facing the nation would soon be rectified, now that the grown ups were back from their six year sejourn on the wrong side of the lower house.
This week, we look at what went well and what didn’t for the Abbott government during Year One, as four of Australia’s top writers tackle our Anniversary Special; looking both forwards and backwards with a tantalizing mixture of optimism and criticism.
Meanwhile, the challenges facing the Abbott government as they embark upon their critical second year pile up by the hour; as unpredictable and as diabolical as any faced by an Australian government in recent history.
Unwittingly, we carefree, knockabout Aussies have been drawn into what a year ago was unthinkable – a threatened war between Russia and Europe on the one hand and an Islamic apocalyptic cult seizing control of a large swathe of the Middle East on the other. Indeed, it was only as recently as 2012 that President Obama mocked his presidential rival Mitt Romney for raising concerns about Russian aggression, whilst his ideological bedfellow Julia Gillard giddily prattled on about the ‘end of the 9/11 decade’.
In all likelihood, such lackadaisical leaders, by so comprehensively taking their eye off the ball at the wrong time, helped contribute to the rapid unfolding of subsequent events.
Yet even as Tony Abbott and Julie Bishop have stepped up and impressed the world with strong, single-minded leadership and moral clarity, our own national debate descends into ever-greater levels of buffoonery and self-interest.
It is hard to think of a greater, or more grotesque, contrast between the challenges facing Abbott (and Bishop) on the world stage and what they have to contend with back home.
The terror now stalking the sands of Syria and Iraq has finally brought home to many the incompatibility between many strands of Islam and our precious Western democratic values. Yet it would appear in Australia we are more worried about the rights of dole bludgers than the threat of death cults, more concerned about expanding our Super than the expansionary goals of the former Soviet Union. The tough decisions Abbott, Bishop and their counterparts in Europe and the United States take over the next twelve months on two different fronts are of crucial importance to longterm global peace, prosperity and security.
Perhaps it is time our politicians at home started to think of the bigger issues our Prime Minister must face.
Excited teenage boys, lonely divorced men and perhaps even a few love-struck lesbians would no doubt have been delighted to learn that many explicit nude photographs of the hot Hollywood actress Jennifer Lawrence have found their way onto the internet. Accompanying them are a pervert’s digital treasure trove of steamy poses featuring numerous other popular actresses and female celebrities.
The images, it appears, were hacked from the “cloud”, that fluffy, harmless-sounding noun used to describe the vast server-farm infrastructure of the Internet, where squillions of hard-drives churn away day and night in warehouses across the third world and elsewhere.
The hacker arguably had good taste to go along with his or her digital piracy skills, also selecting, among others, the online accounts of models Kate Upton and Cara Delevingne, singer Rihanna and actress Kirsten Dunst to prey upon.
In an exciting development, a suspect has been breathlessly named via the “deep web”, and he is now “on the run.”
Perhaps he’ll end up crawling under the doona with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy, or maybe Edward Snowden will let him bunk down at his dacha in the woods.
Readers of this magazine will no doubt share our bewilderment at the failure of those on the Left to leap forward and heap praise and accolades upon this noble fellow. Or is it only a “good thing” when the embarrassing files you expose to the world are the security measures of the US or Australian governments?
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