“Good government starts today,” promised Prime Minister Tony Abbott, fresh from his party’s first failed spill motion this morning in which 39 members of his team turned against him, and one of them cast an informal vote. We are moving on, the difficulties are now behind us, is the vein in which he continued.
All of which begs the question, what kind of government does he think we’ve we been enduring since the LNP won power in September 2013? Many of us already sensed it wasn’t a good one, and it’s reassuring to have this view validated by our PM, who is, after all, responsible for its lack of substance and quality.
These last seventeen months, as Bill Shorten remarked in a splendidly energetic display during Question Time this afternoon, are seventeen months of the nation’s life it will never get back, and what has it been good for?
Abbott’s determination to put all this behind him and make a fresh start reminded me that he is a Catholic, and so is very used to making fresh starts and putting awkward things behind him.
This is one of the many things I fail to understand about the Christian god. He is, apparently, infinitely forgiving and that to my mind is just plain stupid. Generous human beings will forgive much, but we have the sense to know when forgiveness is a waste of time and the offender has no intention of changing his or her behaviour.
One of the many problems in believing in a god who will forgive infinitely is that it can make you morally sluggish. It doesn’t actually matter what you do, you can count on being forgiven. We’ve seen this played out a million times in the Catholic priest pedophilia scandal, for example. Those priests surely confessed their crimes against children and were forgiven every time, then went right out and did it again, because why not?
And didn’t Abbott give one of them a reference once?
The concept of putting things behind one has much to be said for it, on the proviso that one has learned the lessons to be learned first. To be honest, I don’t have much trust in a government that admits it’s only starting good governance today, seventeen months after it took office. That’s a little long to stay on the training wheels, and they weren’t actually out of office long enough to forget how to govern.
I am also becoming more than a little aggravated with mainstream media commentators who are busily writing a new narrative about volatile, over-sensitive voters causing leaders to crash and governments to fall. This is codswallop. With the advent of social media and the twenty-four hour news cycle, voters are more engaged and more vocal than at any time in our history and we often do not like what we see. Politicians are more scrutinised than ever before, and we all too often and with very good reason take a set against what our scrutiny reveals.
The problem lies not with an hysterical (and therefore feminised, don’t you love it) electorate, but with the lack of substance and integrity of many of those who seek high office. The Abbott government (and the Newman government in Queensland) attempted to inflict its pathological ideology of inequality on a nation whose general ethos is still, miraculously, the fair go. We’ve turned on them. We’ve done this because we are largely a decent people who don’t believe those at the bottom of the food chain should be ground even further into misery, while those at the top profit obscenely. We haven’t done it because we are volatile, over-sensitive and hysterical.
Politicians and mainstream media can find democracy a struggle.
Abbott is on notice, from his party and from the electorate. Not only does he have 39 home-grown dissidents to contend with, his personal polling figures are abysmal. I have no idea what the PM’s idea of “good government” might be, but I do think it is an admission of grotesque failure that he is promising the electorate good government from today, when he’s been in office all this time and only now because of a revolt and attempted coup. In other words, Abbott has been forced to consider “good government.” It hasn’t come to him naturally.
Prime Minister Abbott might well be about to learn the hard way that unlike god, we the voters are not infinitely forgiving, and he’s likely had his one and only shot at reforming himself and his ideologically driven party.
A song for the changed Tony Abbott: Bruno Mars and Today my Life Begins
“I will leave the past behind me…”