Getting rid of dysfunctional Prime Ministers

30 Nov


Tony Abbott Announces Leadership Team


Former Liberal Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett this morning dumped big time on the federal LNP, claiming that dislike for Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a major factor in the Victorian election result that yesterday brought a resounding victory to the ALP, ousting the Liberal government in its first term.

Kennett claims the Abbott government is a “shambles,” and Ministers in the Napthine Government said there was “no question’’ that the unpopularity of Tony Abbott in Victoria was a factor in their defeat.

The government is in a bind about Tony. If they get rid of him in his first term they risk being seen as unstable and disloyal, allegations they levelled unrelentingly while in opposition at the ALP for its ongoing leadership woes with Kevin Rudd.

An aside on that matter. Now we have a good deal more information about that debacle, wouldn’t it have been so much better if Gillard had informed the electorate about the difficulties the government was having with Rudd, rather than leaving us to wake up one morning and discover we no longer had the extremely popular Prime Minister who’d led the Labor party to victory? Pole-axing an electorate in such a fashion and then going on to be excessively secretive as to the reasons for such drastic action would seem to be a most unwise strategy, and indeed, that’s what it proved to be.

The situation with Abbott is very different: while Rudd was still popular but behind the scenes, dysfunctional, Abbott is openly dysfunctional and unpopular to boot, so the electorate won’t go into nearly as much shock and awe if he’s chucked out of the top job in his first term.

Personally, I’d like to see Abbott stay on as leader as he’s the ALP’s best asset.

The federal government is like a dysfunctional family with a rogue father at its head. Everyone closes ranks and publicly supports the patriarch even though he’s bringing ruination down on their collective heads, because that’s what families do. They stick together in the face of adversity, and in so doing, enable the maintenance of the dysfunction. This eventually damages every family member, and the price for such misguided unity is death, of one kind or another.

There’s little more difficult than dealing with a dysfunctional leader, be it in politics or the family, and we saw how the ALP crumbled under the pressure of their Rudd woes.

The precedent for getting rid of first term Prime Ministers has been set, and there are few among us who would find it shocking the second time around. However, the LNP are likely far too spooked by the Rudd saga to risk ousting their dysfunctional leader in his first term. This could well be their downfall.


24 Responses to “Getting rid of dysfunctional Prime Ministers”

  1. Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) November 30, 2014 at 2:08 pm #

    “They stick together in the face of adversity, and in so doing, enable the maintenance of the dysfunction.”

    Thereby becoming known as ‘enablers’, no?

    I wonder whether, freudianly, that is why some legislation from time to time is described as an ‘enabling Act’?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nick November 30, 2014 at 2:34 pm #

    Hi Jennifer, it’s been a while. Hope you’re well.

    “An aside on that matter. Now we have a good deal more information about that debacle, wouldn’t it have been so much better if Gillard had informed the electorate about the difficulties the government was having with Rudd, rather than leaving us to wake up one morning and discover we no longer had the extremely popular Prime Minister who’d led the Lalor party to victory?”

    Perhaps. But those difficulties were still only half the story at best. Every member who signalled they would vote against Rudd had their own reasons for doing so.

    Some believed he was leading the government into a train wreck. Some had always disliked him. Some were playing factional power games. Some were playing personal power games. For Labor members from WA, where polling was worst, it was almost certainly about abandoning his ambitious mining tax proposal, and saving their own arses. For Labor members from the Eastern states too closely linked to the mining companies, well, they were simply doing their job…

    I think that’s why Gillard found it so difficult to explain. Because there wasn’t one overwhelming easy to explain one size fits all reason (ie ‘disfunctionality’). There were many, and not all of them noble.


    • Jennifer Wilson November 30, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

      Yes, I agree, and they certainly paid the price for all that discontent. I wonder if they’ve learned anything?

      Gillard focused on the dysfunction in her account. I guess that was safest.


    • paul walter December 1, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

      Now we are getting to the underlying problem, the lack of consciousness that defines Austrlalian politics, right across the board.

      The Coalition pitched out its small l and small c component for fear of reasoned dissent and the ALP is beginning to show the inward symptoms of deterioration to right- populist party “thinking”, having not been able to cope with the questions that its own left and the Greens have raised as to community interest, as against neoliberalist dogma and paradoxically, nationalism.

      The message is the same wherever you go, stay silent even if you have realised the king wears no clothes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennifer Wilson December 1, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

        Where are the courageous people, PW?


        • paul walter December 1, 2014 at 6:53 pm #


          My take is that our situation relates to what’s presented by thoughful commentators of the Fahrenheit 451/BraveNew World/ Bridesmaid’s Tale/ other speculative fiction about dystopias type, where only some seem able to transcend the brainwashing, the neurogloical clog of an increasingly out of control system.

          Society might not quite be there yet, but don’t rule it out for the future.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Megpie71 November 30, 2014 at 4:04 pm #

    I think at least part of the problem the Liberals have in this respect is they don’t have anyone who could conceivably replace Tony Abbott who hasn’t been tainted by their association with him.

    The Australian public aren’t going to immediately turn around and embrace Joe Hockey as a saviour – he’s too closely associated with the Budget of Doooom. Malcolm Turnbull has long since lost any positive shine he might have had from his previous leadership of the party – he lost it when he basically allowed himself to become a sock-puppet of a Communications Minister. Julie Bishop honestly doesn’t have the common touch she’d need in order to really pick up the role of PM – she tends to perform in public very much like a private-school Head Girl scolding an errant first-year for dropping a lolly wrapper. The rest of the front benchers on the Liberal side of the chamber are either not worthy of consideration, or too thoroughly contaminated by association to be considered.

    Basically, it all comes down to the paucity of talent in the Liberal party. We’re stuck with Tony Abbott as a PM because there’s really nobody else able to take the job.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson November 30, 2014 at 4:08 pm #

      Yes, who would be any better or different? Hoisted on their own petard!!


  4. doug quixote November 30, 2014 at 6:54 pm #

    Kennett is wrong yet again.

    It was fought on State issues.

    If it had been fought on federal issues, they would have 10 seats left, not 38 or so.

    Abbott is a dead man walking, but the Liberals have the same old problem, namely who is to replace him. None of the potential ‘leaders’ inspire any sort of confidence.

    If they get desperate enough they will go with Turnbull, who much like a mirror image of Rudd is hated/distrusted by most of his own colleagues.


    • Forrest Gumpp (@ForrestGumpp) November 30, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

      My impression too, doug quixote.

      I go back to the removal of Rudd, and what emerged shortly thereafter, with the REPORTING BACK of Arbib et al that was revealed by the @Wikileaks cable leaks. I don’t think this is an issue of domestic politics at all. Makes me think that Abbott (et al) is a a ‘gift’ we hae been given, just to in the end return us to where we were (whether we knew it or not) before the ‘dismissal’ of Rudd.

      Creation of such leadership vacuums is an art form, dependent upon an ability to manipulate a nation’s politics, over decades.

      Why were the swings so small?


      • doug quixote December 2, 2014 at 10:27 pm #

        The swings were small because this was the removal of a first term government; it is hard for people to admit they were wrong so soon as this after electing them.

        Federally, on the other hand, Abbott and his Keystone Kops government are making it really easy for voters to change their minds.

        (schadenfreude, anyone?) :))


      • paul walter December 11, 2014 at 6:50 pm #

        They were also small because Australian voters were still recovering from near death experiences, esp in NSW and Qld, created over the last decade by the neolib right faction.


    • Jennifer Wilson December 1, 2014 at 6:07 am #

      Any alternative leader is increasingly tainted by his support of Abbott. Or her, if one considers either of the Bishops as future leaders which I would rather not if possible, DQ.


  5. doctorrob54 December 1, 2014 at 12:03 am #

    I think Kennett could be right,.But the fact Turnbull is pro.Republican,would push for same sex marriage and change the flag rules him out of Lib. leadership.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson December 1, 2014 at 6:08 am #

      Once I would have thought Turnbull an option but not anymore. I think he’s lost his support base.


  6. paul walter December 1, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    He is as much a danger as Abbott because he is “organised”, whereas Abbott’s pathology is deteriorating to chaos.


  7. samjandwich December 1, 2014 at 6:23 pm #

    I don’t know… I have a feeling he might ride it out.

    The Liberals are panicking because they are unfamiliar with the feeling, strangely only recently arrived at, of being entrenched in their unpopularity. But I wonder whether they will now take a step back and realise that they still have a good two years to address this situation – and so they will come to terms with the fact that they are unpopular, and will pull together and realise that they actually have no alternative but to start working hard for a change, rather than having everything fall into their laps as a result of the deficiencies in their opponents. I just feel as though it’s shaping up to be a long hard slog for all concerned.

    That or, could Abbott take the decision to fall on his sword?? That could possibly be the most productive solution all round…


    • paul walter December 1, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

      Only if it’s done literally.

      Liked by 1 person

    • paul walter December 11, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

      Quite often, you talk a lot of sense, samjandwich.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Gruffbutt December 8, 2014 at 1:17 am #

    Guy Rundle called him one-term Tony well before he was elected. I thought that was ambitious, knowing how our king-making system works. If an election were held now, Tony might get the boot, but I still don’t have much faith in my fellow voters exercising more than a goldfish memory in response to two more years of Murdoch-led whitewashing.

    I’m hoping for a Mordor moment, preferably before the next election, when Sauron Rupert shuffles off his mortal coil and all his minions realise the LNP isn’t the only party in town.

    (Bear with me. Tolkienesque scenarios help me deal with all this crap. How to deal with our other neocon windbags…hmmm…)


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