This could well be wishful thinking on my part, however…
Yesterday, as I watched the anointing of the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, I could have sworn I saw in the face and body of Prime Minister Tony Abbott the sullen demeanour of a whipped cur, already plotting his devious revenge.
It seemed to me that in his petulant insistence on yet again prime ministerially exonerating ex-Speaker Bronwyn Bishop of what is potentially criminal behaviour (if anyone ever bothers to seriously direct their investigation in that direction) Abbott reinforced his profound political and emotional identification with Ms Bishop, and his outrage that for a mere mistake or two she has been so ignominiously ejected from the Chair, only to land on her corseted arse in the back benches where she can surely have very few friends.
Abbott is given to prime ministerial exonerations of his mouldy mates. Rather like the Pope speaking ex cathedra, once Abbott has written a character reference or stated in Parliament or out of it that you’re an all right fellow or gal, any formal performance of justice is in his opinion rendered unnecessary, and the courts merely unbelieving saboteurs, damn their eyes.
Bishop was Abbott’s Captain’s pick for the prestigious position of Speaker. This time Abbott was just another party member, and it is rumoured that he isn’t too chuffed about his party’s choice, Tony Smith. This must be a bitter pill for the authoritarian PM to swallow, after all, this is the second time in six months he’s been forcibly reminded that he isn’t a party of one supported by a few potentially duplicitous but for the time being supportive henchmen and women.
In other words, this is the second time in six months the PM has been put in his place by his party and as he sat in the House glowering while the new Speaker promised fairness and admitted to friendships on the other side, Abbott’s lips closed so tight I thought he’d surely swallowed them. The man has little control over his facial expressions and his body language. I’m stout of heart, but there are times when the barely repressed dark fury that emanates menacingly from his physical being almost scares me.
I am slightly heartened by Abbott’s capitulation to public opinion and the demands of his party. Another Captain’s pick for Speaker, or anything much else given the disastrous nature of every pick thus far, may well bring him entirely undone. The man has a tin ear. He is tone-deaf. He is wilfully ignorant. He has an ideological agenda, and lacks the intelligence or the desire to understand its limitations. Like every crazed ideologue, he believes he can force others to adopt his beliefs, simply by the relentless exertion of his will. He runs the country like an old-style priest runs a parish, sermonising to the flock at every opportunity from a position of steadfast denial of reality.
But reality bites, and I dare to hope it has begun to nibble at the PM’s quite remarkable capacity for obduracy. He and Bishop are a perfect match (the expressions on both faces were eerily similar, the grim, thin-lipped smile, the coldly enraged eyes) and that is no recommendation for the character of a Prime Minister. I dare to believe that the majority of the Coalition are not on the same page as either Bishop or Abbott, and that they are, at long last, prepared to take a stand for something more evolved than rampant self-interest.
But hey. What do I know. Like everybody else, I can only live in despair, mitigated by the occasional flash of hope. Hold on, sisters and brothers, and trust in hubris and the karma bus.