What Tony Abbott has to do to win the next one
The 4 Feb issue of The Spectator Australia asked prominent political commentators for their thoughts on what Tony Abbott should do over the next 12 months to ensure he’s Australia’s next prime minister.
The Spectator Australia editorialised:
Tony Abbott will be the next authentic leader of Australia, no matter what happens between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd, or whatever shenanigans the not-quile-so-faceless men of Labor attempt to pull off over the next 12 months. By authentic, we mean many things. In all likelihood, Mr Abbott’s government will be able to claim a genuine mandate to implement its policies, in stark contrast to the existing faux-legitimacy of a cobbled-together coalition built on broken promises and dodgy backroom deals.
The Abbott government will also be authentic in its policy prescriptions. The constant flip-flopping and obfuscation that has come to epitomise the “Gillarudd” government will mercifully be consigned to the past. Forgotten in all the endless political games, the abandonment of ill-considered projects (let’s not bore ourselves by running through them all again), the trashing of commitments, the swapping of leadership roles and the giddying spinning of the truth is a simple fact: this is not how responsible governments should behave.
Mr Abbott himself will be authentic. Over two decades in public life he has stayed true to his convictions and core principles, and been frank about his Catholic beliefs. There has been no need to spray-paint a ‘real’ Tony onto a battered-up old one. No need to present himself in terms that don’t ring true, or that reek of hypocrisy and opportunism. To an extent, the rough edges have been smoothed out, and the language toned down, but none of this is different to how Bob Hawke or John Howard were spruced up by the image-makers. At heart, we all know what drives him and what he will fight for. Perhaps that is why his enemies fear him so much.
The advice from a dozen contributors makes interesting reading.
Top-rating 2GB Sydney radio presenter Alan Jones said that all Tony Abbott has to do is to “stick to his guns”.
“There is nothing negative in saying that the carbon tax will be repealed. The statement gives hope to millions of Australians,” the broadcaster wrote.
Former Howard Government minister and South Australian senator Nick Minchin wrote:
A Coalition victory in 2013 will require exacting standards of discipline, cohesion and focus. Tony Abbott proved in 2010 that he is a great and indefatigable campaigner, but he will need a united and disciplined team behind him right through to polling day if, this time, he is to win.
John Hirst, historian at La Trobe University, wrote that Mr Abbott faces the challenge of making the Coalition’s border protection policy credible before the next election:
…Abbott stymied the government’s attempt to make its powers secure from challenge (which may not have succeeded). He needs a Plan B. Withdraw from the UN Convention while promising to increase the refugee intake, perhaps?