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Abbott is not dead, he is just ‘Pyne’ing for the fjords


Tony Abbott has taken a hit. But his minister for opposition business wants us to know that he is not a ex-parrot.

Yes. I know. I have an obsession with Monty Python. Sue me.

Last night on PM Christopher Pyne put on the metal capped boots and took a kick at Julia Gillard. Apparently Tony Abbott has trouble doing his own head kicking and needs his ‘friends’ to step in and kick up the coals. Unfortunately it seems that not only does Tony get his facts wrong, so does others on his front bench.

It is not a good look. From the PM interview.

MARK COLVIN: An act of low bastardry. That’s the way Tony Abbott is describing the Prime Minister’s conduct over his Afghanistan travel plans. Mr Abbott believes that Labor leaked his decision not to accompany Julia Gillard on her trip to visit Australian soldiers at Tarin Kowt.

The Fairfax journalist who broke the story has said his source was not in the Government but that hasn’t dimmed Mr Abbott’s anger. His Coalition colleagues have gone further, saying it was an act of back alley bitchiness and that Julia Gillard shows signs of not being fit to be Prime Minister.

Chief political correspondent Lyndal Curtis reports.
LYNDAL CURTIS: After visits to Australian troops in Afghanistan over the past two weekends by both of Australia’s major political leaders, the argument isn’t about the commitment to the war, the strategy or the adequacy of troop numbers or equipment. It’s about the publication of Mr Abbott’s decision not to accept an invitation from the Prime Minister to go with her on her visit the weekend before last.

After his trip to Afghanistan on the weekend Mr Abbott accused Ms Gillard of disclosing the details of the invitation, calling it an act of “low bastardry” and saying when it comes to Machiavellian bastardry the Prime Minister’s up there with the best of them.

Another Coalition frontbencher, Christopher Pyne, has gone even further.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Trying to create the impression that Tony Abbott didn’t want to visit the diggers in the field was not just an act of political bastardry but also back alley bitchiness from the person who is portraying all the signs of someone who is not fit to be prime minister of Australia.

LYNDAL CURTIS: You’ve accused her of playing politics with Australia’s soldiers in Afghanistan but your defence spokesman came out only days before she was due to go to Afghanistan and called for increases in troops and extra equipment. Wasn’t that also playing politics, wasn’t that an effort to either put pressure on her or embarrass her before she went on her trip?

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: There’s an enormous difference between an argument about whether our troops are properly equipped and an act of political bitchiness and unfortunately she has not grown into the role of a prime minister. She’s still a back alley street fighter and she’s not a prime minister.

LYNDAL CURTIS: But when asked about Mr Abbott’s comments Ms Gillard told a business lunch that the information Mr Abbott declined her invitation for a joint trip didn’t come from her or her office.

JULIA GILLARD: As I understand it Tony Abbott has asserted, and causing him to use quite colourful expressions, has asserted that I or my office were responsible for originally releasing the story that I had invited him to join me on a trip to Afghanistan.

As people who read the Sydney Morning Herald would already know, today, the journalist who broke that story has indicated that neither I nor my office were the source of the information. So I think Tony’s colourful phrase not warranted and probably best before you use such a harsh language to find out what the facts are.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Back in Australia Mr Abbott hasn’t repeated his accusation about the Prime Minister although he’s defended his right to speak out.

TONY ABBOTT: I won’t cop any suggestion that I am uninterested in the welfare of our troops or indifferent to the success of their mission. I just won’t cop that.

LYNDAL CURTIS: During his overseas visit he acknowledged his words were poorly chosen when he used not wanting to be jet lagged as the reason why he decided not to accompany Ms Gillard. At that stage his own visit to Afghanistan was a secret, as is usual for such visits by senior political figures.

Christopher Pyne says Mr Abbott was caught by surprise when asked about it.

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: He didn’t realise that the Labor Party, and Julia Gillard in particular, were going to be playing politics with trips to our soldiers in the field and that was the first thing that he could think of because he wasn’t entitled to say that he was travelling to Afghanistan within a week of her visit for security reasons.

She was basically tying both hands and feet behind his back and then thumping him in a chair.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Before either Ms Gillard or Mr Abbott made their visits, the Coalition called for increased troop numbers and equipment in Afghanistan. Mr Abbott didn’t want to discuss details of what he’d learned during his visit but he does believe Australian forces are stretched, although they’re coping.

TONY ABBOTT: I want to digest what I was told by our senior commanders on the spot and by the troops on the ground. The important thing is that our troops understand that there is bipartisan support for their mission and I think there should be bipartisan determination to give them what they reasonably need to make their mission effective.

LYNDAL CURTIS: The Coalition’s defence personnel spokesman, Stuart Robert, who went to Afghanistan with Mr Abbott says the vice chief of the Defence Force and the Australian forces commander in Afghanistan made it clear the resources are suitable for the job.

STUART ROBERT: There’s no doubt that our lads and lasses in Afghanistan are stretched. They’re certainly doing as much as they possibly can with the resources they’ve got but the command staff made it clear that the resources they’ve got are adequate for the task and we’ll certainly take that on face value.

LYNDAL CURTIS: Both Houses of Parliament will debate Australia’s commitment to Afghanistan later this year.

MARK COLVIN: Chief political correspondent, Lyndal Curtis.


This is a rather astonishing interview. It seems the Coalition are struggling in opposition. I don’t know why since a lot of them have recent experience.

Apparently its an act of political bastardy for the Government to mention the war, but not for the Opposition.

And Mr Pyne, just like the shop keeper in the Dead Parrot sketch, seems to totally confuse reality with the facts. The reporter who broke the story has already made that clarification.

That’s right people. The source was NOT in or from the Government.

Maybe the Coalition needs to look closer to home. After all… if you can’t stop the leaks, assuming there is one, how can you stop the boats?

The Coalition, or more particular the senior partner in the Coalition, is not having a good time and the errors they are making is tarring the Nationals in their wake.

At a time when they are supposed to demonstrating their ability to lead, they are only showing that they can not. It demeans the party as a whole when their own front bench has become a laughing stock.

Instead of being ready to take on the Government, the Opposition is showing Australia that Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott made the right decision.

Even Bob Katter had his doubts as it took him just as long to hitch his wagon to the Coalition and only because he was never going to be able to side with the ALP.

That in and of it self is an amazing realisation. When forced to choose from the ALP, which he could never side with, and the Coalition, it took him 17 days to make up his mind!

The trouble now is can Abbott and his boys settle down enough to make an opportunity out of this hung parliament situation, or will the temper tantrums continue? I understand that Tony Abbott is angry at the world right now and maybe even a little miffed at his deity, but he really is not getting any help from his friends here.

Worse, it also means those who work in his office seem to miss important things. Like facts. They failed to contact the reporter who broke the story and ask him for details. If they had, then perhaps Mr Abbott’s initial response to the question would have been more constrained and the entire episode could have been nipped in the bud.

Instead, Tony Abbott and his gang decided to don the leathers and go on an all out attack. Joe Hockey took the ball first doing his best bulldog impression.

Opposition frontbencher Joe Hockey told Sky News that Mr Abbott had already arranged a trip to Afghanistan and Ms Gillard was playing silly games by issuing the invitation.

“If Julia Gillard is going to play these sorts of politics on Afghanistan she is not worthy of her role as Prime Minister,” Mr Hockey said.

“This is an area where you do not play political games and Julia Gillard is playing a dangerous political game in relation to Tony Abbott’s proposed visit to Afghanistan.

“Julia Gillard knows the date has been locked in. It has been in the (books) for some period of time.

“It is low-rent politics from Julia Gillard.

“It’s Julia Gillard that is playing this game of snakes and ladders, and I say to Julia Gillard, be very careful of where you are treading.”


You got to love a threat don’t you? It makes him all manly looking. It was enough to earn him a holiday. Of course this had nothing to do with the Howarths letter getting printed in the papers. That was just purely coincidental.

Sure there was 17 odd days between the day of the election till the final out come and sure Malcolm Turnbull had time to be riding trams in Melbourne, but Joe was so critical to the negotiations with the Independents, he did not get time to spend with his family. So we are told. I wonder if he is playing snakes and ladders with his kids?

Of course this was followed by the war of words between Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard and Tony kept the words coming till the interview above with Christopher Pyne.

If this is an example of his holding the Government to ferocious account, thenI fear that even Mr Abbott’s beautiful plumage will not save him. It seems it will be difficult for Tony Abbott as he has only one mode. Attack. Pretty soon though he may have to get used to sitting up and begging because his actions to date threaten the cohesion of the Coalition. Many in the Liberal Party scoff behind their backs at their rural partners and associate them with them with the bad press the party gets.

Not any more it seems. The Liberals are the ones bringing shame to the Coalition.

The current former leader of the Liberal Party is Malcolm Turnbull. But it is quite possible he will soon be replaced in that job.

With an ex-Abbott.

A. Ghebranious  2010   All Rights Reserved

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