For the recovering alcoholic, every day is defined by the decision not to have another drink. The Opposition leader should know how this feels as he attempts to swear himself off WorkChoices.
As the business lobby and former Coalition danger-men like Peter Reith urge him to take a tipple, Tony Abbott is attempting to stay off the juice even as every fibre in his being wants him to say ‘just a little one’.
And the public? They’re just waiting for him to fall off the wagon.
Amidst the industrial carnage wrought by Qantas CEO Alan Joyce last week was a brief glimpse of what survival for the Gillard Government might look like.
It would start with a corporate leader arrogantly putting his commercial interests ahead of the national interest, to the cheers of his fellow CEOs.
It would move into a debate about whether loyal Australian workers had a right to expect any sort of say in the way their workplace was run; or whether they should be forced to cop whatever the latest management team cooked up.
It would give voice to the federal front bench, for once united on a matter of principle they truly believed in, providing a platform to speak up for the values of their movement.
And it would end with the Federal Opposition, stripped of any pretence of policy, in a tangle over the WorkChoices bogey, simply barracking for the big end of town because that is what they are conditioned to do.
Tony Abbott’s attempts to turn the nation’s richest households into welfare victims has resulted in a self-inflicted political wedge that turns the Coalition’s creed of self-sufficiency onto its own support base.
It was the sideshow of budget week, reporters scouring the nation for hard-working Aussie families, victims of Labor’s decision to finally begin winding back the system of universal direct cash payments that became a feature of the Howard years.
Manufacturing outrage at the moves to cap payments to families on incomes of under $150,000 was always a big ask; after all a constituency of 15 per cent – concentrated at levels far above the threshold – is hardly a mass movement.
As results from this week’s Essential Report show, the measures had the majority support of not just Labor and Green voters, but also Coalition voters and families earning above the threshold.
New South Wales political history was being written on Saturday night. Now it is being rewritten with key Labor figures refusing to accept that the scale of the debacle came down to their own blind pursuit of power.
Former NSW premier Morris Iemma, along with his renegade treasurer Michael Costa have taken to the media claiming it was the party’s failure to allow the privatisation of electricity (read, influence of the unions) that was at the root of Labor’s demise.
A more sober analysis of the poll data suggests the opposite may be true, the reason Labor got hammered was that 39 per cent of people who identify themselves as Labor voters could not bring themselves to vote for this government. And for many of these voters, the power sell-off was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
The media works in eight-hour news cycles, politicians live and die by three-year cycles, while the planet’s climate is working on a significantly longer time frame.
The way these three cycles interplay over the next few months will determine not only the outcome of the next federal election but whether Australia will be a beneficiary or a victim of the shift in energy use that climate change will inevitably require*.
As this week’s Essential Report shows the Government has taken a short-term hammering after it’s decision to move on a carbon price. Not only has the Government failed to win popular support for its carbon pricing scheme, this has translated into a 4 per cent turnaround in the Two Party Preferred.
Of particular concern to Labor would be the high level of strong opposition, compared to strong support for the plan and the fact that barely half of Labor voters are backing the scheme.
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